At Christmas 1944, the battle for the Bulge was still in full swing. German troops had breached the thinly held American lines on the Belgium/Luxembourg – German border. Their goal was to reach Antwerp and cut the Allied forces in two.

From lots of places, troops were brought up to the Ardennes front. The 82nd Airborne Division was placed on the northern shoulder and the 101st Airborne Division was to become famous for her stand at Bastogne.

 

The 17th Airborne Division was in England at the time of the breakthrough. Troop Carrier had the task of bringing the division near the frontlines. Such missions were not without risk.

 

The History of the 91st TCS tells:

Late on Christmas Eve 70 ships from our Group had come over from England carrying the 17th Airborne to A-70, but due to weather got a late start, and stayed the night at Châteaudun (A-39).

On Christmas morning our planes took off again from our field, headed for A-70 carrying personnel.

One plane, piloted by Lt. Warren L. Shulman, went into its turn in the pattern, and as he did the plane got out of control and nosed in. The plane crashed on Highway 155, two miles southwest of the airfield.

Lt. Henry L.Harris who followed Lt. Shuman on take off stated that he believed the crash was due to icing conditions on the wings, and possible the prop wash from other aircraft, which may have caused him to stall.  

The planes in the pattern were at 500 ft. and according to the men who saw the plane go down, if it had been a little higher, the pilot might have been able to pull it out. The pane was loaded with six airborne personnel and cargo.

 

The planes crew was:

PIL 1 LT Warren R. Schuman

COP F/O Harold L. Boggs

R/O SGT Robert M. Kelley

C/C T/SGT Roy L. Harker

 

Dr. Charles H. Fee (439th Group Surgeon):

On Christmas Day, as our airplanes were flying troops for deployment to the Bulge, one of our airplanes crashed on take-off and killing all aboard.

I had the exceedingly unpleasant task of sorting and identifying the burned and mangled bodies of my friends. Capt. M. Horowitz helped me with my task. He was the only volunteer.

It was a horrible day. Merry Christmas? No way.

 

From the 680th Glider Field Artillery Battalion:

We finally took off Christmas Eve. Arriving in France at dusk, the planes had difficulty getting in, and some landed at Dreux and Orleans. The battalion was finally reassembled about noon on Christmas Day. However, tragedy has struck.

On take off at Chateaudun, one plane crashed and burned, killing all occupants. Our casualties were from A battery.

Six more men of B battery were injured on a similar take-off crash at Orleans Field.

 

The casualties of 680th GFa/A battery were:

 

T/4 Alvin P. Hymel

Cpl Frederick B. Cannon

Pvt August C. Teresi

Pvt Doyal Kincade

Pvt Thomas H. Williams

Pvt Alpha A. La Favers

 

Crash of plane # 42-32873    -  32nd TCS / 314th TCG  -  December 25th, 1944

 

Crew:

PIL 1LT Glenn E. Purkey

COP F/O Zander Koop

C/C S/SGT John C. Flannagan

R/O S/SGT Robert N. Freeman

 

The flight was for transporting troops and equipment from Chilbolton, England to A-70 on the main land.

 

The pilot crash landed the ship after take off when he was unable to regain control of the aircraft which had been caught in prop wash of the plane ahead.

Frost on wings, prop wash and maximum load on plane were believed to be the cause of the incident.

 

Wreckage of C-47 # 43-15660 southwest of Chateaudun airfield.

C-47 # 42-32873 on a field at Chilbolton. The crew chief suffered minor injuries. The squadron cose S2 is clearly visible.

Airborne Troop Carrier - Ardennes