Jim Wallwork

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Jim Wallwork
Birth name James Harley Wallwork
Nickname(s) Jim
Born 21 October 1919
Manchester, England
Died 24 January 2013(2013-01-24) (aged 93)
White Rock, British Columbia, Canada
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1939–1945
Rank Staff Sergeant
Service number 903986
Unit Glider Pilot Regiment

Second World War

Awards Distinguished Flying Medal
Other work Farmer

Staff Sergeant James Harley Wallwork DFM (21 October 1919 – 24 January 2013) was a British soldier and a member of the Glider Pilot Regiment who achieved notability as the pilot of the first Horsa glider to land at Pegasus Bridge in the early hours of D-Day, 6 June 1944, during the Second World War. This achievement was described as "the greatest feat of flying of the second world war" by Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory.[1] Although most noted for his part in the Battle of Normandy, Wallwork flew gliders in every major British airborne operation of the Second World War. These also included the Sicily landings, Arnhem and the Rhine Crossings. In later life he lived in Vancouver.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Manchester, son of an artilleryman who had served during the First World War. When Wallwork volunteered for the British Army in March 1939 his father advised him against joining the infantry. He ignored his father's advice but subsequently regretted it and, despite being promoted to Sergeant, he tried to join the Royal Air Force.

This was blocked by his Commanding Officer although in 1942 he was accepted for training in the newly formed Glider Pilot Regiment. By May 1942 he was at flight training school.

Pegasus Bridge[edit]

After training at Tarrant Rushton airfield, Wallwork set off on the evening of 5 June 1944 for what was to be the beginning of the invasion of Normandy. He landed his Horsa glider in occupied France shortly after midnight. The force of the impact catapulted both Wallwork and his co-pilot John Ainsworth through the front of the cockpit. Although stunned,[2] this made them the first Allied troops to touch French soil on D-Day.

Post war[edit]

After the war, Wallwork worked as a salesman. In 1956 he emigrated to British Columbia, Canada. He ran a small livestock farm to the east of Vancouver.


  1. ^ After landing Wallwork was severely wounded in the head but managed to carry munition boxes up to the troops defending the canal bridge at Benouville (called 'Pegasus Bridge' some days after D-day by Royal Engineer-troops). Ambrose, Stephen (2003). Pegasus Bridge - D-Day: The Daring British Airborne Raid. London: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-7434-5068-X. 
  2. ^ http://www.britisharmedforces.org/pages/nat_jim_wallwork.htm

Further reading[edit]

  • "Jim Wallwork". The Daily Telegraph. 19 March 2013. Retrieved 2017-02-14. 

External links[edit]