Tag Archives: paratrooper loadout

Going for a Sunday walk among the sunflowers in the countryside with the lads

Via the Parachute Regiment archives:

77 years ago today: Sunday, 17th September 1944, the Market side of Operation Market Garden.

Usually misidentified as Airborne Signallers, this is a group of the 1st Battalion, The Border Regiment, 1st (British) Airborne Division, at the edge of Drop Zone “X” in Holland mid-way between Sinderhoeve and Jonkershoeve, looking south towards the Klein Amerikaweg.

Pic by – Sgt. M. Lewis, AFPU.

Second from left is a Sergeant, fifth from the left is an Officer and on the right, the soldier is hoisting a 51-pound (without the ammo!) Vickers Medium Machine Gun onto his shoulder. Note the handie-talkie being used by the officer, at least four Borderers with No. 4 Enfield .303 rifles, and two with STEN MK IVs.

After having gone to France with the BEF in 1939, the Borderers made it out sans most of their equipment from Dunkirk, and, since they were “light” already was reformed as a mountain unit attached to the 31st Bde then in 1941 were transitioned to being glider-borne infantry. As such, they landed at Sicily in Operation Ladbroke, suffering heavy casualties and losing 75 percent of their ranks.

Reformed too late for Overlord, Market Garden was only their second combat glider operation. However, they were all but destroyed in that infamous “A Bridge Too Far” operation, and spent the rest of the war reforming for a third time just in case they were needed for the push on Tokyo. They were not, and ended WWII in Trieste on the early front line of the Cold War.

Formed in 1702, 1st Bn/Borderers were amalgamated with 1st Battalion, The King’s Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster), to form 1st Battalion, The King’s Own Royal Border Regiment, which was further amalgamated with the King’s Regiment and the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment to form the new Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (King’s, Lancashire and Border) (LANCS) which today still carries a Glider Flash worn on the sleeve while in No. 1 and No. 2 uniforms to remember Ladbroke and Market Garden.

A bridge too far, with lots of STEN sticks

kit-layout-of-a-lance-corporal-from-operation-market-garden-para-british-sten

In honor of the anniversary of the Battle of Arnhem, here is a kit layout for a British Para Lance Corporal from Operation Market Garden in 1944. Can you say STEN mags? Note the one for the gun, seven in the stick pouches, and eight in the two hip pouches for a total of 16 30-round mags or 480 rounds of ammo. When that ran out, well, there are always the two Mills bombs and the Fairbairn–Sykes fighting knife. The para who wore this would likely add a couple 50mm mortar bombs and a belt or two of .303 ammo for machine guns.

Image via the Parachute Regiment

US Paratrooper Loadout WWII

(click to embiggen)

(click to embiggen)

Found this out there on the interwebs and thought you guys would dig it.It purports to show a pre-D-Day paratrooper’s loadout. You can see at the top of the gear pile the main and backup chutes, then moving down into the weapons there is quite a bit of interesting gear. Note the 16-inch M1905/M1942 bayonet, the machete in the canvas cover, and the M1918 trench knife knuckle duster (co-located in the 1911 holster), along with a basic penknife in the bottom corner. This guy was into blades.

His 1911 with two spare mags, and 25 8-round enbloc clips in field-made pouches for the M1 Garand give him over 250-rounds of 30.06 and 21 of .45ACP. Then of course there are four pineapple grenades for when the going gets tough.

The SCR-536 handie-talkie radio (remember it from the green plastic army men days?) was a neat little 5-pound radio made by Motorola that operated in AM voice mode between 3.5 and 6.0 MHz frequency range. Range in built up areas or hilly terrain was line-of-sight while at sea or in the open flat desert at night was as much as 3-miles. Every rifle company of the U.S. 29th Infantry division on D-Day had six; one for each of three rifle platoons, two for the weapons platoon, and one for the company CO, which makes me think the owner of the loadout was a young LT or Captain, or possibly an artillery forward observer, hence the two packs of signal flares to the left. That would make the compass, flash-lite, notebooks, and pencils seem all the more important.

The radio was issued first in 1941-42, while the  M1905 bayonet was being withdrawn from service after 1943, which could place this picture between that time, rather than D-Day of 1944.

If you ask me, the machete looks as well as the coil of rope, often used by paratroopers who are caught up in trees, an leather gloves more useful in the Pacific and the time frame would fit better for the 503rd PRCT.

What, you haven’t heard of the 503rd?

The 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team wasn’t part of one of the huge and celebrated airborne divisions that jumped into Europe like the 82nd and 101st, it fought independently– in the jungles of the Pacific.

During its more than three years service in the Southwest Pacific Theater, the 503d served in five major combat operations. A number of other missions were planned but called off by higher headquarters.

The Regiment jumped in the Markham Valley, New Guinea, on 5 September 1943, in the first successful Airborne Combat Jump in the Pacific Theatre of Operations. The Regiment forced the Japanese evacuation of a major base at Lae to take a route which proved to be disastrous for them. The third Battalion of the 503d had a major skirmish with the rear guard of this exodus. The successful employment of Parachute troops, in the Markham Valley, has been credited with saving the concept of vertical envelopment from being abandoned following several less than successful engagements in Europe.

Two rifle Battalions of the 503d Regiment jumped Noemfoor off the coast of Dutch, New Guinea early in July 1944, followed by an amphibious landing by the other rifle Battalion a few days later. The Regiment was employed in the elimination of the Japanese garrison on that Island. Airfields constructed on Noemfoor after its capture played a significant role in supporting the advance of Allied troops from New Guinea to the Philippines. Sergeant Ray E. Eubanks was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, posthumously, for his actions on Noemfoor.

A good overview is here

503rdpir01


Dwarfed by and silhouetted against clouds of smoke (created to provide cover), C-47 transport planes from the US Army Air Forces drop a battalion of the U.S. 503rd Parachute Regiment at Nadzab. A battalion dropped minutes earlier is landing in the foreground. General Vasey was in the plane from which the photograph was taken

Still, that’s a whole lot of stuff to jump out of a perfectly good plane with.

Into the jungle…