RETURN to 43rd TCS

 Rev. 04/17/03

 

43rd Troop Carrier Squadron

 

 

History

 

Resume of Months Activity – 43rd Troop Carrier Squadron – 1 June 1944 to 30 June 1944

 

June was undoubtedly the month the 43rd Troop Carrier Squadron had been waiting for. After 18 months of waiting in the ETO, we did our bit in the invasion. Our mission was to drop paratroopers in the St. Mere Eglise area. Prior to the take-off for the mission, one of our planes was eliminated by an explosion of a Gammon grenade. Two of our men sustained slight injury. Five paratroopers were killed and all except one of the remaining troopers assigned to the plane received serious injuries. Our other planes completed the mission successfully without casualty and with little damage to our aircraft.

 

June 15th was the second anniversary of the activation of our Squadron. We celebrated this event with a fine party. We hope to make the coming year our most successful.

 

June 23rd we made our second trip into France. We sent ten planes which carried approximately 50,000 pounds of 155 mm Howitzer ammunition to the beachhead. Everyone was eager to hear some first-hand information about France when the crews returned.

 

Some of our officers and enlisted men returned to the States on combat leave. All of them were very happy. Many others would have liked to have been sent, however, everyone was glad to see the rotation become a reality.

 

We received a new shipping order and code markings. Everyone has his personal opinion for this. It is another of those things that time alone can prove or disprove. Nevertheless the month ended with many rumors filling the air.

 

 

 

Daily War Diary – 43rd Troop Carrier Squadron – 1 June 1944 to 30 June 1944

 

June 1. Weather bad in morning and afternoon; all flying cancelled. Prisoner of War lecture for all combat crews was held in the Pilot’s Lounge this morning. Eleven Glider Pilots were transferred to the 434th Troop Carrier Group. (See Extract Special Order No. 97.) The detachment\n of paratroopers that we are to carry on the coming invasion moved on the field today and were sealed off from other personnel. We were notified this evening that one of our men was in a London hospital suffering from amnesia; he had lost all means of identification and was identified through the Machine Records Unit. More promotions of enlisted men came out today. (See Extract Special Order No. 97.)

 

June 2. Major General RIDGEWAY, Brigadier Generals CLARK and WILLIAMS were on the field today. There was formation flying in both morning and afternoon; all went well. Night flying was cancelled.

 

June 3. Unit is becoming warmer this morning! The field was sealed at noon and absolutely no one was allowed to leave unless accompanied by an officer of the Group. Orders came through this afternoon requesting all planes be striped for easy identification; mechanics are all working late tonight painting, and making last minute inspections on their planes. General WILLIAMS and Col. McLELLAND gave pep talk to all Flight and Squadron leaders. General WILLIAMS praised Group for its transformation from Transport to Troop Carrier. Lt. Col. PETERSON gave talk to all combat crews—sure does look like tomorrow will be the day!

 

June 4. All combat crews drew full field equipment from supply., There was a class in ditching procedure in the afternoon. Lt. Col. PETERSON and crew checked Radar on 43rd lead plane. Major General RIDGEWAY is on the field and it is understood that he will jump with the paratroopers. All is in a high state of readiness but high wind might interfere with tonight’s plans. 

 

June 5. This morning was spent drawing the nec4essary supplies for the ”big” mission . In the afternoon there was a briefing for all combat crews. General RIDGEWAY made the briefing slightly more military. Isolation of combat crews made everything rather certain of “D” day. (See Special Account I.) Catholics held communion before mission.

 

June 6. Everything is quiet this morning; everyone that had some part in the mission is still in the “sack”. We were advised this afternoon that there would be another mission tomorrow night. Post is still sealed.

 

June 7. Activity is still quiet. The proposed dor0p of British Paratroops has been cancelled. Lt. Col. PETERSON  was taken to the hospital with a swollen arm, believed to have been caused by a bug bite.

 

June 8. No flying. Everyone is still restricted to the post; however, Aldermasten has had its ban lifted. We are expecting our liberation tomorrow.

 

June 9. Intelligence summary in the morning. Bad weather cancelled all flying. Major MATSON, F/O CAMPBELL and Lt. COGGINS went to Burtonwood and Cottesmore. We seem to be the only Troop Carrier Group still confined to the post.

 

June 10. We are to lose all gliders. Engineering has painted blue and white markings on them and they are ready to go. Group is still on three hour alert. 57 plane mission and there seems to be some doubt about it coming off. British para-racks have been loaded and the planes are ready to go. Lt. SANDERS went to Leicester to arrange for beer for the Squadron party that is to be held the night of the 15th.

 

June 11. Post still sealed; bad weather cancelled all flying. F/O BROWN, a glider pilot formerly of our squadron was on the base today. He and the other glider pilots formerly of our group landed on the continent with the 434th. They have all returned with the exception of F/O BIRDZELL who is still not accounted for. Some of them were injured pretty bad, but none wer critically. Major MATSON is to marry a flight nurse as soon as arrangements can be made. Capt. CARNICK hit a fence on his bicycle and was badly bruised up—seems as though bicycles are worse than the flak over the occupied territory.

 

June 12. No flying; still on that three hour alert. A very good movie was shown to all personnel in the afternoon, “Battle of Britain”. Softball game between 309th and 43rd officers; 43rd won 12-7. Six of our former Flight Officers were sworn in as 2nd Lts. last night—they were pretty happy boys” We have received our new task force number and it looks like we might be moving on shortly, rumor has it that this time it will be a long sea voyage.

 

June 13. Still on alert. 12 hour passes are now available. Lt. CAMPBELL and Lt. YOUNG were stranded at Cottesmore for the night. Rumors on, where, when, and how we are moving are really flying.

 

June 14. Weather much improved so there was local flying. We received a copy of a letter from General GAVIN concerning success of 505th Regiment. (See enclosure for copy of letter.)

 

June 15. Local flying. More glider pilots arrived from the States and were assigned to the Group. Squadron activation party was held in the movie room of the Officer’s Club. (See Special Account II and III for pictures and story of party.)

 

June 16. Local flying and usual squadron duties.

 

June 17. Local flying. Glider fell short of field and pick-up was made by Lt. PERKINS. Stag party at Officer’s Club—plenty of drinks, and games were enjoyed by al.

 

June 18. This is a big day! Word came through that 50 officers and 60 enlisted men of the group would be permitted to go home on a 30-day furlough. This is for combat crews and is based on 800 hours overseas flying time. All of the former Flight Officers are eligible so it was pretty drunk out tonight.

 

June 19. Local flying and glider towing. Everyone is sweating it out who is to be on the list to go home. Restriction had been lifted for 24-hour passes. The Squadron has been assigned six new glider pilots.

 

June 20. Weather cancelled all flying. Usual squadron duties.

 

June 21. Weather cleared so local flying was resumed.

 

June 22. List of furloughs came in late lat night. (See IX TCC Ltr dtd 21 June 1944.) There will be ten officers and 23 enlisted men go home from our squadron. Needless to say they are all pretty happy. On the other side there are a number that are pretty disappointed but hopes are high that they will be on the next list. All of the men going home are busy packing; it looks like they will leave Friday. (See Special Account IV for Group picture.) The dance and going away party for the men was cancelled due to our flying a supply mission to the beachhead. The post has been sealed again.

 

June 23. Our ten planes didn’t come back to the field last night but returned around noon today. They took off about 4 o’clock this morning from Ramsbury with approximately 50,000 lbs. of 155mm ammunition. All ten planes returned safely and without any unusual happenings. The ten officers and 23 enlisted men left at 9:15 this morning fort their furlough in the States. They were sure one happy bunch.

 

June 24. Word came through today that two officers and two enlisted men would be sent to the 9th Troop Carrier Command rest home tomorrow. We are sending Lt. COGGINS, Lt. STERLING, S/Sgt. SHAW and M/Sgt. CARTER.  Lt. SEWALL’s promotion to 1st. Lt. came through today.

 

June 25. Orders came through today promoting Majors STARK and HAMBY to Lt. Colonel. They are the Commanding Officers of the 309th and 310th squadrons respectively. Local flying went on all day.

 

June 26. Weather cancelled all flying. Ground school and squadron meeting. Rumor has it that more men are to go home and that we are going to move to France.

 

June 27. Local flying and usual squadron duties.

 

June 28. Capt. DAVIS and Lt. FITTKAU took mail to men waiting to go home. They are near Preston at Washington Hall. Col. McLELLAND seems to be certain all will return.

 

June 29. Local formation flying.

 

June 30. Bad weather cancelled all flying. The eagle did it today!

 

 

NEPTUNE MISSION

 

On 5 June 1944 the 43rd Troop Carrier Squadron participated in the airborne thrust of the invasion. Our assignment was to drop paratroopers on a point in the St. Mere Eglise area. All preparations had gone smoothly. The air crews had emplaned. F/O HARPER, pilot; Lt. GREGG, CO-PILOT; Lt. WHITE, navigator; T/Sgt. HRANICKY, crew chief; and S/Sgt. ZENDER, radio operator, were in C-47A 43-15342. M/Sgt. KING, flight chief, was making a final check with T/Sgt. HRANICKY.    The paratroopers assigned to this aircraft were putting on their chutes and preparing to emplane. In putting on his chute a paratrooper dropped a Gammon grenade from his pocket. A tremendous explosion followed. The crew left the aircraft via the escape hatch. They found all the paratroopers on the ground as a result of the great concussion. The control surfaces on the port side of the aircraft were on fire. Crews from nearby aircraft and ground crews soon extinguished the flames.

 

Ambulances had been summoned. The injured were given first aid and moved to Station Sick Quarters. Two of the paratroopers had been instantly killed.

 

One of the paratroopers died at Station Sick Quarters. MSgt. KING was found to be suffering from muscular shock of the legs. S/Sgt. ZENDER had two metal fragments behind his right ear. With the exception of our men, all but one of the paratroopers suffered burns and multiple injuries. The uninjured paratrooper was reassigned to another aircraft after examination. The injured were transferred to the 303rd General Hospital./ M/Sgt. KING and S/Sgt. ZENDER were soon released. While they were at the hospital two more paratroopers died.

 

Despite the tragic beginning, all of our crews and aircraft completed their mission without casualty or appreciable damage. The air crews really appreciated the close cooperation of the Air Support Command and the Bomber Command. The mission was flown almost exactly as planned. We arrived 2½ minutes early on the E.T/A. However, that was well under the six minute margin that we were allowed. The route to the DZ was followed exactly as planned but on the return there was a slight deviation to avoid large naval units. The long period of training and experience had accomplished excellent results, as 95% of the 505th Regiment was dropped in the combat area and in fighting condition. All 43rd men feel proud of a job well done.

 

SQUADRON PARTY

 

“The 43rd Troop Carrier Squadron was activated 15 June 1942.” In these words Capt. McRAE began a short resume of events at the anniversary party of the Squadron on the night of June 15. After this prelude Capt. SHULMAN directed the seven piece station orchestra in numerous selections. Capt. DAVIS sang two songs; Cpls. VOLIN and SACHS gave a “Brooklyn Style” jitterbug dance exhibition. T/Sgt. ROBERTS sang two songs; and Pvt. WILSON played the guitar and sang some good old mountain songs.

 

The highlight of the evening was the unveiling of an immense birthday cake baked by Sgt. PHILLIPS and decorated by Sgt. KULIK, the Squadron painter. Lt. Col. PETERSON, the commanding officer of the Squadron, cut the cake and presented the first piece to Col. McLELLAND, the Group Commanding Officer. Other refreshments were: coffee, doughnuts, sandwiches and plenty of beer. The usual “morning after the night before” appearance of the Squadron was evidence enough of the good time was had by all.”

 

Now that the Squadron has begun its third year, it is everyone’s wish to make it our best and most successful year.

 

 

                                                   

 

HEADQUARTERS

52ND TROOP CARRIER WIND, AAF

 

G-19  201.22                                         14 June 1944

 

SUBJECT:     Letter of General Gavin

 

TO:      Commanding Officers,  61st Troop Carrier Group

                      313th Troop Carrier Group

                      314th Troop Carrier Group

                      315th Troop Carrier Group

                      316th Troop Carrier Group

                      IX Troop Carrier Command, Pathfinder School

 

 

     Attached hereto photographic copy of letter written on the beachhead

In France to General H. L. CLARK from General James L. GAVIN, Commanding Task Force A, which the 52nd Troop Carrier Wing successfully dropped on the morning of 6 June 1944.

 

     By command of Brigadier General CLARK:

 

                                  /s/ A.A. DECCIO  2nd Lt. AC

                                  /t/ WILLIAM F. NAVRAN, for

                                      Major, Air Corps, Adjutant

 

Incl:   Copy of Letter

 

DISTRIBUTION:

                                  A TRUE COPY:

5 – CO, IX TCC Pathfinder School.

3 – Each Group CO                     /s/ Benjamin (illegible). 

1 – Each Squadron CO                        for  WILLIAM D. McRAE,                                               Captain, Air Corps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                 Thursday June 9th

                                 

Dear Hal

 

     Through the courtesy of Col. BIDWELL who is leaving the beachhead Today I am able to get this short note to you.

 

     Task Force “A” has accomplished most of its objectives, the 505th, carrying out its missions exactly as planned. St. Mere Eglise was taken two hours after landing and the 507 and 508 are holding the line of the Merderet.  Shanley Lieliet and Timmes are still cut off but we may be Able to pull them out in the next 24 hours.

 

     The accomplishments of the parachute regiments are due to the

conscientious and efficient tasks of delivery performed by your pilots and crews.  I am aware, as we all are, that your wing suffered losses in carrying out its missions and that a very bad fog condition was encountered inside the west Coast of the peninsula, yet despite this, every effort was made for an exact and precise delivery as planned.  In most cases this was successful.

 

     I want to express to you and all of the officers and enlisted men of your command our appreciation for a job darn well done.

 

                             James L. Gavin

 

P.S. Generally speaking all is going well, the 506th has done remarkably well although it has taken heavy casualties in spots.

 

     Would you pleases call Cl. Crouch and express to him our appreciation For a job well done.

 

                                  Jim

 

A TRUE COPY:

/s/ Benjamin (illegible)

 for WILLIAM D. McRAE,Captain, Air Corps.     

           

 

 

(July and August to be added)

                                                                       

Resume of Months Activity  43rd Troop Carrier Squadron -- 1 September to 30 Sept.1944

 

During this month we completed 12 Wing missions. Six of these missions were transport in which we carried 413,881 pounds of petrol and equipment to the continent and returned 200 walking patients and 23,434 pounds of equipment to bases in England. In five paradrop missions we carried a total of 870 paratroops and 72,326 pounds of their equipment. The remaining mission was an air landing task. Sixty-five passengers and 58,928 pounds of equipment were landed on the continent. These missions were carried out with the loss of only two aircraft and one crew of four; two officers and two enlisted men.

 

The glider pilots and mechanics were transferred out and back again numerous times. The end of the month found them with us again. Several of the glider pilots were commissioned as 2nd. Lts.

 

The weather seemed to be bad more often than it was good. But the most was made of those good days. These busy days are undoubtedly the ones for which we have waited so long. Performing successful missions and the fine food we are having in our Squadron mess has put our Squadron morale on an all-time high.

 

 

 

 

Daily War Diary – 43rd Troop Carrier Squadron --1 September to 31 September 1944

 

Sept. 1. No flying in the morning. All planes in the squadron are having American para-racks put on. Paratroopers arrived this morning, which leads everyone to believe that we are about to partake in another invasion of the continent—many rumors as to when and where. The engineering department spent the afternoon getting the planes in shape, and also washing the markings off under the wings. In the evening we had a drawing of the War Bonds that were sold in the Squadron’s War Bond rally. Tickets were sold to any member of the unit for two shillings six pence apiece, then with the money from the sale of tickets the committee bought $400.00 bond, one $50.00 bond and thirty-five $25.00 bonds. The men thought this was a very good idea so it will be continued next month. Capt. SAUNDERS, Medical Officer, was transferred to the 9th Troop Carrier Command today; he was replaced by Capt. FREILLHEIT, a Flight Surgeon. More promotions of enlisted men came out today. (See Special Order No. 154.)

 

Sept. 2. All flying has been cancelled due to some very bad weather. If the weather clears, it looks like the mission will be held tonight. All the combat crews were told to report to the briefing room at 0200 hours in the morning. At 2400 hours worked came through that the mission has been postponed; everyone seems rather browned off as they want to make this drop.

 

Sept. 3. All combat crews and jumpmasters were in the briefing room at 1000 hours and were briefed for this mission. The briefing lasted about two hours. After the briefing all combat crews went to the Intelligence Section and picked up their escape kits and purses. They were then taken to the Officer’s Club where they were put under confinement. The paratroopers were seen putting on their equipment this morning and making those last minute adjustments. Late in the afternoon word came through that the mission had been scratched—seems the ground forces have reaches the DZ.

 

Sept. 4. Rain in both morning and afternoon. All flying for the day has been cancelled. The paratroopers are gathering up their equipment and preparing to move back to their own camp. All men are pretty well browned off—seems every time a mission is scheduled, it is scratched.

 

Sept. 5. The rain still comes down. All flying has been cancelled for the morning. There was a French class in the briefing room for all combat crews. Weather not too good but there was some local flying in the afternoon.

 

Sept. 6. A big practice review in the morning in preparation of our being officially presented with the Presidential Citation. The actual review is supposed to come off Saturday when Gen. WILLIAMS will be down to make the presentation. Local flying in the afternoon. This has been the first good weather we have had in about a week.

 

Sept. 7. Local flying in the morning. In the afternoon we had some more English rain, but there was some local flying. The British Airborne Infantry is practicing loading their equipment on our planes. They have a 40mm Morris gun that takes two hours to load and one hour to unload. It is really quire a sight watching this gun crew go into action when one of our planes pulls up to a loading ramp. It reminds the watcher of a football game the way those boys call signals. The glider pilots that we sent to the 442nd Troop Carrier Group returned today. (See Special Order No. 157.)

 

Sept. 8. A slight rain in the morning, but there was some local flying. In the afternoon 18 planes from our squadron took part in a Group formation; all went well. The British Airborne Infantry are now on the post. All the combat crews are hoping that this one won’t be scratched. The post is still sealed.

 

Sept. 9. A wonderful change in the weather today. This is really a lovely day. In the morning there was a group practice formation. We had 15 planes from our squadron participating in this; all went according to plan. In the afternoon word came through that the mission with one British Airborne Infantry has been postponed till tomorrow morning. We took part in another group formation this afternoon.

 

Sept. 10. The mission has been postponed again. There was a football game between our officers in the morning. Also, there was some local flying. The weather remains good which is almost unbelievable. In the afternoon we had 18 planes in another group practice formation. At 1600 hours it was announced that the mission with the British Airborne troops had been scratched. The restriction of the post has been lifted so now 6 and 12 hour passes are available.

 

Sept. 11. All combat crews reported to th briefing room and were briefed on a freight run to France. At 1100 hours 23 planes from our squadron took off for  Wamsbury. From there they proceeded to an airfield near Rheims, their load consisting of badly needed petrol. At 2130 hours the last aircraft from our squadron landed here at the base. The consolidated report for the entire squadron shows that we took over 114,500 pounds of petrol and we brought back 230 empty petrol cans. All the men said they had never seen so many transports going into one airfield in all of their flying career. The talk over there was that General PATTON had been without petrol for the last three days. Everyone hopes that our little bit will do him some good.

 

Sept. 12. At 0400 hours the combat crews were gotten up and told to report to the briefing room at 0515 hours to be briefed on another freight run. At 0700 hours 20 planes from our Squadron took off for Kemble and were loaded with British ammunition. All planes were loaded and at 1015 hours they took off for an airfield just outside of Brussels. We carried over to this airfield 102,000 pounds of ammunition; all of our planes returned empty. When all planes had returned, the engineering department worked late in the night pulling inspections, gassing up and generally getting ready for another freight run in the morning. The passes opened up for all ground personnel; they are now able to get 24 hours off each week. Ice cream and apple pie was one of the highlights of the day; this was served at the noon meal.

 

Sept. 13. Another mission to the continent again this morning. At 0830 hours nine planes form our squadron took off for Kemble where they were loaded with ammunition. The lead plane of this flight, piloted by Lt. Col. LYON, Group Commanding Officer, took over ammunition and some badly needed maps. They took off from Kemble at 1430 hours and arrived at an airfield just outside of Brussels at 1700 hours. At 1930 hours four planes of this flight returned back to this base; the others are staying at Kemble airdrome and will make another trip in the morning. The four planes that came back to this base carried over to the continent a total of 19,300 pounds of ammunition. At 1055 hours 11 planes from our squadron took off on another mission to the continent, led by Lt. Col. PETERSON, Squadron Commanding Officer. There was a slight “snafu” at the briefing as Wing sent down the wrong dope on the place and airdrome. The flight went to Cherbough, arriving there at 1225 hours. They were loaded with 58,080 pounds of petrol and proceeded on to the briefed airfield which was near Rheims. After landing, they found out that the airfield they were supposed to go to was up near Brussels. They took off from Rheims, went to Brussels, delivered their load and arrived back at base at 2000 hours. Group operations took a great amount of ribbing due to Wing’s mistake. “We only missed the LZ by a country”, was the comment going the rounds.

 

Sept. 14. There were 13 planes scheduled to go to France at 0800 hours this morning but this was postponed till 1100 hours due to bad weather. At 1100 hours this mission was called off on Wing’s orders. The five aircraft that stayed at Kemble overnight in order to make another to the continent arrived back at the field at 1930 hours with full load. They were over the continent with their load but had to return due to bad weather. Trucks are starting to bring American paratrooper’s equipment on the base today; looks like another mission is in the making.

 

Sept. 15. Local flying in morning and afternoon. The paratroopers arrived today in very great strength. Lots of rumors making the rounds as to when and where this next drop will come off.

 

Sept. 16. The paratroopers are on the field and ready to go. They all seem very eager to make this trip as they have been in on so many dry runs lately. At 1200 hours the post was sealed. In the afternoon all combat crews were given a lecture on escape. After this lecture they were given their escape purses and kits by the Intelligence Department. There still seems to be a lot of doubt as to where the drop will take place. All bets seem to be placed on Holland. Twenty-two glider pilots left today for the 313th Troop Carrier Group. (See Special Order No. 102.)

 

Sept. 17. At 0900 hours the combat crews reported to the briefing room and were told the dope on the mission. At 1024 hours the first of 23 planes from our squadron took off for Holland loaded with 241 paratroopers and 120 para-racks weighing 22,245 pounds. Everybody’s really sweating the boys out as this is the first time we have dropped paratroopers in the daylight over enemy territory. At 1530 hours the last aircraft of our squadron landed. Three of our planes were hit by ground fire but none of the personnel were injured. The paratroopers were all dropped on the DZ which is something that everyone really sweats out. Col. McLELLAND, Group Commanding Officer, and Major MATSON, Squadron Operations Officer, arrived from their furlough in the States just in time to watch the boys take off. After the crews were interrogated, they were told that there would be another mission in the morning—this time with British paratroopers. There was delicious chicken to be had by all at the evening meal.

 

Sept. 18. The crews of the 13 planes that are scheduled to carry the British paratroopers, were brief at 1000 hours this morning. The first plane of our flight took to the air at 1125 hours this morning. Our squadron carried a load of 225 paratroopers and 41 para-racks, weighting 12,015 pounds. At 1640 hours the last plane of the squadron touched the ground, completing what was described as a mighty tough mission. They said that about ten miles from the DZ a B-17 flew through the formation and from then on in there was plenty of flak. It is believed that this B-17 was one captured by the “Jerry’s” and was radioing their height and position to the flak guns. We lost one plane: Lt. SPURRIER’s plane was hit by flak, hit a high tension wire bellied into the ground and exploded. It was knot known if any of the crew escaped, but there is still some hope as some of the crews reported seeing parachutes come from the plane just before the crash. Again, after the interrogation the crews were told that there would be another drop in the morning, this time with Polish paratroopers. From the way things are going, this new invasion makes D-Day look like a tea party. We sent one plane on a supply mission but the weather over the channel forced this plane to return back to base. Late in the evening the air crews that had been home on furlough, reported back to this base. They all said they had had a wonderful time but were just as glad to be back with the old gang.

 

Sept. 19.Briefing was originally planned for 0500 hours but due to bad weather it was moved back to 1000 hours. The briefing over, all of the crews reported to their planes but weather is so bad that it has been called off until the afternoon. Everybody’s sweating it out but weather remains bad. At 1430 hours Lt. Col. GIBBONS, Group Operations Officer, sent around word that it was postponed for 24 hours. (It seems that the Polish troops are a jinx to this Group. The last time we carried them on a practice mission, two planes from the 309th Squadron crashed in mid-air.

 

Sept. 20. The weather still remains bad; briefing was held at 1230 hours and take-off was scheduled at 1400 hours. At five minutes before take-off the mission was cancelled, due to the bad weather. We transferred six planes to the 316th Troop Carrier Group and one plane to the 313th Troop Carrier Group. It seems these groups had a little tougher luck than we did on this new invasion. The men that went down to the 316th said that about every one of their planes that came back looked like a sieve.

 

Sept. 21.  The weather is still pretty bad but it looks like we might have to run this mission with the Polish paratroopers as they are very badly needed as reinforcements over in Holland. At 1310 hours 14 planes from our Squadron took off for Holland. This was a

Group formation led by our Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. PETERSON. The planes ran into very bad weather near the coast and after unsuccessfully trying to go and above this front, the order was given to turn around and go back. One plane, piloted by Lt. DANIEL, in trying to go up through this front stalled out and he did a slow roll in recovering control of the plane. The jumpmaster on this plane must have thought that the time had come, so not wasting any time he hit the silk. The crew chief said that he would probably wipe out a small town before he found out he was still in England. All but two planes found their back to this base. One of these, piloted by Capt, MATSUORFF, sent word in that he was in Brussels. No word has been received from the other plane, piloted by F/O COOK and it is feared that he must have crashed. The boys are going to try again tomorrow.

 

Sept. 22. At 0600 hours this morning all the combat crews were awakened; the crew chefs and radio operators were told to be out to their planes at 0730 hours. The pilots were told to be in the briefing room at that time. After much running around, the mission was postponed for 24 hours—this notice coming from Wing at 0800 hours. The pilots and crews went back to their huts to finish out the night’s sleep. Then at 0930 hours word came through that the air-landing mission would come off and they would take off at 1200 hours for Holland. All crew chiefs and radio operators reported to their planes, the pilots and navigators were briefed and were out to their planes by 1030 hours. At 1200 hours the first of 18 planes from our squadron took to the air led by Col. McLELLAND, Group Commanding Officer. Our Squadron carried to the continent 58,925 pounds of combat equipment and 65 British Airborne Infantry. They all returned at 1830 hours and the mission was termed a huge success. We received a copy of a letter sent to Brig. General CLARK by Gen. GAVIN written in the field while General GAVIN was in Holland. (See enclosures for True Copy of letter.)

 

Sept. 27. The weather in the morning was not too good but there was some glider towing. Te Glider Infantry boys came over to the field and got in their time this morning. In the afternoon we sent eight planes to Brussels with 40,000 pounds of ammunition for the British 2nd Army. These planes took off at t1500 hours and arrived back at base at 2210 hours.

 

Sept. 28. All crews were gotten up early this morning as there is a schedule of 18 planes to go to an airfield near Nancy. At 0750 hours the planes took off loaded with 89,334 pounds of clothing and tentage. After unloading at the airfield near Nancy, ten planes of the Squadron took off for an airfield in the Paris area where they were loaded with 266 walking patients whom they brought back to this country. The other eight planes returned from France empty. It seems now that we are really earning that good chow that our cooks are putting out. Five of our old glider pilots arrived back from the 316th Troop Carrier Group today. (See Special Order No. 171) They went into Holland with that Group.

 

Sept. 29. Another freight run to Brussels today. At 0745 hours 15 aircraft from our Squadron took off for Lyneham where they were loaded with 94,958 pounds of petrol. After being loaded, the planes came back to the base, the trip to the continent being called off due to weather. All men were put on the alert as the planes are going over to the continent the first thing in the morning. We received some of our old glider pilots back today. (See special Order No. 172.)

 

Sept. 30. At 0800 hours the planes took off for Brussels with their load of petrol. At 1030 hours they landed on the continent, unloaded and returned back to the field, arriving at 1400 hours. Also, we had three other planes on another supply mission to the continent. They left at 0—2 hours loaded with 19,900 pounds of petrol for an airfield near Rheims. These planes ran into bad weather and are saying at an airfield on the continent overnight. At night we had, without a doubt, one of the best meals since our coming to the ETO. It consisted of fried steak, French fried potatoes and all the fixings. As usual, the Eagle did it again today!

 

 

AIRBORNE

AA

 

HEADQUARTERS 82ND AIRBORNE DIVISION

Office of the Division Commander

 

                                   APO 469 – In the Field

                                   26 September 1944

 

Brig. Gen. Harold Clark,

Commanding General,

52nd Troop Carrier Wing.

 

Dear Hal:

 

     Captain THORNTON, Air Liaison Officer on my staff, is

returning to the UK today. I am having him take back a German battle flag captured in NIGMEGEN, on the occasion of its seizure by the 82nd Airborne Division.

 

     Our parachute drops and glider landings were the best in

the history of the Division.  The courageous performance of your

pilots has been the admiration of all of us.  Thank you very much

for all that you have done for us. Hope that we can all see you

soon.

 

                        Cordially

 

                         /s/     Jim

 

                         JAMES M. GAVIN,

                      Brigadier General, U.S. Army,

                             Commanding

 

                                  A TRUE COPY:

 

                                /s/

 

                                  WILLIAM D. McRAE,

                                  Captain, Air Corps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

STATEMENT OF CPL. RUSSELL M. SMITH

                                                                     9 October 1944

 

      My name is Russell M. Smith, ASN 14050088, 43rd Troop Carrier Squadron, 315th Troop Carrier Group, APO 133, Station 493. On September 18, 1944 at 1120 hours I took off from Spanhoe loaded with 17 British paratroopers and carrying three containers flying in ship No. 43-16032, pilot was Lt. SPURRIER, co-pilot Lt. FULMER and radio operator Cpl. William T. HOLLIS., all of the same organization. We proceeded in formation via the prescribed route on the right wing of Lt. Col. Otto H. PETERSON crossing the coast of Holland near Scheldt estuary, we encountered no flak until reaching a point somewhere near Hertogenbosch after we had turned towards the north.

 

At about 1415 hours I realized that our plane had been hit somewhere in the right wind and cockpit; my paratroopers were standing up in a jump position; the radio operator opened the door leading to the cockpit and I could see there was a fire up front and although I was on the interphone and had had no orders nor had the jump signal come on, I ordered the paratroopers to jump. There was some confusion while these men were jumping as one trooper got his foot fouled in the lines and, before they were all out, we had been hit numerous other times by gunfire and flak and we were rapidly losing altitude, I ordered the radio operator to jump and I tn=hen followed. I opened my chute as I left the door, the chute opened just as I hit the ground. I injured my right ankle and foot in the jump. I had jumped into a field about a mile south of Opheusden between the Waal River and the Rhine River about two miles east of Kesteren in Holland. I saw the plane burning furiously about 200 feet from me. I went to the radio operator who was lying face down near me. I found he had internal injuries as blood was rushing from his nose, mouth and ears. Civilians had gathered and a doctor was called. I was directed to a place of hiding until night time at which time I was taken to a home, kept overnight, provided with civilian clothes and the following day 10th September, 1944 was taken to Kesteren by bicycle to join some British paratroopers who were gathered in a farm house there. These troopers were men who had been in my plane. They reported that one of their number had been killed in the jump as his chute had been damaged by flak in the plane. I stayed with these men at this place until the night of 21 September, 1944 (we were fed by the civilian populace) and on that night we moved to Lienden and stayed there three days. We later went to Ingen, both places west of Kesteren, stayed there one day, then moved south to a point just north of Tiel on the Waal River where we stayed two weeks. Fifteen of the paratroopers who could walk had left me and another injured paratrooper at Kewsteren and had proceeded to Nijmegen. We stayed at the point north of Tiel for two weeks,. It was an underground passing point., We were taken across the river one night where we were met by an American S-2 officer. Next day October 12, 1944 we were taken to Brussels where we were again interrogated by an American S-2 officer, Capt. PURDY. There we were given a British uniform and on 13 October, 1944 we were sent to the United Kingdom and directed to 63 Brooke St., in London where I was again interrogated, provided with some papers, directed to Widewing where I was given a medical, additional orders and told to return to squadron and clear up all personal matters and return to London, where I am later to report to replacement depot at Stone for shipment to USA.

 

     I have read the above and it is true:

 

                                  /s/ Russell M. SMITH

Witness: /s/ WD McRAE                 /t/ Cpl. Russell M. SMITH

              /t/ W.D. NcRAE, Capt. AC

 

Note: I was told by the underground that Hollis was buried at Opheusden inside the gate of the civilian cemetery. I don’t know anything definite about Spurrier.

 

                             A TRUE COPY: 

 

                             /s/ William D. McRAE,

                             /t/ WILLIAM D. McRAE,

                                 Captain, Air Corps.

 

 

 

 

(October 1944

November 1944

December 1944

January 1945

February 1945

To be added)

 

Resume of Months Activity - 43rd Troop Carrier Squadron -- 1 March to 31 March 1945

 

March 1945 was a big month for the 43rd Troop Carrier Squadron. The most outstanding event of the month was our participation in combat mission “Varsity”, which was a paradrop across the Rhine River. In this mission we sustained a greater loss in personnel and aircraft than our combined losses overseas; a period of 28 months. The total personnel loss was: two wounded and 26 missing. Three aircraft returned with major damages, six aircraft are missing and the status of one aircraft, which crash landed on the continent, is undetermined. Even with such great losses, we successfully dropped our troops. No enemy opposition was encountered enroute to the DZ. Only after the DZ as a turn was being made did enemy ground installations claim their great toll.

 

Throughout the month non-combat missions played second in the role of importance. We completed 45 non-combat missions. On the 4th of the month weather became very poor during flight and one of our aircraft crashed, killing a crew of four. These missions delivered vast amounts of much needed gasoline and supplies to the allied armies on the continent. Our aircraft followed routes into Germany to newly established fields which were often very close to the front lines.

 

Promotions for both officers and enlisted men became effective this month. Men joined the Squadron and two men were reassigned to the Infantry. Lt. FULMER, formerly of the Squadron, received the Distinguished Service Cross for action during the invasion of Holland, in which he participated with this unit.

 

Recreation during the month consisted on one enlisted men’s dance party and a stag beer party for both officers and men. In off-duty hours the enlisted men played baseball, volley ball and enjoyed the facilities of the Squadron pub.

 

The increased activity of the month presented the squadron with no great obstacle. The usual high standard of efficiency was maintained throughout the month. As the Allied armies press deeper into Germany, we expect additional activities which will consistently successful handling by the 43rd Troop Carrier Squadron.

 

 

Daily War Diary – 43rd Troop Carrier Squadron   1 March 1945 to 31 March 1945

 

March 1. Non-combat mission completed after two nights RON due to flat tire. Local formation flying in afternoon. Eighteen ship formation flight at night. Enlisted men promoted. (See Appendix page II.) Capt. MEANS, Squadron Executive Officer, promoted to Major. (See Appendix page III.)

 

March 2. Two non-combat missions completed. Glider pilots had a short road march in the afternoon.

 

March 3. Four non-combat missions using 18 aircraft were completed.

 

March 4. Eleven aircraft on non-combat missions. Three aircraft returned, seven RON’d and one plane crashed, killing the crew. (See Part 1 – “Losses in action.)

 

March 5. Usual squadron activities. Crew killed in crash were identified and burial arrangements were made..

 

March 6. Usual squadron activities. Thirty officers and enlisted men attended burial of crew which was killed on the 4th.

 

March 7. Usual squadron duties. Distinguished Service Cross awarded to Lt. FULMER, former member of Squadron. (See Appendix page I.)

 

March 8. Seven non-combat missions were begun. All planes returned from one of yesterday’s missions. One C-46 was assigned to us. Squadron party in the evening.

 

March 9. Missions, which were begun yesterday, were completed.

 

March 10. Ground haze prevented morning flights. In the afternoon three missions, using 14 aircraft, were begun.

 

March 11, Weather good. Two missions, using four aircraft, were begun. Ten aircraft returned from RON on the continent. Sgt. FENCHAK and Cpl. SACHS went to engine school. (See Appendix page IV.)

 

March 12. Fifteen aircraft departed on mission. Fourteen planes returned and one RON’d due to a late start.

 

March 13. Two missions begun, one glider transport and one freight haul. All aircraft returned. Lt. TROTMAN assigned to Squadron. (See Appendix page V.)

 

March 14. Twelve aircraft dispatched on four missions. Eight aircraft RON’d on the continent. Three officers and two enlisted men went to rest home. (See Appendix page V.)

 

March 15. Eight aircraft that RON’d yesterday returned. Nine aircraft were flown local. Ten men took physical for Infantry.

 

March 16. Eight aircraft flown locally. Three aircraft dispatched on mission. Lt. TAPLIN, Glider Engineering Officer, promoted to 1st Lt. (See Appendix page VI.)

 

March 17. Eight aircraft dispatched on two missions. Seven aircraft flown locally. Squadron stag beer party for officers and enlisted men in the evening.

 

March 18. Three aircraft dispatched on mission. Three aircraft returned after RON. Local flying of 12 aircraft. Sgt. SPENCER sent to Propeller School. (See Appendix page VII.)

 

March 19. Flying in the morning cancelled, due to weather. Two aircraft flown locally in the afternoon. Lt. Gen. BRERETON was to visit, but did not arrive.

 

March 20. Local flying and ground training.

 

March 21. Nineteen aircraft scheduled for DS. (See Part IV – “Combat Operations”.)

 

March 22. Nineteen aircraft with crews and ground personnel went DS.

 

March 23. Usual squadron duties in the morning and athletic program during afternoon.

 

March 24. Combat mission “Varsity” was carried out by 18 of our aircraft DS. Ground personnel returned from DS. Seven aircraft did not return from mission.

 

March 25. Results of mission recapitulated. Three officers and two enlisted men who were reported missing returned and described their experiences. (See Part IV – “Combat Operations”.)

 

March 26. Usual squadron duties.

 

March 27. Six aircraft participated in two non-combat missions. Local flying both morning and afternoon.

 

March 28. Local flying and ground training. Two enlisted men transferred to the Infantry. (See Appendix pages VIII and IX.) Capt. CARNICK assumed command of the 43rd. (See Appendix page X.)

 

March 29. Local flying in the morning. Non-combat mission in afternoon. Aircraft on mission RON; will complete tomorrow.

 

March 30. Aircraft on mission returned with the exception of one which remained with a damaged elevator. Changes in officers duties. (See Appendix page XI.)

 

March 31. Aircraft with damaged elevator returned. Another non-combat mission. Due to encountering bad weather, aircraft returned to Spanhoe to RON.

 

COMBAT OPERATIONS

 

At 1230 hours 22 March 1945 Spanhoe was sealed. Officers were on guard duty at each of the roads entering the post and no vehicle left the post without an officer. Nineteen of our aircraft had just taken off for Boreham where final instructions were to be received concerning a mission. After arriving at Boreham, the crews checked their planes, played baseball, volley ball and football while waiting to be briefed. Escape aids were issued and administrative duties were carried out in preparation for the mission.

 

At the briefing the details of mission “Varsity”, Serial B-5, were thoroughly described and outlined. Take-off was scheduled for 0724 hours 24 March 1945. Paratroops were to be carried to the DZ, which was to open an offensive in the sector commanded by Field Marshal MONTGOMERY.

 

When all of the British paratroops which were assigned to us for this mission were aboard and the final check was made, 18 aircraft took off as scheduled. When all of our aircraft were off, preparations were made by the ground personnel to return to Spanhoe where the debriefing would be held upon their return. At Spanhoe the final preparations for interrogation were completed.

 

At 1220 hours the first ship aarrived. Only ten of the aircraft had arrived by 1425 hours. During the course of the debriefing, some crews reported having seen several aircraft catch fire and crash. Some parachutes were seen to open before aircraft crashed. However, no definite conclusion could be reached that they were ours. Lt. PERKINS was wounded in the chest and landed at B-77, from where he was taken to a hospital for treatment. No further word has been received as yet regarding the results of the operation. Lt. COOK, who was flying on his wing, also landed at B-77 and, after checking on the extent of Lt. PERKINS’ wound, returned to Spanhoe with three passengers: Lt. PERKINS’ co-pilot, navigator and radio operator. The Crew Chief T/Sgt. REED, remained with his plane on the continent.

 

The weather was very good during the entire day. Throughout the flight enroute, the weather was CAVU. Over the drop zone smoke from screening reduced the visibility to from ½ to one mile. However, this obstacle was of a local nature and did not cause too great a disturbance. Intense flak and small-arms fire was encountered after the DZ as a turn was being made. It is here that our losses were believed to have occurred.

 

At 1920 hours 25 March 1945 four officers and two enlisted men were returned to Spanhoe. Lt. YOUNG, Lt. KINGSTON, T/Sgt. MATEJKA, S/.Sgt. ANDERSEN and Major MESSENGER, 315th Troop Carrier Group Intelligence Officer, reported a crash landing near B-100. The area where they landed was mined.

 

Lt. HOFFMAN returned at 2145 hours 25 March 1945. After crossing the DZ and, while making the turn, his ship was hit in the tail section. Then a fire was noticed in the left engine. Lt. HOFFMAN used the fire extinguished which was ineffective. He feathered the left propeller and attempted single engine operation. However, the damage caused by the hit in the tail section made it impossible to continue flying. After ordering the crew to bail out, which they did, Lt. HOFFMAN abandoned his aircraft. The drift of his chute brought him down in the Rhine River. He made his way to the east shore of the river and was assisted by troops of the Royal Engineers. He was transported to Down Ampney where he was picked by an aircraft of this Group which had flown there to pick up nine other members of the organization. The three crew members of Lt. HOFFMAN’s ship are missing in action.

 

In this mission we carried 321 Airborne Troops, of which 319 were dropped on the DZ. Two Airborne Troopers returned to Spanhoe were unable to jump. Also in this mission, we carried 1,200 lbs. of medical supplies, 9,400 lbs. of ammunition and 9,600 lbs. of engineering and combat equipment. With 18effective sorties, our mission was successful. We have five aircraft that have not returned: one lost and one awaiting survey. Personnel status is as follows: killed, none; wounded two; missing 26.

 

 

 

43RD TROOP CARRIER SQUADRON

315TH TROOP CARRIER GROUP, A.A.F.

APO 133 – U.S. ARMY

 

                                                             27 March 1945

 

SUBJECT: Statement of 2nd. Lt. GEORGE M. HOFFMAN, O-886877.

 

To:   Whom It May Concern

 

     I was Pilot of a C-47A type aircraft, Tail No. 42-92738, of the 43rd Troop

Carrier Squadron, 315th Troop Carrier Group, on a paratroop mission over

Germany on 24 March 1945. The crew consisted of myself, Co-pilot, Crew Chief

And Radio Operator, plus 18 British Paratroopers and their equipment.

 

     We made our pass over the D.Z., 7 miles ESE of Rees, Germany, and all the Paratroopers jumped safely. After turning off the D.Z., we were hit in the rear section. We received the second hit as I leveled out from the turn and the left engine caught fire and cut out. I set up on single engine, tried the fire extinguisher, but it had no effect on the fire in the left engine. I told the crew to bail out, though we had not quite reached the Rhine River. I was at one Thousand (1000) feet when the other three of the crew members jumped. I was just about across the Rhine and

at 800 feet when I jumped from the plane. I drifted back across the Rhine and landed in the water. After I was fished out, by members of the 51st Scottish Highland Division,

I was told that all four chutes had opened from my aircraft. I also heard that there had been an American officer who had been hit by a German sniper, and was lying in the field of fire, wounded. They were unable to reach him at that time, because of the enemy sniper.

 

     The order in which we jumped was: Crew Chief, Co-pilot, Radio Operator and Pilot. I was told the ship crashed about 200 yards away from the Rhine on the West Side, breaking in half and exploding upon hitting.

 

                                  GEORGE M. HOFFMAN

                                  2nd Lt. , Air Corps,

                                  43rd TC Sq., 315th TC Gp.

 

A TRUE COPY:

 

/s/ Benjamin Samodovitz,

BENJAMIN SAMODOVITZ,

1ST. Lt., QMC.