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American Paratroopers

Discussion in 'History of America during World War II' started by Jim, May 9, 2007.

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  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    The D-Day invasion began with a dangerous attack by American paratroopers. Dropped behind enemy lines to soften up the German troops and to secure needed targets, the paratroopers knew that if the accompanying assault by sea failed -- there would be no rescue.

    Departing from Portland Bill on the English coast, the 101st and 82nd U.S. Airborne Divisions were dropped on the Cherbourg peninsula. From that point, the 101st was to secure the western end behind UTAH and head off an eastern German advance. The 82nd, landing farther inland, was to seize the bridges and halt an advance from the west.

    Risky Operation, Heavy Losses
    Heavy fog and German guns proved formidable challenges. The pilots were unable to drop the paratroopers precisely as planned.

    The 101st Division suffered great losses. Only one sixth of the men reached their destination points. The first regiment of the 82nd Division fared better, but the second suffered heavy supply losses -- much of the division was left without sufficient arms. Still, both divisions managed to form smaller improvised squads, and organized themselves to wage a fight. By 0430, the 82nd had captured the town of Ste-Mere-Eglise.

    A Weight on Their Shoulders
    Paratroopers carried an average of 70 pounds of equipment. Officers averaged 90 pounds of gear. With the parachute, men weighed in at 90 to 120 pounds over their body weight.

    The paratroopers were jumping into unknown territory and needed to be prepared for any encounter or conditions. Here's what they took:

    Standard Parachutist pack
    M-1 Garand Rifle with 8-round clip
    cartridge belt with canteen
    hand grenades
    parachute and pack
    anti-flash headgear and gloves
    pocket compass
    machete
    .45 caliber Colt automatic rifle
    flares
    message book

    Officer pack
    (British, but similar to American officer pack)
    Sten gun
    spare magazines with 9mm ammunition
    2 lb. plastic high explosives (HE)
    2-36 primed hand grenades
    two full belts of Vickers
    .303 ammunition
    wire cutters
    radio batteries
    small-pack
    basic equipment webbing
    48 hours' worth of rations
    water
    cooking and washing kit

    Spread throughout pockets
    loaded .45 automatic pistol
    medical kit
    2 additional lb. HE
    knife
    escape/survival kit
    toggle rope
    additional personal items

    Emergency rations
    4 pieces of chewing gum
    2 bouillon cubes
    2 Nescafe instant coffees, 2 sugar cubes, and creamers
    4 Hershey bars
    1 pack of Charms candy
    1 package pipe tobacco
    1 bottle of water purification (Halazone) tablets to purify water. "To use: Put two tablets in canteen full of water (approx. 1 qt.) and shake briskly. Wait 30 minutes before drinking water. If water is dirty or discolored, use 4 tablets."
     
  2. Kelly War44

    Kelly War44 New Member

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    Is it me or does this sound vaguely familiar:der:

    No wonder they struggled with that lot on their backs
     

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