History ETDs

Publication Date

8-30-2011

Abstract

The effectiveness of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions during, Operation Neptune, on D-Day was researched. Through the use of memoirs written by paratroopers who took part in the para-jump during the early morning hours of June 6, 1944 and other secondary sources written about the airborne, D-Day and the Second World War it is possible to understand the paratroopers true value. To identify their effectiveness the study of their objectives, casualty rates, targets destroyed in relationship to objectives missed and overall success must be considered. Traditionally the paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions were looked upon as a failure. They were widely scattered, unable to regroup and often missed their primary objectives. Military historians previously studying the airborne argued that due to their high risk high casualty rate the paratroopers were a waste of men and material. Until recently, with the increase in public support for the airborne and more generally the military, former paratroopers and D-Day veterans wrote their memoirs proclaiming their heroics and efficiency. Historians of the modern era have altered their perception of the paratroopers and now tend to investigate their heroics rather than the objectives they were given while stationed in France. The actions of the paratroopers on D-Day are heralded like the heroics of the veterans of most American foreign wars. Although criticized shortly after the war for their inability to secure all of the objectives given to them, they recently have received a large amount of positive press, due to the popular media. The veterans themselves have always believed in the good that they accomplished on D-Day. Their recent memoirs have illustrated their heroics. Through the paratroopers implementation of tactics and strategy they were able to quickly and adeptly counter any offensive or defensive movements by the enemy. At the time airborne operations were still an untested science. The airborne, although aware of its own failures, rose to the occasion and acted in a manner befitting the American military. The pride of American research and development also promoted their efficiency. The Airbornes ability to manipulate the most advanced German or American weapons and munitions gave them a significant edge in combat.

Level of Degree

Masters

Degree Name

History

Department Name

History

First Advisor

Ball, Larry Durwood

First Committee Member (Chair)

Hutton, Paul

Second Committee Member

Scott Smith, Jason

Language

English

Document Type

Thesis

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