TESTIMONIES - SICILY & NORMANDY

[Alfred W.IRELAND] , [Robert M.PIPER] , [Dave R.BULLINGTON] , [Richard TEDESCHI] , [Operation NEPTUNE] , [William H.TUCKER] ,
[Howard MANOIAN] , [Jack R.ISAACS] , [Owen B.HILL] , [Jack W.SCHLEGEL] , [Chris CHRISTENSEN] , [Marcus HEIM] , [Tom W.PORCELLA]


OPERATION " HUSKY " - 09 July 1943

82d Airborne Division - Staff & Unit Commanders

Division Commanding General
+ Aide-de-Camp
Assistant Commanding General
Division Artillery Commander
Executive Officer Division Artillery
Chief of Staff
G-1 (Personnel)
G-2 (Intelligence)
G-3 (Operations & Training)
G-4 (Supply & Evacuation)
Adjutant General
Chemical Officer
Chaplain
Finance Officer
Headquarters Commandant
Inspector General
Judge Advocate General
Ordnance Officer
Engineer
Provost Marshal
Quartermaster
Signal Officer
Surgeon General
Special Service Officer

325th Gli Inf Regt
504th Prcht Inf Regt
505th Prcht Inf Regt
319th Gli FA Bn
320th Gli FA Bn
80th Abn AA Bn
376th Prcht FA Bn
456th Prcht FA Bn
307th Abn Engr Bn
82d Abn Sig Co
307th Abn Med Co
407th Abn QM Co
782d Abn Ord Co
82d Prcht Maint Co (Prov)

Division Headquarters Company
Headquarters Battery Division Artillery
82d Airborne Military Police Platoon
Division Reconnaissance Platoon (Prov)
Maj Gen Matthew B. RIDGWAY
Capt Don C. FAITH Jr
Brig Gen Charles L. KEERANS Jr
Brig Gen Maxwell D. TAYLOR
Col Francis A. MARCH
Col Ralph P. EATON
Lt Col Frederick M. SCHELLHAMMER
Lt Col George E. LYNCH
Lt Col Richard K. BOYD
Lt Col Robert H. WIENECKE
Lt Col Raymond M. BRITTON
Lt Col John P. GEIGER
Lt Col George L. RIDDLE
Lt Col William E. JOHNSON
Capt William C. SHREVE
Lt Col Charles BARRETT
Lt Col Casimir D. MOSS
Lt Col Joshua FINKEL
Lt Col Robert S. PALMER
Maj William P. BOWDEN
Lt Col John W. MOHRMAN
Lt Col Frank W. MOORMAN
Lt Col Woolcott L. ETIENNE
Maj Frederick G. McCOLLUM

Col Harry L. LEWIS
Col Reuben H. TUCKER
Col James M. GAVIN
Lt Col William H. BERTSCH Jr
Lt Col Paul E. WRIGHT
Lt Col Jack WHITFIELD (acting Maj Raymond E. SINGLETON)
Lt Col Wilbur M. GRIFFITH
Lt Col Harrison HARDEN
Lt Col Robert S. PALMER
Capt Robert E. FURMAN
Maj William H. HOUSTON
Capt Samuel L. MAYS
Capt Jeff DAVIS Jr
Capt Albert C. MARIN

Capt William C. SHREVE
Capt Tony J. RAIBL
Maj William P. BOWDEN
1st Lt Roland M. HUDSON




Col James M. GAVIN (CO) briefs men of his 505th Parachute Combat Team, prior to the air assault against Sicily …

505th Regimental Combat Team
Col James M. GAVIN (505th Prcht Inf), Lt Col Charles KOUNS (3d Bn / 504th Prcht Inf), Lt Col Harrison HARDEN (456th Prcht FA Bn), Capt William H. JOHNSON (B Co / 307th Abn Engr Bn), 2d Lt Edward KACYAINSKI (Det / 82d Abn Sig Co), S/Sgt Kenneth I. KNOTT (Det / 307th Abn Med Co), Capt Jack M. BARTLEY (Air Support Party), 1st Lt Louis P. TESTA (PWI Personnel)

504th Regimental Combat Team
Col Reuben H. TUCKER (504th Prcht Inf – 3d Bn), Lt Col Wilbur M. GRIFFITH (376th Prcht FA Bn) Capt Thomas M. WIGHT (C Co / 307th Abn Engr Bn)
Alerted for overseas movement, the 82d Airborne Division began its departure from Ft. Bragg, N.C., on April 17, 1943 . The Division staged at Cp. Edwards, Mass., from 21 to 27 April and departed for the New York P/E . It then sailed aboard US Transport George Washington, from Staten Island early on the morning of April 29, 1943, thus becoming the FIRST American Airborne Division to sail overseas !
The “All American” landed at Casablanca, May 10, 1943, marshalled at Cp. Don B. Passage, near the city and subsequently moved to the vicinity of Oujda, French Morocco, and Marnia, Algeria, on May 13 . Here the Division bivouacked as a Combat Team with the 325th Glider Infantry Combat Team, the 80th Airborne Anti-Aircraft Battalion, and the 320th Glider Field Artillery Battalion, stationed at Marnia and the remainder of the Division stationed near Oujda Airport . The Planning room was established in a Gendarmerie building (popularly known as the “Pentagon” building), and here plans were worked out for the 82d’s FIRST combat mission, “Operation HUSKY”, or the invasion of Sicily, code name : “HORRIFIED” .

Preceded by small advance parties, the Division on June 24, 1943, began movement by truck, train, plane and glider to the cactus-hedged areas of Tunisia, near Kairouan . 10 different take-off airfields were to be used for the coming Operation . The Invasion of Sicily began on the windy night of July 9, 1943, when Colonel James M. GAVIN led his 505th Parachute Combat Team on its drop into Sicily .

The Assault mission, as stated in Field Order # 6 issued by II Corps was as follows :

  1. Land during night D-1 / D in area N and E of GELA, capture and secure high ground in that area .

  2. Disrupt communications and movement of reserves during night .

  3. Be attached to the 1st Infantry Division, effective on D-Day .

  4. Assist 1st Infantry Division in capturing and securing landing field at PONTE OLIVO .

The 505th PCT plan, as embodied in its first FO, directed that Regimental Headquarters, 1st Battalion, and 2d Battalion, 505th PIR, and A and B Batteries of the 456th PFA Bn, should drop just north of an important road junction about seven miles east of GELA, attack and overcome an enemy strongpoint commanding this junction, and defend it against attack . 3d Battalion, 505th PIR, and C Btry, 456th, should drop south of the same junction, and occupy the high ground overlooking it . 3d Battalion, 504th PIR, should drop south of NISCEMI, and establish and defend roadblocks on the road from NISCEMI to the south . Each of these elements was to be prepared to assist the 1st Infantry Division in seizing the PONTE OLIVO Airfield . Three planes of troops, including the Demolition Section, were to drop about five miles further east and prepare the demolition of rail and road crossings of the ACATE River . The mission assigned the Division, less the 505th Combat Team, was outlined in Field Order # 1 of Force 343 (Seventh US Army) :

  1. 82d Airborne Division (less Dets) concentrate rapidly by successive air lifts in SICILY, by D+7, in either or both the DIME              (45th Infantry Division) or JOSS (3d Infantry Division) areas, as directed .

  2. 2d Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion, remain in NORTH AFRICA, in Force 343 reserve, available for drop              missions as directed .

In compliance with this order, the Division devised a Movement Table to FO # 1, under which the 504th Parachute Combat Team, as a second lift, was alerted for movement the evening of D-Day . Division Headquarters was to constitute a third lift, ready for movement in gliders the evening of D+1 or thereafter . The 325th Glider Combat Team and the 80th Airborne Anti-Aircraft Battalion, were to follow by planes and gliders in designated order .

The FIRST lift included following elements ; 505th Prcht Inf Regt + 3d Bn / 504th Prcht Inf Regt + 456th Prcht FA Bn + B Co / 307th Abn Engr Bn + Det / 82d Abn Sig Co + Det / 307th Abn Med Co + Air Support Party + PWI Personnel … commanded by Col James M. GAVIN

The SECOND lift included following units ; 504th Prcht Inf Regt (less 3d Bn) + 376th Prcht FA Bn + C Co / 307th Abn Engr Bn … commanded by Col Reuben H. TUCKER

The THIRD lift, i.e. the Division Hq serial was to include members of the General and Special Staff Sections and following units, such as, Hq & Hq Btry + Div Arty + Div Hq Co + 82d Abn Sig Co + 407th Abn QM Co + 307th Abn Med Co + 782d Abn Ord Maint Co + 307th Abn Engr Bn, as well as 22 ¼ T trucks, all under command of Lt Col Robert S. PALMER

The Division CG, Major General Matthew B. RIDGWAY, with a special command party, including 1 ¾ T Command & Reconnaissance Car, 4 ¼ T trucks, and 2 ¼ T trailers, boarded the S/S Monrovia, Seventh Army Command Vessel, at ALGIERS, July 4, 1943, from which he and his party would land at GELA on D-Day . The CG’s group included ; Col Ralph P. EATON (Chief of Staff), Lt Col George E. LYNCH (G-2), Lt Col Richard K. BOYD (G-3), Lt Col Robert H. WIENECKE (G-4), Lt Col Frank W. MOORMAN (Signal Officer), Maj E. S. ADAMS (Liaison Officer), Capt Don C. FAITH Jr (Aide-de-Camp), and 11 enlisted men from the Staff Sections …

Although the Sicily Operation was costly, both in lives and equipment, valuable experience was gained by those who survived, untold damage was inflicted behind enemy lines, and many prisoners were captured . Enemy prisoners taken : 15,475 (German & Italian officers and men) . Vehicles captured : 62 (mainly Italian) . The Division remained in front line positions for 13 days (period July 10 > Aug 19, 1943) . For comparison purposes, Italy represents 142 days (period Sep 14, 1943 > Mar 23, 1944), Normandy 33 days (period Jun 6 > Jul 13, 1944), Holland 58 days (period Sep 17 > Nov 13, 1944), Ardennes (Bulge) 46 days (period Dec 18, 1944 > Feb 18, 1945), and Central Europe 24 days (period Apr 4 > Jun 1, 1945) .

In recognition of the Sicily campaign, Maj Gen M. B. Ridgway received following letter from Maj Gen G. Keyes, commanding Provisional Corps, of which the 82d Abn Div had served as a part :

SEVENTH UNITED STATES ARMY
HEADQUARTERS PROVISIONAL CORPS
A.P.O. 758

24 July 1943

Major General M. B. Ridgway
Commanding 82d Airborne Division
A.P.O. 469

My Dear General Ridgway;

With the remarkably rapid and successful conclusion of the mission assigned the Provisional Corps of the Seventh Army in the operation to capture Palermo and the Western portion of the island of Sicily, I wish to express to you and your splendid Division, together with the attached units, my admiration for feats accomplished .

The rapid assembly and organization of your force of mixed units, and their more rapid advance on each objective to include the important city and locality of Trapani, reflects great credit upon you, your staff and your men .

It is an honor for me to be privileged to command the Provisional Corps composed of such fine Divisions and it is with extreme regret that I learn that the 82d is to be withdrawn for other important missions .

With best wishes to you and your command for continued success, I am,

Sincerely yours,

/s/ Geoffrey Keyes
GEOFFREY KEYES
Major General, U.S.A.,
Commanding


82d Airborne Division casualties during the Sicilian Campaign

Entire Division : 80 Officers + 884 Enlisted Men > total 964
504th Prcht Inf Regt : 33 Officers + 355 Enlisted Men > total 388
505th Prcht Inf Regt : 33 Officers + 391 Enlisted Men > total 424
307th Abn Engr Bn : 5 Officers + 34 Enlisted Men > total 39
376th Prcht FA Bn : 2 Officers + 55 Enlisted Men > total 57
456th Prcht FA Bn : 6 Officers + 49 Enlisted Men > total 55

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TESTIMONY (Mediterranean Theater of Operations - SICILY - July 1943)




"ASSAULT ON SICILY - 10 July 1943" - Map showing the different Landing Zones.


"...what's in a name..." ?

... as we had been forewarned by Intelligence that the Japanese would often trick our people by calling out names of the different individuals, Headquarters had ordered us to give every Officer in the Regiment a ‘nickname’ . At the time of "Operation Husky I", the air and seaborne assault against Sicily, Colonel J.M. GAVIN commanding the 505th RCT (consisting of 505th PIR, 3d Bn / 504th PIR, and other troops) told me: "Al, I want you to find a nickname for every Officer and all the key people of this Regiment" . So I had to come up with some fancy nicknames for everyone … that’s how Colonel Gavin got the nickname "Slim Jim" (there were pretzels at the time called ‘Slim Jim Pretzels’ and since our Commander was a tall slim guy, I thought this nickname to be most appropriate) ...

(Alfred W. IRELAND, Capt, S-1, 505th PIR, 82d Abn Div, USA, O-35113, recollections)


picture taken in Oujda,
French Morocco,
May 1943


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TESTIMONY (Mediterranean Theater of Operations - SICILY - July 1943)



82d Abn Paratroopers on board a C-47 plane heading for Sicily,
July 9, 1943 - "Operation Husky"

"... know thy enemy..."

This ‘personal’ story is certainly not about any ‘bloody’ firefights but just about knowing, and identifying the enemy . The incidents took place during “Operation HUSKY I”

As the late Lieutenant General James M. GAVIN (1907-1990) CG who took over the “All Americans” from Maj. Gen. M.B. Ridgway in Aug 44 stated back in 1947 : “Sicily in July of 1943 was the BIRTHPLACE of American Airborne Technique, it was, as well, the crucible into which were thrown the brainstorms, the cocktail cerebrations and the intensely cherished unorthodox combat tactics of a still young Army – theories originally conceived, nurtured and brought to apparent maturity without the test of battle were exposed to their first test !”


READY for action !
 82d Abn Div troopers preparing their gear ...
Click image to enlarge

Individual equipment layout for a Parachutist,
as used during summer of 1943, in the MTO
Click image to enlarge

The American part of “Operation HUSKY” conceived by the Allied planning Staffs and Headquarters of NATO (North African Theater of Operations) and the Seventh US Army envisioned the Invasion of Sicily, with an Amphibious Assault (July 10, 1943) at Licata, Gela and Scoglitti by the American 3d Infantry, 1st Infantry and 45th Infantry Divisions . The Invasion plan called for one reinforced Parachute Combat Team of the 82d Airborne Division to drop ahead of the amphibious landings, between Caltagirone and the 1st Infantry Division’s beaches, in order to protect the American Forces which were to land on the island . After the D-Day landings, the Airborne Combat Team was to be built up by successive air and sea lifts in the Seventh US Army zone and participate in the further conquest of the island . Mission : seize key terrain features, block enemy reinforcements, destroy enemy communications, and deny use of specific strategic enemy airfields . The Combat Jump itself faced unusual odds (1) nature; trained to jump with winds up to 12-15 mph, troopers now faced a gale with winds up to 35 mph, blowing across the Mediterranean, (2) enemy; although they jumped on schedule, troopers landed in small groups, widely scattered over part of the island, furthermore they were almost at once met by the elite Hermann Göring Panzer Division with the newest Tiger tanks, while being w/o effective antitank weapons . Numerous US Paratroops not only experienced harsh landings, in rocky gullies, fields, streams, and roads, some even landed near or on enemy positions, but the majority were widely scattered all over southeastern Sicily … in fact, one outfit only, i.e. I Co, 3d Bn / 505th PIR (Capt. Willard R. Follmer) was dropped on its objective ! The scattered, disorganized paratroop landings and attacks on July 10 + 11, 1943, carried out by small bands of men, significantly harassed enemy troops, causing the necessary confusion among both Germans and Italians, and not only fought the Germans to a standstill, but helped drive the enemy from the battlefield !

505th Parachute Combat Team (reinforced) consisted of following units :
505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, under command of Col. James M. GAVIN, also overall Commander of the reinforced Regimental Combat Team (1st Bn > Lt. Col. Arthur F. Gorham, 2d Bn > Maj. Mark J. Alexander, 3d Bn > Maj. Edward C. Krause) + 3d Battalion / 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (Lt. Col. Charles W. Kouns) + 456th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion (Lt. Col. Harrison B. Harden, Jr) + Co B / 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion (Capt. William H. Johnson) + Signal, Medical elements + Naval-Gunfire Support Liaison Detachments . The force totalled 3,407 troopers, and required 226 C-47 transport planes manned by 904 aircrews . D-Day was set for July 9, 1943, and the Operation was to be a night parachute drop !

Before entering combat, one of the ground rules is to be able to ‘recognize’ your enemy … early July 1943, Major General Matthew B. RIDGWAY (CG 82d Abn Div) took special precautions to make certain that regular Army units clearly understood the dangers and risks inherent to operations run by parachute forces . He also sent different teams to the US Divisions who would fight with us in the Sicily Campaign, to show what US jumpsuits, jump boots, weapons (e.g. the new folding-stock .30 cal Carbine), gear, and other equipment looked like, so they could actually see a live US Parachutist, and acquaint the Officers and Enlisted Men with Airborne accoutrements and tactical maneuvers … our battle dress was indeed quite different from other American troops, and it should be stated that German forces were not familiar with our dress either !


Maj. General Matthew B. RIDGWAY,
CG 82d Abn Div,
and Staff, Sicily July 20, 1943
(after "Operation Husky")
Click image to enlarge

1st Lt. Robert M. PIPER,
in Oujda (French Morocco),
May 1943
(picture taken during training)
Click image to enlarge

I was a member of the 505th PIR, and Assistant Regimental Adjutant (or Asst S-1) to Captain Alfred W. IRELAND (S-1) when dropping into battle over Sicily . My current rank was 1st Lieutenant . My plane was separated from the main air column en route from N. Africa to Sicily – the formations were blown apart by the strong northwest winds, and since we had to maintain radio silence, the only way was supposedly to keep visual contact between planes, however because of this gale, each aircraft was more or less on its own . So on July 9, 1943, we finally picked up the Sicilian coast and were flying up the Straits of Messina over near the British sector – when the pilot admitted he wasn’t sure where he was, I asked him to turn westerly and give me the green light when we were again over land – we jumped from about 3 to 400 feet (because of the hills below) and were dropped some 40 miles east of our designated DZ near the British sector, where I actually ended up in an olive tree (actual landings of the 5 plane serials were widely dispersed from Niscemito to S. Croce Camerina) . I gathered 11 men and immediately started moving west over rugged, rocky and barren country . We shot up railroad tunnel guards, civilians, Italians, Germans, any non-US targets . While on a trail, we saw a group of men in the distance coming toward us, they seemed to progress in a formation, stripped to the waist, this looked like a kind of morning exercise or PT to me . The Germans didn’t recognize our jumpsuits, not being familiar with them, and I think they must have thought we were probably Italians … furthermore they had not received word that an American Airborne Operation had taken place the night before ? When I said “Hi”, they responded with “Heil Hitler”, and there was a brief firefight which they lost ! We continued to shoot up the countryside and moved toward Vittoria during Saturday-Sunday, where we ran into some 45th Infantry … and the Battle for Biazza Ridge (located between Gela and Scoglitti) … to link up with Colonel James M. GAVIN and 3d Bn / 505th PIR elements who were battling German armor .


On Sunday, July 11, 1943, we joined the 505th PCT on Biazza Ridge, west of Vittoria, (where it crosses the Gela-Vittoria road) for an all-day battle with German forces including German Mk VI tanks (aka Tigers or PzKpfw VI) and accompanying infantry . We were able to get some US naval gunfire support thru a young US Navy Lieutenant who had jumped with the Regiment and possessed the necessary radio gear . This really was our first tough fighting and we soon found out what this was all about ! That’s where I got hit in the knee with shrapnel, however no evacuation was possible …

At the end of the afternoon, when most of the enemy tanks had been knocked out or withdrawn, Colonel GAVIN, told me to get hold of a jeep, one we had ‘procured’ from the 45th Infantry Division and get back to the landing beaches to get food and ammo moving to us . On my way, I was driving alone toward the beach area, I was stopped by a patrol of Infantry (pertaining to the 45th “Thunderbird” Division) who had NEVER seen an airborne trooper in jumpsuit and fully geared up, and thought I was a German who had captured an American jeep ! As I said before, even though we had sent teams to the 45th Inf Div when back in North Africa to show them what a Parachutist looked like, NOT everyone saw our demo teams, so when soldiers saw a strange-looking uniform, and someone wearing jump boots, with a folding-stock Carbine for a weapon, they thought I was either a German or Italian driving a captured US jeep . They debated whether to shoot me or not on the spot and recover the vehicle with 45th Inf Div markings . Needless to say they talked fast and furious . They made me sing the US National Anthem; tell them who won the World Series that year; who was the current President, etc. all the while pretending I was an enemy, since wearing a German uniform, because they simply had never seen a jumpsuit before . They gave me the ‘third degree’ ! Finally, they let me go unharmed …
So you see, it is most important to know what the “enemy” looks like and that he knows what you look like, when you’re in a ‘real wartime’ situation and the shooting starts .


Colonel James M. GAVIN
(aka "Slim Jim") in Sicily,
some time after the operation,
July 12-14, 1943
Click image to enlarge
(Robert M. PIPER, 1st Lt, Asst S-1, 505th PIR, 82d Abn Div, USA, O-407914, recollections)

Biazza Ridge, 505th PIR troopers around one of their 'kills' - a German Tiger I tank
Click image to enlarge

Postwar Battle Monument in honor of the 82d Abn Div (505th PCT) at Ponte Dirillo (Biazza Ridge), on Highway 115, Gela to Vittoria, Sicily
Click image to enlarge



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TESTIMONY (Mediterranean Theater of Operations - Gela, SICILY - July 1943)



Invasion of Sicily – 10 July 1943, plan of Landings

"...sniper..."

… I was a sniper with A Co, 505th Parachute Infantry . My weapons were a .30 cal Springfield M1903A4 rifle provided with a scope and a M1A1 .30 cal carbine with a folding stock . My CO at the time was Captain Edwin SAYRE . We came down in a vineyard on the side of a steep hill . Tracers were flying in all directions, it almost looked like the Fourth of July ! I was very much impressed, I can tell you, since this was my very FIRST combat jump ! As soon as we dropped our chutes, I went looking for the equipment bundles – one of these held my rifle, while the sight was wrapped in my musette bag . Getting everyone assembled proved very difficult . The Company had been scattered over an area of several hundred yards, and our priority was to try and locate our weapons and munitions bundles first, in order to get going . I remember that behind First Battalion, came the 505th RCT Headquarters serial, including our commander, Colonel James M. GAVIN and part of his staff .
At first sunlight, we were to attack a number of Italian pillboxes surrounding a garrison compound (which we had already unsuccessfully attacked the previous night) . We now had two 60mm mortars and three .30 caliber light machine guns for support, with some additional 2.36-in rocket launchers . We were divided into two-man teams for the assault . Together with another man, we both worked our way around the back of a house, the enemy had machine guns dug in there, so we managed to sneek onto them reaching the back door of our target, a house . About the time, we thought everything was clear, an enemy handgrenade landed right in front of me … I ducked to avoid it, but shrapnel got me in the neck . So I just went back the way I came in, by crawling, that is … I remember Capt Sayre asking for some additional mortar rounds on the compound, and then, to fix bayonets, and to get in … I was all shaken and had trouble fixing the bayonet on my rifle …
We managed to capture the house complex though, with the help of rifle and handgrenades, and effective machine gun fire support .
(Dave R. BULLINGTON, Pfc, A Co, 505th PIR, 82d Abn Div, USA, 20457720, recollections)

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Notes:

AMERICAN AIRBORNE FORCES
First Combat action of American Airborne Troops in WWII took place in N. Africa . The very FIRST operation under command of Maj. William P. Yarborough, consisted in landing the 2d Bn / 503d PIR (later redesignated 509th PIB) to seize the Tafaraoui & La Sénia Airports, near Oran, Algeria 8 November 1942 . The SECOND mission under command of Lt. Col. Edson D. Raff, was the drop on Youks-les-Bains Airfield, near Tebessa, on the Tunisian border, 16 November 1942 . The THIRD operation under command of Lt. Dan A. DeLeo, involved sending a demolition team to blow up a key railroad bridge 6 miles north of El Djem, Tunisia, 26 December 1942 .

The first real MASS Combat Jump over hostile territory was “Operation HUSKY”, involving 82d Airborne Division units which took place July 9 – 11, 1943 and which yielded some very important lessons in how to best organize and deliver Airborne Assault Forces . A professional Training Program was subsequently set up at Biscari Airfield, Sicily . Its purpose was to develop specially trained Pathfinder units, who would land about 20 minutes before the main assault . These teams would consist of 1 Officer + 9 EM, reinforced by protective personnel to insure success of the mission . The team would be equipped with special electronic gear on which i/c troop carrier pilots would home and lights to mark the respective DZs . In charge of this Training were Lt. Col. Joel L. Crouch (US Air Corps) and Capt. John Norton (82d Abn Div) .


special "bazooka patch" as ordered by Col. James M. GAVIN, after the Sicily Campaign (hand-embroidered copy, still open questions about the correct colors)

Out of respect for the heroic combat achievements of his Bazooka Teams in the Sicily Campaign, Colonel James M. GAVIN (CO > 505th PCT) ordered from the nuns of an old Convent and Monastery (near Trapani) a special hand-embroidered insignia to be worn as a pocket (or shoulder) patch by the bazookamen for their valorous combat feats (i.e. destroying and>(aka Tiger ) Sd.Kfz. 181, was launched in August 1942 . It was not only introduced to combat Soviet armor on the Eastern Front (Leningrad), but soon joined the DAK in Tunisia where it was deployed against (vulnerable) Allied armor . Main characteristics : crew 5, armament 8,8-cm Kwk 36 L/56 gun + MG34 co-axial + MG34 in hull, armor from 1.02” up to 4.33”, length 27’, width 12’3”, height 9’4”, weight 121,253 lb, ground pressure 14.8 lb/in2, water-cooled gas engine Maybach HL 230 P45 V-12, range 62 mi . Its first appearance was a shock to the Allies, and it rapidly gained an awesome reputation on the battlefields (also in Normandy) . Not always ingeniously deployed, it suffered mainly from its heavy weight, and was often overcome by sheer numbers, and attacks against its rear . It was built between August 42 – August 44, only 1,350 Tiger Is were ever built .


82d Airborne personnel inspect a knocked out
German Tiger I tank - quite a feat
(with such light arms, as the 2.36" Rocket Launcher)
Click image to enlarge 1st INFANTRY DIVISION “BIG RED ONE”
Stationed at Ft. Hamilton, New York, as the 1st Division . Moved to Ft. Benning, Georgia November 19, 1939 and to the Louisiana Maneuvers in the Sabine, Louisiana Area May 11, 1940. It returned to Ft. Hamilton, New York, June 5, 1940 and then moved to Ft. Devens, Massachusetts February 4, 1941 . The Division participated in both Carolina Maneuvers of October and November 1941 and went to Samarcand, North Carolina October 16, 1941 . It then returned to Ft. Devens, December 6, 1941 and was transferred to Cp. Blanding, Florida February 21, 1942, where it was redesignated 1st Infantry Division May 15, 1942 . The “Big Red One” moved to Ft. Benning, Georgia, May 22 and further to Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, Pennsylvania June 21, 1942 . It finally departed for overseas from New York P/E August 1, 1942 and arrived in England August 7, 1942 . The 1st Inf Div assaulted Oran, N. Africa November 8, 1942 and also Gela, Sicily July 10, 1943 . It returned to England November 11, 1943 and assaulted Omaha Beach Normandy, France June 6, 1944 . It crossed into Belgium September 3, 1944 and entered Germany September 14, 1944 where it remained active throughout 1946 . It participated in the Battle of the Bulge, and fought at Elsenborn Ridge December 21 – 28, 1944, and resumed its attacks against the Westwall January 28, 1945 . The Division reached the Czechoslovakian border April 30, 1945 . Commanders : MG Donald Cubbison (Jul 41), MG Terry de la Mesa Allen (Jun 42), MG Clarence R. Huebner (Jul 43), MG Clift Andrus (Dec 44) . Organization : 16th Inf Regt, 18th Inf Regt, 26th Inf Regt, 5th Fld Arty Bn, 7th Fld Arty Bn, 32d Fld Arty Bn, 33d Fld Arty Bn, 1st Rcn Tp, Mecz, 1st Engr Cbt Bn, 1st Med Bn, 1st CIC Det, MP Pltn, 701st Ord Lt Maint Co, 1st Sig Co, 1st QM Co + attached units . Campaigns : Algeria- French Morocco – Tunisia – Sicily – Normandy – Northern France – Rhineland – Ardennes-Alsace – Central Europe .

3d INFANTRY DIVISION “ROCK OF THE MARNE”
Stationed at Ft. Lewis, Washington as the 3d Division and moved to Ft. Ord, California January 22, 1940 . It returned to Ft. Lewis, May 19, 1940 . The Division then moved to the Hunter-Liggett Military Reservation, California May 25, 1941 for participation in the IX Corps California Maneuvers, and then returned to Ft. Lewis, Washington July 1, where it participated in Fourth Army Maneuvers from 15 to 30 August 1941 . It was then transferred to Ft. Ord, California May 1, 1942 where it was redesignated 3d Infantry Division August 1, 1942 . The 3d Inf Div arrived at Cp. Pickett, Virginia September 22, 1942 and staged at Cp. Patrick Henry, Virginia October 27, 1942, before departing Hampton Roads P/E the same date ! It assaulted Fedala, North Africa November 8, 1942, and subsequently Licata, Sicily July 10, 1943 . It later arrived in Italy September 18, 1943 and assaulted Anzio January 22, 1944 . In summer it also participated in the Southern France Invasion by assaulting the Bay of Cavalaire August 15, 944 . The Division entered Germany March 13, 1945 . It arrived back at New York P/E September 4, 1945, moved to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky September 8, 1946 where it remained active for the rest of the year . Commanders : MG Charles F. Thompson (Aug 40), BG Charles P. Hall (Aug 41), MG John P. Lucas (Sep 41), MG Jonathan W. Anderson (Mar 42), MG Lucian K. Truscott Jr (Apr 43), MG John W. O’Daniel (Feb 44) . Organization : 7th Inf Regt, 15th Inf Regt, 30th Inf Regt, 9th Fld Arty Bn, 10th Fld Arty Bn, 39th Fld Arty Bn, 41st Fld Arty Bn, 3d Rcn Tp, Mecz, 10th Engr Cbt Bn, 3d Med Bn, 3d CIC Det, MP Pltn, 703d Ord Lt Maint Co, 3d Sig Co, 3d QM Co + attached units . Campaigns : Algeria-French Morocco – Tunisia – Sicily – Naples-Foggia – Rome-Arno – Southern France – Rhineland – Ardennes-Alsace – Central Europe .

45th INFANTRY DIVISION “THUNDERBIRD” (Arizona, Colorado, N. Mexico, Oklahoma National Guard units)
Inducted into Federal Service at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma February 16, 1940 as the 45th Division and moved to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma September 23 . The Division arrived at Cp. Barkeley, Texas February 28, 1941 and then went to Brownwood, Texas June 1, to participate in the VIII Corps Texas Maneuvers . It afterwards returned to Cp. Barkeley, Texas June 13, 1941 . It moved again, now to Mansfield, Louisiana August 4, to participate in both the August and September 1941 Louisiana Maneuvers, and returned to Texas October 4, 1941, where it was redesignated 45th Infantry Division February 23, 1942 . The 45th Inf Div arrived at Ft. Devens, Massachusetts April 22, 1942 which it left for Pine Camp, New York on November 8, 1942 . It then transferred to Cp. Pickett, Virginia January 27, 1943 , staged at Cp. Patrick Henry, Virginia May 26, 1943 until it departed Hampton Roads P/E, June 3, 1943 , It reached North Africa June 22, and the next month assaulted Scoglitti, Sicily on July 10, 1943 . Further actions took the Division to Italy, where it assaulted Salerno, September 10, 1943 and Anzio January 22, 1944 . It then participated in the Invasion of Southern France August 15, 1944 . The 45th Inf Div entered Germany March 17, 1945, returned stateside via Boston P/E September 10, 1945 and moved to Cp. Bowie, Texas September 17, 1945, where it was inactivated December 7 of the same year . Commanders : MG William S. Key (Sep 40), MG Troy H. Middleton (Oct 42), MG William W. Eagles (Dec 43), MG Robert T. Frederick (Dec 44) . Organization : 157th Inf Regt, 179th Inf Regt, 180th Inf Regt, 158th Fld Arty Bn, 160th Fld Arty Bn, 171st Fld Arty Bn, 189th Fld Arty Bn, 45th Rcn Tp, Mecz, 120th Engr Cbt Bn, 120th Med Bn, 45th CIC Det, MP Pltn, 700th Ord Lt Maint Co, 45th Sig Co, 45th QM Co + attached units .Campaigns : Sicily – Naples-Foggia – Anzio – Rome-Arno – Southern France – Rhineland – Ardennes-Alsace – Central Europe .

CAMPAIGN KEY
The official Sicily Campaign credit covered the combat period between 9 July 1943 and 17 August 1943

Sicily (9 July - 17 August 1943)
... on the night of 9 and 10 July 43, an Allied convoy of almost 2,600 vessels launched one of the largest combined operations of World War II - the Invasion of Sicily . Over the next 38 days, 1/2 million Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen would grapple their German and Italian counterparts for control of this rocky terrain, part of Hitler's "Fortress Europe" . When the struggle was over, Sicily became the first part of the Axis homeland to fall to Allied Forces during WWII - it would serve both as a base for the Invasion of Italy and as a training ground for many Officers and EM who would later land on the Normandy beaches ... 




TESTIMONY (England – prelude to D-DAY -April/May 1944)


Informative Pamphlet for US Armed Forces, issued by The British Council, printed by Spottiswoode, Ballantyne & Co, Ltd, London, Colchester, and Eton, December 1944

"...Green Hornet ?"

… I enlisted on March 1, 1942 in New York City . Being a native of that city, and more particularly born and living in the Bronx, I had problems finding a decent job – moreover I was already 22 and part of a family of 14 kids (8 boys + 6 girls) – so, one of the solutions was to join the Army, in order to help support my family ! After getting Basic Training, I volunteered for the Paratroops and got assigned to the 505th Parachute Infantry . I joined F Company as a private . My first combat jump took place over Sicily, this was July 1943 ! I was later dropped over Italy, Normandy and also Holland, and earned my 4 combat stars . Although I wasn’t tall at all, I was tough, and I therefore got selected for the Regimental Boxing Team – my height was only 5’4” and my weight 118 lb … I even won the 505th Lightweight Boxing Championship on August 18, 1944 …

(Richard TEDESCHI, Pfc, F Co, 505th PIR, 82d Abn Div, USA, 12059540, recollections)


Richard TEDESCHI,
picture taken in 1945

picture taken in September 1988, 505th RCT Reunion, Columbus, Georgia

picture taken in 1995

As I could only find a poor WWII picture of Pfc Richard Tedeschi, and the one taken at the 1988 505th RCT Convention, I elected to add another one taken at a dinner-party organized by E. Lacroix (Chairman, C-47 Club, Belgian Chapter) at Namur, Belgium, January 29, 1995. Pvt R. Tedeschi already made his first ‘combat’ jump in Sicily, back in July 1943 ! I met ‘Rich’ (or ‘Tiger Rich’ as some people called him) for the first time in February 1992, and although he rarely spoke about the ‘real’ war, he nevertheless could tell some wild ‘stories’ bragging and boasting about booze, women, and the ‘good’ times he particularly enjoyed in England, after the Normandy operation . We’ll NEVER know for sure, whether he was the “Green Hornet” ? Always keen for a beer and a smoke, and a good tale, that’s how I’ll remember him . ‘Rich’ made his ‘final’ jump on March 2, 1999 – Airborne … all the way !

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OPERATION " NEPTUNE " D-DAY NORMANDY - 06 June 1944



D-DAY Invasion area – Operation “Neptune” – 6 June 1944

Excerpts from After-Action Report for June-July 1944, written by MG Matthew B. RIDGWAY, CG 82d Airborne Division , dated 8 Jul 44, and classified RESTRICTED – these documents describe preparation, landing, and FIRST combat action of the “All American” Division, on D-Day June 6, 1944 (-ed)

Force “A”
Commanded by BG James M. GAVIN, Assistant Division Commander, to be committed by parachute before dawn of D-Day and to include :

Det Hq & Hq Co, 82d Abn Div
Pathfinders
Det Hq, 82d Div Arty
Det 82d Abn Sig Co
Det 456 Prcht FA Bn (atchd 505th Prcht Inf Regt)
Air Support Party (atchd Hq 82d Abn Div)
505 Prcht Inf Regt
507 Prcht Inf Regt
508 Prcht Inf Regt
Co B, 307 Abn Engr Bn
Naval Shore Fire Control Party (atchd 505 Prcht Inf Regt)
4 planes
9 planes
2 planes
3 planes


117 planes
117 planes
117 planes
9 planes


Force “B”
Commanded by MG Matthew B. RIDGWAY, Division Commander, to be committed by glider before and after dawn of D-Day and to include :

Hq & Hq Co, 82d Abn Div (-)
Hq & Hq Btry, 82d Abn Div Arty (-)
82d Abn Sig Co (-)
325 Gli Inf Regt
319 Gli FA Bn
320 Gli FA Bn
Btrys A, B, & C, 80 Abn AA Bn (AT)
Co A, 307 Abn Engr Bn
307 Abn Med Co (-)
82d Abn Rcn Plat (-)
Air Support Party
Command vehicles – Prcht Regts
22 planes
11 planes
13 planes
172 planes
40 planes
54 planes
57 planes
10 planes
20 planes
13 planes
4 planes
12 planes


Force “C”
Commanded by BG George P. HOWELL Jr, Commanding General 2d Airborne Brigade, to be committed by sea, to land between D + 2 and D + 7 and to include :

456 Prcht FA Bn (-)
80 Abn AA Bn (-)
307 Abn Engr Bn (-)
782 Abn Ord Maint Co
407 Abn QM Co
82d Abn MP Plat
Corps Med Dets
87 Armd FA Bn (atchd)
899 Td Bn (atchd)
Tp B, 4 Cav Sqdn (atchd)
Co C, 746 Tk Bn (M) (atchd)
3809 QM Trk Co (atchd)
3810 QM Trk Co (atchd)
1st Plat, 603 QM (GR) Co (atchd)


Under the Invasion Plan, Force “A” in its entirety was to approach the CHERBOURG (COTENTIN) Peninsula from the west and to drop between 0100 and 0315 hours on the night of D–1 / D–Day on THREE Drop Zones . The 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment and its attachments were to land east of the MERDERET RIVER about 1000 yards northwest of STE-MERE-EGLISE (3397) . The 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment was to land west of the MERDERET RIVER, about 1000 yards north of AMFREVILLE (3098) . The 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment and Force “A” Headquarters were to land west of the MERDERET RIVER, about 1000 yards north of PICAUVILLE (2995)

52 gliders of Force “B” were to approach the CHERBOURG Peninsula from the west prior to H-Hour and land on the 505th Prcht Inf Regt DZ . The remainder of Force “B” was to approach the Peninsula from the east and was to land late on D-Day and early on D + 1 on LZs astride the STE-MERE-EGLISE – BLOSVILLE Road (3694) . In a last-minute change of plans, General M.B. RIDGWAY parachuted with Force “A”

Aerial resupply missions were scheduled automatically for the morning of D + 1, and on call thereafter if needed . The automatic mission was the only parachute mission ultimately flown but a small amount of equipment and supplies were received later by glider

82d A/B Div staff prior to Normandy – front row, L > R, BG James M. GAVIN (Asst CG), MG Matthew B. RIDGWAY (CG), Col Ralph P. EATON (CoS) – back row, L > R, Capt Arthur G. KROOS Jr (Aide-de-Camp), Lt Col Robert H. WIENECKE (G-3), Lt Col Frederick M. SCHELLHAMMER (G-1), Lt Col Bennie A. ZINN (G-4), Lt Col Jack WHITFIELD (G-2) – May 1944



All airborne elements of the Division had closed and were sealed in special camps at the take-off fields by 24 hours before the scheduled kick-off time . Parachute elements were located at 7 airfields in the GRANTHAM – COTTESMORE – LANGAR area of the British Midlands, and glider elements were at 7 other airfields in the ALDERMASTON – RAMSBURY – MERRYFIELD area

All men were briefed thoroughly on their missions, a recheck was made of all equipment and personnel, and planes and gliders were loaded with equipment . The Allied D-Day operation was postponed 24 hours because of weather conditions, and the first planes of Force “A” took off at 052315 June 1944 The main flight was preceded by the 3 Regimental Pathfinder Teams which dropped one half hour prior to the first group . The Pathfinders sustained many casualties and had difficulty in using lights, but they accomplished their mission and set beacons to guide the incoming planes to the three designated DZs

The flight over the English Channel was in good formation and without incidents, but between the west coast and the Drop Zone, a heavy fog bank tended to break up the planes formation . Flak and some enemy night fighters activity caused some of the Troop Carrier planes to take evasive action, and by the time the DZs were reached, many planes were scattered, and were flying at excessive speeds and at altitudes higher than those ideal for jumping

The 505th Prcht Inf Regt landed generally in the vicinity of its DZ . The 507th Prcht Inf Regt was scattered, one element dropping in the vicinity of MONTEBOURG, another south of CARENTAN, and the remainder astride the MERDERET RIVER east of the DZ . The 508th Prcht Inf Regt was likewise scattered widely, the bulk of its parachutists dropping east of the Drop Zone and some personnel landing as far away as 8 miles south of CHERBOURG

The 52 gliders containing batteries of the 80th Abn AA Bn and detachments, plus forward parties of Artillery, Signal and Division Headquarters followed the main body of paratroops and began landing at 0404 hours . The gliders also encountered fog and Flak . They too were scattered, and many of them were damaged upon crashing into the small fields and high hedgerows

Enemy reaction to the landing of the 82d Airborne Division in the NORMANDY area was prompt and severe, but from the time the first member landed, until days later, when the Division was finally relieved, “ every mission was accomplished and no ground gained was ever relinquished “


SSI of the "All American" division

Major General Matthew B. RIDGWAY (CG) conferring with
“All American” staff
– at left is Brigadier General James M. GAVIN (Asst Div Cdr)
wearing Randall knife …

D – DAY, 6 JUNE 1944 The FIRST element of the main body of the Division landed at 0151 hours, having been preceded 30 minutes by the Pathfinder Teams . By 0312 hours ALL paratroopers had landed, and at 0404 hours the first gliders in the initial glider serial crashlanded . Both parachutists and gliders were scattered

Small groups and some individual units attacked to secure the Division zone . Groups of men and individuals who had been scattered in the landing rejoined their units throughout the day, or the day after, and by nightfall approximately 30 % of the Division’s forces were under control

At 2100 hours 100 gliders landed with Artillery, Engineers, and Special Troops . Seaborne elements set sail at 0645 hours from BRISTOL, except for a Task Force consisting of C Co, 746th Tk Bn, 1st Pltn, B Tp, 4th Cav Sqdn, and elements of F Co, 3d Bn, 325th Gli Inf Regt (originally, 2d Bn, 401st Gli Inf Regt) . This TF landed on Utah Red Beach at 1400 hours and proceeded inland with the mission of contacting the Division near STE-MERE-EGLISE

At the close of the day (6 Jun 44), the Division was in the midst of severe fighting . It had captured STE-MERE-EGLISE and held a general line along the MERDERET RIVER from LA FIERE (319963) south to include the eastern end of the causeway over the MERDERET RIVER at 321930

HEADQUARTERS & HEADQUARTERS COMPANY, 82d AIRBORNE DIVISION (Capt George J. CLAUSSEN)
Parachute elements, part of Force “A”, dropped at 0214 hours near the west bank of the MERDERET RIVER, and glider elements, leading echelon of Force “B”, landed at 0204 hours . The Force “A” Command Post was set up initially at 305965, west of the MERDERET RIVER, but at 0730 hours the group waded across the river to the east bank and assembled at LA FIERE (319963) . A new Force “A” CP was established at a railroad crossing at 326944

The Division Commander (MG Matthew B. RIDGWAY), who jumped with the 505th Prcht Inf Regt, established his Command Post in a hedgerow west of STE-MERE-EGLISE at 332965 . Elements of Headquarters and of the Defense Platoon moved south to secure the bridge west of CHEF-DU-PONT (321930) where it encountered severe enemy fire . This group returned to the CP at 1700 hours , but part of the Defense Platoon moved up to a new Force “A” CP at a railroad pass at 323960

The Division Headquarters intitial glider serial, which landed in the dark at approximately 0415 hours, was scattered, and the G-2 (Lt Col Jack WHITFIELD) and G-3 (Lt Col Robert H. WIENECKE) did not reach the CP until late afternoon . The Chief of Staff (Col Ralph P. EATON) was injured in a glider crush and later evacuated . The G-1 (Lt Col Frederick M. SCHELLHAMMER) did not reach the Command Post for two days (the G-4, Lt Col Bennie A. ZINN was wounded on D + 1, and replaced by Lt Col Frank W. MOORMAN)

505th PARACHUTE INFANTRY REGIMENT (Col William E. EKMAN)
The first element, the 2d Battalion, dropped at 0151 hours and the entire Regiment landed by 0202 hours . Most of the troops landed on or near the DZ, but a few were widely dispersed over the countryside . Assembly was rapid, and the different Battalions moved off toward their objectives . The 3d Battalion entered STE-MERE-EGLISE at 0400 hours, and the town was securely held and outposted within an hour . The American Flag was raised over STE-MERE-EGLISE, the FIRST French town to be liberated by the Allies . After assembling, the 2d Battalion started to move out to take NEUVILLE-AU-PLAIN, but orders were received from the Regiment to stand by . At 0600 hours the 2d Battalion moved into position north of STE-MERE-EGLISE, and assisted the 3d Battalion in holding the town . The 1st Battalion moved toward its objective, the bridge over the MERDERET RIVER (314956) at LA FIERE at 0630 hours and by 0830 held the eastern end of this bridge against heavy enemy fire from the western approaches

507th PARACHUTE INFANTRY REGIMENT (Col George V. MILLET + Lt Col Arthur A. MALONEY + Col Edson B. RAFF)
The first element, the 1st Battalion, jumped at 0232 hours, and by 0312 the entire Regiment was on the ground generally east of the MERDERET RIVER and was fairly dispersed . Small groups assembled to form independent Task Forces until such time as the Regiment could assemble completely . One such TF on the west bank of the MERDERET RIVER attacked AMFREVILLE but was forced by overwhelming superiority in enemy strength to FLAUX (303955) . A Patrol was sent to the western end of LA FIERE BRIDGE and contact was made with elements of the 505th Prcht Inf Regt on the eastern end at 1430 hours . The enemy recaptured FLAUX and drove this Patrol from the western end of the LA FIERE BRIDGE . Another Force of the Regiment with Force “A” Headquarters and at 1130 attacked to secure the CHEF-DU-PONT BRIDGE (321930), meeting extremely severe resistance . The eastern end of the bridge was finally secured by nightfall . Leaving one Company to hold the bridge, the remainder of this second Force moved to an Assembly Area at 1715 hours in the vicinity of the railroad overpass at 323960 . Still another group, led by the Regimental Commander, landed on or near the scheduled DZ but had no contact with other elements of the Division during the day (Col George V. MILLET was captured on D + 2, and replaced by Lt Col Arthur A. MALONEY, while Col Edson B. RAFF took over command from June 15 onwards)

508th PARACHUTE INFANTRY REGIMENT (Col Roy E. LINDQUIST)
The 3d Battalion jumped at 0208 hours and the entire Regiment was on the ground by 0220 hours . Four separate groups were assembled . One group was in the vicinity of LA FIERE, fought along the railway and attacked the LA FIERE BRIDGE . This group was later relieved by the 1st Bn, 505th Prcht Inf Regt and moved to an Assembly Area in the vicinity of the railroad overpass (323960) to organize a defensive position . Two other groups joined forces west of the MERDERET RIVER in the vicinity of PICAUVILLE after taking part in heavy fighting around GUETTEVILLE (300948) and north of PICAUVILLE . An officer of this group shot and killed the CG of the German 91st Air Landing Division . The combined group then seized the high ground west of the MERDERET RIVER south of GUETTEVILLE at 310940 during the night of June 6 – 7 . A fourth group dropped in the vicinity of STE-MERE-EGLISE, fought with the 507th Prcht Inf Regt to take the CHEF-DU-PONT BRIDGE (321930) and later organized a defensive position covering this Bridge

325th GLIDER INFANTRY REGIMENT (Col Harry L. LEWIS)
F Company, 3d Battalion, supporting C Co, 746th Tk Bn, landed on Utah Beach at 1400 , dewaterproofed its vehicles and moved inland at 1600 hours to make contact with the Division . Heavy artillery, mortar and small arms fire held up this Task Force at crossroads 363933 . Two tanks were knocked out . The remainder of the Regiment prepared to take off from airfields in England

82d AIRBORNE DIVISION ARTILLERY (Col Francis A. MARCH)
Parachute elements jumped at 0210 hours, joined a group from the 508th Prcht Inf Regt and assisted in the attack on the LA FIERE BRIDGE . At 1330 hours this element joined the glider troops at the Division CP at 332965 . Glider elements landed at 0500 hours and moved directly to the Division Command Post . At 2305 hours Hq & Hq Btry, 82d Div Arty, the 319th Gli FA Bn and the 320th Gli FA Bn glided into NORMANDY and encountered severe enemy small arms and mortar fire . Reorganization commenced immediately but was handicapped by intense enemy fire . The section of the 456th Prcht FA Bn (atchd to 505th Prcht Inf Regt) jumped with the 3d Battalion, but was able to assemble only 1 of the two 75mm Pack Howitzers which had been dropped

80th AIRBORNE ANTIAIRCRAFT BATTALION (AT) (Lt Col Raymond E. SINGLETON)
A and B Batteries landed by glider at 0405 hours . Six 57mm AT guns had been recovered and were in position by 1730 hours . C Battery landed in the area at 2100 hours and began assembly and reorganization . The remainder of the Battalion sailed from BRISTOL, ENGLAND, at 0645 hours

307th AIRBORNE ENGINEER BATTALION (Lt Col Robert S. PALMER + Maj Edwin A. BEDELL)
B Company (less 1 Platoon attached to the 505th Prcht Inf Regt) jumped with the 508th Prcht Inf Regt at 0210 hours . Some Engineer personnel took up defensive positions at LA FIERE in support of one group of the 508th Prcht Inf Regt, while other personnel joined the 508th Prcht Inf Regt group west of the MERDERET RIVER . One ‘stick’, which included the Battalion Commander, was dropped over ST-SAUVEUR-LE-VICOMTE, and only a few men escaped . Part of Headquarters and A Company landed by glider at 2300 hours and started to assemble under heavy enemy artillery and small arms fire . The remainder of the Battalion prepared to take off from airfields in ENGLAND (Lt Col Robert S. PALMER was captured on D-Day, and replaced by Maj Edwin A. BEDELL as from June 8)

307th AIRBORNE MEDICAL COMPANY (Maj William H. HOUSTON + Maj Jerry J. BELDEN)
Elements of the Company landed by glider about 2100 hours and immediately began assembly, recovering by use of life rafts much equipment from gliders that had landed in shallow waters near the banks of the MERDERET RIVER . A Clearing Station was set up at a crossroad north of BLOSVILLE (Maj William H. HOUSTON was KIA on D-Day, and replaced by Maj Jerry J. BELDEN)

82d AIRBORNE SIGNAL COMPANY (1st Lt Robert B. NERF)
Parachute and glider elements of the Company which landed prior to H-Hour, were scattered and assembled with difficulty . Much equipment was lost . Only 1 of the three SCR193 Radios landed during D-Day was operative, and it was not until the night of June 6 – 7 that radio contact was established with the 4th Inf Div and with the 82d Airborne Division base in ENGLAND

Note :
Other senior officers were; 82d Abn Rcn Plat (1st Lt Joseph V. DEMASI), Provost Marshal & 82d Abn MP Plat (Maj Frederick G. McCOLLUM), 82d Abn Prcht Maint Co (Capt James E. GRIFFIN), 407th Abn QM Co (Capt Samuel H. MAYS), 782d Abn Ord Maint Co (Capt Jeff DAVIS Jr), 319th Gli FA Bn (Lt Col James C. TODD), 320th Gli FA Bn (Lt Col Paul E. WRIGHT), 456th Prcht FA Bn (Lt Col Wagner J. d’ALESSIO), 376th Prcht FA Bn (Lt Col Wilbur M. GRIFFITH), Inspector General (Lt Col Charles M. BARRETT), Signal Officer (Lt Col Frank W. MOORMAN, replaced by Capt Robert E. FURMAN as from June 7), Adjutant General (Lt Col Raymond M. BRITTON), Judge Advocate (Lt Col Casimir D. MOSS), Surgeon General (Lt Col Wolcott L. ETIENNE, WIA June 6, replaced by Maj William C. LINDSTROM), Finance Officer (Lt Col William E. JOHNSON), Chaplain (Lt Col George L. RIDDLE), Ordnance Officer (Lt Col Joshua A. FINKLE, WIA June 7), Quartermaster Officer (Lt Col John M. MOHRMAN), HQ Commandant (Maj Don C. FAITH Jr), Special Service Officer (Capt Rudrick R. OTTO), Military Government Officer (Capt Peter SHOUVALOFF)

TOP SECRET BIGOT NEPTUNE

Registry No.50539
Sheet 1 of 1 Sheets
Copy No._______

ANNEX 7 b
      to

SECRET
By Auth: CG 82d Div
Initials:_______
Date: 24 May 1944

F.    O.    1.

HEADQUARTERS 505TH PARACHUTE INFANTRY
APO 469, U.S. ARMY,
24 MAY, 1944.



TELEPHONE DIRECTORY

101st A/B Division

82d A/B Division

505th Prcht. Inf.

504th Prcht. Inf.

325th Gli. Inf.

Hqrs. Div. Arty.

319th Gli. FA BN.

320th Gli. FA Bn.

376th Prcht. FA Bn.

456th Prcht. FA Bn.

KANGAROO

CHAMPION

CHALLENGE

CIDER

CHESTNUT

CHANNEL

CHOPSTICK

CHARCOAL

CIRCLE

CHECKER


80th AA Bn.

82d A/B Signal Co.

307th A/B Eng. Bn.

307th Med. Co.

407th A/B QM Co.

782d Ord. Co.

2d A/B Brigade

507th Prcht. Inf.

508th Prcht. Inf.

CLASSIC

CHAMPAGNE

CLOVER

CHEERFUL

CLOCKER

CHINA

HADDOCK

HARDWARE

HARNESS




OFFICIAL:

EKMAN
Comdg



BOYD
Comm. O.

Distribution:
Same as F. O. 1.

TOP SECRET BIGOT NEPTUNE

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TESTIMONY (Sainte-Mère-Eglise – D-DAY – June 1944)



Cretteville-Baupte Sector, Normandy - "All American" troopers,
most probably pertaining to the 507th PIR,
meet with recently disembarked 90th Inf Div personnel,
preparing to relieve the parachutists, some time around 20 Jun 44 ...

"...D-DAY as I remember it..." !

I Company (CO > Captain Harold H. SWINGLER, later KIA on D-Day) paratroopers got the command to “GO” and before they knew it they were in the air with open chutes ! It wasn’t a long descent, and I could see enemy tracers coming up at a low angle toward us, and hear the gunfire too . I then hit the ground with a severe jolt in a little field on the outskirts of Ste-Mère-Eglise, the rest of our jump stick had just missed the downtown center to land not far from the cemetery … I was trying to reassemble my M-1 rifle and get out as fast as I could out of my chute, when I saw someone running toward me, I yelled the password, ready to fire, but it luckily turned out to be a member of I Co / 505th PIR (Pvt Everett W. Gilliland, KIA in Holland, Sep 18, 1944) . It was hard to pinpoint the gunfire, which seemed all around, but the most awesome sight were the C-47s continuously flying overhead at a very low altitude after dropping their loads . Only 3 or 4 of us got together, but we managed to assemble . Sgt J. Robinson took charge, and we meanwhile kept crisscrossing and going away from town to pick up more of our guys and equipment bundles . Sgt. Robinson disappeared somewhere, but by then, we had pretty much of the Company together … (Mission “BOSTON”, 3d Bn / 505th Prcht Inf Regt + 2 Secs 456th Prcht Fld Arty, departed Cottesmore, England, at 0157, bound for DZ “O”).

Pvt W.H. Tucker, during training at Cp. Toccoa, Georgia, Sep 42 - Tucker joined the Army 15 Aug 42, at 18 and volunteered for Parachute Infantry . After training, he was assigned to F Co / 506th Prcht Inf Regt and later transferred to French Morocco in April/May 42, as a member of unassigned parachute troops to 5th US Army Headquarters - he finally ended up being attached to the 82d Abn Div, after its Sicily combat jump, and joined I Co / 505th Prcht Inf Regt for the rest of WWII ...
Click image to enlarge  

At about 0315 hours, June 6, 1944, it seemed pitch black – I had never seen anything like the huge mounds of hedgerows before; they were mounds of earth with thickets runnning from bottom to top in a ‘jungle’ of bushes, thorns and even trees, they were bigger and meaner than those we had known in England, and they would cause much trouble, blocking direct passage from any one point to another, even making passage for tanks difficult !


82d Abn Div Maneuvers, England 16 May 44 - inspection by
Major General Joseph L. Collins, CG VII Corps (third from right) accompanied by
Major General Matthew B. Ridgway, CG 82d Airborne Division (first from right)

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An attack formation was started toward the town (which was not too far ahead) along one of the endless tiny dirt paths between the hedgerows . We kept getting mixed up and frequently had to stop, at one time, I opened a K Ration and even dozed off . This bumbling around went on for about an hour, and during this time, there was constant firing all around us . A German machine gun opened up close on our left, and Larry (Leonard) and I felt very ambitious starting to go after it during a short break – just going thru the hedgerow, a stream of tracer bullets cut the tree branches right above our heads and I can tell you, we changed our minds rather quickly ! We could tell the gunner had his sights on us, but we only knew his direction, not his location . It was begining to be light and we were on some kind of sunken narrow road almost entirely covered over with green foliage . It seemed kind of eerie . By now, we had become quite a large group, with Lt. Walter B. Kroener now in command . Stopping a local farmer up front, I was called up to ask the Frenchman (I spoke High School French) where the center of the City was ? he pointed the way and off we went . Along the way, I remember William “Red the Medic” Barrow stopping a few times to stick a rifle in the ground beside a body, so that it would be picked up by the Graves Registration people later . Other groups from I Company / 3d Battalion / 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (COs > Captain Harold H. SWINGLER / Major Edward C. “Cannonball” KRAUSE / Colonel William E. EKMAN) joined in as we all moved toward Ste-Mère-Eglise (our objective now) . We entered Ste-Mère-Eglise around 0400 hours, and could recognize the church and some houses, but there didn’t seem to be much firing around now . Worried-looking French inhabitants ran past trying to get out of the way, they were the people who had just been liberated but didn’t look all that joyful at the time, rather worried and frightened . Whatever danger they felt, I was happy to see the people and to know we were the first Allied troops to liberate Sainte -Mère-Eglise, so I shouted “Vive la France” but this did not have much effect …


Major Edward C. Krause, CO 3d Bn / 505th PIR with
"Beaver" Thompson (War Correspondent for the Chicago Tribune),
Camp Quorn, Leicestershire, Great Britain, 25 May 44

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Colonel Bill E. EKMAN, CO 505th PIR (second from left),
with group moving west - note German PWs carrying
SCR-300-A Radio, and pushing handcart ...

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We passed again near where I landed, and finally got close to the German truck park and started the attack, firing our .30 caliber machine gun (I was a Pfc, and assistant (light) machine gunner) . Larry Leonard and myself ran into the park to set up our weapon under a large tree, just inside a 5-foot wall near the church . It was suddenly very quiet and I felt very strange . Something seemed to be moving very close to me, so I swung the gun around but didn’t see anything, until I looked up straight above me – there was a dead American parachutist hanging from a tree right over my head (Pfc R.K. Buchter / F Co / 506th PIR), his body was swaying back and forth, and I noticed he had very big hands, his helmet covered most of his face … I felt shattered . The body of another jumper was about 10 yards away in the tall grass, he had on his jump suit and parachute harness and I guess he cut himself loose from his chute and equipment after having been caught in a tree, he was probably shot down while trying to get away; what struck me was that his boots were missing ! I then had a good look at the trees bordering the park and there were more bodies of 6 or 8 other paratroopers shot by the Germans as they hung there, there were also many empty parachute harnesses . We ran from the park and across the square in front of the church, and as I ran by a door of the church, I almost stopped when coming across an empty chute on the ground . I saw the body of a German soldier . It was the first dead German I had seen in daylight in France – I will always remember his face, his skin was a little blue, and blood ran from the corner of his mouth . His uniform looked immaculate . His Mauser rifle lay nearby with fixed bayonet . I was thinking that the German would have survived if he had shot the trooper instead of trying to nail him with his bayonet – the guy of the empty chute was probably a little too fast for the German with the clean uniform, I decided . While running I saw other parachutes hanging from chimneys or roofs, all were empty. We reached the other side of town and guessed, that by that time, Major Ed C. Krause (WIA during D-Day, and temporarily replaced by his XO William J. HAGAN, III) was close to sitting in the Mayor’s office because we had taken the town of Sainte-Mère-Eglise, although I began to wonder just where we were and how many Germans we still had around us ! It seemed however, that 3d Battalion had secured the town (Maj. Krause reported the town “secure” at 0600, and had raised an American flag which had first flown over Naples) and was pretty much intact – we had G and H Companies and some of the 3d Battalion Headquarters troops with us, 3d Battalion and the rest of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment had completed its objectives with the most men assembled of any of the Airborne units .


Rigging ! 82d Abn troopers getting ready
for their next combat jump i.e. Normandy,
5 Jun 44

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At the other side of town, I Co went into Battalion reserve with instructions to support G and H Companies which were assigned to the line . We gathered together in a small, enclosed apple orchard just a little bit outside of town, on the southwest side, away from from Utah Beach, where American troops would be landing by sea . We stayed there for some time before getting new orders . It got pretty hot, and I realized how tired I just was . I didn’t feel like doing much talking …


"All American" troopers,
 before enplaning for Normandy,
Cottesmore Airfield, Great Britain, 5 Jun 44

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After about 30 min, we got orders to move out and attack and seize the high ground held by the enemy south of Ste-Mère-Eglise, because Battalion had been under enemy mortar fire from that direction . Just before we moved out, someone starting firing at us, we were all lying around, pinned down, on the ground, and were certainly lucky none of us got killed . An ambitious German had crept along the hedgerow and fired on us from a good concealed position with an automatic weapon . Sgt C. Prager had gone downtown to a well to get some fresh water, as he came back, he saw the German soldier firing at us; Prager (S/Sgt Clarence Prager, KIA in Holland Sep 18, 1944) fired a rifle grenade and hit the enemy soldier in the back, blowing him up . We learned from the incident to take our training seriously about not leaving ourselves vulnerable, as the German had done . We got started from the orchard, and never in all our maneuvers of the past did we chase around a circle so much – it was a horrible experience of about 2 hours’ walking up and down hedgerows, tearing thru bushes and thickets, and probably not even going more than a mile beyond the outskirts of town . We eventually reached the main road leading south with our 2d Platoon on the left, and other Platoons on the right . Captain Harold H. Swingler led us, Larry carried the MG tripod, and I carried the weapon and some ammo . Most roads had ditches along both sides where people could take cover from bombing and strafing, and we were foolishly advancing single file in one of them carrying full packs and equipment . Larry and I got a hell of a time getting our machine gun assembled . The firing grew heavier to our right, soon we heard Synold’s (Pfc Frederick G. Synold, KIA, Jun 18, 1944) MG banging away, some 75 yards ahead to the right, but no one seemed to move up ahead on our side … we were pinned down in this ditch, still in single file, and Ritchie came back with a bullet hole in his left arm, as we didn’t know what was happening ahead, it was awful lying there in the ditch, waiting … Germans were in a ditch on the other side of the road only about 10 yards away to our right, they threw hand grenades at us, we replied with fire, but then other Germans started firing at us from the fields at our left . There were about 9 of us still in the ditch, including First Lieutenant William S. Gaillard, Jr. (later KIA Jun 17,1944) . Jack Leonard was in front of me . He kept sticking his head up and laughing, as he always did when things were tough, it was a way to keep morale going, he also kept arguing with Lt. W. Gaillard to take off and move somewhere else, but we all wanted to stay and see what had happened to Capt. Swingler who was missing after the firing up front (he was later found dead in a ditch by some 4th Infantry Division infantry) . Since enemy firing didn’t let up, there was no choice but to move backwards in the ditch, in order to try and find some place to get across the road . At one point there was a hump to get over, as I crawled over it I fell head first into a big deep hole dug by the French, the machinegun receiver jammed into my stomach, and I couldn’t pull it out without leaving myself exposed to enemy fire, my legs were still outside as poor Dyles got to the top of the hump . He yelled at me to keep going, all I could do was haul myself out, leaving the machine gun where it was so that Dyles could get under cover, too . I really didn’t have much choice, I had bullet holes thru my pack, all our Musette bags were full – but everything in them had been shot to shreds, mine was all loose cigarette tobacco ! At the edge of town, we all made a dash across the road and into a little sunken orchard near a farm . We then stopped to breathe easier, but a few minutes later, someone opened up from less than 50 yards with a submachine gun . I took a dive over some bushes and landed in a pig slop, the black slime that pigs wallow in – covered in pig slop, I was a real mess, with one trouser leg ripped off in the jump, and my Musette in shreds . We somehow reached our Company in town . By that time things were humming, there was a firefight all around, but tough, proud German PWs were being brought in too . I later found out, that we, a Company of approximately 85 men had actually been attacking a German Battalion of several hundred men that D-Day afternoon – it had infiltrated thru town that night to join other German forces north and west of Ste-Mère-Eglise .


group of Pathfinders (CO 1st Lt. Robert B. Bales)
belonging to 3d Bn / 505th Prcht Inf Regt, some hours
before enplaning ... 5 Jun 44

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82d Abn Div troopers, await the signal to board
the Troop Carrier C-47 planes,
that will take them over the Cotentin Peninsula,
Cottesmore or Spanhoe Airfields,
Great Britain - 5 Jun 44

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I Company was then ordered back into reserve at a place on a narrow street in the middle of town, on rue de l’Ecole (School street) with G and H Companies on a defensive line somewhere around us . As we felt surrounded by the enemy, Larry and I started looking for a place to dig in . I remember that some members of our Squad had found some excellent deep holes in the corner of the yard . In looking around, we crossed paths with Sgt Howard P. Melvin who by that time – as usual – had taken actual charge of our Company . First Sgt Melvin was pretty sore at us for losing the machine gun in the road ditch; he told Larry and me to go back that night after dark and find it, but we all knew no one would ever be able to get out of town that same night . We dug shallow trenches in the backyard, at the front of our position was a small, wooden two-story house . Off to our right, about 20 yards was an opening to the driveway leading to the street . One guy digging there was from Hq Co, 506th Prcht Inf Regt . As we dug in, Sgt Melvin yelled, we had better dig in deep . It began to darken; it was just about dusk when shelling started . G Co was hit badly at first . A few enemy 75mm guns were near G or H Company, and 2 of them were knocked out quickly . Full darkness came at about 2330, and it was a really dark night . Without doubt, the night of June 6 in Normandy was a night of hell ! We lay there in our holes in total darkness and heard firing behind us . There was firing maybe 25 yards away in the street . A shack stood about 15 yards to my left, and I thought that one of our guys was behind it . Instead, someone was crawling alongside it; it was a German, and he came out in front and kept crawling toward me . I raised my M1A1 carbine (which I had taken from a dead 507th PIR Officer) and pulled the trigger . The bolt went halfway forward and stopped, I had done a lot of crawling to avoid enemy fire, and plenty of dirt completely clogged the carbine’s spring . While I had an instant of terror, frantically working the bolt, I guess the German heard, and took off . Later, I slept for 5 or 10 minutes, while Larry was supposed to be watching … when I woke up, I saw a man like him dragging something from the driveway . He headed for the hole where the 506th man was dug in . I raised my carbine, aimed it, and yelled our password ‘FLASH’ three times – when he didn’t answer ‘THUNDER’, i.e. the countersign, I fired, and he made a leap for that 506th trooper’s foxhole - I found out pretty quickly that I had fired at the 506th man and just about tipped his nose with my .30 caliber bullet . He had been dragging a wooden board or a log to help cover his position and froze when I yelled the password – he not only forgot to reply but couldn’t even get a word out ! He was lucky I hadn’t been able to see enough to aim better …


... near N13 in Ste-Mère-Eglise,
82d Abn Div troopers check buildings for hiding Germans,
7 Jun 44 - patrols on foot, on horseback,
with horsedrawn carts, and with jeeps ...

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My partner Larry and I both began to realize that we were too close to the houses and the street to have any field of fire . There were lots of American and enemy guns going off all over the place – even around our little yard . At about 0300, early morning of June 7 Larry and I drew back about 20 yards, we were now near to where the Company CP was and started digging in again, so we could now shoot toward the street. Our front position facing the street had become a real outpost ! It just wasn’t safe to fire unless someone was right on top of us, for fear of hitting our own guys … Dawn of June 7 would bring more enemy shelling, and during the night, G and H Companies had been engaged in a terrific machine gun and rifle battle with Germans to our rear and on our left, so most of the enemy shells landed in our area .We were spread out, and we had to be, because the shelling was continuous . No question, German artillery spotters had us in close sight, and that yard of ours became a nightmare, with airbursts going off right over us . We started to lose men early in the day, I don’t know who got killed, I was still digging deeper, even with my bare hands …When things eased up, we’d pop out of our holes to look around, then enemy artillery would start again . Once, several of us volunteered to pull a 57mm antitank gun out of a crashed glider approximately 150 yards away and to the left of our position . Everyone in the glider was dead . We were however spotted and a German 88mm gun opened fire, everytime we tried to jump out of the big ditch near the wrecked glider, the 88 would fire . After an hour or so trying, we gave up .


Cotentin Peninsula -
map showing evolution
of frontlines,
6 Jun > 18 Jun 44

Click image to enlarge

We all wondered what had happened to the 4th Infantry Division at Utah Beach, because we thought they were supposed to reach us within twelve hours after the jump (first contacts 071000 June) ! We were surrounded on all sides and we heard there was no way of contacting the beach . During brief lulls in the fighting, I moved around a little . The narrow street nearby us was an unholy mess with a couple of gliders smashed to pieces and many of the houses blasted . It was risky to move around because even though we were the reserve Company right in town, there were enemy snipers, and shots rang out constantly . As I explored, I found a bottle at our house . I thought it was cognac, so I took it back with me and stuck it in my jumpsuit pocket . Ten minutes later, a shell landed a foot or so away from the edge of my foxhole . There was a terrific concussion, and I felt fluid running down between my legs . I thought I had been hit badly, but instead, the bottle had been broken by the shock waves, it wasn’t cognac at all, it was some kind of vinegar (?) which burned me awfully . It didn’t help that one my trouser legs had already been ripped off during my jump, I was now completely exposed, practically from the waist down . At the time, I thought I had been badly shot up …

We grew so tired, that whenever we stopped, we went to sleep – truly exhausted, without having had anything to eat since we jumped, except for a few K Rations, some crackers and bits of a D-bar – having been hit once more, I was now in an awful dilapidated state – I had only one trouser leg, the front of my trousers was wide open, my underwear was torn, my jump jacket was ripped across the front where the last bullet had gone thru, and my wrists, legs and ankles were bleeding from hedgerow cuts … when new attacks were ordered, our 2d Platoon didn’t give a damn anymore, bayonets were fixed, and we started moving again … when we got lucky, temporarily attached American tanks (C Company / 746th Tank Battalion) would help clear many Germans from their positions … my nerves were pretty well shot as well as my physical condition … things finally got fairly quiet even though there were still large German forces in front of us … after being relieved, we were ordered to move back to Regimental Headquarters … we later boarded trucks and headed toward the beach, all the way down, we saw crashed gliders, bloated cows, dead Germans, and all sorts of debris … my own thoughts around June 12 or 13 were mostly of survival, what I could eat, how I could live thru that particular night, and perhaps sleep … then, suddenly new orders were issued, and we would be going on other missions again, moving out on foot, to Neuville-au-Plain, Etienville, Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte, fighting along with other American units, Bois-de-Limors, Hill 131, Hill 95, La-Haye-du-Puits, joining with more US troops and again fighting along mixed Airborne elements of 507th and 508th Parachute Infantry while 2d Battalion patrols had contacted elements of the 8th Infantry Regiment / 4th Infantry Division … Regimental patrols along the Merderet River were now in contact with the 357th Infantry Regiment / 90th Infantry Division … June 17 – 18, we finally cleared the Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte bridgehead of all enemy resistance and consolidated defensive positions, allowing passage of the 47th Infantry Regiment / 9th Infantry Division thru our lines to continue the advance to the west … between June 21 – 29, 3d Battalion suffered losses from heavy enemy mortar and artillery concentrations when occupying the Bois-de-Limors area … July 1 - 2, the 82d Airborne Division meanwhile maintained and strengthened defensive positions, drove out all attempts by the enemy to infiltrate patrols thru its sector, and maintained contact with the 79th Infantry Division on the right and the 90th Infantry Division on the left . 2d Battalion, 325th GIR moved into position between 2d and 3d Battalions of the 505th PIR sector wich was enlarged to include the eastern slope of Hill 95, and with 2d Battalion, 508th PIR, attached, cleared the area of infiltrating enemy patrols ! At 070800 July, the “All Americans” regrouped, placing 325th GIR and 508th PIR in reserve and making 505th PIR and 507th PIR responsible for the right and left portions respectively, of the Division’s frontline … on July 8, 1944, the 82d Abn Div reverted to VII Corps reserve and was relieved of all attachments; the 8th Infantry Division then passed thru the Division’s positions to continue the general attack to the south – The 82d Airborne Division assembled and on July 11 finally withdrew to First Army reserve .

… some aspects of the campaign seemed to become misty to me … England seemed so far away … but … that day would come; we finally loaded onto our “deuce-and-a-half” trucks and got on the roads to the beaches, driving thru a part of Normandy still licking its wounds, but there was always a little wine and a smile from the wonderful people as we passed thru French towns … on our way to the beaches, we passed the (temporary) graveyards at Ste-Mère-Eglise, I knew that 20 men from my outfit were there, and I couldn’t help feel close to them … when we reached the beach, we found it crowded with German PWs and all sorts of equipment . The Germans too, were waiting for boats, and it looked as though we had bagged some pretty good soldiers in Normandy, they were certainly better trained and tougher than the ones we would face later in Holland, Belgium and Germany . We boarded LSTs and found a place to sleep on our journey to England . A day later, we docked at Southampton, and we stepped on British soil again . A little band greeted us on the docks, everything was wonderful as of that moment . There was that feeling to me of ONLY the present, but not of the future …


temporary Aid Station run by the
307th Abn Med Co / 82d Abn Div

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505th PIR CP, somewhere in the neigborhood of Bois-de-Limors area, 26 Jun 44
Click image to enlarge

(I Company lost one plane, although some troopers on that plane were taken prisoners, others were found dead or were recorded as missing – after 30-odd days of severe fighting, we returned to England on board LSTs – there had been 144 men in I Co, only 15 would come back from my Platoon, and 44 from the entire Company)

… 33 days of action without relief, without replacements, every mission accomplished, no ground gained ever relinquished … combat efficiency excellent, short 60% infantry, 90% artillery … (Report Maj. General Matthew B. Ridgway, Commanding & Lt. Col. Walter F. Winton, Acting G-3) - during these 33 days of combat, the 82d Abn Div engaged five enemy Divisions and were credited with destroying the fighting force of the 91st and 265th German Infantry Divisions – 11,770 men of the “All Americans” had come to Normandy, by parachute, glider and landing craft; there were 5,429 men left to make the return trip to England …

(William H. TUCKER Jr, Sgt, I Co, 505th Prcht Inf Regt, 82d Abn Div, USA, 11087454, recollections)

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TESTIMONY (Sainte-Mère-Eglise - D-DAY - June 1944)


1:25,000 Field Map of Ste. Mere Eglise, Sheet No. 31/18 N.E., Second Edition (Apr. 44), GS, GS, 4347, Co B,
660th Engrs, U.S. Army, 10,000 / 5 / 44 / 14 M.R.S. / 431 / 180,
compiled from Air Photographs

"...FIRST campaign, FIRST combat jump !"

… my watch indicated 0115, it was my FIRST operation - being only 19, I was both thrilled and frightened, it was to be my FIRST campaign, my FIRST combat jump, and moreover it was dark … and when I jumped as part of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, on the early morning of June 6, 1944, I tried to think about nothing, yet I told myself that if ever I managed to get out of this operation, I would NEVER play dice or poker anymore ! We should have landed on ‘La Fière’ but instead landed in Sainte-Mère-Eglise . I saw a wall about 10 yards away, climbed over it, and the other side was the local cemetery, so I quickly got out again ! I later met 3 guys who’d been in the same plane as me . The fight in the town square only lasted a few minutes – and after having been rounded up by an unknown Lieutenant, we were regrouped and participated in mopping up the rest of the town … at the town’s southern exit, we were told to dig foxholes in view of a possible German counter-attack . I later fought at Fauville too, that’s where I saw my first ‘Asian’ soldier (German "Ost" Battalions) and drank some ‘Calvados’ . I only found my Company, A Company at La Fière, it was midday, June 8, 1944 . On June 16, I got shot in the left hand, by a German I thought was dead ... I killed him ! The same day I got wounded one more time by German mortar fire, and while recuperating at a Field Hospital at La Madeleine (Utah Beach) the place was bombed by German aircraft on June 21, and I got plastered with shrapnel over both my arms and face . Subsequently evacuated to England June 22, 1944 I arrived in Southampton the same day . I was dismissed September 13, right on time to take part in "Operation Market-Garden" September 17, 1944 … and also fought in the "Battle of the Bulge", arriving at Werbomont, Belgium, December 18, 1944 - at the time my main interest was survival, having some beers, and chasing young women …

(Howard MANOIAN, Pvt, A Co, 505th PIR, 82d Abn Div, USA, 31285089, recollections)


Howard MANOIAN,
picture taken in 1945
(After Discharge)



Picture taken in 2004
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TESTIMONY (St-Sauveur-le-Vicomte - D-DAY - June 1944)


… daily routine of Parachute Training at Ft. Benning, Georgia, summer 1940 …

"...glad to be relieved !"

… hardly anything was left of St-Sauveur-le-Vicomte when we entered town June 16, 1944, I was 22 years old at the time, and was in command of G Company, 505th PIR ; our orders were to capture the high ground occupied by the Germans . The enemy was dug in on the railroad embankment, and our job was to take it ! I Co was on our right, and we attempted to attack the enemy from their positions, since they weren’t under fire . Our Regiment was part of "Force A" including elements of the 505th and 508th PIR . We got across the embankment, captured it and moved back toward our kick-off point when the Germans hit the town with several tanks … we only had 3 bazookas (2.36" rocket launchers) and gave them hell ! We managed to score directs hits on one of the tanks and knocked the tread off another, the others withdrew … I remember that after the 505th PIR secured the St-Sauveur-le-Vicomte bridgehead June 17-18, we were damn glad to be relieved by the 90th Infantry Division . The Regiment left by truck for another sector, late in the evening of June 19.

(Jack R. ISAACS, 1st Lt, G Co, 505th PIR, 82d Abn Div, USA, O-1288058, recollections)


Jack R. ISAACS
picture taken in 1944

Jack R. ISAACS
picture taken in 1996

My first meeting with Capt Jack R. Isaacs dates back to 1994, when I met him in Ste-Mère-Eglise June 5, 1994 during the 50th Anniversary of D-Day, with a lot of other "All American" Veterans from the 505th Parachute Infantry . Having interviewed him about some of the actions that involved G Company during D-Day, we promised to meet again . I eventually ran into him again on June 06, 1996 and then discussed his participation in the "Battle of the Bulge" . He briefly mentioned some facts, reminiscing about his arrival in Werbomont (Belgium), the aggressive patrolling around Basse-Bodeux to locate infiltrating German forces, and his action in Grand-Halleux . Sadly there wasn't enough time to further elaborate on the 'Ardennes-Alsace' Campaign . We unfortunately would never meet again . Captain Isaacs made his 'final' jump on November 23, 2003 - Airborne ... all the way !

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TESTIMONY (Douve River - D-DAY - June 1944)


12-page Scrap Book with pictures of various stages of Parachute Training at Ft. Benning, Georgia, published in 1943

"...misdropped !"

… I volunteered for the Paratroops in 1941 after Pearl Harbor and received Basic Training at Cp Wolters, Texas . Then came Ft Benning, Georgia for Parachute Training, I think it was at the end of September 1942 . I then took a course in Signal and Radio Communications, and even completed Demolition School . I got assigned to Hq Co, 1st Bn, 508th Prcht Inf Regt and was promoted to Buck Sergeant in my Company .
My first combat jump was Normandy, D-Day 6 June 1944 – we had blackened our faces because it was a night operation, and carried an enormous combat load, including individual weapons, extra ammunition, explosives, and rations . I threw my gasmask away, and filled the rubber carrier with cigarettes and other goodies, just as others did ! I dropped into a river (Douve river), but got out of it, ruining part of my individual equipment . Others were less lucky and drowned, sometimes even in shallow waters … our CO, Capt. Gerard A. RUDDY was killed almost right after hitting the ground, and Lt. McElligot took over . We managed to regroup, after avoiding German patrols, taking cover in hedgerows or hiding in ditches, and met other stragglers, from different units, until we were about 55 strong, under the command of S/Sgt Ray Hummel . Over the next 5 days, we lost about 14 of our men and started getting short of ammo – but we fought on, We had no choice . When the 90th Infantry Division finally got to us, I think it was the afternoon of June 11, we finally got relieved . I was wounded on June 13, and was eventually evacuated to England, via Utah Beach, a few days later .
(Owen B. HILL, Sgt, Hq Co, 1st Bn, 508th PIR, 82d Abn Div, USA, 15103774, recollections)


Owen B.HILL
picture taken in 1942

picture taken in 1944

with fellow troopers, picture taken in 1944

I met Owen Hill, or rather O.B., as he was called, for the first time in 1994 in the Belgian Ardennes – it was December 18, right about time to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge ! Later on, we were to often meet in Normandy, from June 1996 thru June 2002, and I had the privilege to also discuss D-Day operations with him, during one of the numerous commemorative hikes in the Bulge (where he once more got wounded during WWII), organized by the C-47 Club, Belgian Chapter . O.B. was the thriving force behind the 508th PIR Veterans’ Association, and helped organize its very first reunion . He became the Association’s first President, and was named ‘Permanent Chairman’ ! O.B. made his ‘final’ jump on June 10, 2002 (incidently, I last spoke to him June 03, 2002) – Airborne ... all the way !


picture taken in 1995


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TESTIMONY
(European Theater of Operations – Picauville – Normandy – FRANCE – June 1944)



…508th PIR Medic comforting a German PW, offering him a cigarette …

"...I got the enemy Flag ! "

… flying over the DZ we could hear the rattle of incoming fire, our plane was hit several times ! Then enemy flak hits our left engine, and our aircraft shudders all over and starts losing height … our jumpmaster orders us to leave the plane immediately and jump as fast as we could (our C-47 would explode seconds later) . I hit the ground, and immediately started cutting away my parachute harness . Then I heard footsteps, lucky for me, the men turned out to be Americans ! Having problems getting oriented, I decided to knock at a farm’s door – I introduced myself and said in my best school French – “I am an American parachutist, can you tell me where we are ?, long live America, long live France !” . The farmer, spontaneously let us in, and offered some bread and wine, before trying to explain where we just landed . At 0230 in the morning we sat in the kitchen, enjoying a glass of red wine, and toasting the Liberation ! Later, I ran into more men belonging to the 508th Parachute Infantry, and while advancing on the road to Picauville, I discovered a bullet-riddled German staff car with some dead bodies . This was German Lt. General W. Falley (CG 91st Air Landing Division) and his aide . Both had been killed in an ambush, set up by Lt. Malcolm BRANNEN (CO > Hq Co, 3d Bn, 508th PIR) . Rummaging through the car, I found a large German flag , which I put away, I later donated it to the St-Mère-Eglise Airborne Museum (in 1969) . I was eventually captured, but managed to escape from the German hospital in Rennes . I also jumped over Holland (17 Sep 44) and fought in the Bulge (Dec 44-Jan 45) …
(Jack W. SCHLEGEL, Pvt, Hq Co, 3d Bn, 508th PIR, 82d Abn Div, USA, 12190855, recollections)


Jack W. SCHLEGEL,
picture taken in 1943

German flag donated to the Ste-Mère-Eglise Airborne Museum, picture taken in 1969


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TESTIMONY
(European Theater of Operations – Ste-Mère-Eglise – Normandy – FRANCE – June 1944)



… an innocent child, another victim of war, is carefully removed by one the town liberators with great sadness and emotion

"...dead men, and bodies..."

… I was the last man of the stick to exit the plane . My landing was all right, and as soon as I got out of my parachute harness, I started moving west looking for the others pertaining to my team . We had been scattered over different small fields, and the hedgerows growing around them, didn’t make life easy – you had to try and find an opening to leave the place, and repeat the process in every field, again and again .
We started moving toward Ste-Mère-Eglise, my unit, G Company was leading, followed by men from H and I Companies . We were still short of several men, some went missing, having been widely scattered over the area, while others had joined groups of stragglers belonging to other Regiments … it was dark all around, and we moved in a single file, not knowing where we were exactly, just assuming we were heading in the right direction . I was leading a small group of G Co troopers, trying to pick up any stragglers from Battalion; the moving was slow and visibility poor, when we started approaching a village ?, a town ? I halted the column and moved ahead to inspect the neighborhood and discovered a dead parachutist hanging from a tree . There were a couple of bodies laying close by too . We would later see a number of dead men who had landed in trees and on overhead wires, and who had been killed by the enemy, they never had a chance to get out of their chutes !
(Wheatly, ‘Chris’ CHRISTENSEN, Cpl, G Co, 505th PIR, 82d Abn Div, USA, 33154656, recollections)


picture taken in 1944 (Normandy)


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TESTIMONY
(European Theater of Operations – La Fière – Normandy – FRANCE – June 1944)



Lt Gen Omar N. BRADLEY presents awards and congratulates 82d Abn personnel for individual acts of heroism, Pvt Marcus HEIM can be seen
standing on the far right of the picture (next to him is Pvt Leonold PETERSON) – Château de Brocqueboeuf courtyard, July 10, 1944


"...La Fière Bridge..."

… I was dropped over Normandy June 6, 1944 and landed shortly after midnight . Our target was to control the crossroads of Ste-Mère-Eglise and some of the nearby waterways . Landing about 30 ft from a road, I barely had time to assemble my rifle, because I heard a motorbike approaching ! I froze, and waited for the 2 Germans to disappear . After re-assembling my rifle, I went looking for other members of A Company, 505th Parachute Infantry . We were able to retrieve a number of containers and moved toward the bridge over the Merderet River, which was to be defended and held, until the troops who were to land on Utah Beach the same day, could move inland and relieve us (it took them three days to link up) . When reaching La Fière bridge, we learned some friendly troops had already arrived and dislodged the German troops housed in the different buildings .


Pvt Marcus HEIM, picture taken at
Ft. Benning, Ga., 1943

Pvt Marcus HEIM is awarded the DSC,
it is being pinned on by
Lt Gen Omar N. BRADLEY, July 1944

1st Battalion’s mission (Maj Frederick A. KELLAM) was to seize and secure the crossing of the Merderet River at la Fièrre, and prevent any German reinforcements from reaching Ste-mèrer-Eglise .
We were to take up positions on both sides of the dirt track, bordering the Merderet, and around the buildings pertaining to the Manor . I was part of the antitank team, with John D. BOLDERSON (ASN 37083951), Leonold C. PETERSON (ASN 37092874), and Gordon C. PRYNE . My specific position (I was accompanied by Peterson) was next to the Manor, on the left, facing the road leading to the village of Cauquigny (occupied by the enemy), while Bolderson and Pryne were on the right side of the road, slightly below the dirt track . A number of troopers were in position around us - there was a MG inside the Manor, and a 57mm Atk gun, supported by another .30 caliber machinegun, all ready, behind our backs . We managed to bring back anti-tank mines and more bazooka rockets as well, all retrieved from the DZ . The mines were spread along the road, on the other side of the bridge . The Germans must have found out we were there, for they shelled our positions all day long, and we were afraid that an enemy counter attack was imminent .


La Fière Bridge & Merderet River, July 1944

destroyed and abandoned German tanks of the 100th Panzer Battalion
on the La Fière – Cauquigny road, June 7, 1944

It was approximately 1700 hours, when they attacked ! Two tanks (captured French H39 vehicles) advanced toward the bridge, accompanied by a number of infantry . Another tank followed with more infantry . The head tank stopped in the bend and its commander looked out from the turret, trying to locate us . He was immediately killed by one of our MGs ! At the same time, the bazookas, the 57mm gun, and every available weapon opened fire; the enemy reacted with cannon and mortar fire, and Peterson and I had to evacuate our initial position . We took cover behind a telephone post in order to adjust our fire – unfortunately low branches offered but poor visibility . The first tank which had been hit turned its turret in our direction and let loose, our pole was hit and we barely had time to leave before it collapsed . I meanwhile wondered whether Bolderson and Pryne would have had time to fire at the other enemy tanks, while we continued to shoot at the first tank, until it finally burst in flames . The second tank pushed the burning wreck off the road, so we immediately opened fire against this new target and hit it between body and turret, and also damaged one of its tracks, . Our third rocket proved fatal, as the tank caught fire ! The trouble was, that we were now out of ammo, and the third tank was almost upon us … Peterson asked me to go look for additional rockets, so I dashed across the road, being shot at from all directions, on the other side was a dead soldier, and an abandoned rocket launcher, but Bolderson and Pryne were gone – they had however left a few rockets – so I crossed the road again, still under fire, and joined Peterson – and with the additional ammo we succeeded neutralizing the third tank . Once the last enemy tank had been destroyed, the Germans beat a hasty retreat toward Cauquigny . They however continued harassing us all night and even attempted two more counter attacks which were equally repulsed !
After the enemy’s withdrawal, Peterson and I looked around from our position . Both the 57mm and the other .30 caliber machinegun had been destroyed during the attack, and and we had lost quite a number of men . An officer arrived and asked us whether we could hold our position, and other troopers started coming in to reinforce us . In July, Leonold Peterson and I received the Distinguished Service Cross for our action at La Fière Bridge . It was Lieutenant General Omar N. BRADLEY himself who pinned the medal on our chest …
(Marcus HEIM Jr, Pfc, A Co, 505th Prcht Inf Regt, 82d Abn Div, USA, 32931497, recollections)


same ceremony at the Château de Brocqueboeuf, July 10, 1944 – DSC awarded to Lt Col Ed KRAUSE (CO 3d Bn / 505th PIR)
Brig Gen James M. GAVIN (Asst CG 82d Abn Div) Lt Col Ben H. VANDERVOORT (CO 2d Bn / 505th PIR)


I had the privilege of meeting Judge Marcus HEIM for the first time in Normandy, according to my notes, I think it was June 2, 1996 . Of course he wasn’t alone, as usual, a bunch of 82d Airborne Division Veterans were also on site in Normandy for the D-Day commemorations and celebrations . Marcus Heim was a softspoken man who certainly did not boast about his ‘heroic’ stand at La Fière bridge – and as more Vets simply state, he just did his job ! Of course looking at the odds, the akward defensive position he occupied, and the late inland arrival of the troops disembarked at Utah Beach, I think he was a hero ! As a matter of fact Marcus Heim and Leonold Peterson, both received the Distinguished Service Cross for their action at La Fière . Being a regular visitor to Normandy myself, I had the opportunity to see Marcus again in 1997 and 2000 . I took several notes while meeting with him in Normandy (as I always do when coming into contact with Veterans), and we extensively discussed the 1st Battalion and “Able” Company’s fighting record during and after D-Day . We would unfortunately never meet again, since this respected Judge and Veteran passed away on October 26, 2002Airborne … all the way !

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TESTIMONY
(European Theater of Operations – Merderet River – Normandy – FRANCE – June 1944)



afternoon of D-Day, a group of American Parachutists takes a break in a French village, most belong to the 508th PIR,
but among them are stragglers from units, such as the 506th ( 101st Abn Div) …


"Jump into...water !"

… I enlisted on November 27, 1942 and was inducted in New York City . I volunteered for the Airborne and was first sent to Cp. Upton, L.I. in New York (Reception Station), and Cp. Toccoa, Georgia (Basic TC) and finally transferred to Cp. Blanding, Florida (IRTC) . I became part of H Company, Third Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry . I followed Basic Training at Cp. Blanding, and earned my Jump Wings at Ft. Benning, Georgia (AGF TC) on 12 March 1943 ! Our Regiment moved to Cp. Mackall, North Carolina (Abn Center) for further training, before staging at Cp. Shanks, New York (Staging Area for NY P/E), in preparation for overseas duty . We finally departed New York on board the USAT James Parker December 28, 1943 and safely reached Northern Ireland (Belfast) January 9, 1944 . We were first housed in Nissen huts at Port Stewart . The 508th Prcht Inf Regt was attached to the 82d Airborne Division January 14, 1944 .


Thomas W. PORCELLA, picture taken in September 1943 (center with dog)

Tom Porcella with buddies, at Wollaton Park, near Nottingham,
not far from the unit’s base camp – March-April 1944 (second from left)

During our training, men from the 505th Parachute Infantry, Sicily and Italy combat veterans, lived with each Company of the 508th for a week, we learned a lot from them, and this proved a most valuable week . Early March, we boarded trains for Belfast, and then loaded onto a ship with destination Scotland; arriving at Greenock we entrained once more, heading for Glasgow; and in the end reached our final destination, Wollaton Park, near the city of Nottingham, England .


… before the Normandy jump – 508th PIR troopers enjoy doughnuts and coffee distributed by the American Red Cross

My unit was to land west of the Merderet River about 1,000 yds north of Picauville … it did not really turn out that well, since the 508th was scattered widely (unfortunately, we were not the only ones), east of the DZ, some of our guys even landing only few miles south of Cherbourg .
It must have been 0210, early morning of June 6, 1944 – when we all received the command GO ! My chute popped open, and my body went up, I first looked up to see if everything was OK, and then looked down, into darkness, I just couldn’t see nothing … then I plunged into water . It almost covered half of my face, I was gasping for air, and tried to remove my leg straps, but they were tight as hell, my only hope was to get hold of my knife and cut the straps . Madly wrestling for the knife, I was still trying to get some more precious air into my lungs, then I went down again and finally succeeded in cutting the leg straps . Getting rid of the parachute was one thing, but the weight of the mine and the musette (to which the mine was secured) still prevented me from regaining my balance . So these had to go as well . When reaching a more comfortable position, I had a quick moment to readjust my personal gear, and discard whatever I wouldn’t need (such as the gasmask) . I was still worried about drowning, since I didn’t know how deep the water really was . It was damn cold in the swamps, and I started shivering, while cautiously trying to move to less deep water . Meanwhile I was surrounded by the sound of airplane engines, and wild firing, and filled with the immense fear of being discovered by the enemy at any moment …
The 3d Battalion (CO > Lt Col Louis G. MENDEZ Jr, ASN O-23262) jumped at 060208 and the entire 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment (CO > Col Roy E. LINDQUIST ), numbering 2,056 men, was on the ground by 0220 hours . 4 separate groups were assembled, one group in the vicinity of La Fière, fought along the railway track and attacked the bridge (it was later relieved by the 1st Bn / 505th PIR); two other groups joined forces west of the Merderet River in the area of Picauville after taking part in heavy fighting around Guetteville and north of Picauville (an officer of this group, Lt Malcolm D. BRANNEN, Hq Co, 3d Bn, 508th PIR, shot General Wilhelm Falley) . The combined group then seized the high grounds west of the River, south of Guetteville during the night of June 6-7 . A fourth group, who dropped near Ste-Mère-Eglise, fought together with the 507th Prcht Inf to take the Chef-du-Pont bridge, and later organized a defensive position covering this bridge .
I later succeeded in joining two other stragglers, Dale Cable and Tommy Home, and this sure provided some personal comfort and a certain sense of security, so I thought; then we stumbled upon another guy, Tom Lott (ASN 32488854 KIA 7 Jun 44) . We tried to move as fast as we could, in the cold water, since we knew it was imperative for us to leave the flooded area before daylight . The four of us finally collapsed on a bank, completely exhausted and shivering all over . We had no extra clothes, and for food I just had a few D-bars in my jump coat pocket, we first had to rest, and even managed to doze off in the sunlight . Later, while crossing a field and several hedgerows, our little group spotted a road, and we finally met some friendly troopers belonging to the 507th Parachute Infantry . I only got reunited with my fellow H Co, 508th PIR men June 10, 1944 … the same day the Infantry guys (358th Inf Regt / 90th Inf Div) passed thru our lines – our unit finally re- assembled on the high grounds, west of the Merderet River to rest and re-organize …
(Tom W. PORCELLA, Cpl, H Co, 508th PIR, 82d Abn Div, USA, 12190531, recollections)

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Notes :

325th Glider Infantry Regiment

25 March 1942, organized at Cp. Claiborne, Louisiana as the 325th Infantry Regiment and assigned to the 82d Division, and attached to IV Corps 1 August 1942 . Redesignated 325th Glider Infantry Regiment 15 August 1942 and assigned to the 82d Airborne Division . The Regiment moved to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina 4 October 1942 and staged at Cp. Edwards, Massachusetts 19 April 1943 until it departed New York P/E 28 April 1943 . It first landed at Casablanca, North Africa 10 May 1943, subsequently in Sicily 9 July 1943 and returned to North Africa 19 August 1943 . The Regiment further went back to Sicily 4 September 1943, landed amphibiously at Salerno, Italy 15 September 1943, helped stabilize the Allied Military Government in Naples, and finally arrived in Northern Ireland 9 December 1943 . It then transferred to England 14 February 1944 . On D-Day it assaulted Normandy, France 6 June 1944 and returned to England 13 July 1944 . It further assaulted Nijmegen-Arnhem, Holland 23 September 1944, and crossed again into France 14 November 1944 . It entered Belgium 18 December 1944 (where the 3d Bn/325th GIR consolidated with the 2d Bn/401st GIR, was redesignated 3d Bn/325th GIR) and Germany 30 January 1945 . The 325th Glider Infantry Regiment returned to France 19 February 1945 and to Germany 2 April 1945 (where it pulled some occupation duty in Berlin) . It finally returned to New York P/E 3 January 1946 (it participated in the N.Y. Victory Parade on 12 Jan 46) and moved to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina 16 January 1946, where it remained active thru 1946 …

radio callsign : CHESTNUT
nickname : none
motto : Let’s Go
D.I. : silver shield with decorative border and dark blue fess, between in chief a dark blue hurte charged with a three-columned temple of Georgia in silver and base a dark blue cross of Lorraine, and silver scroll with motto, authorized 24 April 1942, approved 9 October 1925
campaigns : Sicily, Naples-Foggia, Normandy (with arrowhead), Rhineland (with arrowhead), Ardennes-Alsace, Central Europe
special awards : Distinguished Unit Badge to 325th Parachute Infantry Regiment with streamer embroidered “Ste-Mère-Eglise”, French Croix de Guerre with Palm + streamer embroidered “Ste-Mère-Eglise”, French Croix de Guerre with Palm + streamer embroidered “Cotentin”, Knight 4th Class Military Order of William with streamer embroidered “Nijmegen 1944”, Citation in the Orders of the Day of the Belgian Army for actions in the “Ardennes”, Citation in the Orders of the Day of the Belgian Army for actions in “Belgium and Germany”, French Croix de Guerre with Fourragère, Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 with Fourragère 1940, Netherlands Orange Lanyard
Medal of Honor : Charles DeGlopper, Pfc, Co C, 325th Glider Infantry, Merderet River, La Fière, Normandy, France, 9 Jun 44

505th Parachute Infantry Regiment
6 July 1942 activated at Ft. Benning, Georgia and assigned to the Airborne Command . Assigned to the 82d Airborne Division (replacing the withdrawn 326th Inf Regt) 10 February 1943 and moved to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina 12 February 1943 . Staged at Cp. Edwards, Massachusetts 21 April 1943 until it departed New York P/E 28 April 1943 . The Regiment landed at Casablanca, North Africa 10 May 1943, and was chosen to spearhead the air assault against Sicily . The 505th RCT (under Colonel J.M. Gavin) then assaulted Gela, Sicily 9 July 1943, and then returned to Kairoun, Tunisia 19 August 1943 . It returned to Sicily 4 September 1943, and dropped onto Paestum, at the Salerno Beachhead, Italy 14 September 1943, it was the first unit to enter Naples . Departed again on 18 November 1943 to reach Northern Ireland 9 December 1943 . First transferred to England 14 February 1944, it then assaulted Normandy, France on 6 June 1944, returned to England 13 July 1944, and assaulted Nijmegen-Arnhem, Holland 17 September 1944 . After the Operation, the Regiment returned to France 14 November 1944 . It crossed into Belgium 18 December 1944 and entered Germany 30 January 1945 . First returning to France 19 February 1945, the 505th then returned to Germany 2 April 1945 . It finally returned to New York P/E 3 January 1946 and moved to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina 16 January 1946, where it remained active thru 1946 … (the 505th PIR was the only parachute unit to see extensive combat as part of the 82d Airborne Division during WWII – General M. B. Ridgway described it as … the best Parachute Regiment to come out of World War II …)

radio callsign : CHALLENGE
nickname : “Panthers”
motto : Ready
D.I. : not authorized, not approved
campaigns : Sicily (with arrowhead), Naples-Foggia, Normandy (with arrowhead), Rhineland (with arrowhead), Ardennes-Alsace, Central Europe
special awards : Distinguished Unit Badge to 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment with streamer embroidered “Ste-Mère-Eglise”, second Distinguished Unit Badge with streamer embroidered “Nijmegen”, French Croix de Guerre with Palm + streamer embroidered “Ste-Mére-Eglise”, French Croix de Guerre with palm + streamer embroidered “Cotentin”, Knight 4th Class Military Order of William with streamer embroidered “ Nijmegen 1944”, Citations in the Orders of the Day of the Belgian Army for actions in the “Ardennes” and “Belgium and Germany”, French Croix de Guerre with Fourragère, Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 with Fourragère 1940, Netherlands Orange Lanyard

506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (101st Airborne Division)
20 July 1942 activated at Cp. Toombs, Georgia (renamed Cp. Toccoa, 21 Aug 42), then moved to Ft. Benning, 9 December 1942 . Attached to Airborne Command 15 December 1942 . Transferred to Cp. Mackall, North Carolina, 26 February 1943 . Part of the 1st Airborne Brigade 17 April 1943 . Attached to the 101st Airborne Division from 1 June 1943 to 1 March 1945 . Relocated to Sturgis Army Airfield, Kentucky, 6 June 1943 and to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina 23 July . The 506th PIR staged at Cp. Shanks, New York, 29 August , until it departed New York P/E with destination Europe . Left for overseas 5 December 1943 . It arrived in England 15 September 1943, and assaulted Normandy, France on D-Day, 6 June 1944 . After returning to England 13 July, it got ready to assault Nijmegen-Arnhem, Holland on 17 September 1944 . The 506th was part of the heroic stand around the town of Bastogne, during the Battle of the Bulge, in December 1944 . It entered Germany 4 April 1945 (temporarily attached to the 4th Inf Div), and was further part of the 101st Airborne Division until 1 March 1945 . The unit was inactivated on 30 May 1945

radio callsign : KIDNAP
nickname : none
motto : Currahee
D.I. : not authorized, not approved
campaigns : Normandy (with arrowhead), Rhineland (with arrowhead), Ardennes-Alsace, Central Europe
special awards : Distinguished Unit Badge to entire 101st Airborne Division, including of course the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment with streamer embroidered “Bastogne”, separate Distinguished Unit Badge to 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment with streamer embroidered “Normandy”, French Croix de Guerre with Palm + streamer embroidered “Normandy”, Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 with Palm and Fourragère and Citations in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army for actions in “France and Belgium”, and for actions at “Bastogne", Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 With Palm + streamer embroidered “Bastogne”, Netherlands Orange Lanyard

507th Parachute Infantry Regiment
20 July 1942 activated at Ft. Benning, Georgia and assigned to  Airborne Command . Moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana 7 March 1943, and further to Alliance Army Field, Nebraska 23 March 1943, where it was assigned to the 1st Airborne Infantry Brigade on 14 April 1943 . The Regiment staged at Cp. Shanks, New York 23 November 1943 until it departed New York P/E 5 December 1943 . The 507th PIR arrived in England 16 December 1943, where it was temporarily attached to the 82d Airborne Division for Operation Neptune, i.e. from 14 January > 27 August 1944 . It assaulted Normandy, France 6 June 1944, and returned to England 13 July, where it was now attached to the 17th Airborne Division from 27 August > 1 March 1945 . It was again transferred to France 24 December 1944, and due to the German Offensive in the Bulge, it crossed into Belgium the next day . After the Battle of the Bulge, the Regiment returned to France 11 February 1945, where it was re-assigned to the 17th Airborne Division on March 1, 1945 for Operation Varsity (Rhine jump) . The Regiment took part in the jump over the Rhine, and assaulted Wesel, Germany 24 March 1944 (it was then temporarily attached to XIX Corps from 31 March > 2 April 1945) . It finally returned State-bound and arrived at Boston P/E 15 September 1945 . The 507th PIR was inactivated at Cp. Myles Standish, Massachusetts on 16 September

radio callsign : HARDWARE
nickname : none
motto : Down to Earth
D.I. : shield divided per bend transparent blue and silver, on the first open silver parachute, on the second a dark blue lightning flash, with silver scroll, authorized 21 January 1943, but not approved
campaigns : Normandy (with arrowhead), Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, Central Europe
special awards : Distinguished Unit Badge to 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment with streamer embroidered “Cotentin Peninsula”, French Croix de Guerre with Palm + streamer embroidered “Ste-Mère-Eglise”, French Croix de Guerre with Palm + streamer embroidered “Cotentin”, French Croix de Guerre with Fourragère
Medal of Honor : George J. Peters, Pvt, Co G, 507th Parachute Infantry, Fluren, Germany, 24 Mar 1945 (the 507th PIR was then attached to the 17th Abn Div)

508th Parachute Infantry Regiment
20 October 1942 activated at Cp. Blanding, Florida and assigned to  Airborne Command . Moved to Ft. Benning, Georgia 5 February 1943, and later to Cp. Mackall, North Carolina 25 March . The Regiment staged at Cp. Shanks, New York 20 December 1943 until it departed New York P/E 29 December of the same year . The 508th PIR arrived in Northern Ireland 8 January 1944 and was immediately attached to the 82d Airborne Division, i.e. from 14 January 1944 > 20 January 1945 ! It reached England 13 March 1944 in view of Operation Neptune, the Normandy invasion, and then in fact replaced the 504th PIR which had just returned from the Anzio Beachhead and was in no shape to participate in any coming operation; the 508th PIR assaulted the Continent 6 June 1944 . After the Operation, it returned to England 13 July 1944 . It then prepared for Operation Market-Garden and assaulted Nijmegen-Arnhem 17 September 1944 and returned to France only 20 November 1944 . It crossed into Belgium for the Battle of the Bulge, and was briefly attached to the 7th Armored Division from 21 > 23 January 1945, and subsequently to the 82d Airborne Division from 24 January 1945 until past the end of hostilities in Europe … The Regiment was chosen as Honor Guard for SHAEF Headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany from June 10, 1945 onward . After returning to New York P/E 24 November 1946, it was finally inactivated at Cp. Kilmer, New Jersey 25 November 1946 .

radio callsign : HARNESS
nickname : “Red Devils”
motto : none
D.I. : not authorized, not approved
campaigns : Normandy (with arrowhead), Rhineland (with arrowhead), Ardennes-Alsace, Central Europe
special awards : Distinguished Unit Badge to 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment with streamer embroidered “Cotentin Peninsula”, French Croix de Guerre with Palm + streamer embroidered “ Ste-Mère-Eglise”, French Croix de Guerre with Fourragère, Knight 4th Class Military Order of William with streamer embroidered “Nijmegen 1944”, Belgian Croix de Guerre and Fourragère and Citations in the Orders of the Day of the Belgian Army for actions in “Belgium and Germany” and at “St. Vith”, Netherlands Orange Lanyard"
Medal of Honor : Leonard A. Funk, First Sgt, Co C, 508th Parachute Infantry, Holzheim, Belgium, 29 Jan 45

4th INFANTRY DIVISION “IVY”
Activated June 1, 1940 as the 4th Division at Ft. Benning, Georgia, and reorganized as the 4th Division (Motorized) August 1, and 4th Motorized Division July 11, 1941. The Division moved to Dry Pong, Louisiana for IV Corps Louisiana Maneuvers and returned to Ft. Benning, August 27, 1941 . It then moved on to Ft. Jackson, South Carolina October 30, 1941 to participate in First Army Carolina Maneuvers and arrived back to Ft. Benning, Georgia December 3, 1941 . Another move took the 4th Motorized Division to Cp. Gordon, Georgia December 29, 1941 and then to the Carolina Maneuver Area July 7, 1942; from where it then returned to Cp. Gordon August 31, 1942 . It further moved to Ft. Dix, New Jersey April 12, 1943 where it was redesignated 4th Infantry Division August 4, 1943 . The Division was sent to Cp. Gordon Johnston, Florida September 19, 1943 for III Corps Carrabelle Maneuvers; and later arrived at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina December 1, 1943 .The 4th Infantry Division staged at Cp. Kilmer, New Jersey January 4, 1944 until it departed New York P/E on January 18, 1944 . It arrived in England January 26, and participated in the Normandy Assault Landing June 6, 1944 . The Division crossed into Belgium September 6, 1944, and into Germany September 11, and moved on to Luxembourg December 12, 1944 . It subsequently returned to Belgium January 28, 1945, to Germany February 7, 1945, and finally returned to France March 10, 1945 . It once more went back to Germany March 29, 1945 .The 4th Infantry Division returned to New York P/E July 10, 1945 and moved to Cp. Butner, North Carolina, July 13, where it was only inactivated March 12, 1946 . Commanders : MG Walter E. Prosser (Jun 40), MG Lloyd R. Fredendall (Oct 40), MG Oscar W. Griswold (Aug 41), MG Harold R. Bull (Oct 41), MG Terry de la Mesa Allen (Dec 41), MG Fred C. Wallace (Jan 42), MG Raymond O. Barton (Jul 42), MG Harold W. Blackeley (Dec 44), MG George P. Hays (Nov 45) . Organization : 8th Inf Regt, 12th Infg Regt, 22d Inf Regt, 20th Fld Arty Bn, 29th Fld Arty Bn, 42d Fld Arty Bn, 44th Fld Arty Bn, 4th Rcn Tp, Mecz, 4th Engr Cbt Bn, 4th Med Bn, 4th CIC Det, MP Pltn, 704th Ord Lt Maint Co, 4th Sig Co, 4th QM Co + attached units . Campaigns : Normandy – Northern France – Rhineland – Ardennes-Alsace – Central Europe .

8th INFANTRY DIVISION “PATHFINDER”
Activated July 1, 1940 at Cp. Jackson, South Carolina as 8th Division and redesignated there as 8th Infantry Division July 31, 1941 . The Division moved to the Carolina Maneuver Area September 25, 1941 to participate in both the October and November 1941 Carolina Maneuvers . It then arrived at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina November 30, 1941 where it was redesignated 8th Motorized Division April 9, 1942 . It further participated in I Corps Tennessee Maneuvers October-November 1942 and then moved on to Cp. Forrest, Tennessee November 7, 1942 . On November 29, 1942 the Division arrived at Ft. Leonard Wood and moved to Cp. Young, California March 20, 1943 for participation in the IX Corps Desert Training Maneuvers No.2, where it was also redesignated 8th Infantry Division May 15 . It returned to Cp. Forrest August 15, 1943 and staged at Cp. Kilmer, New Jersey November 22, until embarking for Europe from New York P/E December 5, 1943 . It arrived in England December 15, 1943 where it spent Christmas and New Year .The Division reached France July 3, 1944, crossed into Luxembourg November 20, and into Germany the same date . The 8th Infantry Division returned stateside and arrived at Hampton Roads P/E July 10, 1945 and moved to Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri July 13, where it was inactivated November 20, 1945 . Commanders : MG Philip B. Peyton (Jun 40), MG James P. Marley (Dec 40), MG William E. Shedd (Feb 41), MG Henry Terrell Jr (Mar 41), MG James P. Marley (Apr 41), MG Paul E. Peabody (Aug 42), MG William C. McMahon (Feb 43), MG Donald A. Stroh (Jul 44), MG William G. Weaver (Dec 44), MG Bryant E. Moore (Feb 45) . Organization : 13th Inf Regt, 28th Inf Regt, 121st Inf Regt, 28th Fld Arty Bn, 43d Fld Arty Bn, 45th Fld Arty Bn, 56th Fld Arty Bn, 8th Rcn Tp, Mecz, 12th Engr Cbt Bn, 8th Med Bn, 8th CIC Det, MP Pltn, 708th Ord Lt Maint Co, 8th Sig Co, 8th QM Co + attached units . Campaigns : Normandy – Northern France – Rhineland – Central Europe .

79th INFANTRY DIVISION “CROSS OF LORRAINE”
Activated June 15, 1942 at Cp. Pickett, Virginia as the 79th Divisio n and redesignated there as 79th Infantry Division August 1, 1942 . It moved to Cp. Blanding, Florida September 1, 1942; and further to the Tennessee Maneuvers Area March 3, 1943 where it participated in the Second Army No.1 Tennessee Maneuvers . The Division transferred to Cp. Forrest, Tennessee July 19, 1943 and moved to Cp. Young, California August 17 for the Desert Training Center No.3 California Maneuvers . It then arrived at Cp. Phillips, Kansas December 4, 1943 and staged at Cp. Myles Standish, Massachusetts March 31, 1944 until it departed Boston P/E April 7, 1944 with destination Europe The 79th Infantry Division arrived in England April 16, 1944 and reached France where it landed June 14, 1944 . It crossed into Belgium February 17, 1945 and into Holland February 22; it subsequently entered Germany March 3, 1945 . On December 10, 1945, the Division arrived at New York P/E and was finally inactivated at Cp. Kilmer, New Jersey the next day, i.e. December 11, 1945 . Commanders : MG Ira T. Wyche (Jun 42), BG LeRoy H. Watson (May 45), MG Anthony C. McAuliffe (Jul 45), BG LeRoy H. Watson (Aug 45) . Organization : 313th Inf Regt, 314th Inf Regt, 315th Inf Regt, 310th Fld Arty Bn, 311th Fld Arty Bn, 312th Fld Arty Bn, 904th Fld Arty Bn, 79th Rcn Tp, Mecz, 304th Engr Cbt Bn, 304th Med Bn, 79th CIC Det, MP Pltn, 779th Ord Lt Maint Co, 79th Sig Co, 79th QM Co + attached units . Campaigns : Normandy – Northern France – Rhineland – Ardennes-Alsace – Central Europe .

90th INFANTRY DIVISION “TOUGH OMBRES”
Activated at Cp. Barkeley, Texas as the 90th Division and redesignated there 90th Infantry Division May 20, 1942. Again redesignated the 90th Motorized Division September 15, 1942 . The Division moved to the Louisiana Maneuver Area to participate in the Third Army No.1 Louisiana Maneuvers January 28, 1943 . It returned to Cp. Barkeley April 1, 1943 where it was redesignated as the 90th Infantry Division . Then came Cp. Young, California, where it participated in the Desert Training Center No.3 California Maneuvers, which started September 12, 1943. It arrived at Ft. Dix, New Jersey September 26, and staged at Cp. Kilmer, New Jersey March 17, 1944 until it departed for Europe via New York P/E March 23 . The 90th Infantry Division reached England April 4, and landed in France June 8, 1944 (the 359th Inf Regt, attached to the 4th Infantry Division, assaulted Utah Beach June 6, 1944) . The 90th entered Germany November 24, 1944 returning to France December 22 . It crossed into Luxembourg January 7, 1945 and into Belgium January 22, and finally returned to Luxembourg January 29 and subsequently to Germany February 8, 1945 . The last country it reached was Czechoslovakia May 5, 1945 ! The “Tough Ombres” returned to the States via New York P/E December 24, 1945 and were inactivated at Cp. Shanks, New York December 27, 1945 . Commanders : MG Henry Terrell Jr (Mar 42), BG Jay W. MacKelvie (Jan 44), MG Eugene M. Landrum (Jul 44), MG Raymond S. McClain (Aug 44), MG James A. Van Fleet (Oct 44), MG Lowell W. Rooks (Feb 45), MG Herbert L. Earnest (Mar 45) . Organization : 357th Inf Regt, 358th Inf Regt, 359th Inf Regt, 343d Fld Arty Bn, 344th Fld Arty Bn, 345th Fld Arty Bn, 915th Fld Arty BN, 90th Rcn Tp, Mecz, 315th Engr Cbt Bn, 315th Med Bn, 90th CIC Det, MP Pltn, 790th Ord Lt Maint Co, 90th Sig Co, 90th QM Co + attached units . Campaigns : Normandy – Northern France – Rhineland – Ardennes-Alsace – Central Europe .

746th Tank Battalion
Activated 20 August 1942, at Cp. Rucker, Alabama as a Medium Tank Battalion . The Battalion was redesignated 746th Tank Battalion and embarked from New York P/E January 29, 1944 with destination Europe . It reached England February 9, 1944 and participated in the D-Day Assault Landing on Utah Beach, June 6, 1944 ! It further participated in a number of E.T.O. Campaigns such as, Normandy – Northern France – Rhineland – Ardennes-Alsace – Central Europe . The 746th Tank Battalion returned stateside arriving at New York P/E October 25, 1945 . It was inactivated at Cp. Shanks, New York October 26, 1945 .