Seal of the National WWII Glider Pilots Association

Courtesy of the National Archives / NWWIIGPA Collection

53rd Wing 434th Troop Carrier Group loaded with bundles and para-pack (barely seen under the belly of the C-47s) heading for the drop zone to the West of the town of Bastogne.

[16-22 Dec Situation]   [23-24 Dec. Bundles From The Sky]   [26-27 Dec. Gliders]

THE ARDENNES OFFENSIVE → Bastogne: The Final Drop

27 December 1944

At 1425 the last bundle drop mission of C-47s occurred approximately two hours after the glider pilots had landed at Bastogne. Those glider pilots who made it through watched for half an hour while 129 aircraft made perfect drops on the DZ to the west of the town and then turned; arching around the town heading south. The glider pilots believed these planes were from their 50th Wing and assumed that some planes did not made it through and wondered what damages were sustained. They were wrong on both counts.

Brig. Gen. Maurice M. Beach committed 238 C-47s from all five groups of the 53rd Wing, all based out of England, for this last drop.

These C-47s were all loaded with ammunition and gasoline.


434th TCGAldermaston 49 planes got off the ground; turned back, mission aborted due to weather
438th TCGGreenham Commons48 loaded C-47 grounded; due to weather
437th TCGRamsbury9 planes grounded; due to mechanical reasons
41 planes began taking off at 1140
1 of the 41 planes returned due to mechanical problems; had to make a belly landing
436th TCGMembury49 loaded C-47 began taking off at 1142; no problems!
435th TCGWelford Park3 aircraft were grounded; due to mechanical problems
42 loaded C-47s began taking off at 12:12
Courtesy National Archives / NWWIIGPA Collection

A Douglas C-47 of the 9th Troop Carrier Command wings its way over Bastogne, Belgium, dropping parachutes containing supplies to troops.

Although plagued with many problems this last mission on 27 December was their finest and most successful in regards to no injuries, death or loss of aircraft at the hands of the Germans. However, as the three Groups were returning it was no great surprise when they were all diverted to Troop Carrier airfields in France due to weather. This shows what a short window was available for any of these missions and how they took advantage of every precious opening.

Letter to IX Troop Carrier Command from General McAuliffe
Further Reading

[16-22 Dec Situation]   [23-24 Dec. Bundles From The Sky]   [26-27 Dec. Gliders]

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