(above picture)377th PFAB
101st Airborne WW II
of Honor Recipients
Robert G Cole
Joe E. Mann
The 377th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion
he 377th Field Artillery Regiment was constituted and organized as an organized reserve unit of the 101st Division at Green Bay, WI, in 1921. On 15 August 1942, the battalion was withdrawn from the organized reserve and alotted to the army of the United States, with the current reorganization and redesignation as the 377th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion (PFAB) and activated at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana as an element of the newly organized 101st Airborne Division.
The battalion had a rough beginning since all the new artillerymen were really infantrymen with no jump school training. In October, 1942 Lt Col Benjamin Weisberg (picture right) took command and began to work out the problem of getting a battalion of artillery into combat by parachute. Although equipment shortages were a constant headache the unit's training phase was completed on January 3, 1943. By March the battalion began its combat team relationship with the 502d that lasted throughout the war. In September, 1943 the 377th sailed for England aboard the S.S. Strathnaver. However, this transport did not prove sea worthy and after a week the battalion was transferred to the S.S. John Ericsson, a German built ship of Swedish registry purchased by the United States Line. Two weeks later on October 18 the ship docked at Liverpool. After disembarking the 377th Parachute Field Artillery and the 907th Glider Field Artillery Battalions were stationed at Benham Valence near Newbury. During the late winter and spring of 1944, the battalion participated in a series of coordinated exercises, (Exercises Beaver, Tiger and Eagle) in preparation for Operation Overlord, the invasion of Europe.
D-Day - Operation Neptune
As part of the 502d Regimental Combat Team on D-Day, the 377th PFAB was tasked with destroying a German battery of four 122mm howitzers and other installations in the rear of the northern sector of the beach near St. Martin-de-Varreville. The objective was to secure the 101st northern flank. However, due to the loss of of two planeloads and the wide scattering of the remaining battalion sticks the 377th loss 11 of their 12 75mm pack howitzers. Even though the battalion was unable to assist the 502d in their objective as an artillery unit, most of the artillerymen were able to fight as infantrymen with various groups on D-Day. One such incident occurred near Revenoville on D plus 1 under the command of Lt Thomas Swirczynski of Battery A 377th PFAB. Thirty-three artillerymen of the 377th armed only with carbines, a light machine gun and a bazooka received the surrender of 130 German soldiers near the coastal village of Gd Hau-des-Dunes. During the following days many other artillerymen of the 377th were split up among the divisions other artillery units using two captured 7.62 German howitzers plus several salvaged American howitzers from gliders. By D plus 8 the arrival of eleven 75 mm pack howitzers over the beach finally enabled the 377th to regroup as an artillery battalion once again.
Operation Market Garden
MARKET-GARDEN was planned as a two phase operation. Operation MARKET was the airborne phase of the assault, with Operation GARDEN being the ground attack. The 101st Airborne Division was now part of the First Allied Airborne Army. Their objective was to jump into the Netherlands and secure a corridor from Eindhoven north to Arnhem, through which the ground forces of the British 30 Corps could advance and push on to the IJesselmer (Zuider Zee). The eventual goal was to cross the Rhine River and breach the German West Wall defenses. The Dutch countryside, criss-crossed by innumerable dikes, drainage ditches, rivers, and canals, however, would prove difficult to traverse if the ground troops could notadvance by road. For the plan to be a success the paratroopers had to keep the roadway open and the bridges along the route intact and secure.
Shortages in transport planes, however, prevented the three airborne divisions from dropping all their troops on D-Day, and the commanders had to decide which units would go in first. The 101st Airborne Division was to anchor the British Airborne Corps' southern-most flank and secure a 15-mile sector between Eindhoven and Veghel. Taking this into consideration, General Taylor decided that the thre parachute infantry regiments would jump on the 17 September. The 377th PFAB and the other artillery units were scheduled for D+2, on the 19th.
The howitzers of the 377th PFAB and 321st were the first cannons to arrive in support of the division during the Holland operation. The 377th set up their firing positions at the LZ and supported the 1st battalion of the 506th during a fierce counter attack by the Germans on D plus 3 north of the canal near the Zon bridge. The same day two batteries of the 377th supported the 502d at Best as they tried to advance toward St. Oedenrode. Later that same day Battery B encountered heavy flak but still managed to jump in order to reinforce the battalion. On D plus 5 the 377th now at St. Oedenrode also supported the 501st in addition to their original assignment to the 502d.
September 27th, D plus 10 still found the 377th at St Odenrode supporting the 502d. The battalion remained here until late November when the 101st pulled out and headed to Camp Mourmelon, a former French artillery garrison, twenty miles from the cathedral town of Reims.
Battle of the Bulge - The Ardennes Offensive
The Germans launched their last great offensive in Belgium on 16 December, driving west through thinly held positions, and catching the Allies unprepared. The only units that Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF) held in reserve were the two American airborne divisions, and Eisenhower released them both to
First Army. General Taylor, however, was on leave in the U.S. and General McAuliffe received temporary command of the division.
On 18 December 1944, the 101st Airborne Division was hastily transported to Bastogne, Belgium, to help stop the German Ardennes Offensive, " The Battle of the Bulge". The 377th provided support for the 502d near Champs, Longchamps and Monaville nothwest of Bastogne. After the division's magnificent defense of Bastogne against four German Divisions and elements of three others, the 377th occupied the village of Foy on January 16th. The village which was easier to take than hold was the scene of two days of intense attacks and counterattacks before the battalions occupation of it. On January 18th the 101st assembled five hundred representative troops from the division in the battered square of Bastogne to participate in the presentation of medals. That same day the division was relieved by the 11th Armored Division, attached to the Seventh Army and transported to Haguenau in Alsace until late February. The bulk of the 101st which included the 377th returned to Mourmelon by rail in 40-and-8 boxcars.
In early April, 1945, the 101st moved into the Ruhr. The 377th PFAB and the 907th GFAB bivouacked around Neuss not far from Dusseldorf. The last mission of the 377th was in support of the 506th capture of Berchtesgaden. After the 101st stay in Austria, the 377th moved to Seignelay, north of Auxerre, France until it was deactivated on 30 November 1945.
( Source: "Rendezvous With Destiny: A History of the 101st Airborne Division" (Rapport and Northwood))
377th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion - Pictures
R E L A T E D B O O K S
Ambrose, Stephen E D-DAY June 6,1944:
The Climatic Battle of WW II. 6/93, Simon & Shuster ISBN: 0671673343
Ambrose, Stephen E Band of Brothers:
E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest.
Simon & Schuster, (June 2001) 336 p. ISBN: 0-743-21638-5
Ambrose, Stephen E Citizen Soldiers:
The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany, June 7, 1944-May 7, 1945.
Simon & Schuster, (Nov 1997) 528 p. ISBN: 0-684-81525-7
Badsey, Stephen & Chandler, David G (Editor)
Operation "Market Garden" (Campaign No.24) 1993
96p. ISBN: 1855323028
Bando, Mark A Avenging Eagles: Forbidden tales of the 101st Airborne in World War 2. Bando Publishing, (2006) 183 p.
Bando, Mark A 101st Airborne: The Screaming Eagles at Normandy. Zenith Press, (Apr 2001) 156 p.
Bando, Mark A Vanguard of the Crusade:
The US 101st Airborne Division in WW II. The Aberjona Press, (June 2003) 320 p.
Black, Wallace B.& Blashfield, Jean F. Battle of the Bulge
(World War II 50th Anniversary Series). Crestwood House, 48 pp May,1993 ISBN: 0896865681
Bowen, Robert Fighting With the Screaming Eagles:
With the 101st Airborne from Normandy to Bastogne. Greenhill Books/Lionel Leventhal, (Sept 2001) 256 p. ISBN: 1853674656
Breuer, William B Geronimo! American
Paratroopers in WWII. New York: St. Martin Press, (1989) 621 p.
Breuer, William B Unexplained
Mysteries of World War II. John Wiley & Sons, Sept 1998 256 p. ISBN:0471291072
Burgett, Donald R Currahee!.
Presidio Press, (Sept 1999) 256 p. ISBN: 0-891-41681-1
Patton: A Genius for War 1024 pp ISBN: 0060927623
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
Gavin, James M.
On to Berlin : Battles of an Airborne Commander, 1943-1946 ISBN: 0670525170
Golden, Lewis Echoes From Arnhem Penguin
Koskimaki, George E D-Day With The Screaming Eagles
Casemate Publishers and Book Distributors, 356 pp September 11, 2002 ISBN: 1932033025
Koskimaki, George E Hell's Highway: Chronicle of the 101st Airborne Division in Holland, September-November 1944
Casemate Publishers and Book Distributors, 453 pp March 1, 2003 ISBN: 193203305X
Koskimaki, George E The Battered Bastards of Bastogne: A Chronicle of the Defense of Bastogne, December 19, 1944 - January 17, 1945
Casemate Publishers and Book Distributors, 484 pp December 1, 2002 ISBN: 1932033068
MacDonald, Charles B A Time For
Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge Wm Morrow & Co
(P), 720 p. ISBN: 068151574
On Time, On Target Novato, CA: Presidio, May 15,2000. 304 p. ISBN: 089 141 714 1
A Bridge Too Far 670p. ISBN: 0684803305
Webster, David Kenyon
Parachute Infantry: An American Paratrooper's Memoir of D- Day and the Fall of the Third Reich 352p. ISBN: 0385336497