17th Airborne Division

....."If everyone is thinking alike,
..........then somebody isnt thinking."

....................................... ......General George S. Patton

Unit History
    507th PIR
    513th PIR
    193rd GIR
    194th GIR
    139th AEB
    680th GFAB
  Trooper Pictures
    507th PIR
    513th PIR
    193rd GIR
    194th GIR
    139th AEB
    Combat Jumps
    Bulge Memories
    Operation Varsity
  17th Airborne Assoc
  82nd Airborne Assoc
  325th GIR Assoc
  504th PIR Assoc
  508th PIR Assoc
  Other Airborne Assoc
  Other Resources
  Airborne and Special Operations Museum
  WW II Historical Re- enactment Society
  Wehrmacht History

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Lt Colonel Paul F Oswald - Commanding Officer 680th GFAB
(above picture)
Lt Col Paul F Oswald
Commander 680th GFAB

Silver Star Recipients
Lt Col Paul F Oswald
Capt John Featherston
Pfc Francis Holbrook
Capt Jacob I Stahl
Pfc Mervin F Troutman
Capt George C Wight

17th Airborne WW II
Medal of Honor Recipients

T/Sgt Clinton M Hedrick
S/Sgt Isadore S Jachman
Pvt George J Peters
Pfc Stuart S Stryker

The 680th Glider Field Artillery Battalion
Unit History

680th GFAB Pocket Patch he 680th Glider Field Artillery Battalion (GFAB) was constituted on 10 March 1943 at Camp Mackall, North Carolina (NC). The officers were recent graduates of the Field Artillery School while the enlisted men were transferred from the 321st GFAB of the 101st Airborne, then stationed at Fort Bragg, NC. It was activated 15 April 1943 at Camp Mackall, North Carolina under the command of Lt Colonel Paul F Oswald. The 680th GFAB was immediately assigned to the 17th Airborne Division. Moved to the Tennessee Maneuver Area 7 February 1944 then transferred to Camp Forrest, Tennessee 24 March 1944. The battalion staged at Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts on 14 August 1944. It departed the Boston Port of Embarkation 20 August 1944 aboard the USS Wakefield and arriving in Liverpool, England on 28 August 1944.

When the 680th GFAB arrived in England, the battalion was immediately shuttled to Camp Chisledon, the 17th Airborne Division staging area, on August 29, 1944. Flight and tactical training continued and night maneuvers were added to the training schedule. When Operation Market Garden was initiated, the 17th Airborne Division was still in training and was held in strategic reserve.

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. The 17th was still in England. But the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisons were in Sissones, France and were rushed by truck to contain the bulge in the Allied lines. Between December 17 and 23, the Germans were halted near St. Vith by the 82nd Airborne and Bastogne by a roadblock, defended by the U.S. 7th Armoured Division and the 101st Airborne Division. To help reinforce the siege at Bastogne the entire 17th Airborne Division was finally committed to combat in the European Theater of Operations.

From 23 to 25 December, elements of the Division were flown to the Reims area in France in spectacular night flights then hastily trucked into Belgium. During this time tragedy struck when a C-47 crashed on takeoff from Dreux Airport killing 6 members of Battery A. A similar accident occurred at Orleans Field wounding 6 men of Battery B. Meanwhile, Patton's Third U.S. Army had finally broken the siege at Bastogne with a marathon thrust from the south. Upon arriving the 17th Airborne Division was attached to Patton's Third U.S. Army and ordered to immediately close in at Mourmelon. The 680th GFAB would fire in support of the 193rd GIR in the defense of the Meuse River sector from Givet to Verdun until 1 January 1945. On 2 January 1945 the 17th Airborne moved to Neufchateau, Belgium. On 3 January the battalion took up combat positions near Sibret, Belgium and fired their first combat rounds the following day.

On 7 January, the 680th GFAB would gain their baptism of fire that would have tested the mettle of the most experienced airborne units. General Patton had ordered the 17th Airborne to seize the town of Flamierge where the 11th Armour and the 87th Infantry Divisions had encountered brutal resistance from the Germans. By the end of that first week of combat the battalion had fired 5560 rounds of ammunitions. The casualty count was two killed in action and five wounded.

During the next month, the 680th GFAB moved several times within Belgium firng in support of the 513th PIR until on the 27th when the battalion took up positions near Bockholz, Luxembourg. On 11 February 1945 the 680th GFAB was relived by the 212th Armored Field Artillery Battalion and returned to camp at Chalons-sur-Marne in France with the rest of the 17th Airborne Divison. The 17th returned to Belgium on 21 March 1945 to prepare for the air assault across the Rhine.

Operation Varsity - The Airborne Assault on the Rhine
In early February 1945, the tide of battle was such as to enable an accurate estimate as to when and where the 2nd British Army would be ready to force a crossing of the Rhine River. It was determined that the crossing would be in conjunction with an airborne operation by XVIII Airborne Corps.

The sector selected for the assault was in the vicinity of Wesel, just north of the Ruhr, on 24 March 1945. Operation Varsity would be the last full scale airborne drop of World War II and the assignment went to the British 6th Airborne Division and the 17th Airborne Division.

This would be the last full scale airborne operation of the war and the first combat glider landing for the 680th GFAB. The 680th's mission was to land north of Wesel in Landing Zone (LZ) S, a large flat area where the Issel River and the Issel Canal merge. Then to seize the crossing over the Issel and protect the division's right flank.

As General Eisenhower watched the operation from a church tower on the west side 680th GFAB firing right after landing. (Source: Thunder From Heaven) of the Rhine the 680th had the misfortune of flying over a concentration of German antiaircraft weapons. Two-thirds of the C-47's were either damaged or in flames. The pilots remained with the aircrafts until they released the gliders which landed amid German Artillery units. The German gun crews immediately repositioned their guns for direct fire. It was a fluid situations for a period but the glider troops prevailed and were able to overrun the German positions.

(picture above right: Men of the 680th GFAB, firing a few minutes after landing at Wesel. (^^ Click Picture to Enlarge ^^) )

By mid-afternoon on 24 March 1945 after sustaining high casualties, the 680th had secured its objective including the capture of 150 German prisoners, a battery of German 105-mm and a battery of 155-mm artillery.. By 26 March FM Montgomery had sufficient forces on the German side of the river to move eastward. The next day the 680th advanced toward the town of Haltern in support of the 513th PIR. On 2 April the battalion moved to a position south of Munster, where on the following day the 680th stopped an enemy counterattack by shellfire. The battalion remained on the move until 18 April when they arrived in the vicinity of Heiden, Gross Reckon, and Velden to take over the military government duties of that area in conjunction with the 513th PIR.

The 680th GFAB served in the Army of Occupation of Germany from 2 May - 19 June 1945. The battalion reassembled in the Neufchateau area of France and returned to the United States via the Boston Port of Embarkation on 14 Sepember 1945 and deactivated at Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts on the same date.

( Source: Condensed from The Life of the 680th by D.A. York and J.P. Ancker (1947, Thunder From Heaven by Don R. Pay) )

680th Glider Field Artillery Battalion - Pictures  Photos 680th GFAB  
  • 680th GFAB - A Battery - Photo of troopers from the 680th GFAB A Battery at Camp Forrest TN circa June 1944.  
  • 680th GFAB - B Battery - Photo of troopers from the 680th GFAB B Battery at Camp Forrest TN circa June 1944.  

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
Badsey , Stephen & Chandler, David G (Editor)  Arnhem 1944: Operation "Market Garden" (Campaign No.24) 1993 96p. ISBN: 1855323028
Breuer, William B Geronimo! American Paratroopers in WWII. New York: St. Martin Press, 1989 621 p. ISBN: 0-312-03350-8
Burriss, T Moffatt  Strike and Hold: A Memoir of the 82nd Airborne in WW II Brasseys, Inc, 256 pp August,2000 ISBN: 1574882589
Butler, Rupert  SS: Leibstandarte: The History of the First SS Division 1933-45 (Waffen SS Divisional Histories) Amber Books, 192 p. ISBN:1782742492
Butler, Rupert  SS: Wiking: The History of the Fifth SS Division 1941-45 (Waffen SS Divisional Histories) Amber Books, 192 p. ISBN:1782742484
Butler, Rupert  SS: Hitlerjugend: The History of the Twelfth SS Division 1943-45 (Waffen SS Divisional Histories) Amber Books, 192 p. ISBN:1782742476
D'Este, Carlo  Patton: A Genius for War 1024 pp ISBN: 0060927623
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
Gavin, James M.  On to Berlin : Battles of an Airborne Commander, 1943-1946 ISBN: 0670525170
Golden, Lewis Echoes From Arnhem Penguin ISBN: 0718305213
MacDonald, Charles B  A Time For Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge Wm Morrow & Co (P), 720 p. ISBN: 068151574
Masters, Charles J.  Glidermen of Neptune: The American D-Day Glider Attack  Southern Illinois Univ Press, ISBN:0809320088
McKenzie, John  On Time, On Target Novato, CA: Presidio, May 15,2000. 304 p. ISBN: 089 141 714 1
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
Ryan, Cornelius  A Bridge Too Far 670p. ISBN: 0684803305
Tucker, William H.  "Rendez-vous at Rochelinval" Battle of the Bulge  International Airborne Books,Harwichport, MS, ISBN:0-9647683-2-1
van Lunteren, Frank Blocking Kampfgruppe Peiper: The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in the Battle of the Bulge Casemate, Sept 19,2015. 368 p. ISBN: 1612003133
van Lunteren, Frank The Battle of Bridges: The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Operation Market Garden Casemate, June 1,2014. 336 p. ISBN: 1612002323
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
Wilson, Robert L. & Phillip K. A Paratrooper's Panoramic View: Training with the 464th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion for Operation Varsity. pps, 244, 11/30/2005, Authorhouse ISBN: 1420854291

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