Glider Monument

On September 17, 1944 a Waco glider carrying 5 men of the 101st Airborne Signal Company and a British Corporal of the Royal Signals crashed at Mariekerke (near Sint-Amands & Bornem), Belgium.

Unfortunately all men and the Glider Pilot were killed in this crash.

This glider was on its way to a landing zone north of Eindhoven, near Son, Holland.


Due to a mid-air collision with another glider which caused the trailer (filled with radio equipment and telephone wire) to break loose and shift forward, the Waco was out of control and went down. It hit trees on the edge of a field before smashing into the ground.


Two men - the Glider Pilot (437th TC Group - 83rd TC Squadron) and the British Corporal - had been thrown out of the glider before it crashed and were found on a nearby field. The Corporal was unconscious but showed signs of life and was taken by a British jeep to a nearby hospital (the area was already liberated by British Forces early September).

He died shortly after arriving at that the hospital.


Their names:

F/O Samuel C Welch (Glider Pilot)

Cpl Frederick A Sellers (British Royal Signals)

Pvt Thomas F Vella (101st Abn Sig Co - 101st AB Division)

Pvt Joseph Dottavanio (101st Abn Sig Co - 101st AB Division)

Pvt Gustave O Gerwig (101st Abn Sig Co - 101st AB Division)

Pvt Michael Jugan (101st Abn Sig Co - 101st AB Division)

Pvt Stanley M Zajelka (101st Abn Sig Co - 101st AB Division)


The men were buried at the local cemetery.

After the war, the Americans were re-buried at the American Military Cemetery of Neuville-en-Condroz, near Liège. The Englishman remained at the local cemetery of Sint-Amands.


In 1994 - September 17 - a monument was inaugurated in the presence of the sister of one of the soldiers. Every year, around the 17th, there is a small commemoration.





The helmets were just for photographic purposes.

The left helmet came from the wreck, it shows faintly the insignia of the 101st Abn Sig Co.





A small cross made from the wreckage and a crushed helmet was placed at the spot where the glider went down.

The cross stayed there a few years after the war.

The one in the picture is a newly made (with Belgian helmet).



Corporal Frederick Arthur Sellers' grave at the local cemetery.

British Royal Corps of Signals.



This was the helmet on the original little cross.

It probably belonged to Pvt Thomas F Vella.





This is a still from a newsreel taken at Ramsbury Airbase on September 17, 1944.

Here, you see men of the 101st Airborne Signal Company marching to their gliders.

The first two soldiers are the British Signalmen; Corporals Harold Spence and Frederick Arthur Sellers.

Frederick died of wounds in the hospital where he was taken to after the crash.



Here, you see Sergeant Meeker briefing men of the Signal Company.

Front row:

First from left: Pvt. Thomas F. Vella (survived Normandy)

Second: Pvt. Stanley M Zajelka

Third: Pvt. Joseph Dottavanio





Some pictures from the last commemoration (September 17, 2006):

Welcome word by Jean-Pierre Casteels (Vella Comité)

Thanks to this "Comité" - I am part of it - and the local community, the Glider Monument was inaugurated back in 1994.

We also see to it that it is maintained and every year, we hold a commemoration there.



The Mayor of Bornem; Jozef Van Eetveldt

One of the eye-witnesses of the results of the glider crash.



The unveiling of the information plate.



Honor Guard 17th - 101st

This group presented arms when the floral pieces were placed at the monument.

They also showed a drill presentation.





This is Pvt. Thomas F. Vella.

He was one of the men killed in the glider crash.


His sister - Josephine Vella - was present at the inauguration of the Glider Monument and has become a very close friend of mine.

According to her, Thomas was a very good piano player and well-educated.



(Sorry for the bad scan.)

The photos are a trip back in time. I especially love that last photo of Vella. He seems like such a sweetheart with a kind smile. Makes you wish you would have known them personally. You can almost reach out and touch them and picture yourself there. In one aspect it's enlightening and at the same time so sad to imagine all these young lifes being snuffed out like a matchhead.
Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"

British Corporal in the Royal Corps of Signals Frederick A Sellers from Acton, Middlesex (England) and his bride.





What a charming couple! They look so happy. How sad that they didn't have much time together. :(:wub:
Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"

Corporal Sellers was 30 years old when he got KIA.

At least, he could marry and had some time with his wife.

A lot of these boys never got there.


I'll be visiting the graves of the American soldiers at Neuville American Military Cemetery on June 27 and pay them respect.

And will also put some flowers on their graves.


Being an "Honorary" Sergeant (and an unoffical Adjudant at my work), I don't know if I can give a military salute.

Is it appropriate for me to do so?




Finding some rules to share with you. This is from one site:


Here are some guidelines for saluting, according to AFMAN 36-2203, section 3.6 EXCHANGE OF SALUTES.


The junior member always initiates a salute, and does so in time for the senior person to return the salute. When returning or rendering the salute, turn your melon and your peepers in the direction of the person (or flag) you're saluting. Don't be admiring the clouds when you're saluting the colonel as he walks by. This would be bad form, Jim. I can see it now, "Dude... er, I mean... SIR -- check out THAT one... it looks like the StayPuft Marshmallow Man!"


Some say that you are supposed to salute exactly six paces from a superior officer. Hooey! The book says, "To prescribe an exact distance for all circumstances is not practical, but good judgment indicates when salutes should be exchanged." Hint: If you find yourself pinned down by enemy fire and the lieutenant crawls over to give you assault instructions, it would NOT be a good idea to snap to attention and render the military salute, unless of course you're interested in becoming dead. Just my humble opinion... this particular instance is not covered in the manual.


Saluting is to take place outdoors. The only time you should be saluting inside is during formal reporting. What do I mean by "outdoors?" Well, AFMAN 36-2203 actually cites some circumstances that might be confused for "indoors." Porches, covered sidewalks, bus stops, covered or open entryways, and reviewing stands are all considered outdoors and fair territory for the military salute to be seen.


If a superior is carrying articles in both hands, he or she need not return the salute. Doing so may cause a concussion, or at the very least, knock of the headgear. The Air Force discontinued the practice of saluting while carrying articles in both hands when the dry cleaning bills for military headgear when through the roof. Data on the concussions sustained are inconclusive at best. If you're the junior guy and you're carrying a box of glass vases, you need not send them crashing to the ground to render a salute to the general. You should simply render a friendly verbal greeting. "Howdy, General," or, "Dude, check out these cool vases," are probably NOT what I mean. Try something along the lines of, "Good morning, General Bowling." I'm sure the General would even accept, "Good afternoon, sir."


If you're in formation, don't salute unless given the command to do so. If you're in a group, but not in formation, the rules are slightly different. When a senior officer approaches, the first person noticing the officer will call the group to attention. ALL MEMBERS face the officer and salute. If the officer addresses an individual in the group, all should remain at attention unless otherwise directed. The entire group will salute when the officer leaves. Don't believe me? Check out 3.6.4!


At a public gathering such as a sporting event, large meeting, etc. or when a salute would be inappropriate or impractical, salutes between individuals need not be exchanged. If you find yourself in a work detail, individual workers do not salute. The person in charge salutes for the whole detail. You might be carrying supplies at encampment, or pitching a GP Medium... don't worry about the salute. This is a work detail.






Some interesting comments:




Can anyone here add anything else about rules and reg?

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"

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