There is 72 years ago ...
Rest and reorganization in Champagne, France ...
After a terrible winter campaign, the 17th Airborne troopers were stationed in the vicinity of Châlon-sur-Marne to take rest, reorganize, repair and clean materiel and restart training to prepare the final assault in the heart of the Third Reich.
This pic was realized between february and March 1945 when the division was located in France. It shows T/4 Leo Alfred CAPISTRANT (ASN 31127787) from Service Company / 507th PIR. This really interesting pic shows a not known fact : the 507th PIR troopers wore tactical insignias on their helmets. I have discovered this recently and published my research in the French review "Militaria Magazine" from September 2016. Unfortunately I have not yet found the signification and code of this tactical identification. I hope found more pics and identified helmets to better understand this practice (pic and helmet from TFH collection).
Tribute to Pfc Sherrill E OVERLANDER (ASN 32944031) – F Cie / 507th PIR (07/11/1916 – 12/10/1985)
Sherrill E OVERLANDER was born on November 07, 1916. This man served in the National Guard (110th Infantry Regiment / 28th Infantry Division) prior to the World War II.
He was Heavy Truck driver and lived in New York when he was inducted in the Army on September 04, 1943. He entered in active service at Albany, NY on September and received Army Serial Number 32944031. In early 1944, he was volunteer for the paratroopers and was sent at Fort Benning’s Parachute School where he was successfully qualified on April 29, 1944. He was qualified Rifle Expert on June 09, 1944.
He was send overseas on October 1944 and arrived in England on November 02, 1944. He was probably in the Reserve Pool when he was assigned to the F Company / 507th PIR, only few days before the division was alerted to move in the Bulge.
He fought in the Bulge with the 17th AB and was send in United States on March 01 for unknown reason (I don’t have found any information about a wound received during the battle of the Bulge), 1945. He arrived home on March 09, 1945.
He was discharged on May 11, 1945 while he was hospitalized at Tilton General Hospital, Fort Dix, NJ for medical reason.
Sherrill was awared European-African-Middel Eastern Campaign Medal with one Bronze Battle Star.
Sherrill E OVERLANDER passed away on October 12, 1985.
January 04, 1945 … The Battle for Cochleval
In its first day of combat, the 1st Battalion of the 513th PIR met heavy resistance on the National 4 road, north west of Bastogne, in a small hamlet called Cochleval. This hamlet does not survived to the battle and/or to the enlargement of the road realized after the war. It no longer exist and I have never found any pic of the place during WWII or before. The only proof I have found from its existence is an aerial pic realized on December 27, 1944.
As I was in the area this last December 16, 2016 (the date of the 72nd anniversary of the starting of the Battle of the Bulge !) and the weather was clement, I have stopped few minutes in this place where the 1st Bn / 513th PIR fought so heavily and suffered a lot of casualties.
Cochleval from the sky on December 27, 1944.
The red dot is my location on December 16, 2016 and letters correspond of the direction I have made the pic.
A : today, the only building remaining at the place is a recent barn. It is exactly at that place the Company C was nearly annihilated and survivors surrendered in the afternoon of January 04, 1945.
B : this is the view toward Flamierge. It is from this side that German tanks launched their counter-offensive.
C : in the direction of Bastogne. The Company B was approximately located on the right side of the road, at the horizon line. It is in this area Isadore S JACHMAN, on of the fourth divisional CMH recipient was killed in action. The barn where the First Aid Post was opened was approximately located near my car.
D : the path we can see on the aerial pic is still present and absolutely unchanged since 72 years !
Lors de son baptême du feu le 04 janvier 1945, le 1er Bataillon du 513th PIR rencontra une résistance inattendue en arrivant sur la route Nationale, au nord ouest de Bastogne, dans un hameau appelé Cochleval. Les constructions situées à cet endroit n'ont pas survécu à la guerre et/ou à l'élargissement de la route réalisé après-guerre et je n'ai jusqu'à aujourd'hui jamais trouvé de photographie de l'endroit avant ou pendant la guerre. La seule preuve tangible que j'ai de l'existence de ce hameau est une photographie aérienne réalisée par un pilote de l'USAAF le 27 décembre 1944.
J'ai profité de mon passage dans la région et d'un temps très clément ce 16 décembre dernier (date anniversaire du début de l'offensive des Ardennes) pour m'arrêter quelques instants à l'endroit exact ou combattit si durement au prix de terribles pertes le premier bataillon du 513th PIR.
This article will be later placed in the "Then and Now" chapter.
February 10, 1945 ...
It is on February 10, 1945 the 17th Airborne was relieved from the frontline and sent in Châlon-sur-Marne, Champagne (France) to rest and reorganization. This day is so the last day of the second campaign for the division. The "green" 17th has known its Baptism of fire in the Bulge, in one of the fierce battle for the liberation of Europe (Ardennes Campaign) and followed immediately with the Rhineland Campaign. It has paid a heavy tribute in this two winter campaigns with several thousands killing or wounding men. In February 1945, the division was so veteran division ready for its next campaign : operation VARSITY. But at this time, the 17th Airborne troopers didn't know that ... (Original photo - TFH collection via Earl K Cavannah and family. Ribbon from TFH collection).
Private First Class George H PRINCE (ASN 31268924) – Cie F - 507th PIR
(October 08, 1924 - February 07, 1945)
George H PRINCE was born on October 08, 1924 in New Hampshire and lived in Merrimack County, NH when he was enlisted in the Army. He entered on service on April 12, 1943 at Manchester, New Hampshire and received ASN 31268924. He was than volunteer for the new Airborne Corps and he was finally assigned to the F/507th PIR / 17th AB.
George H PRINCE was killed in action on February 07, 1945 during the Rhineland Campaign, when the regiment was located in the Our river area, Great-Dutchy. He had 20 years-old.
His body returned stateside and he was permanently buried in the Mills cemetery, Salisbury, Merrimack County, New Hampshire.
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