Document Source: Gunter G. Gillot, 1984, US Airborne ETO 1940-1945, Foxmaster Publishing, (French)

(Right) On February 4 1912, Franz Reichelt, will jump off the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, wearing this crazy homemade flying suit created to slow down his fall to the ground. Tragically, Reichelt will fall to his death like a tombstone and even leaves a 12′ deep print in the ground.

Legend and Facts: According to the legend, it seems that the first use of a device intended to slow the fall of a man in the air was made in China some 4000 years before JC. As the story told us, Shun, the Emperor himself trapped in his palace used some large umbrella to jump out of a window and landed relatively safely on the ground. An account, from the Western Han Dynasty writer Sima Qian in his book Historical Records, recounts the story of Shun, a legendary Chinese emperor who ran away from his murderous father by climbing onto the top of a high granary. As there was nowhere to go, Shun grabbed two bamboo hats and leaped off, and glided downward to safety. Unfortunately, CNN was not there and we don’t have an image from this jump. It seems also that over here, in Europa, a fellow named Icarus did also some interesting tests as well as some interesting crashes. In fact, after Emperor Shun’s first Airborne test, 3500 years were needed to go further with a piece of equipment to help to slow the fall of a man into the air.

In one of his book published in 1502 : Codex Atlanticus, Leonardo da Vinci presented the first draw of an engine that would have slowed down the fall on a men in the air. Please notice the part of the last sentence: ‘that would have slowed’ … In 1616, the Dalmatian polymath and inventor Fausto Veranzio published a book ‘Machinae Novae’, into which, a chapter named ‘Homo Volans’ (Flying Man) reproduces da Vinci’s Parachute with some modifications. In fact, a rectangular wooded frame with a piece of canvas fixed to it.

Let’s hope that no one ever tried this strange thing to jump from some cliff or so. This engine was used to make neither a test jump nor a wind catch but the very interesting part of Veranzio’s draw was the way he described the system to connect the man to the device, using single pieces of rope. Veranzio created the first Parachute harness that (while modified) is still in use today. Newton got also involved in the project. While using da Vinci’s elementary calculations, he created the first Mathematical rule to be used in relation to the size of the Parachute and the weight of the Paratrooper.

In France, Louis Sébastien Lenormand, a French Physicist at the Montpellier Faculty, invented a device and named it ‘parachute’. Into the huge book of history, Lenormand was the first human to make a witnessed descent with a parachute and is also credited with coining the term parachute French parasol-sun shield and chute-fall.
On December 26, 1783, Lenormand jumped from the tower of the Montpellier Observatory in front of a crowd that included Joseph Montgolfier (one of the two balloonists Montgolfier brothers), using a 14-foot parachute with a rigid wooden frame. His intended use for the parachute was to help entrapped occupants of a burning building and, or balloon to escape unharmed.

Balloon and Parachute: A large crowd gathered outside the walls of the Walnut Street Prison that fronted on what is now Independence Square in Philadelphia at dawn on January 9, 1793. The occasion was not one public hanging but a balloon launching, which, if successful, would be the first aerial voyage in the history of the new United States of America and the New World.

Jean Pierre Blanchard, noted French aeronaut which made the first successful balloon flight in Paris on March 2 1784, had advertised in the Dunlap’s American Daily Advertiser for several weeks that he would make an hydrogen-filled gas balloon ascension on January 9 1793. In fact, on that day and at 10 in the morning precisely. So, on the morning of January 9, at 1000 past 1000 to be exact, Blanchard wrote in his Journal: I affixed to the aerostat my car, laden with ballast, meteorological instruments, and some refreshments with which the anxiety of my friends had provided me. I hastened to take leave of the President and of Mr. Ternant, Minister Plenipotentiary of France to the USA..

This is the way Blanchard used to describe the scene: My ascent was perpendicular and so easy that I had even time to enjoy the different impressions which agitated so many sensible and interesting persons who surrounded the place of my departure and to salute them with my flag, which was ornamented on one side with the Armories bearings of the United States and, on the other, with the three colors so dear to the French nation.

On the ground, Gen John Steele, comptroller of the US Treasury, was astonished at what he saw. In a letter to a friend, he wrote: Seeing the man waving a flag at an immense height from the ground, was the most interesting sight that I ever beheld, and to I had no acquaintance with him, I could not help trembling for his safety.
According to the great book of history, the first real paratrooper was a cute little small dog that Jean Pierre Blanchard placed inside a little basket. This was then attached to something they used to call a parachute, then, the whole thing was dropped from an air balloon. The descent was slow enough to make sure that the animal survived…
Note, as seen in some old newspaper, when the dog and basket smashed to the ground, the basket broke off, the dog ran away and no one saw him again.

Born in Paris on January 31 1769, André-Jacques Garnerin studied physics before joining the French Army. Over the next few years, Garnerin became interested in hot air balloons and advocated their use for military purposes. While he was a prisoner of war in Hungary Garnerin began experimenting with parachutes. During his three year stay, he never reached the stage where he could employ his parachute to escape from the high ramparts of the prison. It was not until 1797 that Garnerin completed his first parachute. It consisted of a white canvas canopy 23 feet in diameter. The engine had 36 ribs and lines, was semi-rigid, making it look like a very large umbrella and Garnerin made his first successful parachute jump above Paris on October 22, 1797. After ascended to an altitude of 3200 feet (975 M) in a hydrogen balloon he jumped from the basket, the parachute opened correctly but, oscillated wildly in the fall because of the lack of an air vent in the top of the canopy.
A French Physicist, Jérôme François de Lalande, who was present at the Plaine de Monceau, noticed the oscillations of the device used by Garnerin and proved that the problem was due to the lack of an Air Vent at the top of the canopy. Garnerin allowed de Lalande to modify his parachute and as it worked almost perfectly, he then decided to adopt the system.

In 1799, Garnerin’s wife, Jeanne-Geneviève Labrosse, became the first woman to register a patent for the parachute as well as to be the first woman to make a parachute jump. Garnerin made exhibition jumps all over Europe including one of 8000 feet (2438 M) in England. It is to note that the initial use of the parachute was not saving a man who had to jump out from the basket of a hot air balloon but saving the entire device, balloon, basket, and the astronaut. During the following century, parachute use was confined to carnivals and daredevil acts. Acrobats would perform stunts on a trapeze bar suspended from a descending parachute. The parachute was released from a hot-air balloon by attaching the top of the parachute to the equator of the balloon with a cord that broke after a person jumped from the basket. Public opinion became very unfavorable towards the use of parachutes when Robert Cocking fell to his death.

Cocking (left) spent many years developing his improved parachute, based on Sir George Cayley’s design (right), which consisted of an inverted cone 107 feet (32,61 M) in circumference connected by three hoops. Cocking approached Charles Green and Edward Spencer, owners of the balloon, the Royal Nassau (formerly the Royal Vauxhall), to allow him an opportunity to test his invention. Despite the fact that Cocking was 61 years old, was not a professional scientist, and had no parachuting experience, the owners of the balloon agreed and advertised the event as the main attraction of a Grand Day Fete at Vauxhall Gardens.

On July 24, 1837, at 0735, Cocking ascended hanging below the balloon, which was piloted by Green and Spencer. Cocking was in a basket which hung below the parachute which in turn hung below the basket of the balloon. Cocking had hoped to reach 8000 feet (2440 M), but the weight of the balloon coupled with that of the parachute and the three men slowed the ascent; at 5000 feet (1500 M). With the balloon nearly over Greenwich, Green informed Cocking that he would be unable to rise any higher if the attempt was to be made in daylight. Faced with this information, Cocking released the parachute. A large crowd had gathered to witness the event, but it was immediately obvious that Cocking was in trouble. He had neglected to include the weight of the parachute itself in his calculations and as a result, the descent was far too quick. Though rapid, the descent continued evenly for a few seconds, but then the entire apparatus turned inside out and plunged downwards with increasing speed. The parachute broke up before it hit the ground and at about 200 to 300 feet (60 to 90 M) off the ground the basket detached from the remains of the canopy.

Cocking was killed instantly in the crash; his body was found in a field in Lee. The blame for the failure of the parachute was initially laid at Cayley’s door, but tests later revealed that although Cayley had neglected to mention the additional weight of the parachute in his paper, the cause of the crash had been a combination of the parachute’s weight and its flimsy construction, in particular the weak stitching connecting the fabric to the hoops. Cocking’s parachute weighed 250 lb (113 kg) many times more than modern parachutes.

However, tests carried out in the USA by John Wise, an American balloonist, showed that Cocking’s design would have been successful if only it had been larger and better constructed. Following Cocking’s death parachuting became very unpopular, and was confined to carnival and circus acts until the late 19th century when developments such as the harness and breakaway chutes made it safer.
Some years later, a major contribution to the parachute systems was the development of a harness by the Baldwin Brothers, Samuel, and particularly Thomas Scott, who was a pioneer balloonist and became a US Army major during World War I. Thomas Scott Baldwin became also the first American to descend from a balloon by parachute.

The concept of folding or packing the parachute in a knapsack-like container was developed by Käthe Paulus and her husband Hermann Lettemann in 1890 and became the first Remote Automatic Sack. Käthe Paulus also demonstrated an intentional breakaway.

After a first parachute inflated, it was released and pulled open a second one. Beside Paulus and Letterman did manage a way to get the canopy folded into a bag fixed to the basket of the balloon, parachutes were still not described as a lifesaver devices.

Kätchen PaulusA major improvement had still to be made to disconnect the device from the balloon’s basket. This improvement came a little later from the USA, in 1907.

Charles Broadwick was an American pioneering parachutist, created the Coat Parachute and the Static Line. For the Coat Parachute, he folded his parachute into a pack he wore on his back and the parachute was pulled from the pack by a static line, that he had also developed, attached to the balloon. Broadwick’s static line was attached to an aircraft and designed to pulls the parachute from its pouch. In addition, Broadwick demonstrated parachute jumps at fairs and taught and equipped famous female parachutist Tiny Broadwick.

The next evolution in the Parachute History came from Italy. In Fact, the newly designed pilot chute deployment system, that is, a small deployable parachute that anchors into the airstream and pulls out the actual parachute was designed by Joseph Pino in 1911.

In 1912, Albert Berry used a pack on the aircraft system from an airplane over Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, and in 1914, Charles Broadwick’s foster daughter Georgia ‘Tiny Broadwick’ Thompson performed a manual free fall activation of a parachute. Throughout her parachuting career, she did some thousand jumps.

Albert Leo Stevens, another pioneering balloonist who started balloon ascensions in 1889 at age 12, began manufacturing balloons and dirigibles in 1893 and made, in 1895, his first parachute jump from a church spire in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, developed a new parachute automatic opening system using a RipCord while on his side, Mike Blodgett, worked out a better way to get the lines and the canopy into a look-like rucksack mounted on the harness, the BackPack.
The modern parachute was born and the first jump from an airplane has been claimed by both Grant Morton and Capt Albert Berry in 1911.
Morton jumped with a silk parachute folded in his arms which he threw out as he left the plane. Berry had a 36 ft. parachute packed into a metal case beneath the fuselage. The parachute had a trapeze bar for him to hold on to as he jumped and descended to the ground.

In 1911 a successful test took place with a dummy at the Eiffel tower in Paris. The puppet’s weight was 75 kg (165 lb); the parachute’s weight was 21 kg (46 lb). The cables between puppet and the parachute were 9 m (30 ft) long.

Joseph Pino’s patent granted early in 1911 for a flexible parachute, including a pilot chute, must be considered as one of the major milestones in parachute history, as he claimed in the patent, the jumper using this new device could wear his parachute in a pack like a knapsack. On his head would be a hat-like device fashioned into a leather cap, which would blossom out into a smaller open parachute.

During the jump, the small pilot chute would pull off the hat and deploy the larger parachute from the knapsack. Using parachutes for military reasons was an idea first introduced by US Col William Wild Bill Mitchell, sometime during World War One. A great deal of planning went forth to try an experimental drop of one battalion of the AEF’s Big Red One 1st Division, behind the German lines. But by the time that Mitchell and his staff could overcome the logistical obstacles the war had ended. Note: Included in Billy Mitchell’s Staff in France in 1918 was a young lieutenant called Lewis H. Brereton. In 1944, he became the CG of the 1st Allied Airborne Army.

Over the next ten to twenty years the US Army had basically shelved the idea, although there were some small-scale experiments conducted during this time frame. It was not until the Germans skillful use of Airborne troops in 1939 that the US Army turned up the heat on the idea and seriously preceded with the US program. However, despite the fact that all the improvements made to the Parachute seemed to be entirely forgotten, things were very soon about to move again.
The facts were as follows: (1) the Parachute (Lines and Canopy) moved from a container to a backpack; (2) The crash of USAS (US Army Air Service) Lt Edward Selfridge with his Wright Airplane on Dec 18, 1908; (3) Albert Berry, became the first man to jump from a flying airplane on March 1, 1912; (4) The Benoist Airplanes Manufacturing Company (France) engaged into Airborne Parachute Jumps; (5) Frederick Rodman Law jumped out of a Hydro Plane piloted by Anthony Janus and Philip Page; (6) In 1913, a study over 80 airplanes crashes found out that
over 40% of the pilots involved were not killed from the plane crash itself, but from injuries inflicted while crashing on the ground. It became pretty urgent to find a way to save the life from going down airplane pilot.

Finally, Billy Mitchell gave the order that a military study section stationed along with McCook Field near Dayton Ohio, and placed Maj E. L. Hoffman in charge. Hoffman while creating his team, called Smith, Russel, Irvin, and Bottriel in his staff. The section had to develop nearly all available parachutes worldwide, like:

Broadwick Parachute, US;
Hardin Parachute, US;
Irvin (Irving) Parachute, US;
Jahn Parachute, US;
Martin Parachute, US;
Scott-Omaha Parachute, US;
Sperry Parachute, US;
Stevens Parachute, US;
Mears Parachute, UK;
Calthrop Parachute, UK;
Robert Parachute, France;
Ors Parachute, France;
Heinecke Parachute, Germany;
Bae-Gu Parachute, Germany.

The Study Section, renamed US Army Air Service, started a wide range of tests like the one in Kelly Field in 1926, Bolling Field in 1927 and Anacostia in 1928.

Meanwhile, in Italy, testings were also conducted. The Italians were even among the very first to see the potential of airborne warfare, dropping agents behind Austrian lines during World War I. Military experiments with paratroopers began in 1927 with a drop at Cinisello near Milan. The Italians used the Salvatore parachute operated by a handgrip on the belt or static line.

Unfortunately, the death of Gen Allesandro Guidoni, the founder of Italian airborne forces in a parachuting accident in 1928 slowed further development.
The same year, 9 Italians paratroopers were dropped with guns and ammunition for testing purposes.

Mitchell, well informed, ordered also a test and 3 paratroopers with a separated Machine Gun were dropped at Brooks Field near San Antonio, Texas. The deal of the test was to regroup, get the gun in firing position then seizing a dummy target on the ground.

During this last test, present as an International Military Observator, the soon to become Father of the Red Army Russian Airborne, Maj Leonid Minov. Minov and his Deputy, Lt Mochkowski, back in Russia, started testing to, and on August 2, 1930, 10 Russian paratroopers were dropped with guns and ammo.

In 1931, the Russian Provisional Parachute Section was created. In 1932 this became a Paratrooper Regiment, in 1933 a Paratrooper Brigade and their first mass jump happened in 1934 when 46 men and a small Tank were dropped. In 1935, 1200 paratroopers were, this time, dropped with success and a little later, 5200.

In the United States, the first Glider test happened in 1931. B Battery of the 2nd Field Artillery Battalion was moved from France Field (East coast) to Rio Hato (West coast). In 1933, the whole 2nd Field Artillery Battalion was Air moved with success from Rejuca to Cherrea (Panama Zone). The Infantry Board requested to go further on improving Air Transport at Fort Benning while the British Air moved an entire Infantry Regiment from Egypt to Iraq. In Italy again, in 1935, an entire Infantry Regiment was Air Transported from Rome to Albania. (Doc Snafu) Note that the Italian paratroopers will be the second Airborne troops to make a Military Combat Jump in World War Two, (1941, Cephalonia Island).
In France, since Lt Jean Levassor, who became the first man to use a parachute device in combat and jumped out from a going down airplane on March 16 1916, development where conducted till 1940 and were stopped when the French Army had an Operational Paratrooper Battalion. This Elite Battalion will be reactivated in 1942, renamed 1er Régiment de Chasseurs Parachutistes, sent to England and added into the SAS (Special Air Service).

William C. LeeAirborne! Who? What? How?

If you read McNair’s Folly Archive you will see the same problem for the affectation of new combat units. At the beginning of World War Two, the Army had no problem with combat efficiency nor improved combat forces. The Army was simply not able to make her mind following the creation of a new combat force. With the Paratroopers, the things followed the exact same way as they did for the Tank Destroyer Units (Towed or Self Propelled). American paratrooper should be an Air Force Unit (Army Air Corps)! American paratrooper should be an Army Unit (Army Ground Forces)! American paratrooper should be one of our (Engineer Corps)!

Gen George C. Marshall turned to Gen George A. Lynch and said: George, can you take this over? Sure and I will pass it over to William Lee. William C. Lee answered: we are late but we have to go ahead; 1st, sent all those material to Lawson Field, create a shelter village and be ready because if we do, then we Have a Rendez-Vous with Destiny. In June of 1940, a test platoon was formed at Fort Benning with volunteers from the 29th Regiment.

(Doc Snafu) Anecdote – When I was collecting info for my book there wasn’t any Internet and all was still done with regular mail. When I tried to locate this Order for the Test Platoon I sent several letters out to my main involved contacts in the USA, Gen William T. Ryder, Test Platoon, Gen William P. Yarborough, 509th Parachute Infantry, Gen Matthew B. Ridgway CG XVIII Corps A/B, Gen James M. Gavin CG 82nd A/B, and Gen William M. Miley CG 17th A/B. After some time, I got 5 letters back, William Ryder: the copy of the order below and a WW-2 silk map used in Italy; William Yarborough: a dedicated 509-PIB wartime photo and another copy of the order below. From William Miley (he got my address from William T. Ryder), I got a great gift, a dedicated wartime photo, and a couple of insignias. Mrs. Gavin’s letter wasn’t a great one because she was telling me that Jim was in very big health trouble. Matthew B. Ridgway didn’t forget me either. He sent me the canopy cut-off scarf he used in Normandy. I don’t know who in the hell did cut that piece of the canopy but he managed to cut just around the date and markings.

Headquarters Twenty-Ninth Infantry (Rifle)
Office of the Regimental Commander
Fort Benning, Georgia
July 1, 1940
Special Orders – N° 127

1. First Lt John Sammons Bell, 29th Infantry Reserve, having been ordered to active duty for a period of fourteen (14) days, effective June 30, 1940, and having joined that date, the verbal orders of June 30, 1940, attaching him to Company A 29th Infantry are hereby confirmed and made of record. Unless sooner relieved by proper authority Lieutenant Bell will stand relieved from this attachment July 13, 1940.

2. Pursuant to authority granted by General Orders N° 101 Headquarters, Fort Benning Georgia, 1922, and under the provisions of Section VIII, Amy Regulations 615-360, April 4, 1935, a Board of Officers is appointed to meet at this station at the call of the senior member thereof for the purpose of investigating, making report, and recommendations as to whether or not such persons as may be properly brought before it should be discharged prior to the expiration of their term of enlistment :

Captain Frank G. Davis, 29th Infantry
First Lieutenant Philip S. Gage Jr, 29th Infantry
Second Lieutenant Carl A. Buechner, Jr 29th Infantry

Detail for the Board

3. Pursuant to authority granted by General Orders N°101, Headquarters, Fort Benning, Georgia, 1922, and under the provisions of Section VIII Army Regulations 615-360, April 4, 1935, a Board of Officers is appointed to meet at this station at the call of the senior member thereof for the purpose of investigating, making report, and recommendations as to whether or not such persons as may be properly brought before it should be discharged prior to the expiration of their term of enlistment

Detail for the Board

Captain Richard Chase, 29th Infantry
First Lieutenant Francis T. Pachler, 29th Infantry
First Lieutenant Willis R. Crawford, 29th Infantry

4. Private John J. Sullivan, 7087204, having enlisted at this station for this regiment, is assigned to Company F, 29th Infantry, and will report to the company commander thereof for duty.

SO #127, Hq., 29th Infantry,July 1,1940, Contd.

5. Pursuant to authority granted by letter Headquarters The Infantry School, file N°580, subject : Test Platoon for duty with Infantry Board, dated July 1, 1940, the following named officer end enlisted men of the 29th Infantry are detailed on special duty with the Infantry Board, Fort Benning, Georgia, and will report to the president thereof for duty :

First Lieutenant William T. Ryder, 29th Infantry
Sergeant John M. Haley, 6375843, Company A,
Sergeant Benedict F. Jacquay, 6657783, Company C,
Sergeant Grady A. Roberts, 6382894, Company D,
Sergeant Robert B. Wade, 6372146, Company F,
Sergeant Norman J. McCullough, 6379058, Company M,
Sergeant Lemuel T. Pitts, 6395609, Company B,
Private Farrish F. Cornelius, 6399726, Headquarters Co,
Private 1cl Specl 6th Cl, Obie C. Wilson, 6966171, Hqs Co,
Private 1cl Specl 6th Cl, Donald L. Colee, 6393903, Serv Co
Private William N. King, 6391164, Hq & Hq Det, 1st Bn,
Private 1cl Addison L. Houston, 6384962, Company A,
Private 1cl Mitchel Guilbeau, 6399296, Company A,
Private 1cl Joseph L. Peters, 6399384, Company A,
Private Thad P. Selman, 6971792, Company B,
Private Hugh A. Tracy, 7003685, Company B,
Private Jules Corbin, 6386052, Company A,
Private Joseph P. Doucet, 6387916, Company C,
Private 1cl Louie E. Davis, 6966798, Company C,
Private 1cl Johnnie A. Ellis, 6967763, Company C,
Private Specl 6th Cl, Robert H. Poudert, 6972398, Co D,
Private Sydney C. Kerksis, 6388134, Company D,
Private 1cl 4th Cl Tyerus F. Adams, xxxxxxx, Company D,
Private 1cl Tullis Nolin, 6927494, Hq & Hq Det, 2nd Bn,
Private 1cl Benjamin C. Reese, 6969901, Company E,
Private 1cl Raymond G. Smith, 6387925, Company E,
Private 1cl Willie F. Brown, 6398865, Company E,
Private 1cl Thurman L. Weaks, 6966916, Company F,
Private 1cl Specl 6th Cl, John M. Kitchens, 6394975, Co F,
Private 1cl Louie O. Skipper, 6963804, Company F,
Private 1cl Specl 6th Cl Alsie L. Rutland, 6963778, Co G,
Private Frank Kasell Jr, 6971611, Company G,
Private Robert E. Shepherd, 6970055, Company G,
Private 1cl Specl 4th Cl, John F. Pursley Jr, 6396514, Co H,
Private 1cl Lest C. McLaney, 6966537, Company H,
Private Specl 6th Cl, Aubrey Eberhardt, 6920642, Co H,
Private Ernest L. Dilburn, 6392470, Hq & Hq Det., 3rd Bn,
Private Leo C. Brown, 6384060, Company I,
Private Specl 6th Cl, Albert P. Robinson, 6972295, Co I,
Private 1cl Floy Brukhalter, 6966963, Company I,
Private 1cl Edward Martin, 6963787, Company K,
Private John O. Modiset, 6395976, Company K,
Private Code E. Barnett Jr, 6928902, Company K
Private John E. Borom, 6393663, Company L,
Private 1cl Specl 6th Cl George W. Ivy, 6399227, Co L,
Private 1cl Specl 4th Cl John A. Ward, 6379123, Company L,
Private Sepcl 6th Cl Steve Voils Jr, 6967738, Company M,
Private Specl 6th Cl Richard J. Kelly, 6928566, Company L,
Private Bura M. Tisdale, 6394981, Company M,
added manually Private Charles M. Wilson (?) (050 ?)

6. The following named enlisted men of the 29th Infantry, from companies as indicated opposite their names, are relieved from special duty with Recruit School, 29th Infantry, and will report to their respective company commanders for duty :

Sergeant Clarence J. Mathes, 6346954, C Co,
Sergeant Benedict F. Jacquay, 6657783, C Co,
Sergeant Max R. Grigg, 6385278, E Co,
Sergeant Reddie Smith, 6386301, F Co,
Sergeant Julian F. Dey, R-2131654, L Co,
Corporal James H. Davis, 6921421, C Co,
Corporal Richard M. Veale, 6308768, D Co,
Corporal Harold L. Pilcher, 6363024, E Co,
Corporal Woodrow W. Simms, 6927511, E Co,
Corporal Andy J. Brown, 6373211, E Co,
Corporal Elmo Edwards, 6373692, F Co,
Corporal Adam P. LeCompte, 6396044, F Co,
Corporal Elmer E. Cox, 6361753, F Co,
Corporal Paul H. Lee, 6382812, G Co,
Corporal Jay H. Mann Jr, 6397181, G Co,
Corporal Robert H. Sutton, 6386503, H Co,
Corporal Bennie F. Bowdoin, 6927648, I Co,
Private 1cl Specl 6th Cl Madison I. Wallace, 6372531, G Co,
Private 1cl Horace W. Gladney, 6967893, I Co,
Corporal Clyde W. Pierce, 6922484, G Co,

7. At their own request, and with the approval of their respective organization commanders, the following named enlisted men of the 29th Infantry are reduced to the grade of Pvt, without prejudice :

Corporal Farrish F. Cornelius, 6399726, KQ Co, (TP)
Corporal William N. King, 6391164 HHQ Det, 1st Bn, (TP)
Corporal Joseph E. Doucet, 6387916, C Co, (TP)
Corporal Ernest L. Dilburn, 6392470, HHQ Det, 3rd Bn, (TP)
Corporal Leo C. Brown, 6384060, I Co, (TP)
Corporal John E. Borom, 6393663, L Co, (TP)

By order of Colonel Griswold (1) :
William H. Craig
1st Lt 29th Infantry

(Doc Snafu) Note that the above mentioned Col Griswold who will be the communication officer between the HQ Army Ground Forces, the HQ Infantry Board, and the HQ Test Platoon will take an active part in the development of the Paratrooper’s Equipment (e.a. WACO CJ-4A: ‘Griswold Noose’, and Rifles and Sub-MG: ‘Griswold Bag’)

Many experimental jumps were conducted over the next few months with the test platoon including a mass jump that took place in late August of 1940. Paratroopers equipment were also improved: Jump Boots, Jump Suits, Helmets, Parachutes, Paratrooper Weapons Carrying Folders.

These initial experiments were so successful that in mid-September of that year the War Department authorized the formation of a first airborne battalion, which was designated 501st Parachute Battalion. It was not known at the time, but many of the officers who took part in the battalion would go on to be future World War Two heavyweights. Officers like Miley, Cole, Sink, Michaelis, Ewell, Cassidy, Winter, and Strayer, just a few names and they all worked on developing the US airborne doctrine that would be put to significant use over the next 5 years.

It should be noted that the 501st Parachute Battalion is a completely different unit than the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment that would later be a part of the 101st A/B Division Tactical Organization. It was determined that further expansion was needed beyond the 501st Parachute Battalion. In July of 1941, the 502nd Parachute Battalion was formed and activated.

In 1941, the RKO Pictures, C&C Corps, and Movietime turned a movie with and on the Paratroopers. The movie (Parachute Battalion) was done in Fort Benning and Fort Bragg using the original Test Platoon Members as well as the entire 501st Parachute Battalion. This movie is – of course – not a history movie but it’s probably the only one ever made using – only – original material. So if you have an hour to burn out go for it and you will see the American Airborne Troops at their early stage as well as Paratrooper Equipment from the same period.

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