Short Stirlings of 620 and 190 Squadrons tow Horsas of the 6th Airborne Division to Normandy.
In the early evening of D-Day, June 6, 1944, as part of Operation Mallard, 36 Short Stirling Mk.IVs of 620 and 190 Squadrons, based at Fairford, towed the Horsa gliders of the British 6th Airborne Division to their landing zones in Normandy. The Airspeed Horsa gliders cast off and landed troops and equipment near Ranville. The gliders carried 254 men, 33 jeeps, 29 trailers, 11 motorcycles and eight 75mm Pack Howitzers. One of the Stirlings involved in this operation was LJ849 of 620 Squadron, coded ‘QS-E’, captained by Flight Lieutenant Gordon Thring DFC (RCAF). Moments after releasing its glider, LJ849 was hit by German anti-aircraft fire. A petrol tank in the port wing blew up and the aircraft rolled upside down. Fortunately, Thring managed to make a successful crash landing. All the crew survived, marching back to Allied lines after taking the surrender of the German troops who had captured them, arriving behind friendly lines with 62 prisoners of war in tow, a remarkable story.