SGT R.D. Martin’s Film Footage - Operation Varsity

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by S Hayward, Jul 29, 2023.

  1. S Hayward

    S Hayward Well-Known Member

    During investigations into photographs of Operation Varsity discussed further in this thread: Some new Varsity images? film footage by Lt. R.B. Robertson was discovered to be the source of one of the photographs, This film also contained footage by SGT R.D. Martin and alluded to further footage having been taken by Lt. R.B. Robertson.

    Rather than move away from the focus of the oridgional Thread this new post has been made to provide a space to look in depth at the SGT R.D. Martin footage and any tangents that footage may leads us on.

    Aims of This Thread:
    1) Geolocation of the R.D. Martin footage,
    This includes a potential link back to the oridgional thread (link above), In that the footage shows a burning farm that may appear in one of the other photographs.

    2) Tracing of R.D. Martin's movements on the 24th of March 1945. where did R.D. Martin land and travel throughout the day and who was he with / encounter?

    3) Identification of any further footage by SGT R.D. Martin may have taken during Operation Varsity (i.e. was there a Roll 2 and 3 for Martin's footage?

    4) Identification as to whether SGT R.D. Martin was filming alone or if a second cameraman was present. If the latter a discussion of these photographs will follow.

    5) Explore any tangents this footage takes us on to better understand Operation Varsity.


    Below is the Index Card and a description of the SGT R.D. Martin footage. This footage is spliced with footage by Lt. R.B. Robertson in a film that was posted on the oridgional thread.

    Index Card – Soldier and wall in background

    · Cameraman: SGT R.D. Martin
    · Project Number: 2
    · Roll: 1
    · Date: 24th march.
    · Camera: 29
    · Unit 62 3264

    01:13 - Landing Waco’s in background, position under wing in field.
    01:22 - Waco Crash into tree line
    01:26 - Lane leading away from Waco Farm towards Mühlenrott. LOCATION IDENTIFIED
    01:38 - Looking at a map. – there is still a lot to look at here but non particularly relevant for now and all very speculative.
    01:52 - Waco hit pole, and burnt-out farm in background.
    01:58 - Wide field view of glider field, men heading away from gliders in a large group, trees to the left.
    02:09 - Men by leaf-less hedge having lunch and smoking.
    02:14 - Parachute behind men by the same hedge.

    Major cut end of SGT R.D. Martin's footage.
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  2. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Hi everyone,
    I researched this for a website on Operations Varsity and Plunder that we are planning (and working on). These are some of my observations - the ramarks in the photos are in German, I will translate if necessary:
    5 Filmstill 1.png
    I am pointing out the trees on the left.
    These are also found on this pic below:
    10 Foto 3.jpg
    This photo was taken on Kastanienstraße.

    The one below shows the same cart on the left ("Pferdekarre" in German) and is clearly near the railroad crossing ("Bahnübergang") on Kastanienstraße. On the left you can see the chestnut tree that gives the the street its name ("Kastanienstraße" means Chestnut Street)
    9 Foto 2.jpg

    The picture below shows the railroad crossing:
    7 Foto 1.jpg
    A dead US para is hanging from a tree ("Toter im Baum") in the pic above - below a close up taken in 1945:
    8 Toter im Baum.jpg

    3 Heiderott Luftbild 1945.png
    On the left we see the railroad crossing ("Bahnübergang"). For your information: relatives of mine ran a farm just 500 metres from the railroad crossing - when I was a boy we drove past it every Sunday to get eggs from the farm... And my father was on that farm on March 24th, 1945. I think I mentioned this before. Sadly, the chestnut tree broke apart years ago, it is no longer the landmark it used to be.

    1 Karte Überblick.png
  3. Joop de Lange Dutch

    Joop de Lange Dutch Well-Known Member

    Hello Alberk

    could you point out were the Chesnut tree was standing on the areal pic or MAP ?

  4. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Hi Joop - here it is:
    Heiderott chestnut.png
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  5. S Hayward

    S Hayward Well-Known Member

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  6. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Here's a close up of the chestnut tree:
    Segler vor Kastanie Kopie.png

    Below: Just above the chestnut tree you can make out the glider that lost its wing-
    Kastanie Kopie.png
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  7. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    The field hospital was set up in the 24th and was operational in the afternoon. The glider landings bringing in the 224th Airborne Med Coy took place between 12.15 and 12.45 hrs.

    As to the three trees - not sure, I think they are gone. An acquaintance of mine has s photo taken in May 45 that also shows the trees - and gliders grouped together for reclamation. I will have to ask him for the photo.
  8. Joop de Lange Dutch

    Joop de Lange Dutch Well-Known Member

    hello Alberk,

    i would say for the picture with "Pferdekarre and the Jeeps with the US troops )
    if the chesnut tree is visuable on the lefthandside of the road then the Bahnubergang must be on the righthand side of those troops.
    and i think they passed it.
    what i also see is that there must be a small road going to the left, there is a jeep visuable going that way.
    i think the troops are at the Yellow location or at the green location.

    joop options.jpg 9 Foto 2 (2).jpg
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2023
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  9. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Joop, you have a sharp eye. I think the jeep took a left turn into the meadow before reaching the chestnut, he is not on a road - there is no road there. The men in the picture are approaching the Bahnübergang, they are in the section you marked in green. The horsecart in the other pic might be in the yellow section...
  10. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Here's a larger aerial
    2 Heiderott Luftbild 1945 Orientierung.jpg
  11. Joop de Lange Dutch

    Joop de Lange Dutch Well-Known Member


    i reconsidert my thoughts and found an older map and there is a road turning left. also visuable on the airial picture.
    so yes you are correct on the spot !!

    they are at the green spot and the track / road is above the yellow line. Chesnuttree 2907.jpg pos pic.jpg
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  12. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    You are right, Joop!
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  13. Joop de Lange Dutch

    Joop de Lange Dutch Well-Known Member

  14. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    I have seen these pics before but I am unfamiliar with the area. What struck me is that Martin travels all the way down from the "Waco Farm" (Bushe Family) to area marked by you and gliders are still arriving and landing.

    Regards ...
  15. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Hi Cee, no, it is Robertson filming at Waco Farm. Martin was a camera operator who landed with a different glider in the vicinity of the railroad crossing at Kastanienstraße.
  16. S Hayward

    S Hayward Well-Known Member

    Cee - We might need to revisit the track and tree in field location with the Travis Aerial. I too thought Robertson must have been in that area but this new information suggests he was much further south.

    If we can find the 3 trees I suspect that will give us his approximate landing location, given the first part of the film looks like it is in cover under a wing. It crossed my mind that those gliders landing might be the Medics that alberk mentioned landed at 12:15ish.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2023
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  17. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    In attached still they are passing through a gate on a lane, not a road. I believe they are leaving "Waco Farm" heading south to LZ 'N'. It may have been shot by Robertson but is attributed to Martin in clip sequence which if true makes who shot what questionable. Check film yourself to see if what I claim has merit.

    Alberk Film - 01.25.jpg

    Regards ...
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2023
  18. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Given the fact that Robertson landed off the designated LZ-N near glider No. 42 at Waco Farm (Busch) I suggest that he was in a glider of the same serial. According to the map attached Waco No. 42 was part of serial A-19. This serial was supposed to land at 12.21 hrs (P-Hour plus 142). The last serial for LZ-N (A-22) was scheduled for landing at 12.42 hrs. I cannot tell which serial Sgt. Martin landed with. The first gliders (serial A-16) were supposed to land on LZ-N at 12.00 hrs. I know that the landing schedule went almost according to plan, with gliders arriving a few minutes (up to six mins) early. I do not know whether this helps in our discussion...


    Map Serial 19.png
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  19. S Hayward

    S Hayward Well-Known Member

    Ill add as well, worth noting at 00:33-00:37 in the Robertson footage there is a 2nd cameraman seen kneeling in front of CN42 to photograph or film it as it is unloaded. Could this be Robertson filming Martin (or the other way around)?
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  20. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    As far as I know the Signal Corps teamed up a camera operator with a photographer. It does not make sense to have camera operators filming each other. But it does make sense to create moving images and still pictures in the same situation - and the photos taken at Waco farm (Busch) are all attributed to Tec4 Clyde M Pletcher. This is shown on the original caption cards in the US National Archives.

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