Talk:17th Airborne Division (United States)

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Good article 17th Airborne Division (United States) has been listed as one of the Warfare good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
May 12, 2008 WikiProject peer review Reviewed
May 19, 2008 Good article nominee Listed
Current status: Good article

The 17th Division was created as the first Regular Army airborne unit. However, it is less known than the 82nd and 101st National Guard airborne units because it repeatedly suffered heavy casualties and was often drained of personnel to replace losses in the other two divisions. When it was designated as the post-war airborne division and the 82nd and 101st were slated to return to Infantry status, protests from veterans and their families forced it to be disbanded instead and the 8s2nd and 101st became Regular Army divisions. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:09, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

The pre-war 82d and 101st divisions were part of the Organized Reserve, not the National Guard. I have found no documentation supporting the assertion that the 17th was to be retained after WW II and the 82d and 101st were to be inactivated instead. Initially it was believed the 101st would be retained on active duty, and troops created a banner to hang on the side of their troop ship for their triumphant return and parade through New York. Instead, a compilation of battle credits earned showed that the 82d was the senior division, and the Army selected it for retention. The 101st, meanwhile, was inactivated in southern Germany and Austria. Having entered the war much later than either the 82d or the 101st, there was really no question about the 17th being retained after the war. The 101st returned to active status several times as a training division, Airborne in name only, at Camp Breckinridge, KY, and Fort Jackson, SC, before being reactivated as a combat division in 1956. In 1968 it was converted to an Airmobile division in Vietnam, and the name changed to Air Assault in 1974.

A second unit, the 11th Airborne Division, was retained in the Pacific theater and stayed in Japan on occupation duty until 1949, when it moved to Fort Campbell, KY. It moved to Germany in the late 1950s and was inactivated soon thereafter. Two of its five airborne battle groups remained on jump status when the division was reflagged as the 24th Infantry Division, but before long they rotated back to the States and became part of the 82d Abn Div.

Order of Battle/World War II Activities[edit]

I'm copy and pasting the information that was previously contained under these headings into this talk page for safe-keeping. All of it is either unsourced or poorly sourced, but will be referred to if and when needed:

The Division entered the Ardennes campaign, 4 January to 9 January, at the Battle of Dead Man's Ridge. [citation needed] It captured several small Belgian towns and entered Flamierge, 7 January, but enemy counterattacks necessitated a withdrawal. [citation needed] During the battle for Flamierge, S/Sgt I.S. Jachman was killed - he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor[1]. However, constant pressure and aggressive patrolling caused the enemy to retreat to the Ourthe River. On 18 January, the Division relieved the 11th Armored Division at Houffalize, pushed enemy remnants from the Bulge, and seized Wattermal and Espeler, 26 January. [citation needed] Coming under the III Corps, the 17th turned toward Luxembourg, taking Eschweiler and Clervaux and clearing the enemy from the west bank of the Our River. Aggressive patrols crossed the river to probe the Siegfried Line defenses and established a limited bridgehead near Duisburg before being relieved by the 6th Armored Division, 10 February. [citation needed]

A period of reequipment and preparation began. Taking off from marshalling areas in France, the 17th dropped into Westphalia in the vicinity of Wesel, 24 March. Operation Varsity was the first airborne invasion over the Rhine into Germany itself. On the 25th, the Division had secured bridges over the Issel River and had entrenched itself firmly along the Issel Canal. Moving eastward, it captured Haltern, 29 March, and Münster, 2 April. The 17th entered the battle of the Ruhr Pocket, relieving the 79th Infantry Division. [citation needed] It crossed the Rhine-Herne Canal, 6 April, and set up a secure bridgehead for the attack on Essen. The "Pittsburgh of the Ruhr" fell, 10 April, and the industrial cities of Mülheim and Duisburg were cleared in the continuing attack. Military government duties began, 12 April, and active contact with the enemy ceased, 18 April. The Division came under the XXII Corps 24 April. It continued its occupation duties until 15 June 1945 when it returned to France for redeployment. [citation needed]

It was inactivated on September 16, 1945, then reactivated from July 3, 1948 to June 10, 1949 as a non-Airborne training unit at Camp Pickett, Virginia, to absorb the influx of draftees occasioned by the Berlin Airlift crisis.

Units of the 17th Airborne Division during the war included:

  • Division Headquarters
  • 193rd Glider Infantry Regiment (disbanded 1 March 1945)
  • 194th Glider Infantry Regiment (3rd Bn formed on 1 March 1945 from the assets of the separate 550th Airborne Infantry Battalion)
  • 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment (attached 27 August 1944 to 1 March 1945, thereafter assigned)
  • 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment (replaced 517PIR on 10 March 1944)
  • 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment (relieved 10 March 1944 and replaced by the 513PIR)[2]
  • HHB Division Artillery
    • 464th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion (75mm) (assigned 4 June 1945)
    • 466th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion (75mm)
    • 680th Glider Field Artillery Battalion (75mm)
    • 681st Glider Field Artillery Battalion (75mm)
  • 139th Airborne Engineer Battalion
  • 155th Airborne Antiaircraft Battalion
  • 224th Airborne Medical Company
  • 17th Parachute Maintenance Company
  • Headquarters Special Troops
    • Headquarters Company, 17th Airborne Division
    • Military Police Platoon
    • 717th Airborne Ordnance Maintenance Company
    • 517th Airborne Signal Company
    • 411th Airborne Quartermaster Company
    • Band (assigned 1 Mar 45 reorganization)
    • Reconnaissance Platoon (assigned 1 Mar 45 reorganization)
  • 550th Airborne Infantry Battalion (not assigned; under division operational control during the Ardennes Offensive)

Source: US Army Center of Military History [3]

Note: The separate 550th Airborne Infantry Battalion was initially formed as a non-parachute, non-glider, air-landed infantry battalion. It was activated at Howard Field, Panama Canal Zone on 1 July 1941 and later moved to Laurinburg-Maxton Army Air Base, NC, for glider training. It sailed in April 1944 aboard the Liberty ship James Whitcomb Riley to Oran, Algeria and, after three weeks of guard duty at the port, the 550th moved to Italy and was based at Bagnoli, ten miles north of Naples. The unit then moved to Sicily on 1 June and conducted combat training near Trapini. As the invasion of Southern France (Operation Dragoon) neared, the 550th returned to Italy and was based at Lido de Roma, seven miles from Rome. It was assigned to the provisional 1st Airborne Task Force (activated 15 July 44; invaded Southern France 15 Aug 44; discontinued in France 23 Nov 44) and, following the invasion of southern France and the end of the 1st ATF, the 550th moved to Aldbourne, England. Although it was not assigned to the 17th Airborne Division, it was under its operational control at the start of the Bulge, being attached to the division’s two-battalion 194th Glider Infantry Regiment. A division reorganization following combat in the Bulge saw the 550th as well as the 193GIR inactivated on 1 March 45 and the assets of both used to form the 3rd Battalion, 194GIR. [citation needed] Skinny87 (talk) 19:23, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

The information on the 550AIB came from "World War II Order of Battle" by Shelby Stanton. This very large book covers all US Army combat units down to battalion level.


Major General William Miley

This picture has Miley listed as a Major General, however in the picture he's only wearing the one star of a Brigadier General. Either we should look up a picture with Miley wearing two stars, or change the text so as to denote that at the time of the picture he was only a Brigadier General. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:38, 16 November 2008 (UTC)


Great article, well-written, thoroughly sourced. Good job, possible FA in the future. Cheers, ṜέđṃάяķvюĨїήīṣŢ Drop me a lineReview Me! 03:54, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

Safekeeping V[edit]

Knollwood Manoeuvre[edit]

Despite being activated in 1943, the division was not immediately shipped out to Europe to participate in combat, as occurred to the 82nd Airborne Division, which participated in the first large-scale Allied airborne operation, Operation Husky and had also been activated at the same time as the 17th Airborne Division.[1] It remained in the United States when Operation Husky took place, and in December 1943 it was chosen to participate in what came to be termed as the Knollwood Manoeuvre by the Swing Board. The Swing Board was a committee formed in mid-September 1943, composed of United States Army Air Force, parachute-glider infantry and artillery officers, whose purpose was to demonstrate the validity and military effectiveness of American airborne forces. It was chaired by General Swing, airborne advisor to General Eisenhower and who had recently returned from Sicily. The Swing Board was necessitated by the poor performance of American airborne forces during Operation Husky, during which the parachute and glider-borne airborne troops had suffered high casualties and had been perceived to have failed to achieve many of the objectives they were tasked with during the invasion of Sicily. [2]General Eisenhower had conducted a thorough review of the performance of the American airborne forces during the operation, and had come to the conclusion that they were too difficult to control in combat and that as a result there should be no divisional-sized airborne formations. Despite this scathing criticism of the airborne forces, General George Marshall had ordered the Swing Board to be formed and a giant airborne manoeuvre be performed in December to evaluate the effectiveness of divisional-sized airborne forces.[3]

”I do not believe in the airborne division. I believe that airborne troops should be reorganized in self-contained units, comprising infantry, artillery, and special services, all about the strength of a regimental combat team[...]To employ at any time and place a whole division would require a dropping over such an extended area that I seriously doubt that a division commander could regain control and operate the scattered forces as one unit."
[The conclusion of General Eisenhower's review of the performance of American airborne forces during Operation Husky][2]

The Swing Board therefore met in the middle of September and began to make arrangements for the manoeuvre that would effectively decide the fate of the airborne division as a concept for the American military. The manoeuvre would also allow the 17th Airborne and its individual units to receive further airborne training, as had occurred with the 101st Airborne Division and the 82nd a few months previously.[4] The purpose of the manoeuvre would be for the attacking airborne forces to capture Knollwood airport in North Carolina, after which the manoeuvre was incidentally named, and the defending forces to repel such an assault. The entire operation would be observed by Lieutenant-General Leslie J. McNair, overall commander of the ground forces of the US Army; McNair had once been a supporter of the airborne troops and the concept of the airborne division, but had been greatly disappointed by their performance in North Africa and more recently Sicily. His observations and reports to the US War Department, and ultimately General Eisenhower, would do much to decide the success or failure of the exercise.[5] Whilst an important observer, however, McNair would not actually direct the exercise; it would be directed by Brigadier-General F. W. Evans, commanding general of I Troop Carrier Command, the formation under which all air transport for airborne operations were controlled.[6] The attacking forces for the manoeuvre consisted of the 11th Airborne Division with the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment attached to it for the duration of the exercise, whilst the defenders were composed of a composite combat team from the 17th Airborne Division with a battalion from the 541st Parachute Infantry Regiment attached.[7] The exercise occurred on the night of December 7, and was judged to be a great success by those who observed it, with the attacking troops of the 11th Airborne Division overwhelming the defending forces of the 17th Airborne Division and capturing the Knollwood airport. McNair reported that the success of the manoeuvre pleased him, and highlighted the great improvements in airborne training that had occurred in the months between the end of Operation Husky and the Knollwood Manoeuvre.[8] Thanks to the success - or perhaps, more accurately failure - of the units of the 17th Airborne Division during the exercise, the airborne division as a concept for the American military was deemed to be effective and was allowed to remain.

Dead link[edit]

During several automated bot runs the following external link was found to be unavailable. Please check if the link is in fact down and fix or remove it in that case!

--JeffGBot (talk) 22:10, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

  1. ^ Devlin, p. 204
  2. ^ a b Devlin, p.246
  3. ^ Flanagan, p. 99
  4. ^ Huston, p. 98
  5. ^ Devlin, p. 247
  6. ^ Huston, p. 136
  7. ^ Flanagan, p. 100
  8. ^ Huston, p. 137