Original U.S. WWII 101st Airborne Division and 5th Army Lieutenant Ike Jacket
Original Item: Only one available. This is an excellent condition WW2 Ike jacket offered in a nice large size approximately US 40. This soldier, jacket is not named, served with both the Fifth Army in WW2 and 101st Airborne saw over 12 months of combat in the European theatre and was the recipient of four Purple Hearts.
Wear on the patches, ribbons and material, has sterling pin back jump wings and a cloth stitched CIB (Combat Infantryman Badge). Lapel infantry insignias are both the screw back type IIIA.
Fifth army patch on left shoulder, 101st Airborne patch on right shoulder. The Patches, ribbons, awards are as follows (please note that as this jacket is unnamed we cannot verify that all of these are correct for this soldier, but are WW2 era).
Two overseas service bars (on right sleeve cuff) meaning 12+ months of combat service
Sterling Paratrooper Jump Wings
Bronze Star (2 Awards)
Purple Heart (4 Awards)
American Defense Medal
American Campaign Medal
European, African, Middle East Campaign Ribbon (5 Awards)
Fourragère shoulder cord for service with French combat units.
The 101st Airborne Division "Screaming Eagles" is a U.S. Army modular light infantry division trained for air assault operations. During World War II, it was renowned for its role in Operation Overlord (the D-Day landings and airborne jumps starting 6 June 1944, in Normandy, France), Operation Market Garden, the liberation of the Netherlands and action during the Battle of the Bulge around the city of Bastogne, Belgium.
The Fifth United States Army was one of the principal formations of the U.S. Army in the Mediterranean during World War II. It was activated on 5 January 1943 at Oujda, French Morocco and made responsible for the defense of Algeria and Morocco. It was also given the responsibility for planning the American part of the invasion of mainland Italy. It was commanded by Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark.
It first saw action during Operation Avalanche, the assault landings at Salerno in September 1943. Due to the low numbers of American troops available in theatre it was made up of one American and one British corps. It had the X Corps (United Kingdom) and the VI Corps (United States) under its command. At Salerno, X Corps landed on the left flank, and VI Corps on the right flank. Progress was initially slow, due in part to lack of initiative by the American corps commander, Maj. Gen. Ernest J. Dawley, who was subsequently replaced. However, after heavy naval and air bombardment had saved the forces from any danger of being driven back into the sea, and also with the approach of the British Eighth Army (which had landed further south), the German forces retreated.
Progress was then good for a couple of months until the Germans turned, stood and fought. The Germans established a position on the Winter Line, which included the formidable defensive positions at San Pietro Infine in the Liri Valley and at Monte Cassino. By this point, Fifth Army had been reinforced by a second American corps, II Corps. With the failure of the first operations to capture Monte Cassino, an attempt was made to exploit the Allied preponderance in seapower before the coming invasion of Normandy robbed the Mediterranean of the naval forces necessary for an amphibious assault.
VI Corps was withdrawn from the line and replaced by the French Expeditionary Corps under General Alphonse Juin. They made a second attempt to capture Monte Cassino in conjunction with the amphibious assault by VI Corps, which again failed. VI Corps landed at Anzio on 22 January 1944 in Operation Shingle, and suffered many of the same problems as had been seen at Salerno. A lack of initiative on the part of the U.S. commander, Maj Gen. John P. Lucas, combined with worries about the Germans catching VI Corps off balance if it advanced too far in land resulted in the bridgehead being bottled up. The Germans nearly breached the last beachhead defences before again being driven off by heavy naval and air support.
After the failure of Shingle, a large reorganization took place. Previously the Apennines had been the rough dividing line between Fifth and Eighth Armies. However, the dividing line was shifted westwards, to allow the concentration of both armies on the western side of Italy for maximum firepower to break through to Rome. The V Corps (United Kingdom) was left on the Adriatic coast to pin down any German units there. Fifth Army was relieved of responsibility for Cassino and the final phases of that battle saw Indian, New Zealand and finally Polish troops thrown against the fortress. Fifth Army also lost X Corps at this time, since it was felt that having exclusively American-organised units under Fifth Army and British-organized units under Eighth Army would ease logistics.
The breakthrough was achieved during the spring of 1944. Coordinated assaults by all the Allied forces, except V Corps, which was confined to a holding action, broke through. II Corps attacked along the coast, the French Expeditionary Corps, in a classic demonstration of mountain warfare, broke through on the right flank of Fifth Army, and VI Corps broke out of the Anzio beachhead. By early summer, Allied forces were well on their way to capturing Rome.
At this point, one of the more controversial incidents in the history of Fifth Army occurred. The strategic conception of General Harold Alexander, commanding 15th Army Group was that the forces of VI Corps, coming out of Anzio would trap the retreating German forces, and leave them to be annihilated by the advancing Fifth and Eighth Armies. However, in contravention of orders, Clark diverted units of VI Corps towards Rome, leaving a small blocking force to attempt to stop the Germans. It failed to do so, and the German forces were able to escape and reestablish a coherent line to the north of Rome. Clark claimed that there were significant German threats that necessitated the diversion, but many believe that he was primarily glory-seeking by being the first to liberate Rome.
Two days after Rome fell, Operation Overlord was launched. The strategic conception of Overlord called for a supporting operation to be mounted by invading southern France. In order to do so, forces would have to be withdrawn from Allied Armies in Italy. In the end, VI Corps was withdrawn, forming the nucleus of the field forces of the US Seventh Army for the invasion of the French Riviera, Operation Dragoon. The French Expeditionary Corps was also withdrawn, to allow its men to be used to form French First Army, a follow-up formation for Dragoon. In two months, the strength of the Fifth Army dropped from 250,000 to 150,000. However the Brazilian Expeditionary Division as well as other divisions had arrived to align with IV Corps, so two corps were maintained within Fifth Army.
In the 2nd half of 1944, the Allied force on Italian Front within the US 5th Army and 8th British Army resembled more a multi-national force being constituted by: Americans (including segregated African/and/Japanese-Americans), British, French, members of French and British colonies (New Zealanders, Canadians, Indians, Gurkhas, Black Africans, Moroccans, Algerians, Jews and Arabs from the British Mandate in Palestine, South Africans, Rhodesians), as well as Brazilians and exiled forces from Poland, Greece, former Czechoslovakia and anti-fascist Italians.
The Germans reestablished their line across Italy at the level of Pisa and Rimini. The Allied forces spent another winter frustrated at their lack of ability to break through. This time Fifth Army was straddling the Apennines, with many of its units occupying high, exposed positions which were miserable to garrison. That winter also saw a significant change of command. General Clark moved to command 15th Army Group, and Lieutenant General Lucian Truscott was appointed to command Fifth Army in his place. Truscott would command the Army from 16 December 1944 until the war's end.
In the final operations against the German Army Group C, the Eighth Army initiated the main offensive on the Adriatic coast, and then the Fifth Army also broke through the German defenses around Bologna. The German units, in the main, were pinned against the Po River and destroyed, or at the very least deprived of their transport and heavy weapons, which effectively made many of them useless. II Corps units raced through Milan towards the French frontier and the great port of Genoa. The IV Corps pushed due north through Verona, Vicenza and as far as Bolzano and to the Brenner Pass, where they linked up with elements of the US Seventh Army.
Its role in Italy cost Fifth Army dearly. It suffered 109,642 casualties in 602 days of combat. 19,475 were killed in action. The Fifth Army headquarters returned to the United States in September 1945. 2 October 1945 saw Fifth Army inactivated at Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts.
In the informal athletic competitions held between units of the European and North African theaters, the 5th Army was among the most successful, winning titles in baseball, boxing, swimming and football during the 1944 season. The football championship was gained after a victory over 12th Air Force in the Spaghetti Bowl on January 1, 1945.
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