Mrs Dorothea Hendy worked for Sleeman’s at Exeter airport during the war. In an interview with Councillor Olwen Foggin, recorded in 2000, she recalled D-Day at the airport.
“D-day came… the Americans and the Polish airmen were out there then. And it was a lovely sight on D-day morning – it was a lovely morning, quite bright, sunny and I didn’t even hear them coming in or anything, but on that morning the whole airport was covered with gliders. And the gliders, they were bright yellow, with black stripes on the wings and it looked like a whole field, you know, magnified, of bees and wasps – it was a lovely sight, but of course you couldn’t take no photos in those days could you, and, they took off gradually, one-by-one.
It was a marvellous experience … the plane itself would fly around the airport, and it would have a long nylon rope with a big hook attached to the bottom, and the glider would be on the ground with the big loop on the top… The plane would fly over, drop this rope, because the rope was attached to the plane and pick up the aircraft. It was a marvellous thing…to see how it was all done, all done with precision. And they would bring the glider up, fly around, and then they would drop the rope in this special place which was all cordoned off like, and they would drop that rope down there and carry on. It was a lovely sight – I’ll never forget that”.
Read more about Mrs Hendy’ story.
The picture on the right shows a DC47 and a Waco glider at an English airfield before D-Day (copyright US government).