|Pfc. Lee W. Allen
513th Parachute Infantry Regiment (H Company)
17th Airborne Division, U. S. Army
(March 25, 1922 January 8, 1945)
Introduction | Training | Arrival in England | The Battle of the Bulge
The Rhineland Campaign | Photos
Thomas Thrash is seeking any and all information about his father's cousin, Lee W. Allen, a Private First Class with H Company, 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Lee spent his childhood and teenage years with his grandparents in Berwick, Pennsylvania. He entered the army in September 1940, and, with the 513th, trained at Fort Benning, Georgia, in August 1943, serving in the European Theatre of Operations attached to the 17th Airborne Division. The 513th fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and it was during this battle that Lee was killed in action near Bastogne, Belgium. He is buried at the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial. Any veterans of the 513th who might have known Lee are invited to contact Tom at email@example.com. Below is some information about the exploits of the division in the Battle of the Bulge and in Operation Varsity for other researchers seeking information. (Much of the information below was reprinted with slight alterations from Jerry Brunk's memories of his Uncle Walt, a veteran of the 513th PIR, 17th Airborne Division.)
Lee apparently trained with his unit at Fort Benning, Georgia, during August 1943. The regiment also was trained at Camp Forrest, Tennessee.
|Arrival in England
The 513th arrived in England and was shuttled to Camp Chisledon, the 17th Airborne Division
staging area, on August 28, 1944. Flight and tactical training continued and night maneuvers were added to the training schedule. The entire 17th Airborne Division spent
Thanksgiving in England. The photo below, taken in October 1944, shows Lee in his 1942A jump jacket and wings.
|The Battle of the Bulge
The Battle of the Bulge was fought in the Ardennes region of Belgium from December 16, 1944 through January 25, 1945. The unexpected German onslaught initially drove U.S. infantry and armored troops back in disarray. It smashed into the American forces along the western European front with an effect frequently compared to that of the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. Even though the Allies had ample warning signs, they were caught completely off guard, and the American units reeled from the strength and intensity of the surprise bombardment. The best SS panzer grenadiers and armor were being used in this drive. They were elite units, with first-class equipment, well able to withstand the rigors of winter and sustained periods of battle. The 17th Airborne Division was attached to Patton's Third U.S. Army and the Division Command Post was established in the war-tom town of Morhet, Belgium. Between December 17 and 23, the Germans were halted near St. Vith and Bastogne by a roadblock, defended by the U.S. 7th Armoured Division. A vital road junction in this area was heavily surrounded by German infantry and on Christmas Eve, after attending church services, the U.S. 101st and 17th Airborne Divisions were sent to help hold the position. Fighting was desperate, the weather was hellishly cold, and the snow was 16 to 18 inches deep. The 17th was hit hard by the crack German units. Fighting was fierce.
|The Rhineland Campaign
The Rhineland Campaign was highlighted by Operation Varsity, which took place from January 26 through February 10, 1945. The day after the Battle of the Bulge ended, the 17th Airborne's zone of operation was shifted south, to the country of Luxembourg. This was the beginning of the Rhineland Campaign. The new mission of the 17th was to clear the enemy from the west bank of the Our (or Ourthe) River, to cross the river into Germany, and to secure the high ground on the east bank of the river. During the first week in February, the 513th PIR engaged in combat along the Our River and was holding a bridgehead just south of Clerveaux, Luxembourg. On February 10, it was ordered out of the battlefront and moved by rail and motor transport to Chalons-sur-Marne, France. The stupendous task of preparing for its first airborne combat operation faced the group. This division had just completed the most rigorous campaign the U.S. Army had ever fought. Casualties had been so heavy that some rifle companies had less than 40 men of their original strength and some were without officers. In spite of the fact that the division was about 4,000 officers and men understrength, plans for an early airborne operation were pushed relentlessly forward. On March 24, 1945, the 513th Parachute Infantry Combat Teams and the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment took off from a dozen different airfields in France at 0700 hours and headed for the west bank of the Rhine River. Stretched across the sky, as far as one could see, this was the largest sky armada ever assembled. The entire column was 2 hours and 18 minutes in length: 226 C-47s and 70 C-46s carried parachute troops, while 906 gliders were towed by 610 C-47s. Teams parachuted into Germany in the vicinity of Wasel, about 100 miles south of Munster, and 10 miles into enemy territory across the Rhine River. This drop across the Rhine into Germany was a feat that has been remembered by historians as one of the truly great military maneuvers of all time.
The following photos are from parachute training exercises that Lee participated in, most likely at Fort Benning. Top, inside the fuselage of a troop carrier (note the fellow wearing the football helmet at left). Middle, being "helped" out the door of the plane. Bottom, a paratrooper lands after a successful jump.