June 4th is dragging
on. The weather is not the best. Possible postponement of the
invasion. Eighteen 62nd Glider pilots have been sent to the 53rd
Troop Carrier Wing based m the group of fields west of London.
Ramsbury, Membury, Welford Greenham Common and Adermaster.
Flight Officer Louis H. Zeidenschneider, about 5 6 , 120 pounds when
wet, was in this group. No one called him Louis or Lou. Few or
any knew what the ”H" stood for; he was just Zeidenschneider - a
guy looking for a poker or a crap game.
The Co-pilot was relieved, but only for a moment,
when word was passed that the invasion was postponed 24 hours,
another long day and evening, he would just as soon get it over with
and if all went well the restriction would be lifted and he could
head for Notts. Those girls are wondering where all the Yanks are.
For the first part, June 5th, 1944, was much the same
as yesterday and the day before that, except that the sun was
shining. The hours slipped by and the Co-pilot found himself
again at Operations hoping that someone might have been removed from
flying for any reason and he would be thrust into that left seat. No
such luck and-time was flying by. Glenn Grimes and all the crew
members were checking the aircraft an watching the 508th PIR get
their equipment on Must be a hundred or more pounds on each one;
some have a spare chute, some don't.
June 5 was 23 hours and 20 minutes old when Col.
Clayton Stiles released the brakes and started rolling The two
wingmen on either side rolled with him as the other element leaders
followed with their three aircraft. Nine aircraft would be rolling
or airborne by the time Col. Stiles cleared the taxi way 6,000 feet
on the other side of the Saltby Army Air Base. Without interrupting
the timing or spacing, Major Arthur Tappan followed with the second
nine aircraft of the 62nd.
The Co-pilot watched the airspeed, pulled the wheels, adjusted the
cowl flaps and milked the wing flaps while keeping a lookout for
other aircraft. All Grimes had to do was fly formation; Palumbo
unfolded his charts; Hensley paid heed to the engines and Wodinsky
tuned in to the static.
Col. Stiles was checking with Lt. Col. Thomas
Shanley, 2nd/508th, as Fred Evans made a wide slow turn to allow the
other elements of the 314th to catch the first nine. The pilots had
done this so often that it took no more than ten minutes from take
off till they were a tight group of 60 Gooneybirds. Easy with all
the lights on - navigation, formation and the amber recognition.
Fred fell in five minutes behind the 315th Group and maintained 133
miles per hour ground speed and 1,500 feet altitude to the estuary
of the Severn River.
Not much for the Co-pilot to do; keep his eye on the
gauges and dials, watch the formation ahead and an occasional light
on the ground. He tightened the parachute straps and watched
the English Channel approach as the formation descended to 500 feet.
The Co-pilot decided it was a good time to walk to the back and use
the biffy; might not have time a bit later; told Grimes and made his
way to the tail. It was a nice smooth ride and the 508th troopers
were relaxed, talking and for once, not airsick. On the way back to
the cockpit the Co-pilot climbed up and looked out the astrodome.
What a view in the moonlight! C-47's as far as he could see to the
front and rear. Hundreds of them and this is just from the 52nd
Wing. Strapped himself in again and reminded Grimes that it was time
to turn off the navigation lights. Grimes nodded in the affirmative.