325th Glider Infantry Company F History
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On the morning of 23 December 1945, elements of the U.S. 3rd Armored Division were retreating from the Germans in the Ardennes Forest near Fraiture, Belgium. A sergeant in a tank destroyer spotted an American digging a foxhole. The GI, a Private First Class of Co. F, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, looked up and asked, "Are you looking for a safe place?" "Yeah," answered the tanker. "Well buddy," he drawled, "just pull your tank in behind me...
I'm the 82nd Airborne and this is as far as the bastards are going!"
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In August 1942 the 82nd Division, called the All American during WWI, was divided, and the two elements formed the basis of the new 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. Eventually there would be five airborne divisions: the 82nd, 101st, 11th (Pacific Theater), 13th and 17th Divisions. Airborne divisions were deliberately smaller than regular infantry divisions, with between 8,500 and 9,000 soldiers. Initially airborne divisions were comprised of two glider and one parachute regiment. After February 1943 the 82nd and 101st were substantially re-enforced during combat operations by the attachment of separate regimental units. As a direct result of combat experience, during 1944 the airborne divisions were reconfigured to contain one glider regiment and two parachute regiments, and the division strengths increased to over 13,000 soldiers - almost equal to the regular infantry divisions. Click here to see an August 1943 roster of F Company.
The 325th GIR was commanded by Colonel Harry L. Lewis during the Normandy invasion. The 2nd Battalion arrived in Normandy at 0900 on D+1 under the glider drop code-named "Hackensack." Captain Joe B.Gault commanded F Company. Gault was part of the original cadre that formed F Company back at Camp Clairborne, Louisiana, and has been described by some of his men as "one of the finest officers of the United States Army." Gault commanded F Company from Louisiana to North Africa, Sicily, Italy and into Normandy. Although he was a company commander, Gault was a First Lieutenant until Normandy, when he was promoted to Captain. Unfortunately, Gault contracted yellow jaundice in North Africa, and was eventually hospitalized for it. He was finally shipped home in 1944 at the start of Operation Market-Garden, and Junior R. Woodruff replaced him as company commander. During the Normandy invasion the 325th was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.
At the time of the Battle of the Bulge, the 325th's CO was Colonel Charles Billingslea; 2nd Battalion was commanded by Major Richard M. Gibson, and Captain Woodruff was the commanding officer of F Company. It was at this time, 22-24 December 1944, when F Company fought, and was almost wiped out by, the 2nd SS Panzer Division at the Fraiture crossroads.

At the start of the Bulge (17 December), the 82nd A/B was attached to V Corps, in the general area of Werbomont. The 504th PIR was sent northwest of Rahier, the 505th seized the high ground around Haut-Bodeux, and the 508th occupied high ground in the vicinity of Chevron. One company of the 508th was sent to the crossroads one mile east of Bra. The 325th GIR remained at Werbomont, having sent the 3rd Battalion to the vicinity of Barvaux and one company to the crossroads at Manhay. All these movements occured between 19 December and 20. At the time the 2nd Battalion was being held in reserve.

Just before dawn on 23 December, the 2nd SS attacked and over-ran the
crossroads. Major Gibson then led a counter-attack and re-took the crossroads, and managed to hold it for the remainder of the day. The defense finally collapsed after dark when the SS infiltrated and again over-ran the American positions. Of the 116 men of Company F, only Captain Woodruff and about 45 men eventually managed to rejoin their battalion at Fraiture.
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Click on any of the thumbnails on this page for the full sized image & additional information about the 325th.
325th Glider Infantry Regiment (82nd A/B Division)
2nd Battalion, Company F, 1st Platoon, 2nd Squad

Central Europe
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