Friday, October 24, 2014

AAF at Bassingbourn - The Horsa Glider

In the basement of an "antique store" these two books of 35mm negatives were found. They were destined for the dumpster no doubt, but rescued for LOST GALLERY and the enthusiasts who treasure the history and memorabilia of the second world war.

The first book of contains 327 negatives. The photographs were scanned and uploaded to a set on Flickr in 2007 and then grouped generally by subject for the pages of LOST GALLERY. Most of the photographs in this set are of aircraft in world war two. Nothing was known for sure about the photographs but slowly over the years some information has accumulated. It was established that the date for most of the photographs is late 1944.

Most of the negatives had notations on the accompanying index pages. Mostly the photographer was concerned about the lighting and exposure of each frame but occasionally also made notes on the subject matter. Where possible these notations will be included under each picture on this page.

The 205 negatives in the other file were taken postwar, about half in England and the rest in Texas, USA. The photographs apparently show a bit of touring before leaving the England based AAF unit and the first photographs after arriving in Texas.

Negative files

This page will review all of the negatives in the set that feature the Horsa Glider and the information that has accumulated since 2007.

All images are the property of
Lost Gallery
and the author. Permission must be granted for their use.
All rights reserved.

From fishfish on Flickr: my father lived in the fuselage of one of these after the war in Salisbury next to the river Avon,where the sea cadet hut is now situated,they spent a few years in it .

i believe it was cut up into sections and used on a local farm for chicken houses,my dad remembers the glider well,as a child he thought it was very cool to live in and better than the bombed out house in Eastleigh near Southampton they lived in before.he said they had an Aga wood burning stove and the 'rooms' were separated by curtains,he tells also of a very frugal Christmas,no meat around and rationing worse not better. On Christmas morning his father walked in with a swan that had hit power lines near the glider. They ate well that Christmas.

From Jed on Flickr:

From Jed on Flickr: I have a theory about this glider.

Looking at this and previous photos the glider serial *appears* to be HG892 which was one of a batch of 200 built by the Austin Motorcar company. Many of these were assigned to the USAAF for D-Day but apparently not this particular one.

The state of the stripes tells me it's been outside for a while as they have worn away quote badly - the white has peeled off on the top of the fuselage and are completely missing from the upper wings. The black, which appears to be a different paint from that on the fuselage has lightened a little. Also on another picture you can make out a circle under the wing where the roundel has been painted out - a typical thing for D-Day.

Also, the fuselage has "62" written on it - this is the Chalk Number and was used to identify the load that the glider would carry on an operation or exercise.

So my guess that this is a glider that took part in the D-Day operations and was recovered back from France.

I don't have the information to hand but it *should* be possible to cross reference the serial/chalk number with known gliders that took part in operations.

Horsa Glider with Doc Nugent 02
Horsa Glider with Doc Nugent
Horsa Glider w Nugent 69 03
Horsa Glider w Nugent

From Jed on Flickr
Quick follow up!

The bad state of the stripes is not due to being recovered. There was an order in August 1944 that invasion stripes on the upper wings and fuselage should be removed but it was hard to get off from canvas aircraft and those with doped canvas coverings - such as the Horsa glider.

The easiest way was to scrap off the white part and leave the black part which is what has happened here. Still no clue what it's doing at a USAAF airfield though!

Been looking through my documents again. Assuming this is HG892 it was used during Operation Market and flew to Arnhem on 19th September 1944.

What's even more confusing - HG892 shouldn't exist. In the contract to produce the gliders there is a gap between HG880 and HG897 where those serials were never allocated to anything - yet I have an article that states HG892 was a real glider. :)

Horsa Glider w Nugent 69 02
Horsa Glider w Nugent

Confusing. It'll be interesting to find out why there was an obvious gap. Who knows what inconsistencies secrecy creates?

On Secrecy.
In the mid 1960's, when the world in the shivers of the "cold" war, was boasting aloud whenever possible of planes that were approaching Mach 2 speed, the US government was secretly flying the SR-71 on regular spy missions over Russia at more than Mach 3, three times the speed of sound.

Bragging rights were certainly in order but but although there were more than thirty of these built, flying hundreds of missions, the general public knew nothing of the plane for more than a decade.

Horsa Glider with Doc Nugent 01
Horsa Glider with Doc Nugent

And I have no idea what "Nugent" or "Doc Nugent" in the photographer's notes refers to unless it is the man who appears in one of the shots.

Horsa Glider w Nugent 69 01
Horsa Glider w Nugent

CLICK HERE to view the
from the other negative file from this same photographer.

Look at the bazookas on that little honey!
multiple bazookas installed on cub 03
Click here for the whole story!

Here are more stories about the 91st Bomber Group and some of the missions flown on a fine website by
Sam Halpert

For others in the AAF Bassingbourn series see also
The P-61 Black Widow
B-17 Bomber
The Lancaster Bomber
P-51 Mustang (This one)
The Avro York
The Short Stirling Bomber
The Piper Cub with the Bazookas
The Horsa Glider HG892
And Miscellaneous personnel and landscapes
Bassingbourn from a Window on the base.

Bassingbourn 1944 384th Bomber Group, B17 landing Discovered! Long lost negatives taken during the winter of 1944-45 at Bassingbourn AAF base in England.

Area 51 and a Half Area 51 and a Half You are probably not authorized to see these.

Don't take my picture! Oh! You DID didn't you! completely unaware of the photographer This is a collection of photographs that disappear on the way home from the photo processing shop.

And don't miss
Cabinet Card Gallery
Square America
Tattered and Lost
Vernacular Photography
The best
sites on the web.

And for postcards try
And see what's going on over at
Sepia Saturday!

All images are the property of Lost Gallery and the author. Permission must be granted for their use. All rights reserved.

THE KIDS Lesson one.
It is always a mystery how a photograph of any of these precious children could end up lost or abandoned. Here are a few. You will probably say "Ooh..." at least once.

Dee and the Business School Dee and the Business School
The beautiful Dee. A curious story; What do you see?

Neiffel and Helvetica Typehigh

"What are they doing?"

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