Original U.S. WWII 319th Glider Field Artillery Battalion Named Grouping - 82nd Airborne

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. This incredible and large grouping is contained inside the WW2 footlocker of Sergeant Ernest P. Wilson ASN 35798376 who served with the legendary 319th Glider Field Artillery Battalion in World War Two. Wilson took part in an invasion either the Normandy Invasion or the invasion of the Rhineland, as well as three other major campaigns.

Wilson was born in Kentucky in on December 21st, 1916 and passed away on July 27th, 1993. He was already married when he enlisted in Cincinnati Ohio on April 7th, 1943 as a private with an education of four years of high school after working in the manufacture of fabricated plastic products.

During World War II the 319th Glider Field Artillery Battalion was present for the Invasion of Sicily, the Naples-Foggia operation, the Normandy landings, where it earned a Presidential Unit Citation at Ste Mere Eglise, the invasion of the Rhineland (for which two operations it was granted an arrowhead distinction), and fighting in the Ardennes-Alsace region. It was also given general campaign credit for Central Europe.

The 319th Glider Field Artillery Battalion saw its first combat action in Italy in September 1943 when it was chosen by Col. Darby of the U.S. Rangers to be his only artillery unit to support his Rangers in a seaborne invasion of the Naples coast designed to clear the way for the upcoming Allied invasion of Italy at Anzio. The 319th was the first U.S. airborne artillery unit to fire against and engage the enemy in WWII. Fighting alongside the Rangers and small detached units from the 82nd Airborne, it effectively repelled numerous German counterattacks and kept the roads to Naples through the Chiunzi Pass clear until the US and British forces could gain control of the Sorrento Plateau after fighting their way up the coast from Anzio.

The 319th gained distinction as the first Allied unit to enter Naples and formally liberate that city from the retreating German forces. After serving as a "military police" unit to clear rubble, provide aid, food and shelter to the civilian population and also help dispose of German time bombs and other armaments left behind, the 319th was relieved of its civilian police duties and sent to Northern Ireland where it rejoined the rest of the 82nd Airborne to begin training for the D-Day invasion of Normandy. For its conduct in this offensive, the 319th was awarded its first Presidential Unit Citation, making it the first battalion of the 82nd Airborne to win such an honor in WWII.[citation needed] (Note: some smaller-sized units of the 82nd also won the award because they were selected by Col Darby to be part of his Ranger force along with the 319th)

The 319th and its sister GFAB, the 320th, are the only two glider field artillery units to make two glider assaults behind enemy lines during the Second World War;[citation needed] at St. Mere Eglise on D-Day and at Nijmegen in the Netherlands. The 319th lost approximately 40% of its strength due to death, wounds and injuries sustained by glider crashes and enemy fire on the night of 5–6 June 1944 during the Normandy landings.

Because all of their howitzers were damaged by crash landings, the 319th fought as infantrymen for the first few days supporting the paratroop and glider infantry of the 82nd Airborne during the battles to control the Merderet bridgehead. The glider carrying the commander of the battalion, Col Todd, crash-landed behind German lines and he and the survivors had to fight their way back to the original landing zone to rejoin his men.

Once the battles in Normandy had subsided, the 319th was sent back to England to recoup and regroup along with the rest of the 82nd. A few weeks later, they were ordered to begin preparation for Operation Market Garden, a joint US and British assault on the south-eastern Netherlands to secure the Rhine bridges for a planned invasion of the German Rhineland. The 319th's glider landings in September 1944 took place in daylight (as opposed to the night landings during D-Day) and there were fewer casualties although several gliders did land across the border in Germany (most of these men did not survive). The 319th provided artillery support for the 508th and 504th Parachute Infantry Regiments (82nd) during this campaign and aided in the paratroopers' capture of the critical Nijmegen Bridge.

After almost two months of combat, the 319th was then sent to Northern France for R & R in mid-November 1944. However, less than a month later, they were quickly brought to the front near St. Vith (Belgium) to support the American infantry which sustained heavy losses following the German assault in the Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge). During this engagement, the 319th fought close combat action against several SS Panzer units, frequently with little infantry support (the 82nd lines were stretched over a wide area to the south of St. Vith as a holding action until more US troops could be brought to the battlefront to stem the tide of the advancing SS Panzers).

The 319th then fought with other 82nd units through the Huertgen Forest and across the Rhine into Germany and continued to fire high explosive shells against the enemy until April 1945 when they reached the Berlin region and encountered advancing Russian or Red Army troops. The 319th along with other units of the 82nd Airborne served as the U.S. military honor guard in Berlin after the German surrender in May 1945.

Included in this incredible trunk grouping are the following items:

-Excellent condition size 36L Ike jacket marked on the interior HQ 319 WILSON 8376 with wonderful condition patches, ribbons and material, has a sterling silver GLIDER ASSAULT BADGE backed in red felt with embroidered red surround. 82nd Airborne patch on left shoulder. Pin back sterling silver 319th Glider Infantry Regiment Distinctive Unit Insignia on each lapel. Medal ribbons as follows: Army Good Conduct, European-African-Middle East Campaign with Invasion Arrowhead and three bronze battle stars, Army Good Conduct, American Defense, WWII Victory Medal, Presidential Unit Citation. Army sharpshooter medal for Carbine. Ruptured duck patch. Sergeant Chevrons on each arm and three overseas service bars on left sleeve indication 18+ months in overseas service. 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 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.

- Original WWII M1 fixed bale front seam helmet with Westinghouse liner named to WILSON 8376 on interior webbing. Exterior front of helmet bears Sergeant Chevrons.

- Original WWII Dog Tags that read Ernest P. Wilson 35798376 T43 44 B, attached to the dog tag chain is a small compass.

- Three original WWII issue overseas artillery garrison caps with GIR patches, one of the earliest style. One cap is ink stamped W-8376

- Original WWII Army issue wool dress shirt with 82nd AB patch, Sergeant Chevrons on both sleeves and glider assault badge backed in red felt with embroidered red surround.

- Original WWII Army issue wool dress pants marked HQ 319 WILSON 8376.

- Bring Back Original Italian WWII Fascist Fighting Knife with Steel Scabbard.

- Bring Back Original WWII Italian MVSN Model 1937 Dagger.

- Bring Back Original WWII Italian playing cards in original box.

- Bring Back Original WWII German Zeiler Flash Light.

- Bring Back Original WWII NSDAP Banner.

- Bring Back Original WWII NSDAP insignia, etc...

- Original WWII Paratrooper Camouflage Silk Scarf.

- Original WWII Paratrooper Camouflage Blur Pattern Silk Scarf.

- Original WWII Paratrooper White Silk Scarf.

- Original WWII Wool Scarves, Vest and Khaki Neck tie and white gloves.

- 2 x Original WWII Pin Back Glider Assault Badges

- Original WWII Pin Back Gold Glider Wings with Hanging Chevron

- Original WWII Pin Back Sterling Glider Wings

- Original WWII USA Pin with Hanging Chevron

- Original WWII U.S. Entrenching Shovel with T handle.

- Lots of Original WWII Medals, Ribbons, Insignia, pins etc...

- Original WWII Pen knife.

- 2 x Original WWII Lighter.

- Original WWII Stamps, Coins (German & Italian) , etc..

- WWII Souvenir Bracelets.

- Veteran association cards.

- So much more!

Campaign participation credit World War II:

*Sicily; *Naples-Foggia; *Normandy (with arrowhead); *Rhineland (with arrowhead); *Ardennes-Alsace; *Central Europe

Decorations *Presidential Unit Citation (Army), Streamer embroidered CHIUNZI PASS (319th Glider Field Artillery Battalion cited; WD GO 41, 1947) *Presidential Unit Citation (Army), Streamer embroidered STE. MERE EGLISE (319th Glider Field Artillery Battalion cited; WD GO 83, 1944 *French Croix de Guerre with Palm, World War II, Streamer embroidered STE. MERE EGLISE (319th Glider Field Artillery Battalion cited; DA GO 43, 1950 *French Croix de Guerre with Palm, World War II, Streamer embroidered COTENTIN, *Military Order of William (Degree of the Knight of the Fourth Class), Streamer embroidered NIJMEGEN 1944 (319th Glider Field Artillery Battalion cited; DA GO 43, 1950) *Netherlands Orange Lanyard (319th Glider Field Artillery Battalion cited; DA GO 43, 1950) *Belgian Foragers 1940 (319th Glider Field Artillery Battalion cited; DA GO 43, 1950 *Cited in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army for action at St. Vith (319th Glider Field Artillery Battalion cited; DA GO 43, 1950) *Cited in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army for action in the Ardennes (319th Glider Field Artillery Battalion cited; DA GO 43, 1950) *Cited in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army for action in Belgium and Germany (319th Glider Field Artillery Battalion cited; DA GO 43, 1950, THREE PUC's FRENCH CROIC DE GU, ERRE W/PALM, BELGIAN, FRENCH, and NEDERLAND Fourregures

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