Landings Across The Rhine

Posted: August 15, 2010 in World War 2

“Several gliders were burning briskly…”

A few parachutes failed to open, and one such landed a few feet away, the container, about four feet long and eighteen inches across, burying half its length in the ground with a squelchy thud. The landing zone looked rather like a fairground in the process of closing down, the discarded parachutes resembling strung tents, and all the litter of war lying around. Only the still figures of the dead gave an air of grim reality to the scene. Several gliders were burning briskly, having been caught in a burst of machine gun fire on landing, which had ignited the petrol in the jeep inside. The British glider was a better proposition than the American Waco, which was of fabric over a steel framework. If it crashed, the occupants were trapped in a case, whereas the British Horsa, being of wood, could be quickly chopped through, although this was usually unnecessary, as it tended to come apart.

I saw one burnt-out Waco with the charred bodies of the occupants, the whole looking for all the world as if some monster had set a birdcage on a bonfire.

By Lieutenant-Colonel J.C. Watts, R.A.M.C.

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