Glider attacks on D-Day

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by PeterNSteinmetz, Jun 5, 2021.

  1. PeterNSteinmetz

    PeterNSteinmetz Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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  2. Scrabo

    Scrabo Pattern Altitude

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    My old instructor towed them over the channel into France , then later, flew supplies for Operation Market Garden.

    He just passed in Nov 2020
     
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  3. 3393RP

    3393RP En-Route

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    According to the after action reports and information gathered by the historians of the British Army, Lieutenant Den Brotheridge of the 2nd Ox and Bucks gained a dubious honor.

    Major John Howard's D Company 2nd Ox and Bucks was the first Allied unit to land in Normandy, just fifty feet from their assigned target, code named the Pegasus Bridge. Brotheridge was the first soldier from the 2nd Ox and Bucks operation to be killed in action, succumbing to a fatal wound just minutes after his glider landed, and later it was determined he was the first Allied soldier to die by enemy action on D-Day.
     
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  4. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    If anyone’s near Lubbock, TX. Go check out the Silent Wings Museum this weekend... free admission tomorrow and some planes on the ramp.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    The father of one of my co-workers flew a glider into Normandy on D-Day. Flight Officer E. H. Brindle was a journalist in civilian life, and filed this report to his hometown paper:

    ----------------------------------------------------------------
    It wasn’t until we were winging over the Channel, bound for the Cherbourg peninsula, that the full realization struck me that our long months and years of training were over and we were finally playing for keeps. All during the final preparations—days spent in a barbed-wire enclosure undergoing detailed briefings, equipment checks, map and photo studies, lectures and pep talks—we had just the feeling that perhaps this was just another “dry run,” but now there was no doubt that the chips were down.

    The air over the Channel was smooth and the sky was overcast. Down below us the swells of the Channel bore slight traces of spray. Now and then to relieve the tension somewhat we exchanged banter with the towplane pilot over the interphone hookup, but I’m afraid our humor was a little corny. Before long the faint outlines of the French coast appeared. German antiaircraft and machine gun batteries were filling the sky between the coast and our LZ (Landing Zone) with an assortment of steel and lead, interspersed with red and yellow tracers which lent a Fourth of July atmosphere to the scene. Soon we were in the midst of the hailstorm in reverse

    Plenty Realistic

    Our first reaction was surprise at the laziness with which the tracers mounted toward us in the darkness, but as bullets started to rip through the fabric of our ship we realized that their apparent sluggishness was only an illusion. It seemed the entire blackness beneath us was filled with German batteries, but suddenly we reached the area of our paratroopers, moving in ahead of us, had secured.

    The little island of American-held territory looked mighty welcome to us, and at the sight of the flares sent up by our paratroopers on the ground we cut off From the towplane and wheeled around in a sweeping 270-degree landing turn to choose a spot for landing. A green flare shooting up from the darkness below gave me a glimmer of a field we might possibly squeeze into, so I followed the flare in.

    As we cleared the trees bordering the field I saw that we would have to crash-land as the field was too short for a normal approach. I set the ship down hard and we ground to a stop against a hedgerow at the far end of the field. Luckily no one was injured and the cargo was in good condition, though the glider itself was far from being in good shape. As we emerged, the paratrooper who had shot off the flare came up to us.

    “Kind of a small field you picked for us, wasn’t it bud?” I said to him.

    “Yeah,” he agreed. “But I wasn’t expecting a big baby like this.”

    He looked admiringly at our glider, its nose nestled against the hedgerow as if it were looking for something to nibble at.

    Just then, a shell from a German 88 landed a short distance away and we hit the dirt.

    Digging In

    From then on, life for us consisted of digging in between artillery barrages and dodging snipers in between. As all the glider pilots were making their combat debut, new records were hung up all around for the depth and luxuriousness of foxholes. Like the fabled private who dug so deep he was charged with desertion, some of the GP’s claim to have established definitively that there are no prospects whatever of striking oil in France.

    There followed many anxious hours as we awaited the arrival of the beachhead party. The airborne units were only intended to hold their position for a matter of hours, and when the seaborne forces finally fought their way through 22 hours behind schedule, our little band had been hammered back on all sides and was on the verge of being wiped out. Indeed, any other group but paratroopers would have regarded the situation as hopeless and given up.

    But fortunately at Fort Benning N. C. the boys are only taught how to attack, so they go on attacking even when the situation calls for surrender. This fact, together with the happy circumstance that the gliders in landing has spotted troops and equipment over a wide area, apparently convinced the Jerries that ours was a far more formidable force that it really was. Instead of mounting a bold, crushing offensive, therefore, they made a cautious advance which gave the beachhead gang time to reach us.

    ‘Liberated’

    After our “liberation” by the seaborne forces a steady stream of prisoners began pouring into camp and the following day the glider pilots started marching them to the beachhead 15 miles away. There we turned our charges over to the MPs and boarded a Duck, a marvelous creature built to carry about 15 people. So 30 of us jammed aboard and we sped down the beach and out into a foot or so of water. There the Duck hesitated, as if reluctant to get any wetter, then surged forward as the propeller was engaged.

    After a smooth passage out to deep water we came up to an LCT with its lower jaw hanging in the water. The Duck made a couple of passes at the lowered ramp, like Mrs. J. Q. Public aiming for the family garage, and on the third try we waddled triumphantly aboard the ship.

    There we dined on 10-in-1 rations, our first real food in days, and found time to inspect our surroundings. On all sides of the LCT there were ranged great fleets of ships resembling a Norman Bel Geddes representation of the navies of the world—landing craft, battleships, corvettes, tankers, destroyers, motorboats, cruisers, and types that defy classification.

    Lots to Eat

    Later on we transferred to an LST, which served up some of the best coffee in the European theater of operations as it shuttled us to a port in southern England. There we disembarked to find that the authorities had expected to receive casualties and had dozens of ambulances waiting for us. A hurry call was put in for GI trucks to replace the ambulances and in a short time we were on our way to a center geared to handle evacuees, shipwrecks, and kindred unfortunates.

    We explained to the office in charge that we were just glider pilots anxious to get back to our home fields and weren’t interested in being fed or cheered up. He responded that technically we were evacuees and dammit we were going to act like evacuees. So for several hours we submitted to being fed and pampered, and which we were allowed to board trucks for what we hoped was an airfield where our squadron’s planes could pick us up.

    But after bowling along for a number of miles, we suddenly turned into a tented enclosure and were invited to get off the trucks and have a hot meal. We insisted we were only interested in getting back to our bases, but the major in charge of the camp was politely firm. His orders said evacuees routed through his center were to be unloaded and fed. We were evacuees, and were coming through his camp—therefore, we would eat.

    We bowed to Army thoroughness and stuffed down another meal. Then we entrucked to a nearby field and made the 20-minute flight to our home base.

    When we got off the plane we found that our thoughtful mess officer had rushed a hot snack down to the flight line for us.
    -----------------------------------------

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  6. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    My grandfather's best friend did this. Crashed, broken ankle (bad), sent home for the rest of the war. Flew everything he could get his hands on for decades after. Wonderful quiet guy.
     
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  7. Possum

    Possum Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Our former US Senator Strom Thurmond was a D-Day glider pilot. The account of his rescue is below.

    https://www.backtonormandy.org/personal-stories/660-sgt-j-l-doolittle.html


    "Around 9 o'clock on the morning of June 8th, we met up with the paratroopers who had landed in gliders about a mile or so in front of us. "To my great surprise, I found Lt. Col. Strom Thurmond from Edgefield in a wrecked glider. He was a member of the 101st Airborne Division and had been trapped in there all night."


    Thurmond was one of 165 men in 32 gliders to reinforce other paratroopers who had arrived earlier. The gliders could carry a Jeep and supplies or 28 paratroopers. They were pulled by a C-47 and then released to glide down and then land without the roar of an engine which would have alerted the enemy.
    Thurmond's glider had crash landed in an apple orchard. His glider had been torn to pieces, and two paratroopers had died. Glider casualties caused by crash landings were extremely high during the invasion.


    Strom was trapped inside. He and another soldier were trying to make an opening so they could get out. Strom called out, "I'm Lt. Col. Strom Thurmond."


    J. L. remembers hearing his voice. "I sure was glad to hear that the paratrooper was somebody from back home. I was very glad that he was alive. After seeing the wreckage, It's a miracle anybody survived."


    J. L. shouted back, "I know who your are! I'm J. L. Doolittle from Edgefield!" Thurmond recognized me.


    "I told my men to cover me, and I ran to the wrecked glider and got him and the others out safely. We sure were happy and thankful to see each other! "It was amazing. Thousands of miles from home and two fellows from my small town of Edgefield who knew each other met in an apple orchard in France fighting the Germans!"


    After freeing the future United States Senator, Thurmond ordered Sgt. Doolittle's platoon to stay until help came. J. L. replied, "I'm sorry Strom, I'm under orders from General Eisenhower, and he outranks you. Me and my boys have got to keep moving." "I did leave two of my soldiers with him and the other survivors. It took about an hour before help finally arrived for them."


    Strom Thurmond said after the War, "If it hadn't been for Jimmy (J. L.) Doolittle getting me out of that wreckage, I would have likely been found and shot by the Germans."
     
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  8. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 En-Route

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    Brotheridge was an a commoner when officers came from the upper classes. He left behind a wife and children.
    Nice museum at the Pegasus bridge. An FW 190 tried to destroy the bridge but the bomb went into the canal.
     
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  9. jbDC9

    jbDC9 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yep, it's a really nice museum with great people running it.

    I'm here (LBB) at the museum today with the CAF C-47 "That's All Brother". Do a Google search for the history on this particular C-47... it was the lead ship for the D-Day jump operation. There's also a BT-13, a Cessna T-50 Bamboo Bomber and a big Stinson (V77 I believe?) here for the day. At 1600 we're gonna crank up the C-47 and head back to San Marcos...

    C'mon out and see it!
     
  10. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    The current bridge at that location is post war. I got a kick out the museum...they had moved the ORIGINAL bridge, and basically built the museum around it.

    Took this picture when I visited Normandy a few years back. The monuments mark where two of the gliders stopped. Notice the further one... just 25 yards from the bridge, but the Germans didn't notice it. Too noisy with aerial traffic and anti-aircraft fire.
    upload_2021-6-6_7-43-57.png
    Ron Wanttaja
     
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  11. ETres

    ETres Line Up and Wait

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    We were in Lubbock last Friday and saw a C-47 aloft over the city. At a stop light, I turned down the radio and rolled down my windows so I could hear the roar of its Pratt & Whitneys as it passed overhead.

    Yes, the Silent Wings Museum is definitely worthwhile. It's at KLBB because that was the location of Lubbock Army Airfield where glider pilots were trained.
     
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  12. Craig

    Craig Line Up and Wait

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    Interestingly, the goundpounders had orders to gather up and protect the glider pilots as they were considered too valuable to loose to the enemy by fire or capture.
     
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  13. ebetancourt

    ebetancourt Line Up and Wait

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  14. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    Yeah, I'm pretty familiar with TAB and it's history.

    I took pics of y'all as you arrived...

    RED_9377.JPG RED_9384.JPG RED_9395.JPG
    RED_9608.JPG
     
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  15. skyking3286

    skyking3286 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    And the unfortunate company that was a former casket maker who was involved in the famous St. Louis Lampert Field crash that killed several civilian dignitaries.

    https://www.stltoday.com/news/local...cle_d5c6d58c-0cf1-56d9-97b2-b9b963d24d81.html

    https://www.ww2gp.org/CG-4A/stlouiscrash.php
     
  16. ebetancourt

    ebetancourt Line Up and Wait

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  17. A Martin

    A Martin Pre-takeoff checklist

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  18. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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  19. A Martin

    A Martin Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I only know one D-Day story from the father-in-law of my sister

    He was a machine gunner on a bomber and sat in a plexiglass bubble under the plane .... German flak hit one wing over France .... one engine on fire so they did a crash landing in a muddy field.

    Crew had a few injuries but exited the plane before it burned up .... but they could not find the gunner .... his plexiglass bubble had been shattered and they figure he wandered away , maybe in shock , so they went looking for him.

    Unable to find him they figured he must have climbed back into the plane and burned.

    As they walked away from the wreck one crew shone his flashlight on a big ball of mud .... and noticed a bit of steam coming from it .... it was the gunner , he had been thrown out on impact and rolled about 100 feet becoming totally encased in mud and grass .... he had arm and leg injuries and could not free himself .... the only part not encased in mud were his nostrils , he had forced the dirt from his nose , could breathe , and the vapor from his breath showed in the cool night air .... if not for that bit of vapor from his nose they would not have found him..
     
  20. Huckster79

    Huckster79 Pattern Altitude

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    The glider, often called the Fighting Falcon was built in my town at the Gibson plant.

    we have a museum in town for it, a high school class and some others years ago banded together to build a life size replica of one you can see. It’s pretty amazing to see....

    fly into 6d6 sometime on a summer Sunday to check it out! Give me a shout and I’d give ya a lift...
     
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  21. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Karen and I watched “The Longest Day” over 3 days, finishing yesterday. The gliders played a role.

    Fascinating watch. Lots of the major stars of the day - John Wayne, Sean Connery, Richard Burton, Peter Lawford, Henry Fonda, Red Buttons, Robert Mitchum and many, many more. Just the scale of the production is awe-inspiring.

    If you haven’t seen it, definitely put it on your list.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2021
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  22. Half Fast

    Half Fast Final Approach

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    We have it on dvd and have watched it several times. Excellent movie, very well done.
     
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  23. A Martin

    A Martin Pre-takeoff checklist

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