On September 18 Lt. Donald W. Cox was towing a glider. He and his crew flew in a
C-47 that was part of Serial A-40 that had departed from Barkston Heath in England.
Together with 39other tow-planes he was towing CG-4A gliders to LZ-T near Groesbeek.
During the flight the formation encountered flak in the coastal area and near ‘s
Hertogenbosch. At the LZ the flak was heavy. Germans had counter attacked over the
LZ and American paratroopers managed to sweep the LZ clean just before the gliders
With small anti-aircraft guns of 20 mm, the German started shooting at the approaching
airplanes. Just after releasing the glider the C-47 flown by Lt. Cox was hit.
He wrote in a letter home:
"I was towing a CG-4A glider on the second day (18th) of the operation. I was flying
along in the big formation and about 45 seconds after the glider released - wham!
They were no more than a mile southeast of the release point. The fuel lines were
severed and gas tanks hit. The right engine quit, and while Lt Cox was feathering
the prop, the left engine quit.
"We were at about 600' feet at the time and so, I and my crew were desperately busy.
I picked a field and down we came. Dodging trees, houses, etc. Just before we landed
(wheels up) four foolish cows stood in front of me giving me the most helpless look.
All I could do then was to sort of skid a little so they wouldn't come in the cockpit.
This would have ended our careers with some immediacy. What a way to go. As you know
they are pretty heavy when you hit them going about 90 mile per hour. Anyway we sort
of killed them. But, as a result they helped to slow the plane down. We got on the
ground o.k. bounced over a couple of ditches and through several fences. The radio
and crew chief told me later they had been in rougher landings on airfields. Also
some Huns were shooting at us as we went down. Guess they were mad as hell because
we didn't burn."
The crew was able to get out of the aircraft without injury after this crash landing
The crew stopped under the wing for five seconds to orient themselves and dashed
for the cover of brush and trees to evade further fire. The had to leave this cover
when they were spotted by some Germans who started lobbing mortars at them.
Lt. Cox continues: "We started to work our way out and I was standing in a ditch (the
rest of the crew was about 10 yards behind hiding) taking a look around when this
damn German character rides up on a bike. Well it was a little too late to do much
then. He had a rifle and a bayonet stuck on it attached with a white flag on the
same (funny?). So we stood and stared at one another. He was on a bike so I make
the best of the situation and grunted and motioned for him to come here. It was a
bluff. He just stood (he was a rough looking character) so I repeated. Finally he
just sneered at me and waved me away and went clean off the path on his bike. I'll
never know what he was thinking. Or for that matter what I would have done if he
had come over to me. None of us had a gun. The best I can figure is that he thought
I was a civilian as I was standing in the weeds and had no hat. It probably would
have turned out very differently if I hadn't not grunted at him. The white flag I
think he was using was to get back to his own side - figuring our boys would not
shoot him. I really wish I could have had a gun, but I guess it worked out just right."
When de mortar fire had died Dutch civilians assisted the crew in contacting an airborne
command post of the 3rd Bn, 505th Regiment. In turn, they reported to Divisional
Hq. at Groesbeek and wired the home base. At the first C.P., Lt Cox had requested
permission to return and destroy the plane. This was refused.
The crew was temporarily assigned to a group of glider pilots in Groesbeek and during
the night a German counter attack commenced. Aircraft strafed the town. In the morning,
the four headed for Belgium and were given assistance by the 320th Glider Field Artillery
Battalion. Wednesday night was spent in Grave at a Dutch home.
The following day the group hitch-hiked to Brussels airport and from there returned
to it's base in England.
Crash-landing C-47 kills Dutch cows
East of Groesbeek is the hamlet Horst. Four cows were killed here on Septmber 18.
Hit by a crash landing C-47.
The steering wheel from the C-47 was presented to Patricia Cox Cookson in September
2009. Here a photo of the wheel and the dog-tags of Donald W. Cox, pilot of C-47