Original U.S. WWII 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (505th PIR) Signed Silk Escape Map of Italy

Item Description

Original Items: One-of-a-kind. This is an artificial silk map sheet J3 and J4 Italian map which is an unusual in that it is based on native Italian maps and not a Bartholomew map. The key/legend is also unusual as it is in Italian, German, French, English, Dutch and we think Hungarian and Yugoslavian. Records show that it was printed in 1942.

It was issued to airborne units and this particular map was issued to a member of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (505th PIR) during WWII. The map is in very good condition and is signed by members of the 505th and some American red Crosses nurses as follows. Names in bold are listed on a roster for the 82nd Airborne Division as found at this link:

1ST Sgt Chas Behlke (Behlke, Charles R.) 505th Service Company

Bob Gillette (Gillette, Robert W.) 505th Regimental Headquarter & Headquarter Company

Doug Gabriel (Gabriel, Douglas C.) 505th Regimental Headquarter & Headquarter Company

Louis Mendieta (Mendieta, Luis) 505th Regimental Headquarter & Headquarter Company

Robert Blue (Blue, Robert C) 505th Regimental Headquarter & Headquarter Company

Don Adrianson (Adrianson, Donald L.) 505th Regimental Headquarter & Headquarter Company

Jim Taylor (Taylor, James F.) 1st Battalion "C" Company

Harold Seidewaw (sp?)

EJ Miller (Miller, Edward J.) 505th Regimental Headquarter & Headquarter Company

Burton Siglin (Siglin, Burton W.) 505th Service Company

Robert A. Eyler - Chap. Assist. - 505 INF. (Eyler, Robert A) 505th Service Company

Larry Hamer (sp?)

Bob Debnam (sp?)

Charlotte Colburn A.R.C (American Red Cross)

Shirley M.S. Rollett (American Red Cross)

Barbara Robinson (American Red Cross)

Barbara T. Smith (American Red Cross)

Jill Lonith (American Red Cross)

Truly an exceptional piece of Airborne history with traceable men and officers as well as some probably quite attractive Red Cross nurses to boot!

The 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (505th PIR), was an airborne infantry regiment of the United States Army, one of four infantry regiments of the 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army, with a long and distinguished history.

Activated in July 1942 during World War II, the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment participated in the Allied invasion of Sicily, later landing at Salerno, the Battle of Normandy, the Netherlands and the Battle of the Bulge.

Under the command of Colonel James M. Gavin, the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) was activated at Fort Benning, Georgia on 6 July 1942, during World War II, as part of the U.S. Airborne Command. Colonel Gavin, then just 35, was an early airborne pioneer, who led the men of the 505th through some extremely grueling training. In early 1943, for instance, he noted in his diary, "In 36 hours the regiment had marched well over 50 miles, maneuvered and seized an airhead and defended it from counterattack while carrying full combat loads and living off reserve rations". In February 1943, the 505th was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, commanded by Major General Matthew Ridgway, then stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The other two regiments serving alongside the 505th were the 504th PIR and the 325th Glider Infantry Regiments, and other supporting units. In late March the 505th was visited by many distinguished political and military leaders, including, among numerous others, General George Marshall, General Henry H. Arnold, British Field Marshal Sir John Dill and Anthony Eden.

In April, in preparation for the Allied invasion of Sicily (codenamed Operation Husky), the regiment was moved to Tunisia, in North Africa, where they completed six weeks of training. The 505th (organized into a regimental combat team with the addition of the 3rd Battalion of the 504th, along with the 376th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion and 'C' Company of the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion temporarily attached) made its first combat jump behind enemy lines into Gela in the early hours of July 10, 1943, which was the first regimental sized combat jump in the history of the United States Army. High winds on the 505th's drop zone caused a large number of the regiment to be scattered all over the island, with up to 100 men landing in the British Eighth Army's sector. The 505th suffered heavy losses during the relatively brief campaign, including Lieutenant Colonel Arthur F. Gorham, the 1st Battalion commander, who was killed.[2] The regiment then returned to North Africa in August for refit to absorb replacements before taking part in the assault on Salerno, on the night of September 14, where they made their second combat jump. The regiment continued to fight in the Italian Campaign, where the 505th, aided by tanks of the British 23rd Armoured Brigade, captured the city of Naples in early October, later helping the Allies breach the Volturno Line before returning to Naples for occupation duty.

In October Colonel Gavin was promoted to brigadier general and became the assistant division commander (ADC) of the 82nd Airborne Division. Gavin was replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Herbert F. Batcheller, formerly the regimental executive officer (XO). Soon afterwards, the 505th was pulled back to the United Kingdom, together with the rest of the 82nd Airborne Division (minus the 504th PIR) where they began training for Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy. Originally sent to Northern Ireland, the 505th went to the Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire region of England in February 1944.

In the American airborne landings in Normandy in June 1944, the 505th PIR actually jumped before its scheduled "H-Hour", thus earning their motto "H-minus". Upon completing operations in the Ste. Mere-Eglise area, the unit was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. In September 1944, the unit then participated in Operation Market Garden, in which the regiment received a second Presidential Unit Citation. The 505th later, in December 1944, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, the largest battle fought on the Western Front during World War II. By the end of the war, the 505th was awarded three foreign distinguished unit citations: the French fourragère, the Netherlands Military Order of William, and the Belgium fourragère. Following the German surrender in May 1945, the regiment served as part of the Allied occupation force in Berlin.

Three of the five members of the 82nd Airborne Division to receive the Distinguished Service Cross twice during World War II were members of the regiment. They were the regiment's first commander, then-Colonel James M. Gavin, the 1st Battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Arthur F. Gorham and the 2nd Battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin H. Vandervoort.


WWII 82nd Airborne Division:
The 82nd Division was redesignated on 13 February 1942 as Division Headquarters, 82nd Division. It was recalled to active service on 25 March 1942, and reorganized at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, under the command of Major General Omar N. Bradley. During this training period, the division brought together four officers who would ultimately steer the United States Army during the following two decades: Matthew B. Ridgway, Matthew D. Query, James M. Gavin, and Maxwell D. Taylor who became the commander of the 101st Airborne Division in 1944. This was following Bill Lee's heart attack. Under General Bradley, the 82nd Division's Chief of Staff was George Van Pope. The Allied invasion of Sicily was originally to be kept a secret.

On 15 August 1942, the 82nd Infantry Division became the first airborne division of the United States Army, and was redesignated as the 82nd Airborne Division. In April 1943, its paratroopers deployed to North Africa under the command of Major General Matthew B. Ridgway to take part in the campaign to invade Italy. The division's first two combat operations were parachute assaults into Sicily on 9 July and Salerno on 13 September 1943. The initial assault on Sicily, by the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, was the first regimental-sized combat parachute assault conducted by the United States Army. The first glider assault did not occur until Operation Neptune as part of D-Day. Glider troopers of the 319th and 320th Glider Field Artillery battalions and the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment instead arrived in Italy by landing craft at Maiori (319th) and Salerno (320th, 325th).

In January 1944, the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, which was temporarily detached to fight at Anzio, adopted the nickname "Devils in Baggy Pants", taken from an entry in a German officer's diary. The regiment was replaced in the division by the 507th Parachute Infantry. While the 504th was detached, the remainder of the 82nd Airborne moved to the United Kingdom in November 1943 to prepare for the liberation of Europe. See RAF North Witham and RAF Folkingham.

With two combat assaults under its belt, the 82nd Airborne Division was now ready for the most ambitious airborne operation of the war so far, as part of Operation Neptune, the invasion of Normandy. The division conducted Operation Boston, part of the airborne assault phase of the Operation Overlord plan.

In preparation for the operation, the division was reorganized. To ease the integration of replacement troops, rest, and refitting following the fighting in Italy, the 504th PIR did not rejoin the division for the invasion. Two new parachute infantry regiments (PIRs), the 507th and the 508th, provided it, along with the 505th, a three-parachute infantry regiment punch. On 5 and 6 June, these paratroopers, parachute artillery elements, and the 319th and 320th, boarded hundreds of transport planes and gliders to begin history's largest airborne assault at the time (only Operation Market Garden later that year would be larger). During the June 6th assault, a 508th platoon leader, Lieutenant Robert P. Mathias, would be the first U.S. Army officer killed by German fire on D-Day On June 7, after this first wave of attack, the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment would arrive by glider to provide a division reserve.

By the time the All-American 82nd Airborne Division was pulled back to England, it had seen 33 days of bloody combat and suffered heavy losses, with 5,245 troopers killed, wounded, or missing. Ridgway's post-battle report stated in part, "... 33 days of action without relief, without replacements. Every mission accomplished. No ground gained was ever relinquished."

Following Normandy, the 82nd Airborne became part of the newly organized XVIII Airborne Corps, which consisted of the U.S. 17th, 82nd, and 101st Airborne Divisions. Ridgway was given command, but was not promoted to lieutenant general until 1945. His recommendation for succession as commander was Brigadier General James M. Gavin. Ridgway's recommendation met with approval, and upon promotion Gavin became the youngest general since the Civil War to command a U.S. Army division.

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