Lieutenant-Colonel Iain Arthur Murray
Unit : Headquarters, No.1 Wing, The Glider Pilot Regiment
Army No. : 99246
Awards : Distinguished Service Order
Lieutenant-Colonel Iain Murray commanded No.1 Wing of the Glider Pilot Regiment. With co-pilot Lieutenant Bottomley, Murray flew to Normandy from RAF Harwell with the First Lift, during the early hours of the 6th June. His Horsa carried Brigadier Hugh Kindersley, with his personal Jeep and members of Headquarters 6th Airlanding Brigade, and also the War Correspondent Chester Wilmot, who, Murray observed, provided a running commentary on the flight to a tape recorder. The landing on LZ-N was not completely without incident as one of the anti-glider obstacles on the landing zone ripped off the tip of the left wing, and another collided with the cockpit head-on, but fortunately the pole was loose and was immediately torn from the ground on impact. Murray supposed that the poorly fixed pole had been planted by a reluctant Frenchman, forced to work by the Germans.
The following is Lieutenant-Colonel Murray's report on the Operation:
Report on Operation "Overlord"
To: Commander Glider Pilots,
HQ Airborne Troops (Rear),
I enclose a report by Major J.P. Royle on his part of the Operation while commanding Force "JOHN". [See Major Royle]
Although I landed at the same time I did not take over command until the landing on the following day. Until Major Royle arrived at 0930 hrs. "D" Day Major S.C. Griffith took over command of Force "JOHN".
At midday on "D" Day I visited HQ 6th. Airborne Division to find out the general situation. The picture was somewhat obscure and I therefore decided to contact HQ 5th Para Bde [Brigade] near the Bridges over the River ORNE 1902. This Area was held by 5th Para Bde and apart from sniping appeared clear of the enemy. It also appeared that L.Z. [Landing Zone] "W" was clear of enemy troops although some opposition was being encountered SOUTH WEST of this Area.
I returned to HQ 5th Para Bde and got in touch with Div. HQ. I informed them that I considered Operation "MALLARD" could be carried out on L.Z. "W" without undue risk.
I then returned to L.Z. "N". After the landing I went to RV [Rendezvous] IAN and contacted Captain Barrie who had taken up a defensive position with all Glider Pilots who had landed at L.Z. "W".
On the morning of the 7th June the Liaison Officer reported that 101 Beach Sub-Area had given permission to disembark all Glider Pilots. I immediately passed this information to Force "JOHN" who received permission from 6th Airborne Division to withdraw to the beaches.
The withdrawal was carried out without incident and disembarkation was completed by 1200 hrs.
The following comments are forwarded for consideration:-
(1) The white stripes on gliders were of great value for picking out gliders already landed. If these markings are dispensed with in future something of the same nature on upper surfaces of wings is most desirable.
(2) The green hollophane lights were excellent but the red air sea rescue lights were not seen by all pilots.
(3) Differential brakes are essential when landing on L.Zs. which have posts erected.
From experience of this operation the following changes of equipment are suggested:-
(i) 2 trained snipers per section with snipers rifles fitted with telescopic sights.
(ii) Rucksacks in place of present web equipment.
(iii) Torches are not needed in operations as each glider has one as part of its equipment.
(iv) One jeep is required for Wing HQ if the Glider Pilot force is in more than one locality.
(v) In the place of T.S.M. guns it is suggested that each section should have two Mark V Sten guns.
With the exception of the above, the equipment was most satisfactory. The morale of the men was very high, especially those forming part of gun crews.
(Signed) I.A. Murray. Lieut-Colonel,
Commanding No.1 Wing The Glider Pilot Regiment.
12 June 44.
For his general conduct and the effectiveness of the landings carried out by the Glider Pilots under his command, Murray was awarded the Distinguished Service Order:
Lieutenant-Colonel Murray led his Glider Pilots who landed in the Caen area on the morning of the 6th June 1944. He showed great courage and leadership and complete disregard for his own safety. Through his personal example and leadership, the pilots of his Glider Pilot Regiment successfully landed the 6th Airborne Division although faced with intense anti-aircraft fire and mortar fire on the landing zone. He also had to make his landing in poor visibility by night.
Lieutenant-Colonel Murray continued to command No.1 Wing and led them during the ill-fated Battle of Arnhem.
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