Original U.S. WWII 464th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion M1942 Paratrooper Jump Jacket

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This Original M1942 Airborne Jump jacket in Olive Drab #3 offered is in very good condition. The coat features an embroidered 17th Airborne insignia patch on the left shoulder, along with a Artillery Airborne  Oval and and sterling Jump Wing. This jacket consists of four front pockets with two button snaps on each, along with a unique dual-zippered knife pocket located on the upper lapel which was designed to contain a switchblade pocketknife, used to cut the parachute rigging if entangled. The top two pockets were also angled inward to make items easier to retrieve with the opposite hand.

The jacket is in very good to condition, with the expected stains and small pulls from service. However, there are no tears or fraying, and it is totally solid, with a great faded color that shows this jacket was actually out in the field. The jacket has two laundry numbers; one in the collar S6078 and a larger one stamped in ink to the interior upper back. The collar is also stenciled HQ 464 which stands for Headquarters 464th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion. It does not have a size marked, but we measured it to be 38 inches around at the armpits, and 33 at the waist. The original belt is absent. Bother zipper sides are intact and the zipper pull is present but the zipper does not currently function.

The 464th was activated on 1 April 1943, and unlike most of the division's other component units, it wasn't assigned to the 17th Airborne Division until later in the war.  The 464th joined the 17th as part of the 1 March 1945 divisional realignment.

As part of the Division, the 464th engaged in the Rhineland, and Central Europe Campaigns. During Operation Varsity, the Battalion was attached to the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, with the mission to provide artillery support throughout the operation. The 464th was the first field artillery battalion to jump into Germany and the first across the Rhine.
Military government duties began 12 April, and active contact with the enemy ceased 18 April 1945. The division came under the XXII Corps on 24 April. In early May 1945 the Battalion helped oversee Displaced Person camps in Germany. On 4 August 1945, the 464th left France, arriving at Camp Kilmer, NJ 13 August. The Battalion was inactivated on 25 October 1945.

Once in Britain the 17th Airborne Division division was attached to U.S. XVIII Airborne Corps, under Major General Matthew Ridgway, which commanded all American airborne formations, and which in turn became part of the First Allied Airborne Army when it was formed on 21 August, under the command of Lieutenant General Lewis H. Brereton. The division, now with Colonel Edson Raff's 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment under command–a veteran unit which had fought in Normandy under command of the 82nd Airborne Division–remained in England as a theater reserve during Market Garden and its aftermath, as the Allied armies continued their advance towards Germany.

Battle of the Bulge
On 16 December 1944 the Wehrmacht launched an offensive in the Ardennes region of Belgium, breaking through Allied lines and rapidly advancing towards Antwerp.

By 1 January 1945 the threat to Charleville had eased sufficiently for the division to be transferred to another area of the Ardennes, being transported to an area south-west of Bastogne near the village of Morhet on 3 January; there it relieved the 11th Armored Division which had occupied the village prior to its arrival. Between 19 and 26 January, the division broke through German lines and captured several towns before linking up with elements of the British 51st Infantry Division. After it had captured the town of Espeler on 26 January the entire division was withdrawn from the front and transported by truck to Luxembourg, effectively ending its participation in the Ardennes campaign.

Operation Varsity
After participating in the Battle of the Bulge, the division was moved behind the front-lines as a reserve formation and theater reserve, whilst the Allies continued their advance towards the German interior. However, even as the division received replacements and trained, it had already been selected to take part in a highly ambitious airborne operation code-named Operation Eclipse. This operation, which got to such an advanced stage that plans had been created and divisional commanders briefed, called for the 17th and 82nd Airborne divisions, along with a brigade from the British 6th Airborne Division, to be dropped in daylight in and around Berlin to capture the city. Eclipse and several other similarly ambitious airborne operations came to nothing, but in February the division finally received word that it would be involved in an Allied airborne operation to cross the River Rhine in support of the Anglo-Canadian 21st Army Group that would take place during March.

By March 1945, the Allies had advanced into Germany and had reached the River Rhine. The Rhine was a formidable natural obstacle to the Allied advance,

However, as planning for Operation Varsity began, it soon became obvious that there was a lack of suitable transport aircraft to transport all three airborne divisions. Once these objectives were taken, the airborne troops would consolidate their positions and await the arrival of Allied ground forces, defending the territory captured against the German forces known to be in the area.

The 17th Airborne was to land its units in the southern portion of the area chosen for the operation, engaging the German forces that were defending the area, securing the Diersfordterwald Forest which dominated the surrounding area and capturing three bridges that spanned the River Issel. It would then hold the territory it had captured until it linked up units from the British 6th Airborne Division, which would land in the northern section of the operational area, and finally advance alongside 21st Army Group once the Allied ground forces had made contact with the airborne forces. To avoid heavy casualties such as those incurred by the British 1st Airborne Division during Operation Market Garden, both Allied airborne divisions would be dropped only after Allied ground units had secured crossings over the Rhine; the two divisions would also be dropped only a relatively short distance behind German lines, to ensure that reinforcements would be able to link up with them after only a few hours and they would not be isolated.

Operation Plunder began at 21:00 on 23 March after a week-long aerial bombardment of Luftwaffe airfields and the German transport system, involving more than ten thousand Allied aircraft.

The 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, under the command of Colonel Edson Raff, was the lead assault formation for the 17th Airborne Division, and was consequently the first U.S. airborne unit to land as part of Operation Varsity. The entire regiment was meant to be dropped in drop zone W, a clearing two miles north of Wesel; however, excessive ground haze confused the pilots of the transport aircraft carrying the 507th, and as such when the regiment dropped it split into two-halves. The actions of the regiment during the initial landing also gained the division its second Medal of Honor, when Private George J. Peters posthumously received the award after charging a German machine gun nest and eliminating it with rifle fire and grenades, allowing his fellow paratroopers to gather their equipment and capture the regiments first objective.

The 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment was the second divisional unit to land, and was under the command of Colonel James W. Coutts.

The third component of the 17th Airborne Division to take part in the operation was the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment, under the command of Colonel James Pierce. However, these artillery batteries and their crews were defeated by the glider-borne troops, and the regiment was soon able to report that its objectives had been secured, having destroyed forty-two artillery pieces, ten tanks, two mobile-flak wagons and five self-propelled guns.

Operation Varsity was a successful large-scale airborne operation. All of the objectives that the airborne troops of the 17th had been tasked with had been captured and held, usually within only a few hours of the operation's beginning. The bridges over the Issel had been successfully captured, although one later had to be destroyed to prevent its capture by counter-attacking German forces. The Diersfordter Forest had been cleared of enemy troops, and the roads along which the Germans might have moved reinforcements against the advance had been cut by airborne troops. After it had participated in Operation Varsity, the 17th Airborne Division continued to advance through Germany as a part of XVIII Airborne Corps, engaging German forces around Wesel, Essen and Münster. When Germany unconditionally surrendered on 7 May 1945, the division was conducting occupation duties in northern Germany.

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