Rare Aerial Photo of Gliders Taken After Operation Varsity, March 1945


Taken on March 25th, 1945, this image was snapped by a low-flying P-38 or P-51 of the 363rd Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron.  I acquired a large set of these original 12×12 inch prints (complete with pencil notes on the back) on eBay a few years ago directly from the estate of a 9th Air Force photo tech who apparently saved hundreds of original flyovers like this.  He saved duplicates as well!  This is one of those duplicates.

This large format photo, taken a day after the strategic landing of two airborne divisions on the eastern bank of the Rhine River near the village of Hamminkeln and the Town of Wesel, Germany.  Know as Operation Varsity, the landing is regarded by many historians as the most successful airborne landing carried out during WWII.  Although I tend to argue such facts, the point is that the landing led to the quickening of the end of the war.

This series of photos provides an incredibly detailed view of the aftermath of the glider landings and a general layout of trenches, hedgerows and landscape features that may be obfuscated today.  These images can be found in many books and through government archives but may be of lesser quality due to multiple reproductions.  Enjoy!

 

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Large Format Aerial Photo Showing Airborne Gliders, March 25th, 1945

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WWII Memorial Post – Cape Cod Native Captain Chester E. Coggeshall, P-51 Pilot Shot Down Over Austria


The discovery of a photo and clipping from a Massachusetts flea market yields a wealth of interesting material related to the last hours of Captain Chester Coggeshall’s life.  A sad story, but one that deserves to be told.  Captain Coggeshall was born and raised on Cape Cod (Hyannis) and entered the war after attending Barnstable High School.  He flew two tours in the ETO, the first with a P-38 (pictured below) and a P-51.  His final mission of the war ended in his tragic murder.  Please read below for more details.

From http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=coggeshall&GSfn=chester+&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GSob=n&GRid=2639236&df=all&

 

343rd Fighter Squadron, 55th Fighter Group.

From Find A Grave Contributer #47444799

Entered service from Hyannis, Massachusetts
ASN – 0-754471
11 January 1944 – Joined the 343rd Fighter Squadron
March 1944 – Promoted from 2nd Lieutenant to 1st Lieutenant
April 1944 – Awarded Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal
May 1944 – Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross
May 1944 – Awarded Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal
30 August 1944 – Ended first tour of duty
MACR No. 13866
16 April was scheduled to be Capt. Coggeshall’s last mission on his second tour.
1/Lt. Walter Strauch reported: “I was flying Tudor Red three on April 16, 1945, on an escort and strafing mission. We dove down to strafe an airfield west of Salzburg (Austria) and when we pulled up to about 1,000 feet I noticed Red Leader, Capt. Coggeshall, making a very gentle turn to the left and losing altitude. I immediately started over toward him and noticed his airplane was covered in oil, and about this time he made a fast belly landing, dug a wing in, and cartwheeled. I went back to investigate and saw where the plane had hit a small brick building. There was no fire but the airplane was completely
demolished.”
Reproduced with kind permission of Mr. Robert M. Littlefield from the author’s
book; “Double Nickel – Double Trouble”

After action report from his wingman:
“Coggy was killed on the last scheduled mission of his second tour. He was leading Red Flight strafing an airfield near Salzburg and destroyed the 190 above. He was hit by flak and bellied in crashing through a building and the
airplane was demolished. It was reported that he survived the crash, but was hung by civilians who were in turn hung during the Nurnberg Trials. Believe it or not, he had flown two tours and had not seen an enemy plane in the air. A good high school quarterback and a good pilot. He was highly thought of by all.”
(Frank Birtciel)

A postwar inquiry found that Capt. Coggeshall had been executed by the mayor of the town of Freilassing, Germany. After being denied medical care, he was taken to a wooded area outside of the town and shot twice in the head by Burgermeister August Korbus. This was done by the civilian authorities of the town over the objections of German Army medical personnel. The two Nazi party officials responsible were tried and sentenced to death by a U.S. Military Court.

Burial:
Long Island National Cemetery
Farmingdale
Suffolk County
New York, USA
Plot: J, 15558

Chester and his P-38

An amazing oral history account of the story of Captain Coggeshall:

http://vimeo.com/5683417