Personal D-Day Stories - Gliders
Tank Museum photo No
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
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"
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.
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