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Thread: Glider Pilots

  1. #1
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    Default Glider Pilots

    The seems to be a few theads on gliders at the moment and the question has been asked - "What happened to the pilots after they discharged their loads on missions? Did they simply have a "once only" objective or were they "recovered" somehow?

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    Default Glider Pilots - after flight entertainment!!

    Glider Pilots were considered to be a band of infantry and after landing were employed as such (albeit rather over-ranked for the average platoon!!).

    At Arnhem, for example, they mounted patrols, guarded key points, filled gaps in infantry units and at the end, were responsible for the 'admin' in getting troops to the river. One SNCO assumed the post of RSM to an air landing battalion and was awarded a DCM.

    The US system was rather different, in that their glider pilots were withdrawn to the rear as soon as practicable.

    After Arnhem, a large body of surplus RAF pilots were drafted to fly gliders and whilst this was generally unpopular, the men acquitted themselves well during Operation VARSITY but suffered serious casualties - see "Though Without Anger" by Colin Cummings for list of names.

    O-R

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    Default

    It was the RAF people I was really thinking about. Many RAF pilots and flying officers underwent glider conversion training on but what happened to them after landing on their operations? Did they then fight? or wait to be picked up? or what?
    Last edited by Joddle; 29th August 2010 at 09:30.

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    Default RAF Glider pilots

    Yes, they fought as infantry. RAF and Army often flew in mixed crews eg an Army staff sgt as 1st pilot and an RAF sgt as 2nd pilot. An RAF sqn ldr (Reynolds) commanded one of the GP sqns and RAF officers acted as flt cdrs. The RAF guys did a basic infantry course and formed up as infantry after landing.

    As it transpired, for VARSITY the LZs were quickly reinforced by ground forces and the army moved on into Germany. This meant that all the glider pilots were quickly withdrawn and so did not fight a sustained campaign but it could have been very different had the ground advance been held.

    The RAF pilots were, however, for the most part more experienced than their GPR colleagues but in general a very good rapport existed between Army and RAF and continues in the GPR association to this day.

    O-R

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