Shepherds Grove Operation Varsity gliders

Discussion in 'Airborne' started by HighTow, Feb 19, 2015.

  1. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    I missed all the discrepancies you caught in the 53 Lt Reg RA list. Yes I think your father landed on the LZ or was very close to it. While still at a high altitude their glider crosses beyond the boundary of the LZ. He decides after seeing a Halifax go down in flames, instead of doing a wide circuit with a gradual approach, to dive steeply down. On pulling up they have the harrowing experience of jumping over a farm house, followed almost immediately by passing under high-tension power lines. After touch down they cross two small fields before coming to a stop.

    There are power lines still in existence on the western side of LZ P today, two actually side by side, which can be seen between the Am Wall Road and the Leitgraben stream (?). The one which has massive pylons/towers was probably erected post war. The other just to its west has smaller towers.

    I chose the gliders that were either on the LZ or close by and fit all the criteria. The not always reliable Coordinate Translator put them all on the LZ except CN 303 whose map reference appears to be in error.

    CN294 - On LZ - 184488 - 51.731881,6.555998
    CN298 - 500 x S of LZ - 189485 - 51.729256,6.563302
    CN301 - 600 x NE of L.Z. - 181487 - 51.730940,6.551678
    CN303 - OK - 18604930 - ?

    Here's an aerial of the middle and northern part of LZ P by WO Noel Chaffey of the F/O de Rome crew out of Great Dunmow (from book "Stirlings in Action with the Airborne Forces). Not very clear unfortunately and I'm not sure if all the gliders were down at this point. A few of the the pylons of the power line are just visible. Also the plot map mentioned by Jenny.

    LZ P by Noel Chaffey.png Plot of Glider Landings-Op Varsity.jpg

    Great find by Jenny on the D Squadron group photo. A direct link:

    Unit Photographs

    Regards ...
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2018
    brithm likes this.
  2. VarsityGlider305

    VarsityGlider305 Active Member

    To help you Steve, I believe the RAF Glider Pilots are the ones with the open collars. By the way it's posted in the Arnhem section because the original owner S/Sgt Alf Sheath, although in D squadron, did not take part in Varsity but is in the photo (marked with the arrow).
    Cee - thanks for posting that plot.
  3. Steve Marande

    Steve Marande Member

    Thanks again all. The D Sqdn photograph is a bit indistinct to make a certain identification.
    I had discounted CN 298 and 301 as both were hit by heavy flak although suffered no casualties. Whilst my father mentioned flak he does not mention being hit. I would have thought that he would not have omitted an insignificant little event like that ( but who knows)
    I have tried to attach a spreadsheet and hope that the blanks can be filled in by someone. If not I am not sure how much further I can go.

    Attached Files:

    Cee likes this.
  4. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    An excellent spreadsheet! I think you are right in your interpretation of "flak". It certainly makes more sense if a term like "Heavy flak" was used that the glider was actually hit rather just encountering it close by and not being affected.

    I should add when I sent member Alex the aerial I attached above showing part of the LZ his comment was, "Where are all the parachutes?" Perhaps the photo is just too blurry to pick them up distinctly or was it actually shot a considerable time after the event?

    Regards ...
  5. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    The only thing I can offer on this thread is that the picture of LZ P showing the gliders was definitely taken prior to 13:30 hours on the 24th. The B24 liberator Crash site is visible in this pic and it’s not down in this pic.
  6. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Ok thanks Alex,

    I believe this low oblique aerial shows a group of gliders on LZ P. Poor quality once again, but there doesn't appear to be many parachutes visible there? So perhaps the Chaffey aerial was taken on the March 24th as claimed. The view is to the north and that particular group can be picked out in the Chaffey photo.

    LZ P View North.jpg

    More info:

    Glider 272 on Operation Varsity, March 1945

    Regards ...
  7. VarsityGlider305

    VarsityGlider305 Active Member

    Hi Steve,
    Good work although I think you have missed one tug pilot out and duplicated another as follows:
    287 to 292 I agree
    293 missing pilot F/Lt Spruell in LK345 ZO-R. T/Off 0657
    therefore the rest need to shift down the list
    293 Hoystead to 298 F/O Downie (I think F/Sgt Downie is an error/duplicate)
    299 Averill to 303 Meredith
    304 - no 304 listed - ignore
    305 - Powell
    306 - no 306 listed - ignore
    307 & 307C5 - one is Pryde, one is Marshall, not sure which way around
    308C6 & 308A6 - one is Carroll, one is King, again not sure which way around although King took off (0712) after Carroll (0710)
    309 to 314 I agree
    Sadly this does not help to identify which glider your father was in but based on what you surmise about flak we are down to either CN294 or CN303. If only the glider raid reports would turn up, then we could all stop scratching our heads!
  8. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Looking at that picture again my thoughts now are it was taken a few days after the 24th.
    Lack of parachutes on the ground ( all of DZ B is visible, 3 Para battalions dropped there)
    Visibility is good, everyone who wrote or spoke about DZ B or LZ P R and O stated haze smoke and mist made visibility horrendous.
    I suspect this low level flight was to plot the gliders in preperation for recovery.
    The ameicans did attend the scene of the B24 crash and recovered remains etc so I suspect what was left of the plane was recovered.

  9. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    It could have been taken later, dunno? I'm just going to leave it for the moment and try to find other LZ P photos. For example Brigadier Bellamey's glider CN 155 landed on LZ P instead of the intended LZ R. American photographer Frank Capa caught CN 155 at the moment of landing. There is also footage of him standing next to his glider. I believe the same cinematographer also captured a series of other gliders coming into land nearby. I just don't know where they were on the LZ as the background features don't reveal much.

    Regards ...
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2018
  10. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Yes I’m conscious of not hijaking this thread, but just to add to the Cappa reference: my local contact in Hamminkeln knows the area Cappa landed and the area of his first few pics. I took a screenshot but can’t upload the picture from google earth. If you find Am Wall just west of Hamminkeln there’s a large bush running NE to SW ( it’s actually a raised burn with bushes on top) that’s where Cappa landed.
  11. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Thanks Alex,

    That's very interesting! Capa definitely came down in an area of interest to us. I need to bang my head on his Varsity photos and hope they yield some results.

    Regards ...
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2018
  12. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    The cover of Steve Wrights book ( the last drop) shows the area I mean.
  13. Monument

    Monument Member

    I'm looking for a photo and information about Flying Officer Stephane Peter Anthony Mansell from the D Squadron The Glider Pilot Regiment.

    Is it true that Mansell flew Glider number 293?
    Is there a photo of this glider and who was his co-pilot?

    Did all the people who were transported in this glider get caught shortly after landing and that Mansell could free himself, but was later caught a second time and then shot?

    I am very grateful for any information.
    Regards ...
  14. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Hi Monument,

    I reread the latter part of this thread where we try to sort out the glider that Steve Marande's father piloted and must admit I got completely lost. I offered up some handwritten pages from a CD that have proven on more than one occasion to be unreliable. Steve in an effort to make sense of the anomalies in 53rd (WY) Al Lt Regt RA war diary came up with his own list for Serial B17. Jenny also made a number of suggestions.

    Steve's list does show F/O Mansell's glider to be CN 293 out of Shepherds Grove Airfield. No idea, however, how accurate that is. The CWGC gives his date of death as March 29th, 1945. His field grave was located at Velen Germany A 4866. There is a Velen over 30 kilometres to the northeast of Hamminkeln though uncertain at this time if it is the correct location.

    Hopefully others can provide a few more insights.

    Regards ....
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2020
  15. Monument

    Monument Member

    It is true that Flying Officer Mansell was shot dead in Velen in the early morning of March 29, 1945. On the same day, the Allies later captured Velen. Mansell should have been captured on March 24, 1945 after landing. He was probably able to free himself and was on the run and was caught on March 29, 1945. I would like to know what happened to the others from the glider and whether it was really glider number 293.

    Regards ...
  16. Steve Marande

    Steve Marande Member

    I stumbled across this. I don't know whether you glider officionados have seen it before. Might be of interest. No indication of where or when, training or otherwise.

    Haven't got any further in tracing my father's chalk number.
  17. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Hi Steve,

    Did you mean to attach a photo to last comment? If so it does not appear to have come through.

    Regards ...
  18. Steve Marande

    Steve Marande Member

    There should be a video following the first line, which was the point of it. That shows up on my screen.
    The last comment was a throw away and not attached to anything, in the vain hopes that someone might have turned up the Glider Raid Reports for serial B17

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