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FSAAF ARTICLES 31-37


After graduating from Victorville, Boyle returned to Fort Sumner as an instructor


ARTICLE 31

By John W. McCullough, Graduate Student in History, Texas Tech University

This is the 31st article in the series about Fort Sumner Army Air Field (FSAAF) during WWII.

George Boyle was a glider pilot during the Second World War.  He trained at many air fields including FSAAF.  On October 1, 2011, at the National WWII Glider Pilot Association’s annual reunion in Oklahoma City, Okla., he gave an interview about his time training as a glider pilot and provided a copy of his manuscript.

Boyle’s first posting at FSAAF ended in December, 1942 when he was transferred to Victorville, Calif., after a stopover in Albuquerque, New Mex.

While at Victorville, Boyle trained in the WACO CG-4A glider.  This was the same assault glider that would be used later in delivering combat troops into battle both in Europe and Asia.

In his manuscript, he said that Douglas C-47 Skytrain twin-engine cargo planes were used to tow the gliders to a predetermined altitude which was also the release point where the glider pilot would release his tow rope from the C-47.

The lower elevations were used to practice landings; whereas, the higher elevations were used to practice turns, slips, stalls, and other maneuvers, he explained.

“We also practiced two techniques (both single and double tow) to accommodate the high velocity ‘prop wash’ and turbulence being created behind the airplane’s twin engines.”

“The three choices that you had in positioning your glider were above, below, or to one side of the turbulence created by the air stream”, he went on to say.

In between glider flights, the pilots would relieve their tension by playing football on a large area of grass.

Boyle lost his two front teeth as a result of a collision with another player while trying to catch a pass during a football game.

The air field dentist at Victorville removed the root remnants, took plaster casts of the vacant area and told Boyle that he would send a partial plate to him at his new base when ready.

All clouds have a silver lining, and by losing his front teeth, Boyle soon met his wife-to-be.

Boyle convinced his base commander that he deserved a four-day pass to Los Angeles to help him overcome the loss of his two front teeth.  He spent his time off base with his old buddy from Billings, Montana, Don Stenersen, who was living in Huntington Park, Calif.

Stenersen was engaged to Josephine “Gypsy” DeLucio.  On Boyle’s last night of furlough, he went to DeLucio’s home for a spaghetti supper.  There he met her younger sister, Rose, whose nickname was “Packy”.  Boyle eventually married her.

Boyle completed two weeks of advanced training in the WACO glider at Victorville and graduated earning his silver “G-wings” on January 18, 1943.  He was in the class of 43-2, meaning the second class of 1943 from that air field.

There were 111 glider pilots in Boyle’s class including the famous movie star glider pilot, Jackie Coogan.

Soon after graduating from Victorville AAF, Boyle was headed back to Fort Sumner, this time to be an instructor pilot training new student pilots.  Boyle said that returning to Fort Sumner as an officer was a rewarding experience.

“A lot had changed.  They had a flying school now.  As an officer we were treated real nice.”

Because of the promotion, Boyle and his fellow glider pilots were now allowed to live in a bachelor officer’s quarters (B.O.Q.) which had rooms with beds and bathrooms.

“This was a giant upgrade in cleanliness, warmth, and dignity from the prior Fort Sumner experience of sleeping on cots, in rows of un-insulated tents, and having to use outdoor latrines.”

In addition to far improved living quarters, Boyle and his fellow glider pilots now also had access to the officer’s club.

“At our disposal was a beautiful officers club equipped with a well-stocked bar and a small dance band.  The Office of Special Services had drafted this combo as a “non-combat unit”, for our very own exclusive listening pleasure.”

According to Boyle’s manuscript, his first duty during his second assignment at FSAAF was to teach glider flying at night.  They flew two- and three-place airplanes whose engines had been removed making them into a glider.  They were also modified to have dual controls.

“This assignment was rather a scary task at first because I had not flown these ‘bathtubs’ in months, and I had completely forgotten the navigational topography for the several different nighttime landing strips.”

The “flying bathtubs” to which Boyle referred were modified Taylorcraft, Aeronca, or Piper aircraft.  The Taylorcraft was called the TG-6 when it was modified by having its engine removed and nose elongated to hold two students and one instructor.  The modified Aeronca three-place glider was called the TG-5.

Boyle said that he tried not to touch the controls while the student was learning to fly.  Instead, he said that he “talked the students down into a safe landing by using suggestive advisories, such as:  ‘too slow – increase your air speed; lengthen your downwind leg; keep your wings level; start your base leg; time to make your final approach; establish a glide path; correct for wind drift; line up with the lights; watch your air speed; break your glide; touch down – GOOD JOB!’”

“Only once, to prevent a near collision, did I ever override a student’s control of the aircraft”, recalled Boyle.

During these night missions, he said that they went up to about 3,000 or 4,000 feet then cut loose from the tow plane and glided back into the ground.  Each flight would last about one-half hour.

Boyle would take up one student for one flight only.  After that one flight, Boyle would recommend the student for more advanced training with a new instructor at Fort Sumner or he would recommend that they be washed out of glider training.

More about the George Boyle’s time as a glider pilot in WWII will be discussed in the next article.

More information about the glider program of WWII is available at www.researchwars.org and at www.ww2gp.org.

If you can help with this research project, please call John McCullough at 806-793-4448 or email him at johnmc@researchwars.org






Boyle Finished Instructing at FSAAF; Went to Kentucky for Commando Training


ARTICLE 32

By John W. McCullough, Graduate Student in History, Texas Tech University

This is the 32nd article in the series about Fort Sumner Army Air Field (FSAAF) during WWII.

George Boyle was a glider pilot during the Second World War.  He trained at many air fields including FSAAF.  On October 1, 2011, at the National WWII Glider Pilot Association’s annual reunion in Oklahoma City, Okla., he gave an interview about his time training as a glider pilot and provided a copy of his manuscript.

Boyle’s first posting at FSAAF ended in December 1942 when he was transferred to Victorville, Calif., after a stopover in Albuquerque, New Mex.

While at Victorville, Boyle trained in the WACO CG-4A glider.  This was the same assault glider that would be used later in delivering combat troops into battle both in Europe and Asia.

Boyle would take up one student for one flight only during night training.  After that one flight, Boyle would recommend the student for more advanced training with a new instructor at Fort Sumner or he would recommend that they be washed out of glider training.

“After an additional two weeks of night flying, we went back to making precision, short field, spot landings in the daytime,” recalled Boyle.

His job then was to give “check rides” to some of the student pilots who had questionable flight abilities.

If an instructor had doubts about a particular student’s progress toward the glider program’s goals, the instructor could then request that the student be given a “check ride”.

“It was my responsibility to observe the student’s technical skills and report upon his flight performance,” explained Boyle.

“This report included observations about overall responsibility, judgment, maturity (emotional discipline), attitude, and functional response coordination.”

Boyle said in his manuscript that if his report confirmed the instructor’s suspicions about the student, then the student was “washed out” of the glider program, meaning that he was eliminated from it.

However, if Boyle did not agree with the instructor’s evaluation of the student, then the student was re-assigned to a new instructor in order to give him a second chance to pass the course.

Boyle said that if the student overshot his landing spot by over half a mile during his check ride then he was “unquestionably out”.

He continued by saying that this job of “washing out” some student glider pilots was “rather unpleasant” but that he did not allow it to affect him adversely.

“I figured I was doing them a favor if they didn’t qualify, probably saving them from some ultimate disaster later on like crashing with a load of airborne infantry troops.”

“During this second stay at Fort Sumner, my grandmother died and I was given leave to go to the funeral in Casper, Wyoming.  She was my father’s mother, Effie May (nee King) Boyle.”

“My mother had died when I was nine (1930) and this dear lady took care of me and my younger brother, Don, from that time on.”

Boyle said that his grandmother had eight children but that only Boyle’s father and three of his sisters, Clara, Laura, and Mary, were still living when their mother passed away at age seventy-five.  Boyle’s father was named George Boyle, too.

“I was a junior,” chuckled Boyle.

“My Aunt Laura lived in Albuquerque, N.M., so we shared a bus ride back to New Mexico after the ceremony.”

“After a few months of giving “check rides”, I was transferred to Louisville, Kentucky.”

Boyle said that just before he left for Bowman Field near Louisville, “a partial plate arrived from a dentist in San Francisco by mail to fill the vacancy.  Not in time for my friends and relatives at the funeral, but in time for my trip to Louisville, Kentucky (famous for its beautiful horses and fast women).”

George Boyle and 57 of his fellow glider pilots left Fort Sumner for the last time on April 17, 1943, headed for Bowman Field for commando training.

Boyle chose not to take the shortest route to Kentucky, however.

He and his buddy from FSAAF, Earl Evans, who was originally from Madison, Wisconsin, decided to travel by train to Chicago first.  He said that Chicago was a great war-time city because it was very friendly to soldiers.

“From there, after three days, we rode the fast train (elevated) to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for two days (saw my first woman cab driver there).”

Boyle and Evans then returned to Chicago for one more day before heading to Cincinnati, Ohio for a two-day stay.

He said that this was a rather indirect route to take to go to Bowman Field in Kentucky but that it was worth the risk in order to enjoy such a wonderful sight-seeing adventure.

In order to keep out of trouble, Boyle had to make arrangements with the First Sergeant at Bowman Field to keep their late arrival off the record.

“Before we left Fort Sumner, we did call the First Sergeant and ask him to keep us on the roll call as ‘present’ for as long and as best he could, without getting into trouble.  In return, we arrived (at Bowman Field) with gifts of appreciation (four bottles of his favorite, hard-to-get, Scotch whiskey).”

“As it turned out, nobody ever knew we were late in arriving at the glider training center, Bowman Field, Kentucky.  This was an Air Force Flight Facility located on the outskirts of Louisville.  Our orders of assignment were to the Troop Carrier Command.”

More about the George Boyle’s time as a glider pilot in WWII will be discussed in the next article.

More information about the glider program of WWII is available at www.researchwars.org and at www.wingedcommandos.org.

If you can help with this research project, please call John McCullough at 806-793-4448 or email him at johnmc@researchwars.org










Commando Training for Glider Pilots Meant Learning Martial Arts


ARTICLE 33


By John W. McCullough, Graduate Student in History, Texas Tech University

This is the 33rd article in the series about Fort Sumner Army Air Field (FSAAF) during WWII.

In the last article, glider pilot George Boyle and 57 of his fellow glider pilots left Fort Sumner for the last time on April 17, 1943 and headed under orders to Bowman Field, Kentucky and the US Army Air Force Flight Facility for commando training.

“Since we, as glider pilots, would be delivering airborne infantry troops behind enemy lines, the War Department decided it would be appropriate for us to be equally useful in the pursuant battles.”

“Our specific task here at Bowman Field for the next five months was to take ‘commando’ training and become proficient in all the phases of combat,” Boyle explained in his manuscript.

“Jui jitsu:  how to kill people with your bare hands – martial arts, all the way.  That’s all that we were there for,” said Boyle during his interview.

“We would learn the various martial arts, like jui jitsu, in the daytime, and then go to Louisville and practice on the ‘tank jockeys’ from Fort Knox in the evenings.”

At the time, Fort Knox, Kentucky, was the home of armored training for the United States Army and, of course, the home of the United States Bullion Depository where gold bullion is stored.

Boyle provided a document from the war detailing his training while at Bowman Field.  Below is a sample of some of the courses in which he was given instruction and the number of hours involved for each.

COURSE

HOURS

Rifle M 1903

50

Bayonet

24

Grenade

12

Sub-Machine Gun

8

Pistol

22

Skeet

4

Chemical Warfare

7

Maps and Compasses

14

Camouflage

12

Scouting and Patrolling

10

Hasty Entrenchments

4

Unarmed Combatives

8

Swimming

9

Night Patrol

2

Combat Principles

4

 

“In our class on ‘booby traps’, I rigged an old farm house so well it put 4 men in the hospital with lacerations from an exploding dynamite cap.  The search team removed the protective timbers hiding the charge and then they leaned against the wall which I had triggered to set off the blast.”

He also recalled that the all-night bivouacs were not very pleasant.  This type of training included a campout and incursions into the pretend enemy’s territory which taught the men to use a compass and achieve their objective within the time allotted to them.

This training also taught Boyle and his fellow glider pilots how to read maps under the cover of a blanket with the flashlight turned on.

Charles Day, national secretary of the National WWII Glider Pilots Association, had more to add to Boyle’s memories of small arms training at Bowman Field.

In a recent interview, Day explained that British glider pilots became infantry after landing their gliders but American glider pilots were expected, at least initially, to return to their base to carry out another glider mission as soon as possible.

“British glider pilots were part of the glider infantry and became an infantry combatant after landing.  US glider pilots were troop carrier, not infantry,” explained Day.

“After landing they were to assist in unloading, secure the glider, then report to a preassigned gathering spot in order that they be returned to their base in case they were needed for another flight.”

“Of course there were instances where the US glider pilots became infantry for several days or a couple of weeks.  Some were ordered by a higher ranking infantry (airborne) officer to stay and fight.”

“I have heard some glider pilots say that they refused that order stating they were ordered by a higher ranking troop carrier officer to report immediately to their assigned assembly point,” noted Day.

In addition to the commando training, or small arms training, at Bowman Field, Boyle and his fellow glider pilots still had to continue flying a minimum number of hours each month in powered aircraft in order to qualify for flight pay.

Boyle had a rather exciting time while maintaining his required pilot training that fortunately turned out well for him.

“During one of my flights over Louisville, the engine stopped running and I was forced to make a dead stick landing in the city.”

“I quickly spotted a corn patch in someone’s backyard and proceeded to slip the airplane down to lose altitude and then stalled it into the corn patch.”

“The corn was very tall and the airplane instantly disappeared from sight.  No one was hurt and the airplane was not damaged.”

Boyle said that the wings had to be removed from the aircraft in order to remove it from the corn patch.

He also remarked that all of his training in short field (spot) landings served him very well during this unexpected and tricky maneuver.

More flight training for Boyle at Bowman Field involved actually living on the flight line for one week and flying as many hours as possible both at day and night.  The pilots would fly their airplanes until they needed refueling at which time they would land them and the next pilot in line would take his turn in the plane.

“One of the most difficult tasks encountered during our training was making forced marches.  Twenty-five miles per day with full field pack and only one canteen of water to last all day.  It was hard to decide whether to drink the water or use it to bathe your feet.”

“A marching band would join us for the last mile and help us finish with a flourish,” said Boyle in his manuscript.

More about the George Boyle’s time as a glider pilot in WWII will be discussed in the next article.

More information about the glider program of WWII is available at www.researchwars.org and at www.wingedcommandos.org.

If you can help with this research project, please call John McCullough at 806-793-4448 or email him at johnmc@researchwars.org













High Times Off Base for Boyle and Fellow Glider Pilots Darkened by Distant War



ARTICLE 34

By John W. McCullough, Graduate Student in History, Texas Tech University

This is the 34th article in the series about Fort Sumner Army Air Field (FSAAF) during WWII.

In the last article, glider pilot George Boyle learned jiu-jitsu as part of hand-to-hand combat training at Bowman Field, Kentucky and the US Army Air Force Flight Facility for commando training.

Boyle stayed at Bowman Field for five months of commando training; but while there in Louisville, he also enjoyed many of the local attractions.  One of them was the Kentucky Derby.

“The influx of racing fans and the crowded city excitement over this occasion was incredible.  Home owners were renting out rooms and charging people to park on their front lawns.”

Boyle traveled to Churchill Downs and drank the traditional mint julep and exchanged greetings with the high class of southern society.  He also laid down $2 to win on a horse of his choice.  Count Fleet won the derby that day by a long margin but Boyle was paid just $2.20 in return since that was the favored horse to win.

“Exciting, but not much of a return as an investment.  However, the enjoyment of watching thousands of people in a carnival mood, exuding southern hospitality, was a very enjoyable escape from the pervasive wartime jitters,” Boyle said in his manuscript.

“On weekends, I loved to ride through the Bluegrass Countryside with its impressive white fences and grazing thoroughbred horses,” Boyle fondly remembered.

He also enjoyed the best steak that he has ever eaten.  It was a thick, juicy, rare tenderloin purchased at the “Canary Cottage” in Lexington.

“Fort Knox was next to us and these people (the soldiers) had no money, no rank, and they were in a town with fast women and pretty horses.

“Our only competition for female companionship in Louisville came from the armored tank ‘jockeys’ from nearby Fort Knox.  Mostly, they were enlisted personnel making $50 per month.  Since we were making five times as much, and spending ten times as much, competition does not correctly describe their plight.  They were victims of our ambitious maneuvering and they hated us thoroughly for our existence.”

“So, finally the CO (Commanding Officer) almost barred us from going to Louisville.”

“Our headquarters was the Seelbach Hotel.  That was where all the glider pilots met.  It’s famous for the glider pilots.  It was party time all night long,” chuckled Boyle in his interview.

“The most pervasive memory I have of Louisville was the addictive, highly-charged aura which took over when the sun went down.”

“Every evening, 3,000 well-paid glider pilots would head for the city in search of liquor and female companionship.  The Seelbach Hotel was headquarters for these prowling, carousing commandos.”

Boyle described the nighttime atmosphere as that of frenzied excitement similar to a carnival in Rio De Janeiro.  The glider pilots had a “live it up now” philosophy because there might not be a tomorrow.  This feeling was further boosted since the war department had declared “gliders and glider pilots as expendable in combat,” said Boyle.

A glider invasion was considered a success if 25 percent of the glider pilots survived to deliver their cargo intact to the landing zone, Boyle explained.

“As a result, most of the glider pilots spent everything they could beg, borrow, or steal to have a good time.”

Boyle also wrote about the hundreds of evacuation nurses who lived on the base.  They were also there to train under simulated combat conditions but less strenuous than the glider pilot’s commando training.

“They did have to crawl through our ‘infiltration’ course, however, with machine guns firing live rounds over their heads and grenades being dropped here and there.

“Some of these gals failed to master the ‘belly crawl’ without elevating their posteriors high enough to make an inviting target for the shooters.  As a result, most of these poor gals were pinned down and could not advance (petrified).”

On the cultural side, Boyle attended his first opera while in Louisville.

“I had met and taken one of the ballerinas to lunch between rehearsals.  During our conversation, I promised to go and see her dance; which I did.  She introduced me to one of the stars, Virginia Bruce.”

According to the New York Times online, Bruce was the quintessential Ziegfeld showgirl, portraying that character in a lavish 1936 motion picture entitled “The Great Ziegfeld”.  Bruce starred in more than forty films.  (www.nytimes.com)

Boyle also recalled how much fun it was to ride a paddlewheel boat up the Ohio River while listening to Dixieland music; but eating southern style barbequed chicken and ribs was even more fun.

He also made weekend trips to Chicago, Cincinnati, and Covington, which were enjoyable experiences.

“Thinking about the future was no fun at all,” he commented.

Boyle said that before their training in Louisville had completed, the commanding officer ordered them onto the parade ground one Sunday morning and gave them a blistering lecture about their disgraceful behavior.

“I called you out here to tell you how ‘wonderful’ you are.  Obviously, none of you ever go to church.  Less than 5% of you are buying war bonds.  I have over $5,000 in bounced checks on my desk; and you have filled nearly three wards in my hospital with venereal disease!”

“This is not my definition of what a gentleman’s code of behavior should be.  You are a raunchy bunch of humans and a disgrace to the rank of officer.  If I could, I would court-martial each and every one of you.  Since I cannot, I am placing Louisville ‘off limits’ to all glider pilots until you finish your training and get the hell out of here!  Dismissed.”

Summing up his time in commando training in Kentucky, Boyle wrote, “We had the desire and Louisville provided the opportunity to fulfill that desire.  We would never be the same again, nor would Louisville.”

Then on September 11, 1943, Boyle and his good friend, Henry Benefiel, received orders to report to the 38th Troop Carrier Squadron at Camp Mackall in North Carolina.

“Henry had his car with him, so we each picked up a book of fill-up coupons for rationed gas and drove to our new assignment together.  Since North Carolina was ‘dry’, we also took along a case of 181 proof Ronrico Purple Label Rum.”

More about the George Boyle’s time as a glider pilot in WWII will be discussed in the next article.

More information about the glider program of WWII is available at www.researchwars.org and at www.silentwingsmuseum.org.

If you can help with this research project, please call John McCullough at 806-793-4448 or email him at johnmc@researchwars.org















Camp Mackall Provided Glider Training Intended for Landings in France


ARTICLE 35

By John W. McCullough, Graduate Student in History, Texas Tech University

This is the 35th article in the series about Fort Sumner Army Air Field (FSAAF) during WWII.

In the last article, George Boyle and he glider pilot buddies enjoyed the festivities that Louisville, Kentucky offered.  He stayed at Bowman Field for five months of commando training and then was off to his new assignment in North Carolina with his friend Henry Benefiel and a case of 181 proof Ronrico Purple Label Rum.”

In his manuscript, Boyle wrote this first entry about training in North Carolina: “As it turned out, the purpose of our assignment to Camp Mackall, N.C., was to undergo more flight training.  It seems the tactical minds in our war department decided the invasion of Europe would take place in France.  Because of stone walls erected between vineyards, the current technique of landing would not work.”

Boyle explained that the current technique that the glider pilots were told to use was to dive swiftly into the Landing Zone, or LZ, and tilt the glider up on its nose skids, sliding it to a stop.

However, in France, the stone walls between vineyards would stop the gliders too abruptly; so the solution was to bring the glider to a halt very slowly.

As a result, George Boyle and his fellow glider pilots at Camp Mackall were trained to “slow glide” into very short fields.

This new technique was called Colonel Curry’s “death glide” since the gliders would be piloted at only a few miles per hour above stall speed.  Anything below stall speed results in the flight ending in a fatal crash.

In order to simulate short field landings, the ground crew bore large holes into the grass runway into which cut trees were placed.

The cut trees would simulate the similar cut trees that existed in fields in Normandy placed there by the German Army to prevent gliders from landing in certain fields.  These trimmed tree trunks were known as “Rommel’s asparagus”.  A mock-up of these wooden obstructions are on display at Silent Wings Museum in Lubbock.

“This was a costly learning procedure.  Looking back, I am sure we lost more pilots in ‘death glide’ training and in short field maneuvers than we ever did in combat,” reflected Boyle.

Boyle then described what spoilers were and why the camp instructors had them placed on top of the WACO CG-4A glider’s wings for these short distance landings.

“Spoilers create turbulence and destroy the wing’s lift.  Consequently, the glide path resembles the flight path of a hotel elevator.  We didn’t even break the glide angle to land.”

Boyle said that, if necessary, the glider pilots used brakes and nose skids to bring the glider to a halt.

“Obviously, when the glider wouldn’t stop, the pilot guided the cockpit between the tree trunks.  This procedure saved pilots but kept the glider factories busy replacing wings.”

He said that fifty C-47 Skytrain transports would pull 100 gliders at night.  After being towed for four hours, the glider pilots would release their towropes and then land their gliders in fields.  There would be two gliders behind each C-47 in what they called a “double tow”.  The North Carolina coastline was blacked out due to wartime conditions.

Some confusion occurred during the training exercise in which smudge pots were used to indicate to the glider pilots how they were to approach the landing zone and where they were to land.  Two smudge pots indicated a left-turn approach into the landing zone.

“Supposedly, we were to stop with our left wing over a single smudge pot, then move the light to our right wing tip for the next glider coming in.”

“This worked well for the first line of gliders; however, not enough time was allowed for the smudge pot to be moved across the field to start the second row.”

“As I landed, I was chasing a moving target.  The runner finally dropped the smudge pot and took off in another direction.  I stopped over the light to start the second row, as instructed, but the position (of the smudge pot) was near the middle of the field rather than the left edge.”

“From that point on, confusion began to build until finally the smudge pot was lost and the pilots had no reference light to guide them.  For an hour, it sounded like a thunderstorm with gliders rolling through rows of parked gliders.”

Boyle went on to say that, everyone who survived the landings that night immediately deserted their gliders and fled to take cover in the nearby forests.

All remaining training maneuvers had better results due to improved planning, communication, and alternatives in case of problems.

“Upon completion of our slow-glide, short field, glider landing schooling, Henry Benefeil and I were assigned to the 94th Troop Carrier Squadron in Alliance, Nebraska.  As before, we made the transitional journey in Hank’s automobile.”

Boyle’s orders, dated October 24, 1943, re-assigned him and 41 other flight officers to 439th Troop Carrier Group, 94th TCS, at Alliance.

However, Henry Benefeil and George Boyle were in Alliance on a short time.  Shortly after arriving in Nebraska, their group received orders that they would soon ship out to Laurinberg-Maxton Air Field in North Carolina.  So their new posting would be just a few miles away from their last posting in that state, Camp Mackall.

“During the short turn-around time in Nebraska, Henry and I took some time off and drove to my birthplace in Mills, Wyoming.  Spent 3 days visiting relatives and old friends.  Stayed with my Aunt Mildred Steinle.  Drove back to the base in a big snow storm.”

Boyle piloted a glider towed by a C-47 from Alliance to St. Louis, Missouri.  He said that the C-47 towed his glider across the airport in the wrong direction so that his landing approach was downwind rather than into the wind.  He ran out of runway quickly and had to ‘ground loop’ his glider to avoid running into the brush.

The glider pilots stayed overnight in St. Louis and had blind dates with nurses from a local hospital.

“In preparing to take off the next morning, the ground crews hooked my glider’s tow rope to the C-47 incorrectly.  As we started down the runway, the steel attaching ring came loose.  The nylon tow rope stretched about 50% of its length (like a rubber band) during the take-off, so it headed back to the glider like a shot from a rifle.  Fortunately, the steel fitting did not injure anyone.  After some minor repairs to the glider, we continued on to our destination.”

More about the George Boyle’s time as a glider pilot in WWII will be discussed in the next article.

More information about the glider program of WWII is available at www.researchwars.org and at www.silentwingsmuseum.org.

If you can help with this research project, please call John McCullough at 806-793-4448 or email him at johnmc@researchwars.org














Boyle Landed His WACO Glider in Kentucky’s ‘Moonshine’ Countryside


ARTICLE 36

By John W. McCullough, Graduate Student in History, Texas Tech University

This is the 36th article in the series about Fort Sumner Army Air Field (FSAAF) during WWII.

During his interview, Boyle said that he wrote his manuscript about his war-time experiences in 1946 while it was still fresh on his mind.

Shortly after arriving in Alliance, Nebraska, their group received orders that they would soon ship out to Laurinburg-Maxton Army Air Field in North Carolina.  So their new posting would be just 15 miles away from their last posting in that state, Camp Mackall.

From his manuscript, Boyle wrote, “Most of our time at Maxton was getting combat ready as a group.  This meant many troop carrier group maneuvers carrying airborne infantry into strange landing areas.  Also, many routine training flights to get the tow plane pilots and their glider pilots used to each other.”

Boyle wrote that the slow speed gliders that they used for training at Maxton were not designed to exceed 150 mph; but many of the C-47 tow pilots would descend so fast that the glider pilots had no control over their gliders and were exceeding the “red line” speed limit of the gliders.

“To correct this problem, they made the tow plane pilots fly in a glider for 10 hours and let the glider pilots fly in the C-47’s for 10 hours as co-pilot.  Mutual respect was quickly achieved especially for the ‘hot’ pilots who found they couldn’t fly a glider without making violent oscillations (from over controlling).  These throttle jockeys had no ‘feel’ for flying.”

Other experiences that Boyle wrote about included the first time that he experienced ice forming on his wings.  This was during a trip to Akron, Ohio in a C-47 Skytrain, which was used to tow WACO CG-4A gliders.

In December 1943, Boyle realized that he would likely be shipped overseas soon; so he requested a leave of absence to travel to Yakima, Washington to visit his father.  To his dismay, command informed him that no leaves were being granted; however, they did tell him that they could cover for him for five days if he wanted to try a quick, unapproved trip to see his dad.

Boyle called and asked his dad to meet him in Billings, Montana at the home of Boyle’s grandparents, the Steinle’s.

“I caught the next train to Chicago, and after a four-hour layover, I was on a train to Billings.  We would have our reunion and say our goodbyes there.  All of us had a pleasant but short visit.  I headed back to North Carolina trying to meet my deadline.  Happily, it worked and no one ever knew the difference, officially that is!”

Then, at Christmas of 1943, the brass at Laurinburg-Maxton told Boyle and his fellow glider pilots that after the holidays, they would be processed for a port of embarkation (POE).  They would be sent to Fort Wayne, Indiana first for medical examinations before being sent to Europe for the upcoming invasion at some unknown date.

So the period between Christmas and New Year’s 1943 was especially poignant for the glider pilots at Maxton who were married as their wives would make their final goodbyes to them then.

Ada Leonard and her all girl orchestra provided music for the glider pilots and their wives, dates, and sweethearts at the New Year’s Eve party for 1943.  After they finished that evening, jukebox records of the Mills Brothers filled the air with music.

After the New Year’s Eve party, the glider pilots would leave their wives and children behind.  “Being single, I did not have to endure the obvious pain and suffering that was going on around me,” he wrote.

Boyle’s squadron arrived in Fort Wayne, Indiana traveling by rail.  Five members of his squadron, including Boyle himself, failed to pass their physical examinations because they all had hernias.  The other glider pilots all shipped out for Europe leaving Boyle and the other four pilots behind.

“I got taken out on a hernia operation.”

Fifteen days after his operation, Boyle left for Hollywood, Calif., for ten days’ sick leave with Martin Platt, a C-47 pilot.

Shortly after returning to Fort Wayne, Boyle was transferred temporarily to Stout Field in Indianapolis.  His task there was ferrying gliders from a factory in Minneapolis, Minn., to various airports scattered around the United States.

“One trip I made turned out to be a very exciting adventure.”

“I signed for the glider at the factory with instructions to deliver it to Love Field in Dallas, Tex.  The first day’s flight took us into Bowman Field, Kentucky near Louisville.”

“The next morning’s flight took us over the mountains.  The weather turned terrible and the ride became very rough and bouncy.  My co-pilot and I decided to fly alternating shifts of 15 minutes on the glider controls to ease the mental strain and the physical burden of manual controls.”

After Boyle finished one 15-minute shift, he transferred the controls to his co-pilot.  He responded by saying that he was not going to mess with trying to fly in such rough conditions and then cut the glider loose from its tow rope and switched the controls back over to Boyle.

He then asked Boyle, “Where are you going to land it?”

Boyle had plenty of altitude and ample time to choose a landing field although the countryside was very flooded and muddy from recent storms.

He picked out a cabin and planned to land the glider nearby it.  He flew “Lazy 8’s” and descended slowly until time to reach stall speed and bring the glider down next to the cabin.  It came to a rest in the mud which rose all the way up to the glider’s wheel hubs.

“My first task was to go to the one-room cabin and get a release form signed, which declared I had not damaged the owner’s property.”

“The owner in this case was a backwoods Kentuckian who could not read or write.  His daughter could, however, so she witnessed his ‘X’ on the release document.  The mother observed me from her rocking chair, chewing tobacco (snuff) and spitting occasionally into the fireplace six feet away.”

“What I didn’t know at this time was the fact that this was ‘moonshine’ territory and totally off limits to servicemen.”

Boyle’s second task was to hitchhike to the nearest town, which was Crofton, Kentucky, and telephone his headquarters at Stout Field to tell them the location where he was forced to land his glider.

More about the George Boyle’s time as a glider pilot in WWII will be discussed in the next article.

More information about the glider program of WWII is available at www.researchwars.org and at www.silentwingsmuseum.org.

If you can help with this research project, please call John McCullough at 806-793-4448 or email him at johnmc@researchwars.org
















C-47 Snatched Boyle’s Waco Glider from Kentucky Farmland High into the Sky


ARTICLE 37

By John W. McCullough, Graduate Student in History, Texas Tech University

This is the 37th article in the series about Fort Sumner Army Air Field (FSAAF) during WWII.

During his interview in October 2011, Boyle said that he wrote his manuscript about his war-time experiences in 1946 while it was still fresh on his mind.

While waiting for the Army Air Forces to send help and retrieve the glider, Boyle and his co-pilot rented a room at a primitive hotel.  He noted that the door to their room did not have a lock but there was a water pitcher and basin on the dresser for washing.  There was also a ‘thunder mug’ (chamber pot) under the bed.

They spent the evening at a pool hall where they stood out as curiosities for the local people.

“The following day, we received our orders from Stout Field.  It seems the Army Air Force, at Wright-Patterson Army Air Field in Ohio, was trying to develop a system to snatch downed pilots from enemy territory, but that had not worked out well (they killed all of the test animals).”

“So, they decided to try snatching gliders off of a field and into the air from a C-47 tow plane.  It worked fairly well on the runway but they wanted to give it a real tactical test.”

What Boyle was describing was a snatch operation involving an airplane, such as a C-47 with an elastic tow line with grappling hook on it, in which the grappling hook would catch another rope that was tied to a vest worn by a single man standing on the ground.  The rope that would be snatched by the tow rope from the C-47 Skytrain ran perpendicular to the flight path of the aircraft and was attached to two poles about 15 feet apart.

This type of retrieval operation potentially would be useful snatching an Allied agent or saboteur from behind enemy lines and bringing them back to a friendly base.  Once the grappling hook had caught the rope that was tied to the vest worn by the man, he would be lifted quickly into the air and the tow rope would be reeled in.

When the man was close enough to the opening cargo door of the C-47, he would be helped inside by other men manning the winch.

Tests with this single man snatch operation proved disappointing when the animals used in the practice run did not survive the pickup even though the C-47 was traveling at a rather low speed of about 100 mph, said Boyle.

Boyle explained that even though his WACO glider was forced down in Kentucky farm country, the USAAF viewed it as a favorable moment for them.  They could use this unexpected circumstance to further test the new glider snatch operation.

“Our misfortune turned out to be their golden opportunity.  They were very excited about our situation.”

“They would fly to Camp Campbell, Kentucky, then truck to the landing site and set up their glider snatching equipment.”

“We were to be in the cockpit and ready to fly at 2:00 p.m. the next day.  At that time, they would attempt to snatch us out of the mud.  The word spread rapidly about our plans to fly away.  It posed an obvious question, however, for the natives were smart enough to know you can’t fly an airplane without an engine.”

The next morning, Boyle wrote, a truck and a half-track arrived from Camp Campbell with the equipment needed to help lift a WACO CG-4A glider off the muddy ground employing the “glider snatch” operation.

The glider snatch, also known as the glider retrieval, involved a C-47 Skytrain flying over the grounded glider at 150 mph with a grappling hook at the end of an extended, elastic nylon tow rope.

The men implanted two long poles into the ground 15 feet apart on either side of the glider.  A tow rope was placed between the two poles with the looped end attached to the glider.

In setting up the rig, the men from Camp Campbell tore up the soft, muddy field pretty badly; so Boyle was very glad that he had asked the owner of the property to sign the release form in advance.

“By noon, several hundred people had gathered to watch us fly away.  Their barefoot trampling around the glider turned the takeoff site into a big puddle of water.  In the meantime, we were briefed on how the snatch procedure was supposed to work.”

Boyle explained that a large drum, which acted like a reel, was mounted inside the C-47 which would fly over the Waco glider and pull it up into the air.  A long, elastic nylon cable was wrapped around the drum and could be paid out like a fishing line on a fishing reel.

“When the hook picked up the looped end of the tow rope from the poles, the drum would pay out cable to cushion the shock (like the drag on a fishing reel).  Braking tension would be increased until we were airborne.  The extra cable would then be reeled onto the drum.”

At 2:00 p.m., Boyle and his co-pilot were in the glider and ready to be picked up by the low-flying C-47 Skytrain.  The C-47 made a quick flyover to orient itself over the target Waco glider.  Their first attempt to snatch the glider’s rope loop was unsuccessful so the aircraft circled around for a second attempt.

“As the hook made contact with the loop, the nylon tow rope started stretching to twice its length.  Nothing else happened.  We did not budge.”

“Suddenly, I heard a great suction sound as we came out of the mud.  Instantly, I was 200 feet in the air and flying.  My mind was aware of 200 Kentuckians looking up with their mouths wide open in disbelief as I flew away in an airplane with no engine.  The startled look on my face probably matched their own.”

Boyle and his co-pilot were then towed back to Camp Campbell without further issue.  However, he stated that the C-47 pilot almost had an issue during the glider snatch procedure.

“He said he was afraid we were going to stall him out.  He was getting ready to release the tow rope when we broke loose.  He was flying at 130 mph when they picked up the loop.”

“We slowed the C-47 to 95 mph before we came out of the mud.  At 90 mph, we would have been dodging the steel connector from the tow ship.  As it turned out, they were all ecstatic over the success of this tactical accomplishment.  We had proven the procedure to be a worthwhile technique.”

A video showing the glider snatch operation during WWII is available for viewing at Silent Wings Museum in Lubbock.  The video is narrated by Ronald Reagan.  Other similar videos showing the glider snatch operation are available for viewing online on YouTube by searching for “Glider Pickup at Eindhoven”.  Many other videos of WACO CG-4A gliders in operation are located on YouTube.

Boyle continued ferrying new WACO CG-4A gliders from the factory in Minneapolis, Minn., in early 1944.  When he picked up a new glider, there was considerable paperwork and several days of flight testing involved.  He would spend his off hours at the Andrews Hotel in Minneapolis.

In April, he was sent back to Fort Wayne, Indiana, for more processing.  This time he passed his physical.

More about the George Boyle’s time as a glider pilot in WWII will be discussed in the next article.

More information about the glider program of WWII is available at www.researchwars.org and at www.silentwingsmuseum.org.

If you can help with this research project, please call John McCullough at 806-793-4448 or email him at johnmc@researchwars.org














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