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HOLLAND CAMPAIGN DIARY  (1 of 9)

 

NARRATIVE

The following pages make no attempt to tell the whole story of the course of action of the 82nd Airborne Division in operation MARKET-GARDEN. Such an effort would take volumes. . No effort is made to point out tactical or strategic lessons learned. These pages simply tell a story of one soldiers course of action while fighting with the division on that operation.

 --- by James Blue, Co. A

[Jumpmaster Note: All spelling errors have been retained but some paragraph breaks have been inserted to improve readability]

1 Sept. 44 We moved to the airfield, fit parachutes, and are briefed for a jump near Tournai, Belgium. This combat was to assist Gen. Patton when he ran out of supplies on that fast drive into France and Belgium. This turned out to be a dry run. We returned to base camp Wollenton Park to await another mission.
14 Sept. 44 Back to the airfield and this time we were assured by the platoon leader, Lt. John P. Foley, that this was not a dry run. So HELL what of it, we know the war is not over; we still have combat to do and we want to go in AIRBORNE.
15-16 Sept. 44 The war tent was opened and we received the word that the jump would be in Holland; this we had never dreamed of. The platoon was first briefed by Lt. Foley. Later we had the opportunity to use the war tent on squad level. Inside the war tent was a sand table; this sand table was a miniature mock area of the combat mission in and around Nijmegen. We were issued maps and aerial photographs of the said area. Lt. Foley pointed out the assembly area, marked by a large haystack in the field. An assigned man in the company was to drape an orange piece of cloth on the haystack; as mentioned later this was effective. The survivors of the Normandy campaign took this briefing at heart. We remembered how fouled up the drop pattern was in Normandy. We studied those maps and I remember not a pencil mark could be put on them. The reason being that if a soldier was captured during the drop the enemy could gain information by this. Sgt. Van Enwyck, the Platoon Sgt., was looking forward to this operation, his ancestors having come from this, country. I remember him saying, "We're heading for the land of wooden shoes and windmills".
16 Sept. 44 Early that morning we were assigned an aircraft by tail number, and were lined up in stick-jump formation. Lt. Foley's plan consisted of one rifle sqd. and part of his plt. hqs. Van Enwyck, the Plt. Sgts. plane consisted of our sqd. and part of the weapons Sqd. (an Airborne Plt. at that time consisted of only two Rifle sqds. and a weapon sqd.). We moved to the aircraft drew and fitted parachutes and secured the A-5 containers (bundled with machine cams, ammo, mort .-s, rocket launchers, etc.). These we placed into the para-racks (these were racks under the wing of the C-47). An assigned man in the stick would release these by pulling a lever down as he made the turn to depart the aircraft, usually the machine gunner in a rifle squad. This would put him descending close to the bundles. Everyone satisfied with his parachute, we move to the tents. The rest of the day we checked individual weapons, ammo to see that every round in the clips were even, taped two magazines (reversed) together for our Sub-Thompson machine guns. This could save a split second and we knew that a split second could determine between life or death. All this taken care of, we hit the sack. We knew we had a hard day's work ahead for us.

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