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WW2 Glider Pilots

Old 29th Nov 2019, 09:17
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WW2 Glider Pilots

Did glider pilots fly just one mission in WW2 and then join the fray so to speak after landing, or were efforts made to repatriate them so they could fly another mission?
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Old 29th Nov 2019, 10:20
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The American glider pilots would try to make their way back to their own lines if possible. The British pilots picked up a rifle and fought alongside their comrades.

They could fly multiple missions but they're weren't many, Sicily, D-day, Arnhem and Operation Varsity. I think I read recently of one who flew gliders on D-day and Arnhem. But the casualty rate was high.

A one way mission by any standard.

Last edited by Steepclimb; 29th Nov 2019 at 11:12.
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Old 29th Nov 2019, 12:28
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Rudy Opitz was a member of Nutmeg Soaring and one of my instructors. It does not say it in his obituary but he flew one of the gliders to land troops on Fort Eben-Emael.
Obituary for Paul Rudolf Opitz ¬ Riverview Funeral Home
He was an awesome pilot but no warrior. The story I heard was he stayed in the glider and let the soldiers do the fighting.
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Old 29th Nov 2019, 15:02
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Read an article in Flypast the ones on DDay ere shipped home ready for the next fun and games..

Stern stuff

Due to the shortage of Glider Pilots during operation codenamed Market Garden it was decided, rather than fly with an empty CoPilot’s seat, to put an Airborne Trooper in that seat. However, we have no documentation that an Airborne Trooper ever landed a glider. The only story or documentation that we have that comes close was that of Flight Officer Lawrence W. KUBALE Sr. 6 miles from the objective the glider encountered a concentration of enemy flak. A shell burst within the pilot’s compartment scattering shrapnel in all directions. Flight Officer KUBALE was stunned by the explosion and was hit in the face and arms by fragments, and his chest flak protector was peppered and torn. Recovering momentarily from the initial shock and despite his painful wounds, Flight Officer KUBALE took over the controls from an airborne soldier, who had meanwhile kept the glider in level flight, and piloted the craft to the landing zone where he released.--Hq, IX Troop Carrier Command, Distinguished Flying Cross citation. GENERAL ORDER No 1

There were several cases, though, where the Airborne was helpful in landing the gliders. 2nd Lt. Harry G. DUNHOFT reported the following information about a landing with 17th Airborne trooper in the operation codenamed Varsity: Bullets ripped through the nose of the glider, across the front of my stomach, and into the side of my pilot, Lt. Frank BLOOD, through the open part of his flak suit. He grunted, lifted his hands from the controls and said, ‘It’s all yours’. That’s when I got scared. The flak was coming up pretty thick so I put down the nose and headed for the ground. An airborne boy sitting just behind me displayed the bravest set of guts I’ve ever seen. He had his knee cap shot away, but in spite of that he supported the pilot with one hand, puffed at a cigarette and called off air speeds to me. His courage gave me courage. I landed the glider safely.

Another incident in Market was a joint effort by the Airborne in the glider. Flight officer Philip JACOBSON reported: during Market his glider elevation and cable were severed and he couldn’t raise or lower the nose of the glider, so he had all the troopers unbuckle their seat belts and move forward or back a few inches. He had a verbal commend that when he called out, One! they moved forward and when he called out, Two! they moved back. The Airborne’s shifting of their weight allowed him to land the glider.
https://www.ww2gp.org/index.php
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Old 29th Nov 2019, 15:09
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For MacRae, his tow plane lost an engine and threatened to cut the troop-laden glider loose over the English Channel. After tense negotiations, the C-47 pilot agreed to wait until land was in sight. MacRae landed safely, but about 25 miles shy of the intended landing zone. His troops went off to find a fighting unit, and he eventually found his way back to his base in England. "I never found out what happened to my squad or the tow plane crew," he said.Every glider pilot had at least one story of that long trip back to safety. After delivering his troops 90 miles behind enemy lines in the famous "A Bridge Too Far" invasion of The Netherlands, MacRae hit the road through no-man's land with limited rations and no plan. A ramshackle bicycle eased his journey initially, but with his rations gone and his strength ebbing, he readily traded it to a passing soldier for extra K-rations. Refortified, he happily hiked another 35 miles to Brussels.
https://www.asme.org/topics-resource...f-world-war-ii
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Old 29th Nov 2019, 15:12
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The American pilots landed their gliders and then returned to their own lines, their job complete. The British pilot, when not injured in the landing, picked up his rifle and equipment, put on his red beret, and joined up with the airborne troops he had delivered into battle, and continued the fight as an airborne soldier.
The Glider Pilot Regiment - WW2 Escape Lines Memorial Society
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Old 29th Nov 2019, 20:05
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A fascinating biography, I Just Wanted to Fly by Bernard Osborn. He flew in the Sicily landings Where he was wounded, and on Market Garden. His description of being in the shrinking perimeter is disturbing. It’s on Amazon as a Kindle book, the man was a great writer as well as ridiculously brave.

One of my early instructors flew gliders on D Day and at Arnhem, he went on to be an Auster Pilot and stayed in the army to eventually fly the Scout before his retirement.

Men of their ilk seem to have been formed by their time and the events they lived through. I wonder if the “millennial generation” has such men within it.

SND
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Old 29th Nov 2019, 22:20
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Originally Posted by Sir Niall Dementia View Post

Men of their ilk seem to have been formed by their time and the events they lived through. I wonder if the “millennial generation” has such men within it.

SND
Yes I think they do. People are people. That has not changed. Has you seen what has happened tonight in London?

Come on! Yes those men exist. They always exist. They are just men who live their lives of obscurity until the day arrives when they grab the knife off the fanatic.



Last edited by Steepclimb; 30th Nov 2019 at 13:45.
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Old 29th Nov 2019, 22:28
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Well said
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Old 29th Nov 2019, 22:30
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I / we visited the Arnhem area a couple of months ago as part of a wider (mostly river) trip. The walk around the cemetery was very moving. From the headstones there, it was apparent that many of the glider pilots did not survive the exercise - whether as a result of landing misadventure or subsequent combat was not apparent. Although a recreational glider pilot for almost 45 years, I had never thought much about the much earlier military aspect of my sport. The 'strategy' of the overall operation was not painted favourably by our local guide. It seemed somewhat reminiscent of another much earlier disaster at Gallipoli. Nice spot, so peaceful. So moving - and sad ...



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Old 29th Nov 2019, 23:30
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Because of the high casualty rate of Glider pilots at Arnhem, we pilots, home from the Empire Air Training Scheme and the British Flying Training Schools in the USA, and awaiting further training for Fighter or Bomber Command and waiting in Harrogate, were asked to volunteer for the RAF Element of the Glider Pilot Regiment. Very few volunteered, so we were told that if we did not volunteer, we would never fly again and be sent to the Infantry or down the mines! Yes, down the mines!! So, we became voluntary conscripts. RAF Regiment, two weeks at Bridgnorth, Shobden on Hotspurs, Brize on Horsas and Hadrians , OTU at Hampstead Norris, and then to our Squadrons. Mine was F Squadron at Broadwell. Our Army comrades “ we don’t carry passengers” trained us to become soldiers. Lots of weapon training on the ranges, escape and evasion exercises, driving motor bikes,jeeps, handling explosives ,mortars , in fact, able to be able to help our passengers after landing and until relieved by the 2nd Army, when we would return to Uk ready for the next one. I did the Rhine, Op Varsity. We. expected to cross one over the Elbe, but Ike stopped there. I was on embarkation leave for the Far East, we thought it would be an airborne assault on Singapore. Luckily, THE BOMB dropped, and I am still here. I was proud, to be accepted by our Army comrades. I left the RAF in 1947 by rejoined in 1951, and my GPR Training certainly helped me get my commission in 1953

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Old 29th Nov 2019, 23:40
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Originally Posted by kangaroota View Post
Did glider pilots fly just one mission in WW2 and then join the fray so to speak after landing, or were efforts made to repatriate them so they could fly another mission?
"That evening (May 31, 1944), (Staff Sergeant) Wallwork and the other pilots were given a special set of orders. These said that the bearer was not responsible to anyone, that he was to be returned to the U.K. by the most expeditious means, and that this order overruled all other orders. It was signed "Bernard Law Montgomery’. (Brigadier) Poett also told Howard (commander of the Pegasus Bridge attack) privately, ‘Whatever you do, John, don’t let those pilots get into combat. They are much too valuable to be wasted. Get them back here." From, "Pegasus Bridge", by Stephen E. Ambrose, p. 84.
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Old 30th Nov 2019, 00:47
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There's a very nice little museum in Lubbock Tx dedicated to WWII glider pilots that I visited recently. It was quite eye opening. Silent Wings Museum.

Well presented with both aircraft and gliders exhibited. Didn't realise just how many gliders were built in WWII. Some 14000 IIRC
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Old 30th Nov 2019, 01:39
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From the headstones there, it was apparent that many of the glider pilots did not survive the exercise - whether as a result of landing misadventure or subsequent combat was not apparent.
Given that the British at Arnhem suffered over 80% casualties, I doubt it made much difference if they were glider pilots or not.
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Old 30th Nov 2019, 05:43
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Originally Posted by Ormeside28 View Post
Because of the high casualty rate of Glider pilots at Arnhem, we pilots, home from the Empire Air Training Scheme and the British Flying Training Schools in the USA, and awaiting further training for Fighter or Bomber Command and waiting in Harrogate, were asked to volunteer for the RAF Element of the Glider Pilot Regiment. Very few volunteered, so we were told that if we did not volunteer, we would never fly again and be sent to the Infantry or down the mines! Yes, down the mines!! So, we became voluntary conscripts. RAF Regiment, two weeks at Bridgnorth, Shobden on Hotspurs, Brize on Horsas and Hadrians , OTU at Hampstead Norris, and then to our Squadrons. Mine was F Squadron at Broadwell. Our Army comrades “ we don’t carry passengers” trained us to become soldiers. Lots of weapon training on the ranges, escape and evasion exercises, driving motor bikes,jeeps, handling explosives ,mortars , in fact, able to be able to help our passengers after landing and until relieved by the 2nd Army, when we would return to Uk ready for the next one. I did the Rhine, Op Varsity. We. expected to cross one over the Elbe, but Ike stopped there. I was on embarkation leave for the Far East, we thought it would be an airborne assault on Singapore. Luckily, THE BOMB dropped, and I am still here. I was proud, to be accepted by our Army comrades. I left the RAF in 1947 by rejoined in 1951, and my GPR Training certainly helped me get my commission in 1953
Ormeside.
Very glad you are still here. So good to hear from those that served in that war.
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Old 30th Nov 2019, 23:18
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Interesting and informative article discovered here:

https://www.military-history.org/art...-at-arnhem.htm
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Old 1st Dec 2019, 14:44
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There's a lot of info on the Assault Glider Trust (AGT) website here:

https://www.assaultglidertrust.co.uk

The AGT will be (probably) wrapping up this time next year as their assets have been dispersed to museums, the WACO to Dumfries and the HORSA to Holland.

Apparently on some occasions (probably post D-Day or post Market Garden) Glider Pilots did try and get back to "fly another day". To this end they carried a chit signed by Montgomery himself saying (roughly) "This man is not a deserter, he's a Glider Pilot; please facilitate his repatriation with all speed!"

I've visited the Silent Wings Museum in Lubbock, Texas on behalf of the AGT, it's well worth a visit in the (unlikely!) event you're in that part of the world. Some AGT artefacts finished up there too. Lubbock's only other claim to fame was as the birthplace (and burial place) of Buddy Holly!

It's so out of the way that I recall the conversation with the Immigration guy at DFW, where we changed jets to get to Lubbock.

Immigration Man: "Going on to Lubbock? You all got folks there?"

Teeters: "No...."

Immigration Man: "Then WHY y'all going to Lubbock????"
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Old 2nd Dec 2019, 01:01
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Steepclimb, you could also add Operation Dragoon, the invasion in the South of France, and the use of gliders by the Chindits. The latter used their Hadrians multiple times, recovering them using the '
method' to extract the wounded and re-use the gliders.

It wasn't just the pilots that were repatriated on the ground: Hamilcar recovery

Last edited by Mechta; 2nd Dec 2019 at 01:21.
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Old 2nd Dec 2019, 09:19
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What a fascinating instruction movie. It shows that necessity is the mother of inventions!
What I do not understand however, is how the shock of the sudden load due to the build up of zero speed to 130 miles on the glider is gradually applied, so that the airframe is not pulled apart by the increase of impulsl. Is it all in the elasticity of the nylon rope?
I remember that when needing to tow a car to the garage in the sixties (when cars still could stall and stop driving), we used a tow rope on the tug car, a pair of old bycycle tires tied to the other end, and then a rope attached to the stalled car tied to the other end of the bycle tyre. The resulting ovalisation of the tyres was the needed elastics to put a gradual speed built-up on the towed car and dampen the shocks of pulling.
So how was this achieved in the case of glider towing? Can any body shed light on this?
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Old 2nd Dec 2019, 19:17
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Originally Posted by PickyPerkins View Post
"That evening (May 31, 1944), (Staff Sergeant) Wallwork and the other pilots were given a special set of orders. These said that the bearer was not responsible to anyone, that he was to be returned to the U.K. by the most expeditious means, and that this order overruled all other orders. It was signed "Bernard Law Montgomery’. (Brigadier) Poett also told Howard (commander of the Pegasus Bridge attack) privately, ‘Whatever you do, John, don’t let those pilots get into combat. They are much too valuable to be wasted. Get them back here." From, "Pegasus Bridge", by Stephen E. Ambrose, p. 84.
Elsewhere (but can't remember where), I read that this pass was on pink paper. Hence, presumably, this was the origin of the "pink chit" which most officers in the Mess bar late on Friday nights said they possessed!
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