Equipment in the 506th

Originally, I planned to do this project on the history of Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th PIR, 101st ABN Division because of my friendship with one of the veterans of that unit. As I started to research, I realized that with the time constraints of school and the physical limitations on getting to various archives around the country, this project would either come out lacking or it would skip resources crucial to understanding that unit. So I decided to take a step back and analyze the equipment these soldiers in a specific campaign. Since Normandy is the most famous of the Second World War, I chose to do that in particular with the limitation of the 506th PIR.

As I started this research project, I thought that for the most part, the paratroopers would be infantry upgraded to an elite fighting unit with some specialized jump gear and additional firepower. With AHEC right next door, this question has plenty of secondary sources and more than a lifetime’s supply of primary sources. While I have run into the problem of too much information, I believe I have limited my issues by maintaining my focus to a few questions in the veteran’s surveys and targeting the right research areas. However, as I have found out, the paratrooper is not an upgraded infantryman, rather he is a specialized commando, if you will. This revelation has required me to look up these custom modifications and gear, in order to understand why they modified their gear and wore it in the ways they did. As a whole, this change in thought has lead to a more complete picture with my photo survey and the comparison to the “issued” equipment that I am focusing on as part of my project.

101st Airborne in Normandy

After seeing the Germans in Belgium and Crete, the Americans were quick to develop their own airborne forces. By the time of Normandy, June of 1944, there were two whole divisions trained in this special art. One of them, the 101st, was brand new to combat. Prior to combat, they had access to new technology and equipment that changed how they fought in combat. My research proposal is in regards to this equipment and how it changed during the Normandy campaign. Using AHEC and my own personal collection of primary and secondary sources, I am going to attempt to explain the average soldier was geared and his thoughts on the equipment he had as part of the evolution in airborne doctrine.