The delivery of entire divisions to battlefields behind enemy lines by parachute and glider was a unique feature of World War II.
Failures at D-Day landings necessitated that, in order to avoid severe dispersion of paratroopers, US tactics be rethought and daylight airdrops be implemented.
The new tactics were first put to the test in September 1944, with the landings by the 82d and 101st Airborne divisions as part of Operation Market Garden. Although the US landings were successful, the operation as a whole failed to secure its objectives. Nevertheless, both divisions subsequently played a vital defensive role withstanding the German Ardennes offensive.
By 1945, another division had joined the airborne forces, and plans commenced for further airborne operations. The most significant of these was Operation Varsity, the airborne element of the Rhine River crossing in March 1945, which propelled the Allied armies into the heart of Nazi Germany, and effectively secured the outcome of the war.
Paying special attention to often overlooked aspects of airborne operations, Battle Orders 25 gives a detailed account of the successes and failures of the US Airborne divisions within Europe, focusing on their organizational structure during 1944-45, and covering two of the world's finest units: the 82d and 101st 'Screaming Eagles.'
"If...you have a deeper interest in the US Airborne Divisions, this is a very good title to add to your reference library, as all the information is clear and ready accessible...One for those who like to know the nuts and bolts of the US Airborne Divisions." -Henk Meerdink, Armorama (May 2007)
Steven J. Zaloga was born in 1952, received his BA in history from Union College, and his MA from Columbia University. He has published numerous books and articles dealing with modern military technology, especially armored vehicle development. His main area of interest is military affairs in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in World War II, and he has also written extensively on American armored forces. The author lives in Maryland, USA.
Combat mission 7
Preparation for war: doctrine and training 9
Unit organization 16
Parachute infantry regiment
Glider infantry regiment
Airborne artillery Airborne engineer battalion
Airborne anti-aircraft battalion
Airborne tank battalion
Airborne weapons and equipment 45
Troop carrier organization
Airborne tactics: the navigation problem
Command and control 54
Operation Neptune: night drop over Normandy
Operation Dragoon: the champagne campaign
Operation Market: paving the way to a bridge too far
Operation Varsity: bouncing the Rhine
Assessing the combat record 84
Unit status 86
82nd Airborne Division
101st Airborne Division
17th Airborne Division
13th Airborne Division
1st Provisional Airborne Task Force (Seventh Army Provisional Airborne Division)
Further reading 92
Official studies and reports