Sunday, August 16, 2015

British Paras WWII

     I received this beautiful British Parachute badge and pin from a friend who retired from a Para Airlanding Regiment in England. His grandfathers fought in Dunkirk, North Africa, Normandy, Arnhem/Market Garden, The Blitz n Coventry, and the advance into Germany in 1945. 
     These British Airborne wings and hatpin were courtesy of his Airlanding Regiment. 
     As a tribute to them and the honorable warrior Paras who came before them, I put together this small album of British Paras from several campaigns.
UTRINIQUE PARATUS! (Ready For Anything)

Modern British Parachute wings and badge

The British Army in Tunisia 1943: Sgt M Lewis of the 2nd Parachute Battalion examines a memorial to the 1st Parachute Brigade on the Nefza-Sedjenane road in the Tamara Valley, 14 October 1943.

1st Para Brigade; Churchill barracks, ITALY, 1943
~Photo courtesy of Brian Hope

4th Parachute Battalion mortar team in action, Italy 1944.

Paratroopers pose with Dutch civilians after landing near Arnhem, Sept 1944

An officer of the 1st Airborne Division loses his trousers after escaping Arnhem, and crossing the Rhine; Market Garden Campaign

British paratroopers march into captivity after being captured at Arnhem. (Airborne Assault, Imperial War Museum, Duxford)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Melton Helton 1911-1994, 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion 2nd Infantry Division in WWII

I've recently been put in contact with a friend's Dad; WWII Veteran Jesse 'Brown'.  
We were able to catch up on the phone and he told me several stories.  

Quick overview (more on him later): 

Jesse was in the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion; 2nd Infantry Division in WWII- his combat started at the onset of the Battle of the Bulge at St. Vith, Belgium.   

~Discharged July 1946; reenlisted for Airborne, then OCS, commissioned 1949

~187th Regimental Combat Team in Korea 

~5th special forces Vietnam

Of the MANY questions I asked him (WHAT A CAREER!!! WHERE DOES ONE START!?)  I asked if he recalled
 any of his WWII buddies that he was especially fond of.  

He said there was a name by the name of Melton Helton of Crossville, TN.  Just a Private when Jesse first met him, but he was "more level-headed, practical, and competent than most of the officers!" 
I recently found a post-War of Melton Helton later in life on his farm in Crossville, TN.  

Today, Jesse emailed me a short story he wrote about his buddy Melton Helton: 

"During the Battle of the Bulge, January 1944, we were for a time in Hurtgen Forest.  Any competent commander would wish to provide security for his soldiers so we all took turns at guard duty which meant two of us were armed and keeping our eyes peeled.  
If you stood the watch with Slim (we assigned the name to Melton Helton), you got to hear how much he missed his wife and son.  Slim walked with a sort of rolling gait, not unlike someone with one leg shorter than the other.  We invented the story that Slim kept his garden above his root cellar so that when he wanted to harvest, he could simply cut a vegetable from its vine and it would roll down into the cellar.  He didn't have to carry it.  

That was also how he came to have a short leg, from having to walk around the mountain.
It was said that he learned to read and write after entering the Army.  Whether that is true, Slim always knew how to accomplish whatever we were assigned to do and many of us felt that it was better to be under his supervision than that of our non-commissioned officers.  Not surprisingly, Slim was one of the first of us to promoted."

Jesse 'Brown', August 11, 2015

(Jesse's surname has been changed to protect his privacy)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

"Fairness in this Merciless War" by 'Panzer Commander' Colonel Hans Von Luck; Tunisia '43

Hans Von Luck
(Photo colorized by Doug Banks)

"The Hurricanes must have seen my armored reconnaissance vehicles.  I figured we were in for a second attack.  Again, I sent off a radio message. 
          'Have been attacked by Hurricanes, flak and artillery platoon largely out of action.  Anticipate fresh attack, send Messerschmidts.''

The British bases must have been close behind the front.  After barely an hour, they were back again.  This time, is was the turn of our armored vehicles.  With dismay, I saw only a few yards away, how Hurricanes fired rockets, which went straight through our armor.  That was new to us.  
Panzer battalion; Spring '43, Tunisia
     The only one to remain in his vehicle, was my radio operator, who was sending off my messages.  Next to the vehicle, stood my intelligence officer, who passed on to the operator what I shouted across to him. 

     Then a machine-- I thought I recognized the Canadian emblem--approached for a low-flying attack on the armored radio station.  At 20 yards, I could clearly see the pilot's face under his flight helmet.  But instead of shooting, he signaled with his hand for the radio officer to clear off, and pulled his machine up into a great curve.
     'Get the operator out of the vehicle,' I shouted, 'and take cover, the pair of you.'
A pilot of No 417 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force climbing into the cockpit of his Supermarine Spitfire fighter at Goubrine, Tunisia '42-'43
     The machine had turned and now came at us out of the sun for the second time.  This time, he fired his rockets and hit the radio car, fortunately, without doing too much damage. 

     This attitude of the pilot, whether he was Canadian or British, became for me, the example of fairness in this merciless war.  I shall never forget the pilot's face or the gesture of his hand."

~~Colonel Hans Von Luck recounting a battle in Tunisia '43 in his memoir
pages 138-139

Purchase Panzer Commander HERE