Can I suggest a toast, tonight 5 june, @23:15 hrs

#1
At 00:15 hrs Double British Summer Time on the 6th june 1944 ( ie 23:15 BST, 5th june ) a glider, piloted by S/Sgt Jim Wallwark ( Glider Pilots Regiment ) landed 28 men from 2nd Ox and Bucks, 47 meters from Benouville, later Pegasus Bridge.

D Day had begun.

Thanks lads.
 
#2
Will raise a glass to them BB - thanks for the heads up
 
#3
here here will gladly drink to that with you BB. Very brave men they deserve to be remembered for what they did.2315 one very large glass of finest malt in their honour.
 
#4
Absolutely, thanks for posting Bravo Bravo, Brave men, one and all.

Raised glasses
 
#5
I've a rather nice 12 year old from Jura upstairs, think I'll fetch it down and celebrate!







Might have a drink too!

Nice One Bravo x 2.

Cheers everyone.

CC_TA
 
#6
Thank you Bravo Bravo for making me aware of this. My late farther went over on D Day +3 with the RAOC. I offer a toast and thanks to them all.
 
#8
Excellent Post BB

Raising a glass to the true hero's
 
#9
I'm hugging a large measure of Highland Park and paying a thought to deeds done by SSGT Wallwark.



fastmedic
 
#10
johnny said:
Thank you Bravo Bravo for making me aware of this. My late farther went over on D Day +3 with the RAOC. I offer a toast and thanks to them all.
Four of the surviving old boys, left to right, Nobby Clarke, Tich Rayner, Tom Packwood and Geoff Barkway glider pilot in the wheelchair - June 2005

 
#11
I might even get out the DVD of The Longest Day...

The toast?

Up the Ox and Bucks! UP THE OX AND BUCKS!
 
C

cloudbuster

Guest
#12
Never a year passes without a quiet glance to the skies in silent rememberence.

I wonder how many of my brother army aviators will look up tonight and raise a glass?

One hell of an achievement.
 
C

cloudbuster

Guest
#14
I've just posted a quick reminder on the military board of PPRuNe, since they'd forgotten.
 
#16
Better excuse than most to slosh about some brown liquor.

Here's one for you, chaps.
 
#17
0A duly despatched to bed - Longest Day DVD playing and the Port at he ready!
Having had some dearly departed in the family at D Day and Arnhem many a story has been told - now is the time for quiet reflection and silent thanks - God Bles them all

Good post BB

Cheers
 
#19
Ladies and gentlemen, a little bit of reading matter for your silent toasts..

Pte Clarke said:
About 2250 hrs, the planes started to rev up. Major Howard came around the gliders and thanked us for our help and past cooperation. You could detect the emotion in the chap’s voice — it was a very emotional moment for all of us. I felt sorry for him. I looked across at Lt Wood and I saw he looked a bit tense because he had got a hell of a lot on his mind for that night. He was only a boy like the rest of us. He must have been carrying a lot of responsibility and it was going to be put to the test that night. The doors were shut and we just sat waiting. The time crept by. It must have been 2358 hrs, we could hear the roar of the first glider. This was the glider that Major Howard was in. It contained 25 Platoon with Lt Danny Brotheridge in command. We heard it start down the runway and at exactly 2359 hrs it became airborne. That was the first glider off. At the same time that was going down the runway, we felt our own glider beginning to take the strain as the tow rope tightened we were pulled onto the runway and, I would say, at approximately midnight our glider became airborne. We roared down the runway and the overloading was noticeable because we didn’t rise. We seemed to go on and on. We must have used up practically the whole runway when suddenly we became airborne. We could barely see; it was very dark within the Horsa. There were a few cigarettes going. There wasn’t the usual idle chatter, nobody was singing and there was almost silence within the glider.
Lt Sweeney said:
‘Thank God. At last.’ We had been waiting for this day for years and years. Finally here we were about to take part. You wanted to get in, you wanted to get going but you felt a bit apprehensive. Once you got in there it was going to be a pretty tough fight.
Pte Clarke said:
I think the chaps were more concerned about the actual night flying than what was at the end of it. I personally was more nervous about flying at night in a glider than the thought of landing on a strange shore in the dark. This didn’t seem to worry the chaps.
Lt Sweeney said:
Everybody knew that this was a very important operation. In a way it is much easier to go into action when you know you are doing something that is of vital importance than it is just to be at the end of a convoy of ships when you know you are one of a hundred thousand chaps who are going to pile ashore that day. We were lucky in that respect, here was something really worth doing and if, in the process, you lost your life at least you had lost your life doing something really important rather than being just blown up.
Starting at 2256 hrs, the six Halifax bombers took off at one-minute intervals. For the last time, Tarrant Rushton slipped into the distance behind them. The gliders and their tugs banked away in a turn that took them over Bognor towards the coast of Normandy.

Pte Clarke said:
People began to sing and the tension evaporated. It became just another glider flight. I can still remember those boys — Claude Godbold, Taffy Malpus, Geoff Cheesly, Bobby Brooks, Danny Pepperel, Ginger Radford, and so on. There were twenty-four of us from the platoon and five strangers at the back who were the Royal Engineers. Captain Neilson was in our glider; he commanded the 249 Field Park Royal Engineers who were to take out the demolition charges on the bridges as soon as we landed.
Pte Gray said:
You could hear the engines roaring away; the glider went up and immediately everybody started singing. If they could have got up and danced they would have. The vast majority of us were Londoners and the were mostly London songs — ‘Roll out the Barrel’ and ‘I’m forever blowing bubbles.’
Capt Vaughan RAMC said:
I had never been in one of these things before. This was my first experience of a glider. I really prayed for a parachute. I thought ‘My God, why haven’t I got a parachute?’
As the aircraft climbed to an altitude of between four and five thousand feet, clear moonlight reflected on the Channel below and revealed the dark outline of the French coast ahead of them. Just over an hour-and-a-quarter later, the six combinations of tug aircraft and gliders reached their release points over the French coast west of Cabourg at an altitude of five thousand feet.

Pte Clarke said:
The flight itself was uneventful, we encountered a few, air pockets, where you fell or you rose and it left your stomach either up or down depending on which way you went. We went on across the Normandy coast, Cabourg and Merville. At roughly 0019 hrs, we heard the glider pilot shout, ‘Casting off’ and suddenly the roar of the aeroplane engines receded and we were in a silent world. We always called these Horsa gliders ‘silent coffins’ you know, it was like being trapped in a floating coffin in space.
Lt Fox’s Platoon, due to attack the river bridge was in the front of the glider when the pilot pointed out…
Lt Fox said:
…first of all, where we were going to land. I could see the shining on the river and the canal and we agreed between us that it was the right place. The pilot said “Six minutes”, I turned around and gave a thumbs up or something to the rest of the men who were watching. Something I do remember is all their faces watching as I came back. All facing me. I sat down and strapped in. We all had our rifles pointing downwards. Sergeant Thornton, without being asked, walked up and down making sure everyone was OK.
Lt Sweeney called out to his platoon, also tasked to take the river bridge:—
Lt Sweeney said:
“Now good luck lads, don’t forget when we land we’re out and there’s to be no hesitating. All the very best!”
Lieutenant David Wood watched the events of the flight unfold from his position behind the glider pilots. Further along the coast he could see German Ack Ack fire climb lazily into the sky. Just after midnight the gliders tasked to attack the Canal bridge began their flight run.
Prior to the gliders being released, the navigator of each Halifax carefully briefed his glider pilot over the intercom on his position and height, the wind speed, course and airspeed.

Pte Clarke said:
Immediately the glider cast off the singing and conversation stopped. I think people then began to realise what we were heading for. We were now faced with a situation, there was no going back.
Having been released from their tugs, the gliders flew silently towards their target landing areas which were about six or eleven miles away. For the pilots it was difficult to see or to recognise any landmarks in the darkness. The leading glider, piloted by Staff Sergeant Jim Wallwork, reached the Bois de Bavent, one of the largest wooded areas in Normandy, which was the checkpoint where the first three gliders were required to make a wide circular turn. However, Wallwork was unable to see the woods where they should have been — straight ahead on his port bow. Putting his glider through a ninety degree turn to starboard, he saw below him the two objectives. Wallwork applied half flap until he had descended to a height of 1,000 feet. Each turn was being followed by the men sitting the dark fuselage.

Pte Clarke said:
We glided for, about seven and a half minutes on an almost straight path. Then the pilot steered a course of about 212 degrees. We had been gliding on this path for five or six minutes when suddenly they did an almost 180 degree turn to starboard which would brought us on to a course parallel to the Caen canal. There was a lot of cloud outside and it was very dark.
After making this last 90 degree turn to starboard, Staff Sergeant Wallwork told his co-pilot, Staff Sergeant John Ainsworth, to deploy the glider’s arrester parachute. The braking effect was immediate and the aircraft steadied down to the correct speed for landing. Just before the Horsa crash landed, Wallwork told Ainsworth to jettison the parachute arrester gear as he flew towards the small triangular landing zone south-east of the canal bridge. Touching down at a speed of around 90 mph, the glider careered into a barbed wire obstacle. As the aircraft came to a shattering halt, Wallwork and Ainsworth were both hurled through the perspex of their cockpit into a barbed wire entanglement.
Wally Parr was in the lead glider with Major Howard. In the darkness when he heard the shouts of “We’re over the coast!” then:—
Pte Parr said:
We cast off. ‘Everybody link arms!’. The singing stopped and the noise was different. I looked out again. ‘God almighty! I can see trees!’ I just closed my eyes then I heard something bang — the most rending crash imaginable — and it went on, ‘Crash! Crash!’ then all of a sudden a smash! There wasn’t a sound.
Pte Gray said:
Lt Danny Brotheridge, our platoon commander, quickly slid open the door and said ‘Gun out!’ I jumped out and stumbled on the grass because of the weight I was carrying and set the Bren up facing the bridge. The rest of the lads jumped out. Lt Brotheridge got in front of me. He looked around to make sure everybody was out and said: “Come on lads!” and up we got. Tom Packwood, who was my No2, stopped and said: “Come on Bill, you’re supposed to be in front of me with the Bren gun.” We were about thirty yards from the bridge. We dashed towards it. I saw a German on the right-hand side and let rip at him and down he went. Having shot the first German, I still kept firing going over the bridge. At the other side there was another German and he went down. Once we got over the bridge, I turned half-right where there was a building. It was my job to clear it. At the time I was breaking my neck to go to the toilet I couldn’t do anything about it. I went to the door of the barn and slung in a 36 grenade and gave it the rest of the magazine. I went inside but there was nobody in there. Outside and across the other side of the bridge there was a lot of firing going on.
Wally Parr was also trying to get out of the rear of the glider; he tried to get around the glider on the starboard side but found himself trapped by the wing. Dashing back around the tail of the aircraft he made his approach to the slight slope that took him onto the road going over the bridge.

Pte Parr said:
I stood in the middle of that road. Some shots were coming across towards the glider and — one thing I will remember to my dying day — my tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth. I couldn’t spit sixpence, my mouth had dried up and I couldn’t feel it. I had to shout: “Come out and fight you square headed bastards!” Then I got air into my lungs. I think I was choking. I was alright until I got onto the bridge. I shouted “Ham and Jam!”, jumped over the road and went straight to were I had to go. I got the grenade, opened the door and threw the grenade in. I heard somebody scuffle and say something so I opened the door and sprayed bullets inside.

On to the bridge, everybody’s on the left hand side. Somebody’s crouched in a fire position further up. A phosphorous grenade was thrown against the side of the cafe and there was smoke and burning all over the pavement. Having cleared the dug outs the other job we were supposed to do was to meet up with Lt Brotheridge who would be around the other side of the cafe. I got as far as the cafe: ‘Where’s Danny ?’, ‘I don’t know, nobody’s here’. From this position I ran to where he was supposed to have been. I ran past a bloke laying on the floor beside the cafe in the middle of the road. I looked at him went to run on but I stopped dead, came back and knelt down. It was Lt Brotheridge. I knelt down beside him. His eyes were open and his lips were moving; I looked at him. I couldn’t hear what it was. I put my hand behind his head to lift him up; his eyes rolled back — he just choked and lay back. I took my hand away; he had got one right in the back of the neck. My hand was covered in blood. ‘My God!’ I thought, ‘What a waste’. I don’t know if it was the bloke himself or all the years of training he had put in to do a job. It had only lasted twenty or thirty seconds and he was dead. I got up and everything was happening; somebody screaming and shouting over there, somebody firing here. I turned around and started to make for the same place I was supposed to have gone and I thought what’s the point? He’s not here, he’s laying back there. As I ran back I thought ‘Christ Almighty!, how long can you last in this?’ Bill Bailey came up beside me and I said it’s Danny, he’s had it, Danny’s dead. I’ll have to take over. I went to the corner of the bridge and I could see Major Howard on his side of the bridge and I could hear tanks.
Lt Wood heard the shout of ‘Christ there’s the bridge!’ from his pilots before the glider began its final approach.

Pte Clarke said:
We were dropping rapidly. The pilot was a bit concerned about the overloading. The glider was coming in too fast. Lt Wood suddenly shouted out ‘Brace for impact!’ We all linked arms and lifted our feet off the floor. Lt Wood had stood up and, with the aid of two others who held him, he tried to open the front door. We just waited; we went in at a steep angle. I felt the jerk of the parachute opening . We hit the ground with an almighty thump, rose into the air again and suddenly we came to an abrupt stop.
Lt Wood also mistook the sparks and flashes that accompanied them as the glider slid along the ground as enemy fire.

Lt Wood said:
The glider seemed to break in half. I was thrown out through the side of the glider which, fortunately, was made of plywood and I found myself on the ground complete with my bucket of grenades, none of which had gone off with the impact. I pulled myself together and I could see in the dark just enough to see the other glider was where it should be and I was No2 which was my role. Having got the men under my command, I moved forward to where Major Howard was waiting just by the perimeter wire up against which his glider had landed. He said something to me about good show or get on with it and I knew exactly what my job was which was to get across the road and into the trenches on the other side and clear them of the enemy troops.
By the time we got over to the other side most of the enemy seemed to have run away, I found an MG34 intact with a complete belt of ammunition on it which nobody had fired. There was a lot of firing going on and a lot of shouting. We cleared the trenches on the other side very quickly and saw some boxes of ammunition and mines and things but nothing really in the way of strong opposition. On my ‘38 set I heard the magic words ‘Ham and Jam’ and knew that the operation had been successful.
Pte Clarke said:
I found myself laying on the ground in France. The glider was wrecked, although we were held tightly by these belts they just snapped like match wood and we were flung forward and out the glider. I found myself laying beside three or four other people. One was Lt Wood who was still clutching his bucket of grenades. We got up and formed up in front of the glider and I remember Oliver Boland saying in a loudish voice ‘The bridge is just in front of you!’
We formed up on the side of the road and Lt Wood said ‘Forward!’ We tore in after him but I came to an abrupt halt snagged on barbed wire. I remember cursing out loud and Lt Wood saying ‘Shut up Clarke!’ in the middle of an attack. At least two machine guns were firing from the position we were going to attack. Cpl Godbold said ‘We had better sling a grenade, let’s sling a couple of stun grenades otherwise we will kill our own blokes’. They were thrown and two people rose out of the trench and ran towards the canal. After about five minutes it all went quiet. We moved up passed the pill box and there was smoke coming out of it. All was quiet on our side although the other platoon was still engaged on west bank.
Some time after there was a long burst of firing we decided it was all happening again. Charlie went forward to take a look. He came back to say they have knocked out Lt Wood, Sergeant ‘Leather’ and the platoon runner.
Lt Smith and Captain Vaughan sat uneasily in the third glider as it to made its approach. Lt Smith saw the bridge in the moonlight as they passed over it. Shortly afterwards he was told to sit down.
Lt Smith said:
We hit this snipe swamp — air photographs don’t show this water under the ground and we had no bloody idea that there was this water and mud. There was a very loud bang, I knew we were in trouble because there was several seconds between that first bounce and then the most amazing, appalling crash and breaking sounds. I went shooting straight past these two pilots and went through the perspex. I went out like a bullet and landed in front of the glider. By this time the gliders undercarriage had been totally destroyed. The next thing I knew I was being hammered on the head and shoulders by the wing. I was being pressed into the ground with my knee at a very bad angle.
I staggered to my feet half stunned. I was covered in mud, I had lost my Sten gun and I didn’t really know what I was bloody doing. Cpl Madge, one of my section commanders, brought me to my senses. He said ‘Well, what are we waiting for Sir?’ I staggered to my feet, I grabbed a Sten from somewhere — I can’t remember from where but I did. There was lots of groans and moans and sounds of people as I staggered towards the bridge. I think not more than half a dozen people followed me at the start. The rest were trapped inside this bloody glider. The floor boards had gone and one of my chaps, Higgs, was drowned in it. I just staggered towards the bridge followed by this motley collection of people. There was somebody firing down the main part of the bridge from Gondrée’s cafe. There is a small catwalk on the left hand side of the bridge. I thought ‘Hell, we had better go down that because we’ll have some degree of protection’. So I charged — well hobbled because my knee was feeling rather sore — and eventually emerged in front of Gondrée’s cafe. By this time, Lt Brotheridge and his platoon were throwing things about — grenades, phosphorous bombs and the like. I was in this square. That was when I met my first German who threw a stick grenade at me. It hit me in the wrist. I was very lucky, I don’t really know what happened I just felt this smack. I didn’t see him throw the stick grenade, I saw him climbing over the wall to get to the other side and I shot him as he was going over — I made certain too, I gave him quite a lot of rounds, firing from the hip — it was very close range. Cpl Madge came up to me and said ‘Are you alright sir?’. I looked at my wrist and then in the moonlight I saw that the whole of my wrist was bare. I thought ‘Christ! No more cricket’.
I then heard a noise above me. Gondrée, like a bloody idiot, had got out of bed. In the bed was his wife and his fourteen year old daughter. He was crawling on his hands and knees to find out what the bloody hell was going on. He peered over the window ledge; I wasn’t messing around having just had this bloody German and I just put my Sten gun up and fired. The bullet went over his head, hit the stone roof of his bedroom and then ricocheted down onto the wooden post, into the boards of the bed between them. Gondrée had disappeared.
Lt Wood received an order to report to Major Howard.
Lt Wood said:
Perhaps I reported too quickly that I had cleared it because as you know when I went back towards Major Howard with my Platoon Sergeant, Sgt ‘Leather’ and my batman, all three of us were hit by a burst from a Schmeisser machine pistol. In my case, I was hit in the left leg. I fell to the ground. I couldn’t move — in fact I was frightened because obviously the enemy were there and I thought somebody would come and finish me off. I shouted and before very long my medical orderly came along and very quickly gave me an injection of morphine and splinted my leg with a rifle. In my hip pocket I had a flask that my brother had given me. I had a swig of that and of course I didn’t know the others had been wounded or indeed about anything at that stage except that I was lying on the floor quite useless.
Lt Smith was now the only platoon commander left on the Canal Bridge. His platoon continued to clear the defences.

Lt Smith said:
We weren’t messing around, we just threw phosphorous grenades and ‘36s, anything else moving we shot. It was pretty rough. After that I went back to Major Howard who had established his command post between the two bridges. I went back to him to tell him Lt Brotheridge was dead and that Lt Wood was wounded. He told me to ‘Stay on that side’. I felt very much on my own.
The initial assault had been an outstanding success. All but one of the gliders had made it to their bridges. Lt Hooper’s platoon and Captain Priday, the company 2 i/c, returned to the company the following day, their glider having landed 12 miles to the east. Around 0030 hrs, Cpl Tappenden, the company signaller, was told to send the signal, ‘Ham and Jam’. The Engineers had checked the bridges to report that they were indeed set to be blown up, however no explosives had yet been attached.

Cpl Tappenden said:
I lay on the road for a solid half an hour and that was all I repeated, ‘Ham and Jam, Ham and Jam, Ham and Jam,’ in the end I said ‘Ham and bloody Jam!’ The reply came back: ‘Message received and understood.’
Casualties had been much lower than anyone had anticipated. Now came the period of re-organisation in preparation for the expected counter attacks. Private Gray found his way to a gun pit that was his section’s post.
Pte Gray said:
I dashed up this small slope to a little field where there was a German gun pit which was designated as out place to defend. We had seen it in the air photographs so we knew exactly where we were going. Everything worked just to plan. It was all over then, barring the shouting. There were a few prisoners. We heard odd bursts of firing from behind us because half the platoon and the rest of the company were clearing the near side of the canal near where to gliders had landed. Our platoon was the only one over the far side at that time.
It got a bit quiet for a while. Our gun pit was right beside the edge of a sort of cliff. The canal path was on the water level. You had to climb this cliff to our gun pit which was about 25 ft high. While we were looking out to our front we heard this noise coming up the side of the cliff. Being a Bren gunner, my side weapon was a Colt 45 pistol. I drew my pistol and said leave him to me. The head just stuck over the edge of the cliff, I was just going to pull the trigger when I realised that it was one of our own blokes who had got lost.
Lt Fox’s platoon had been ordered from the river bridge and Lt Sweeney’s platoon was now left on its own to defend it. Lt Fox joined the conference party on the road outside the cafe. Lt Fox was to move forward and take up defensive positions in the village of le Port. All the heavier equipment had been left in the gliders to ensure that the assault went as fast as possible. Lightly armed the gliderborne infantry only had the Projector Infantry Anti-Tank (piat) as a defence against armour. Lt Fox arrived to find that his piats had been left behind in his glider. Parr was sent back to collect one from the wreckage of one of the other gliders.
Pte Parr said:
I scrambled back down. I got into the back of the glider and scrambled around. I found one — it’s a great heavy thing — picked it up, grabbed a case of bombs and another, three in a case. Started to move and looked at and saw that the cradle was buckled, I threw it on the side of the road and shouted it’s useless.
Someone in Lt Smith’s platoon appeared with a piat and this was handed over to Lt Fox’s platoon. Fox’s platoon led off towards the village as Parr passed the cafe.

Pte Parr said:
I went across the bridge. I noticed somebody had moved Lt Brotheridge, they had moved him to one side. I looked again, there was a woman there with two children. It was down two steps at the side of the cafe so I looked down and I must have been a horrible sight. I’m trying to tell her, ‘English friends, English friends’. These two little kids right in the middle of this shambles. I thought ‘I know, a bar of chocolate’. I bent down ‘English friends. Just stay here, look chocolate, chocolate’ and she just looked blankly back at me.
Lt Fox’s platoon entered the village and made their way towards the T-junction in its centre.
Lt Fox said:
Off we went up the road with Sgt Thornton leading this time, not knowing we were into no-man’s land because, although we knew the road and we knew which was the Mayor’s house and so on, we didn’t know what to expect. A window went up on the house on the T-junction and someone called out in French. My reply was something like ‘Nous sommes l’armée de liberation’ and we started to take up various positions. I stayed inside the church protected by the church gateway. Then we heard the sound of tracks coming and I crouched down beside this wall — there was nothing else I could do.
The time was now about 0200 hrs. Sergeant Thornton took the piat and headed into a fire position, well aware of the weapons characteristics:—
Sgt Thornton said:
The piat is rubbish; fifty yards range only and you must never, never miss. You’ve had it because by the time you have reloaded and cocked it everything has gone — it is only issued with three rounds. I decided to get about thirty yards from the T-junction. I didn’t know what was going on and I was shaking like a leaf. Sure enough, three minutes later, this thing appears. You couldn’t see very much, it was moving slowly towards the bridge. For a few seconds they hung around. Although shaking, I took an aim and ‘Bang!’ off it went. The thing exploded. Two minutes later all hell broke loose.
I made sure that I had him right bang in the middle. I was so excited and shaking when it started to go off. Four guys jumped out. I said to my No2: ‘Give them a few bursts from the Sten’. What happened after that I don’t know.
Lt Fox, still in the church yard, had a good view of the action:—
Lt Fox said:
The ammunition tender started to go up. Well, of course, it was a fireworks display and people actually thought that I was involved in some great battle. I was still crouched behind the church wall and it went on and on. You couldn’t move very far because a ‘Whizz-bang’ went straight past you. Finally, it died down and we heard this man crying out. Private Clare couldn’t stand it any longer and went straight up to the vehicle which was blazing away, found that the driver had got out of the tank and was still conscious. He had lost both feet. Clare — although he was tiny — was an immensely strong fellow, took him back to the first aid post. So we stayed there until the parachutists arrived.
Pte Gray was being positioned by Corporal Godbold to cover the road to le Port.
Pte Gray said:
We heard the thump of an explosion. We could see the tank burning and heard the chap who was trapped inside screaming his head off. It didn’t do much for my morale. The chap’s screams were terrible. We just laid there and listened.
Captain Vaughan, the medical officer, had by now regained his senses:—
Capt Vaughan RAMC said:
I found myself lying on the ground in front of the glider with my face in the mud. My corporal was shaking me: ‘Doctor, Doctor wake up!’ I heard these frightful groans and somehow staggered to my feet outside the glider. I found this chap mixed up in the wreckage but I couldn’t get him out so I gave him a shot of morphia and staggered away. I can hear the groans of the chap even today. I walked away in the direction of the bridge which was only about fifty yards away. I got to the bridge and the first thing I heard was the clatter of the ammunition going off in this tank that had been hit.
The River Bridge
Lt Fox’s glider came to rest fifty yards from the bridge.
Lt Fox said:
It was a marvellous landing, the wheels came off, we skidded on our tummy quite a long way and came to a stand still just like that. It was all peace and quiet. We were thinking we would be riddled with bullets. I tried to open the door, I couldn’t open that door, I pulled and pulled. Good old Sergeant Thornton came up from the back and said ‘You just pull it forward Sir.’ It just slid up and we jumped out. Tommy Clare, who jumped out behind me, had unfortunately got his Sten gun on automatic fire not on the safety so when he landed, his Sten hit the ground and shot a burst of fire straight into the air. Everybody thought we were being fired at. So we made this arrow formation under the wings which we had practised and practised and sat in absolute silence.
Having worked out what had happened they looked up to see the bridge. Lt Sweeney’s glider hit an air pocket on its final approach and landed some 400 yards away. This meant that Lt Fox would now have to take the bridge although he didn’t know it at the time. Lt Fox sent his first section commander ahead. The corporal at the front paused, Lt Fox’s platoon headquarters group…
Lt Fox said:
“…came to a standstill for apparently no reason. He said he could see someone with a machine gun and I said ‘To hell with that, let’s get cracking!’ The machine gun then opened up but it wasn’t very effective fire. I think they thought it was one of the raiding planes come down so wouldn’t assume there was a lot of men. Sergeant Thornton from way back put a mortar bomb slap down on that bridge — a fabulous shot — and so we just rushed the bridge. We all went across yelling ‘Fox!, Fox!, Fox!’ There seemed to be no opposition at all. Corporal O’Shaughnessy went around all the trenches he could find dropping hand grenades into them. I had assumed that Lt Sweeney was already there. But it was obvious pretty quickly that no-one had been there otherwise we wouldn’t have been fired at. It was so peaceful then; I was standing on the bridge with Private Claire on a beautiful moonlit night looking at the river wondering what to do next. He was trying desperately to get through on the radio to Major Howard.
Lt Sweeney’s Platoon were now out of their glider and had started their approach to the bridge.

Lt Sweeney said:
We doubled forward and saw what looked like a summer house with white stripes and what looked like a balcony. I thought, well that wasn’t on the air photograph. Then I realised that it was a glider which had up ended on its side. The white stripes on its side gave it the impression of a balcony in the dark. Just after that I heard firing from the other bridge and the whistle of bullets in the grass. As we got closer I sorted my sections out and we assaulted the bridge shouting the code word, ‘Dog! Dog! Dog!’ We saw some shadowy figures but we didn’t stop. I hadn’t cottoned on to the fact that the bridge had been seized at all. As I was beginning to go across, I thought that someone was in fact there before me but you still had that awful feeling as you went over the bridge that it might go up under your feet. I went racing over with my heart in my mouth, eventually, coming to a halt, a bit disappointed as we were all worked up to kill or be blown up. On the other side of the bridge was Lt Fox. I rushed up panting, I said ‘Dennis, Dennis! Are you all right?’
Sgt Thornton said:
Lt Sweeney turned up, and said ‘What’s happening Fox?’, Fox replied ‘The exercise went very well, but I can’t find [the] bloody umpires to find out who’s killed and who’s alive!’
Major Howard, assuming things had gone according to plan, sent a message that Lt Fox and his platoon were to report to his location because he needed the extra men to defend the canal bridge. Lt Sweeney set about consolidating his positions around the river bridge.
Lt Sweeney said:
I was left in sole charge of the Orne bridge. It was a narrow one-way pivot bridge with a small cottage on the tow path. The Liaison Officer from 7 Para was with me and he went on his way with a small group of pathfinders. I knocked on the door of the cottage saying something like: ‘We have arrived for the liberation of France.’ The little peasant woman came and shut the door in my face. She clearly wasn’t going to have anything to do with me — understandably, because the Germans carried out anti- invasion exercises playing the part of the invaders.
Unfortunately the crew of the fourth and leading glider, Staff Sergeants Lawrence and Shorter, had been cast off at the wrong location after being ordered to make a blind release by the captain of their tug aircraft. As a result they were to land Howard’s second-in-command, Captain Brian Priday, and Lt Tony Hooper’s No 4 Platoon some eight miles to the east.






Here's to the Fifty Second!
 
#20
They talk about what day we should have as a British Day, the favorite was the signing of Magna Carta, but when I think of all those people who gave their lives for us so recently. I think it should be the 11th day of the 11th Month to remember them all .
All school children should atend a service on that day and have it explained to them what was given.

These are my thought s tonight when I think about those Glider Pilots.
 

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