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Airborne Warfare

Airborne Warfare

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Airborne Warfare

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253 pages
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Aug 15, 2014
ISBN:
9781782898795
Format:
Livre

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To every member of the 82nd Airborne Division who dropped as part of the American paratroop landings during World War Two, they breathed a little easier knowing their commander “Jumpin’ Jim” Gavin would be dropping with them. General Gavin would drop into the fierce fighting along with his men in Sicily, Normandy on D-Day and during the abortive attempt to capture the Rhine bridges during Operation Market-Garden. He shared the risks of all his men dropping into enemy territory, often only armed with his GI issue rifle and accompanied by a handful of men, leading from the front his memoirs are an outstanding addition to the literature of the Airborne in World War II.
General Gavin had been at the forefront advancing the use of airborne troops in the US army, writing the first field manual for their combat use. In this volume of memoirs General Gavin recounts his many experiences in the Airborne and also writes of the need and use of airborne troops in the future.
Éditeur:
Sortie:
Aug 15, 2014
ISBN:
9781782898795
Format:
Livre

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  • The preparation that goes into the planning for an airborne operation is usually very detailed, because once they are committed airborne units are beyond correction and control for some time. Everything must be right the first time.

  • Between mid-September and midOctober when additional ports were opened, the supplies available to the First Army fell, at times, below sixty per cent of its requisitioned require-ments.

  • Each day a fast observation ship would fly over our operational area on a prearranged schedule to confirm the daily delivery plan by panel and smoke signals.

  • General Brereton directed his staff to arrange at once for the necessary air cooperation through the Royal Air Force and the Eighth and Ninth Air Forces.

  • The divisions were located in their take-off areas in England so that the 101st had to be dropped and landed south or west of the 82d.

Aperçu du livre

Airborne Warfare - General James Maurice Gavin

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Text originally published in 1947 under the same title.

© Pickle Partners Publishing 2014, all rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted by any means, electrical, mechanical or otherwise without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Publisher’s Note

Although in most cases we have retained the Author’s original spelling and grammar to authentically reproduce the work of the Author and the original intent of such material, some additional notes and clarifications have been added for the modern reader’s benefit.

We have also made every effort to include all maps and illustrations of the original edition the limitations of formatting do not allow of including larger maps, we will upload as many of these maps as possible.

Airborne Warfare

By

MAJOR GENERAL JAMES M. GAVIN

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS 168

INTRODUCTION 169

CHAPTER 1 —  PARATROOPS OVER SICILY 173

CHAPTER 2 — PLANS AND OPERATIONS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN 182

CHAPTER 3 — BACK DOOR TO NORMANDY 194

MISSION OF THE AIRBORNE ATTACK 197

GERMAN ANTI-AIRBORNE DEVICES 200

ACCELERATED PREPARATIONS 202

OPERATIONS OF THE 82d DIVISION 207

HEAVY FIGHTING BY THE 82d DIVISION 210

OPERATIONS OF THE 101st DIVISION 212

OPERATIONS OF THE BRITISH 6th DIVISION 213

KNOWLEDGE OF THE ENEMY’S ATTITUDE 213

GERMAN TRAINING METHODS 214

AIRBORNE BATTLES OF THE FUTURE 215

CHAPTER 4 — HOLLAND: AIRBORNE ARMY’S FIRST TEST 215

THE AIRBORNE PLANNING 169

ENEMY FLAK AND ENEMY DISPOSITION 173

FLIGHT ROUTES 174

DROP AND LANDING ZONES 176

AIR RESUPPLY 177

AIR COOPERATION 177

PREPARATION TIME 178

THE 101st AIRBORNE DIVISION 183

THE 82d AIRBORNE DIVISION 186

THE BRITISH 1st AIRBORNE DIVISION 195

SUMMARY 205

CHAPTER 5 — THE AIRBORNE OPERATIONS OF 1945 165

CORREGIDOR 165

THE JAP DEFENSE 169

UNUSUAL OPERATION 170

CROSSING OF THE RHINE BY XVIII CORPS 170

HIGHEST STATE OF AIRBORNE DEVELOPMENT 174

FINAL PERFORMANCE—JAPAN 174

CHAPTER 6 — AIRBORNE ARMIES OF THE FUTURE 177

DEFINITE NEED FOR GROUND COMBAT TROOPS 177

THE PARACHUTE 178

GLIDERS 180

TRANSPORT PLANES 182

CRITICAL FACTORS IN AIRBORNE OPERATIONS 185

AIRBORNE ATTACK 188

CHAPTER 7 — ANTI-AIRBORNE DEFENSE 165

ORGANIZATION AND EQUIPMENT 166

WORLD WAR I SQUARE DIVISION 166

WORLD WAR II TRIANGULAR DIVISION 167

QUADRILATERAL DIVISION OF THE FUTURE 168

AIRPORTS FOR SERVICE ELEMENTS 169

CHAPTER 8 — THE USE OF AIRBORNE TROOPS IN THE FUTURE 172

ALL-PURPOSE AIRBORNE UNITS 172

PROTECTION AGAINST AIRBORNE ATTACK 173

BEST HOPE FOR THE FUTURE 174

REQUEST FROM THE PUBLISHER 176

INTRODUCTION

THOUGH AIRBORNE WARFARE is new the idea is old. Throughout the centuries military men, watching the flight of birds or the drift of smoke on the wind, must have dreamed of the vertical envelopment. If we delve far enough back into history we would probably find that the ancient Chinese began the whole business by inventing the parachute. Records of old Peking indicate that they did. We know for certain also that in the fifteenth century Leonardo da Vinci designed a parachute. In the eighteenth century the Frenchman, Montgolfier, launched the first successful balloon, and late in the same century the famous European balloonist, Blanchard, made a parachute jump to save his life. After that, parachute jumps from balloons became common events and by the time the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk the idea of the parachute was at least six centuries old. And it was over a hundred and fifty years ago that Benjamin Franklin made his much quoted suggestion about the use of balloon-borne troops in war.

In more modern times Mr. Winston Churchill and the late Brigadier General William Mitchell are both credited with advocating the use of parachute troops in World War I. Even in relating it to World War II we find that actual development of airborne warfare had progressed to a considerable extent at the time the Germans invaded Poland. By 1927 different armies of the world had carried out experiments of dropping equipment by parachute and transporting small numbers of fighting men by aircraft. In Texas the following year, our own Army dropped a small number of men by parachute with weapons and ammunition. In 1930 the Red Army dropped a group of military parachutists with equipment, and in 1936 it was reported that the Russians had dropped over five thousand parachute troops in a single operation during maneuvers at Kiev. By 1938 the Command and General Staff School of the U.S. Army was beginning to touch on airborne warfare in its theoretical tactical instruction. And, finally, in the Russo-Finnish War of 1939, came the significant report that Russian parachute troops had been dropped in actual combat.

At the outbreak of World War II both the USSR and Germany had trained many thousands of parachutists, and the German Army had done considerable experimentation with gliders. Germany used airborne troops in large numbers with effective results in the 1940 invasion of Holland and the next year in the conquest of Crete. Early in 1940 our own War Department had taken steps to develop American airborne units. Under the direction of Major General George A, Lynch, Chief of Infantry, in collaboration with the Chief of Air Corps, a program of development was approved and airborne troops for the first time became an integral part of the Army.

Thus it is a historical fact that airborne warfare, at least in the modern sense, was originated by the Russians and developed to a state of combat effectiveness by the Germans. But it is also a historical fact that the American Army took this new instrument of warfare and, with the British, refined and improved it and unleashed upon our enemies airborne forces of such power and perfection as even they had not dreamed of.

The pioneering phase of our airborne development began at Fort Benning, Georgia, with the organization of one small platoon of volunteer paratroopers. These pioneers, and the small group of intrepid aviators who worked with them, were the fountainhead of the mighty airborne forces that wrote such glorious pages in the history of World War II. The glory of those achievements rightly belongs to those who won the victories on the field of battle, but the unsung pioneers who blazed the early trails from the skies to the red clay hills of Georgia and the sand hills of North Carolina deserve at the very least a modest tribute. They too sweated out their fear of the unknown and charted new roads of courage. Many of them died in training that their successors might conquer in battle. When, in July 1943, the world was thrilled by the exploits of the 82d Airborne Division in Sicily, there was not a man of the pioneer group whose heart did not swell with the fiercest pride in the realization of a dream come true.

The author of this book was one of those pioneers. It was a hot sultry day in August when Captain James M, Gavin, thirty-four years of age, reported for duty with the Provisional Parachute Group at Fort Benning, Georgia. As a former enlisted man in the Regular Army and as a graduate of the United States Military Academy of the class of 1929, his service had been varied and broadening. His friends spoke exceedingly well of him, and he impressed his associates with his quiet dignified bearing, his appearance of lean physical toughness, and his keen and penetrating mind. His work as a battalion officer marked him for greater responsibilities and promotion to major, and then to lieutenant colonel.

The rapid expansion of our airborne forces, immediately after the attack at Pearl Harbor, created many strange and complex problems and a vast amount of work. The activation of new units, the development of new types of weapons and equipment, new tactics and new methods of training were only a few of the arduous difficulties that confronted the builders of the new forces. Mistakes were made and many of them, but the building seems to have been fundamentally sound. No one man or no small group of men can be credited with this achievement. Many men and many elements made the project successful. But in the last analysis the burden of building this great new force fell on the shoulders of the staffs of the Airborne Command of the Ground Forces and the Troop Carrier Command of the Air Forces, and on those staff officers in Washington who directed the planning on the higher levels. These were the architects and not the least of them was Gavin.

In the building of this force Gavin was a dynamo of intelligent energy. As the head of the Plans and Training Section of the Parachute Group, and later the Airborne Command, he wrote many of our basic training doctrines and our first textbooks on airborne training and tactics. By late 1942 he had received his colonelcy and the command of his own regiment. In January 1943 his regiment was assigned to the 82d Airborne Division, and on the night of July 9 of that year he commanded the airborne combat team which spearheaded the American assault of Sicily. This book is Gavin’s story of that assault as well as all the airborne combat that followed until the end of the war, and it is his interpretation of those events as applied to future war.

From Sicily to Italy to England, Jim Gavin continued to pioneer, and to win his battles. In rising from colonel to brigadier general he continued to learn warfare. As airborne adviser to the Supreme Allied Commander in London, he was determined that costly mistakes made in Sicily must not be repeated in Normandy. Upon his arrival in England from Italy, he was immediately enmeshed in the intricate details of operational plans of the Allied airborne forces, working closely with the British and American airborne commanders. The success of those forces on D-day is all the evidence needed of the brilliancy of his work. As assistant division commander of the 82d Airborne Division he led the assault parachute echelon of that division into Normandy. And later, on the elevation of Major General Matthew B. Ridgway, the division commander, to the command of the airborne corps, Gavin was made division commander and a major general at the age of thirty-seven. He commanded the division throughout the rest of the war in its brilliantly successful operations in Holland, Belgium and Germany. As a young and dynamic commander he represents, to my mind, the type of American leadership produced in our greatest war. He writes here of a revolutionizing experiment in the art of war. Americans will do well to read his story and study his conclusions with care.

There are many of us that served in our armed forces during the recent war who are old enough to remember the days of the youth of the gasoline engine. We are not old men yet as years are counted, and our memories are young enough to retain vivid recollections of the horseless buggies and flying crates. But in these days when the skies of the world are flecked with the swift, sleek machines that have telescoped time and distance, it seems a marvel that during one short lifetime the coarse oil of the earth could have revolutionized so completely our way of life and our manner of warfare.

Perhaps soldiers of past ages have always felt the same about the revolutionizing inventions of their times. Perhaps the wheel, gunpowder and the steam engine created in contemporary military men the same consciousness of accelerating destructiveness that many of us feel today. But in the past, new weapons of war have always brought new means of defense and, except for temporary periods, the delicately balanced scales of attack and defense have tended to balance. In the past, too, time moved more leisurely than now. It took hundreds of years to revolutionize warfare through the use of gunpowder, but the internal-combustion engine did it more recently in less than half a century.

And now atomic energy and new methods of propulsion are increasing vastly the tempo of war with shocking suddenness. The scales are out of balance and victory favors the attack. No nation can consider itself secure from devastating aggression, and those of our leaders who fully comprehend the danger are filled with a sense of urgency to produce a pattern of peace that will endure. But until the statesmen of the world can devise such a peace we of America must read the signs of danger and build our defensive forces accordingly.

In the rebuilding of our armed forces we must project into the future the significant developments of our past experiences. Changes in organization and equipment are indicated by certain developments in many components of our armed forces. For instance, airborne warfare and atomic energy have come out of this last war to change many of our former strategic concepts of the time and space factors of land warfare. These developments are in their infancy, crude and immature, their surfaces hardly scratched. We read that already designs are planned for missiles, aircraft and their adjuncts which startle the imagination even after what it has known. As scientific development gradually brings these craft and these weapons to completeness and perfection, the future employment of all land forces becomes inescapably involved. And should war scourge this earth again vast armadas of the air will fly whole armies and their accouterments over hemispheres and oceans in hours instead of the days and weeks and months it formerly took to move them overseas.

To understand modern war one must have seen it at first hand, shared in it, shouldered a part of its terrible responsibilities, and known the cost in toil and blood and destruction. Our future army and future ways of war must be built on the knowledge of those who have done these things, and it is from them we must learn. They are the experts.

This book is by an expert—an expert in airborne warfare. It is surprising that so very little has been published for public reading about such a significant and outstanding military development, especially in its relation to our future defensive needs. General Gavin’s book helps greatly to fill this pressing need and I know of no man better fitted than he is to write it, either by experience or the ability to think clean and clear. His qualifications are complete.

WILLIAM C. LEE

Major General, USA, Retired

Dunn, North Carolina

8 June 1947

CHAPTER 1 —  PARATROOPS OVER SICILY

SICILY IN JULY OF 1943 was the birthplace of American airborne technique. It was, as well, the crucible into which were thrown the brain storms, the cocktail cerebrations, and the intensely cherished unorthodox combat tactics of a young army. Theories originally conceived, nurtured and brought to apparent maturity without the test of battle were exposed to their first test. How well they fared, how well they fought, and what our airborne forces accomplished are questions not even partially answered to date. But the toddling tot that later became the First Allied Airborne Army was born in Sicily and survived a very rugged delivery.

This Airborne Army was conceived in the planning staffs and headquarters of the North African Theater of Operations and the U. S. Seventh Army. The final Sicilian invasion plan envisioned an amphibious assault at Licata, Gela, and Scoglitti (map 1) by the U. S. 3d, 1st and 45th Infantry Divisions. The II Corps, commanded by General (then Major General) Omar N. Bradley, consisted of the two divisions on the right, the 1st and 45th. After landing, the airborne troops were to be attached to this corps.

The plan of invasion called for one parachute combat team of the reinforced 82d Airborne Division to drop between Caltagirone, where large enemy reserves were known to be, and the 1st Division’s beaches. After the D-day landings the CT was to be built up by successive air and sea lifts in the zone of the Seventh Army and participate in the conquest of the island.

The 505th Parachute Combat Team (reinforced) made the initial assault with orders to seize key terrain south of Niscemi for use as an airhead and to block enemy movement toward Gela from the north. It was to destroy enemy communications and deny by fire the use of Ponto Olivio airfield. Particular attention was to be paid to the strong point at Y (map 2). This locality, heavily wired and mined, consisted of sixteen mutually supporting reinforced concrete pillboxes and blockhouses. The strong point controlled all traffic on the Gela-Caltagirone and Gela-Vittoria roads. The road net at X also was to be seized, blocked, mined and held. Upon contact with the 1st Infantry Division, the CT was to assist it in its advance.

The 505th Parachute Combat Team (reinforced) consisted of the following:

505th Parachute Infantry Regiment; 3d Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry; 456th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion; Company B, 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion; and Signal, Medical, Air Support, and Naval Support detachments. The force totalled 3,405 troopers, requiring 227

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