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Silent Wings Savage Death: 82nd Airborne's Glider Artillery in WWII by: Nigl, Nigl
Silent Wings Savage Death: 82nd Airborne's Glider Artillery in WWII by: Nigl, Nigl
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Silent Wings, Savage Death: Saga of the 82nd Airborne's Glider Artillery in World War II by: Alfred J. Nigl, PhD; Charles A. Nigl, BSc
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Author: Alfred J. Nigl, PhD; Charles A. Nigl, BSc
Binding: Soft Cover
Copyright: 2007
Pages: 288
Size: 8.5 x 10.88 in.

Product Code: SO-ALP-2007-9781882824311-X2

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Table of Contents

The book is based on the official unit history of the 319th Glider Field Artillery Battalion, one of two field artillery battalions attached to the famous 82nd Airborne Division.

The 319th is one of the most highly decorated units among all of the U.S. Airborne forces, winning two Presidential Unit citations in WWII and then their third and fourth Presidential Unit citations for combat valor in Vietnam. During WWII, the men of the 319th fired over 88,000 high explosive shells against the enemy in five separate campaigns from Italy to the Siegfried Line, unleashing the equivalent destructive power of 3,345,786 pounds of TNT against German soldiers, troop vehicles, German artillery positions, Tiger tanks, 88 gun positions and pill boxes with devastating effectiveness.

The men of the 319th made two glider assaults during WWII, the first on D Day in Normandy (where almost 20% of the men were killed or injured in the multiple glider crashes behind enemy lines) and the second during the invasion of Holland. Gliders were used by both Allied and Axis armies in Europe to bring large numbers of fighting men, artillery and heavier weapons onto the battlefields as part of several large scale Airborne invasions. The gliders were towed by powered aircraft such as the DC-3 or various bombers (in the case of the British and German glider troops) and then were released behind enemy lines to float silently to the battlefield with no offensive weapons, no armored plating to ward off anti-aircraft or machine gun fire and no effective landing gear or steering mechanisms to avoid crash landing.

Of the 16 million service men and women, who served the United States during WW II, less than 1% were required to ride into battle aboard these powerless, unarmed aircraft, in what the History Channel has described as "Suicide Missions" of WW II. However, because the helicopter had not yet been perfected, the men of the 319th provided sorely needed artillery support to the paratroops of the 82nd and fought alongside the men of the 504th, 505th, 507th, 508th and glider troops of the 325th regiments (82nd Airborne) in every major battle of the ETO.

In this thrilling saga, follow the men of the 319th from N. Africa to Italy, then on to the British Isles, where they prepared for the Normandy Invasion on June 6th, 1944. In Normandy the 319th Glider artillerymen, along with the paratroops of the 82nd Airborne, set a record for 33 days of continual combat without relief. Then it was back to England for several months of training before embarking on Operation Market-Garden, the invasion of Holland.

When the British First Airborne surrendered to the Germans in Arnhem, the 319th went fought defensive action for over 40 days supporting the British forces until relieved and sent to France for a much needed rest and retraining. This respite from combat did not last long, however, as the 82nd Div (including the 319th was called up to the front lines in December of 1944 to stem the German Ardennes Offensive.

In January of 1945, the 319th was part of the attack on the Siegfried Line, the last western defense of Nazi Germany. Later the 319th liberated Cologne, Germany and was sent on a mad rush in April of 1945 to keep the Russians from coming too far West and possibly capturing Denmark.


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