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WW II Poster

325th GIR WW II
Medal of Honor Recipient

  Pfc Charles N. DeGlopper


USAAF Airborne Troop Carriers in World War II

Camp Claiborne, Louisiana
36th Infantry Division

The American Experience: D- Day (PBS)

D-Day: Etat de Lieux

The Drop Zone

ETO Cross Channel Attack (Hyperwar)


The 82nd Airborne (CMH) Center for Military History

Sicily (CMH)

Salerno (CMH)

Normandy (CMH)

Battle of the Bulge (CMH)

The 325th Glider Infantry Regiment

Memories of the 325th GIR

T/Sgt Russ Sunbury 3rd Platoon, Co K, 325th GIR.

T/Sgt Russ Sunbury After spending several years, 1941-1944, patrolling the North and South Shores of Long Island, New York, for saboteurs I was finally sent to Camp Miles Standish, a debarkation point in Massachusetts. In the Spring of 1944 a group of us left this camp for Europe in one of the largest naval armadas ever assembled. Four days and about eight meals later I arrived in Liverpool, England, on a foggy morning and was greeted by unfamiliar and ghostly gargoyles on the tops of buildings close by. From there I was shuttled to a replacement depot (repo depo) where I stayed just long enough to become acquainted with English tea, dampness, fog and a new form of money.

One morning after breakfast about 500 of us were notified that we had "volunteered" for an airborne unit and were sent to Camp Scraptoft, near Leicester. I was assigned to CO. F, 401st Glider Infantry Regiment, 101st A/B Div. This regiment was latter attached to the 82nd A/B Div. and became CO. K, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment. I stayed with the unit until after the war when they went to Berlin and I to a university in Shrivenham.

My memory is very hazy from this point on and I can only relate to a few key experiences. Scraptoft, in Leicester, England was similar to most other army units in that it was bivouacked in an open field. There were company streets for each line unit and an Orderly Room at one end. We slept in six man tents, and the only wooden building I recall was the mess hall that rested on concrete blocks. The food was hot and the cooks did the best with what they had. But I doubt if any anyone gained much weight. Food for the general English public was rationed and, because of that we were encouraged to eat in the mess hall even when we were off duty. I had no meaningful contacts with the townspeople at this time, but met a very nice family named Simms while attending the University at Shrivenham. By attending the university I felt that I could better prepare myself for civilian life.

Prelude to D-Day
On the evening of 6 June 1944 the sky gradually grew dark. I glanced up and could see why. Above, and coming low in three directions the sky was filled with allied airplanes of almost every type and description. First Sgt. Ray Nelson, called me to the orderly room and instructed me to make an announcement in the company street that "D Day," the invasion of France," had started.

Soon after that our airborne training commenced with what was to us a new form of transportation, the American CG-4A glider and the British Horsa, both known as, "flying coffins" and well named, as history would show.

When the main body of our company returned from Normandy on 14 July, much of the conversation focused on St. Mere Eglise, a village in France. But little did I know the significance of this area and what had taken place there. Later I learned from the more seasoned troopers that though quite well fortified this was the first village in France liberated by our division.

In the middle of September we boarded trucks and headed for an airfield. But I had no idea where we were going. There were about 23 air fields available but I didn't know at the time which one we used nor did I know that this would be the beginning of another major operation. Recently I received information from Mr. Wayne Pierce, author of, "Let's Go", that we departed from the air field at Folkingham.

At the field we were housed in six man tents, as at Scraptoft, issued additional equipment, and stayed several days. Just long enough for a more stable landing zone to be established. There were also days when even the weather was not on our side. We were briefed that we would take off on D+2, or the 19th of September. Our mission was to secure the bridge at Grave and Nijmegen, Holland. This operation would be known as, "Market-Garden", Market for the assault by air and Garden for the ground attack.

After lunch on the 23rd of September, we boarded CG 4A's, lifted off towed by a single C-47, and over air cover formed in columns of four. Each glider held thirteen men with their equipment, or a vehicle or armament required for the mission.

The flight was not the most comfortable because of the heat and a few air sick troopers. But at least no one was injured while in the air. I remember that we had greasy pork chops for lunch that didn't help. There was a sufficient number of large empty cans on board in the event anyone became sick. Fortunately they weren't needed. The time enroute seemed like an eternity in that there was really nothing to do except wait, hope, and pray for a safe landing and a safe return. I sat behind the co-pilot and had a clear view of a vast sky and the clean blue waters of the English Channel below. Our route to Groesbeek, Holland, took us over the channel and lasted about four hours. At our initial touch-down we bounced, skidded a ways and landed in an area around Grave and the Waal River, Nijmegen.

Although the "touch down" was rough and abrupt we all survived with only a few bruises. We were fortunate in that we were able to avoid any trees or high objects as were faced by the men in Normandy. After landing and ensuring that all was accounted for, we assembled at a pre-arranged area.

Note: Unofficial estimates from the regiment show that approximately 258 gliders left for this operation and of those about 200 landed in or near where they were destined. Forty four were short of their landing zone, two had mechanical problems and had to return to England. Eleven were not accounted for at the time. (This information courtesy of Wayne Pierce, author of the book, "Let's Go")

Again my memory is rather hazy. My first encounter with heavy fighting took place at the Kiekberg Woods near the Reichwald Forest. I don't recall any preparation for this action but I do remember advancing down a dirt road and then up a hill to our left. As we got into the woods, tree bursts rained down on us and killed several members of my company. The damages demanded a temporary halt and was mutually agreed upon.

I also recall the Mook Plains and moving out from there on a damp and foggy morning. Our orders were to advance to the right of the canal but apparently they were misunderstood and we headed in the wrong direction. Fortunately, Ray Nelson, the 1st Sgt., noticed the error in time and made the necessary corrections. A few words were exchanged between he and a Lt. but fortunately there was no real danger. Nelson was aware of what was going on, and I'm sure that the company commander depended on him as much as he would one of his officers.

One morning, when we were dug in at a crossroad, I was sent out on a patrol to check on a "movement" of some kind in a drainage ditch to our left front. When we arrived we found a young German soldier. I sensed that he was not sad about being found. At least he knew no one would shoot at him and he'd be relatively safe. This was my first face-to-face experience with a Nazi, and I wasn't taking any chances. I removed the safety from my rifle as the teenager walked in front of me. Then I heard someone say, "Don't !" apparently believing that I had planned to fire. The prisoner was escorted to the rear for interrogation and internment.

Prior to going to the repo depo in Massachusetts I spent some time at Ft.Dix New Jersey, a camp where many German prisoners were interned. On returning from work details they would occasionally tease and jeer us so, I had a feeling that this young soldier we had just captured was happy to be in our hands and would not do as his older countrymen.

While we were in a secondary position and in front of an English unit, a force of Canadian soldiers, believed to be from Toronto, passed through the Britts (who were having afternoon tea) just to visit and swap stories and cigarettes with us "yanks". It was a rather obvious "Cold Shoulder" to the English. When it was our turn to be rotated from all this horror and destruction, we spent time in a rest area in Groesbeek/Nijmegen. Although we were still in the army, life was a little more relaxed. We were billeted in what appeared to be a small hotel and we could actually stretch out in a normal prone position to sleep. This had scarcely been done since leaving England. Even the food tasted better. Normally our "diet" consisted of "C" rations, but if we're lucky or "K" and "D" rations. If we did have a hot meal it was doled out from the rear area and was usually cold or rain- soaked by the time we returned to our fox holes.

We returned to the line sometime in November. Then, at 1100 hours on the 11th, we held our own Veteran's Day celebration. It was an impromptu event where riflemen on the line fired a clip of ammunition, the mortar crew fired a few rounds and automatic weapons several short bursts. The Germans were not aware that we were celebrating a national holiday and "replied" with their own artillery, mortars and small arms fire.

When we were relieved we went to Sissonne where we occupied French Army barracks. Life here was more relaxed. Red Cross ladies were there with free coffee and donuts. It was here where I first saw a can-can dancer. France would not be France without this sort of exuberance. We had our Thanksgiving dinner there and also had a chance to go to Paris or Reims. One day I went to the Cathedral in Reims and climbed the tower. I don't know why nor do I remember if the view was any better at the top, but recall that the stairs kept going round and round and never seemed to end.

Around the middle of December our "easy living" was interrupted by reports that the Germans, commanded by Gen. Von Rundstedt, had broken through our lines in the Ardennes Forest in Belgium. Trucks took us to an area around Barvaux where snow covered the ground and the temperature dipped to about 20 degrees F. We had no winter clothing or anything really adequate to protect our feet, and so we were advised to change socks and massage our feet when possible to prevent frost bite. This was not always practical since warmth needed to remove gloves and unlace any foot gear, was non existent for those on the line. We were issued shoe pacs, a buckled type of overshoe and additional clothing; but even that was not sufficient for those cold conditions. Bolts on our M1's had to be kicked open and, even today my hands and feet are still the first things to get cold. This winter of 1944-1945 was reported to be the coldest in more than 20 years.

Towards the end of December our battalion, (the 3rd), relieved our 1st Bn. at Vaux Chauvanne. There was not much action at the time, still our lives were not ideal because of the extreme cold and adverse living conditions. Christmas packages were handed out when possible. I received one from friends. It didn't contain the usual cookies, candy, ties or socks. Rather a small bottle of Scotch whiskey safely packed in a large hollowed-out loaf of bread. The amount was too small to share, and even if I had passed it around it wouldn't have lasted very long. Instead, I took a small sip from time to time and relished every bit. It came in very handy when things got rougher than normal. Our Christmas dinner came late but, we celebrated anyway. On the 1st of January and in a grove of pine trees we had turkey, the first real hot food since leaving Sissonne two weeks earlier.

Early in January I manned a listening post some distance in front of our lines around Odrimount. One afternoon I spotted some 'jerries" and a Tiger tank at about 2:00 0'clock and phoned Sgt (Woody) Keyser from the mortar section, of the weapons platoon and gave him a bridge as a reference point along with an approximate distance. Woody's first round was short and unfortunately knocked out my phone line. Not wanting to be left alone, I got out of the hole, traced the line, and repaired the break by twisting each wire separately and securing each with a piece of chewing gum. Woody's next attempt was right on target, the tank was eliminated and I returned to my listening post.

Soon thereafter I was instructed to return to our lines and along the way I was joined by five or six other members of the battalion. They soon departed for a farm house on our left; seeking a place of warmth and comfort. I believe that one of them was a Sgt. Taylor although I'm not sure. None ever returned to their unit and I've been questioned about their disappearance several times.

On the 10th of January we went to a rest area in Pepinster and were billeted in a textile mill. Some more fortunate members were billeted in private homes with a few of the townspeople. We in the mill didn't have beds or comforts of any kind. I slept on the concrete floor and used small bundles of wool to insulate us from the cold and discomfort. It was not our intention to destroy anyone's property or their means of lively hood and I'm sorry if that occurred. Later we were informed that this was usable material so we gave them up. Meals at the mill were served stand-up style in a fenced area on a board about 12'' wide and about three and a half feet high. Food that was not eaten was dumped in large garbage cans near the fence. I can still see the faces of some children as they reach through the fence to grab the better of left over scraps. After more than 50 years, this memory still lingers. I wanted to see the mill on a return trip in 1994 but, it had been demolished.

My beanie, an "itchy gritchy" wool cap worn under the helmet helped keep my head warm. In order not to lose it, I thought I'd have it sewed to the back of my sweater. One day I knocked on the door of a home I just picked at random. A lady answered and, motioning with my hands what I wanted, she asked me to enter. I have no idea how I impressed her, for here stood a perfect stranger in battle dress; but, no matter what, she welcomed me into her home and fulfilled my request. As I left, I gave her an orange for her daughter who was watching. Fresh fruit for us was just about non extent, but from the happy expression on little girl's face I'm sure that she too considered this a treasured delicacy.

In January there was some bitter fighting on the Siegfried Line. Replacements joined us at this time with little or no knowledge of how to deal with combat. We didn't even have a chance to tell them that, "This is for real and those fighting to keep this ground are playing for keeps". It seems like only yesterday that a young trooper joined my platoon as a messenger. I told him to get down but unfortunately it was too late. I don't recall his name but, I believe it was Rideout and I think that he was from Virginia. It's a shame that lives so young must be lost this way. Cannon Fodder in the truest sense.

On the 17th of February, after taking the objectives at Udenbreth, Neuhof and the Hertesrott Heights we moved to Sissonne where we bivouacked in an open field. Shortly thereafter Walt Carlson, a trooper in my company, and I had a chance to go to Paris for three days. It was quite an experience and one that I still remember. The first night there we were invited to have dinner at a rather fancy restauarent, the Cafe dela Paix. I had taken everything about the war in stride until this time. Then everything hit me. It was hard for me to realize my surroundings, the comfortable atmosphere of the dinning room with white table cloths and even silverware. What a shock to have this all at once! We also had tickets to the follies that same evening but opted to check out the city itself. Although Paris is known as the "City of Lights" my visit there did not reveal it as such. The war was on and black out conditions still existed, but we got around as best we could. Food and gas was rationed and there was no such thing as a traffic jam or rush hour traffic.

The month of March escapes me and I can't recall any particular events.On April 12, 1945, we were billeted in Kriskerchen, or Junkersdorf, outside of Cologne, Germany when President Roosevelt died. A memorial service was conducted in a large open field close by and all available personnel in the area attended. First Sgt, Nelson, Hrabchak and I were part of an Honor Guard.

R E L A T E D   B O O K S

Ambrose, Stephen E D-DAY June 6,1944: The Climatic Battle of WW II. 6/93, Simon & Shuster ISBN: 0671673343
Badsey , Stephen & Chandler, David G (Editor)  Arnhem 1944: Operation "Market Garden" (Campaign No.24) 1993 96p. ISBN: 1855323028
Breuer, William B Geronimo! American Paratroopers in WWII. New York: St. Martin Press, 1989 621 p. ISBN: 0-312-03350-8
D'Este, Carlonbsp; Decision in Normandy William S Konnecky Assc(P), 560 p. ISBN: 1568522606
D'Este, Carlo  Patton: A Genius for War 1024 pp ISBN: 0060927623
De Trez, Michel  At the Point of No Return : Pictorial History of the American Paratroopers in the Invasion of Normandy 7/98, D-Day Pub, 200 p. ISBN: 2960017617
Falerios, Kenton J.  Give Me Something I Can't Do: The History of the 82nd Military Police Company, WW 1 to Iraq Nov 2007, Authorhouse, 192 p ISBN: 1434337197
Gavin, James M.  On to Berlin : Battles of an Airborne Commander, 1943-1946 ISBN: 0670525170
Golden, Lewis Echoes From Arnhem Penguin ISBN: 0718305213
MacDonald, Charles B  A Time For Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge Wm Morrow & Co (P), 720 p. ISBN: 068151574
Masters, Charles J.  Glidermen of Neptune: The American D-Day Glider Attack  Southern Illinois Univ Press, ISBN:0809320088
McKenzie, John  On Time, On Target Novato, CA: Presidio, May 15,2000. 304 p. ISBN: 089 141 714 1
Nigl, Dr Alfred J & Charles A Nigl  Silent Wings - Savage Death Santa Ana, CA: Graphic Publishing, Dec 3,2007. 288 p. ISBN: 1882824318
Nordyke , Phil All American All the Way: Combat History of the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II Zenith Press, April 2005. 880 pgs ISBN: 0760322015
Ryan, Cornelius The Longest Day  Touchstone Books (P), 350 p. ISBN: 0671890913
Ryan, Cornelius  A Bridge Too Far 670p. ISBN: 0684803305
Tucker, William H.  "Rendez-vous at Rochelinval" Battle of the Bulge  International Airborne Books,Harwichport, MS, ISBN:0-9647683-2-1
Wildman, John B All Americans 82nd Airborne. Meadowlands Militaria, 6/83 ISBN:091 208 1007
The Center of Military History The War in the Mediterranean: A WWII Pictorial History Brasseys, Inc., 465 p. ISBN:1574881302
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