Friday, November 2, 2012

Freeling Tufts Colt: A Tufts descendant and World War II paratrooper

Freeling Tufts Colt was a first lieutenant  and paratrooper killed in Normandy on D-Day June 6, 1944. He served in the 506th parachute infantry of the 101st Airborne (2nd Battalion Company F). He is buried in the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, France (Plot D Row 22 Grave 26).

He was born in 1916 in Hazelton, Pennsylvania to Alexander and Ida Colt. Alexander was the son of Katherine (Tufts) Colt from Litchfield, New Hampshire and Samuel Colt of Niagara, New York. Katherine (Catherine or Julia Ann Catherine) was descended from Peter Tufts (the patriarch who came to Charlestown, Massachusetts from England around 1638) through the families of Captain Peter (Jr), Thomas, Henry, John, and Thomas Jefferson Tufts. Her brother Freeling Tufts, for whom Lt. Colt was presumably named, grew up in Litchfield and was a prominent engineer and business man in Kansas. Lt. Colt is among the many patriots and soldiers in the Tufts families and families of Tufts daughters. Today, descendants of his family can be found in Colorado and Texas among other places. Additional family lineage is available upon request.

In 1937 Lt. Colt traveled to England, then returned from South Hampton to New York on the Aquitania[italicize]. He graduated in 1938 from Virginia Military institute with a BS in chemistry as a flying cadet of the Army Air Corps.

In July of 1942 Lt. Colt joined the 506th Parachute Infantry regiment upon it’s activation at Camp Toombs (Toccoa), Georgia. He was assigned to F Company alongside Easy Company (the unit featured in the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers”). They trained as hard as any unit in the armed services. They faced one of the hardest obstacle courses and ran daily to the top of Curahee Mountain. They then went to Fort Benning, Georgia some of the battalions marching 136 miles and breaking a record held by the Japanese army.

After parachute training at Fort Benning and maneuvers in Tennessee, the 506th moved to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, a trained fighting unit. It was here that Lt. Colt and his wife Margaret (Pardee) had their two children Tricia and Blais. During the latter part of August 1943, the unit reported to Camp Shanks, NY, where preparations were made for overseas movement. The 506th crossed the Atlantic on the SS Samaria during September, and arrived at Liverpool, England, on 15 September 1943.

 June 5, 1944, found the men of the 506th parked by the aircraft that were to carry them into their first combat mission. Shortly after 0100 hours on 6 June 1944, the men of the 506th hit the silk in the skies over France for the initial assault on the northern coast of Normandy. The drop was scattered around the area and disorganized but eventually the units gathered their forces and accomplished their missions. They received a unit citation for their work.
Map of 506th Parachutes Infantry landing zones

There is much available to read on the exact fighting and movements of the units. The fighting was fierce in the hedgerow country where they fought for road crossings, towns, and gun emplacements. One book that mentions Lt. Colt is The Cow Spoke French: the story of Sgt. William True, American Paratrooper By William True, and his son Deryck Tufts True (Merriam Press, 2002). In that reference they state Lt. Colt was killed upon entering the town of Ste. Marie-du-Mont. Deryck Tufts True is a descendent of another Tufts daughter in California. (William married Clarissa Jane Tufts who was the daughter of Robert G. and Maybelle L. (Shanks) Tufts of California from Charles P., Leman G., Joseph, John, John, John, Peter.) Please visit their site to purchase their book.

2nd Battalion Officers


History of the 506th: 

Pictures of 506th used in this story were from this site:


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