HISTORY OF THE 505TH PIR

 

 

 

6 july 1942 Fort benning,Georgia

The 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment was activated under the Airborne Command, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The Regiment was assigned to the 82d Airborne Division On 4 February 1943 , and arrived at Fort Bragg, North Carolina on 12 February 1943.During WW2, the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment participated in seven major campaigns and four regimental airborne assaults, the 505th left the New York Port  for Casablanca, North Africa on 28 April 1943,  where the regiment had six weeks of intensive and hard training. The Regiment then flew to Kairouan, Tunisia where they waited before they made there first entry into battle. On 9 July 1943, just over a year after it's activation the 505th made the first regimental size combat parachute attack as it landed behind enemy lines at Gela, Sicily (Italy).The 505th , though outmanned and outgunned, used  courage and fighting spirit to block the Herman Goering Panzer Division and saved the beachhead and the Allied landings. With Sicily secure, the Allies continued attack on the Axis powers with landings on the Italian mainland. The second combat parachute attack of the 505th PIR was on 14 September 1943, into Salerno, Italy and became the first unit to enter Naples. During the early months of 1944, the Division was moved to England as the allies were preparing for the assault on Western Europe. The largest combined military operation in history, "D-Day" 6 June 1944, at 0300 hours, the paratroopers of the 505th were landing on the Normandy Peninsula. They were one of the first airborne units to hit the ground and liberated the first town in France, St. Mere-Eglise. The paratroopers jumped prior to the actual start of the invasion "H-Hour". Because of that tradition, of being the first into the fight, the 505th Regimental motto is "H-MINUS". For their performance in the invasions the 505th was awarded the Presidential unit citation, the unit equivalent of the Medal of Honor awarded to individual soldiers. The paratroopers emerged from Normandy with the reputation of being a pack of jackals; the toughest, most resourceful and bloodthirsty in Europe. On 17 September 1944, as part of "Operation Market Garden"., the 505th made its fourth jump at Groesbeck, Holland, the largest airborne assault in history. During that  combat, two lightly armed platoons, were surrounded by an entire German Infantry Battalion supported by tanks. The paratroopers fought back three German assaults and held their ground until relieved. The 505th received a second Presidential unit citation. Later that winter the airborne troopers were thrown into the breach of the famous "Battle of the Bulge". Despite a lack of cold weather equipment once again airborne spirit, courage, and hard-nosed determination won the day as the 505th withstood the bleak winter and stopped the fanatic German attacks cold. For its valor in the seven major campaigns the 505th was awarded with two Distinguished Unit Citations and three Foreign decorations: the French Forragere, Netherlands Military Order of William, and Belgium Forragere .

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Email : Erwin Peters [cpt.peters@telenet.be]