WWII 501st PIR 101st Airborne Division Paratrooper Reinforced Jump Jacket

Pictured is an original reinforced jump jacket that belonged to a paratrooper of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division during WWII.  The Veteran was a member of the Headquarters Company of the 3rd Battalion of the 501st PIR.  This jump jacket was purchased by a good friend, and very well respected Airborne collector, directly from the Veteran many years ago.  I was lucky enough to acquire it from my friend a couple of years ago.

Riggers from the 101st Airborne Division added canvas reinforcements to the elbows, pockets, and knees of the M42 jump suits prior to the D-Day invasion.  This jacket still has the canvas elbow reinforcements, but the Veteran later removed the canvas reinforcements from the lower pockets.  You can still see where the reinforcements were sewn to the lower pockets.

Real reinforced M42 jump jackets and jump pants from any of the WWII units are generally rare, but only a hand full of 501st PIR reinforced items have survived to today.  Another unique feature of this jacket, is that the paratrooper had camouflage parachute material sewn into the interior in order to give it a really cool appearance.

WWII Company D 505th PIR 82nd Airborne Division Grouping

This group was purchased directly from a paratrooper of Company D of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. He was with Co. D, 505th PIR during their jump in Normandy during D-Day and was with them until the end of the war. He was wounded in Holland during operation Market Garden. It consists of his dog tag, jump wing sewn on to a 505th PIR oval, ribbon bars, wrist bracelet with his name, Good Conduct Medal engraved with his name, CIB, cap disc patch, 82nd Airborne patch, collar discs, purple heart, 2 American invasion armband flags, paperwork, other misc. insignia, and a number of photos (only a few of which are shown here), including one showing him standing with his Browning.

The thing that I like best is the piece of the parachute canopy fabric that he had many members of Company D, 505th PIR sign. Also pictured are some of his German souvenirs which he brought back including a German armband and a skull removed from a German visor cap.  American soldiers in WWII were known for their love of acquiring captured souvenirs from their enemies.   Insignia like these were particular favorites because they were easy to carry and mail home.  Please note that in order to maintain the Veteran’s privacy, we have intentionally blurred his name on the paperwork, bracelet, and dog tag in the photos.

WWII 82nd Airborne Division Reinforced M42 Jump Jacket

This World War Two reinforced M42 jump jacket belonged to a paratrooper of the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, Company C. C Company, of the 307th was attached to the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division throughout World War Two. This jump jacket was purchased directly from the Veteran a few years ago and you can see the Veteran in photos showing him wearing and holding the jacket at the time it was purchased.

C Company of the 307 Airborne Engineers became legendary for their help in the crossing of the Waal River in Holland on September 20, 1944, during the Market Garden campaign. This crossing is most famously portrayed in the movie A Bridge Too Far, in the scene where Robert Redford leads his troops of the 3rd Battalion of the 504 PIR across the river in small canvas boats. C Company of the 307 Airborne Engineers provided two or three men per boat to paddle across the river in the first wave, and then to return the boats back to the other side of the river for additional loads of troops. The Veteran this jacket belonged to was one of the Airborne Engineers in the boats. At the time this jump jacket was purchased, he talked about how he could not believe that he had survived the crossing because the opposition from the Germans was so strong. When it was purchased, he stated orally and in a signed letter, that this is the jump jacket that he wore during his entire time in Holland.

Although the rest of the US Airborne units had switched over to the new M43 uniform for Market Garden, members of the 504th, and their attached units, still often wore their M42 jump suits in Holland.  The 504th had originally had their M42 jump suits reinforced with canvas on the pockets, elbows, and knees like the rest of the members of the 82nd Airborne Division in anticipation for the D-Day landings in Normandy.  The 504th PIR, and their attached units like C Company, 307th Airborne Engineers, were later withheld from the D-Day landings and instead held in reserve in England.  This was because they had previously been detached and left to fight in Italy long after the rest of the 82nd Airborne Division had been relieved and sent back to England.  They had seen very tough combat and suffered many casualties in Italy, so General Ridgway decided that they needed to be held back from the Normandy D Day jump in order to have more time to rest and refit.