17th Airborne Division

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General William M Miley General William M Miley


R E L A T E D
B I O S

Gen Matthew B Ridgway

Lt Gen Lewis H Brereton

Gen George S Patton

Gen Dwight D Eisenhower

FM Bernard L Montgomery



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17th Airborne WW II
Congressional Medal
of Honor Recipients

T/Sgt Clinton M Hedrick
S/Sgt Isadore S Jachman
Pvt George J Peters
Pfc Stuart S Stryker




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USAAF Airborne Troop Carriers in World War II

Camp Claiborne, Louisiana

ETO Cross Channel Attack (Hyperwar)





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The Drop Zone: Varsity - 513th PIR e-History

The Drop Zone: Operation Varsity - My Longest Day

The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge
The 17th Airborne during World War II
Overview

17th Airborne Division Patch he 17th "Thunder from Heaven" Airborne Division was activated at Camp Mackall on April 15, 1943 under the command of General William M Miley. (pictured left)  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. This was just another reminder of why the American flag still stands for freedom.



books
R E L A T E D   B O O K S

Annussek, Greg Hitler's Raid to Save Mussolini: The Most Infamous Commando Operation of World War II. Sept 1, 2005, Da Capo Press, 353 pp. ISBN: 0306813963
Astor, Gerald  A Blood-Dimmed Tide: The Battle of the Bulge by the Men Who Fought It. Mass Market Paperback, 1994 ISBN: 0440215749
Breuer, William B Geronimo! American Paratroopers in WWII. New York: St. Martin Press, 1989 621 p. ISBN: 0-312-03350-8
Breuer, William B Unexplained Mysteries of World War II. John Wiley & Sons, Sept 1998 256 p. ISBN:0471291072
D'Este, Carlo  Decision in Normandy William S Konnecky Assc(P), 560 p. ISBN: 1568522606
D'Este, Carlo  Patton: A Genius for War 1024 pp ISBN: 0060927623
Devlin, Gerard S  Paratrooper! St Martin's Press, (P) c1976 ISBN: 0312596529
Francois, Dominique 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment: A Forgotten Regiment Heimdal (Aug 2002), 120 p. ISBN: 2840481642
Gabel, Kurt The Making of a Paratrooper: Airborne Training and Combat in World War II Univ Press of Kansas (Jan 1990), 282 p. ISBN: 070060409X
Gavin, James M.  On to Berlin : Battles of an Airborne Commander, 1943-1946 ISBN: 0670525170
Giard, Régis & Frédéric Blais Helmets of the ETO: A Historical & Technical Guide Histoire & Collections (Jan 2008), 216 p. ISBN: 2352500621
Hastings, Max Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy Simon and Shuster(JUV), 396 p. ISBN: 0671554352
Hicks, Anne The Last Fighting General: The Biography of Robert Tryon Frederick Schiffer Pub Ltd, 320pp, ISBN: 0764324306
Keegan, John The Second World War Penguin (P), 708 p. ISBN: 014011341X
Keegan, John Six Armies in Normandy: From D-Day to the Liberation of Paris Penguin USA(P), 365 p. ISBN: 0140235426
Kershaw, Alex The Longest Winter: The Battle of the Bulge and the Epic Story of WWII's Most Decorated Platoon Da Capo Press, 288 pp November 30, 2004 ISBN: 0306813041
Kormann, John G  Echoes of a Distant Clarion: Recollections of a Diplomat and Soldier Vellum (P), 520 p. ISBN: 0979448832
MacDonald, Charles B  A Time For Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge Wm Morrow & Co (P), 720 p. ISBN: 068151574
O'Donnell, Patrick K. Beyond Valor  Free Press, 2001, 384 p. ISBN: 0684873842
Wilson, Robert L. & Phillip K. A Paratrooper's Panoramic View: Training with the 464th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion for Operation Varsity. pps, 244, 11/30/2005, Authorhouse ISBN: 1420854291
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