The U.S. combat glider program was initiated during World War II. These men had been engaged in the risky activity of flying unarmed and unpowered aircraft built of steel tubing, cloth and plywood across enemy lines. These gliders were flown with heavy loads, and were capable of carrying a jeep loaded with supplies, or 16 men. Though many today remain unaware that there ever was a Glider Corps, to historians and military buffs the activities of this group are legendary. When the topic is discussed, the conversation inevitably turns to the bravery and/or the questionable sanity of the men who willingly participated in such activity.
One such man is the author of the book "Those Damned Glider Pilots". Bill Knickerbocker participated in the European Theater of Operations and thankfully (for me) survived to tell the tales of his adventures and misadventures. Not particularly interested in flying or furthering his military career, Mr. Knickerbocker joined the Glider Corps because it appeared to be the most expeditious way to see action in the war. But although the pilots did technically become infantry once they hit the ground behind enemy lines, they had orders to regroup as soon as possible at a designated point and return to base when transport was available. But that would mean an end to the adventure...
Bill Knickerbocker kept a diary during this time and periodically sent the pages home for safekeeping. Drawing on these notes and the recollections of himself and others, he has been able to accurately capture the events surrounding the glider program as seen through the eyes of a young soldier. "Those Damned Glider Pilots" is a book that will be worn out before it is forgotten.
The following quote is from Hells Highway by Geo. E. Koskimoki:
"Some of these narrations give the reader some insight into the problems facing the 907th Glider Field Artillery Battalion on the 19th (D plus 2) when only 24 men of a 550-man battalion made it safely to the landing zone at Son. As mentioned earlier, they were scattered all over Holland, Belgium and France and whole flights of them had returned to England. Fog had been the major problem."
Knickerbocker comments: "Forty-five years after the invasion, I learned that I had delivered 7 of the 24 men of the 907th to reach the LZ at Son, Holland."
Here are some pictures of gliders, one recent and 2 from the war.
Silent Wings Museum