17th US Airborne Division

Discussion in 'US Units' started by Owen, Jun 8, 2006.

  1. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Just been reading "Assault Division" by Norman Scarfe about 3rd British Division.On page 231 is an interesting passage about The Rhine crossings that made me chuckle
    .....the Americans of 17th US Airborne Division,who were "moving down the road in a varied collection of jeeps, saloon cars, captured 3-tonners,horses and carts, with one original soul in a mechanical invalid chair. Others were travelling on the Guards' tanks and denied variety in transport, had satisfied their egos with top hats, umbrellas and other tasteful items of civilian dress. They were all in high spirits, following their sucessful air-landing...As they passed through our harbour area we had the first of many opportunities to watch them in action. Top-hats or no top-hats, their fighting ability was of a very high standard.

    The Para in the invalid chair made we laugh out loud when I read that.:D
    Anyway been Googling away at 17th Airborne sites and learnt they were based up the road from me in Chiseldon. My in-laws live there. Been around the old camp many a time.
    Some good info out there on them but it's far more fun to see what other members can dig up about the 17th US Airborne.
    They are now my "favourite" US Division because of the local connection.
    More so than the 101st who were based up the road a bit further in Aldbourne and the surrounding area.
    Of the US Airborne units, who served in NW Europe, I think this one is the forgotten one.
    Let's see what you come up with.
  2. Herroberst

    Herroberst Senior Member

    Arrrgh, Sounds like pirates to me. You got to wonder if Wheel chair guy ended up doing KP at the end of the day.
  3. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    Owen, Ranger6 mentioned you were intrested in the 17th Airborne Found this picture of the 17th doing a drop in fields near Swindon its from a site about the history of camp Chiseldon cant get the exact link up but gives a nice history at SwindonWeb | Everything Swindon news, jobs, accommodation in Swindon | SwindonWeb if you enter chiseldon camp in the search on the site it brings up the link and the pic might open there too!

    Attached Files:

  4. GPRegt

    GPRegt Senior Member

    The 17th Airborne veterans are great guys and, yes Owen, their role in the War has been overlooked. I enjoyed speaking, or swapping emails, with those who offered their accounts for the book. The Divisonal Association is now closed but a monthly e-newsletter continues to keep the memories alive. It's good to see that this thread has been revived.

    Steve W.
  5. Ranger6

    Ranger6 Liar

    Want some info on the 17th airborne in operation varsity, I got some stuff just lemme know where ya want me to post it...

    Have an AIRBORNE DAY!
  6. Ranger6

    Ranger6 Liar

    well i may as well post here in this thread LOL
  7. Ranger6

    Ranger6 Liar

    [​IMG] [​IMG]he 17th "Thunder from Heaven" Airborne Division was activated at Camp Mackall on April 15, 1943 under the command of General William M Miley. The core units of the newly formed division were the 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), the 193rd and 194th Glider Infantry Regiments (GIR). After the Normandy invasion the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment was permanently attached to the division which was stationed in the United Kingdom from 25 August to 23 December 1944.

    Toward the end of August, 1944 the 17th Airborne Division, the 82nd Airborne Division and the 101st Airborne Division became permanent units of the U.S. XVIII Airborne Corps. When Operation Market Garden was conceived the 17th Airborne was still in training. Consequently, it was held in reserve. This was not the case during the German Ardennes Offensive.

    Battle of the Bulge - The Ardennes Offensive
    From 23 to 25 December, elements of the Division were flown to the Reims area in France in spectacular night flights. These elements closed in at Mourmelon. After taking over the defense of the Meuse River sector from Givet to Verdun, 25 December, the 17th moved to Neufchateau, Belgium, then marched through the snow to Morhet, relieving the 28th Infantry Division, 3 January 1945.

    The Division entered the Ardennes campaign, 4 to 9 January, at the Battle of Dead Man's Ridge. It captured several small Belgian towns and entered Flamierge, 7 January, but enemy counterattacks necessitated a withdrawal. However, constant pressure and aggressive patrolling caused the enemy to retreat to the Our River. On 18 January, the Division relieved the 11th Armored Division at Houffalize, pushed enemy remnants from the Bulge, and seized Wattermal and Espeler, 26 January. Coming under the III Corps, the 17th turned toward Luxembourg, taking Eschweiler and Clervaux and clearing the enemy from the west bank of the Our River. Aggressive patrols crossed the river to probe the Siegfried Line defenses and established a limited bridgehead near Dasburg before being relieved by the 6th Armored Division, 10 February.

    Operation Varsity - The Airborne Assault on the Rhine
    In early February 1945, the tide of battle was such as to enable an accurate estimate as to when and where the 2nd British Army would be ready to force a crossing of the Rhine River. It was determined that the crossing would be in conjunction with an airborne operation by XVIII Airborne Corps.

    The sector selected for the assault was in the vicinity of Wesel, just north of the Ruhr, for 24 March 1945. Operation Varsity would be the last full scale airborne drop of World War II and the assignment went to the 17th Airborne Division with the 507th spearheading the assault dropping at the southern edge of the Diersfordter Forest, three mile northwest of Wesel.

    Finally, on the 24th March 1945, taking off from marshalling areas in France in nearly perfect weather, nearly 4000 aircraft from the British 6th Airborne Division and the 17th US Airborne Division dropped fighting men behind enemy lines, into Westphalia in the vicinity of Weselon which was east of the Rhine River. Their mission was to capture key points and so assist the advance of the ground troops. Having learned the lessons from the Arnhem battle, the gliders and paratroops landed close to their targets and achieved total success.

    Operation Varsity was the first airborne invasion over the Rhine into Germany itself. On the 25th, the Division had secured bridges over the Issel River and had entrenched itself firmly along the Issel Canal. Moving eastward, it captured Haltern, 29 March, and Munster, 2 April. The 17th entered the battle of the Ruhr Pocket, relieving the 79th Infantry Division. It crossed the Rhine-Herne Canal, 6 April, and set up a secure bridgehead for the attack on Essen. The "Pittsburgh of the Ruhr" fell, 10 April, and the industrial cities of Mulheim and Duisburg were cleared in the continuing attack.

    Military government duties began, 12 April, and active contact with the enemy ceased, 18 April. The Division came under the XXII Corps 24 April.

    It continued its occupation duties until 15 June 1945 when it returned to France for redeployment. In September, 1945, the 17th Airborne Division returned home and was disbanded.
  8. Ranger6

    Ranger6 Liar

    Divisional Order of Battle
    Units of the 17th Airborne Division during World War II included:
    Division Headquarters
    193rd Glider Infantry Regiment (disbanded 1 March 1945)
    194th Glider Infantry Regiment
    507th Parachute Infantry Regiment (attached 27 August 1944 to 1 March 1945, thereafter assigned)
    513th Parachute Infantry Regiment (replaced 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment on 10 March 1944)
    517th Parachute Infantry Regiment (relieved 10 March 1944 and replaced by the 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment)
    Division Artillery
    464th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion (75mm) (assigned 4 June 1945)
    466th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion (75mm)
    680th Glider Field Artillery Battalion (75mm)
    681st Glider Field Artillery Battalion (75mm)
    139th Airborne Engineer Battalion
    155th Airborne Antiaircraft Battalion
    224th Airborne Medical Company
    17th Parachute Maintenance Company
    Headquarters Special Troops
    Headquarters Company, 17th Airborne Division
    Military Police Platoon
    717th Airborne Ordnance Maintenance Company
    517th Airborne Signal Company
    411th Airborne Quartermaster Company
    17th Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment
    Band (assigned 1 March 1945)
    Reconnaissance Platoon (assigned 1 March 1945)
    550th Airborne Infantry Battalion (not assigned; under division operational control during the Ardennes Offensive)
    761st Tank Battalion (attached 15–27 January 1945)
    811th Tank Destroyer battalion (attached 17–27 January
    Owen likes this.
  9. Ranger6

    Ranger6 Liar

    Operation Varsity Pre Preparation
    After participating in the Battle of the Bulge, the division was moved behind the front-lines as a reserve formation and theater reserve, whilst the Allies continued their advance towards the German interior. However, even as the division received reinforcements and trained, it had already been selected to take part in a highly ambitious airborne operation code-named Operation Eclipse. This operation, which got to such an advanced stage that plans had been created and divisional commanders briefed, called for the 17th and 82nd Airborne Divisions, along with a brigade from the British 6th Airborne Division, to be dropped in daylight in and around Berlin to capture the city. The operation received the support of General Henry H. Arnold, the Chief of the United States Army Air Corps, but planning ended on 28 March, when General Eisenhower sent a message to Marshal Joseph Stalin indicating that the Allied armies would not attempt to capture Berlin, thereby making Eclipse obsolete. Eclipse and several other similarly ambitious airborne operations came to nothing, but in February the division finally received word that it would be involved in an Allied airborne operation to cross the River Rhine in support of 21st Army Group that would take place during March.

    Members of the 466th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion prepare for Operation Varsity.By March 1945, the Allies had advanced into Germany and had reached the River Rhine. The Rhine was a formidable natural obstacle to the Allied advance, but if breached would allow the Allies to access the North German Plain and ultimately advance on Berlin and other major cities in Northern Germany. Following the 'Broad Front Approach' laid out by General Eisenhower, it was decided to attempt to breach the Rhine in several areas. Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, commanding the British 21st Army Group devised a plan to allow the forces under his command to breach the Rhine, which he entitled Operation Plunder, and which was subsequently authorized by Eisenhower. Plunder envisioned the British Second Army, under Lieutenant-General Sir Miles Dempsey and the U.S. Ninth Army under Lieutenant General William Simpson crossing the Rhine at Rees, Wesel, and an area south of the Lippe Canal. To ensure that the operation was a success, Montgomery insisted that an airborne component was inserted into the plans for the operation to support the amphibious assaults that would take place, which was code-named Operation Varsity. Three airborne divisions were initially chosen to take part in Varsity, these being the British 6th Airborne Division, the US 13th Airborne Division and the 17th Airborne Division, all of which were assigned to the US XVIII Airborne Corps.
    However, as planning for Operation Varsity began, it soon became obvious that there was a lack of suitable transport aircraft to transport all three airborne divisions. As such the 13th Airborne Division was dropped from the operational plan, primarily because it had no combat experience, whereas the 6th Airborne Division had participated in Operation Tonga, the British airborne landings during Operation Neptune, and the 17th had seen combat in the Ardennes. The plan for the operation was therefore altered to accommodate the two remaining airborne divisions. This would be the first airborne operation the 17th would take part in, and indeed would be its only before it was disbanded. The two airborne divisions would be dropped behind German lines, with their objective to land around Wesel and disrupt enemy defences in order to aid the advance of the British Second Army. To achieve this, both divisions would be dropped near the town of Hamminkeln, and were tasked with a number of objectives; they were to seize the Diersfordter Wald, a forest that overlooked the Rhine and had a road linking several towns together; several bridges over a smaller waterway, the Issel, were to be seized to facilitate the advance; and the town of Hamminkeln was to be captured. Once these objectives were taken, the airborne troops would consolidate their positions and await the arrival of Allied ground forces, defending the territory captured against the German forces known to be in the area.
    The 17th was to land its units in the southern portion of the area chosen for the operation, engaging the German forces that were defending the area, securing the Diersfordterwald Forest which dominated the surrounding area and capturing three bridges that spanned the River Issel. It would then hold the territory it had captured until it linked up units from the British 6th Airborne Division, which would land in the northern section of the operational area, and finally advance alongside 21st Army Group once the Allied ground forces had made contact with the airborne forces. To avoid the heavy casualties incurred by the British 1st Airborne Division that had occurred during Operation Market-Garden, both Allied airborne divisions would only be dropped after Allied ground units had crossed the Rhine and secured crossings; the two divisions would also be dropped only a relatively short distance behind German lines, to ensure that reinforcements would be able to link up with them after only a few hours and they would not be isolated.

    Operation Plunder began at 21:00 on 23 March after a week-long aerial bombardment of Luftwaffe airfields and the German transport system, involving more than ten thousand Allied aircraft. By the early hours of 24 March units of 21st Army Group had crossed the Rhine against heavy German opposition and secured several crossings on the eastern bank of the river. In the first few hours of 24 March, the transport aircraft carrying the two airborne divisions that formed Operation Varsity took off from airbases in England and France and rendezvoused over Brussels, before turning north-east for the Rhine dropping zones. The airlift consisted of 541 transport aircraft containing airborne troops, and a further 1,050 troop-carriers towing 1, 350 gliders. The 17th Airborne Division consisted of 9, 387 personnel, who were transported in 836 C-47 Dakota transports, 72 C-46 Commando transports, and more than 900 Waco CG-4A gliders. At 10:00 on the morning of the 24th, the first Allied airborne units began to land on German soil on the eastern bank of the Rhine, some thirteen hours after the Allied assault had begun.
    The 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, under the command of Colonel Edson Raff, was the lead assault formation for the 17th Airborne Division, and was consequently the first US airborne unit to land as part of Operation Varsity. The entire regiment was meant to be dropped in drop zone W, a clearing two miles north of Wesel; however, excessive ground haze confused the pilots of the transport aircraft carrying the Regiment, and as such when the regiment dropped it split into two halves. Colonel Raff and approximately 690 of his paratroopers landed north-west of the drop zone near the town of Diersfordt, with the rest of the regiment successfully landing in drop zone W. The colonel rallied his separated paratroopers and led them to the drop zone, engaging a battery of German artillery en-route, killing or capturing the artillery crews before reuniting with the rest of the regiment. By 14:00 the 507th had secured all of its objectives and cleared the area around Diersfordt, having engaged numerous German troops and destroying a German tank. The actions of the regiment during the initial landing also gained the division its second Medal of Honor, when Private George J. Peters posthumously received the award after charging a German machine gun nest and eliminating it with rifle fire and grenades, allowing his fellow paratroopers to gather their equipment and capture the regiments first objective.

    C-47 transport aircraft drop hundreds of paratroopers as part of Operation VarsityThe 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment was the second divisional unit to land, and was under the command of Colonel James Coutts. En-route to the drop zone, the transport aircraft containing the regiment had the misfortune to pass through a belt of German anti-aircraft weapons, losing twenty-two of the C-46 transport aircraft and damaging a further thirty-eight. Just as the 507th had, the 513th also suffered from pilot error due to the ground haze, and as such the regiment actually missed their designated drop zone, and were dropped on one of the landing zones designated for the British 6th Airlanding Brigade. However, despite this inaccuracy the paratroopers swiftly rallied and aided the British glider-borne troops who were landing simultaneously, eliminating several German artillery batteries which were covering the area. Once the German troops in the area had been eliminated, a combined force of American and British airborne troops stormed Hamminkeln and secured that town. By 14:00, Colonel Coutts reported to the Divisional Headquarters that the 513th had secured all of its objectives, having knocked out two tanks and destroyed two complete regiments of artillery during its assault. During its attempts to secure its objectives, the regiment also gained a third Medal of Honor for the division when Private First Class Stuart S. Stryker posthumously received the award after leading a charge against a German machine gun nest, creating a distraction to allow the rest of his platoon to capture the fortified position the machine gun was situated in.

    The third component of the 17th Airborne Division to take part in the operation was the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment, under the command of Colonel James Pierce. The regiment landed accurately in landing zone S, but their gliders and the aircraft that towed them took heavy casualties; twelve C-47 transports were lost due to anti-aircraft fire, and a further one hundred and forty were damaged by the same fire. The regiment landed in the midst of a number of German artillery batteries that were engaging Allied ground forces crossing the Rhine, and as such many of the gliders were engaged by German artillery pieces which had their barrels lowered for direct-fire. However, these artillery batteries and their crews were defeated by the glider-borne troops, and the regiment was soon able to report that its objectives had been secured, having destroyed forty-two artillery pieces, ten tanks, two mobile-flak wagons and five self-propelled guns.

    Operation Varsity was a successful large-scale airborne operation. All of the objectives that the airborne troops of the 17th had been tasked with had been captured and held, usually within only a few hours of the operation beginning. The bridges over the Ijssel had been successfully captured, although one later had to be destroyed to prevent its capture by counter-attacking German forces. The Diersfordter Forest had been cleared of enemy troops, and the roads through which the Germans might have routed reinforcements against the advance had been cut by airborne troops. By nightfall of the 24th 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division had joined up with elements of 6th Airborne, and by midnight the first light bridge was across the Rhine. By the 27th twelve bridges suitable for heavy armour had been installed over the Rhine and the Allies had fourteen divisions on the east bank of the river which had penetrated up to ten miles. The division also gained its fourth Medal of Honor in the days following Operation Varsity, when Technical Sergeant Clinton M. Hedrick of the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment received the award posthumously after aiding in the capture of Lembeck Castle, which had been turned into a fortified position by the Germans.

    With the success of Operation Varsity, the northern route into the industrial heart of Germany was now wide open. The cost, however, had been high. The 6th Airborne had suffered 590 killed and another 710 wounded or missing. Several hundred of the missing later turned up to rejoin their units, however. The 17th Airborne had 430 killed, with 834 wounded and 81 missing. Casualties among the glider pilots and the troop plane pilots and crews included 91 killed, 280 wounded and 414 missing in action. Eighty planes were shot down, and only 172 of the 1,305 gliders that landed in Germany were later deemed salvageable.

    A total of 1,111 Allied soldiers had been killed during the day's fighting. In comparison, the 101st Airborne Division had lost 182 killed and the 82nd Airborne 158 on D-Day. Operation Varsity, March 24, 1945, was the worst single day for Allied airborne troops
  10. Ranger6

    Ranger6 Liar

    Staff Sergeant Isadore S Jachman, B Company 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment

    Isadore Jachman was born in Berlin, on 14 December 1923. His parents travelled to the USA two years later, and settled in Baltimore, Maryland. Jachman was a graduate of Baltimore City College, and enlisted in the Army after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He had majored in gym at college and was posted to a port of embarkation, as a calisthenics instructor. Bored with this job, Jachman was told that the only way out was to apply for the Airborne, which he did.
    The 17th Airborne entered combat for the first time on Christmas Day 1944. On 4 January, the 513th PIR was attacking towards Flamierge. The 1st Battalion came under heavy fire as it crossed open ground. Two Tiger tanks concentrated their fire on Jachman’s company. His citation continues:
    …seeing the desperate plight of his comrades, left his place of cover and with total disregard for his own safety dashed across open ground through a hail of fire and seizing a bazooka from a fallen comrade advanced on the tanks, which concentrated their fire on him. Firing the weapon alone, he damaged one and forced both to retire. S/Sgt. Jachman’s heroic action, in which he suffered fatal wounds, disrupted the entire enemy attack, reflecting the highest credit upon himself and the parachute infantry.
    Jachman’s body was repatriated to his hometown and interred in the Adath Israel Anshe Sfard Cemetery.
    Some years after the war, the villagers of Flamierge raised a statue in honour of the unknown soldier who had fought so selflessly to save their village. It was later confirmed that this was Isadore Jachman, and his name was added to the statue. Jachman is also commemorated by the Isadore Jachman Reserve Center which is in Owings Mills, a few miles outside Baltimore.

    Private First Class Stuart S Stryker, E Company 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment

    Stuart Stryker was born on 30 October 1924, in Portland Oregon. He joined the army on 17 July 1943, just three months short of his 19th birthday. Soon after, he became a member of E Company, 2nd Battalion, 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 17th Airborne Division. He survived the fighting around Monty and Flamierges, and, with his fellow veterans and new recruits, trained on the Curtiss C-46 ‘Commando’ ready for the drop into Germany: Operation Varsity.
    On 24 March 1945, the aircraft carrying the 513th arrived over the DZ at 1010 hours. Unfortunately, it was the wrong DZ, about a mile and a half northwest of the intended one. It was only on the ground that the troopers knew they were in the wrong place. Two Lieutenants gathered together a group of E Company men and organized an advance along a railway line. This group soon joined the rest of the company, which included PFC Stryker.
    The company’s objective was a very large farmhouse, and the Americans came under heavy small arms fire as they approached along the railway. Taking cover some 250 yards from the house, the company prepared to attack. A mortar round was fired and was a direct hit. Whilst the occupants were recovering, a platoon broke cover and charged towards the house,. There was still plenty of firepower left, though, and the attack stalled after fifty yards.
    Stryker’s citation explains what happened next:
    voluntarily left a place of comparative safety, and, armed with a carbine, ran to the head of the unit. In full view of the enemy and under constant fire, he exhorted the men to get to their feet and follow him. Inspired by his fearlessness, they rushed after him in a desperate charge through an increased hail of bullets. Twenty-five yards from the objective the heroic soldier was killed by the enemy fusillades. His gallant and wholly voluntary action in the face of overwhelming firepower, however, so encouraged his comrades and diverted the enemy’s attention that other elements of the company were able to surround the house…
    Stuart Stryker’s unselfish and heroic act allowed more than 200 prisoners to be taken and three members of an American bomber crew to be freed.
    Stryker’s body was also repatriated and interred in Grave 719, Section B of the Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, California
    Stuart Stryker shares his surname with another MoH recipient. Specialist Robert Stryker was killed near Loc Ninh, Vietnam, on 7 November 1967, whilst covering a Claymore mine with his body, thus saving the lives of several comrades. In February 2002, the US Army unveiled its new Interim Armored Vehicle, for use with by the Interim Brigade Combat Teams. The new vehicle was called the “Stryker” in honour of the two men.

    Private George J Peters, G Company 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment

    George Peters was born in Cranston, Rhode Island, from where he enlisted in the Army. He volunteered for the Airborne and was posted to the 507th PIR. Surviving the Ardennes, he prepared for Operation Varsity.
    On that day, as Stryker’s aircraft was still approaching the dropping point, the 507th jumped from their C-47 Dakotas. Peters’ company landed on the correct zone, and he and ten others ‘hit dirt’ at its northern edge.
    They were some 75 yards from a German machinegun, whose crew was supported by riflemen. The eleven troopers came under heavy, direct fire, and were immediately pinned down. They struggled to get out of their parachutes, whilst finding themselves separated from their equipment bundles.
    His citation picks up the story:
    Peters stood up without orders and began a one-man charge against the hostile emplacement armed only with a rifle and grenades. His single-handed assault immediately drew the enemy fire away from his comrades. He had run halfway to his objective, pitting rifle fire against that of the machinegun, when he was struck and knocked to the ground by a burst. Heroically, he regained his feet and struggled onward. Once more he was torn by bullets, and this time he was unable to rise. With gallant devotion to his self-imposed mission, he crawled directly into the fire that had mortally wounded him until close enough to hurl grenades which knocked out the machinegun, killed 2 of its operators, and drove protecting riflemen from their positions into the safety of a woods.
    His fellow troopers were able to reach their equipment and joined in the taking of the wood, before heading for Diersfordt.
    George Peters was interred in Grave 8, Row 17 in the Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten and the George J Peters Elementary School, in Cranston, stands as a memorial to him.

    Technical Sergeant Clinton M Hedrick, I Company 194th Glider Infantry Regiment

    Clinton Hedrick was born on 1 May 1918 in Cherry Grove West Virginia. He volunteered for the glider infantry, eventually ending up in the Third Battalion of the 194th GIR.
    Following the landings and river crossing on 24 March, the advance into Germany began two days later. On the outskirts of Lembeck, some twenty miles from Wesel, the leading elements of the 17th, which included Hedrick’s company, were pinned down by intense automatic weapons fire from strongly defended positions. Hedrick’s citation continues:
    Each time, T/Sgt. Hedrick fearlessly charged through heavy fire, shooting his automatic rifle from his hip. His courageous action so inspired his men that they reduced the enemy positions in rapid succession. When 6 of the enemy attempted a surprise, flanking movement, he quickly turned and killed the entire party with a burst of fire. Later, the enemy withdrew across a moat into Lembeck Castle. T/Sgt. Hedrick, with utter disregard for his own safety, plunged across the drawbridge alone in pursuit. When a German soldier, with hands upraised, declared the garrison wished to surrender, he entered the castle yard with 4 of his men to accept the capitulation. The group moved through a sally port, and was met by fire from a German self-propelled gun. Although mortally wounded, T/Sgt. Hedrick fired at the enemy gun and covered the withdrawal of his comrades. He died while being evacuated after the castle was taken.
    Hedrick’s body was repatriated and interred in the North Fork Cemetery, Riverton, West Virginia and the town’s Community Center bears his name.
  11. Ranger6

    Ranger6 Liar

    As an Airborne history buff, and paratrooper, Ive always wondered why Operation Varsity and the US 17th Airborne recived so little press coverage and publicity.. The 17th Airborne had More Medal of honor recipients then the famous 82nd Airborne Division. (17th had 4, the 82nd had 3). And the17th Airborne had more then the Fabled 101st Airborne Division. (101st had 2 reciepients).

    So I came across this article By Burt Hagerman in the February 1988 issue of WW2 Magazine. I figured it would shed some light on this.

    In addition to all the problems inherent in a complicated operation such as the Rhine crossing, the Allied commanders were somewhat distracted by the continuous bickering that went on in the American and British high command. Montgomery continued to maintain that he should be in overall command of the Allied forces, and he never missed an opportunity to take a dig at Eisenhower. The British also criticized Patton and his sometimes outrageous behavior, and they felt that Montgomery did not receive the credit he deserved.
    The Americans, on the other hand, saw Montgomery as a pompous and overly conservative commander. They believed he sought to enhance his public image and tried to take credit for success even when it was not due him. The conflict raged on, and Eisenhower eventually threatened to resign his command unless Montgomery tempered his remarks. At times, it seemed that only the diplomacy of General George C. Marshall, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's chief of staff, held the Allied forces together.

    One concession was granted to the British — a concession that would forever haunt the veterans of the 17th Airborne Division. News of the Rhine crossing would be withheld for almost 24 hours, and the identity of the divisions involved in the operation would be temporarily withheld in Allied press releases. Because of the press blackout, the 17th's participation in this historic operation would not be remembered by many Americans.
  12. Ranger6

    Ranger6 Liar

    The US Army In 1987 to pay honor to the 507th parachute infantry regiment of the 17th airborne div. reorganized The airborne school companies from the 42, 43 and 44th airborne Companys to the 1st battalion 507th Airborne infantry regiment. I was in Charlie company 1st battalion 507th Parachute infantry In airborne school back in April 1988.
  13. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    When you condsider that in only 65 days of combat in two and a half years and 5 months of existance the 17th had K.I.A a total of 1,314 and 4,904 W.I.A. and were awarded four Medals of Honour and three Unit citations to the 1,2,and 3rd battalions of the 513 PIR.And in that short time fought in three of the bloodiest actions of the war Central Europe Rhineland and the Ardennes they truly lived up to their motto 'THUNDER FROM HEAVEN'
  14. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    17th doing a drop in fields near Swindon its from a site about the history of camp Chiseldon

    Cheers for that, in the book I have on Chiseldon Camp it mentions an airborne drop and a local girl was scared by some paras dropping in the field she was in.
    The field is now the road my in-laws live in.
  15. Ranger6

    Ranger6 Liar

    The 507th was also in the Normandy drop with the 82nd airborne
  16. Ranger6

    Ranger6 Liar

    The 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment
    Unit History

    [​IMG]he 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) was activated on July 20, 1942 at Camp Toccoa, Georgia which was located 175 miles north of Fort Benning adjacent to the Currahee Mountain. Lieutenant Colonel George V Millett Jr was given the command. After jump-training at Fort Benning the regiment deployed to the Army air base at Alliance, Nebraska and became part of the 1st Airborne Brigade.After arriving in North Ireland in December, 1943, the 507th was attached to the 82nd Airborne along with the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Still under the command of Colonel George V. Millett Jr, the 507th moved to Nottingham, England in March, 1944 to prepare for the Allied invasion of Europe.

    D-Day - Operation Neptune
    The 507th PIR first saw combat during the Normandy invasion - 6 June 1944. The 507th and the 508th PIRs were to be dropped near the west bank of the Merderet River. The objectives of both regiments was to establish defensive positions in those areas and prepare to attack westward sealing off the Cotentin Peninsula.

    In the predawn hours of D-Day the sporadic jump patterns of the 507th and 508th PIRs left troopers spread out over a twenty mile area. Some who overshot the Drop Zone (DZ) dropped into the Merderet River and its adjoining marshes. Many troopers who jumped with heavy equipment were unable to swim free and drowned. Others roamed the countryside until they encountered other units and joined their effort. Even Colonel Millett, the commanding officer of the 507th was unable to muster his troops and was captured three days after the drop in the vicinity of Amfreville. Only the 2nd Battalion under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Charles J Timmes was able to function as a team and began digging in around Cauquigny on the west bank of the Merderet River.

    [​IMG] Upon verification of Colonel Millett's capture, General Ridgway transferred the command of the 507th to Colonel Edson Raff, a veteran of the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion during Operation Torch. Colonel Raff received this command after fighting his way through to General Ridgway at Les Forges. Colonel Raff would lead the 507th, "Raff's Ruffians" as they would become known, until the end of World War II.

    Throughout the confusion the indomitable spirit of the paratroopers in the days and weeks following D-Day enabled the 82nd Airborne to seize La Fiere bridge and push westward to cut off the Cotentin Penninsula. After 33 days of continuous combat the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions returned to England aboard LSTs.

    [​IMG]In August, 1944 General Matthew Ridgway the 82nd Airborne Commanding General was promoted and took command of the newly formed XVIII Airborne Corps which included the 17th, 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. The 504th PIR which sat out the Normandy drop because of depleted ranks suffered at Anzio was now at full strength. Since the 17th Airborne Division was now training in England and in need of another parachute regiment to full out its ranks, it was determined that the battle-tested 507th PIR would be permanently assigned to it. The 17th Airborne Division under General Miley's command would not participate in Operation Market Garden. Instead, it was held in strategic reserve while completing their training.
    ( Picture above left: Troopers of HQ1 Company 507th PIR in France sometime after D-Day [1/Lt Robert W Law Jr is officer in the center])

    Battle of the Bulge - The Ardennes Offensive
    The Germans launched their last great offensive in Belgium on 16 December, driving west through thinly held positions, and catching the Allies unprepared. Maj. Gen. Troy Middleton's VIII Corps was giving way, and he desperately needed reinforcements.

    The 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions had recently disengaged from operations in Holland and were training and refitting in base camps in the Reims-Suippes-Sissonne area of France. The 17th Airborne Division was in training at base camps in Wiltshire and Surrey, England. Corps Headquarters and Corps troops were split between Epernay, France and Ogbourne St. George, England.

    The initial success of the enemy counter-offensive resulted in a decision by General Eisenhower, Supreme Commander, SHAEF to detach the XVIII Airborne Corps from the FAAA and attach it to the Twelfth Army Group. Meanwhile, concurrent action had been taken to move the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions by truck to the vicinity of Bastogne, Belgium which was the concentration area assigned by the First U.S. Army. Poor weather conditions initially kept the 17th Airborne Division in England. However, they were later able to fly into action from England and fought under the Third U.S. Army.

    From 23 to 25 December, elements of the Division were flown to the Reims area in France in spectacular night flights. These elements closed in at Mourmelon. After taking over the defense of the Meuse River sector from Givet to Verdun, 25 December, the 17th moved to Neufchateau, Belgium, then marched through the snow to Morhet, relieving the 28th Infantry Division, 3 January 1945.

    Initially, the 507th PIR and the 193rd Glider Infantry Regiment (GIR) were kept in reserve in anticipation of a German counter attack. However, once the 17th Airborne Division cleared the western side of Bastogne of all German units, the 507th PIR and the 193rd GIR turned eastward and led an attack across Luxembourg to the Our River. On February 10, 1945 the 507th PIR was relieved and returned to its base camp at Chalons-sur-Marne in France.

    Operation Varsity - The Airborne Assault on the Rhine
    In early February 1945, the tide of battle was such as to enable an accurate estimate as to when and where the 2nd British Army would be ready to force a crossing of the Rhine River. It was determined that the crossing would be in conjunction with an airborne operation by XVIII Airborne Corps.

    The sector selected for the assault was in the vicinity of Wesel, just north of the Ruhr, on 24 March 1945. Operation Varsity would be the last full scale airborne drop of World War II and the assignment went to the 17th Airborne Division with the 507th spearheading the assault dropping at the southern edge of the Diersfordter Forest, three mile northwest of Wesel.

    It was during this operation that Pfc George J Peters of the 507th won the Congressional Medal of Honor. Pfc Peters and a group of 10 other troopers landed in an open field near the town of Fluren. Raked by enemy machine gun fire the troopers laid there helplessly. Peters, armed with only his rifle and a few grenades took it upon himself to charge the German machine gun nest. After receiving several wounds and bleeding profusely Peters crawled to within 15 feet of the gun enplacement and pitched two grenades into the enemy stronghold. The ensuing explosion silenced the machine gun and its crew.

    Operation Varsity was a text book success. All of the units had performed in an amazing fashion shattering the German defenses in four and a half hours. In the ensuing days the 17th Airborne would lead the thrust into the heartland of Germany. On April 10th the 507th captured Essen, the home of the Krupps Steelworks.

    On May 7, 1945, General Alfred Jodl signed the instrument of surrender in Rheims, France. The ceremony was repeated the next day in Berlin for the benefit of the Russians and President Truman declared May 8 as V-E Day. In September, 1945 the 17th Airborne Division was shipped home and deactivated
  17. Ranger6

    Ranger6 Liar

  18. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    A couple of sad accidents mentioned in The Story Of Chisledon camp Part Two 1922-1963 by David Bailey.
    22nd October 1944 a party of 17th AB troopers hitched a lift in an open truck going down Leigh Hill, south of Marlborough the truck was in collision with a coach full of US Servicemen. The impact tore the side off the coach killing several pasengers and many men in the open truck were thrown out.
    In all 10 US Servicemen were killed and 21 severly injured.
    On 12th December 1944 a HORSA glider with 31 men on board lost control and crashed near Newbury with the loss of all passengers & crew.
    The men kileld in the glider were from 194th G.I.R.
    They are listed here.
    The 194th Glider Infantry Regiment (GIR) - Roll of Honor A - J
  19. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    When I consider the disparity of the credit received and the priced paided by the infantry divisions, I have tended to supress my enthusiasm for paratroops and other elites. That might be a perspective gained by age. But some thoughts in brief...

    The 17th AB somewhat retained its authorized organization with one 3-battalion parachute infantry regiment and two 2-battalion glider infantry regiments. So somewhat less than the 101st and 82d, which each had two additional parachute infantry regiments and split three 2-battalion glider infantry regiments to make two 3-battalion glider infantry regiments, one for each division.

    Before their first combat in the Ardennes they received the veteran 507th PIR, but this was still somewhat less than a regular infantry division since it lacked many of the infantry heavy weapons and had only the lighter airborne artillery. I think this somewhat accounts for the high casualties for such a short combat record. That and the offensive role they were given in closing the Bulge. Although highly aggressive, I believe, they lacked the skill and firepower to hold down the casualty count when attacking, IIRC, mostly panzergrenadiere.

    "The Making of a Paratrooper" by Kurt Gabel, is a memior by a veteran of the 513th PIR. Regretably he died before completing his account and the book ends after the fighting in the Ardennes. A quick check shows his unit was at Tidworth, England (not sure how that relates to Chisledon). I recall a description of a training excercise in London where they used a bombed out section of the city for live-fire urban combat training. I have wondered who came up with that good idea and how common was it.

    IIRC the 513th PIR was one of the last regiments formed and included a number of instructors from the Airborne School. Gabel speaks quite highly of these tough and intelligent troopers. Also, as you might guess from his name, he was of German decent and had to be naturalized as a US citizen before he shipped overseas.
  20. zeke

    zeke Junior Member

    Sorry for the late post but I ran across this tread while searching for information on the 507th and 82nd. My Father was a paratrooper and was shipped to Europe in February 1945 where he joined the 507th Airborne. He jumped in Operation Varsity and didn't leave Germany until May 1946. My Father didn't talk much about the war, but I do recall many times he stated the journalists covering the operation were killed when their glider crashed. This, along with the 24 hour news blackout, may explain why there isn't much written about Operation Varsity.

    If anyone is interested, here's a link to the 18th Corps Report: Operation Varsity . I don't believe there is anything about the death of the journalists in the Corps Report.

    Ranger6, I would like to personally thank you for your service in our Armed Forces.

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