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Placid Lassie




 

After D-Day

After D-Day Placid Lassie and the 74th were used for air evacuation, re-supply and mail runs into France to support the invasion. Some say that a C-47 burned 2 gallons of fuel for every gallon delivered!

The 74th history book states that they prepared for an airborne mission in late July or early August in France, but Allied advances made that unnecessary. Likely this was Operation SWORDHILT, which was to be an airborne attack on Brest. This operation was cancelled on 29 July because of the break out from St. Lo made it no longer necessary.

The 74th’s history mentions a second planned airborne operation near the Siegfriend line that was called off at the last minute when ground troops took the planned airborne objectives. Likely this was operation TRANSFIGURE which was to drop the 101st near St. Arnoult-en-Yvelines along with the British 1st Airborne Division and Polish Parachute Brigade near Rambouillet. Troops were moved into position. Planes were marshalled and ready on 16 August for a 17 August launch. But Patton’s tanks were ahead of schedule and were approaching Rambouillet, so the mission was cancelled.

Operation MARKET GARDEN

MARKET GARDEN was an operation in the Netherlands from 17 to 25 September 1944. The plan was that the airborne forces (MARKET) would drop behind the lines and seize key bridges including ones at Einhoven, Nijmegen and Arnhem. Meanwhile ground forces (GARDEN) were to advance quickly over the bridges, and ultimately over the Rhine into the Ruhr valley. MARKET GARDEN was popularized by the movie “A Bridge Too Far” as the bridge at Arnhem was not secured and was one too many.

Placid Lassie and the 74th TCS flew four missions in four days consisting first of parachutes, then two glider missions and finally a resupply. 2nd glider mission was in extremely bad weather with gliders out of visual contact with the tow planes.
    17 SEPT Southern Route: 74th TCS was in the second Serial, just a few minutes behind the path nders, and dropped 2nd Battalion, 501st Parachute Regiment, 101st into LZ A (outside of Veghel) at 13:06. One C-47 from the pathfinders was shot down and also one C-47 from the Lassie’s Serial was lost (from 73rd TCS)

    18 SEPT Northern Route: Placid Lassie took off at about 11:20, flew in the lead Serial, and towed a glider carrying elements of 1st Bn, 401st Glider Infantry Rgt, 101st to LZ W. Two C-47s from her Serial were lost (from 72nd TCS)

    19 SEPT Southern Route: The 74th flew in the 6th Serial of a 10 serial mission to bring artillery towing gliders with elements of the 321st Glider Field Artillery Bn, 101st to DZ W. The mission took off between 11:30 and 13:20 into poor weather with clouds at 1,200 feet. The weather deteriorated and was zero visibility by the time that they hit the coast. Gliders could not see the C-47s towing them. Across the Channel the could cover was at 200 feet. 82 gliders aborted over England, 17 ditched in the channel, 31 broke free over Belgium and 213 made it to the target. The 74th TCS made it the drop zone at 15:45 with cloud cover at 600 feet and visibility less than one mile. Intense flak was encountered en route. 17 C-47s were lost and 5 made hard landings. 70% of the planes took hits. 1st Lt. Lundgren (Placid Lassie’s former co-pilot) was killed when his plane crashed.

    20 SEPT Southern Route: the 74th dropped supplies, mostly ammunition, for the 82nd in the late afternoon (16:48 to 17:49) at altitudes from 400 feet to 1,800 feet into DZ-O

    23 SEPT The 74th towed gliders to resupply the 101st.

    26 SEPT The 74th dropped artillery shells to resupply the 101st into LZ W at 16:41.

Operation REPULSE

This operation was the supply of the 101st Division encircled by the Germans at Bastone during the Battle of the Bulge. Their German commander offered the 101st the opportunity to surrender and the reply was “Nuts!” The 74th flew three combat resupply missions on 23 December, 24th or 25th December and 26th December to keep the 101st fighting.

France

On 11 Feb 1945 the 434th TCG was ordered to relocate from England to France. The 74th moved between 23 Feb and 11 March to Airstrip A-80, Mourmelon-le-Grand near Reimes.

Operation VARSITY

Varsity was the rst crossing of the Rhine River. On 23 March 1945 Placid Lassie and the 74th dropped members of 17th Airborne Division in DZ-X north of Wesel, Germany. Placid Lassie was the tail end charlie in Serial 2.

End of the War

The busiest time of the War for Placid Lassie and the 74th was after VARSITY. They flew gas and rations to advancing troops, sometimes landing 4 miles behind the front line. They evacuated casualties. Some pilots logged over 100 flight hours in the first 20 days of April.

On 5 April 1945, Placid Lassie and 42-16029 were waiting taxi and take off instructions at Strip Y-67 (Gelnhausen, Germany) when a C-47 from the 72nd TCS overshot the strip and taxied into the two parked planes. Both 42-16029 and Placid Lassie were grounded pending inspection. They were declared operational on 10 April 1945 and permitted to return to Strip A-80. Placid Lassie was determined to be not seriously damaged and returned to flight status on 11 April 1945. The war in Europe ended on 7 May 1945.

12 JUNE 1945: 74th TCS relocated to Station A-62 near Reims/Champagne, France. Then on or before 22 June 1945, 74th was issued orders to return home. They took off on 22 June and returned via the southern route. They landed in Marrakech, Dakar, Roberts Field, Ascension Island, Natal, Brazil, Atkinson Field, Belem, Borinquin Field and finally Hunter Field, Savannah, GA on 6 July 1945. The 74th was issued 30 days leave then reformed at Baer Field, Fort Wayne, IN by 20 Aug 1945 before being sent to Alliance, Nebraska. But the War was over and many were discharged before Nebraska. More were discharged and the rest moved on 10 Oct 1945 for George Field, Lawrenceville, IL.

Placid Lassie took another route:
  • 9 July: Cincinnati Air Transport Command, Lunkin Airport
  • 16 July: San Bernadino Army Air eld, CA
  • 21 Oct: Declared excess to government needs at San Bernadino in Report #141.
  • 19 Nov 1945: RFC (Re nance Corporation) Walnut Ridge, AR.
RFC Walnut Ridge is the end of Placid Lassie’s military career. Here she was to be sold or scrapped. Many C-47s were bought for civilian uses and had second lives. However most planes were scrapped. Placid Lassie was one of the lucky ones. She had a second career.
 






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