508 P.I.R. Red Devils

Fury from the sky

The Red Devils in Belgium

Battle of the Bulge - The Ardennes Offensive

On 16 December 1944 the entire 82nd Airborne Division was thrust into Ardennes Forest in the largest battle of World War II - The Battle of the Bulge

The Germans smashed through the thin US screen in the Ardennes. SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) reserve forces were alerted. The 101st Airborne was sent into Bastogne to try and hold the southern shoulder of the penetration while the 82nd was ordered to Werbomont to pinch in the northern shoulder.

 

A mortar crew of the 508th digging in. Picture was taken during The battle of the Bulge. The strange thing about this picture is that the Red Devils are still wearing their armflag.

On December the 18th the 508th moved and by the 19th had set up positions in the vicinity of Chevron. The regiment held positions against the Germans until the 24th at which time they were ordered to withdraw to establish a new line of resistance. The regiment held it position until January 3, 1945 when the 82nd Airborne Division counterattack.

On January 7th the Red Devil's launched an attack with the 504th in the vicinity of Thier-du-Mont where it suffered heavy casualties. Again, the regiment was withdrawn from the line and placed in reserve until January 21st when it replaced elements of the 2nd Infantry Division (Indian Head Division).

On January 24th the regiment was placed in Corp reserve, but was quickly back in action on January 26th.

On January 29, 1945 First Sergeant Leonard Funk, Jr., (pictured right, next to President Truman) of Braddock Township, Pennsylvania, Charlie Company, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment received the Medal of Honor for his action at Holzheim, Belgium. After leading his unit and capturing 80 Germans, the enemy, by means of a ruse, captured the four American guards, freed the prisoners and prepared to attack the understrength Americans. Funk, walking around a building into their midst, had a machine pistol thrust into his stomach by a German officer. Pretending to comply with a surrender demand, he slowly unslung his Thompson submachine gun and with lightning fast motion, riddled the officer and led his men in resisting the enemy, killing 21 in the process.

 

On February 22, The Regiment moved back to Camp Sissonne where it became part of SHAEF reserve. The regiment performed maintenance, trained and refitted.

 

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