Orne River bridge : Why was glider 95 moved?

Discussion in 'Airborne' started by brithm, Jan 8, 2015.

  1. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    I know I am causing trouble by pointing this out and asking about it but I'll do it anyway.

    Since I have been looking at aerial photographs of the two bridges over the Caen Canal (“Ham”) and Orne River (“Jam”) from the German gun boat Pegasus Bridge thread


    I see that glider 95 had been moved from its original landing spot on the 6th June 1944 closer to the River Orne by the 5th July 1944.

    Any reason for this?


    Inside the glider:

    Staff-Sergeant Pearson (Glider Pilot Regiment)
    Staff-Sergeant Guthrie (Glider Pilot Regiment)
    Lieutenant "Tod" Sweeney (Platoon Commander)
    Sergeant Gooch
    Corporal Murton
    Corporal Howard
    Corporal Jennings
    Corporal Lawrence Stacey
    Lance-Corporal Porter
    Private Allen
    Private Bowden
    Private Buller
    Private Bright
    Private Bleach
    Private Clark (46)
    Private Galbraith
    Private Jackson (59)
    Private Roach
    Private Roberts (94)
    Private Read
    Private Charles Edward Tibbit
    Private Wixon
    Private Wood
    Private Wilcox
    Lieutenant Macdonald (7th Parachute Battalion, Liaison Officer)
    Corporal Straw (249th Field Company)
    Sapper Bradford (249th Field Company)
    Sapper Carter (249th Field Company)
    Sapper Field (249th Field Company)
    Sapper Wilkinson (249th Field Company)

    Attached Files:

  2. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    Were many of these actually saved and shipped back to England? The three horsas at Pegasus Bridge appear to have been scavenged by the locals for materials, firewood etc.

    BHC 00715.jpg

    I looked elsewhere at a small section of the more densely packed LZ N and was surprised to see how many were moved and in a few cases removed entirely from the scene between June 7th and July 5th.

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  3. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member


    After all, it is a kit.
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  4. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    There are a couple of photos on the IWM site showing Horsa gliders being worked on probably for return to the UK.


    CL 793 Men of a Detachment of the Heavy Glider Servicing Unit repairing a damaged Airspeed Horsa in a field near St Aubin-d'Arquenay, Normandy.


    CL 796 A carpenter of a Detachment of the Heavy Glider Servicing Unit repairing the centre fuselage bulkhead of a damaged Airspeed Horsa in a field near St Aubin-d'Arquenay, Normandy.


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  5. HighTow

    HighTow Junior Member

    Random thought - and untethered glider can be moved quite easily if the wind is strong enough. Ask the guys at Christchurch who found three Horsas sat in trees after a gale. I doubt it picked it up and carried 95 that far sideways :)

    That said, I know there were elements of the Heavy Glider Servicing Units in Normandy who were tasked with looking into how viable it would be to recover gliders and from those that were too badly damaged to salvage any usable equipment such as cockpit instruments, radios, etc. There are several pictures of them at work in France and a number of serviceable gliders were built up from "bitsa" (The fuselage section is what considered carried the ID so you could swap tail, wings, cockpit, etc. without it changing the gliders serial number)

    There was a landing strip built at St. Aubin where 39 Horsa "bitsas" were recovered to Netheravon around September but many in them were in a heck of a state. David Hall, ex editor of The Eagle, flew one of them back.
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  6. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    That's interesting. I haven't been able to find recovery statistics for Normandy, but I can't imagine it was very high. I'll add a comparison for a a small section of LZN showing quite a few movements and possible removals.

    LZN Comparison-.jpg

    Regards ...

    Edit: Unfortunately some things I upload here are reduced to a smaller size. In this case from 975 kbs original to 113 kbs with smaller dimensions ...?
  7. tmac

    tmac Senior Member

    It wasn't just the locals who took material from the Airborne gliders for other uses. My father's unit, F Troop, 318 Battery, 92nd LAA, was dug in either side of Horsa Bridge (River Orne) and Pegasus Bridge (Caen Canal) from the morning of June 7, 1944, with a total of six self-propelled Bofors Guns, fighting off repeated German air attacks.

    At the Orne River bridge, when the action slackened, my Dad and his oppo Len Harvey from Gun F3 retrieved pieces of Perspex from the broken windscreen of a nearby glider and used them to whittle little keepsakes.

    Len told me how my Dad carved a Cross of Lorraine, while Len himself produced a swastika. Neither of these pieces of 'trench art' survived the war - they were probably lost when the gun positions were mortared soon after - but what a memento they would have made.
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  8. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    What a great story and it's a shame the carvings didn't survive the war! I can't say I know a lot about 318 Battery, 92nd LAA, but I'll add a few pics of the memorial sign erected in their honour.

    Fox Troop-1.jpg Fox Troop-2.jpg

    Cheers ...
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  9. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    Heavy Glider Servicing Unit: AIR 37/500 Operation Overlord: Recovery of Gliders; number of gliders that could be saved from Landing Zone N was 150. I assume that includes the Hamilcars as well as Horsas.

    I think I have the complete file for this, what is the best way to put it up on forum.

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  10. HighTow

    HighTow Junior Member

    Was it 150? I thought that was the *goal* but only 40 were made flyable and only 39 actually recovered.

    No disputing the documents, just what I happened to see a few years ago on a microfiche of misc. HGSU files.
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  11. squeakyclean

    squeakyclean Member

    Attached Files:

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  12. HighTow

    HighTow Junior Member

    In his last report of 31st July 1944, before returning to the UK , F/Lt R.W Kemp of the HGSU in France sums up efforts nicely.

    Some other numbers of note.

    1) The original recce party survey checked 300 gliders and originally deemed 130 to be recoverable.
    2) As stated above, many of the first batch of recovered gliders were destroyed or damaged by German shellfire, tanks moving through the LZ's and strafing runs by FW190 fighters.
    3) By the 9th September there were 40 Horsas waiting collection from France but of that number, 10 had to be left behind.
    4) The recovery of the last 4 gliders from Normandy wasn't complete until 2nd October 1944.
    6) Aside from complete aircraft, 4098 aircraft components and 668 cockpit instruments were salvaged from the other gliders on the LZ's
    7) By October 150 components had been repaired but only one of the recovered gliders had been repaired to full operational standard.

    Hope that's of interest. :)
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