FIRST DAYLIGHT GLIDER OPERATION

 

434th Troop Carrier Group      6 June 1944

Mission KEOKUK

Take off: 18.30

Over LZ: 20.53

Time landed: 22.28

 

 

On D-day, the 434th TCG took part in the second landing of American glider-borne troops on the Cherbourg Peninsula.  This mission was to reinforce the 101st Airborne division.

The gliders were carrying 157 men of the medical, signal and staff personnel. Beside these men the gliders also carried 40 vehicles, 6 anti-tank guns and 19 tons of other equipment.

 

The gliders were towed by 13 C-47s of the 72nd TCS, 12 C-47s of the 73rd TCS and 7 C-47s of the 74th TCS.

Of the 64 glider pilots, 17 from 71st TCS, 15 were from 72nd TCS, 16 from 73rd TCS and 16 from 74th TCS. Some of these glider pilots were on detached service and came originally from the 315th TCG and 438th TCG.  

The 73rd TCS flew 12 C-47 airplanes towing 12 Horsa gliders of which 8 belonged to and were flown by personnel of the 73rd.

 

 

 

At the LZ

The landing zone, LZ-E, near Hiesville, had been marked as planned by the pathfinders. the platoon from the Division reserve, 3rd Battalion of 501st, and the Division artillerymen, under the overall command of Col. Sherburne, had arrived at the LZ to meet the incoming gliders.

(this line handle about the first glider landings in the morning of June 6).

A detachment of glider pilots, led by Lt. Victor Warriner,  had been busy clearing the drop zone and cutting down trees, and the pathfinders had marked it with a yellow panel T and green smoke.

 

The gliders were cut loose over LZ-E at 2053 hours slightly to the north of the initial landings. German forces were around Turqueville and Saint Côme-du-Mont, 2 miles (3.2 km) on either side of Landing Zone E. the area in between was not yet cleared entirely. The Germans held their fire until the gliders were coming down. Some gliders were riddled before hitting the ground and many glider pilots and airborne stepped out into withering fire from Germans who had hidden themselves near the landing zone. A few Horsas landed in the middle of a German counter attack and their crews were missing.

 

The War Diary of one of the squadrons state:

Besides coming down on fields that were too small, the gliders landed in the midst of an enemy counter attack which resulted in some of the gliders either cracking up on landing or meeting heavy enemy fire from small arms and machine guns.

 

The glider pilots in this serial received covering fire from the members of the Chicago serial.

 

 

Airborne Troop Carrier - Keokuk mission 2
Airborne Troop Carrier - Normandy

The first tug and glider took off at 18.30. The 73rd TCS started take off at 18.34. Tthe squadrons began forming and went out on course in Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) formation. This serial approached the peninsula from the east coast over the shoreline where the American amphibious forces had established their bridgehead, to the LZ. The gliders were cut-off at 20.53, seven minutes ahead of schedule. No hostile action was encountered either from aircraft or enemy ground personnel and there were no casualties to power crew personnel or damage to aircraft. The tow planes did a 180 turn and returned as they had come up over the St. Marcouf islands, and GALLUP. They started landing at Aldermaston at 2228h.

From the C-47 crew point of view the mission was very successful.

Three photos of Horsa gliders ready to fly to Normandy. These gliders are in the loading zone. Photos H. Lunday collection.

Left: This glider made a good landing in the Hiesville area. This is most probably one of the 434th TCG gliders.

Right: Airborne personnel and amphibious forces meet at a cross road where a few Horsa gliders have landed.