||Henry C. Hobbs
Captain - Glider Officer - 93rd Troop Carrier Squadron - 439th
Troop Carrier Group
I had a great deal of difficulty
in getting my Horsa glider off the runway, due to an excessive overload.
Even when airborne, the controls were sluggish and the glider tended
to « mush ». I had the trim tab fully back.
The trip over was uneventful, other than that.
I didn't see the pilot's green light –
the signal to cut off, but I had seen previous signals, and I was well aware
of the fact that I was getting near the drop area. I was busy looking for
landmarks.The glider was so sluggish that I requested the pilot over the intercom
to give us an additional 100 feet of altitude, which he did. The cut was at
approximately 700 feet. I realized that we were slightly to the south of our
course, and I did not recognize the particular fields under me, but I sensed
that the tug was commencing a left turn as briefed and knew that I had to
cut. I picked out what seemed to be the best field in the vicinity. It had
trees (30-40 feet) and hedges or banks (well over 4 feet) around it. The field
was shorter than expected- probably six to seven hundred feet long and had
from 2-3 feet of water. I tried to slow up my glider as much as possible but
found that the stalling speed was around 110. Even at that speed I was unable
to level off- the nose kept dropping. Despite my having the stick full back
the glider made contact with the ground in a diving angle. As a result the
nose came off and I was hurled out.Fortunately the water stopped the glider
in what seemed to be about 10 feet, and I was not run over. Neither I, my
co-pilot, nor my passengers were seriously injured.
The airborne troops got out immediately
and assembled beside a hedge. The was intermittent fire in the vicinity-
rifle, mg (light), mortar and 88mm artillery, but none was directed
at us, so that we had no casualties. I joined up with the airborne
and we proceeded first to the battalion CP. We had landed about
2 miles NE of Boutteville and I estimate the CP was about 4 miles
from there in a SW direction. We proceeded across fields and hit
the main road S of the field and went along it to the CP. While
doing so I noticed a crashed C-47 with only the tail left. The last
3 AC letters were « 065 » and a flight jacket
near it with the name « Bacon » was the only
identifying feature. In the distance I observed another C-47 but
was unable to examine it.
At the battalion CP they ordered
me to go to the regimental CP which was about ½ mile due
W of crossroad 33 at Les Forges. It was supposed to be in Chef du
Pont but was still in enemy hands. I arrived at regimental CP at
about 1130 and at their request I, together with other glider pilots
carried ammunition until 1730. We then ate and rested until 1930,
when we left for the beachhead, along the main road running eastwards.
We had been told that the enemy had cut the road earlier in the
afternoon, but it was said to be open at the time we took off. We
encountered no organised resistance but at times we had to make
detours to avoid snipers. I saw only two snipers, but heard shots
from a number of others. I watched one sniper hunted and killed
by three paratroopers. They took his light mg. We passed about 30
POW who looked scrawny and of varying sizes. Some were very young
and others were quite old. I was told that some were only 14 years
of age and a good many of them were from conquered nations. The
POW were very frightened of the paratroopers because they had been
told that the paratroopers took no prisoners. I heard several stories
of paratroopers lining up prisoners and shooting them. One paratrooper
had on a German lieutenant's uniform and stated that he had made
the German take off his uniform and then he had shot him. The paratrooper
did not wish to spoil the uniform. The paratroopers were incensed
because they discovered, so the story goes, one of their member
whom they had left with leg broken by the jump burnt to a crisp
by having a gasoline soaked parachute wrapped around him and ignited.
In other cases those wounded or incapacitated byt he jump had been
stuck with bayonets by the Germans. In revenge the paratroopers
were running wild.
I reached the beachhead at 0030,
8 June and reported to Navy CP that I had about 70 glider pilots
with me. They knew all about us and treated us in a wonderful fashion.
I would like to emphasize this fact, because the Navy certainly
did everything they could for us-- including hot meals, cigarettes,
etc. The beachhead was a beehive of activity with boats landing
incessantly. Despite the enormity of the landings there was no confusion
and everyone appeared to be doing his job in accordance with a prearranged
plan. Traffic along the roads from the beachhead was well policed
and kept open. I had lost a good deal of my equipment in the glider
crash but gave what was left, including my M-1 rifle, to some of
the infantry landing on the beach who had lost their equipment in
a barge which had hit a mine. A good many of the glider pilots did
We spend the night in a LCT and at 1130 transferred to an LST, which
is a larger vessel. The latter remained off the beachhead until
2000, 8 June when the convoy started to move towards England. We
had wounded and POW aboard. The trip was uneventful. We were confortable
and well fed. I think we arrived in the harbour of Portland 0600,
9 June. We did not unload until 1900. At 2000 we arrived at the
US Army barracks in Weymouth, and at 2200 left for the 20th RCD.
We arrived at Totton 0100, 10 June and left there at 0800. We arrived
at a P-38 base at 0830 where we telephoned the base and were picked
up by C-47's at 0930, arriving at the base at 1030.
I have a few suggestions :
First, care should be taken not to send a glider mission out as
overloaded as we were. I think the overload was caused by faulty
estimate of the weight of each individual trooper. The basis of
200 pounds per man was exceeded by about 50 pounds. Second, a senior
glider pilot who is to fly should look over the area in a plane
beforehand in order to obtain a first hand knowledge of the general
panorama of the area. Third, the M-1 rifle is too cumbersome and
not adapted to the mission. I would prefer, first, a Thompson sub-machine
gun, and second, a carbine. Both are compact, easier to carry and
just as effective for close range fire. Fourth, the size of the
pack should be cut down ; blankets are not necessary. Fifth,
all CG gliders should have the Griswold nose. The extra reinforcement
will save lives. Sixth, Horsa gliders should be used in fields which
are large enough for that type of glider, in other words they need
more landing space than CG's.
I had an opportunity of talking
with several senior officers of both the parachute and glider troops.
The paratroopers were pretty well scattered by the drop, but they
seemed well satisfied in that they were for the most part dropped
in the same general area and so far as could be ascertained none
landed in the sea. They expected to be scattered and were prepared
to fight on that basis. The gliderborne officers considered the
landings highly successful in that the gliders were well bunched.
They were able to assemble readily and were not under heavy fire.
Some of the troops lost equipment in crashes but on the whole they
assembled well equipped.
Despite the number of crash landings,
the glider troops did not suffer heavy casualties and informants
thought that well over 90% of the troops landed in condition to
fight and from my observation they lost no time in doing so.
The fighting was quite scattered and there were no definite lines.
Carentan was still in German hands, as was Chef du Pont. Battles
in both places were intense. Ste Mere Eglise had just been taken
by the Americans at the time I left the area. Tanks were battling
Germans 88mm guns. The northern part of the peninsula was held by
the Germans, seaborne troops were pouring in at the Omaha beachhead
during my entire stay at the beachhead.
Henry C. Hobbs (June
Testimony courtesy Silent Wings Museum through Charles (Chuck) H. Hobbs