435th Troop Carrier Group in the Resupply Mission to the Bulge

 

The German attack in the Ardennes, December 16 1944, caused an alert situation for all available troops. Two airborne divisions, the 82nd and 101st, were moved up to the front lines. Both divisions were situated in France after the Holland campaign. They moved by truck to the Belgium.

Troop Carrier units were also called to the alert. One of the tasks of the Troop Carrier units were to ferry the 17th Airborne division from England to the main land.

Another role for the Troop Carriers developed during the battle.

 

The 435th Troop Carrier Group came involved in dropping supplies for the beleaguered troops. The 101st Airborne Division had been surrounded by German troops. The famous battle for Bastogne brought world fame to the Screaming Eagle division.

Another force eagerly waiting for help was Task Force Hogan. This group of about 400 men had been encircled by Germans in Marcouray area. Their vehicles were running out of fuel and ammunition was low.

 

23 December

Bastogne Mission

Major Rawlins of the 77th TCS led formation that was made up by 16 planes of the 77th TCS and 3 of the 78th TCS. One additional plane was scheduled but aborted on take off due to mechanical difficulty.

55.400 pounds of ammunition was carried in parapacks and bundles.

Take off from Welford from 12.50 to 12.55.

Time of drop at 15.45

Formation back at Welford from 17.45 to 17.50

Two bundles hung up and dropped 20 to 30 miles from DZ on return trip. One pack failed to drop.

No losses in men or material, although eleven planes were hit by enemy ground fire.

 

Marcouray mission

Lt.-Col. B.E. Hanson, 78th TCS CO, led the second resupply mission which left Welford about an hour after the preceding formation. This formation went to Marcouray on the northern flank of the German thrust.

Of the 29 aircraft participating, 13 were from 76th TCS, 15 from the 78th and one from the 75th TCS. The planes carried two parapacks and door bundles loaded with gasoline and medical supplies. The drop occurred at 16.25 and the formation landed at A-41 at 17.50h to remain overnight. The drawn and tired expressions on the faces of the air crews as they reported for interrogation at the Group operations building gave ample evidence that the mission had not been a “milk run”.

Two C-47s of the 76th Troop Carrier Squadron were lost as was one of the 78th Troop Carrier Squadron. Other planes received serious damage due to flak and needed to land on other airfields. The lost aircraft were;

43-48938 76th TCS

43-48407 76th TCS

43-30371 78th TCS

 

24 December - Bastogne

Lt.-Col. Osmer led a 33 aircraft formation for another drop at Bastogne. The 77th furnished 15 planes.  Eleven planes were from the 75th TCS flew and the 76th had three planes in the formation and four 78th planes flew the mission.  

Capt. Albers and Lt. Berndsen’s  (both 75th TCS) planes were damaged by small arms fire.

Take off at 10.40h

Over DZ at 13.50h

 

25 December

Scheduled for mission but was cancelled due to very bad flying conditions (visibility and icing)

 

26 December - Bastogne

The 435th had 56 planes heading for Bastogne on this day.

18 planes of 78th, 12 planes 75th TCS, 12 planes of 76th led by Lt.-Col. Robert C. Lewis and 14 planes of the 77th TCS.

The planes dropped 155mm ammunition. It is believed that this was the first time this had ever been done by parachute.

Take off 12.15h drop 15.22h  landed 18.15h

 

Several planes were damaged and the 75th Troop Carrier Squadron lost one plane ( C-47 #43-48718 ).

A 77th Troop Carrier Squadron co-pilot was seriously wounded and the pilot made an emergency landing at A-83. the co-pilot was taken to hospital and the plane got some emergency repairs. The next day the three remaining crewmembers took off for their flight back to Welford Park. The plane disappeared into the murky waters of the Channel. The men are remembered on the Wall of Missing at Cambridge, England.

27 December - Bastogne

Major Curtis, CO of the 75th TCS, led the final combat resupply mission to Bastogne. A 42-plane formation was made up by 11 planes of the 75th, 10 of the 76th, 10 of the 77th and 11 of the 78th TCS.

Enemy flak was inaccurate and occurring from both sides of the route into the DZ. Two aircraft were damaged (Lt. Briner and Lt. Clark, 75th), but there were no casualties.

The load consisted of 134.420 pounds of ammunition and 5.014 pounds of gasoline. The supplies were dropped at 14.45h on the DZ which was marked with red smoke.

Seventeen of the bundles were by accident dropped over Sibret, but were secured by the 101st Airborne Division. Capt. Kearns dropped his load early and Lt. Briner who was in the same flight dropped his load as well.

The airplanes were diverted to A-39 (Chateaudun) for the night.

Elements of General George Patton's Third Army succeeded in punching through to Bastogne, reaching the lines of the 101st Airborne on the day after the Christmas attack. The 101st's ground communications with the American supply dumps were restored on December 27.

This ended the Troop Carrier engagement in the Battle for the Bulge. The C-47s had again proven their value in support of ground forces in the highly successful Bastogne drops.

 

Welford Park, December 1944. Parapacks are prepared for one of the missions to Belgium. Thse packs are either dropped for “Task Force Hogan” at Marcouray or the 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne.

Note the little dog on to of the parapack in the right hand photo. (Photos via J. Nail)

 

 

A 78th Troop Carrier Squadron C-47 is ready for the flight to the Bulge.

Two parapacks on the belly of the plane. Snowy landscape at Welford Park. (Via J. Nail)

Airborne Troop Carrier - Ardennes