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.
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