Staff-Sergeant D. W. Higgs

 

Unit : "D" Squadron, No.1 Wing, The Glider Pilot Regiment

Army No. : 5252854

 

Staff-Sergeant Higgs and his co-pilot, Squadron Sergeant Major Oliver, 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 the 4th Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery. The following is their official report on the flight and the subsequent events that took place on the ground.

 

Report on Operation "Tonga"

 

S/Sgt. Higgs, W. (5347593)

SSM. Oliver, W. (3056895)

 

On crossing the French coast we encountered heavy fire from ground defences. The glider was hit several times and in taking evasive action the starboard 'yoke' caught on the starboard wheel whilst in cloud.

 

We lost sight of the tug in what appeared to be thick smoke and flew 'on the rope' for a considerable time. When we came out of cloud the tug pilot did a wide circuit to find a pinpoint. We released in the correct position after he had taken us round again. The landing was uneventful. We were unable to remove the tail so we unloaded from the side which proved quite successful.

 

We moved to the edge of the landing strip and after contacting paratroops made our way to the Bty. R.V. [Battery Rendezvous]. There was no one there to give instructions so we proceeded to the pre-arranged position of the gun in company of another detachment. The four glider pilots acted as scouts on the way up.

 

We then dug in and camouflaged our position leaving a look-out with the Bren gun. During this time we never saw any troops (friendly or otherwise) to our front. We were settled in our position (1 miles S.E. of Ranville) by 0930 hrs.

 

About mid-day we saw four S.P. [Self-Propelled] guns and one Mk IV tank with infantry in support advance over the sky line to warn us. We waited until they were within range and before we could fire the guns on our left flank opened up and hit four of them. We fired on the tank crews and infantry with our small arms. From then on we were fired on by snipers, mortars and machine-guns returning their fire when we could see them, which was not often.

 

About 2100 hrs when the second wave of gliders were landing we were fired on from three sides by machine-guns and mortars. The No.3 of the gun was wounded by a bullet in the head and the No.1 escorted him to the R.A.P. [Regimental Aid Post] leaving the two pilots with the gun. The enemy fire during this time was very heavy and accurate and the gun was hit on several occasions by bullets and mortar casing.

 

We held on until almost dark when we went to a position about 200 x from the gun, where we teamed up with a small party of paratroops who had taken up a position behind us and were awaiting a counter attack. At first light we encountered the No.1 of the gun who had orders to withdraw the gun to Bty. H.Q. By this time the regular gun crew had arrived and we reported to our R.V. in the village and proceeded to the beach-head under command of Lieut. Muir, returning to the U.K. without incident.

 

(Signed) D.W. Higgs, S/Sgt.

              W. Oliver, SSM.

 

Staff-Sergeant Higgs participated in the Battle of Arnhem during September 1944, where he was taken prisoner.

 

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