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The 82nd Airborne Division( All American)

The 82nd is the oldest of the Airborne Divisions in the U.S Army. The commander of the 82nd during D-Day was Brig. Gen. James Gavin after Maj. Gen. Matthew B.Ridgwat was promoted away from the 82nd Division.

The main objective for the 82nd on D-Day was to secure the bridges over the rivers behind Utah Beach. The division was to land by the Merderet River and seize, clear, and hold its area of operation. After destroying all crossings over the Douve River, the 82nd was to be prepared to move west on order.

The 82nd Airborne division had designated over 6,000 paratroopers for the parachute assault and almost 4,000 glidermen for the glider assault. Together, with the 101st Airborne Division, the 82nd was scheduled to begin landings in the early morning hours of June 6th. Gen. Eisenhower's air operations officer had predicted casualties to be greater than 70%.

The 101st and 82nd took a route by the German held Islands of Jersey and Guernsey. The C-47's turned when the submarine, which was given the name Hoboken, sent a radar becon out to the planes. Cloud cover and heavy anti-aircraft fire made the air transports deviate from course, which resulted in wide-spread scattering of the paratroops. Many of the aircraft were flying too fast and some too low, often giving the green-light jump signal over the wrong drop zones. Of the 6,396 paratroopers of the 82nd who jumped, 272 or 4.24 percent were killed or injured as a result of the drop. The 505th generally landed in the vicinity of its drop zone, but the 507th and 508th were both widely scattered. Many troopers landed in the center of the village of Sainte-Mère-Église, as a fire raged out of control. German soldiers, already alerted by the fire, shot many of the paratroopers before they hit the ground. One paratrooper, John Steele, landed on top of the church. His parachute caught on the steeple, where he dangled for two and a half hours, playing dead until he was finally taken prisoner.

In spite of this, the 82nd adapted to the situation and achieved all its primary objectives. Sainte-Mère-Église was secured by dawn of 6 June, the first French village to be liberated. As an anti-airborne effort, the Germans had flooded much of the adjoining area near the Merderet River. Nevertheless, by nightfall of 6 June approximately 30 percent of the division forces were under control, holding a line along the Merderet River from La Fière south to include the eastern end of the causeway over the river.

The 82nd Airborne Division continued to fight on the Cotentin Peninsula until relieved on July 8, 1944, after 33 days in action. On July11th, the division moved to Utah Beach in preparation for its return to England.