Backstory for ‘Home for Christmas’ . . . the 502nd PIR in the Battle of the Bulge

Here’s the link to the story: Home for Christmas

The story “Home For Christmas” is historically grounded in the World War II history, and specifically in the history of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. For details on the history, just type “502nd 1st Bastogne” into a web search engine such as Google. You will find a wealth of links.

The details of the Christmas Day Battle of the 502nd are found in several places on the web, and in a book called “Bastogne: The First Eight Days” by S.L.A. Marshall, who was the Army’s Chief Historian during the war. The text of that book can be found on the web, but the ‘plates’ – pictures – do not appear to be on the web. I have scanned several of those pictures and placed them on this page, along with a few other photos of the battle from around the web. I’ve included brief comments with each photo.

Bastogne: The Story of the First Eight Days
The cover photo from S.L.A. Marshall’s “Bastogne: The First Eight Days” showing soldiers of (apparently) the 101st Airborne Division moving through Bastogne to take up defensive positions around the town.

Bastogne: The Story of the First Eight Days
(Plate 40) Men on guard in a pine plantation near Bastogne. The pine forests provided excellent cover, except that the spintering trees made for many wounds under artillery fire.

bastogne03 road
Bazooka position along one of the many roads into Bastogne. This was the photo that I used for my computer’s desktop background while writing the story, and projected on the wall of the church while telling it

Bastogne: The Story of the First Eight Days(Plate 41) Machine gun position guarding the command post of the 502nd PIR (near Rolle)

Bastogne: The Story of the First Eight Days
One of the air drops by C-47 ‘Goony Birds’ providing food, medicine and ammunition to the encircled 101st Airborne

Bastogne: The Story of the First Eight Days
(Plate 41) The chateau at Rolle, 502nd PIR Command Post. This sketch, by T. Sgt. Olin Dows, who assisted S.L.A. Marshall in his research for the book, shows the chapel and the ‘shed’ at the chateau.

Bastogne: The Story of the First Eight Days(Plate 38) After breaking through the position of the 3rd Battalion, 327th Glider Infantry Regiment, enemy tanks came across the hills to the left on Christmas Day to attack Champs and Rolle. Company C, 502nd PIR was attacked while marching along the center road. It then fell back to join some tank destroyers of the 705th Tank Destroyer Batallion at the trees in the foreground. From this position many enemy tanks were destroyed. (Once again, this is a sketch by an T.Sgt. Olin Dows)

Bastogne: The Story of the First Eight Days(Plate 36) Bazooka position in the 502nd Parachute Infantry Area. It was over this terrain on Christmas Day that enemy tanks moved on Rolle. The enemy tank in the foreground was destroyed in that fight. Notice the clump of trees in the center that corresponds to the same clump of trees in the sketch above. (Note: I consider this to be one of the most remarkable photos in the book. This is exactly the image I was trying to paint verbally in the story.)

Bastogne: The Story of the First Eight Days(Plate 44) Memorandum receipt given by Major General Troy H. MIddleton, Commanding General of the VIII Corps to the 101st Airborne for holding Bastogne


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