Staff Sergeant Jim Wallwork

Staff Sergeant Jim Wallwork is arguably one of the most famous names and faces of Operation Deadstick.

Jim Wallwork in GPR uniform
The son of a First World War artilleryman, Jim Wallwork was born on the 21st October 1919. After completing his education at the local grammar school in Salford, and against the recommendation of his father, he became an infantryman just before the outbreak of the war.
​Little did he know, that he would later go down in history books as being one of the first Allied soldiers to set foot in occupied France.
​Soon after finishing his training, Jim realised he wanted to change paths. So he applied for a transfer to the Royal Air Force. His transfer was aggressively denied by his commanding officer and he’d seemingly waved goodbye to a career in this skies. A while later and he volunteered for the newly formed Glider Pilot’s Regiment.

 ​A little under a year before the Normandy invasion, Jim Wallwork flew one of the 130 or so gliders in Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily. The landings were hampered by high winds, inexperienced tug crews and poor examples of navigation.
​Many gliders missed their landing zones and some even ended up in the sea. Wallwork however, managed to make his landing zone, where he came under heavy enemy fire.
​Wallwork remained in Italy with the 1st Airborne Division until later in the year, when he was recalled to England to begin an intensive training course. He had been chosen as one of only a handful of men to take part in a special mission in the Normandy Landings.
​After intense training, Wallwork was released by a Halifax bomber and he became the lead glider in the biggest invasion that the world had ever seen.
​After landing almost perfectly, two other gliders landed behind Wallwork, around a minute apart. Despite his near perfect positioning, Wallwork had landed at a higher speed than he had anticipated and was consequently thrown from the front of his aircraft.
​Wallwork suffered a severe concussion but continued to ferry ammunition up to Howard’s troops as they continued to clear the German defences and prepare for a counter attack. The rest of Wallwork’s D-Day went along without a hitch and he was eventually repatriated to England where he fully recovered from his injuries.
​Staff Sergeant Wallwork converted to flying the Hamilcar glider shortly after returning from the ill-fated Operation Market Garden. He flew the Hamilcar in Operation Varsity, the Allied operation to land over 15,000 paratroopers and equipment in Germany, towards the end of the war.

Hamilcar glider at Arneham

​As a result, upon leaving the army, Staff Sergeant Jim Wallwork had flown the glider of all four allied airborne operations, in Sicily, Normandy, Arnhem and the Rhine, a claim which is unmatched by any other pilot.
Wallwork emigrated to Canada where he passed away in 2013.
​Staff Sergeant James Wallwork, Distinguished Flying Medal, 21st October 1919 – 24th January 2013

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