Brotherhood of the Flying Coffin

Being there . . . . for ALL 18 major US Army 82 nd and 101 st Airborne Division glider operations in
World War II Europe, half of which occurred on the night of 5/6 June 1944, when for specialized
duty on D-Day 75% of all involved would wind up casualties. Watch how none of the volunteer
glider-borne paratroopers faltered, how in every major attack they led the way. From the sky
that historic night and early morning, observe how they landed their gliders ahead of infantry
soldiers who stormed Omaha Beach, and, months later, descended smoothly, gently, silently at
a normal angle of attack between 45 and 60 degrees without engine power on the far side of
the Rhine River. Note the heroism involved delivering medical teams, supplies, munitions,
gasoline to our boys surrounded in the Battle of the Bulge alongside General Patton’s famous
supply convoy. Feel your emotions expand in appreciation and gratitude as you are glued page
after page reading how these all-volunteer glider pilots played a pivotal role in liberating the
world of the Hitler-Mussolini tyrannical Nazi-Fascisti “guttersnipes”. If you do, and you’ve been
there to see and learn for yourself, you’ll be among the rare handful who paid any attention
whatsoever to these anonymous heroes, men who depended on defenseless, wooden-
reinforced fabric-canvas gliders towed thousands of feet in the sky, day or night, by a single
cable less than one inch in diameter miles behind enemy lines. Come, buffy, meet men who
reeked bravery – – intrepid, valiant, defying courageous American men.

“BROTHERHOOD OF THE FLYING COFFIN – – The Glider Pilots of World War II”, by Scott
McGaugh. Osprey Publishing/Bloomsbury Publishing Plc: 2023, 6 ½” x 9 ½”, 288 pages,
hardcover; $30. Visit,, E-mail:
Reviewed and Highly Recommended by Don DeNevi
Praises Flint Whitlock, editor of “WWII Quarterly” and author of “If Chaos Reigns: The Near-
Disaster and Ultimate Triumph of the Allied Airborne Forces on D-Day”, “By focusing on a
handful of young, incredibly brave glider pilots, Scott McGaugh has brilliantly and poignantly
personalized the real-life terror of what these boys faced when they flew into Normandy in
little more than crates. But the title is wrong: coffins were built much better than these gliders.”
Such is the much-deserved praise of military book-reviewers. Deserved because acclaimed
journalist and author Scott McGaugh has spent years trawling the archives to discover gripping
glider pilot post-mission commentaries, critical analyses, oral histories, and memories. Here,
the history of American glider pilots is finally told in 13 full chapters, each cogently narrated. A
superlative Selected Bibliography, Glossary and 30 b & w photos, hitherto unseen in major
publications, testify to Scott’s scholarship, which makes the book even more rare and worthy of
purchase to add to the diversity of WWII subjects in one’s growing library. And, the
Introduction by incomparable General “Hap” Arnold, Commanding Officer United States Air
Forces is one of the most valuable, enriching this reviewer had read in the past decade. He
writes, “Then, as quietly as they had penetrated enemy territory during the war, they blended
back into America to marry, start families, and become shopkeepers, college students,

electricians, teachers, etc., our grandfathers and great grandfathers. Yet the untold story of
these heroes stands apart for their audacity, nerve, and accomplishment.”
218 glider pilots were killed in combat, and 178 were killed in the line of duty outside of
combat. “To the glider pilots. Conceived in error, suffering a long and painful period of
gestation, and finally delivered at the wrong place at the wrong time . . .”, Glider pilot Milton
Dank, in a toast of surviving WWII glider pilots. Glider pilot Guy Gunter added, “we were a
bunch of wild men, I guess you might say. You had to be crazy to be a glider pilot. Or a little bit
on the nutty side, to get into something without an engine. But we were just doing our duty”.

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