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William P GALBRAITH US ARMY, born in January 1924, here represents “I” Company in the 3rd Battalion, the 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment, the original main component of the United States Army 101st AIRBORNE DIVISION (filmed as The Band of Brothers) and took part in both Operations OVERLORD and MARKET GARDEN and, after his wounding, through his known friends who did not survive, indirectly symbolizes their service also at BASTOGNE and in the Battle of the BULGE.
Trained at Camp Toccoa in Georgia and via the Tower at Fort Benning with five successful aircraft jumps to qualify for the paratrooper’s wings, In June, 1943 their unit became an integral part of the 101st Division under their CO, Colonel Sink. They arrived at Liverpool on 15th September, after crossing on the USS Samaria in ten days., with the various 101st units on the ship being sent to different areas of England to be billeted and continue additional training. Bill and his company took part in a special demonstration jump on 23rd March 1944 for Sir Winston Churchill, Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Omar Bradley. He would well remember the stable near the Bell Inn at Ramsbury, recalling Reading and Hungerford as well as Torquay and exercises near Exeter from where he would take off late on 5th June to jump about 0140hrs on D-DAY behind the riflemen with the Pathfinders. His heavy machine gun broke out of his leg bag like many others failing to stay with him as his parachute opened, when his chief memory was the amount and nature of the flak. He met up and stayed initially with a Sgt Garrison with a broken ankle, lagging slightly behind a bigger party probably from the 501st, who were less lucky to be machine gunned when a flare went up with these been more exposed. Later he would be given a machine gun whose owner had been killed. Some naval bombardment shelling also blew several more than ten feet but fortunately without injury. Scattered over COTENTIN nothing that much was possible until the second night and fairly quickly their company had no more than 40 left and these increasingly tired. They were most relieved when after hearing tanks, this was the 502nd to help relieve them. Back in England they would be rested and receive new replacements for many who had been killed. Bill would be. re-assigned from “I” company to the S-3 or Operations section of battalion HQ, among which new duties under his commander and S-3 leader,
Captain John Kiley from New York, would be the sand table modelling for operations. His next major operation with the 101st would begin on September 17th, 1944. Operation MARKET GARDEN, it would be the largest airborne invasion of all time attempting to end the war early by dropping Allied troops behind enemy lines into the Netherlands. The 101st Airborne Division was attached to the First British Airborne Division as also was the 82nd Airborne Division and the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade. in the FIRST ALLIED AIRBORNE ARMY. Unfortunately DZ “C” where the 506th landed was too far from their objective, by the time they arrived at the bridge, it had just been blown up by the Germans. On the second day’s advance his Captain would be killed by a sniper and Bill would be using his own preferred M1 Garand rifle to catch his assailant. Later though he himself would be under machine gun fire and then also by fire from two formidable German 88mm cannons later captured by the 506th with some help from 501st. Bill would be wounded in both leg and shoulder before being dragged by Dutch Pete Klompmaker into his house and tending, his wounds. Bill would need speedy attention and via the Advanced Aid Station would be flown back to Brussels and returned to UK.
Jim met his Scots future wife, Anna, in Britain and after returning to the USA in “Larkspur”, an old German hospital ship and honourable discharge in 1947 would raise a big family together.
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