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The Research Team for the National WWII Glider Pilots Association obtain information from archival files located in various institutions. We also receive information from veterans, family and friends. Many of these files are not complete or the information has not yet been added. If you have information on Mr. JELLA please contact us and we will make sure that the photos, papers, stories, etc. are put into Mr. JELLA’s bio-file at the Silent Wings Museum. Also, contact us if you need further information regarding Mr. JELLA. It is with help from friends, family and fellow researchers that allows us to preserve the WWII history of this veteran.

Thank you,

Leon B Spencer Research Team
National WWII Glider Pilot Association, Inc. Research Team


Recipient of Silver Star



435th TROOP CARRIER GROUOP, EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS: Flight Officer Elbert D. Jella, of 1006 Rolla street, is one of the glider pilots of this group, who comprised the famous “Burp Gun Corner” force which drove the attaching Germans back to Wesel, into the waiting arms of the American airborne.

It happened in the recent mass-aerial assault across the lower Rhine. Flight Officer Jella and other glider pilots of the 435th, took in elements of the 17th Airborne Division, and landed them just north of Wesel. But that was just the beginning of their job. For the first time in history of aerial warfare, glider pilots had been assigned a definite tactical mission. These men of the air, unaccustomed to ground warfare, were to set up a road–block at the rear of Wesel, and thwart the anticipated retreat of the Jerries. They were to form the left arm of a nut–cracker and crush the enemy.

Flight Officer Jella had been assigned the important job of bazooka man, once on the ground, and it wasn’t long before he got his opportunity to prove his ability. “We had landed just before noon,” related Jella, “and during the next few hours, the area was completely neutralized. There was a good bit of opposition for a while, but the boys got some artillery in on the houses the Jerries were using as forts, and pretty soon they poured out with their hands in the air shouting, ‘Kamerad’.”

Everything went well until 11:45 that night. As the men lay in their fox–holes, admiring the bright moonlight, they were suddenly startled by the clattering of approaching tank–treads. There, silhouetted against the moon, were two medium tanks, lumbering down on them. Behind each tank was a 20 mm flak gun. They had already spotted the men, and were firing everything they had; 2 tank 75’s, 2 20mm flak guns, and plenty of rifle fire. “There must have been about a hundred or more German,” told Jella, “but between their concentrated fire, and yelling their heads off, it sounded more like a regiment. I held my fire,” continued Jella, “until they were just about 15 yards off. You see, I didn’t want to miss. Then I let go with my first shot, and could feel the concussion of the explosion as shell met tak. It caught fire immediately and started to retreat. I continued to fire, and the machine–gun beside me also kept up a steady spray of lead. The ‘Battle of Burp–Gun Corner’ must have lasted about a half hour, but during that time, the attack was stopped, and the Heinies driven back to Wesel. According to later reports, the airborne picked them up there.”

Commenting on his experience as an artilleryman, Flight Officer Jella said, “I didn’t mind it a bit– – –now that it’s all over. But I feel a lot safer in the air.”

Jella entered the service in December, 1943. His unit, the 435th Trooop Carrier Group has spearheaded all four D–Days attacks on the continent; Normandy, Southern France, Holland, and Germany. In addition, the group supported the 101st Airborne Division with supplies and ammunition, in their encircled fight at Bastogne. Commanded by Col. Frank J. MacNees of St. Paul, Minn. The 435th is part of Maj. Gen. Paul L. Williams’ U.S. Troop Carrier Forces, air component of the First Allied Airborne Army.

Source:Silent Wings Museum

Radio script which appeared on the program COMBAT DIARY for Sunday April 1, 1945.

Elbert D JELLA

MOS 1026 Glider Pilot

Date of Birth: Jul 4, 1915
Date of Death: Sep 25, 1996
Last Known Hometown: Rolla, MO

The Army Air Force
Advanced Glider School
TRAINING: South Plains Army Air Field, Lubbock, TX
Graduation date: Oct 11, 1944
Class: 44 14
Rank: FO
ASN: T136092

77th Troop Carrier Squadron (IB)
435th Troop Carrier Group


Rhine Crossing



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