Operation Varsity Places nowadays

Discussion in 'WW2 Battlefields Today' started by MoeA, Aug 25, 2014.

  1. Helen Arnold

    Helen Arnold Member

    Thanks both. Yes, 53WY Alex.
    Finding a photo of him after my mother in laws death has spurred us on. She did not marry for almost 20 years so we
    are younger than might be expected, so not retired yet!
    I’m sure I found somewhere quoting the landing as 2.5 miles north of Bunty, and elsewhere 3 miles west of the LZ so finding which other glider crew they joined up with would be helpful. I am currently reading The Last Drop, which gives the info from Pegasus archive plus airfields they took off from.
    JimHerriot likes this.
  2. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Helen put up a few nice photos of Richard Tawn on the Pegasus Archive.

    Bombardier Richard Tawn

    One thing that puzzles me is that there are two CN 347s listed in the 53rd (WY) AL Lt Regt. war diary named as 347 GF and 347 RE. The latter was the glider Richard Tawn flew in. So I'm not sure what is going on there?

    Regards ...
  3. Helen Arnold

    Helen Arnold Member

    Thanks Cee,
    I hadn’t noticed two with that chalk number, but had this from an enquiry to the artillery museum:

    RE is the tactical sign for the OP party, of which Capt Thompson was the FOO (Forward Observation Officer and Bdr Tawn his ‘Ack’ (or Assistant). The LBDRs and GNRs were the driver and radio operators.
  4. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Hi Helen,

    That's interesting. The following information won't be new to you. It is just to lay the groundwork of what is known. Unless something else turns up I'll leave their glider as CN 347.

    CN 347 was part of Serial B19 which took off from Earls Colne airfield and consisted of 30 gliders (343-372) of the 53rd (WY) AL Lt Regt. RA destined for LZ 'P'. They were pulled by Halifax aircraft of 297 Squadron RAF.

    The passengers on CN 347 were: Capt. Thomas, Bdr. Tawn, L/Bdr. Thompson, L/Bdr. Homer, Gnr. Moreland, Gnr. Steadman.

    Capt. Thomas was awarded the Military Cross. His citation on the Pegasus Archive reads:

    "Captain David Keith Thomas
    Unit : "B" Troop, 210th Battery, 53rd (Worcestershire Yeomanry) Airlanding Light Regiment, RA
    Army No. : 1483[?]7
    Awards : Military Cross

    On 24th March Captain Thomas' glider landed about 3 miles West of the Landing Zone and well outside the Airborne perimeter. He organized his own and two other glider parties into a body which he was leading towards the Landing Zone when it was engaged at close range by automatic fire, 4 being killed.

    Having twice crawled back to collect wounded and stragglers he finally established his force in a house and organized its defence.

    Meanwhile the house had been surrounded by much greater numbers of enemy and from 1200 hours to 1800 hours was subjected to continuous small arms and mortar fire. Nevertheless, the little force held out and even broke up an infantry assault on the house with heavy losses to the enemy, largely owing to Captain Thomas' courage and leadership. He himself killed 7 enemy for certain.

    It was only when all their ammunition was exhausted that Captain Thomas was compelled to surrender his force.

    Captain Thomas returned to the Light Regiment at 20:45 on the 17th April 1945."

    According to the GCR the following men were initially buried in field graves at Schmermann Skoth, Germany, Sh 16 1/50,000 169497.

    Sgt. R.A. Ottman and Pte. E.T. Chesters both 12th Parachute Battalion,
    S/Sgt. J.F. Smith, Glider Pilot Regiment,
    L/Bdr. E. Johnson and Bdr. Richard Tawn both Royal Artillery.


    Regards ...
  5. Helen Arnold

    Helen Arnold Member

    Thanks Cee,
    The interesting thing is I can’t find those other 4 listed in any of the other gliders...
  6. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    There is a lot of missing information on Operation Varsity. It's always good to put up as many names as possible associated with particular events. Someone down the line may recognize a name and add another bit to the story.

    Regards ...
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2020
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  7. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    3 miles west of the LZ puts them in the Rhine! Assuming they landed literally just East and tried to make their way forwards to the LZ. There is a Schmermannweg road on the outskirts of Mehrhoog village which looks pretty close to the coordinates translator location ( I’ll look at the map tomorrow).
    I’ll ask my local contact if they can explain the location of Schmermanskoth.
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  8. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    The only info I could find on S/Sgt. J.F. Smith, GPR is that he took part in OMG. His co-pilot was KIA. He was with 'B' Squadron the same Squadron that flew gliders carrying the 53rd WY to Germany. From the book "Gliders Pilots at Arnhem":

    Smith, J.F. S/Sgt. 6468819, B/20, RAR, CN-348
    Chandler, FJ. Sgt. 14650728, B/20, KIA, CN-348

    Sgt. R.A. Ottman was a Section Commander with 6 Platoon, 'B' Coy, 12th Parachute Battalion. From the Varsity Orbat on Pegasus Archive:

    B Company
    No.6 Platoon : Lieutenant M. Mustoe
    Platoon Sergeant : Sergeant L. Ripley
    No.7 Section : Sergeant Sercombe
    No.8 Section : Sergeant Ottman
    No.9 Section : Corporal Tighe

    Lt-Col. Darling in his book briefly mentions Lt. Mustoe:

    "... in addition to the two platoon commanders mentioned above, Lieutenant MUSTOE commanding No. 6 Platoon was dropped wide and captured ..."

    So possibly in the same aircraft as Sgt. Ottman?

    Regards ....
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2020
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  9. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    I’ve just emailed you a section of map relevant to this.
    Schmermanskoth is the name of the wood by the way.

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  10. MoeA

    MoeA Member

    Hello together, sorry for that long delay on answering you folks. I just picked up the work on this again due to the fact that Ive been pretty busy the last years with other stuff. I havent forgotten about this and im starting to put things together again.
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  11. MoeA

    MoeA Member

    Ive updated everything I could find in books about Landing Zone A and think Im pretty much done with this one for now. It seems that after the capture of Hingendahls Forest the Troops went into position quite fast and cleared out the Farm to the South wich gave them the opportunity to move into the forest to set up the HQ. I might go back to the LZ this week to see If I can find some more spots and information about the actual Landing Zone in terms of Trenches and Foxholes, I also wanted to see if someone from the Hingendahls Farm is able to give me some more information about what happened that day.

    Attached Files:

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  12. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Do you live in Hamminkeln?

  13. MoeA

    MoeA Member

    Hey Alex,

    No I live in Wesel, on the other side of the Rhine River though.
  14. MoeA

    MoeA Member

    After doing some research today this is DZ Whisky so far:

    Attached Files:

  15. Helen Arnold

    Helen Arnold Member

    Hi Moe, like those annotated aerial maps. I should look at some of the others, there is a lot of information in The Last Drop that I have now finished reading!

    Alex - thanks for that map of the field graves. You can see where they are most likely were. Not actually in the forest, but definitely to the West of Grenzweg on the outskirts of Mehrhoog. I think the rectangular plot of land on the corner is still recognisable on a satellite view, even if the original building is no longer there, there is a newer house. I wonder if that was the farmhouse. Have you a wider area available for that map? Might be worth me plotting some of the other gliders nearby if I can get the time.

    Cee - I think those co-ordinates for the landing put it too far north. If we can find out what “Bunty” is, referred to by several glider locations on the Pegasus archive, we can try to link with 3 miles west of DZ -P for a possible location. Although it will still be a guess to where on the LZ they did the measuring from.

    Still need to find out more about Johnson as he is also 53 WY so I would expect he was in a glider. 2 of the others were 12 para so presumably died whilst parachuting/landing. Clearly there was a reasonable amount going in in the location of the field graves for 5 to be buried there.
  16. MoeA

    MoeA Member

    Thanks Helen Arnold,

    Im still trying to gather even more information on those DZs although some of them seem to have almost no information about them at all due to the fact that paras landed and moved out quickly without a lot of resistance.
  17. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    I remember discussing "Bunty" in another thread which I can't find at the moment. There is a location given for a Bunty in the 53rd WY war diary:

    24. Code Names (for each reference only)
    Copse 186493 Preston

    Copse 185484 Bunty
    Copse 189481 Vixen

    If it is the actual location for Bunty 185484 is on LZ P and could be connected to the large copse nearby.

    185484 Google Maps

    CN 347 RE is said to have landed "2½ miles N of Bunty". Using the measuring tool the CN 347 location (17055200?) is approximately 2.40 miles north and slightly west of Bunty. The question mark of course throws some doubt into the matter.

    As for the 12 para men there is always a possibility that they could have joined up with the Capt. Thomas party. Without confirming accounts that remains unknown at the moment. Some of these men may have filled out postwar POW reports. Not sure where you find those in the National Archives and how prevalent they were for those captured on Op Varsity? As for the grave location it is a shame StreetView is not allowed in Germany as you would have been able to view the houses along Grenzweg Street near the grave site.

    Regards ...
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2020
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  18. MoeA

    MoeA Member

    Cee, which houses do you need pictures from? I could try to get them for you its just a 5 Minute drive for me.
  19. Helen Arnold

    Helen Arnold Member

    Hi Moe,
    I can send you the map from Alex. He has circled the co-ordinates from the GCR record above. Its too big to upload here. I think the road in the circle is probably Waldsrasse when I compare with today’s map/ satellite image.
  20. MoeA

    MoeA Member

    Yeah sure, you can send it to me via email Ill pm you my address.

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