The Brabant village Oisterwijk and Operation Market-Garden

326th Airborne Engineer Battalion

The battalion moved to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with the 101st Airborne Division, on Sept 29, 1942.

Here the battalion participated in all 101st division exercises and manoeuvres.

 

After deployed to England on September 5, 1943 on the HMS Samaria the 326th AEB arrive in Liverpool England.

After this long voyage the battalion moved by train to Basildon Park, near Reading, Berkshire.

Under the command of Lt Col. John Pappas, the battalion starts training in firing of weapons, glider loading, glider flights, and tactical exercises.

 

The 326th AEB participated in the airborne assault into Normandy were Lt Col John Pappas was killed in action on  June 13, 1944.

Major Hugh A Mozley assumed command and led the battalion during operation Market Garden and at Bastogne.

 

The 326th Airborne Engineer Battalion was deactivated in Germany on 30 November 1945.

 

 

 

Awards:

 

Amerika:

2 Presidential Distinguished Unit Citations for operations in Normandy and Bastogne.

France:

War Cross with palms for operations in Normandy.

Belgium:

2 War Cross and Lanyard for the Bastogne operation.  

Holland:

the Netherlands Orange Lanyard for operation Market-Garden.

 

 

 

 

Lt Colonel John Pappas
Major Hugh A. Mozley

The 326th was added to the National Army on july 23, 1918 as an element of 101st Division but was already demobilized on December 11 that same year.

It was reconstituted on june 24, 1921 as 326th Engineers (Combat), an element of the 101st Division and trained at Milwaukee in Wisconsin.

 

on August 15, 1942 they were redesignated as the 326th Airborne Engineer Battalion (AEB), and where activated at Camp Clairborne, Louisiana.

 

 

The Engineers of 326th where for most part divided into other units.

For instance for D-Day when platoons of Charlie Company jumped together with troopers of the 501st, 502nd and 506th PIR.

Their mission mainly consisted of blowing bridges to delay German counter attacks.

The Airborne Engineers where experts in bowing up things, they could build thing but also knew exactly how to blow up things.

Some Airborne Engineers came in by glider together with a mini bulldozer that was needed to clear the landing zones of ‘Rommel asparagus’ (dug in wooden poles by the Germans).

The rest of the Airborne Engineers landed on the beaches by troopship.

 

During operation Market-Garden Charlie company came in with one platoon amongst the 506th PIR and two platoons amongst the 502nd PIR.

One platoon of Baker company and one platoon of Able company came in amongst the 501st PIR.

Their mission was to build bridges if necessary but most of their time they fought as infantry.

The other assignments could be laying mine fields, placing trip wires and flares and the building of defence lines.

 

During the German offensive in the Ardennes the 326th fought as an entire unit and was assigned to a sector in the southern defending zone of Bastogne.

They where not only the first in but also the first to meet up with General Pattons tanks when they ended the encirclement of Bastogne.

In Bastogne the 326th AEB suffered their biggest casualty rate and lots of the men where killed.

 

 

 

 

326 monument
326 monument 1
326 monument 2

This monument in Normandy, France is dedicated to the Filthy Thirteen and was erected on June 6, 2008.

Filthy Thirteen was a demolish platoon as part of 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division with soldiers of the 326th AEB.

This outfit was the elite part and the men where trained for complex assignments.

In the night of June 5-6 they where dropped above their drop zone, assigned to destroy the bridge over the Douve river.

This mission eventually cost the lives of most of the men of this unit.

 

(click on photo’s to enlarge)
Baker Company 2

The men of Baker company/326th Airborne Engineer Battalion/101st Airborne Division.

The photo’s are from may 1944 and shot at Basildon Park, England.

These photo’s also show the men who where on the Waco glider Queen-City.

 

The photo in the middle shows Baker company’s officers.

Not one of these officers survived the war.

From left to right:

1: 1st Lt. Ray J. Hiltunen (killed in Oisterwijk, Holland, 18 Sept, 1944).

2: C.O. Captain. Jack Rogers (killed in Normandy, France, June, 1944).

3: 1st Lt. Donald H. Froemke (killed in Opheusden, Holland, 5 Oct, 1944).

2: 2nd Lt. John M. Mason (killed in Opheusden, Holland, 7 Oct, 1944).

(click on photo’s to enlarge)
Right, 1st. Lt. Ray J. Hiltunen
Baker Company
T/5. Robert J. LeMay
1st. Lt. Ray J. Hiltunen
T/5. Robert J. LeMay
1st. Lt. Ray J. Hiltunen
Baker Company 1
Pvt. Raymond L. Carson
1st. Lt. Ray J. Hiltunen
1st. Lt. Ray J. Hiltunen
Pvt. Raymond L. Carson
326 Airborne Engineer Battalion