CLENT BREEDLOVE
CIVILIAN PILOT TRAINING PROGRAM
PRE-FLIGHTS PROGRAM
1939-1945

Plainview PGS Article 48


Allen Switched from Flying Gliders to Towing Gliders to end WWII


By John W. McCullough, Graduate Student in History, Texas Tech University

This is the 48th article about Clent Breedlove’s Plainview Pre-Glider School at Finney Field.

David A. Allen, Jr. was born in December 1920 in Poynor, Texas southwest of Tyler.  He is 95 years old today.

On October 17, 2015, from his home in Schertz, Tex., near San Antonio, he gave an interview about his time training as a glider pilot in WWII.

After training in Breedlove’s pre-glider school at Finney Field north of Plainview, Tex., David Allen took basic glider training at Wickenburg, Ariz.

He then went to Dalhart Army Air Field in late October for advanced glider pilot training.  He graduated as a glider pilot in Class 43-3 on February 8, 1943.

He then went to Ardmore, Okla., and then Louisville, Kentucky before being shipped to Alliance, Nebraska where he was assigned to the 80th Troop Carrier Squadron, 436th Troop Carrier Group which was part of the glider program.  Allen did no training while at Alliance.

After staying a few weeks there, he was transferred to Laurinburg-Maxton, North Carolina for “field training” as he called it.

It was at Laurinburg-Maxton that the glider pilots would learn hand-to-hand combat training just as ordinary infantry soldiers learned it.

The reason why glider pilots were required to take combat training is because they were expected to fight like infantry once they had landed their gliders in a combat zone.  Glider pilots were the only pilots in the USAAF during WWII who were required to fight alongside soldiers once they were on the ground.

“I left Maxton and I got back into the powered training program and I started all over:  primary training, flight training, basic flight training, and advanced flight training.”

When asked if he just did not like the glider program, Allen said, “Not really.  When I got better acquainted with everything, it was just more of a challenge to fly a plane.”

“Primary, I went back through primary at Madison, Mississippi.  I flew PT-19’s, still in 1943.”

Walnut Ridge, Ark., was his next stop where he trained both in BT-13’s and BT-15’s.

While at Walnut Ridge, Allen married his sweetheart, Lillian, on March 4, 1944.

He had met her while he was stationed in Mississippi.  She worked at a store in Madison.

Allen stayed in Arkansas for his next phase of powered pilot training going to Stuttgart for twin-engine advanced training.  He did not recall the exact type of plane in which he trained while there.

Stuttgart had been an advanced glider training base but all glider pilot training ended at that air field in March 3, 1943.

Dodge City, Kansas was his next stop.  There he trained in Martin B-26 Marauders.  Allen recalled a very unusual nickname that the pilots called the B-26.

“Flying prostitute!  No visible means of support.”

By this, Allen meant that the B-26 had short wings.  He also did not like the excessive noise level in the cockpit of that aircraft.

He arrived at Dodge City Army Air Field in June, 1944, from what he recalled.  He was only in Dodge City, Kansas for a short time.

“I left that program and went to troop carrier at Sedalia, Missouri, flying C-47’s.”

So now, instead of being in a WACO CG-4A glider being towed by C-47’s, Allen was going to be piloting a C-47 towing the gliders.

He trained in C-47’s from September, 1944 until January, 1945 at Sedalia Army Air Field.

After completing his training in C-47’s, Allen was transferred to the South Pacific to the large island of New Guinea just north of Australia.

There he transported “army troops, patients, whatever.”

“Well we moved up from base to island to island to island.  I mean every island between New Guinea and Japan homeland and we still continued to haul the troops and supplies up and all the patients back.”

Allen did this until the end of the war in August, 1945.

“We were getting ready for the invasion of Japan, of course, and we were in our practice down there and that was something that we didn’t look forward to, frankly; because towing gliders, all the paratroops, there was no way that we would have enough fuel to get there and back.”

“And we were told, ‘find you a place on the beach, and crash land it.’”

At this time, Allen was stationed on the very large island of Luzon on the northernmost part of the Philippines.

The C-47 Skytrain has a maximum range of 1,600 miles and it is approximately 1,200 miles from Luzon to Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four large islands. 

Kyushu was the target of Operation Olympic, the first of a two-pronged US invasion of Japan scheduled for November 1, 1945.

After delivering their glider troops or paratroops, the pilots were instructed to crash their tow planes into the beach on Japan’s shoreline because the C-47’s did not have enough fuel to fly back to their home air field on Luzon.

When asked what he thought about the news that the atomic bombs had been dropped on Japan, Allen replied, “I thought that it was the greatest thing that happened.”

He was a second lieutenant when the war ended in August, 1945.

In December, Allen was sent home on a US Navy transport ship which took seven days to cross the Pacific Ocean.  He landed in northern Washington State near the port of Seattle.

From there he went by rail to Mississippi where he was discharged from the US Army Air Forces.

He stayed in Utica, Mississippi for a few months since his wife lived there at the time.

Allen went back into the service before the Korean War started.

“I went back in for a few months and then took a short break and then went back in as an enlisted man and got recalled and stayed.”

Allen served an additional 26 years in the Air Force and eventually reached the rank of major.

He served during the Korean War and instructed army pilots during that time at an air base 40 miles north of San Antonio that he thinks was near New Braunfels, Texas.  He also served during the Vietnam War.

More about the history of Finney Field will be discussed in the next article.

Readers are asked to visit the Breedlove-CPTP website at www.breedlove-cptp.com for more details about the glider program of WWII.

Anyone with information about the Plainview Pre-Glider School at Finney Field should contact John McCullough at (806)793-4448 or email johnmc@breedlove-cptp.org.