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2nd Lt Elwood Harold Brindle, 75th TCS 435th TCG

Discussion in '435th TCG' started by jonesy, Dec 11, 2015.

  1. jonesy

    jonesy New Member

    So after years of searching, I was finally lucky enough to acquire a large grouping belonging to a Glider Pilot from IX Troop Carrier Command. The grouping belonged to 2nd Lt Elwood Harold Brindle, 75th TCS 435th TCG and included his full dress uniform, medals, flight records, original musette bag, photographs, goggles and emergency survival kit amongst other items.

    Elwood Harold Brindle was born on the 6th of April 1917 where he lived in Maplewood, New Jersey. In civilian life he was a clerk and after enlisting in the US Army in March 1942 he continued doing the same type of work. The Army was looking for Glider Pilots and Brindle decided that this was an opportunity not to be missed.

    He began his glider training at Victorville Army Flying School, California as part of class WC 42-25. His successful graduation entitled S/Sgt Brindle to be honourably discharged from the US Army on the 23rd of December 1942 only to be appointed as a Flight Officer on the following day. F/O Brindle would train in the US Army’s latest glider, the CG-4A Waco at Ft. Sumner, New Mexico and later at Pope Field, Ft Bragg, North Carolina. In August 1943, he was assigned to the 75th TCS 435th TCG and by November the entire Group had arrived in England. Initially stationed at Langar (AAF STN-490), F/O Brindle immediately began to train on the British built Airspeed Horsa glider. In February, the 435th TCG moved to Welford Airfield (USAAF STN-474) so that the Troop Carrier squadrons could be closer to the Airborne troops that they would carry during the invasion of Europe. Training intensified with regular flights in both the CG-4A and Horsa gliders.

    On the 6th of June 1944, F/O Brindle would be selected to pilot a CG-4A with F/O Charles Neuseller as Co-Pilot. They’re cargo would be one M3 105mm light howitzer and two personnel from the 320th Glider Field Artillery Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division. As part of Mission Elmira Serial 33, 12 CG-4A’s from the 435th TCG would be towed on the evening of the 6th of June across the English Channel to land on LZ ‘W’ near Les Forges.

    F/O Brindle wrote an article about his D-Day experience for a local newspaper after the war. This was his account...

    It wasn’t until we were winging over the Channel, bound for the Cherbourg peninsula, that the full realization struck me that our long months and years of training were over and we were finally playing for keeps. All during the final preparations—days spent in a barbed-wire enclosure undergoing detailed briefings, equipment checks, map and photo studies, lectures and pep talks—we had just the feeling that perhaps this was just another “dry run,” but now there was no doubt that the chips were down.

    “The air over the Channel was smooth and the sky was overcast. Down below us the swells of the Channel bore slight traces of spray. Now and then to relieve the tension somewhat we exchanged banter with the towplane pilot over the interphone hookup, but I’m afraid our humor was a little corny. Before long the faint outlines of the French coast appeared. German antiaircraft and machine gun batteries were filling the sky between the coast and our LZ (Landing Zone) with an assortment of steel and lead, interspersed with red and yellow tracers which lent a Fourth of July atmosphere to the scene. Soon we were in the midst of the hailstorm in reverse
    Our first reaction was surprise at the laziness with which the tracers mounted toward us in the darkness, but as bullets started to rip through the fabric of our ship we realized that their apparent sluggishness was only an illusion. It seemed the entire blackness beneath us was filled with German batteries, but suddenly we reached the area of our paratroopers, moving in ahead of us, had secured.
    The little island of American-held territory looked mighty welcome to us, and at the sight of the flares sent up by our paratroopers on the ground we cut off From the towplane and wheeled around in a sweeping 270-degree landing turn to choose a spot for landing. A green flare shooting up from the darkness below gave me a glimmer of a field we might possibly squeeze into, so I followed the flare in.

    As we cleared the trees bordering the field I saw that we would have to crash-land as the field was too short for a normal approach. I set the ship down hard and we ground to a stop against a hedgerow at the far end of the field. Luckily no one was injured and the cargo was in good condition, though the glider itself was far from being in good shape. As we emerged, the paratrooper who had shot off the flare came up to us.
    “Kind of a small field you picked for us, wasn’t it bud?” I said to him.
    “Yeah,” he agreed. “But I wasn’t expecting a big baby like this.”
    He looked admiringly at our glider, its nose nestled against the hedgerow as if it were looking for something to nibble at. Just then, a shell from a German 88 landed a short distance away and we hit the dirt.

    From then on, life for us consisted of digging in between artillery barrages and dodging
    snipers in between. As all the glider pilots were making their combat debut, new records were hung up all around for the depth and luxuriousness of foxholes. Like the fabled private who dug so deep he was charged with desertion, some of the GP’s [Glider Pilots] claim to have established definitively that there are no prospects whatever of striking oil in France.

    There followed many anxious hours as we awaited the arrival of the beachhead party. The airborne units were only intended to hold their position for a matter of hours, and when the seaborne forces finally fought their way through 22 hours behind schedule, our little band had been hammered back on all sides and was on the verge of being wiped out. Indeed, any other group but paratroopers would have regarded the situation as hopeless and given up.

    But fortunately at Fort Benning N. C. the boys are only taught how to attack, so they go on attacking even when the situation calls for surrender. This fact, together with the happy circumstance that the gliders in landing has spotted troops and equipment over a wide area, apparently convinced the Jerries that ours was a far more formidable force that it really was. Instead of mounting a bold, crushing offensive, therefore, they made a cautious advance which gave the beachhead gang time to reach us.

    After our “liberation” by the seaborne forces a steady stream of prisoners began pouring into camp and the following day the glider pilots started marching them to the beachhead 15 miles away. There we turned our charges over to the MPs and boarded a Duck, a marvelous creature built to carry about 15 people. So 30 of us jammed aboard and we sped down the beach and out into a foot or so of water. There the Duck hesitated, as if reluctant to get any wetter, then surged forward as the propeller was engaged.

    After a smooth passage out to deep water we came up to an LCT with its lower jaw hanging in the water. The Duck made a couple of passes at the lowered ramp, like Mrs. J. Q. Public aiming for the family garage, and on the third try we waddled triumphantly aboard the ship.
    There we dined on 10-in-1 rations, our first real food in days, and found time to inspect our surroundings. On all sides of the LCT there were ranged great fleets of ships resembling a Norman Bel Geddes representation of the navies of the world—landing craft, battleships, corvettes, tankers, destroyers, motorboats, cruisers, and types that defy classification.

    Later on we transferred to an LST, which served up some of the best coffee in the European theater of operations as it shuttled us to a port in southern England. There we disembarked to find that the authorities had expected to receive casualties and had dozens of ambulances waiting for us. A hurried call was put in for GI trucks to replace the ambulances and in a short time we were on our way to a center geared to handle evacuees, shipwrecks, and kindred unfortunates.

    We explained to the officer in charge that we were just glider pilots anxious to get back to our home fields and weren’t interested in being fed or cheered up. He responded that technically we were evacuees and dammit we were going to act like evacuees. So for several hours we submitted to being fed and pampered where we were then allowed to board trucks for what we hoped was an airfield where our squadron’s planes could pick us up.

    But after bowling along for a number of miles, we suddenly turned into a tented enclosure and were invited to get off the trucks and have a hot meal. We insisted we were only interested in getting back to our bases, but the major in charge of the camp was politely firm. His orders said evacuees routed through his center were to be unloaded and fed. We were evacuees, and were coming through his camp—therefore, we would eat. We bowed to Army thoroughness and stuffed down another meal. Then we entrucked to a nearby field and made the 20-minute flight to our home base.

    When we got off the plane we found that our thoughtful mess officer had rushed a hot snack down to the flight line for us.”
  2. jonesy

    jonesy New Member

    F/O Brindle would then continue training back at Welford Airfield and was selected to be one of the Glider Pilots who would be detached on a secret mission in the Mediterranean. His destination was Italy where on the 15th of August 1944, he flew a CG-4A glider into Southern France as part of Operation Dragoon. According to his paperwork, he received a Bronze Star for his actions.

    He returned to Welford Airfield in late August and on the 18th of September 1944, he flew a combat mission to Holland as part of Operation Market Garden.

    On the 9th of December 1944, he was appointed and commissioned as a 2nd Lt. For the rest of the war, 2nd Lt Brindle would be a Power Glider Pilot where he would regularly be a Co-Pilot of C-47’s flying supply missions in the ETO.

    2nd Lt Brindle would eventually be discharged from the US Army on the 12th of October 1945, returning to civilian life where he would marry Dorothy and have two sons and one daughter. Elwood Brindle died in January 1983 at the age of 66. He probably never thought about his time in the war especially as a Troop Carrier Glider Pilot. I hope that I can at least continue with his story knowing there are people out there today who are eternally grateful for his contribution.

    RIP 2nd Lt Elwood ‘Woody’ Brindle. Gone but not forgotten.
    Bomber Command likes this.
  3. jonesy

    jonesy New Member

  4. jonesy

    jonesy New Member

  5. Darkhorse

    Darkhorse New Member

    Absolutely in awe. Thank you for sharing.

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