Sergeant Victor Haines

06 Jun 1944

Sergeant Victor Haines, son of James Henry and Mary E Haines, of Stapleford, Nottinghamshire, served with the A Squadron, Glider Pilot Regiment based at Harwell.

During training preparations in April 1944 for the planned invasion of North West Europe, Vic Haines and his friend and first pilot S/Sgt Billy Marfleet took part in a flying competition. It had been arranged by Squadron CO Maj Griffith to select volunteers for a special mission. A friend of Billy's later recalled that event:

'I can well remember the competition that settled Bill's fate. A spot was placed on the runway and a small sum of money was offered to those who touched down nearest to the mark. The first four crews were in due course detailed for the night landing. I must have been very naive for it wasn't until long after that I realised what the competition was all about.'

After successfully completing the task, Vic and S/Sgt Marfleet were now part of Operation Tonga. They were tasked to fly to Varaville, in support of the D-Day attack on the Merville Battery by 9th (Essex) Parachute Battalion.

Both underwent an intensive training programme of real and simulated night flying. Under armed escort, visits were made to Netheravon to view constantly updated models of the landing sites and a film produced to show the flight to Normandy during night-time.

Final preparations were made with SSgt Marfleet, their tug pilot, Flying Officer Christopher Lawson and the glider's three passengers: CQMS Albert Davies (9th Parachute Bn), Bombardier William Sidney (4th Airlanding Anti-Tank Bty RA) and Driver John Lunn (716 (Airborne) Lt Coy RASC). They were to carry a load of a jeep and trailer, 4 bikes, 2 bridging sections and several Bangalore Torpedoes in Horsa glider, Chalk No. 67.

Hooked up to Albermarle V1746, Horsa Chalk 67 took off shortly before 11.30pm 5 June 1944. 1st Pilot S/Sgt Marfleet flew the glider to the assembly point over Worthing successfully. Some miles off the Normandy coast however, deteriorating weather and increasingly thick cloud made flying 'on station' very difficult. As V1746 and Chalk 67 entered a particularly thick section of cloud the towrope broke and the glider crashed into the English Channel, killing all on board.

Sergeant Haines died on 6 June 1944, aged 25 years old. All casualties were later recovered to land and he is now buried at Abbeville Communal Cemetery, near the Somme. S/Sgt Billy Marfleet's grave is at Bayeux, whilst their passengers are buried in Ranville War Cemetery.

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