306th Troop Carrier Group glider ditches in North Sea - 19 September 1944

 

At 1230h, September 19 1944, Serial A-81 took off from Chilbolton airfield. This was the second serial for the 442nd Troop Carrier Group to take the air on that day. Forty C-47 tow planes and CG-4A Waco gliders formed this serial. Lt.-Col Charles M. Smith led the serial, towing a glider piloted by 1st Lt. W. D. Smith.

A few hours later some tow ships came back to the base. They were well ahead of schedue. More ships straggeled bck. Some still had their gliders with them.

These were the signs of what would turn out to be a very difficult day for the Troop Carrier Groups that had to fly their mission to Holland.

The 305th and 306th Troop Carrier Groups who flew the A-81. The 305th cut 15 gliders in the vicinity of the LZ. The 306th returned the majority of her gliders to Chilbolton. Of this last serial, four gliders ditched. These were the gliders with chalk numbers 44B, 49B, 50B and 51B. One of those was flown by F/O William Ausich, a 306th TCS glider pilot.  

 

 The glider was to carry a jeep and three troopers of the 907th Glider Field Artillery Bn. to LZ-W. The three soldiers were Cpl. Charles W. Hogan, Cpl. Paul T. Smolinski and Pfc. Hardin Workman.  

Pvt. Hogan explained what happened after the war: "Once we came over the English Channel, we flew into very heavy fog. At one point the glider pilot couldn't see the tow plane any more. He then decided that the chances of hitting another glider of plane became to great in this situation, so he cut the glider loose. The tow plane then send out a signal to the Air Sea Rescue Unit of the British Navy. Meanwhile our glider went down and the pilot made a crash landing in the Channel. All three other occupants of the glider where injured when the glider hit the surface of the water. I was not injured and was able to cut a hole in the roof of the glider and lift myself on top of the glider. Once I was on the wing, I could see the heads of the others bumping the top fabric of the glider. I cut holes for all of them and managed to pull all three of them on the wings. The glider was constructed of wood and fabric and it did float for about two, two and a half hours. The Air Sea Rescue Unit managed to find us before the glider was swallowed by the water and so we all returned to England safely. A few days later I would make my way successfully to Holland."

 

Pfc. Workman had a broken back and Cpl. Smolinske suffered a broken kneecap.

 

F/O Ausich ‘s glider wasn't the only one that had problems with the heavy fog. As mentioned, the serial had four gliders ditched. The 442nd earlier serial also lost two gliders over the waves of the North Sea. A total of 19 gliders landed in the Channel on this day. F/O Robert Kile (438th/89th TCS) and F/O Edward Griffin (436th/81st TCS) did not survive the ditching of their gliders.  

 

 

Chilbolton on September 19. Cpl. Charles Hogan is pictured before take off. He is sitting on the far right.

This photo was probably taken at another glider as none of the other flew with the same glider as Hogan. The others are L to R, Sgt. Charles A. Richardson, Pvt. Joe Sabulis, T/4 Lawerence Mrozik, Pvt. Jesse Moore.

Cpl. Hogan had carried his camera in his gas mask container and snapped this photo of his glider crew on the glider wing. The glider floated for a few hours before the men were picked up by Air/Sea Rescue craft. The men are from front to back  Pfc. Hardin Workmen, Cpl. Paul Smolinski  and the pilot William Ausich. Both Bill and the pilot escaped injury. You can see the camera wrapping in the foreground.

 

Airborne Troop Carrier - Holland