Two passes over DZ-A Varsity 24 March 1945 53rd TCS
The 53rd Troop Carrier Squadron was involved in dropping paratroopers of the British
6th Airborne Division. They would be dropped over DZ-A.
Two C-47 of the serial made two passes over the DZ to get all paratroopers on the
The accounts of the two pilots follow here.
C-47A # 42-100983
Capt. Victor A. Anderson (pilot)
2nd Lt. James A. Oien (co-pilot)
Jack R. Jackson (crew chief)
Thomas J. Dittman (radio operator)
Capt. Victor A. Anderson:
On Varsity operation, 24 March 1945, I was flying aircraft number 983, chalk number
25, serial B-1. My load consisted of sixteen paratroopers of the British 6th Division,
together with their equipment and equipment carried by six pararacks attached to
the underside of the aircraft.
On the run in to the DZ we encountered no enemy action and immediately after crossing
the road which was the west boundary of the DZ, I gave the green light. It was about
the geographical center of the DZ when the first of the paratroopers left the aircraft.
The eleventh paratrooper fell down near the door after the first ten had apparently
made a successful jump. This caused the remaining six paratroopers to become more
or less entangled which necessitated a second pass to enable the remaining six to
drop in the designated zone. Of the first ten paratroopers, all were well within
the DZ. Leaving the target, I then made a 180˚ turn to the left and again approached
the DZ crossing the road at approximately the same point but at a different heading.
I again gave the green light immediately after crossing the road and shortly after,
the remaining paratroopers had jumped well within the designated area but more to
the southwest than the first ten. On my second pass, I went in after our serial had
completed its run and immediately preceding the second serial (B-2).
It was after completing my second pass at the DZ and on my turn to the left from
the DZ that I received concentrated small arms fire. One of the shells penetrated
the cockpit on the right side and shout out a hydraulic pressure gauge, releasing
hydraulic pressure also. The point of penetration of the bullet was to the right
and below the co-pilot’s seat. Before take off, the co-pilot, 2nd Lt. James A. Oien,
and I noticed two extra flak suits in our aircraft. We used them to improvise additional
armor by placing them under the seats and the two sides of the cockpit. It was that
portion of the flak suit that Lt. Oien placed to the right of his seat and next to
the side of the cockpit that ultimately stopped the shell thus preventing a possible
casualty. The shell was recovered and shows to be a German thirty caliber.
The flight home was accomplished without incident. The radio operator busied himself
on my instructions with setting up a parachute to use as an emergency brake, however
we found that it was not necessary for I was able to land short on the runway and
rolled to a stop without any brakeage.
The engineering department made an examination of the ship and found hits in the
elevator, rudder, belly and creased main gas lines. An engine cylinder that had been
hit ad to be removed in addition to the punctured hydraulic lines.
There was a second plane of the 53rd TCS that made a second pass.
1st Lt. Joseph W. Bay (pilot)
2nd Lt. Alvis O. Back (co-pilot)
Sgt. Arthur D. Bradford (crew chief)
Cpl. Joseph E. Perras (radio operator)
The reports mentions the following:
1st Lt. Joseph W. May was flying aircraft 699, chalk number 33, in the fourth element,
serial B-1. The run in on the DZ was made at 0955 hours. Lt. May gave the green light
to go, and British paratroopers of the 8th Battalion began leaving the aircraft,
number one, two and three; the fourth trooper fell in the doorway and his kit bag
went flying out, effectively preventing a quick recovery. \the stick was jammed,
and by the time the passageway was cleared the aircraft was well out of the drop
zone and in a shallow left turn. In the interim, Lt. May asked his co-pilot, 2nd
Lt. Alvis O. Back, to check the plane to see if all the paratroopers were out. Back
replied, “ No, they’re not all out!” Sixteen still remained.
The pilot shunted his aircraft from the outside of the turn to the left of his squadron’s
formation and began gaining altitude to nine hundred feet indicated. Back asked if
he was going to go in again and Lt. May replied, “Yes, we’ve got to get ‘em out somehow.”
He noted the approach of serial B-2 on its run-in to the dropping zone and decided
to tack on to the rear. Lt. May made a one-eighty to the left and dropped in behind
at seven hundred feet. The moon shaped flooded area came at them, then the roadway.
Green light; and the balance of the stick mushroomed out over the center of the littered
field. Machine gun and other small arms fire scattered up towards the aircraft at
the end of the dropping zone, but a quick turn out of the target was made and direct
course set for home.