Staff-Sergeant A. L. Bashforth
Unit : "D" Squadron, No.1 Wing, The Glider Pilot Regiment
Staff-Sergeant Bashforth and his second pilot, Sergeant R. F. Dray, flew to Normandy with the first glider lift in the early hours of the 6th June, carrying a Jeep, 6-pounder anti-tank gun and three men of an Anti-Tank Battery. Their tow rope broke away shortly after take-off, however, and instead flew to Normandy with the Second Lift on the evening of the 6th June. The following is his official report on the flight and the subsequent events that took place on the ground.
Report on Operation "TONGA"
1st Pilot - S/Sgt A. L. Bashforth
2nd Pilot - Sgt R. F. Dray
Glider No. 113
After take-off from base we had no difficulties with the exception of a few vicious slip streams 3-4 miles N.W. of Chichester when, in a slip stream, the port rope pulled out. Being badly out of position, and unable to rejoin the correct position in spite of determined efforts on the part of both pilots, and with, as a consequence, the tug diving steeply away to starboard I released the other rope.
Fortunately we discovered an aerodrome, but not being given the 'letter of the day' nor the 'colour of the day' could not identify myself, and on asking for recognition with my landing light, the immediate response gained from the 'drome was the switching out of all lights. Having memorised position of flare-path I hoped for the best and just made it. The landing was good, no damage or casualties being sustained. I was followed about 5 minutes later by a Hamilcar, which too forced landed.
I sent a report back to base via Intelligence and was retrieved by an Albemarle which took me back to base on the morning of 7th June [correction - should read 6th June].
Report on Operation "MALLARD"
We took off 7.25 p.m. on 7th [correction - 6th] June from base before the Hamilcar stream, and had an uneventful trip, rejoining the Hamilcar stream just before crossing the English coast, and being at tail end of convoy were rather relieved to see the prominent fighter-escort. We encountered light flak just before reaching French coast, and after release concentrated small arms fire. Point of release mouth of River Orne. No damage or casualty was sustained in landing.
We had great difficulty in removing tail unit for unloading, but once completed, under heavy mortar fire, we made our way via Div H.Q. to Battery H.Q. We were kept there during the night and sent out to position at 0500 hrs the following morning. The gun was dug in and everything was rather quiet - no enemy being encountered.
In the afternoon we marched back to the beach in a party of 16 under Lt. Muir. By T.L.C. [Troop or Tank Landing Craft] back to Southampton and eventually base via Fargo camp.
(Signed) A. L. Bashforth, S/Sgt
R. F. Dray, Sgt.
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