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Personal D-Day Stories - Gliders

Tank Museum photo No 4744/D/2

Tank Museum photo No 4744/D/2

Crossing the coast of France, 1,500 feet up, and according to plan, it seemed too peaceful - rather like an exercise.

Casting off the air was crowded with other gliders, parachutes and discarded tow-ropes and we went down steeply on full flap, turning through 180 degrees. Without warning there came a tremendous jolting crash and the glider was partly stalled by colliding with another glider we hadn't seen, and we only had 600 feet to regain control.

Control was regained, just in time to round out but there was no time for anything else. We landed sideways, rushing through the tall French corn to a juddering halt.
My first pilot, Les, turned to me and said "time for a cup of char Tom!" we had two flasks strapped above our heads; one was still intact.

Staff-Sergeant Tom Pearce, Glider Pilot Regiment

Tank Museum photo No. 1424/B/6

Tank Museum photo No. 1424/B/6

Before D-Day we were all penned in near Tarrant Rushton. The gliders were herring-boned in formation along the runway which we believed to be the longest in Britain at that time. Our tow planes, souped-up Halifaxes, came later.

"Approaching Landing Zone, ready for cast off" "Casting off!".

Then a gentle tug backwards, the nose dipped and turned and the wind whistled through the fuselage. The landing was a roaring, twisting, bumping skidding from high speed to a dead stop and we were all momentarily knocked out.

The side door opened and the pilot looked in "sorry for the rough landing boys" which woke me up. I unstrapped, dashed out of the door to let the undercarriage struts down only to find that it no longer existed and part of the wing was missing. The front was clear, vehicle engines running and all clear for exit except that the anchoring points were jammed. I took the escape hatchet from the wall, three or four good swipes, the Carrier shot forward, the door opened and off they went.

Mr A Darlington. 6th AARR.

Tank Museum photo No. 1617/C/6Tank Museum photo No. 1617/C/6

We took off next day, June 6th in the late afternoon, wondering what we were going to find over there. Most of us landed safely and on leaving the glider I hitched up the three trailers to my tank.

These contained petrol in the wheels and ammo in the large box between the wheels. We had very little opposition, a few mortars a distance away, when suddenly the tank stopped. The driver did not know why.

I slid out of the turret to the ground and found parachutes wound round the final drive. It was hard work cutting them off and, on moving forward we came across the Squadron Leader in the same boat.

We moved out in the morning, passing quite a few of our knocked out anti-tank guns. We took up position near a crossroads, a few miles from Ranville. Down one road, leading off from the crossroads, were German infantry in positions on the roadside. Our troop was detailed to do something about this so Sgt Knowles in the leading tank, Troop Leader and then myself in rear went like hell, machine-guns roaring..

But alas the driver in the leading tank got knocked out somehow, blocking the road. It was very narrow, so the Troop Leader and I reversed out round a corner, back to the crossroads. On inspection we had a bit of paint missing and bullet holes in the tool boxes. Once again we had been lucky.

Corporal Sheffield. 6th AARR


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