Author: Phil Nordyke

ISBN: 13:978-0-7603-3914-5
Publisher: Zenith Press

Click Here To Purchase The All Americans in World War II: A Photographic History of the 82nd Airborne Division at War

In 1942, the 82nd Infantry Division of the US army was reactivated and renamed: it would now be known as the 82nd Airborne Division, composed of trained parachutists from all then-48 states (hence the nick-name, “The All American Division”) who would be dropped into key conflicts including Operation Overlord in Normandy, Operation Market-Garden in the Netherlands, and the Battle of the Ardennes in Belgium. The 82nd Airborne Division came to include several battalions and regiments, each of which possessed their own number-names such as the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, the 325th Glider Infantry Division, etc., which sometimes worked in tandem but just as often operated individually. The army’s second airborne division, the 101st, sometimes worked with the 82nd as well.

Phil Nordyke’s new photographic history on the subject of the 82nd contains 36 chapters which each include a single page of explanatory text, maps, and multiple pages of photographs regarding every activity of the division. His matter-of-fact writing style doesn’t miss much and covers a wealth of information in a small amount of space, as seen in this narrative taken from chapter 33 regarding troop movements towards the end of the Battle of the Ardennes: “The 325th GIR moved east through Meyerode and then took Wereth at 5:00 a.m. the following morning after a sharp fight. After moving twelve hours through the deep snow on January 28, the Company H, 504th PIR, ran into and destroyed an entire German battalion outside of Herresbach, Belgium, then held the town against repeated German counterattacks that night.”

The text’s minimalist style suits its subject very well, especially when it relates feats of heroism enacted by those associated with the 82nd: “[Sergeant Leonard Funk] was standing there with him Tommy gun slung arms, and the German [who was ordering Funk to surrender] was standing there waving his Schmeisser in Funk’s belly. In a flash, that gun was in the German’s belly and he ripped off a burst. The German started to sink slowly down . . . “

This unfortunate German wasn’t the only one to be defeated by a member the 82nd; if a dead German officer’s war journal is to be believed, the enemy was terrified when first encountering the U.S. paratroopers, as Nordyke relates in chapter seven:

A diary found on the body of a dead German officer read, ‘American parachutists – devils in baggy pants – are less than one hundred meters from my outpost line. I can’t sleep at night. They pop up from nowhere and we never know when or how they will strike next. Seems the black-hearted devils are everywhere.’ ”

Even when mistakes were made, they often seemed to work out in the favor of the paratroopers: apparently, during the D-Day invasion, only one regiment from the 82nd and the 101st combined landed where it was supposed to. The others were either hindered by the enemy or dropped into the wrong location. But Nordyke relates that “because the paratroopers of both divisions were widely scattered, the German commanders were unable to determine the main objectives of the paratroopers, and were hesitant to commit forces to a counterattack as a result.”

The nearly 400 photos included in the book, many of them never before published, speak eloquently of the work of the 82nd Airborne Division and, when coupled with the maps and clear text, illuminate a fascinating aspect of U.S. WWII history.

Click Here To Purchase The All Americans in World War II: A Photographic History of the 82nd Airborne Division at War