THUNDER FROM HEAVEN: The Story of the 17th Airborne Division 1943-1945. Originally published in 1947. This outstanding work based upon both official historical data and first-person accounts presents both the story of the division as a large unit and representative accounts of smaller units within the division.
Summary: Originally published in 1947, this is an early history of the 17th Airborne Division in WWII. Includes the best list of unit members available. Details on the unit are as follows. Activated: 15 April 1943. Overseas: 17 August 1944. Campaigns: Ardennes-Alsace Rhineland, Central Europe. Days of combat: 45. The 17th Airborne Division was stationed in the United Kingdom from 25 August to 23 December 1944. From 23 to 25 December, elements of the Division were flown to the Reims area in France in spectacular night flights. These elements closed in at Mourmelon. After taking over the defense of the Meuse River sector from Givet to Verdun, 25 December, the 17th moved to Neufchateau, Belgium, then marched through the snow to Morhet, relieving the 28th Infantry Division, 3 January 1945.
The Division entered the Ardennes campaign, 4 to 9 January, at the Battle of Dead Man's Ridge. It captured several small Belgian towns and entered Flamierge, 7 January, but enemy counterattacks necessitated a withdrawal. However, constant pressure and aggressive patrolling caused the enemy to retreat to the Ourthe River. On 18 January, the Division relieved the 11th Armored Division at Houffalize, pushed enemy remnants from the Bulge, and seized Wattermal and Espeler, 26 January. Coming under the III Corps, the 17th turned toward Luxembourg, taking Eschweiler and Clervaux and clearing the enemy from the west bank of the Our River. Aggressive patrols crossed the river to probe the Siegfried Line defenses and established a limited bridgehead near Dasburg before being relieved by the 6th Armored Division, 10 February. A period of reequipment and preparation began.
Taking off from marshalling areas in France, the 17th dropped into Westphalia in the vicinity of Wesel, 24 March. Operation Varsity was the first airborne invasion over theRhine into Germany itself. On the 25th, the Division had secured bridges over the Issel River and had entrenched itself firmly along the Issel Canal. Moving eastward, it captured Haltern, 29 March, and Munster, 2 April. The 17th entered the battle of the Ruhr Pocket, relieving the 79th Infantry Division. It crossed the Rhine-Herne Canal, 6 April, and set up a secure bridgehead for the attack on Essen. The "Pittsburgh of the Ruhr" fell, 10 April, and the industrial cities of Mulheim and Duisburg were cleared in the continuing attack. Military government duties began, 12 April, and active contact with the enemy ceased, 18 April.
The Division came under the XXII Corps 24 April. It continued its occupation duties until 15 June 1945 when it returned to France for redeployment.
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