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STRAIGHT TO THE HELL

 


by Piotr Górka


21 September 1944, late afternoon. Fields east of Driel, Holland.

1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade jumping during Market Garden operation.


L/E 560 Limited Edition signed & numbered prints


Each of these editions are individual nambered

Overall print size: 35"wide  25 1/2"high    87,5 cm x 64 cm

Image size : 30 1/2"wide  19 3/4"high    76 cm x 45,5 cm

Printed On HQ Acid Free Permanent Paper 250 Gr


preedition PRICE 59 €  plus postage



signed by artist





                      I am very grateful, the painting is excellent, so life-like that you must have been there with us.  

                     Sincere thanks


Bronislaw Glowacz

Mortar Section

Headquarters Company

1st Parachute Rifle Battalin






                 I am a member of the Board of Directors of the 315th Troop Carrier Group Assoc. and a former President. My late father was "Ziggy" Zartman, one of the 310th pilots mentioned several times in the book on the 315th.  He always told me that he had the highest respect for the Polish paratroopers, because "they jumped with the oldest, heaviest equipment that  the British gave them".  Your painting brought tears to my eyes, because it  captures the bravery and dedication to the mission that was so much in  evidence as they flew "low and slow" to deliver the paratroops to their drop zones. The C-47 in the foreground was flown by one of my father's life longgood friends, O.J. Smith  who ran a flying service in Alaska after the war.  My father flew the lead C-47 on the drop on the Grave bridge. Thank you for your dedication as an artist and for imortalizing the brave  men who gave so much for the freedom of their countries. 

Respectfully


Jamie Zartman

Former President

315th Troop Carrier Group Association



                  I have mixed emotions as I view Pietr Gorka's "Straight to the Hell" because I was the co-pilot of the foreground C-47. Without fighter cover on this missiion, our unarmed aircraft were unopposed targets of concentrated German anti-aircraft, artillery, automatic weapons and rifle fire while we flew only 400 feet above the defensive positions of the two defending Panzer Divisions. Our paratroopers were slow completing the jump, so we were forced to remain at altitude and fly straight ahead whiile other aircraft were taking evasive actiion by making a rapid diving and exiting turn beneath us.  

 

Despite partial loss of control, extensive shrapnel and ground fire damage, a 20mm anti-aircraft shell exploding inside the cabin and emergency treatment of two iinjured crew members, the plane was flown down "Hell's Highway" skimming the ground and clipping tree tops to a forced landing at Eindhoven.

 

Richard Ford (Lt. Col., USAF retired)

Pilot, 310th Troop Carrier Squadron







ABOUT THE HISTORY...

 

  Market Garden, the largest airborne operation in history  began on Sunday, 17th of September 1944. Two American and one British airborne division along with the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade were supposed to secure river crossings to allow forces of XXX corps to break through the cities of Eindhoven, Nijmegen and to reach the city of Arnhem to outflank the Ruhr and bring the war to its end before December 1944. Polish and British airborne units were to concentrate on the Rhine crossings by Arnhem. The 1st Independent Parachute Brigade was originally scheduled to land on day D+2 however, due to heavy weather conditions the parachute drop was delayed and finally took place in the late afternoon of 21 September 1944. A new drop zone was assigned for Polish airborne units: in the fields near the village of Driel, on the southern bank of the Rhine. As a result of the confusion during radio communication and worsening weather 41 out of 114 planes carrying soldiers of Sosabowski's brigade turned back to England. The remaining planes made it to the drop zone.  Polish paratroopers landed in heavy fire from machine guns, mortars, artilery and antiaircraft guns, jumping from the very low altitude.  Poles were split apart. Gliders carrying anti-tank battery and heavy equipment of a Brigade landed the on the 18th and 19th and fought together with British units. About one third of a Brigade's strength was still in England because of the radio miscommunication. Those who missed the drop on Driel were to land later, on the 23rd of September.  The designated drop zone was near Grave, about 30 km from the original Brigade's landing site. Despite constant fighting several attempts were made by soldiers of the Brigade to cross the Rhine and join the 1st Airborne Division holding its position at Arnhem. The cost of those attempts was very high. On the night of 25th September Polish troops provided cover for units withdrawing from the Arnhem area in an operation known as 'Operation Berlin'  The 1st Independent Parachute Brigade lost almost 23% of its initial strength: wounded, missing, killed and captured during the Market Garden operation.









WAITING TO THE TAKE OFF


     I didn’t have much personal contact with the Polish paratroopers. They impressed me as being mad as hell at the Germans. Nice guys, but I felt that they had a personal grudge, and were eager to get on with what they had to do. They didn’t speak my language and I didn’t speak theirs. They were friendly to be around, shake hands and all that sort of stuff.


Lieutenant Colonel Henry G. Hamby

CO, 310th Troop Carrier Squadron


    We had guys in the squadron who spoke Polish, but the problem was that most of us couldn’t talk to them, they couldn’t talk to us and we’re all sitting there in the airplane, waiting, waiting, and waiting. The weather was awful, and the drop was cancelled the first day. Captain Sitarz and a few other spoke Polish, and were communicating with the Polish paratroopers. They we’re getting pissed off, and the rest of us couldn’t explain to them what’s going on. When it was canceled a second time, they were really pissed. They wanted to fight, they wanted to get over there and fight. Some of them thought that we didn’t want to take them or something.

 

2nd Lieutenant Robert L. Cloer

Pilot, 34th Troop Carrier Squadron


    They scrubbed the flight for the Poles on September 19th, and the Polish paratroopers were very, very upset. One of them pulled a knife on Captain Sitarz and went after him. It happened very fast, and the two were pulled apart. I guess he wetn after Sitarz because he represented some kind of authority. He was not making an idle gesture. There was blood in his eye...

    They really wanted to go. I think that they would have gone if they had to jump at 200 feet, and go in with their bare hands. After the take off was cancelled the second day, one Polish paratrooper was so distraught that he shot himself next to the airplane. I couldn’t believe what I saw next, there’s this dead guy laying there, and his comrades didn’t even look at him, except to throw cigarette butts and trash at him.

 

1st Lieutenant.William E. Bruce

Pilot, 34th Troop Carrier Squadron









WE ARE WAITING !!!




CANSELED !!!

WE ARE WAITING !!!




CANSELED !!!

WE ARE WAITING !!!









DROP ZONE


    We came in and everything was all right, I think we were the number two ship out of nine ships. We were on the right flank, by the railroad line, the second nine-ship element. We were all in beautiful formation and ready to drop, and we came on in and then everything erupted. I mean fire from every direction. That DZ had mortar fire hitting the ground all over the place. I looked up and saw flak cars on that railroad track, and they had 40 mms, and they were firing directly at us. Well, the troopers got out, and it looked to me like that there was a mortal landing every six feet. I couldn’t believe that any of that Polish outfit could survive from what I saw.

   ...It looked like everything went well, and the troopers got out of the nine planes in front of us, and then we completed our drop, and then it looked like all the Gooney Birds ahesd of us did a hard right. It looked like every one of them was being shot down. They looked like elephants rolling around in the sky.


2nd Lieutenant James R. Wilson “Junior”

Navigator, 310th Troop Carrier Squadron


   Just as I reported the other planes of our formation had the lower airspace, a flak burst exploded beneath the rear of the plane, accompanied by increased fire from the ground. Seconds later, a loud explosion sounded close to the rear of aircraft, filling the plane with a strong odor of burned gun powder as though a flak blast had occurred inside the rear fuselage. Immediately, flight controls become useless...

 

2nd Lieutenant Richard T, Ford

Pilot, 310th Troop Carrier Squadron


    Normally, 18 paratroopers would exit a C-47 in about 18 secounds, The Polish troopers had these heavy equipment bags that had to be pushed out the door ahead of each trooper, and it seerned that it took forever. Also, it was normal procedure during the drop to reduce power on the left engine in order to reduce the propwash on the exiting paratroopers. My aircraft lost considerable altitude, and I must have been at 300 feet when the last one got out. Then we turned to get out of the way. That’s what we were supposed to do. I looked out my window on the left side and enemy anti-aircraft gunner aimingat us. It heppened awful fast. I started getting hit almost as the last paratroopers was out. One of the reasona was that we were low to the ground. I’d dropped down no more than 300 feet. The first round hit the left engine, which stopped it from hitting me. We took two more hits, and everybody but me was wounded, the worst was the crew chief, who had his butt blown off. My navigator used compresses to help stern the blood flow.

 

Lieutenant Colonel Henry G. Hamby

CO, 310th Troop Carrier Squadron









 

 






315th dropping Polish para- troopers at DZ "0", near Graven, September 23,1944

The parachute drop took place between CG-4A gilder landings, towed by another troop carrier group, some of which can be seen on the ground. Taken by US Army Correspondent inserted in a previous drop, probably with the gilder troops.








 



























After successfully landing.



  

     























"Brothers of arms" British and Polish paras of reenacting groups in Arnhem 




























moment of rest.





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arnhem 2006, sixty-two years after the battle, Polish and British paratroopers from the reenacting groups, when parked on the road.







From the artprint 'Straight to the

Hell' during the visit of Defence

Minister Mr Jacek Klich in the

6th Airborne Brigade in Cracow




        





















  Driel, Polish Veterans of

       1st Independent Brigade 






      

































Piotr Górka © 2007