Operation Varsity Hamilcar Pilot Martin Wicks

Discussion in 'Airborne' started by Colinp, Jan 7, 2019.

  1. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    I've had second thoughts on Saunder's underlined statement above.The plot map does indeed show that seven Hamilcars came down on and nearby LZ A, with the furthest north being about a mile away. Two of the 3rd Brigade's Hamilcars did land on LZ A. The statement is written in such a way that the one furthest away to the north could be interpreted as the third. However, that may not be the case, so potentially a false lead there.


    I came across the same incident in the book, "The Last Drop", with a little more detail. In that version the Hamilcar that landed upside down belonged to the Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment and was carrying a tank. Both glider pilots were killed.

    "Trooper K. W. Dowsett and his two crewmates had a very lucky escape. As they were preparing to land, their pilot told them that he was on the final approach to the field when everything, literally, turned upside down. Dowsett explains in Harclerode's history of the 6th Airborne: "With an almighty crash, we came to a halt upside down, suspended in our safety harnesses. We had glided down very close to a light flak position, which took part of the Hamilcar's wing off." Both pilots were killed, and the tank tore loose from its moorings and flipped onto its turret. Dowsett continues: "We eventually were able to crawl out from under the tank. We were a pretty sore and sorry crew."

    Keeping their heads down, the men assessed their position. They heard tank tracks approaching and feared the worst. All fear subsided as they saw it was another Locust, with their CO, Lt. Col. Godfrey Stewart, standing up in the turret blowing his hunting horn. Stewart and his crew helped them clamber up and the tank continued on its way to the rendezvous. On the way, they came across another tank, which on landing had gone through a house. Although it was running, its guns were out of action."

    Regards ...
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019 at 4:31 AM
  2. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    That ties in with the war diary entry then. The CO landed nearby.
  3. Colinp

    Colinp Junior Member

    Gents I have S/Sgt Wicks pow questionnaire he says: Captured NW Wessel March 24 1945. Not wounded but badly shaken and dazed by severe crash when glider shot down by heavy flak. Another reference I have is : It was impossible to make the LZ Lt Guest and myself found ourselves upside-down but still strapped in the cockpit...having crashed in the middle of a German strong point.
    S/Sgt Wicks was released from captivity in early May 1945, Lt Guest had been likewise captured but escaped to allied lines.
    Clearly his heavy glider did overturn, he did not make the LZ, with the exert knowledge on the forum does this help any further with where it occurred at all.
    Cee and Gary Tankard like this.
  4. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    I’d imagine they were North of the DZ/LZ. I say this because I’m sure pictures would’ve been taken of it had it been seen.
    I did find chalk numbers for the hamilcars that had the tanks in ( the others allocated to the AARR had the 4.2 mortars in.
    Chalks 259-266 by my calculations.

  5. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    My mistake you’ve already quoted chalk 280. I thought they were carrying a tank.
  6. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    This map from the Saunder's book is the only one I could find on German gun positions. The line top left middle shows Bahnhofstrabe/Mehrooger Strabe which crosses the rail line then turns southeast to enter Hamminkeln. It appears to be missing a gun position or two on LZ B?

    German Artillery Batteries.png

    Have you contacted the Glider Pilot Regiment Society? They could have information in their resources that may provide a clue on CN 280.


    Regards ...
  7. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    That gun position map is very generic I’d say. AA positions were moved around a fair bit as they tried to figure out where the landings would be.
    I’m in Hamminkeln end of the month. Will try and ascertain a bit more.

  8. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    I agree it is not the best and is described as "A diagram from the post operational report showing the German artillery batteries in the VARSITY area".

    Speaking of upturned gliders the 9th Battalion came across one in the woods below the DZ A on their way to their first objective a German gun battery at the Schnepenberg feature. According to Lt-Col. Crookenden in an IWM audio it was one of their gliders which had crashed and turned upside down. Inside it was an artillery piece with the 6 man crew all dead.

    The 9th Battalions WD also mentions it with some slight variation in detail.

    24th March 1945
    1100 - Bn moved off from RV with "A" Coy in the lead to complete phase I of the operation. No opposition was encountered by 22 PWs surrendered. Bn passed close to one glider which had crash-landed, and four occupants were still alive but appeared to be very severely injured.

    The type of glider is not recorded but I suspect if Crookenden's version is correct it was a Horsa belonging to one of the artillery units attached to the 3rd Brigade. It's interesting in the fact that it was an upturned glider in the vicinity of a German strong point.

    Regards ...
  9. Colinp

    Colinp Junior Member

    Gents thank you all for your input and I have my fingers crossed with Alex and his contacts.

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