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Fred Glover and Edward "Ted" Pieri fell thousands of miles from the sky in the name of charity

By Dave Quinn
Updated August 26, 2016 03:45 PM
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Credit: Max Bryan/LNP/REX/Shutterstock

More than 70 years ago, Fred Glover was a member of the British Airborne Division in World War II when his glider was hit by anti-aircraft fire during the 1944 Normandy landings over the Merville Battery battlefield in northwest France.

Falling thousands of miles to the ground, the Brighton native crashed into a nearby orchard, sustaining wounds to his legs. Captured by German patrols, he was offered pardon and recouped from his injuries at a Parisian hospital – and later escaped with support from the French Resistance.

On Saturday, at the age of 90, Glover did the fall again – this time to raise money for the London Taxi Benevolent Association For War Disabled, its website explains.

Doing the 12,000 foot fall alongside him was friend Edward “Ted” Pieri – also 90. The Kent native joined the 1st Airborne Division in 1943.

It was the paratroopers first of two charity jumps that week. Five days later, they would get into their bright red jumpsuits and goggles again – this time at the Old Sarum airfield in Salisbury.

“I’m not at all nervous and looking forward to the jump,” Glover told the charity before the jump.

They did the Salisbury fall with the Red Devils – the official parachute display team of The Parachute Regiment and the British Army.

While Glover has visited Normandy and the Merville Battery a number of times since first visiting there, properly landing at the location these seven decades later helps him rewrite history.

As a member of the 9th Parachute Battalion’s ‘A Company’ in the British 6th Airborne Division, his mission in June of 1944 was to capture the gun battery at Merville – which would help the Allies’ prep for the D-Day landings by securing the eastern sector of the five beaches and capture the two bridges over the Orne River and Caen Canal.

The gun battery could easily fire on ally ships approaching the beaches in the English Channel.

Only 75 men ended up surviving the attempt – from a deployment of 600. The Germans would remain in control over the Battery for two months later.

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Both Glover and Pieri say they plan on skydiving again in Normandy on next year’s D-Day anniversary.

“I’ve been returning to visit the area since the 50th anniversary of D-Day in 1994,” Glover explained. “I have lots of friends in Normandy, they’re a good crowd who will turn up to give their support. I’ve been going for so many years now that some of the toddlers I’ve met are now grown up with families of their own!”