The Real 401st

The 1st Battalion, 401st Glider Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division was ordered into active military service on 15 August 1942 at Camp Claiborne, LA, completed training at Fort Bragg, NC, and shipped to England on 5 September 1943.

The 1st Battalion, 401st Glider Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division was ordered into active military service on 15 August 1942 at Camp Claiborne, LA, completed training at Fort Bragg, NC, and shipped to England on 5 September 1943.

On D-Day, 6 June 1944, following months of extensive preparation and intense training in England, the 1/401 landed on Utah beach as a part of Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy and Nazi-occupied France. Despite suffering many casualties in the weeks following D-Day, the 1/401 accomplished its mission and returned to England on 13 July 1944.

On 18 September 1944, the 1/401 landed in Holland by glider as part of Operation Market-Garden. It soon moved to seize and defend a portion of highway between Eindhoven and St. Oedenrode to enable the British armored units advance on Arnhem. 1/401 saw its heaviest fighting of the campaign during the Battle of Opheusden from 6 October to 14 October 1944, and continued to battle German forces in the area until relieved from combat in order to rest and refit. The battalion then moved to Camp Mourmelon, France in late November.

In December 1944, the battalion was ordered into Belgium to participate in what would ultimately become its bloodiest two months of combat fighting the Battle of the Bulge. Shortly after its arrival at the vital crossroads city of Bastogne, Belgium on 19 December 1944, the entire 101st Airborne Division was surrounded by elements of the German 5th and 7th Panzer Armies but continued to hold out receiving supplies via air drops and glider landings until the encirclement was broken on 26 December. For its valiant actions in the defense of Bastogne, the 1st Battalion, 401st Glider Infantry Regiment was awarded it first Presidential Unit Citation.

In February 1945, the 1/401 was relieved and returned to Camp Mourmelon for refitting. On 1 March 1945, the unit was disbanded and on 6 April 1945 was reconstituted as the 3rd Battalion, 327th Glider Infantry Regiment. The redesignation was a change in name only, as the battalion had already fought across Europe with the 327th as an attached third battalion. The newly reconstituted 3rd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment saw action in April and early May during its final campaigns in the Rhine and Ruhr areas of Germany. On 8 May 1945, the war ended with the battalion in the vicinity of Hitler’s famous “Eagle’s Nest.” It was later deactivated at Auxerre, France on 30 November 1945.

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