Month and year: March 1945

 

24th March 1945

Place: Down Ampney

 

Weather: Fair, light south-west breeze, visibility good.

 

7 aircraft on AF3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, RF1 took general freight, flak suits and fuzes to B.75.  2 aircraft returned empty, 2 returned with 45 casualties from B.56, 2 returned with 40 U.S.A. aircrew to HANNINGTON - empty to base, the remaining aircraft returned with 26 casualties from B.65

 

1 aircraft on AF5 took flak suits and general freight to B.56 returning empty to base.  1 aircraft on RF2 took 22 passengers from GATWICK to B.48, returning with 18 passengers from B.51 to GATWICK - empty to base.

 

1 aircraft on RF13 took general freight to B.50, returning with 19 casualties to base.

 

5 aircraft on M1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 took mail and newspapers to B.56 and B.86.  2 aircraft returned with 32 casualties from B.56, the remaining 3 aircraft returned to base with mail.

 

OPERATION "VARSITY".

12 crews and 2 reserves were sent to BIRCH on D-2 for briefing purposes to take part in this operation.  Briefing was completed at 0430 hours on the 24th. March and the Dakotas towing HORSA gliders took off between 0650 hours and 0731 hours from BIRCH in good flying conditions.  The route was from BIRCH, DOVER, CAP GRIZ NEZ, south-west of LILLE, south-east of BRUSSELS, then north-east to the RHINE, across the autobahn to the D.Zs "O" and "U" around HEMINKELN.  There were two premature glider releases due to faulty tow ropes, A.N. K.G.439 with F/Lt G. Whitfield, DFM (126158) as captain lost the glider over LILLE, and AF K.G.364 with S/Ldr. L.J. HARRIES (45348) as captain lost the glider 12 miles from the D.Z., in each case the rope was brought back to base for inspection.  The remaining 10 aircraft, flying at approximately 2,500', successfully released their gliders between 1019 and 1026, near to the D.Z., although smoke on the ground prevented tug crews from observing actual glider landing.  2 aircraft had to land at intermediate intervals to refuel, W/Cdr. P.D. Squires, DFC (40954) refuelled at B.78, F/Lt. R.G.J. Hull (129373) refuelled at B.51 before returning to base, the remaining aircraft succeeded in reaching base safely.  Medium flak was met east of RINGENBERG and south east of HALDERN - the latter fairly concentrated.  Scattered medium flak was experienced from near to REES also from the east bank of the ISSEL CANAL.  The fighter escort was good, no aircraft being lost.  The army succeeded in reaching the glider boys very soon so any re-supply was unnecessary.  The operation was a complete success.