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Posted on Aug 29, 2005 in Armchair Reading

The Role of Gliders in World War II

By Howard Peterson

I served with the 325th Glider Infantry Regt 82nd Airborne Division during Operation Market Garden in 1944. Why don’t you give more copy to the WW II glider operations. Glidermen came like thieves in the night at Eben Emael and at the Orne River-Caen Canal on D-Day to block the German 15th Panzer coming down from the Pas de Calais. It is portrayed in the movie The Longest Day. Gliders were a new concept of overhead envelopment. While paras were scattered, a glider landed a squad intact at their point of attack. When the BEF landed in France in 1914, Kaiser Wilhelm called them a contemptible little army. Those originals called themselves the ‘old contemptibles’ They are fast disappearing. There are few WW II glidermen left who possess the glider wings. I have mine and wear it proudly.


The article on rifle grenades does not include the one used by the old ’03 rifle. I was a rifle grenadier for a time. I had an issue ’03 and a launcher that was held onto the barrel by wing nuts. The butt pad was about 3 inches thick and laced on like a shoe lace. And boy, did it have a ‘kick’ when fired from the shoulder. The SOP at the time was to use the heel of your shoe to make an impression in the ground and then put the rifle butt in the depression.

According to the movie To Hell And Back one of Audies medals was awarded for his use of a rifle grenade. Its in the movie. ‘Commando Kelly’ used rifle grenades from a second story window when he earned his Medal of Honor.

I have a rough drawn article on gliders that I have not pursued for months because most military mags don’t seem to be that interested in the role played by gliders during WW II. We had jump boots with shroud line shoe laces, a para scarf and the high peaked overseas cap with an Ike jacket. You could shave in the shine on the boots. I am a 100% disabled WW II vet 82 years old. I got hit on Christmas Eve, 1944 5 kilometers south of Bastogne serving with the 4th Armored Div. I spent 13 months in Army hospitals and have undergone six operations over the years.

Howard Peterson


Mr. Peterson,

Thank you for taking the time to share part of your story with other Armchair General readers. We here at the magazine would like to do everything possible to preserve the story of our veterans, and I assure you we are VERY interested to learn more about your experiences with gliders in World War II!

Very best regards,

Brian King
Website Editor
Armchair General Magazine

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1 Comment

  1. A great article from a man who experienced a real battle fight.
    I think you just have to be patient sometimes, since people have different interests when it comes to reading articles but it doesn’t mean that they don’t value your experiences and contributions during your time. I think the strategy is to look for the “right readers”.