101st Airborne Division

History (page 2/2)

The shoulder patch of the 101st Airborne Division, nicknamed “Screaming Eagle”.

Operation Market Garden

General Montgomery has drawn up a plan that requires far more allied air regiments than in June 1944, during Operation Overlord. This plan of attack, called Operation Market Garden, consists of a large airborne and ground offensive in Holland, which will allow the Allies to seize the bridges on the Rhine.

The 101st was then placed under the British command of the 2nd Army, also regrouping the 82nd American Airborne Division and the 1st British Airborne Division.

On September 17, Market Garden is launched: 20,000 allied paratroopers jump into the Dutch sky. The German anti-aircraft artillery is absent and parachutes are particularly successful. But as in Normandy, gliders suffer a lot of landing losses, both in human life and material.

The 101st is responsible for liberating several cities (including Antwerp) and villages and ensuring the homogeneity of the front. It suffered several bloody setbacks.

In the early days, this operation was a total success: the Allies penetrated more than 30 kilometers into Germany. But soon the Germans multiplied the counter-attacks and gained ground. Market Garden has failed.

In their December 1944 counter-offensive, the Germans isolated the 101st division of the other Allied troops in the Ardennes. A terrible battle ensued.

The Battle of the Bulge

The Germans attempt a final operation, called Wacht Am Rhein, which must pierce the Allied front in the Ardennes, then they want to continue their offensive towards the west and towards Alsace to the south.

Some American soldiers who found themselves isolated in the snowy forest on the border of Belgium and France, consider that the battle of the Ardennes is one of the decisive combats of the Second World War.

The 101st division began to be surrounded by the Germans who launched Wacht Am Rhein on December 16, 1944. The town of Bastogne is the obliged passage which controls all the main accesses of the region: it is therefore both the priority objective of the Germans and the most valuable position for US forces that send the 101st Airborne to secure the city.

The German offensives around Bastogne are such that the city must go on December 20th. The defenders have retreated into the surrounding woods, unable to be repatriated in food, ammunition or warm clothing. Temperatures are extremely low and snow is abundant. But the soldiers of the 101st refuse to leave the city and they prevent the Germans on many occasions to enter.

General Patton and his 3rd Army headed for Bastogne to reinforce the paratroopers. On December 26, 1944, the Allies succeeded in releasing equipment and supplies to the elements of the 101st which had been waiting for this moment since the beginning of the siege of Bastogne, but the weather had hitherto not been lenient.

On January 18, 1945, the German offensive was halted and the 101st Airborne was reinforced by the 3rd Army, which raised the paratroopers from their positions, bombarded during three extremely trying weeks.

The 101st Division then receives the Presidential Unit Citation, a very high military award issued by the President of the United States himself, for acts of bravery in Bastogne.


In April 1945, the 101st Airborne Division was sent to Germany to clean up the resistance pocket in the industrial region of the Ruhr.

The Allies decided to leave the city of Berlin to the Soviets, so most of the American divisions moved south. Thus, the 101st Airborne is sent to fight the last faithful of Hitler near the city of Berchtesgaden. She captured various members and soldiers of the Nazi party.

The 101st stood ready, once the end of the war in Europe signed (May 8, 1945), from the Pacific to fight the Japanese. But his soldiers never had to return to fight after that date during the Second World War.


During the Second World War, 2,043 soldiers of the 101st were killed, 7,976 were wounded and 1,193 were missing. The paras of the 101st spent 214 days fighting.

Since 1945

Depuis la Seconde Guerre mondiale, la 101st Airborne Division continue d’exister et de former des parachutistes.

It took part in the Vietnam conflict between 1965 and 1971, Operation Desert Storm in Iraq in 1991, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from 2002 and Iraq from 2003.

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