'Tony' Leake's account of a glider crash on D-Day

THE GLIDER IN THE RIVER DIVES AT BURES ON D-DAY. By. Cpl. (later Dr) R.A. ‘Tony’ Leake. Late 1980’s.

On 6 June 1944 I was a Private in 6 Platoon, B-Company, 8th Parachute Battalion and dropped on D.Z. ‘K’ at Touffreville at 00.55 hours. I was one of the few who had arrived at the R.V. before 03.30 hours, the time the battalion moved off. About eight of us were sent on a recce patrol to Bures where we met sappers of 2 Troop, 3rd Parachute Squadron, R.E. at about 06.00 hours and we covered them whilst they laid their demolition charges on the two bridges over the River Dives there. At 09.15 hours the railway bridge was blown by Captain ‘Tim’ Juckes, MC and the road bridge by Lieut John Shave, MC.

During the early hours, a Horsa glider had crash-landed in the river at Bures. In it was a 6 pounder anti-tank gun and a jeep to tow it, and also one of the pilots, in a serious condition as he had broken both legs, each in two places. After the bridges had been destroyed I saw him being lifted out of the cockpit and being put on a stretcher on a jeep to be taken to the M.D.S. [Medical Dressing Station], but John Shave and I do not remember seeing the other pilot or any of the three gunners of 3 Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery, R.A., who would have flown in this glider. It is possible that he had been unconscious after the crash and had been left for dead. Our men then helped the sappers to try and pull the gun out of the glider, but it proved to be impossible even after harnessing a horse and attaching chains.

In the airlift for the 8th Para Bn Group were six Horsa’s of F-Squadron, No 2 Wing, The Glider Pilot Regiment based at R.A.F. Blakehill Farm and led by Lieut. A.C. Pickwoad, DFC. They were towed by six Dakota’s of No 233 squadron, R.A.F., led by Wing Commander. M.E. Morrison, AFC, and they all should have landed on L.Z. ‘K’ next to D.Z. ‘K’. Three of them landed on L.Z. ‘N’ at Ranville, two on L.Z. ‘K’ and one crashed. It is only three miles from Touffreville to Bures so the glider in the river could have been the one which crashed.

John Shave and I would like to thank the following people for their help with our enquiries:- ‘Andy’ Andrews, Sir Michael Gray, David Hall, ‘Pete’ Roberts, Time Roseveare, Ian Toler, ‘Reg’ Stratton and Allan Wood.

Up to now we have failed to identify the glider and those who flew in it so would be most grateful for any information about this Horsa, especially the names of the two pilots and details of the gun crew. We also would like to know if the pilot with broken legs survived.

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