Operation Hackensack

This was the US gliderborne delivery of reinforcements for Major General Matthew B. Ridgway’s 82nd Airborne Division following its ‘Boston’ (ii) assault and ‘Detroit’ reinforcement landings in ‘Overlord’ (7 June 1944).

After the following ‘Elmira’ and ‘Keokuk’ gliderborne reinforcement operations for the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions respectively, two more glider missions were flown as ‘Galveston’ and ‘Hackensack’ shortly after the break of day on 7 June to deliver Colonel Harry L. Lewis’s 325th Glider Infantry and a number of support elements to the 82nd Airborne Division. The gliders were towed by 101 Douglas C-47 Skytrain transport aircraft of Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. Young’s 439th Troop Carrier Group and Lieutenant Colonel Theodore G. Kershaw’s 441st Troop Carrier Group within Major General Paul L. Williams’s IX Troop Carrier Command.

The hazards and results of the preceding ‘Elmira’ resulted in a route change over the Douve river valley to avoid the Germans’ heavy Flak fire of the previous evening, and changed the landing zone to LZ W, that of the 101st Airborne Division.

‘Hackensack’ delivered the part of the 325th Glider Infantry not already taken to France in ‘Galveston’, and the gliders were released from their tugs at 08.51. The first serial, carrying all of the 3/325th Glider Infantry and most of the 2/401st Glider Infantry (the 325th Glider Infantry’s ‘third battalion’) in 20 Waco CG-4A and 30 Airspeed Horsa gliders, landed by squadrons in four different fields on each side of LZ W, and one of the gliders was brought down by intense fire from the ground. The operation suffered 15 men killed and 60 wounded, either by ground fire or by accidents caused by ground fire.

The last glider serial of 50 Waco CG-4A gliders loaded with service troops, 3.2-in (81-mm) mortars and one company of the 401st Glider Infantry made a perfect group release and landed at LZ W accurately and with only a very small number of casualties. By 10.15, all three battalions had assembled and, with 90% of its strength available, the 325th Glider Infantry became the divisional reserve at Chef du Pont.

Between them, the 240 CG-4A and 188 Horsa gliders used in 'Galveston' and 'Hackensack' carried 3,753 men.