OPERATION VARSITY
THE RHINE CROSSING 24th MARCH 1945

Ray Gough - Bomb Aimer
298, 644 Squadrons
Ray died in 2003


http://www.rafweb.org/Sqn621-650.htm

For this operation we were temporarily transferred from our ‘drome, Tarrant Rushton in Dorset, to Woodbridge in Suffolk. Our job was to tow a Horsa glider to a point just inside a bend in the Rhine close to the town of Wesel.

Everything was fairly quiet until we were well into Holland with very good fighter cover. Just as we were approaching the Rhine I saw an aircraft a little way ahead of us in the stream rear up and disintegrate. I have since heard a tale which is so unlikely as to be probably true.

The tug pilot called up the glider pilot to warn him they were getting close to the river and in turn the glider pilot called the crew of the tank he was carrying. The tank driver switched on his engine in readiness but unfortunately he was in gear and the tank proceeded to burst through either the nose or tail with of course disastrous results. W/Cdr DH Wood RAF(Retd) included in his book History of 38 Group a cartoon from Punch which rather confirms the story.

Seven days before the Varsity operation I and my crew took part in the ‘dummy run’ called Operation ‘Token’, taking a ‘Heavy’ Hamilcar glider over the Varsity route except for the last few miles up to the Rhine.

Links & Notes

Operation VARSITY http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Varsity
Horsa Glider Project: Assault Glider Trust http://www.assaultgliderproject.co.uk/

page last updated 28 June 2010: ACA Surrey Branch 2010