Origin and Evolution of the 434th
in World War II


Constituted as the 434th Troop Carrier Group on 30 Jan 1943.
Activated on 9 Feb 1943.
Assigned to the 53rd Troop Carrier Wing.
Aircraft Used: C-47, Waco CG-4A glider, Horsa glider (1943-45)
Campaigns: Normandy, Rhineland, Northern France, Ardennes-Alsace, Central Europe

Major Operations:

    Normandy: D-Day, 6-7 June 1944
    Holland, Arnhem 17-25 Sept 1944
    Relief of Bastogne, December 1944
    Germany, Wessel 24 March 1945

Secondary Operations:

    Reinforced ground troops - St. Lo breakthrough, July 1944
    Resupplied Patton's Third Army across France, August 1944
    Numerous resupply missions from England to France and Germany
    Evacuated Prisoners Of War after V-E Day

Citations, Decorations and Awards:

The 434th was the first troop carrier group to arrive in England from the States, just before the Ninth Air Force had officially been transferred to England. The 434th arrived at Fulbeck, Lincolnshire on October 7, 1943 and was initially assigned to the Provisional Troop Carrier Command of the Eighth Air Force. The Group shortly thereafter transferred to the IX Troop Carrier Command of the Ninth Air Force. The 434th TCG contained four squadrons of 14 Douglas DC-3s each.

Squadrons and Squadron Codes of the 434th Troop Carrier Group

    71st Troop Carrier Squadron - "CJ"
    72nd Troop Carrier Squadron - "CU"
    73rd Troop Carrier Squadron - "CN"
    74th Troop Carrier Squadron - "ID"

Following arrival in England, training began in preparation for the ultimate invasion of northern France. The 434th Group moved south to Welford to train with the 101st Airborne Division on December10 and returned to Fulbeck a month later. The 434th remained at Fulbeck until March 3, 1944.

The 434th and its four squadrons moved to Aldermaston (Station 467 - about 60 miles east southeast of London) on March 3, 1944, and remained there until February 12, 1945. After arrival at Aldermaston, the 434th continued training with 101st Airborne Division units based in the Salisbury Plain area. As with most troop carrier bases, areas on each side of the Aldermaston main runway was covered with PSP to allow marshalling of gliders and tow aircraft. The 434th was one of the Groups trained and designated to deliver gliders on D-day.

D-Day; Normandy, France

On 6 June 1944, seven glider missions were launched by the 53rd Troop Carrier Wing, two of which were performed by the 434th Troop Carrier Group. The first mission of the day for the 434th, code named "Chicago", launched at 0119 hours from Aldermaston. The mission was composed of 52 C-47s and 52 CG-4 gliders carrying 155 troops and other supplies of the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. The lead tow-plane was piloted by Colonel William B. Whitacre, commander of the 434th Troop Carrier Group, and Major Alvin E. Robinson. Brigadier General Maurice M. Beach, Commander of the 53rd Troop Carrier Wing accompanied them.

The glider being towed by Colonel Whitacre's C-47 was nicknamed 'The Fighting Falcon', and was piloted was newly promoted Lt. Col. Mike Murphy. Officially, Murphy had no business taking part in the invasion. His formal duty station at the time was Stout Field, Indiana, and he had only recently been sent to England to supervise the final training of American glider pilots by the IX Troop Carrier Command.

The two pre-dawn missions of the 53rd TCW were flown by the 434th and 437th Troop Carrier Groups, both of which brought 40-50 percent of their cargoes within two miles of the intended points.

The second mission on D-Day flown by the 434th was code named "Keokuk", and departed Aldermaston at 1830 hours. This mission was composed of 32 C-47s and 32 of the larger Horsa gliders, and carried weapons, ammunition, and supplies for the 101st Airborne. The estimated delivery time in Normandy for this mission was 2100 hours. The 434th received a Distinguished Unit Citation and French Croix de Guerre with Palm for action in the invasion of Normandy. During the Chicago mission, one glider aborted over England, and one C-47 and glider shot down five miles short of Landing Zone-East at Heisville. Seven C-47s and twenty-two gliders were hit by small arms fire. Five glidermen killed on landing, seventeen badly injured, and seven were missing in action. Ninety percent of the gliders were destroyed. During the Keokuk mission, no losses of C-47s, but fourteen glidermen killed in landing crashes and enemy fire. Thirty glidermen were seriously injured and ten more were missing in action.


On 7 June 1944, the 434th TCG participated in another mission, code named "Galveston". This mission launched from Aldermaston at 0430 hours and was composed of 50 C-47s and 50 CG-4A gliders carrying 251 airborne infantrymen and supplies of the 82nd Airborne Division.

During the weeks following the initial invasion of Normandy, the 434th TCG used the C-47s to carry freight, fuel, and troops in support of Patton's Third Army drive across France.

Reinforced ground troops in the St. Lo area during the breakthrough in July 1944.


Holland, 17-25 Sept 1944 - Dropped paratroops in the assault area and towed gliders with reinforcements during the airborne operation in Holland.

Resupplied troops at Bastogne in December 1944 in the effort to stop the German offensive in the Ardennes.

Moved to Mourmelon-Le-Grand, France in February 1945. Participated in the airborne assault across the Rhine, dropping paratroopers over the east bank on March 24, 1945.

Varsity - March 24, 1945: The Last Assult

The end of the war was coming, and everybody knew it. The last assault was the airborne jump across the Rhine. Some features of VARSITY were brilliant. These plans called for a truly courageous departure from past airborne operations. The biggest and most risky change of all was the entire operation was to be squeezed into the shortest time frame possible. VARSITY was to place two entire divisions, about 21,700 paratroopers and glidermen, into German-held fields east of the Rhine River in a bit over two and one-half hours. This would mean "double-tow": most of the gliders would have to be pulled two to a tug plane. The operation was termed "the most successful airborne delivery ever completed". Troop Carrier crews showed enormous competence in piloting the colossal formation as well as enormous courage in taking their paratroopers and gliders straight in to their targets.

Forty-five C-47s of the 434th TCG made one of, if not the most accurate drops of men and equipment into DZ-X across the Rhine. They carried men and artillery pieces of the 466th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion. All the men, their supplies and artillery were dropped right in the center of the designated DZ which enabled them to get their howitzers set up to provide support within an hour. At that time the glidermen and paratroopers were engaged in heavy fighting around the perimeter.

The 434th TCG continued to fly numerous transport missions, hauling mail, rations, clothing, and other supplies from England to bases in France and Germany, and evacuating the Allied wounded. After V-E day, the Group transported gasoline to allied forces in Germany and evacuated POWs to relocation centers in France and Holland.

The 434th returned to the United States in July-August, 1945. Trained with C-46s.

The 434th TCG was inactivated on 31 Jul 1946.

9th Troop Carrier Command | Evolution of the 434th in WW II | Korea 1950 - 1953
Cuban Missile Crisis | Vietnam 1968 - 1969 | 1970 - Present
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