Original U.S. WWII 91st Troop Carrier Squadron Named Glider Pilot Grouping
Original Item: One-of-a-kind set. Flight Officer Carroll A. Ray (ASN 17057937) from Beadle County, South Dakota was Gilder Pilot assigned to the 9th Air Force, 439th Troop Carrier Group, 91st Troop Carrier Squadron and flew gliders during the war including the D-Day invasion.
The 91st was part of the 439th Troop Carrier Group. It has also taken part in the airborne drop in the night prior to the allied invasion in Normandy. The squadron also took part in operation Market Garden. "In early February 1944 the air echelon of the 439th was ordered to Baer Field, Fort Wayne, Indiana, the aerial port of embarkation, arriving there on the 14th of the month. The ground echelon would follow by ship to England. The advance parties of the 439th and two of its squadrons, the 91st and 92nd, departed Baer Field in their C47 transports o/a 19 February 1944. Flying a circuitous route they arrived at Balderton Airdrome in England on 21 February 1944. The remaining two squadrons, the 93rd and 94th, did not arrive at Balderton until 6 March. The airdrome was located 2 miles south of Newark, England in the midlands. Skidmore and the ground echelon of the 439th TC Group and its four squadrons left New York aboard the U. S. S. George Washington, an Army troop transport, on 28 February 1944. After eleven days at sea the ship arrived at Liverpool, England on 10 March 1944. From there they traveled by rail to Balderton where they would remain until 26 April 1944. On that date the group was relocated to the airdrome at Upottery, England.
Activated in June 1943 under I Troop Carrier Command and equipped with C-47 Skytrains. Trained in various parts of the eastern United States until the end of 1943. Deployed to England and assigned to IX Troop Carrier Command, Ninth Air Force.
Prepared for the invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe. Began operations by dropping paratroops of the 101st Airborne Division in Normandy on D-Day (6 June 1944) and releasing gliders with reinforcements on the following day. The unit received a Distinguished Unit Citation and a French citation for these missions. After the Normandy invasion the squadron ferried supplies in the United Kingdom.
After moving to France in September, the unit dropped paratroops of the 82nd Airborne Division near Nijmegen and towed gliders carrying reinforcements during the airborne attack on the Netherlands. In December, it participated in the Battle of the Bulge by releasing gliders with supplies for the 101st Airborne Division near Bastogne.
When the Allies made the air assault across the Rhine River in March 1945, each aircraft towed two gliders with troops of the 17th Airborne Division and released them near Wesel. The squadron also hauled food, clothing, medicine, gasoline, ordnance equipment, and other supplies to the front lines and evacuated patients to rear zone hospitals. It converted from C-47s to C-46s and used the new aircraft to transport displaced persons from Germany to France and Belgium after V-E Day.
References and a photo of F/O Ray can be found online at the National WWII Glider Pilots Association Website found at this link.
Included in the wonderful collection are the following items:
- Ike jacket in size 40. This fine Ike jacket features an embroidered felt AIRBORNE TROOP CARRIER patch with cross stitching to left shoulder, blue enamel with gold border Flight Officer bar pins, Sterling Silver Glider Pilot Wings, Air Medal medal ribbon with two Oak Leaf clusters, American Defense ribbon bar, European-African-Middle East Campaign Ribbon with Three Battle Stars and Army Air Force lapel pins. Overall condition of the jacket is excellent.
- English made World War Two U.S. Army Officer Visor Hat in green manufactured by DESMOND'S. Size is approximately 7 1/4.
- Dog Tag named to CARROLL A RAY T122370 T43 AB
- Exceptionally rare hand painted leather 91st Troop Carrier Squadron patch.
- Bullion embroidered Glider Pilot wings.
- Army Air Force Troop Carrier Command distinctive insignia pins. The pins are badge-shaped and show an soaring eagle carrying an armed soldier and reads VINCIT QUI PRIMUM GERIT ("he conquers who gets there first").
- Sterling Silver Glider Pilot Wings Pin with clutch back.
- Miniature Sterling Silver Glider Pilot Wings with pin back.
- Air Medal
- Unattached Medal ribbon bar with Air Medal medal ribbon with two Oak Leaf clusters, Army Good Conduct, European-African-Middle East Campaign Ribbon with Three Battle Stars. Plus an additional unattached Air Medal ribbon with bar with two Oak Leaf clusters.
- Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.
- Unattached Airborne Troop Carrier insignia patch.
- Unattached 1st Allied Airborne insignia patch.
- Photo album with approximately 70 original wartime photos of Ray in uniform, on air fields, with Gliders and much more.
- Dozens (close to 100) original loose photos of Ray in uniform, with fellow soldiers, on air fields, with Gliders and so much more. Many of the photos have hand writing on the reverse identifying the subjects, location and date.
- "Walgreen Studio" Envelope full of photograph negatives.
- Newspaper clipping about Ray giving an interview on the radio during the war.
- Envelope dated May 1945 addressed to F/O Carroll Ray.
- So much more.
Airborne Glider pilot material is some of the most difficult pieces of WW2 allied collectibles to find on the market due to the small numbers and lower survival rates. This is a named grouping with loads of wartime photographs, insignia, uniform pieces and more!
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