Original U.S. WWII 82nd Airborne M1942 Named Paratrooper Jacket - Mint Condition
Original Item: Only One Available. Officially known as Coat, Parachute Jumper this jacket was won by a member of the 82nd Airborne during WWII. This example offered in mint condition is a size 38’ and has all original snaps, belt and fully functional original zippers.
It is in the correct M42 color Olive Drab #3 (almost appears khaki). The coat consists of four front patch 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.
Due to the somewhat fragile nature of the uniform, however, the M42 was often reinforced with thicker, tougher canvas on the elbows, crotch and knees. However, this example was never reinforced. The M42 was mostly worn by Paratroops assigned to Airborne units. The M42 was eventually phased out in favor of the M1943 Uniform which was a darker green, OD #7. Despite this, various individuals chose to keep their M42s in order to show their veteran status.
This fine example is of the earliest style, in excellent mint condition and features an original 82nd Airborne Division All American shoulder patch as well as a stenciled name LEWSICK above the left breast pocket. Research shows that this jacket may have possibly belonged to Leonard Lewsick of Quakertown, PA who was born April 14th, 1922 and died January 12th, 1991.
The 82nd is one of the most storied divisions in all of WW2. There is no name or laundry number inside the jacket so we are not able to make an identification, but this is a wonderful example of a very hard to find early configuration jump jacket.
History of the 82nd in WW2:
The 82nd Division was re-designated on 13 February 1942 during World War II 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 Bradley. During this training period, the division brought together four officers who would ultimately steer the U.S. Army during the following two decades: Matthew Ridgway, Matthew D. Query, James M. Gavin, and Maxwell D. Taylor. Under Major General Bradley, the 82nd Division's Chief of Staff was George Van Pope.
On 15 August 1942, the 82nd Infantry Division, now commanded by Major General Ridgway, became the first airborne division of the U.S. Army, and was re-designated as the 82nd Airborne Division. The division initially consisted of the 325th, 326th and 327th Infantry Regiments. The 327th was soon transferred to help form the 101st Airborne Division and replaced by the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, leaving the division with two regiments of glider infantry and one of parachute infantry. In early 1943 the division received another change when the 326th was later transferred, being replaced by the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, under James M. Gavin, then a colonel, who was later destined to command the 82nd.
In April 1943, after several months of tough training, its troopers deployed to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, under the command of Major General Ridgway to take part in the campaign to invade Sicily. 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 Regimental Combat Team, under Colonel Gavin, 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 the D-Day landings of June 6, 1944. Glider troopers of the 319th and 320th Glider Field Artillery Battalions and the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment (and the 3rd Battalion of the 504th PIR) instead arrived in Italy by landing craft at Maiori (319th) and Salerno (320th, 325th).
In January 1944, the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, commanded by Colonel Reuben Tucker, 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 504th was replaced in the division by the inexperienced 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, under the command of Colonel George V. Millet, Jr.. While the 504th was detached, the remainder of the 82nd Airborne Division 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 drops 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.
In Normandy, the division saw 33 days of combat. Losses included 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 corps command, but was not promoted to lieutenant general until 1945. His recommendation for succession as division 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.
On 2 August 1944 the division became part of the First Allied Airborne Army. In September, the 82nd began planning for Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands. The operation called for three-plus airborne divisions to seize and hold key bridges and roads deep behind German lines. The 504th PIR, now back at full strength, was reassigned to the 82nd, while the 507th was assigned to the 17th Airborne Division, at the time training in England. On 17 September, the 82nd conducted its fourth combat jump of World War II. Fighting off German counterattacks, the 82nd captured its objectives between Grave, and Nijmegen. However, the failure of the British 1st Airborne Division to seize the Arnhem bridge allow the Germans to move defenders to the Nijmegen bridge. The division failed to capture Nijmegen Bridge when the opportunity presented itself early in the battle. When the British XXX Corps arrived in Nijmegen, 6 hours ahead of schedule, they found themselves having to fight to take a bridge that should have already been in allied hands. In the afternoon of Wednesday 20 September 1944 the 82nd Airborne conducted a successful opposed river assault on the river crossing of the Waal river, capturing the north end of the Nijmegen road bridge. War correspondent Bill Downs, who witnessed the assault, described it as "a single, isolated battle that ranks in magnificence and courage with Guam, Tarawa, Omaha Beach. A story that should be told to the blowing of bugles and the beating of drums for the men whose bravery made the capture of this crossing over the Waal possible."
British XXX Corps units did not follow up their own and the 82nd's success by advancing toward Arnhem. This led to some friction between the 82nd's Colonel Tucker and Major General Gavin and Lord Carrington of the British Army. By the time the advance was resumed the opportunity for a rapid capture of the road to Arnhem had passed. So the costly successes of the 82nd's Nijmegen bridge seizure was followed by the failure to take the main prize; the British 1st Airborne Division was lost at the Battle of Arnhem. The Market-Garden salient was held in a defensive operation for several weeks until the 82nd was relieved by Canadian troops, and sent into reserve in France.
On 16 December 1944, the Germans launched a surprise offensive through the Ardennes Forest, which became known as the Battle of the Bulge. In SHAEF reserve, the 82nd was committed on the northern face of the bulge near Elsenborn Ridge.
On 20 December 1944, the 82nd Airborne Division was assigned to take Cheneux where they would force the Waffen SS Division Leibstandarte's Kampfgruppe Peiper into a fighting retreat. On 2122 December 1944, the 82nd Airborne faced counterattacks from three powerful Waffen SS divisions which included the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich, and the 9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen. Their efforts to relieve Kampfgruppe Peiper failed.
On December 23 it attacked from the south and overran the 325th GIR holding the Baraque- Fraiture crossroads on the 82nd’s southern flank, endangering the entire 82nd Airborne division. The 2nd SS Panzer’s objective was to outflank the 82nd Airborne. It was not an attack designed to reach Peiper, but it was his last chance, nonetheless. If it did outflank the 82nd, it could have opened a corridor and reached the stranded yet still powerful Kampfgruppe. But the attack came too late.
On 24 December 1944, the 82nd Airborne Division with an official strength of 8,520 men was facing off against a vastly superior combined force of 43,000 men and over 1,200 armored fighting and artillery vehicles and pieces. Due to these circumstances the 82nd Airborne Division was forced to withdrawal for the 1st time in its combat history. The German’s pursued their retreat with the 2nd and 9th SS Panzer Divisions. The 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich engaged the 82nd until 28 December when it and what was left of the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte were ordered to move south to meet General Patton’s forces attacking in the area of Bastogne. Some units of the 9th SS Panzer including the 19th Panzer Grenadier Regiment stayed and fought the 82nd. They were joined by the 62nd Volksgrenadier Division. The 9th SS Panzer tried to breakthrough by attacking the 508 and 504 PIR positions, but ultimately failed. The failure of the 9th and 2nd SS Panzer Divisions to break through the 82nd lines marked the end of the German offensive in the northern shoulder of the Bulge. The German objective now became one of defense.
On 3 January 1945, the 82nd Airborne Division conducted a counterattack. On the first day’s fighting the Division overran the 62nd Volksgrenadiers and the 9th SS Panzer’s positions capturing 2,400 prisoners. The 82nd Airborne suffered high casualties in the process. The attached 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion was all but decimated during these attacks. Of the 826 men that went into the Ardennes, only 110 came out. Having lost its charismatic leader Lt. Colonel Joerg, and almost all its men either wounded, killed, or frostbitten, the 551 was never reconstituted. The few soldiers that remained were later absorbed into units of the 82nd Airborne.
After several days of fighting the destruction of the 62nd Volksgrenadiers and what had been left of the 9th SS Panzer Division was complete. For the 82nd Airborne Division the first part of the Battle of the Bulge had ended.
After helping to secure the Ruhr, the division ended the war at Ludwigslust past the Elbe River, accepting the surrender of over 150,000 of Lieutenant General Kurt von Tippelskirch's 21st Army. General Omar Bradley, commanding the U.S. 12th Army Group, stated in a 1975 interview with Gavin that Bernard Montgomery, Commander of the Anglo-Canadian 21st Army Group, had told him German opposition was too great to cross the Elbe. When Gavin's division crossed the river, in company with the British 6th Airborne, the division moved 36 miles in one day and captured over 100,000 troops, causing great laughter in Bradley's 12th Army Group headquarters.
Following Germany's surrender, the 82nd entered Berlin for occupation duty, lasting from April until December 1945. In Berlin General George S. Patton was so impressed with the 82nd's honor guard he said, "In all my years in the Army and all the honor guards I have ever seen, the 82nd's honor guard is undoubtedly the best." Hence the "All-American" became also known as "America's Guard of Honor". The war ended before their scheduled participation in the invasion of Japan. During the invasion of Italy, Ridgway considered Will Lang Jr. of TIME magazine an honorary member of the division.
82nd Airborne casualties
1,619 killed in action
6,560 wounded in action
332 died of wounds
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