Last weekend, spurred by the rebroadcast of Band of Brothers on TV, I was going through some reference books about Operation Market Garden and I came across several pictures of General Maxwell D. Taylor,
I don’t know why I never noticed this before: his M43 jacket has cuffs with 2 buttons instead of 1. The original cuff has been replaced entirely by a wider one with 2 buttons. I looked it up online, but can’t find anything about this particular jacket, but I did find confirmation that the airborne general was a tall man.
Does anyone know more about this jacket? Did he also have an M1942 uniform with extended cuffs? Later pictures from Vietnam show him with rolled-up sleeves.
I came across this New York Times obituary of General Taylor from April 21, 1987 that is worth sharing here. It briefly explains his carreer, and touches upon his daring reconnaissance for a possible jump on Rome, how he accidentally became a paratrooper, and went on to command the 101st Airborne Division.
Jaime Abreu sent me photos of a USA LITE crookneck flashlight that doesn’t have the TL-122-A markings, but instead has the USA LITE on both sides where you would have the TL-122-A designation. According to the gentleman he bought it from:
“This is one the earliest, if not THE EARLIEST, Brass-bodied Flashlights supplied to the USMC and the Army, designated TL-122-A by both USA LITE and EVEREADY. This is NOT an example made for the civilian market or a post-war production, but one of the first QMC Contracts that USA LITE rushed out before the model number ‘TL-122-A’ was required to be moulded into the cast alloy Angle-Head.”
It’s the first I heard about this, but I am inclined to go along with the idea that the branded versions pre-date the TL-122-A marked bodies. Indeed, they would have required a different die to press or cast them. If anyone has any evidence or stories to confirm or deny this, you are welcome.
I found this commercial booklet from the Reliance Manufacturing Company, a parachute manufacturer. It is not dated, but from the text inside it is clear that it must be from 1941 or 1942 at the latest. It discusses the exploits of the Russians and Germans and it speaks of the newly formed ‘winged infantry’ and speculates on how this force might be employed in the war.
Fun fact: Reliance also manufactured underwear shorts for the Army.
This wartime published booklet briefly describes the origins and development of parachutes. It refers to the use of parachutes for parachute troops and explains the idea did not originally come from the Germans, but from the Russians.
The short chapter 10 describes the then still brief history of parachute troops in combat in Finland, Norway, Belgium, Holland and Crete.
Interestingly, the author explains how US Army parachute troops might be used in a defensive role to protect mainland USA in case of a foreign invasion. He further explains how US training of parachutists differs from that of the Germans.
The rest of the booklet deals with other air force and commercial flight use and maintenance of parachutes.
On February 29th, I visited the WWII museums at Manhay and Diekirch with Yeomanry – the club of wartime vehicle enthousiasts. We went there by bus, so we had a lot of time to talk on the way about our jeeps and our collections.
The Manhay History 44 Museum in the Belgian Ardennes, which was opened in 2017 is one of many museums about the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes, but it is special in that it focuses on events that took place in that area. You may know the place from the Stug panzer that has a spot across the street from the museum. The owners of the museum were available for a chat and made recommendations of other places of interest in the area. I can really recommend it!
The Luxemburg National Museum of Military History at Diekirch was next on our list. This is an old museum, although I had never visited it before. I should have, because it’s an enourmous treasure trove! It has been upgraded a bit over the years, so it doesn’t look too old fashioned. But most importantly, it has many special weapons, vehicles etc. on display. They have the luxury of so much stock that they can put an original .50 Cal on each vehicle and real pistols in the holsters on their mannequins.
Further down the street from the museum, you can also see General Patton’s monument. His grave can be found at the military cemetery nearby, but unfortunately we did not have time to visit it anymore. So I will be back another time.
Roland Marichal shared these photos with me from a very special 1942 and 1943 dated publication of the Luftwaffe. It was found in Belgium. It describes the uniforms, weapons, equipment and aircraft of the allied airborne forces.
Much of this report contains information about equipment that would never be used against the Germans. We see photos of the first type of jump suit (only used in training), a Reising SMG (USMC-issue and never used in the ETO), airborne troops with bicycles and skis in dropping containers… Also note the large leather reinforcement patches on the M1942 jump suits, which were only used for the Sicily invasion.
The level of detail is quite astounding though, given the allies had only formed actual paratroops since 1941 (and experimental units as early as 1940).
Loose segments describe the landing vessels that the Germans thought would be used by glider troopers for the allied invasion.
Does anyone have a complete issue of Yank 7/2/44 and can you check if it identifies the paratrooper on the cover?
Charlie Jump has been searching info on his cousin, Ernest Jump, who was a paratrooper in WW2. Frequently this photo shows up with no info. but he was finally able to link it to this issue of Yank magazine. A family story says his picture appeared in a magazine during the war.
Ernest (Johnny or Buzz, nick names) Jump (that’s his real family name, so he was destined to become a paratrooper…) was born in Rice Lake, WI. 2/1/1922 and died at Winthrop Harbor, IL. 10/1/1976. Using cryptic short local newspaper accounts, it appears he was in the National Guard at the start of the war and joined the 503 Parachute Infantry Regiment. The local newspaper says he jumped at Nadzab, New Guinea. When he returned home after the war, a short article says he spent 32 months in the war zone and made about 30 combat jumps his last on Corregidor. 30 seems a lot, but that is what the paper says. Family stories say he would volunteer and fought in both Europe and the Pacific. Those stories say he jumped on D-Day. Other than that, little is known and those who could fill in blanks are dead.
If anyone has this issue of the magazine and could shed some light on this, it would be greatly appreciated!
Ron Wouters from Holland sent me photos of a Superior Magneto wrist compass dated 3-44. This makes his compass the earliest dated of that type I have come across so far, and it also means they were manufactured before D-Day. However, there’s still no photographic evidence that this type was actually used on D-Day.
He also says he has several other compasses for sale if anyone’s interested.
This is a very nice reproduction I bought from the Rigger Depot through eBay. It looks just like the photos on their website, except mine did not have the Conmar brand zipper puller. I was a bit disappointed at that, especially because it was so expensive with shipping and customs duties. I am displaying it with all its original contents, and I have to say it looks really well.
I got a comment on my article about wartime magazines with paratroopers on the cover. This one is post-war (1962), but has a very colorful cover and features an article about Jumpin’ Jim Gavin, or the much decorated general of the 82nd Airborne Division.