The DFC awarded to F/Lt BOYER, 296 Squadron
Here’s a letter, published in Flypast June 2001, written by Arie-Jan VAN HEES from Eijden, The Netherlands (Author of the privately published book Tugs and Gliders over Arnhem).
GLIDER TOW AGAINST THE ODDS
As a subscriber to your excellent magazine I hope that you, and of course the readers of Flypast, will be interested in the following information.
Further to the April 2001 issue in which you announced the passing away of Dereck John Boyer DFC in a boating accident in Guernsey on January 7, 2001, I would like to elaborate on your mentioning his receipt of the DFC for continuing to tow a Horsa glider to Arnhem despite sustaining severe flak damage.
On September 18, 1944, the second day of Operation MARKET GARDEN, Flt Lt Boyer and his crew were ‘spare’ for the operation. Their aircraft was an Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle II with the fuselage code ‘9W-G’ (serial number V1616) of 296 Squadron, based on RAF Manston.
When an aircraft piloted by Flt Lt Lee went u/s at the take-off point, the glider with chalk number ‘876’ was placed at the end of the stream and taken off by Flt Lt Boyer. The Horsa glider was loaded with a jeep plus trailer, a 75mm Pack howitzer and four troops of the 1st Airlanding Light Regiment, Royal Artillery. The glider pilots were Staff Sergeant Annand and Sergeant Davey, both B-Squadron, the Glider Pilot Regiment.
On crossing the enemy coast, light flak was encountered and the tug aircraft badly hit. Among other things, the starboard aileron and aileron trimmer were damaged with resultant loss of control.
Flt Lt Boyer told his glider to hang on an even keel while his navigator came back to the second pilot’s seat, braced himself sideways and took the strain of holding the control wheel over, while the captain made the smaller corrections necessary to keep on course. In this way Flt Lt Boyer and Flt Lt Croker flew on with their glider to the LZ, where a successful release was effected at 14:44.
In the DZ area, evasive action was taken from light flak. The Operations Record Book rightly mentions that both Flt Lt Boyer and his navigator pooled their physical resources to bring the aircraft and its crew back to base and make a safe landing.
Arie-Jan VAN HEES
EIJDEN, THE NETHERLANDS
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