Harding, Forrest, PFC

Deceased
 
 Photo In Uniform   Service Details
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Last Rank
Private First Class
Last Service Branch
Infantry
Last Primary MOS
745-Rifleman
Last MOS Group
Infantry (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1943-1943, 745, Basic Airborne Course (BAC) Airborne School
Service Years
1941 - 1945

Private First Class


One Service Stripe



Four Overseas Service Bars


 Last Photo   Personal Details 

601 kb

Home State
New Jersey
New Jersey
Year of Birth
1919
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SGT Elliott W. Cooney (CoonDog) to remember Harding, Forrest, Pfc.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address
Gloucester City New Jersey

Date of Passing
Feb 28, 1996
 
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

101st Airbone Division Belgian Fourragere Infantry Shoulder Cord Netherlands Orange Lanyard

Honorably Discharged WW II Meritorious Unit Commendation 1944-1961 (2nd Award) French Fourragere


 Unofficial Badges 

Airborne


 Military Association Memberships
Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW)
  1950, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) [Verified] - Assoc. Page


 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
COMPANY A. 501ST

501st PIR- 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment 501st Parachute Infantry (PIR) History Parachute Infantry - PIR - Parachute Infantry Regiment The 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (501st PIR) was activated in Toccoa, Georgia in November 1942 where the young paratroopers to be were given basic Infantry training. In May 1943 they earned their jump wings at Fort Benning. Shortly after Jump School and throughout the summer the Regiment undertook Company, Battalion and Regimental training at Camp MaCall, North Carolina, and participated in the Tennessee maneuvers. Col Howard (Jumpy) JohnsonThe 501stPIR, commanded by Colonel Howard Johnson (Jumpy Johnson), was attached to the 101st Airborne Division just before the Regiment departed for England in December of 1943. They made their first jump into Normandy in the early morning hours of D-Day, June 6, 1944. In July of '44 the Regiment returned from Normandy and began to re-fit and train for the next operation. After several false starts the 501st PIR, along with the entire 101st Airborne, was alerted for Operation Market Garden Holland on September 17, 1944. On 17 September 1944 Operation Market Garden, Montgomery's ambitious plan to perform an end run around the retreating German Army, began with the largest Airborne operation in history. Operation Market GardenAs part of the 101st Airborne the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment parachuted near the town of Veghel, 25 miles behind the German front lines. The 501st was specifically tasked to drop 4 miles south of Veghel and seize railroad and highway bridges over the Aa River and the Willems Canal. Though Lt Colonel Kinnard's 1st Battalion landed wide of their mark, they landed all together and were were quickly able to seize two railroad bridges to the west of Veghel. Meanwhile, the other two battalions were able to seize intact the road bridges over the Willems Canal and Aa River. The result was the rapid taking of one of the first major barriers on the route of Montgomery's Second British Army to Arnhem. The 501st, along with the rest of the division, moved from initial objective areas to positions on "the island" between the Waal and Rhine Rivers. It became clear that they would not be withdrawn from Holland after a few days, as had been planned because their combat skills were sorely needed by the British. However, the prolonged fighting on "the island" was contrary to airborne tactics and strategy. After the initial hard fighting it became a static war of patrolling and attrition, principally by artillery and mortars. One such mortar attack, near Heteren, on 8 October 1944, fatally wounded Colonel Johnson. As he was being evacuated, his last words to Lt Colonel Ewell were, "Take care of my boys" son bridge. In late November 1944, the 101st division was returned to France to receive replacements, re-train, re-equip and prepare for additional operations after the new year. Three weeks after arriving at Camp Mourmelon, France the Germans launched the offensive in the Belgian region known as the Ardennes, the Battle of the Bulge had begun.501st PIR - 101st Airborne Division going to Bastogne The 101st Airborne was alerted and within hours was jammed into trucks and rushing through the night to the town of Bastogne, Belgium arriving in the predawn morning of Dec. 18th. The 501st PIR was the first unit to arrive and moved through the town as dawn broke to meet the approaching German's three miles beyond the town. The Regiment fought the enemy to a stand still and held kept the Germans at bay until the rest of the division could arrive. The 101st Airborne Division, "Battered Bastards of Bastogne " fought off elements of seven German divisions before Patton broke through the encirclement on December 26th. On January 20, 1945 "Operation Nordwind", the last offensive action by the Germans during WWII was launched. The 101st Airborne, tattered and worn from fighting in the "Bulge" was rushed to Alsace to bolster the defense of the Seventh Army. The 501st PIR, of only 60% strong, occupied defensive positions there until returning to Camp Mourmelon, France early in March 1945. As the war in Europe was nearing its end, the 101st division was sent to the Ruhr pocket to help in mop-up operations. The 501st remained in France, preparing to jump on Prisoner Of War camps if necessary to rescue and free American POW's. In August 1945 the regiment was detached from the 101st and sailed for home to be deactivated at Fort Benning, Georgia. In the course of the three campaigns through January 14 1945, 517 paratroopers of the regiment were killed or died of wounds in action, 1639 were wounded or injured, and 328 were captured or missing, according to the 101'st Airborne Division History, "Rendezvous with Destiny". 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment Awards and Decorations The 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) received the following Awards and Decorations for distinguished performance on the battlefields of Europe. United States Two Presidential Distinguished Unit Citations for operations in Normandy and Bastogne. France The Croix de Guerre with Palm for operations in Normandy. Belgium Two Croix de Guerre and one Fourragere for operations at Bastogne Netherlands Netherlands Orange Lanyard for operations in The Netherlands
   
Other Comments:
CIB & CMB Conversion As a result of a study conducted in 1947, the policy was implemented that authorized the retroactive award of the Bronze Star Medal to soldiers who had received the Combat Infantryman Badge or the Combat Medical Badge during World War II. The basis for doing this was that the badges were awarded only to soldiers who had borne the hardships which resulted in General Marshall's support of the Bronze Star Medal.




Distinguished Unit Citation Battle Honors As authorized by Executive Order 9396 (sec. I, Bul. 22,WD , 1943), superseding Executive Order 9075 (sec. III, WD Bul, 11, 1942), the following unit is cited by the War Department under the provisions of section IV, Circular No. 333, War Department, 1943 in the name of the President of the United States as public evidence of deserved honor and distinction. The citation reads as follows: 101st Airborne Division (less 2nd Battalion, 401st Glider Infantry Regiment), with the following-attached units: 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment; 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment; 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion; Counterintelligence Detachment, 101st Airborne Division; Order of Battle Detachment Number 5; Military Intelligence Interpreter Team Number 410; Photo Interpreter Teams Number 9 & 81; Prisoner of War Interrogation Teams Number 1, 9 & 87; Third Auxiliary Surgical Group, Team Number 3; 969th Field Artillery Battalion; 755th Field Artillery Battalion; 705th Field Artillery Battalion; Combat Command B, 10th Armored Division including: Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Combat Command B, 10th Armored Division; 3rd Tank Battalion (less Company C); 20th Armored Infantry Battalion (less Company A); 54th Armored Infantry Battalion (less Company A and C); 420th Armored Field Artillery Battalion; Troop D, 90th Calvary Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized); Company C, 609th Tank Destroyer Battalion (less 1st Platoon; with 2nd Platoon Reconnaissance Company attached); Battery B, 796th Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion; Company C, 55th Armored Engineer Battalion ; Company C, 21st Tank Battalion; Reserve Command, 9th Armored Division including: Headquarters Reserve Command, 9th Armored Division; Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 12th Armored Group; 2nd Tank Battalion; 52nd Armored Infantry Battalion; 73rd Armored Field Artillery Battalion; Company C, 9th Armored Engineer Battalion; Company C, 811th Tank Destroyer Battalion; Battery C, 482nd Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion (Self-Propelled); These units distinguished themselves in combat against powerful and aggressive enemy forces composed of elements of 8 German divisions during the period from 18 December to 27 December 1944 by extraordinary heroism and gallantry in defense of the key communications center of Bastogne, Belgium. Essential to a large scale exploitation of his break-through into Belgium and northern Luxembourg, the enemy attempted to seize Bastogne by attacking constantly and savagely with the best of his armor and infantry. Without benefit of prepared defenses, facing almost overwhelming odds and with very limited and fast dwindling supplies, these units maintained a high combat morale and an impenetrable defense, despite extremely heavy bombing, intense artillery fire, and constant attacks from infantry and armor on all sides of their completely cut off and encircled position. This masterful and grimly determined defense denied the enemy even momentary success in an operation for which he paid dearly in men, material, and eventually morale. The outstanding courage and resourcefulness and undaunted determination of this gallant force is in keeping with the highest traditions of the service. [General Orders No. 17, War Department, 13 March 1945.] BY ORDER OF THE SECRETARY OF WAR: G. C. Marshall Chief of Staff Official: J. A. ULIO Major General The Adjutant General
 
   
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WWII - European Theater of Operations/Rhineland Campaign (1944-45)/Siege of Bastogne
From Month/Year
December / 1944
To Month/Year
January / 1945

Description
The Siege of Bastogne was an engagement in December 1944 between American and German forces at the Belgian town of Bastogne, as part of the larger Battle of the Bulge. The goal of the German offensive was the harbour at Antwerp. In order to reach it before the Allies could regroup and bring their superior air power to bear, German mechanized forces had to seize the roadways through eastern Belgium. Because all seven main roads in the Ardennes mountain range converged on the small town of Bastogne, control of its crossroads was vital to the German attack. The siege lasted from December 20–27 when the besieged American forces were relieved by elements of General George Patton's Third Army.

Initial combat at Noville[edit]
On 19–20 December, the 1st Battalion of the 506th PIR was ordered to support Team Desobry (Maj. William R. Desobry), a battalion-sized tank-infantry task force of the 10th Armored Division assigned to defend Noville[7] located north-northeast of both Foy and of Bastogne just 4.36 mi (7.02 km) away. With just four M18 tank destroyers of the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion to assist, the paratroopers attacked units of the 2. Panzerdivision, whose mission was to proceed by secondary roads via Monaville (just northwest of Bastogne) to seize a key highway and capture, among other objectives, fuel dumps — for the lack of which the overall German counter-offensive faltered and failed. Worried about the threat to its left flank in Bastogne, it organized a major combined arms attack to seize Noville. Team Desobry's high speed highway journey to reach the blocking position is one of the few documented cases wherein the legendary top speed of the M18 Hellcat (55 mph (89 km/h)) was actually used to get ahead of an enemy force as envisioned by its specifications.

The attack of 1st Battalion and the M18 Hellcat tank destroyers of the 705th TD Battalion together destroyed at least 30 German tanks and inflicted 500-1,000 casualties on the attacking forces in what amounted to a spoiling attack.[citation needed] A Military Channel expert historian[who?] credited the M18 tank destroyers with 24 kills, including several Tiger tanks, and believes that, in part, their ability to "shoot and scoot" at high speed and then reappear elsewhere on the battlefield and therefore appear to be another vehicle entirely played a large part in confusing and slowing the German attack, which subsequently stalled, leaving the Americans in possession of the town overnight. The 3rd Battalion was ordered forward from a reserve position north of Bastogne to ease the pressure on 1st Battalion by occupying a supporting position in Foy to the south.

The heavy losses inflicted by the tank-destroyers induced the German commander into believing the village was being held by a much stronger force[7] and he recoiled from further attacks on the village, committing a strategic error while seeking tactical advantage — significantly delaying the German advance and setting the stage for the Siege of Bastogne just to the south. This delay also gave the 101st Airborne Division enough time to organize defenses around Bastogne. After two days, the 2nd Panzer Division finally continued on its original mission to the Meuse River. As a consequence of its involvement at Bastogne, and its failure to dislodge the airborne forces, the column ultimately ran out of fuel at Celles, where it was destroyed by the U.S. 2nd Armored Division and the British 29th Armoured Brigade.

By the time the 1st Battalion pulled out of Noville on the 20th, the village of Foy half-way to Bastogne center had been captured from the 3rd Battalion by a separate attack, forcing the 1st Battalion to then fight its way through Foy. By the time 1st Battalion made it to the safety of American lines, it had lost 13 officers and 199 enlisted men, out of about 600 troops, and was assigned as the division reserve. Team Desobry lost a quarter of its troops and was reduced to just four medium tanks when it passed through the lines of 3rd Battalion.

Battle
19–23 December 1944
The 101st Airborne formed an all-round perimeter using the 502nd PIR on the northwest shoulder to block the 26th Volksgrenadier, the 506th PIR to block entry from Noville, the 501st PIR defending the eastern approach, and the 327th GIR scattered from Marvie in the southeast to Champs in the west along the southern perimeter, augmented by engineer and artillery units plugging gaps in the line. The division service area to the west of Bastogne had been raided the first night, causing the loss of almost its entire medical company, and numerous service troops were used as infantry to reinforce the thin lines. CCB of the 10th Armored Division, severely weakened by losses to its Team Desobry (Maj. William R. Desobry), Team Cherry (Lt. Col. Henry T. Cherry), and Team O'Hara (Lt. Col. James O'Hara) in delaying the Germans, formed a mobile "fire brigade" of 40 light and medium tanks (including survivors of CCR 9th Armored Division and eight replacement tanks found unassigned in Bastogne).

Three artillery battalions were commandeered and formed a temporary artillery group. Each had twelve 155 mm (6.1 in) howitzers, providing the division with heavy firepower in all directions restricted only by its limited ammunition supply. Col. Roberts, commanding CCB, also rounded up 600+ stragglers from the rout of VIII Corps and formed Team SNAFU as a further stopgap force.

As a result of the powerful American defense to the north and east, XLVII Panzer Corps commander Gen. von Lüttwitz decided to encircle Bastogne and strike from the south and southwest, beginning the night of 20/21 December. German panzer reconnaissance units had initial success, nearly overrunning the American artillery positions southwest of Bastogne before being stopped by a makeshift force. All seven highways leading to Bastogne were cut by German forces by noon of 21 December, and by nightfall the conglomeration of airborne and armored infantry forces were recognized by both sides as being surrounded.

The American soldiers were outnumbered approximately 5-1 and were lacking in cold-weather gear, ammunition, food, medical supplies, and senior leadership (as many senior officers, including the 101st's commander—Major General Maxwell Taylor—were elsewhere). Due to the worst winter weather in memory, the surrounded U.S. forces could not be resupplied by air nor was tactical air support available due to cloudy weather.

However, the two panzer divisions of the XLVII Panzer Corps—after using their mobility to isolate Bastogne, continued their mission towards the Meuse on 22 December, rather than attacking Bastogne with a single large force. They left just one regiment behind to assist the 26th Volksgrenadier Division in capturing the crossroads. The XLVII Panzer Corps probed different points of the southern and western defensive perimeter in echelon, where Bastogne was defended by just a single airborne regiment and support units doubling as infantry. This played into the American advantage of interior lines of communication; the defenders were able to shift artillery fire and move their limited ad hoc armored forces to meet each successive assault.

The 26th VG received one panzergrenadier regiment from the 15th Panzergrenadier Division on Christmas Eve for its main assault the next day. Because it lacked sufficient troops and those of the 26th VG Division were near exhaustion, the XLVII Panzer Corps concentrated its assault on several individual locations on the west side of perimeter in sequence rather than launching one simultaneous attack on all sides. The assault—led by 18 tanks carrying a battalion of infantry—pierced the lines of the 327th's 3rd Battalion (officially, the 1st Battalion, 401st Glider Infantry), and advanced as far as the battalion command post at Hemroulle.

However, the 327th held its original positions and repulsed infantry assaults that followed, capturing 92 Germans. The panzers that had achieved the penetration divided into two columns, one trying to reach Champs from the rear, and were destroyed in detail by two companies of the 1st Battalion 502nd PIR under Lt. Col. Patrick F. Cassidy and four tank destroyers of the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion.

Allied control of Bastogne was a major obstacle to the German armored advance, and the morale of Allied forces elsewhere on the Western Front was boosted by news of the stubborn defense of the besieged town.
   
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Month/Year
December / 1944
To Month/Year
January / 1945
 
Last Updated:
Mar 16, 2020
   
Personal Memories
   
My Photos From This Battle or Operation
Silver Star

  73 Also There at This Battle:
 
  • Bahlau, Frederick Arthur, 1LT, (1942-1945)
  • Bailey, Doug, PFC, (1940-1945)
  • Beck, Carl, M/Sgt, (1942-1963)
  • Carpenter, Archie Eldon, COL, (1943-1973)
  • Desobry, William, LTG, (1941-1975)
  • Gibson, Patti
  • Joint, Edward, PFC, (1942-1945)
  • King, E. Alexander
  • Mehosky, Edward, COL, (1940-1971)
  • Peterson, Harry
  • Sallee, Adam, T/5, (1942-1945)
  • Strohl, Roderick, S/Sgt, (1941-1945)
  • Wayne, Forrest G., Pvt, (1941-1945)
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