Gloucestershire

Veteran RAF glider pilots get back in the 'cockpit'

Leslie Kershaw and Ken Plowman, Jet Age Museum, Gloucestershire
Image caption Leslie Kershaw and Ken Plowman were in their 20s when they took part in the largest air assault in history.

Two veteran RAF glider pilots have returned to the "cockpit" at a museum in Gloucestershire to mark the 70th anniversary of Operation Varsity.

Ken Plowman and Leslie Kershaw were in their 20s in 1945, when they took part in the largest air assault in history.

Flying Horsa gliders, they joined an armada of 3,000 aircraft landing 14,000 troops on the River Rhine's east bank.

Darren Lewington, from Jet Age Museum, said: "They play down their heroics in such a way that it is truly humbling."

Nearly 400 Horsa gliders were involved in the operation, in March 1945.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Horsas helped to land 14,000 British and American troops as part of Operation Varsity

Made by cabinet makers, with an 88ft (27m) wingspan, most of the wooden giants broke up on landing.

"Flying a heavily laden, unarmed glider into enemy territory under intense fire was immensely brave," said Mr Lewington.

"Casualties amongst glider pilots were as high as 30% but these two play down their heroics in such a matter-of-fact and unassuming way that it is truly humbling."

In 2013, the Gloucester museum was awarded £9,000 to build a replica Horsa glider cockpit which is now nearing completion.

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