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Author Topic: 101st Airborne Division  (Read 9468 times)
Mad Russian

« on: 14 November 2008, 04:47:51 »

101st Airborne Division

Since D-Day, 6 June 1944, the 101st Airborne Division has been an elite formation in the United States Army. It has served in several wars at different  times in it's history. The division has been active from June 6th 1944 until the present.

Nickname:  Screaming Eagle
Casualties in WWII:  9,328
Days of Combat in WWII:   214
Activation Date:  15 Aug 42
Date Sent Overseas:   15 Sep 43 (England)
Date Entered Combat:  6 Jun 44 (D-Day)
Status June 1946:  inactivated 30 Nov 45
Wars after WWII:  Vietnam, Desert Shield/Storm, Iraq

 Campaigns         Missing/Captured in Action    |     Wounded/Injured in Action      |     Killed/DOW in Action

Normandy.......                 665....                                         2,303...                                           868 
Holland...........                 398...                                           2,151...                                          752         
Belgium..........                 527...                                           2,449...                                          482        
Germany........                    X...                                               X....                                             X
TOTALS............             1,590...                                          2,782...                                         2,043

x - Figures not available for this campaign (Alsace).

Commanding General(s):

Maj. Gen. William C. Lee    (Aug 42 - Mar 44)
Maj. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor    (Mar 44 - Dec 44)
Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe    (Dec 44 - Dec 44)
Maj. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor    (Dec 44 - Sep 45)
Campaign(s) in WWII:    
Normandy    (6 Jun 44 - 24 Jul 44)
Rhineland    (15 Sep 44 - 21 Mar 45)
Ardennes-Alsace    (16 Dec 44 - 25 Jan 45)
Central Europe    (22 Mar 45 - 11 May 45)

Activation date is the date the division was activated or inducted into federal service (national guard units).
Casualties are number of killed, wounded in action, captured, and missing.
Other Wars are the wars in which the division was mobilized.
The dates after the campaign name are the dates of the campaign not of the division.

WWII Medals Earned:
Congressional Medal of Honor..... 2         
Distinguished Service Cross........ 47         
Distinguished Service Medal........ 1         
Legion of Merit........................... 12         
Silver Star.................................. 516         
Bronze Star............................... 6,977         

Primary Source:

« Last Edit: 29 December 2008, 05:51:28 by Mad Russian » Logged
Mad Russian

« Reply #1 on: 14 November 2008, 04:50:43 »

United States 101st Airborne Division Organization (1944)

327th Glider Infantry Regiment
401st Glider Infantry Regiment (disbanded 1 March 1945 in France)
502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment

HHB Divisional Artillery
321st Glider Field Artillery Battalion (75mm)
377th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion (75mm)
907th Glider Field Artillery Battalion (75mm)

81st Airborne Antiaircraft Battalion
326th Airborne Engineer Battalion
326th Airborne Medical Company
101st Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment

Headquarters Company, 101st Airborne Division
Military Police Platoon
Reconnaissance Platoon
801st Airborne Ordnance Maintenance Company
426th Airborne Quartermaster Company
101st Signal Company

United States 101st Airborne Division Organization (1945)

327th Glider Infantry Regiment
502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment
506th Parachute Infantry Regiment

HHB Divisional Artillery
321st Glider Field Artillery Battalion (75mm)
377th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion (75mm)
463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion (75mm)
907th Glider Field Artillery Battalion (75mm)

81st Airborne Antiaircraft Battalion
101st Signal Company

326th Airborne Engineer Battalion
326th Airborne Medical Company
101st Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment

Headquarters, Special Troops
Headquarters Company, 101st Airborne Division
Military Police Platoon
Reconnaissance Platoon
801st Airborne Ordnance Maintenance Company
426th Airborne Quartermaster Company
101st Parachute Maintenance Company

Attached Units (1944-1945)

501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (attached 1 May 1944 - 9 May 1945)
506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (attached 15 September 1943 - 1 March 1945)
509th Parachute Infantry Regiment (attached 22 November 1944 - 18 December 1944)
759th Tank Battalion (attached 28 June 1944 - 8 July 1944)
774th Tank Battalion (attached 5 May 1945 - 9 May 1945)
611th Tank Destroyer Battalion (attached 6 January 1945 - 7 January 1945)
705th Tank Destroyer Battalion (attached 20 December 1944 - 18 December 1945)
807th Tank Destroyer Battalion (attached 20 January 1945 - 22 February 1945)
813th Tank Destroyer Battalion (attached 5 May 1945 - 9 May 1945)
567th Auto-Weapons Battalion (attached 23 February 1945 - 27 February 1945)

Primary Source:

"Order of Battle: U.S. Army, World War II" by Shelby Stanton
Mad Russian

« Reply #2 on: 14 November 2008, 04:51:56 »

United States 101st Airborne Division Overseas Wartime Assignments WWII

VIII Corps - 22 January 1944
First Army - 13 March 1944
VII Corps - 6 June 1944
VIII Corps - 15 June 1944
Ninth Army - 15 July 1944
XVIII (A/B) Corps - 12 August 1944
First Allied (A/B) Army - 18 September 1944
British 1st (A/B) Corps - 21 September 1944
British 8th Corps - 23 September 1944
British 812h Corps - 28 September 1944
Canadian 2nd Corps (attached) - 9 November 1944
VIII Corps (attached) - 17 December 1944
III Corps - 26 December 1944
VIII Corps - 29 December 1944
First Allied (A/B) Army - 19 January 1945
VI Corps - 26 January 1945
XVIII (A/B) Corps - 28 February 1945
XXII Corps (attached) - 1 April 1945
First Allied (A/B) Army - 6 April 1945
VI Corps - 23 April 1945
XXI Corps (attached) - 4 May 1945
Mad Russian

« Reply #3 on: 14 November 2008, 04:53:12 »

101st Airborne Division in Normandy

The primary mission of the 101st Airborne Division was to seize the western edge of the flooded area back of the beach between St. Martin-de-Varreville and Pouppeville. Its secondary mission was to protect the southern flank of VII Corps and be prepared to exploit southward through Carentan. The latter task was to be carried out by destroying two bridges on the main Carentan highway and the railroad bridge west of it, by seizing and holding the la Barquette lock, and finally by establishing a bridgehead over the Douve River northeast of Carentan.

At approximately 1:30 a.m. on June 6, 1944, the commander of the 101st Airborne Division landed heavily in a French pasture near the village of Ste. Marie-du-Mont in Normandy. Major General Maxwell Taylor had no time to reflect on the fact that he was the first United States general ever to parachute into combat, as well as the first American general on enemy soil in Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of France.

The 101st was one of three Allied airborne divisions supporting the amphibious assault on Normandy. The British 6th Airborne Division had the task of securing bridges on the eastern flank of the landing beaches. The U.S. 82nd Division had as its primary missions the sealing of the central Cotentin Penin-sula from any attack from the south and the destruction of bridges over the Douve River north of its junction with the Merderet. The 101st was to secure the exits of four causeways behind Utah Beach, Exits 1, 2, 3, and 4; destroy bridges over the Douve northwest of Carentan; and capture two bridges northeast of the town.

The Germans were ready. Five divisions, plus several smaller units, were stationed in the area of the Allied landings. One of these was the 91st Air Landing Division, which had been en route to Brittany when diverted to the Cotentin Peninsula. Another potent reinforcement was the thirty-five-hundred-man 6th Fallschirmjäger (Paratroop) Regiment.

The 101st's role called for its parachute component, sixty-six hundred men in three regiments, to land in darkness and secure the four causeways leading inland from Utah Beach. It was a vital assignment, for the Germans had flooded low-lying areas behind the beaches, obliging any invading force to funnel across a few causeways in order to move inland. Overlord would be primarily a parachute operation for the 101st, because the one area where Leigh-Mallory carried the day concerned the gliders. Since they would come in after the Germans had been alerted by paratroop landings, the division was allocated only fifty-two gliders, enough for about three hundred men and some pack artillery. Most of the division's 327th Glider Infantry Regiment became part of the amphibious landing.

At dawn, of the sixty-six hundred paratroopers of the 101st, perhaps one thousand were at or near division objectives. Others were as far as ten miles away. The glider operation proved far more precise than the parachute drop, with forty-nine out of fifty-two gliders reaching their landing zones. But glider landings were hardly landings at all. No glider that went into Normandy ever saw service again, and some were so thoroughly destroyed that soldiers had difficulty removing the cargo.

Scattered across the Cotentin Peninsula, American paratroopers implemented a directive laid down in training: If a unit did not reach its drop zone, it should carry out those missions assigned to the area where it found itself. The headquarters group was close to its drop zone and did not have to implement a fallback plan. Taylor sent several officers off to establish a division headquarters at the village of Hiesville, while he and the remainder of his band set out toward Utah Beach.

There were many small clashes in the early hours of June 6, but the initial German reaction to the airborne landings was confusion and uncertainty. In the words of historian David Howarth, "The Americans knew what was happening, but few of them knew where they were; the Germans knew where they were, but none of them knew what was happening." Reports of paratrooper landings poured into German headquarters, but no pattern was discernable.

Historian Max Hastings has noted that "all wars become a matter of small private battles to those who are fighting them." This was notably true in the struggle for Normandy, where one could rarely see more than one hundred to two hundred yards in any direction, and where infantry was often out of touch with armor. The attrition within infantry units was high, and nowhere higher than in the airborne divisions, which had yet to locate their glider-borne artillery. It took the 101st three days to collect scattered paratroopers, acquire some vehicles, and clear out areas of resistance north of the Douve River.

There was a lot to learn. Although the Americans had been briefed about hedgerows, they were not prepared for their size. A trooper from the 82nd, Sergeant Fred Schlemmer, recalled, "We assumed that they would be similar to the English hedgerows, which were like small fences that the fox hunters jumped over." Instead, the invaders were confronted with great banks of foliage that made every road a potential revetment ideal for defense.

Elsewhere the record was also mixed. The British glider forces had found their landing zones and quickly captured bridges over the Orne River. Ridgway's 82nd Division, however, had had a dreadful drop; not only were its paratroopers scattered but fewer than half of its gliders had reached their designated landing areas. A force from the 82nd, aided by some men of the 101st, captured Ste. Mre-Eglise shortly after dawn on D-Day, but was subjected to fierce enemy counterattacks for the remainder of the day.

As darkness fell on D-Day, the extent of the Allied foothold was less than Eisenhower had hoped. Instead of controlling beachheads six miles deep, as the high command had projected, Allied forces were no more than five miles inland anywhere, and their hold in several areas was precarious. In contrast to the relative ease with which Utah Beach had been secured, the landings on Omaha Beach had been extremely costly; the U.S. 1st and 29th Divisions clung to an enclave less than a mile deep. Bodies, wrecked landing craft, and the debris of war littered the area where twenty-five hundred Americans had died.

The toughest fighting may have been along the exposed St. Côme-du-Mont-Carentan highway, also known as the Carentan Causeway but later referred to by U.S. paratroopers as "Purple Heart Lane." The two-lane road ran straight as an arrow, and the surrounding flooded marshlands made off-road movement difficult.

The airborne pincers had achieved their objective, but the Germans slipped away. Colonel von der Heydte pulled out of Carentan on the night of June 11 and set up a new defense line to the southwest. The German commander would be sharply criticized for his withdrawal because the 17th Panzer Division was even then moving to reinforce Carentan, but the Germans were almost out of ammunition, and withdrawal may have been the only prudent course.

The 101st's role in Operation Overlord was almost over. On June 29 the division was withdrawn from Carentan and moved north for occupation duty near Cherbourg. The troops were due some relief. Since D-Day the division had suffered more than forty-six hundred casualties, over one-third of its strength.

For the Allied high command, however, the work of the airborne divisions, on which such care had been lavished, was a source of relief and satisfaction. Despite heavy casualties -- and those in the 82nd were even higher than those in the 101st -- the airborne component had made a major contribution to the success of Overlord. Bradley, who had told Eisenhower that he could not order landings at Utah Beach without the airborne operation, was elated. As for Eisenhower, asked many years later what had been his most satisfying moment in the war, he replied that it was when he heard that his two airborne divisions had reached Normandy.

Primary Sources:


Mad Russian

« Reply #4 on: 14 November 2008, 04:54:28 »

101st Airborne Division in Market Garden

In broad daylight the three parachute infantry regiments of the 101st Airborne Division descended with amazing accuracy on designated drop zones in Nazi-occupied Holland. It was September 17, 1944, and the Screaming Eagles were to play a vital role in Operation Market-Garden. Once the Allied armies had broken out of their D-Day beachhead and through the bocage, or hedgerow country, of France, they advanced rapidly. Disorganized German units retreated before them.

The U.S. airborne troops, who had participated in the D-Day operations, had been resting and absorbing replacements in England since mid-July. For Market-Garden, it was hoped that the Americans, along with the British 1st Airborne Division, would launch a bold strike across the Maas, Waal and Neder Rijn (Rhine) rivers in Holland that would pave the way for ground troops to advance swiftly into Germany and end the war by Christmas of 1944.

Key to the success of Montgomery's plan would be the seizure of bridges across rivers and adjacent canals by the airborne troops and swift movement of ground forces up a single highway, spanning roughly 60 miles from the Allied lines in Belgium to the Dutch town of Arnhem. The troops would hold the bridges until relief appeared in the form of the British XXX Corps charging down the single road, crossing the bridges successively and arriving at Arnhem as the vanguard of a larger force pushing southeast into Germany.

The 101st would secure the southernmost bridges, including one over the Wilhelmina Canal at the town of Son, a pair spanning the Dommel River at St. Oedenrode and then four more over the Aar River near the town of Veghel. Eindhoven was also to be captured while the men of the 101st held open 15 miles of the road toward Arnhem for the XXX Corps' use. By the end of their service in Market-Garden, the men of the 101st would refer to this stretch of road as "Hell's Highway." Farther north, the 82nd Airborne was ordered to capture the bridge at Grave, the longest in Europe. The 82nd would also take one or more of the four bridges across the Maas-Waal Canal, another bridge over the Waal at Nijmegen and the area around the town of Groesbeek. The final leg of the XXX Corps' drive involved a dash from Nijmegen to Arnhem, where the British 1st Airborne was to capture and hold three bridges across the Rhine.

On the afternoon of September 17, the 101st executed a nearly flawless airdrop. All but two of its battalions were delivered to their correct drop zones. Unlike what had happened in the D-Day drops, the transport pilots held their planes steady and on course through anti-aircraft fire rather than taking evasive action that could have scattered the troops. Most units assembled and moved toward their objectives shortly after landing.

The XXX Corps halted that evening at Valkenswaard, six miles away. By the time the XXX Corps arrived at Eindhoven the next day, the town was in the hands of the 101st. As night fell on the 17th, the 101st controlled Veghel, St. Oedenrode and Son. Although the 502nd had encountered battle-toughened German troops around Best, the objective there was secondary. In a few hours, the 101st would have its stretch of Hell's Highway completely open.

Finally, at 1700 hours that evening, the leading elements of the XXX Corps rumbled through Eindhoven virtually without stopping. At Son, Canadian engineers, who had been notified that the existing bridge had been destroyed, worked throughout the night to deploy a prefabricated Bailey bridge. At 0645 on the 19th, 33 hours behind schedule, the tanks of the XXX Corps rumbled over the Wilhelmina Canal.

On the 22nd, the Germans mounted a counterattack against Veghel supported by heavy artillery and aircraft. The attack was not beaten back until two days later.

On September 24, the Germans ravaged a British column on Hell's Highway at Koevering. They killed over 300.

Although it became apparent that Market-Garden was a strategic failure, the men of the 101st Airborne could say that they had done their part admirably. The northern flank of the Allied armies was extended 65 miles across two canals and the Maas and Waal rivers, while a considerable amount of Dutch territory had been freed from Nazi occupation. The division had killed many Germans and captured 3,511, while suffering 2,110 casualties itself.

At the end of September, the division was placed under the control of the British XII Corps on the 28th and transferred north to the front line in an area known as the Island, a 5-kilometer strip of land between the Neder Rijn and the Waal. Due to heavy demands for manpower, the British were pressed for troops, and both the 101st and 82nd Airborne divisions found themselves in positions that resembled the trench lines of World War I. Occasionally, they experienced artillery duels between the Germans and the British and were involved in infantry clashes.

The 101st held its positions on the Island until late November, when it was withdrawn to Camp Mourmelon, outside the French village of Mourmelon-le-Grand. From the Market-Garden drop until its last troopers were relieved, the division had spent 72 days in combat zones. In the defensive fighting at the Island, it suffered 1,682 casualties.

Primary Source:

Mad Russian

« Reply #5 on: 14 November 2008, 04:55:45 »

101st Airborne Division in The Battle of the Bulge

On the December 17th, 1944, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower ordered the 101st Airborne Division to Bastogne, to set up defensive positions. They set up their positions and on about the 18th, the German army ran by both sides and headed on west. They completely surrounded Bastogne and made some effort to capture the city, but not a great effort until later on.

By 21 December the German forces had surrounded Bastogne, which was defended by the 101st Airborne Division and Combat Command B of the 10th Armored Division. Conditions inside the perimeter were tough—most of the medical supplies and medical personnel had been captured. Food was scarce, and ammunition was so low that artillery crews were forbidden to fire on advancing Germans unless there was a large concentration of them. Despite determined German attacks, however, the perimeter held. The German commander sent this request to the American commander in Bastogne:

    To the U.S.A. Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne.

    The fortune of war is changing. This time the U.S.A. forces in and near Bastogne have been encircled by strong German armored units. More German armored units have crossed the river Our near Ortheuville, have taken Marche and reached St. Hubert by passing through Hompre-Sibret-Tillet. Libramont is in German hands.

    There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note.

    If this proposal should be rejected one German Artillery Corps and six heavy A. A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the U.S.A. troops in and near Bastogne. The order for firing will be given immediately after this two hours' term.

    All the serious civilian losses caused by this artillery fire would not correspond with the well known American humanity.

    The German Commander.

When General Anthony McAuliffe, acting commander of the 101st Airborne, was told of this German invitation to surrender, he responded "Aw, nuts!". After turning to other pressing issues, his staff reminded him that they should reply to the German demand; one officer recommended that the initial reply would be "tough to beat". Thus McAuliffe wrote on the paper delivered to the Germans: “NUTS!” That reply had to be explained, both to the Germans and to non-American Allies.

Rather than launching one simultaneous attack all around the perimeter, the German forces concentrated their assaults on several individual locations attacked in sequence. Although this compelled the defenders to constantly shift reinforcements in order to repel each attack, it tended to dissipate the Germans’ numerical advantage.

Primary Source:


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