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326th Airborne Engineer Battalion & Royal Engineers

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The 326th Engineers were constituted in the U.S National Army on 23rd July 1918 as an element of the 101st Division.

The unit was demobilized on 11th December 1918, but was reconstituted on 24th June 1921 as the 326th Engineers (Combat), an element of the 101st Division, in the Organized Reserves and organized in November 1921 at Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

 

The Regiment was divided on 31st March 1942. All Regimental units (less the 2nd Battalion) were allotted to the Army of the United States on 15th August 1942, and were redesignated as the 326th Airborne Engineer Battalion, where they were activated at Camp Clairborne, Louisiana. The battalion then moved to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with the 101st Airborne Division on 29th Sep 1942.

The battalion participated in all division exercises and maneuvers.

 

After extensive training in the United States, the 326th AEB deployed to England on 5th Sep 1943 from Pier 90, North River, New York. The Ship 294 (HMS Samaria) landed at Liverpool, England and the battalion moved by train to Basildon Park near Reading, Berkshire.

In England the Combat Engineers were stationed 30 miles west of London at Basildon Park in a 91-room, 232 year-old manor with the 81st Airborne Antiaircraft Battalion.

It was here that they trained for the D-Day Invasion of France, under the command of Lt. Col. John Pappas,  along with a large number of new officers & men (veterans of  Sicily & North Africa) who had been transferred from the 82nd Airborne, 307th AEB specifically to train the 326th. The Battalion's training focused on physical conditioning (including long and short marches),  weapons training, bridge construction & demolition, glider loading, glider flights, unit and division tactical exercises.

Training in England for the Normandy invasion included a two-week exchange with the Royal Engineers in which Americans worked with their British counterparts and vice versa.

 

It was at Newbury on March 23, 1944 that the men of the 101st were inspected by such people as Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Field Marshall Bernhard Montgomery , Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower and General Omar Bradley.

 

After extensive training, the Battalion deployed to Europe.  Boarding C47's at Greenham Common,  Upottery and Exeter Airfields, where C. Company 326th AEB,  participated in the airborne assault into Normandy (A & B Co. were taken ashore by landing craft and glider) and where Lt Col John Pappas was Killed In Action on the outskirts of Carentan on 13th June 1944.  Major Hugh A Mozley assumed command also leading the battalion, during Operation Market Garden and the Screaming Eagles heroic stand at Bastogne.

 

C. Company 326th AEB were divided and dispersed into other units for D-Day and jumped into Normandy, alongside the 501st, 502nd & 506th, although C. Company HQ were designated to DZ (drop zone) D -  Angoville Au-Plain.

Their main objectives were bridge demolition, in order to slow the German counter attacks, but they also fought as infantry.

Later taking part in Operation Market Garden and in the defense of Bastogne, served as an entire unit in the southern sector.

They were the first in and the first to meet General Patton's tanks once the encirclement had broken.

 

For its outstanding accomplishments at Normandy and Bastogne, the Battalion was twice awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

For its contribution to the success of the European War, the Battalion was awarded the French Croix de Guerre (with Palm), the Netherlands Orange Lanyard, and the Belgian Fourragere.

The 326th Airborne Engineer Battalion was deactivated in Germany on 30th November 1945.

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