315th Airlift Wing History, World War II
Published May 15, 2006
The 3-1-5 traces it origins back to February 14, 1942. It was on this day that the 315th Transport Group was activated at Olmstead Field, Pa. and assigned to the 50th Transport Wing. Captain Thomas J. Schofield became the first Commander of the 3-1-5 when he assumed Command on this same day. Initially, the 315th TG consisted of the Headquarters, HQ Squadron, the 33rd Transport Squadron, the 34th TS, and the 35th TS. The initial cadre of 17 officers and 114 enlisted men came from the ranks of the 6th TS and the 2nd TS.
On July 1, 1942, the 315th TG was redesignated as the 315th TCG with further reassignment to the 52nd Troop Carrier Wing. By October 1, 1943, the 315th TCG consisted of four flying Squadrons: the 34th Troop Carrier Squadron, the 43rd TCS, the 309th TCS, and the 310th TCS.
The 315th TCG participated, and distinguished itself, in many of the major battles and operations of World War II. The units of the 315th TCG flew 48 sorties during the initial phases of the Invasion of Europe and received the Distinguished Unit Citation for its efforts during the events of June 5 and 6, 1944. Major General Mathew Ridgeway, Commanding Officer of the 82nd Infantry Division, flew with the 315th TCG in one of the initial waves of aircraft on June 5, 1944.
The 315th TCG also successfully dropped paratroopers of the 82nd Infantry Division into Holland on September 17, 1944 during Operation Market Garden. The 315th TCG was one of 60 squadrons with 1,100 aircraft involved in this operation to secure bridges across Dutch rivers so Allied forces could rapidly deploy into Germany by skirting around the Siegfried Line. The story of Market Garden was later depicted in the film, A Bridge Too Far.
The 315th TCG also took part in Operation Varsity, the largest, single day, airborne operation of WWII. On March 24, 1945, a formation of 81 planes of the 315th TCG departed Boreham Royal Air Force Station in East Anglia, England with paratroopers of the British Sixth Division as a unit of a massive aerial armada. The entire assault involved 320 C-47 Skytrain and 80 C-46 Commando aircraft along with a tow of 900 CG-4A Waco gliders. Operation Varsity allowed the Allies to establish a crossing of the Rhine River near the city of Wesel, Germany.