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Brotherhood of the Flying Coffin

The Glider Pilots of World War II

Scott McGaugh



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04 July 2023
The first major history of the American glider pilots, the forgotten heroes of World War II, by a

New York Times bestselling author. A story of no guns, no engines and no second chances.

This book distills war down to individual young men climbing into defenseless gliders made of plywood, ready to trust the towing aircraft that would pull them into enemy territory by a cable wrapped with telephone wire. Based on their after-action reports, journals, oral histories, and letters home, this book reveals every terrifying minute of their missions.

They were all volunteers, for a specialized duty that their own government projected would have a 50 percent casualty rate. None faltered. In every major European invasion of the war they led the way. They landed their gliders ahead of the troops who stormed Omaha Beach, and sometimes miles ahead of the paratroopers bound for the far side of the Rhine River in Germany itself. From there, they had to hold their positions. They delivered medical teams, supplies and gasoline to troops surrounded in the Battle of the Bulge, ahead even of Patton's famous supply truck convoy. These all-volunteer glider pilots played a pivotal role in liberating the West from tyranny, from the day the Allies invaded Occupied Europe to the day Germany finally surrendered. Yet the story of these anonymous heroes is virtually unknown. Here it is told in full – a story which epitomizes courage and sacrifice.

Imprint:   Osprey
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm,  Spine: 25mm
Weight:   454g
ISBN:   9781472852946
ISBN 10:   147285294X
Pages:   288
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Preface Author’s Notes List of Illustrations Introduction 1. Guts and Gliders Wanted 2. Crashing is a Lonely Sound 3. “Prepare to Ditch” 4. Pea Patch Savior 5. Popcorn Popping 6. “The Germans Are Coming!” 7. “Our Men Were Lucky” 8. Like Hornets at a Church Cookout 9. They Were Invisible 10. The Hole in the Donut 11. Beyond Commendation 12. World War II’s Orphans 13. Epilogue Acknowledgments Glossary Selected Bibliography Endnotes Index

Scott McGaugh is a veteran journalist and published author of Honor Before Glory (Da Capo/Hachette, 2016), the New York Times bestseller Surgeon in Blue (Arcade, 2013), Battlefield Angels (Osprey, 2011) and Midway Magic (CDS/Perseus, 2004). Midway Magic became the basis for a History Channel program, Hero Ship: The USS Midway, featuring the author and Honor Before Glory is in development as a feature film. McGaugh served as the founding marketing director of the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, the most visited floating ship museum in the world. Television appearances have included the History Channel, Travel Network, Discovery Channel, among others. Radio appearances have included NPR's Weekend Edition. He lives in San Diego.

Reviews for Brotherhood of the Flying Coffin: The Glider Pilots of World War II

In this first-rate account of World War II's unsung glider pilots, Scott McGaugh takes readers on a plunging ride into the crucible of combat. McGaugh's vivid narrative combined with pilots' eyewitness testimonies provide a page-turning story of these pioneering aviators who navigated challenges in the air and on the ground with courage and perseverance. Buckle up - you're about to be towed over the battlefield in an engineless glider for a one-way trip into chaos. -- James M. Fenelon, author of 'Four Hours of Fury' and 'Angels Against the Sun' Scott McGaugh artfully blends the little-known tactical campaign history of WWII glider pilots with their individual heroism, courage, and sacrifice. This book reads more like a gut-wrenching novel with defenseless readers in the co-pilot's seat as they land (or crash) in enemy territory ahead of every major Europe invasion. -- Colonel Donald G. Patton, U.S. Army (Ret.) and Founder of World War II History Round Table 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. -- 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' An unforgettable read, revealing incredible stories throughout. * History Book Chat *

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