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......................................... ......Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery

 
 
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Lt Col Wilbur Maben Griffith (Source: Jan Bos)
Lt Col Wilbur M Griffith
















Parachute Field Artillery Hat Patch






R E L A T E D
R E S O U R C E S

The 82nd Airborne (CMH) Center for Military History
Sicily (CMH)
Salerno (CMH)
Naples Foggia (CMH)
Anzio (CMH)
Battle of the Bulge (CMH)









 (History of the 376th PFAB by Jan Bos) History of the 376th PFAB
by Jan Bos


(To purchase a copy e-mail
Jan Bos)
The 376th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion
Unit History

376th PFAB Patchn 25 March 1942 the 376th Field Artillery was reactivated and reorganized at Camp Claiborne, Louisana. Later that year on 16 August 1942 the 376th was redesignated the 376th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion (PFAB) and attached to the newly designated 82nd Airborne Division under General Omar N. Bradley. They would train for the next 11 months before they would see action under the command of Lt Col Wilbur Maben Griffith (picture left), who took command of the 376th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion in November of 1942 . In September of 1944, Lt Col Griffith became Division Artillery Executive Officer of the 82nd Airborne Division, a position he held until war's end. The 456th PFAB Executive Officer, Major Robert H Neptune, was promoted to Lt Col and assumed command of the 376th PFAB until the end of the war.

Sicily - Operation Husky
After arriving in Casablanca, French Morocco on 10 May 1943, the 376th PFAB began the gruelling preparations for the drop into Sicily from their base in North Africa. After a day of heavy fighting, Patton decided to reinforce his battle-weary center with over 2,000 additional paratroopers from his reserves in North Africa. He ordered that the 1st and 2d Battalions, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), the 376th PFAB, and Company C from the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion be dropped near Gela on the night of 11 July. Finally, On the night of 11 July, the 376th PFAB along with the 504th PIR and Company C 307th Airborne Engineers were ordered to jump on Farello Airstrip, which was held by the Americans. However, disaster soon struck. When the transport planes arrived over the beaches in the wake of a German air raid, nervous antiaircraft gunners ashore and afloat opened fire with devastating effect. Allied antiaircraft guns shot down 23 and damaged 37 of the 144 American transport planes. The airborne force suffered approximately 10 percent casualties and was badly disorganized. Later investigation would reveal that not everyone had been informed of the drop despite the Seventh Army's best efforts.

After Sicily the 504th PIR,the 376th PFAB and Company C 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion were formed into the 504th Regimental Combat Team (RCT) and fought together throughout the rest of World War II.

"Leg Infantry"
Italy To outflank the German defenses along the Gustav Line, an amphibious invasion at Anzio was planned. Assigned as part of the invasion force was the 504th Regimental Combat Team (RCT), consisting of the 504th PIR, the 376th PFAB, and Company C, 307th Parachute Engineers. The 504th RCT had been fighting as "leg infantry" during the advance towards Rome until pulled from combat on 4 January 1944 to prepare for the Anzio operation. The 504th RCT was assigned to seize the town of Borgo Piave on 24 January. Although successful they were soon driven out by German tanks and artillery. They then held a defensive position along the Mussolini Canal until relieved on 28 January.

(picture right: Two members of the 376th PFAB C Battery man a .30 caliber machine gun along the Mussolini Canal in Italy during Feb/Mar 1944. [Pfc Russell T Long fires the gun and Cpl Donald Jerome is on the right feeding the machine gun.])

In late March the 376th was withdrawn to England to rejoin the 82nd Airborne in preparation for the Normandy landing.

Operation Market Garden
On 9 September 1944 Field-Marshal Montgomery proposed a plan, called Operation Market Garden, to secure a bridgegehead across the Rhine. The operation called for a combined armor and airborne assault to seize and hold key bridges and roads deep behind German lines in Holland. The airborne phase of the operation consisted of capturing five bridges ahead of the armored force. The 504th RCT now back at full strength rejoined the 82nd, while the 507th went to the 17th Airborne Division.

The 504th's mission was to capture two bridges across the Maas-Waal Canal. The operation began on 17 September. The 504th RCT quickly secured one of the most important objectives, the nine-span bridge over the Maas River, by hitting both ends simultaneously.

On 20 September the 504th carried out an heroic assault crossing the Waal. With artillery support the first wave of the 504th RCT assaulted, in twenty-six assault boats, under intense fire, taking 200 casualties in the process. Finally on D+4 the 504th RCT finally secured their hold on the bridge, fighting off another German counterattack just before noon. It was in this skirmish that Pvt. John Towle won the Medal of Honor.

The Regimental motto, "Strike Hold," had never before been more forcefully demonstrated on the battlefield. The 504th RCT, tired yet determined, had gallantly kept its commitment to accomplish every mission without ever relinquishing any ground it had once occupied.

Its success, however, was short-lived because of the defeat of other Allied units at Arnhem. The gateway to Germany would not open in September 1944, and the 82nd was ordered back to France.

Battle of the Bulge - The Ardennes Offensive
Suddenly, on December 16, 1944, the Germans launched a surprise offensive through the Ardennes Forest which caught the Allies completely by surprise. Two days later the 82nd joined the fighting and blunted General Von Runstedt's northern penetration in the American lines.

On the morning of 19 December the 504th RCT was getting into position north of Bastogne, while the 101st Airborne Division was assigned to Bastogne itself. The Germans quickly infiltrated and cut off the road between the two elements and the "Battle of the Bulge" offensive flowed around the two airborne units. The 82nd as a whole faced great difficulty in holding position along the northern edge of the German penetration. The 504th RCT faced particularly heavy German attacks, winning their second Presidential Unit Citation in the process.

Driving deep into the heartland of Germany, the 504th RCT finally took up positions along the West Bank of the Rhine River. Then on 6 April 1945 A Company  crossed the Rhine near the village of Hitsdorf as a diversionary tactic to mislead the Germans from the full scale crossing. The fierce fighting which ensued won A Company a Presidential Unit Citation.

Occupation
The war offically ended in Europe on 5 May 1945 and the 82nd Airborne Division was called upon to serve as the occupation force in the American Sector of Berlin.  Here the 82nd Airborne Division earned the name, "America's Guard of Honor," as a fitting end to hostilities in which the 504th RCT had chased the German Army some 14,000 miles across the European Theater.


376th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion - Pictures   Photos 376th PFAB  
  • C Battery - 376th PFAB - Photo of members of the 376th PFAB C Battery at the Mussolini Canal - Anzio, Italy in February or March 1944.  ( (left to right) Cpl Donald F Jerome ,1st Lt Miles A Walsworth  ,Pfc Russell T Long ,and unknown trooper)  (Photo courtesy of Mark Jerome)


books
R E L A T E D   B O O K S

Annussek, Greg Hitler's Raid to Save Mussolini: The Most Infamous Commando Operation of World War II. Sept 1, 2005, Da Capo Press, 353 pp. ISBN: 0306813963
Badsey , Stephen & Chandler, David G (Editor)  Arnhem 1944: Operation "Market Garden" (Campaign No.24) 1993 96p. ISBN: 1855323028
Blair, Jr, Clay Ridgway's Paratroopers: The American Airborne in WW II. New York: Doubleday, 1985 588 p. ISBN: 0385278888
Breuer, William B  Agony at Anzio: The Allies Most Controversial and Bizarre Operation of WW II Jove Publishing, 1989 ISBN: 0515102113
Breuer, William B Geronimo! American Paratroopers in WWII. New York: St. Martin Press, 1989 621 p. ISBN: 0-312-03350-8
Breuer, William B Drop Zone Sicily: Allied Airborne Strike,July 1943. Novato, CA: Presidio, c1983. 212 p. ISBN: 089 141 1968
Breuer, William B  They Jumped at Midnight Jove Publishing, (P) c1990 ISBN: 0515104256
Breuer, William B Unexplained Mysteries of World War II. John Wiley & Sons, Sept 1998 256 p. ISBN:0471291072
Burriss, T Moffatt  Strike and Hold: A Memoir of the 82nd Airborne in WW II Brasseys, Inc, 256 pp August,2000 ISBN: 1574882589
Carter, Ross S  Those Devils in Baggy Pants  Buccaneer Books, Reprint,1996 ISBN: 0899666132
Crutchfield, Winston S  Pathfinder: A conversation with Buck Hilton and other historical documents about Native American veterans  CreateSpace, 180 pp, Aug 2009 ISBN: 1448679559
D'Este, Carlo  Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life 880 pp Owl Books (May, 2003) ISBN: 0805056874
D'Este, Carlo  Patton: A Genius for War 1024 pp ISBN: 0060927623
D'Este, Carlo & John S.D.Eisenhower  World War II in the Mediterranean, 1942-1945 (Major Battles & Campaigns) 272 pp Algonquin Books (July, 1990) ISBN: 0945575041
De Trez, Michel  American Paratrooper Helmets: Mediterranean & European Theater of Operations  June, 2010, Histoire & Collections, 272 p. ISBN: 2352501415
De Trez, Michel  American Warriors: Pictorial History of the American Paratroopers Prior to Normandy  July, 1998, D-Day Pub, 212 p. ISBN: 2960017609
De Trez, Michel  Cpl Forrest Guth: E Company 506 PIR 101st Airborne Division (WW II American Paratroopers Portrait Series)  March, 2002, D-Day Pub, 56 p. ISBN: 296001765X
De Trez, Michel  Orange is the Color of the Day: Pictorial History of the American Paratroopers in the Invasion of Holland April, 2004, D-Day Pub, 506 p. ISBN: 2960017633
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
Devlin, Gerard S  Paratrooper! St Martin's Press, (P) c1976 ISBN: 0312596529
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
Fox, Tyler  Our Salvation : The 504th PIR Legendary Fight At Altavilla ISBN: 0692781676
Gavin, James M.  On to Berlin : Battles of an Airborne Commander, 1943-1946 ISBN: 0670525170
Hove, Duane T American Warriors: Five Presidents in the Pacific Theater of WW II Burd Street Press (Oct 2003) 224 pp.  ISBN: 1572493070
Keegan, John The Second World War Penguin (P), 708 p. ISBN: 014011341X
Kershaw, Alex The Longest Winter: The Battle of the Bulge and the Epic Story of WWII's Most Decorated Platoon Da Capo Press, 288 pp November 30, 2004 ISBN: 0306813041
MacDonald, Charles B  A Time For Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge Wm Morrow & Co (P), 720 p. ISBN: 068151574
Megallas , James All the Way to Berlin: A Paratrooper at War in Europe 336p., Presidio Press, March, 2003. ISBN: 0891417842
Messina , Phillip Anzio: Song of Destiny A.G.Halldin Publishing Company, 1992. ISBN: 0 935 64838 0
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
Nordyke , Phil The All Americans in World War II: A Photographic History of the 82nd Airborne Division at War Zenith Press, May 2006. 192 pgs ISBN: 0760326177
Nordyke , Phil Four Stars of Valor: The Combat History of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War II Zenith Press, November 2006. 480 pgs ISBN: 0760326649
Ospital, John  We Wore Jump Boots and Baggy Pants Willow House, 1977. 118 p. ISBN: 0912450150
Ruggero, Ed  Combat Jump: The Young Men who Led the Assault into Fortress Europe, July, 1943  HarperCollins, 10/21/2003. 388 p. ISBN: 0060088753
Ryan, Cornelius  A Bridge Too Far 670p. ISBN: 0684803305
Turnbull, Peter I Maintain The Right: The 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion in WW II Authorhouse, Oct 31,2005. 204 p. ISBN: 1420871447
van Lunteren, Frank Spearhead of the Fifth Army: The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Italy from the Winter Line To Anzio Casemate, Sept 16,2016. 320 p. ISBN: 161200427X
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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