Sunday, August 18, 2013

Officers of The Glider Pilot Regiment - circa 1944

Based upon the reported readership and broad geographic distribution, a significant number of people have shown a very strong interest in the World War II British Airborne’s assault gliders. The principal gliders being the Airspeed AS.51 Horsa, Mk I/II, and the massive, but more limited, General Aircraft GAL 49/50 Hamilcar.

In this post I would like to recognize, literally, the officers who led that unique group of extremely skilled soldiers who flew those gliders into combat, and then fought as infantrymen side-by-side with their passengers. They comprised the ranks of The Glider Pilot Regiment. The regiment was, and remains the smallest, shortest lived, yet renowned, of the British Army. It was raised on 21 December 1941, a year after the Parachute Regiment, and disbanded in 1957. Within that short span the regiment earned esteemed battle honors including; ‘Normandy Landings’, ‘Pegasus Bridge’, ‘Merville Battery’, ‘Arnhem 1944’, and ‘Rhine’.

Recently found posted on the Internet was the following group photograph, provided with others, as provenance for a Denison smock, wore by a major of the Glider Pilot Regiment in combat during World War II, which was for sale. Although the image is small, consequently lacking in resolution, it is a photograph of the officers of the regiment taken in 1944, prior to Operation Market-Garden, the Battle of Arnhem. Individuals familiar with the aircraft will recognize that they are grouped in front of the wing of an Airspeed AS.51 Horsa Mk I assault glider. It can be enlarged to a limited degree, allowing recognition of faces by knowledgeable individuals.

I have the extreme good fortune of having as a friend, a retired major of the Glider Pilot Regiment, who was on active service during the latter stages of World War II. He was, and is, personally acquainted with, and personal friend of several of these officers. This includes Bgdr Michael "Mike" Dauncey DSO, who as a Lt earned the Distinguished Service Order for his sustained heroism, and superlative leadership, at Arnhem. He was recommended for the Victoria Cross, but it was denied by FM Montgomery, because he had been taken POW.  In addition, am a member of the Operation Market Garden Forum, which is comprised of a group of very talented and knowledgeable individuals. Those talents include the unique capability to identify individual officers in the photograph. Particular recognition and gratitude are expressed to Paul Pariso, a member of that forum.  This is a work in progress, and as additional information is gained, it will be incorporated into this post.

Officers of The Glider Pilot Regiment circa mid 1944

Identified to date are the following individuals:

Front row, 9th from left = Lt E..J. Markwick A Sqdn (KIA at Arnhem) (not 100% sure on this one?)
Front row, 10th from left = Major John Royle 1 Wing (KIA at Arnhem)
Front row, 11th from left = Lt Col Iain Murray DSO w/Bar 1 Wing
Front row, 12th from left = Col George Chatterton DSO
Front row, 3rd from right = Capt James Ogilvie D Sqdn (KIA at Arnhem)
Front row, 6th from right = Major J Lyne
Front row, 7th from right = Major Robert Croot G Sqdn
Front row, 9th from right = Major Ian Toler DFC B Sqdn
Front row, 2nd from left = Capt Barry Murdoch D Sqdn (not 100% sure on this one?)
Front row, 8th from left = Major Francis Murray F Sqdn (not 100% sure on this one?)
Front row, 1st on the right = Capt Maurice Priest No.10 Flt, G Sqdn
Front row, 5th from right = Major Burton Jackson E Sqdn
Front row, 8th from right = Major Stewart Griffith A Sqdn
Front row, 10th from right = Major J Blatch 2 Wing
Back row, 8th from left = Captain Christopher B Dodwell DFC No.12 Flt, E Sqdn
Back row, 7th from left = Lt Alexander Frank Johnston
2nd row from back, 7th from left = Lt Michael Dauncey DSO G Sqdn
3rd row from back, 4th from left = Capt Bernard Halsall MC No.7 Flt, C Sqdn
3rd row from back, 7th from right = Capt William Barrie G Sqdn (KIA at Arnhem)
3rd row from back, 8th from right = Capt Frank Barclay No.21 Flt, D Sqdn
3rd row from back, 9th from right = Reverend George Pare Chaplain No.1 Wing
3rd row from back, 5th from right = Capt Robert "Robin" Walchli No.24 Flt, G Sqdn
3rd row from back, 8th from left = Lt Bruno Haeffner A Sqdn
4th row from back, 2nd from left = Capt Foster Robson No.16 Flt, F Sqdn (not 100% sure on this one?)
4th row from back, 1st on the right = Rev Wilfred Chignell Chaplain 2 Wing
4th row from back, 2nd from right = Capt Ronald Telfer G Sqdn
4th row from back, 5th from left = Lt Peter Brazier E Sqdn (KIA at Arnhem)
4th row from back, 13th from left = Lt Henry Cole No.19 Flt, B Sqdn (KIA at Arnhem)
4th row from back, 9th from right = Capt Francis Neale B Sqdn (KIA at Arnhem)

An individual photograph of Col George J.S. Chatterton DSO, Officer Commanding, The Glider Pilot Regiment, 1944. Because of the coincident pose, uniform, surrounding background and resolution, its believed to have been out-cropped from possibly a larger and/or clearer copy of the identical group photograph.

Colonel George J.S. Chatterton DSO
OC, The Glider Pilot Regiment 1944 

If any individual viewing this post, has additional information further identifying any of these officers, and is willing to share that knowledge, it would be sincerely appreciated by the author, and acknowledged by recognition and attribution to the source.


Anonymous said...

Also tell the usurpation of the "Musée de Pegasus
Bridge" heritage of Aspeg created by Général Sir Richard Gale ,rançoise Gondrée and actors of DDAY

Proofs can be shown to you.

Anonymous said...

Not 100% sure, but Front Row 9th from left looks like my father's co-pilot. Lt. E.J. Markwick 'A' Squadron. KIA Arnhem 22/09/1944.

Rob Ponsford

Sian Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sian Smith said...


I found this photograph and immediately recognised my grandfather and having consulted with my grandmother we are almost 100 % sure it is him.

3rd row, 5th from the left (the cheeky smiling one) - Sergeant Augustus Reginald Whittaker.

If anybody has any other links or information of where to research it would be gratefully received. He continued to speak highly of Colonel Chatterton and was immensely proud of his position in this elite and historic squad (of which i think is evident in his photo).


Unknown said...

I am almost certain that the chap on the back row, 7th from left is Lt Alexander Frank Johnston. I am not sure of his service number, but he was at Arnhem, & became a POW. He sadly passed away about 3 years ago, aged 92, & I must say, it was a privilege to be his friend

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