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Major Teddy H. Sanford

82nd Airborne Division - 325th Glider Infantry Regiment - 1st Battalion

Utah Beach

 

The gliders as a whole, came in too low. Cutting the gliders loose at 200 feet, traveling 120 miles per hour, in an area with such small fields and tall trees doesn't give the glider pilot any opportunity at all to select the field or to make the proper approach for a landing. Tug pilots had been instructed to go up to 700 feet after crossing the beach and very few if any, of them increased their altitude. Many of the crashes of the gliders were a direct result of the failure of the tug pilots to give the glider pilot altitude enough to make a proper landing. In training it had been demonstrated that gliders can be landed safely in very small fields if the glider pilot has altitude enough to make a proper approach and come in slow. Under the conditions under which our pilots landed in Normandy they had no opportunity for selection of the field, or to turn to make any approach to it. It was just cut loose and land, which put a great many of our gliders into the trees and resulted in rather high casualties. Most all of this was due to the failure of the tug pilots to follow instructions and to give the glider pilots an altitude of 700 feet. 

(On the evening of Thursday, 13 August 1944, a debriefing conference was held at the Glebe Mount House, Leicester. During the course of the conference each commander present who had commanded a unit the size of a battalion or larger of the 82d Airborne Division in Operation Neptune, was permitted to talk for not to exceed ten minutes. Instructions were that each officer was to speak freely, without restraint, regarding any aspect of the operation during its airborne phase and to offer any criticism he saw fit in the interests of improving our operational technique in future combat. Commanders spoke in the order in which it was planned that they would land. Their statements were taken down verbatim as far as possible.)

(Courtesy: National Archives)