In his own words: Gliderborne to Pegasus Bridge

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Goatman, Jan 26, 2010.

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  1. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    Followed a link on a Google search for something else and came across this HERE.... A Brummy 6th Airborne Normandy veteran reminisces ....thought it might be of interest...couldn't find a suitable thread.

    One of the vanished New Forest airfields (Stoneycross?) was a rehearsal base for glider ops......mostly under grass and ponies now.... one of the fomer runways now forms an eerily straight bit of tarmac for a mile and a half across the common....


    Le Chevre
     
  2. Might seem a bone question but............did you conduct pactice glider landing? If yes.......how many.

    Many thanks.
     
  3. Are you asking Bob Stokes or Lee Shaver?
     
  4. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    It's a question you could put to the guy - C/O Wolverhampton Normandy Veterans Association (if he's still about) .

    There's a plaque at Stoneycross that has some stuff about the ops there - I'll have a look next time I'm in the area.

    Stoneycross was primarily a USAAF rather than RAF location - and I think(?) the troops training there were were 101st Airborne rather than 6th Airborne Divn....Hamilcar gliders? Quite dangerous enough without Hermann Goering's funfzen an die Kanonen firing at you.....

    Le Chevre
     
  5. After an exercise in appalling weather, Operation Dreme in April 44, when a Halifax/Horsa combination loaded with troops flew into a hill, killing all on board both aircraft, all exercises with 'live loads' were stopped. Twenty two out of the thirty giders from D Squadron which took part in that exercise crash landed, witha total of thirty four fatalities. The gliders only carried ballast to represent their operational weights after that until D-Day itself. Generally troops hated flying in gliders as the turbulence and constant jerking caused by the tow rope expanding and contracting caused extreme nausea.

    I presume this chap went across on Mallard and landed at LZ 'N'. When I can get at my records, I'll try to see if I can find out which glider he was in.
     
  6. dundrillin PM sent
     
  7. And replied to.

    If this is Mallard (and I'm guessing that) then the glider pilot was probably Lt. Eric Martin (buried Ranville). Co-Pilot, Lt. A. A. Clarke was injured. Only other possibility is S/Sgt Alec Sephton, but as he's buried at Hermannsville, he's not so likely.
     
  8. I did Pegasus bridge on a battlefield tour and was told by the guide that the gliders were coming in at 150mph. It was the job of a bloke sat at the back to throw out a parachute, like a dragster to slow it down. No pressure, imagine getting it all tangled up :( On landing, nothing happened for 15 seconds or so as most of the occupants were unconcious
     
  9. My Friend Cowboy who fought with the Staffs at Arnhem, had one practice flight, one of his companions had been in the Gliders before and had spent many hours in the water, after being let loose to early at Sicily.

    Anyway i digress, his companion had to be held down after going 'mental' it didnt fill Cowboy with confidence much, and landing in a plane with no engines at 100mph even less.

    He says the Paras from the 11th Battalion who went for a 'jolly' in a glider declared him and his mates as being mad for doing what they where going to do :)
     
  10. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    Searching for an image of the Horsa I came across this, again from Bob Stokes:
     
  11. Exaggerated somewhat. Horsa landed about 60 mph when empty and 75-80 loaded (with full flap). Problem on Tonga was that almost all the gliders were overloaded and the actual wind direction was 180 degrees to forecast, a combination of factors leading to downwind landings on LZ 'N'of 100-105 mph. No joke whatsoever in a dark LZ, full of obstructions, protected only by a piece of plywood the thickness of a thin slice of bread! In the Coup de Main operation, of the three pilots (from the 5 gliders that landed in the correct place) to report their airspeed on landing. two gave it as 80 mph and one (Geoff Barkway) as 90-100 mph.

    The braking chutes had never been tested and the pilots were reluctant deploy them, although at least two did. Jim Wallwork found that it tilted the tail up, resulting in a heavy nose-down landing. Oliver Boland reported that their speed was too slow for the chute to work properly. I may be wrong on this, but I believe that the chutes were deployed by pulling a lever in the cockpit by one of the pilots and not by one of the 'live load'.
     
  12. The first glider - piloted by S/Sgt Jim Wallwork - landed 47 metres from the Bridge at Oustreham, later named Pegasus Bridge. Picture that; a 10-k glide over enemy territory, in the pitch black, navigating by memory, compass and stopwatch... 47 metres is stunning and Leigh-Mallory (?) described it as the greatest feat of airmanship in WW2.
     
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  14. Quite rightly too. As if the above wasn't difficult enough, there was a lot of very bad turbulence that night and just keeping the wings of the glider level would have not been easy. Further to what I said about overloading, a couple of the pilots told me that they'd spent the entire flight with almost full rudder applied in order to keep the glider's wings level. Wallwork had actually told John Howard before the flight that they'd try to put the nose of the glider through the barbed wire defence, even though privately, the two pilots reckoned that this may be fatal for them. They kept their promise and luckily survived, although they do claim to be the first Allied troops to land in France as both were catapulted through the front of the aircraft, to land nose-first on the ground, still fastened into their seats.
     
  15. Jim Wallwark actually landed bang on his LZ. He asked Major John Howard where does he want the glider - Howard replied as close to the barbed wire as possible. In fact the glider's nose stopped on the wire - luckily for Jim, as he and his co-pilot were both catapulted through the windscreen and over the wire - any shorter and they would have become entangled in it, exposed to the enemy MG fire! The DFM seems a paltry award for that feat of flying - and he was involved in a pitched battle immediately after, not back to RAF Wotsit and a fry-up! Jim was a veteran of the Scicily landings, and went on to pilot gliders at Arnhem and the Rhine.