Want to learn more about the 509th Abct, Italy? Read on for facts and info on this historical paratrooper division and its expeditions in Italy…
The 509th Abct is the name of a parachute infantry regiment. This particular division is credited as being the first combat paratrooper regiment in the history of the United States Army. The division was formed during World War II and engaged in a number of expeditions in Italy as well as other warring nations during the course of the Second World War.
The unit was officially formed on 14 March 1941. In the following years it was reorganized and redesignated a number of times. In 1942 it was shipped to England as the first US airborne unit ever. The British First Airborne Division was responsible for providing the unit with further training. The 509th division remained largely inactive during the course of the war but it authorized to be attached with the 82nd Airborne Division during the time of the Italian invasion by the Allied forces. It was also part of the provisional First Airborne Task Force during the invasion of southern France in 1944. Later it was again reattached to the 101st Airborne Division.
The Italian invasion was not the first official battle in which this unit participated. Rather the first combat the infantry engaged in was in North Africa. However this was an unsuccessful attempt as only a limited number of aircrafts were able to draw their troops in the target region. With regards to their expedition in Italy the first drop took place on a small Italian island on 9 September 1943. The objective was to liberate Ventotoene. Although the American forces were much weaker in comparison to the German opposition, somehow they managed to convince the German commander to surrender.
The 509th infantry later saw more combat jumps on the lands of Italy and southern France. The highly skilled troops that made up this division would operate as elite mountain infantry in the French Alps and the Italian mountains. It was in this regard that the American infantryman Paul B. Huff was awarded the first Medal of Honor in 1944 because of the action he engaged in at Carano, Italy.
The infantry also took part in the Battle of the Bulge. The purpose was to strike a blow to the German forces in Belgium. A number of different books have been written giving detailed accounts of the expeditions in which the 509th Abct division had participated. The “Bloody Clash at Sadzot” is one of the most popular books that gives a detailed account of this particular battle. About 700 paratroopers had participated in the war and by the end of it only 50 of them had survived. Because of the severe blow to the infantry division it was temporarily disbanded. The remaining troops were used as replacements for the 82nd Airborne Division.