Dragon 6148 U.S.ARMY AIRBORNE "Operation Varsity 1945"

Réf. article: Dragon 6148

'39-'45 SERIES

The 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, under the command of Colonel Edson Raff, was the lead assault formation for the 17th Airborne Division, and was consequently the first US airborne unit to land as part of Operation Varsity. The entire regiment was meant to be dropped in drop zone W, a clearing 2 miles (3 km) north of Wesel; however, excessive ground haze confused the pilots of the transport aircraft carrying the regiment, and as such when the regiment dropped it split into two halves. Colonel Raff and approximately 690 of his paratroopers landed northwest of the drop zone near the town of Diersfordt, with the rest of the regiment successfully landing in drop zone W. The colonel rallied his separated paratroopers and led them to drop zone W, engaging a battery of German artillery en route, killing or capturing the artillery crews before reuniting with the rest of the regiment. By 2 pm, the 507th had secured all of its objectives and cleared the area around Diersfordt, having engaged numerous German troops and also destroying a German tank. The actions of the regiment during the initial landing also gained the division its second Medal of Honor, when Private George J. Peters posthumously received the award after charging a German machine gun nest and eliminating it with rifle fire and grenades, allowing his fellow paratroopers to gather their equipment and capture the regiment's first objective.

The 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment was the second US airborne unit to land after the 507th, under the command of Colonel James Coutts. En route to the drop zone, the transport aircraft carrying the 513th had the misfortune to pass through a belt of German antiaircraft weapons, losing 22 of the C-46 transport aircraft and damaging a further 38. Just as the 507th had, the 513th also suffered from pilot error due to the ground haze, and as such the regiment actually missed its designated drop zone, DZ X, and was dropped on one of the landing zones designated for the British 6th Airlanding Brigade. Despite this inaccuracy the paratroopers swiftly rallied and aided the British glider-borne troops who were landing simultaneously, eliminating several German artillery batteries that were covering the area. Once the German troops in the area had been eliminated, a combined force of American and British airborne troops stormed Hamminkeln and secured the town. By 2 pm, Colonel Coutts reported to the Divisional Headquarters that the 513th had secured all of its objectives, having knocked out two tanks and two complete regiments of artillery during their assault. During its attempts to secure its objectives, the regiment also gained a third Medal of Honor for the division when Private First Class Stuart S. Stryker posthumously received the award after leading a charge against a German machine-gun nest, creating a distraction to allow the rest of his platoon to capture the fortified position in which the machine-gun was situated.

The third component of the 17th Airborne Division to take part in the operation was the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment, under the command of Colonel James Pierce. Troopers of the 194th GIR landed accurately in landing zone S, but their gliders and tow aircraft took heavy casualties; 12 C-47 transports were lost due to antiaircraft fire, and a further 140 were damaged by the same fire. The regiment landed in the midst of a number of German artillery batteries that were engaging Allied ground forces crossing the Rhine, and as such many of the gliders were engaged by German artillery pieces that had their barrels lowered for direct-fire. However, these artillery batteries and their crews were defeated by the glider-borne troops, and the 194th was soon able to report that its objectives had been secured, having destroyed 42 artillery pieces, 10 tanks, 2 self-propelled anti-aircraft vehicles and 5 self-propelled guns

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