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The Combat Role of the Glider Pilot

Working through some files and came across this Interrogation Check Sheet from F/O Herbert W. Ballinger 439th TCG 93rd TCSand co pilot F/O Alfred E. Briggs also of the 439th TCG 93 TCS. His report highlights the infantry role the glider pilots assumed upon landing I discussed at length in Suicide Jockeys: The Making of the WWII Combat Glider Pilot.

The date of the report was 25 March 1945 - the operation was Varsity. The landing field had fences and hedges and there were no other gliders in the field with them. The target was hidden by smoke and they stated they were released to high - at 1200 feet. Their glider carried a jeep and 3 airborne. They reported hitting moderate sniper fire upon landing, regardless they were able to unload quickly. As they made there way to the 439th Command Post they were "sniped at most of the way". F/O Ballinger reported "I would cover the jeep while it passed a house and then the A/B would cover us while we would rejoin them. After getting to 680th FA [Field Artillery] CP [Command Post] Ballinger went to the aid station to help evacuate wounded from gliders still under fire. He used P/W's as a shield to the wounded in the field. Tried to locate burp gun firing on fields and moved back to the 439th and reported to Captain Hobbs. Burnett and I captured a sniper the next day. We hunted through houses for more snipers and continuously patrolled the area looking for them.

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