Original U.S. WWII 101st Airborne 506th PIR Named Uniform Grouping - Band of Brothers
Original Item: Only one available. "From this day to the ending of the World, ...we in it shall be remembered... we band of brothers" Henry V William Shakespeare.
This is a wonderful uniform grouping that belonged to Sergeant Zygmunt Chmielewski, who was a member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. The 506th PIR is the same regiment that was depicted in the book and HBO series BAND OF BROTHERS. Subsequently, identified named 506 material is some of the most sough after U.S. WWII collectibles on the market today.
Sergeant (promoted from PFC by end of war) Zygmunt Chmielewski ASN 35926377 was born on October 10th, 1925 in Ohio and passed away on August 7th, 2005. He is documented of having jumped at Market Garden (Rhineland), then continued to fight in the Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge), and Central Europe finally entering German for occupation duty in 1945. He returned home with the 82nd Airborne 505th PIR on the ship the Queen Mary in later 1945. Online resources state that he was a recipient of the Bronze Star but this is not mentioned in his Honorable Discharge. He can be found with a wartime photo on the 101st Airborne website at this link.
Included in this incredible grouping are the following items:
- Winter Issue WWII Ike jacket with Chmielewski's laundry number in the neck of the lining which reads C-6377. Stunning totally original 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment enamel and sterling silver pin back CURRAHEE Distinctive Unit Insignias on each lapel. The Ike jacket is in excellent condition and is a size 36R. Notable features are as follows:
- Sterling pin back jump wings with 506th blue backing with embroidered red surround.
- CIB (Combat Infantryman Badge).
- 101st Airborne patch on right shoulder.
- 82nd Air Borne patch on left shoulder (he came home with the 82nd)
- Grade 4 Sergeant chevrons on each sleeve.
- Ribbons and awards as follows: Good Conduct Medal Ribbon, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal ribbon with 3 bronze stars, WWII Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal ribbon.
- The "Belgian Fourragère 1940"- composed of one round smooth cord, partially braided, and of TWO other cords, of which one is terminated by a knot and a brass ferret - it is made of wool and cotton for NCOs and EM, and of silk for Officers - all threads are tinted in colors resembling the ribbon of the Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 (i.e. basic red, dotted with green threads) - the Fourragère encircles the LEFT shoulder and passes under the armpit, and is fixed
by 2 tiny loops onto the button of the shoulder loop
- "Order of the Orange" shoulder cord awarded by the Dutch government for surviving Operation Market Garden.
- Three overseas service bars (on left sleeve cuff) 18+ months of combat service.
- Overseas Garrison Cap with enlisted Glider Parachute patch with wonderful wartime stitching.
- Standard Army issue wool shirt with 82nd Airborne patch on left shoulder. Shirt is marked with laundry number 6377.
- Bring Back Certificate dated 16th May 1945 which names Chmielewski and lists multiple items such as a German Schmeiser Rifle, Arm Bands, and a Circular Swastika (included in this set!).
- Unattached insignia patches such as 101st, 82nd and others.
- Airborne Camouflage Silk Scarf.
- German WWI Medal ribbons,
- Binder of research on Chmielewski which includes; copy of his Honorable Discharge, copy of passenger manifest from the Queen Mary which names Chmielewski, copy of Company A 506th PIR roster which names Chmielewski, copy of a wartime photo of him in uniform and much more.
Overall a wonderful well researched group from one of the most famous regiments that fought in the Second World War. 506th PIR material is extremely hard to find making this rare opportunity to have something from the real Band of Brothers.
The 506th PIR in WWII
The regiment was initially formed during World War II at Camp Toccoa, Georgia in 1942 where it earned its nickname, "Currahees", after Currahee Mountain which is located inside the boundaries of the camp. Paratroopers in training ran from Camp Toccoa up Currahee Mountain and back, memorialized in the HBO series, Band of Brothers, with the shout "three miles up, three miles down!". The Cherokee word, which translates to "Stand Alone", also became the unit's motto. Members of the unit also wear the spade (♠) symbol on the helmet outer and the Screaming Eagle patch (indicating membership of the 101st Airborne Division) on the left sleeve. During World War II, the only commanding officer of the regiment was Colonel Robert F. Sink. As such, the 506th was sometimes referred to as the "Five-Oh-Sink". On 10 June 1943, the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment officially became part of the 101st Airborne Division, commanded by Major General William Lee, the "father of the U.S. Army Airborne".
At the completion of their training at Camp Toccoa, Colonel Sink read an article in Reader's Digest about how a unit in the Japanese Army broke the world record for marching. Sink believed his men could do better than that, and as a result, the regiment marched 137 miles (220 km) from Camp Toccoa to Atlanta, where they then boarded trains to complete their transfer to Airborne School in Fort Benning, Georgia. This march was conducted over 75 hours and 15 minutes, with 33.5 hours being used for marching. Only 12 out of 556 enlisted men of the 2nd Battalion failed to complete the march. All 30 officers completed it, including the 2nd Battalion's commander, then-Major Robert Strayer. Newspapers covered the march and many civilians turned out to cheer the men as they neared Five Points.
The 506th would participate in three major battles during the war: D-day landings, Operation Market Garden, and the Battle of the Bulge. (They would have participated in Operation Varsity, which would have been three combat jumps, but SHAEF decided to use the 17th Airborne Division instead.)
D-Day: Operation Overlord
Like almost all paratroop units, the 506th was widely scattered during the Mission Albany night drop on the morning of D-Day. The most famous action for the 506th on D-Day was the Brécourt Manor Assault led by then 1st Lieutenant Richard Winters. Although promised they would be in battle for just 3 days, the 506th did not return to England for 33 days, participating in the battle for Carentan. Of about 2,000 men who jumped into France, 231 were killed in action, 183 were missing or POWs, and 569 were wounded — about 50% casualties for the Normandy campaign.
Operation Market Garden
The airborne component of Operation Market Garden, Operation Market was composed of American units (82nd Airborne Division, the 101st Airborne Division, and the IX Troop Carrier Command), British units (1st Airborne Division) and Polish units (1st Independent Parachute Brigade). The airborne units were dropped near several key bridges along the axis of advance of the ground forces, Operation Garden, with the objective of capturing the bridges intact in order to allow a deep penetration into the German occupied Netherlands and to capture the key bridge crossing the River Rhine at Arnhem.
The 101st Airborne was assigned five bridges just north of the German defensive lines northwest of Eindhoven. The parachute drop was in daylight resulting in well targeted and controlled drops into the designated drop zones. The 101st captured all but one bridge, the one at Son which was destroyed with explosives by the German defenders as the airborne units approached the bridge. The ground forces of British XXX Corps linked up with elements of the 101st Airborne on the second day of operations but the advance of the ground forces was further delayed while engineers erected a Bailey Bridge at Son replacing the destroyed bridge. XXX Corps then continued its advance into the 82nd Airborne area of operations where it was halted just shy of Arnhem due to German counterattacks along the length of the deep penetration.
Battle of the Bulge
The 506th was directly involved in the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 – January 1945. While resting and refitting in France after Operation Market Garden, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander on the Western Front, called upon the 101st Airborne Division on 16 December to be moved into the Belgian town of Bastogne by 18 December, so that the Germans would not gain access to its important crossroads. The short notice of a move left the unit short of food, ammunition, arms, men, and winter clothing. The unit, along with the rest of the 101st Airborne, was encircled immediately. The 506th was sent to the eastern section of the siege. During the siege, there were reports of problems with tying in the gap in between the 501st PIR and the 506th. To stall the Germans so that the defense could be set up, the 1st Battalion of the 506th (along with Team Desobry from the 10th Armored Division) was sent out to combat and slow down the Germans in the towns of Noville and Foy. One third (about 200 men) of the battalion was destroyed, but in the process had taken out 30 enemy tanks and inflicted 500–1000 casualties. The battalion was put into reserve and the 2nd and 3rd Battalions were put on the lines. A supply drop on 22 December helped to some extent. After the U.S. Third Army, under General George Patton, broke the encirclement, the 506th stayed on the line and spearheaded the entire offensive by liberating Foy and Noville in January, until being transferred to Haguenau. They were pulled out of the line in late February 1945.
Rest of the war
The regiment was put back on the line on 2 April, and continued for the rest of the war, taking light casualties. It assisted in the encirclement of the Ruhr Pocket and the capture of Berchtesgaden, then took up occupational duties in Zell am See, Austria. The 506th then began training to be redeployed to the Pacific theater but the war ended in August 1945.
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