Headquarters, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment

(to be redesignated 2nd Bn 509th PIR on 07 Nov 1942)

24 February 1942 - 02 November 1942


Video footage of 503rd PIR in formation at Fort Bragg in 1942. E Company led by 1st Lt John T. Berry conducts demonstration jump for General George C. Marshall and British General Sir John Dill

509th PIR Color Guard conducts Pass and Review for visiting First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt at Chilton Foliat, England.  Note that all paratroopers are fully outfitted in combat equipment to include every pocket filled.


509th PIR conducting Pass and Review.  Note all paratroops are armed with a M1911A1 as a personal side arm in addition to their primary assigned weapon.  The 509th conducted their first combat jump with primary weapons in jump canisters that were dropped seperately much like other countries were doing at the time.  The M1911A1 was carried for personal protection until paratroopers could recover the canisters and get their primary weapons.  This practice quickly went away as experience and new techniques made it possible for paratroops to jump with weapons secured to their bodies.  The nearest paratrooper carries as his primary weapon a M1903 with a rifle grenade launcher attached to the barrel and rubber pad on the butt of the rifle.  He also carries two cases with four rifle grenades each.  Special attention had to be paid to which ammo was loaded into the M1903 with grenade launcher attached.  Only blank rounds cound be used to launch the grenades.  Note that the lower edges on the lower pockets of the jacket are sewn down.  This was done by hand to prevent hand grenades from tearing out the bottom of the pockets when the opening shock of the parachute occured.


First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt inspects the 509th PIR while at Chilton Foliat, England.  Several interesting things to note are all paratroops are wearing fixed D-bale helmets with Hawley Fiber Liners (A-frames are tucked between liner and suspension for inspection).  The two closest paratroops are wearing air corps made rigger pouches to carry ammo for the M1 Garand and they carry the long bayonet attached to the upper grommets on the inside of the pistol belt.  All paratroops in this photo that have a M1 Garand are also carrying a M1911A1 as indicated by the .45 magazine pouch.  Lastly several paratroops have brush painted camouflage on their M-42 Jump Suits.


Col. Edson Raff "Little Ceasar" as his troops nicknamed him is escorting First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. You can see the painted camouflage on the trooper is the center.  In this photo you can see the addition of leg ties to hold down the items in the cargo pockets from flapping around while running.


Closer view of items described above.


Great close up view of equipment.  Helmet shell appears to be a standard infantry fixed bale with Hawley Fibre Liner rather than a D-bale paratrooper helmet.


Several interesting things to note.  The camouflage painting appears to have been applied with spray gun and touched up with a brush.  Helmets on both troopers have camouflage paint applied under the camo netting.  Trooper on the left has air corps rigger made pouches and is holding in his right hand a BC - 745 Radio Reciever and Transmitter which was only one component of the SCR - 511 Radio Set.


Col. Edson Raff "Little Ceasar" Commander of the 509th PIR escorts First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.  Note he carries a standard M1 Carbine.  M1A1 Paratrooper Carbines had not yet been issued when the 509th PIR was in England.  Also note his home-made bayonet.


509th PIR practice door exits from "Suzy" which was named after the lady of the estate in which the 509th was using as their billets and training facility.  Note the 503rd "Cat Patch" also painted on the side.   This was originally the patch of the 503rd Parachute Battalion. Originally, plans were that the 504th Parachute Battalion was to become the 2nd Bn 503rd PIR and the 503rd Parachute Battalion was to become the 1st Bn 503rd PIR.  The 2nd Bn went to England and the 1st Bn was to join them later.  Plans changed and 1st Bn went to the Pacific Theater instead.  This is how the "Cat Patch" ended up in both Europe and the Pacific.  Later, when the 2nd Bn 503rd PIR was redesignated the 2nd Bn 509th PIR the patch fell into disuse in Europe.  On the same day this change was made on paper, another order called for the spilt of the 1st Bn 503rd PIR in the Pacific in order to form a 2nd Bn 503rd PIR.   This has led to some confusion for early unit histories.


509th moves to aircraft to conduct a training jump.  Training jumps in England could be hazardous since aircraft could be in the air when a German Air Raid was taking place.  Anti-aircraft guuners and Home Guard on the ground potentially could mistake aircraft and paratroopers as 'bombers and German pilots who bailed out'


509th suits up and conducts final checks for training jump


509th Paratroopers recieve final checks from the Jumpmaster


509th Paratroopers loaded and ready to jump


509ers and possibly Army Air Force personnel relax




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