About the Operation Ladbroke “Feat of Arms” website

I started this website in 2015 to accompany the research I was doing for a possible book (now abandoned), which would focus on the invasion of Sicily on 9/10 July 1943 in the Syracuse area, in particular the glider assault codenamed Operation Ladbroke.

During my research into Ladbroke I came across many fascinating places, documents, photographs and stories.

There are also stories from glider and airborne assaults in campaigns other than Sicily, or from other areas of the invasion of Sicily, which are outside the scope of Operation Ladbroke.

This website is a home for many of these stories.

It has also been a privilege and a pleasure to meet veterans, their families, and other historians.

It is particularly rewarding when I can help families find out more about relatives who fought in Operation Ladbroke and the battle for Syracuse. Do ask.

10 Responses to About the Operation Ladbroke “Feat of Arms” website

  1. Martin Warburton says:

    Resuming my research into my father’s involvement in Operation Labroke as a glider pilot. From a newspaper article in his papers, I presume he had some involvement with the action around Ponte Grande. I am planning a holiday to Sicily next year and hope to visit some of the locations around that area. He was S/Sgt Warburton R.N.G. 1513149. From his log-book I know he flew Waco CG-4A glider (s/n 43-77142) and crash landed – nobody injured. From other documents I saw during a visit to the Museum of Army Flying, he was pilot in charge of chalk no.36 taking off from “Airfield B” in Tunisia. Any further info to assist in research and a ensure positive visit would be appreciated.

    • Ian Murray says:

      Thanks very much for leaving a comment, Martin. Glider 36 carried 16 men, half of 20 Platoon of D Coy of 2 South Staffords (2SS). D Coy’s objective [info] was the gun battery called Mosquito [info], but so few D Coy gliders landed anywhere near the LZs that it was not taken. The 2SS war diary (WD) says only that 36’s half platoon “under Sgt Basten landed near their landing zone, but were unable to pin point their position and rejoined the main body next morning”. This could mean the morning of the 10th, but when men reached and fought at the Ponte Grande the WD usually says so. It tends to use this kind of “rejoined” phrasing when men missed the fighting, so it may also mean the morning of the 11th. It seems 36 landed [here], not far from glider 35 [story]. The debriefing report (presumably made by your father) says: “Tow uncomfortable, at low altitudes and when avoiding other formations. Glider released at 2225 hrs at 1900 ft approx 2500 yds off shore and owing to poor visibility landed 1/2 – 3/4 mile SW of LZ”. An American glider officer who later examined 36 reported: “Landed in open thistle & stubble field. There are indications of high speed landing across moderate furrows which caused the landing gear to wash off damaging struts. Stopped 150 feet from where it first contacted ground.”

  2. Alex Crawford says:

    Hi Ian,
    I am currently working on a book about the Albemarle bomber/transport/glider tug. The book will deal with the design, development, construction and operational use of the aircraft.
    At the moment I am going through 296 Squadron details. I came across your website on ‘Operation Ladbroke’ while looking for details of this operation. From the Squadron ORB I have details of the aircraft used including serial number and ID letters. I also have a list of the Glider chalk numbers. My aim for this chapter is to identify all the Albemarle crews and aircraft, and the same with the gliders. Where possible I would like to try and match up each glider to its Albemarle, list the glider crews and if possible the load they carried. It would also be good if I can highlight the fate of each glider. I do not intend to give an account of the troops in each glider as that is beyond the remit of the book.
    I noticed you have details of some of the glider crew, what their tug aircraft was and individual loads such as troops or 6pdr anti-tank guns. Is this info held within the Army Air Corps Museum?
    Any tips on how I can achieve my aim would be appreciated.
    I have previously written several other aviation books, which have been published by Mushroom Model Publications. My last two being on the ‘Gloster Javelin’ and ‘Combat Meteors’.
    Kind regards,

    • Ian Murray says:

      Alex – you’ll find a lot of what you want in Appendix 1 of Mike Peters’ book ‘Glider Pilots in Sicily’. There are detailed glider loading tables in Appendix 4 of ‘When Dragons Flew’ by Stuart Eastwood (available from the Border Regt museum [here]). The Army Flying Museum has the papers of Lawrence Wright of 38 Wing (author of ‘The Wooden Sword’) in box 444.

      • Alex Crawford says:

        Hi Ian,
        Thank you for your prompt reply, many thanks.
        Do you have sources for some of the Waco photos? I think 1 or 2 are photos of the Wacos towed by Albemarles.

        • Ian Murray says:

          If you’re referring to the photos I’ve used of landed Wacos, most come from NARA in Washington DC. There are some Waco and Albemarle shots in AFM (in the Wright collection I think). The IWM may also have some.

  3. Patrick Pronk says:

    Hi Ian,

    Just wanted to say you have done a great job setting up this website about Opeation Ladbroke. On the moment Iam writting a article about the live of Major Basil Beazley who was the Commanding Officer of the 9th (Airb) Fld Coy, RE and was killed defending the Ponte Grande bridge. Know Iam after a photo of his headstone on the CWGC Syracuse cemetry. Is there any change you could help me with that ? Hope to hear from you. Greeting from Holland Patrick.

  4. Colin Brothers says:

    I am trying to fill in the information contained in the book Glider Pilots in Sicily. The only details are of the two pilots, Sgt Harmer and Sgt Holland. There is no mention about which troops were carried in Waco glider chalk mark 44. The glider was released early and there were no survivors. Sgt Holland was my uncle, my mother never spoke about it except to say she never forgave the Americans for killing her brother. Any information or where I may find the details would be very much appreciated. Thank you

    • Ian Murray says:

      In fact three men survived from Waco 44, which was carrying part of Company HQ of E Coy, 2 South Staffords. Their objective was the Italian strongpoint codenamed ‘Walsall’. One survivor gave this account: “It was approximately 2200 hrs. on the 9th July 1943. We were travelling in the Glider at a height of about 300 feet, when we were released from the towing plane. We crashed almost immediately into the sea, and the Glider broke in half. I only saw one of the Pilots after the crash whom I helped on to one of the wings. He was joined soon after by L/Cpl. Newman and Pte. Slater as neither of them could swim, that was the last I saw of them for the Glider sank shortly afterwards.”
      A separate note records: “Holland – not seen to emerge from fuselage”.
      The very low height of 300′ (if correct) raises the possibility that the tug had not yet begun to climb to the release height of 1500′. in which case the release might in fact have been a cable break off (eg) Cape Passero, with the tug crew not to blame.

      • Colin Brothers says:

        Many thanks Ian for the information it fills in the missing details about the troops carried. I am also very grateful for the details about my Uncle.
        You have done a great job with this website, I only came across it by accident 2 days ago.

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