There was a very good turnout for fellow member Stan Lambrick's talk
on 8 June. This time he remained with topics American, but moved it from
his "home base" to Europe during WW 2. His subject was the 101st
US Airborne Division that had its origin in the 8th Wisconsin Regiment
over a century ago. Raised in 1863, it carried a live tethered eagle on
a flag staff in the American Civil War.
During the 30s it was a reserve unit but was then resurrected in the 40s and expanded into a parachute division under Col William Lee. In 1943, displaying the "screaming eagle" shoulder flash, the division was sent to the UK for paratroop training.
When General Lee stepped down due to illness, General Maxwell-Taylor took over and, on 6 June 1944, the division, as part of a 13 000 strong invasion force in 800 C47 transport planes, jumped behind the massive obstacles of the Normandy beaches. Dropped from a height of 300 feet, and not very accurately either, 30% of the soldiers were out of action immediately, drowned, caught in trees, injured or captured. They wandered around in the dark and by morning some 10% of the division had occupied their objectives, with the rest to follow. For 30 days, until the end of June, they were in action with a 1/3 high casualty rate, and then had to be withdrawn to the UK for a badly needed refit. General Lee's pre-battle prophecy that his men "had no history except a rendevouz with destiny" had come true.
The division remained in the UK until 17 Sept 1944, when the soldiers were sent across once again and jumped during operation Market Garden near Eindhoven with orders to capture four bridges across two canals. During the next 70 days they battled German Fallschirmjaeger under command of Oberst v.d.Heydte at Arnhem. Having suffered terrible casualties and also very exhausted, they were sent for some R&R in Reims to await replacements. The Battle of the Bulge, the biggest US battle in WW 2, saw the 101st again in the thick of fighting at Bastogne, holding the important roadway from 18 - 26 Dec 1944.
Eventually relief supplies were dropped into Bastogne which had become
a modern day Alamo, and the 101 moved on, joining the US 7th Army in Berchtesgaden
at the end of the war.
However, the history of the 101st did not end there. Korea and Vietnam, and much later Operation Desert Storm gave them further opportunities to distinguish themselves as battle-hardened veterans. The applause after Stan's well researched and illustrated presentation was truly deserved, and Bob Buser thanked him on behalf of everyone present.
Meetings of the Cape Town Branch are held on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 20h00 in the Recreation Hall of the SA LEGION'S ROSEDALE COMPLEX, Lower Nursery Road, Rosebank, (of f Alma Road), opposite Rosebank Railway Station, below the line. Visitors are welcome. Donation R 3.00, students and scholars free. Tea and biscuits will be served. John Mahncke (Vice-Chairman/Scribe) (021) 797 5167
13 July 2000
10 August 2000
14 September 2000
12 October 2000
9 November 2000
John Mahncke, (Vice-Chairman/Scribe), (021) 797 5167