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  #1  
Old 11-29-2016, 07:45 PM
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Jacknola Jacknola is offline
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General Gavin, and the WWII airborne Randall

This picture of General Gavin gearing up for the Market-Garden jump into the Netherlands has been seen many times. But this one is colorized and it is a very very good job. I thought collectors would enjoy this shot.





General Gavin, commanding the 82nd Airborne during Market Garden, was the youngest Major General division commander in the Army. And he is almost certainly personally responsible for the popularity of Randall knifes in the WWII airborne that carried over to the Special Forces.

Such future Generals as Westmoreland and Singlaub were aware to Gavin's famous Randall and acquired their own either during WWII (Singlaub) or later (Westy). Also a great many airborne troopers followed General Gavin's lead and acquired their own Randalls in WWII...continuing into peacetime and into the Korean Sar era. These veteran paratroopers formed the nucleus of Special Forces when that unit was stood up in early 1950s. They continued the airborne connection with the Randall knife to such a degree that it eventually became identified as "required" SF trooper equipment. In my opinion, that SF connection was a major reason for the diffusion of Randall knives throughout the US forces during Vietnam as SF proceeded all the conventional forces into the fray.

Last edited by Jacknola; 11-30-2016 at 09:33 AM.
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  #2  
Old 11-30-2016, 01:27 PM
Sligo Sligo is offline
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Truly , like you said the Randall "legend" was born with these guys, thanks for sharing !
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  #3  
Old 11-30-2016, 06:30 PM
Ta2bill Ta2bill is offline
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Great pics / story! Thanks!
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Old 12-01-2016, 05:52 AM
jeepster jeepster is offline
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"Jumping Skinny Jimmy Gavin" Airborne All The Way!
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  #5  
Old 12-01-2016, 11:27 AM
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Jacknola Jacknola is offline
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My father was KIA in Normandy June 20, 1944. He commanded a 3/508 pathfinder stick, "chalk 18," on the D-Day jump and joined the withdrawal to Hill 30 with the survivors of the 508 pathfinders. When his camera was returned with his effects, it had film in it and one of the pictures was this one.. It took some time and face matching to confirm that this is a picture of General Gavin and Col. Vandervoort thought to be taken on Hill 30 approximately June 14. This pic was obviously a furtive shot because the troopers were not supposed to have cameras. Too bad he didn't capture an image of Gen. Gavin's famous Randall knife.



In any case it is a picture that has not been published. This picture does show the up-close-personal nature of Gen. Gavin's command style. He was called the best General officer squad commander in the world. How he survived the war is a mystery... four combat jumps...
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Old 12-01-2016, 12:00 PM
Ta2bill Ta2bill is offline
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Great picture Jack!
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Old 12-04-2016, 03:58 AM
Sligo Sligo is offline
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Thanks for sharing !
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Old 12-06-2016, 12:45 AM
jeepster jeepster is offline
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Man I hate to do this Jack but that is neither Vandervoort or Gavin.
Ronnie
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Old 12-06-2016, 12:53 AM
jeepster jeepster is offline
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Here is a good shot of his Randall. Click on the photo to make it larger.
Btw that is Maj. Gen Mat Ridgway Gavin is talking with. I have no idea who the trooper is seated in the chair.
Ronnie
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_3207.JPG (33.3 KB, 23 views)

Last edited by jeepster; 12-06-2016 at 03:45 AM.
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  #10  
Old 12-06-2016, 11:01 AM
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Jacknola Jacknola is offline
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Ronnie, you should to be familiar enough with my methodologies to know I do not post unsubstantiated avowals. And, I am careful to differentiate my "opinions" from researched fact? And I will usually give the reasons for my "opinions" after first identifying them as an opinion.

In this case, face matching such as this composite picture (below) was backed up by some computer tools used by law enforcements. Further, the actual event when this photo was probably taken was subject of questions during interviews of a lot of 508 PIR veterans. Several remembered a ?formation? and inspection by General Gavin probably sometime between the 12th and 14th June, probably on Hill 30 (Note: one trooper thought it happened later, on about 16-17 June after the 3rd battalion was split off and camped north of Pomt l'Abby). Well, there is another picture from Lt. Gene Williams? camera that seems to shows that ?inspection? underway (see below).

Several of the surviors I interviewed in 2002 remembered an officer accompanying General Gavin, and two or three mentioned they thought it could have been Vandervoot, based on later reflection. They specifically mentioned that General Gavin frequently liked to have in Vandervoot in his company.

But I?m not trying to prove a case for that photo here on a Randall chat board. That case has been made and thoroughly discussed and generally accepted elsewhere on the historical boards. In my opinion, the accumulated evidence is pretty conclusive. Still, you are welcome to your opinion whatever the reasons for it may be.




Last edited by Jacknola; 12-06-2016 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 12-06-2016, 11:54 PM
jeepster jeepster is offline
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Jack I hate to get you ruffled up but that just isn't Gavin and Van. I know what I'm talking about. I tried to copy your photo and send to friend in my sphere....Ben Vandervoort Jr. If you will fix the photo so I can copy or send me a copy I will be glad to set the record straight on this matter.
There are several signs in this photo that tip one off that that is not Gavin....besides the obvious reason of it doesn't look anything like him. The same goes for Van.
You are right about one thing. Gavin was very fond of Vandervoort. He was convinced that Vandervoort was his best Battalion Commader. That was the reason the 05 got the job of capturing Ste. Mere Eglise on June 6, 1944. Where incidentally my cousin, 1st Lt. Waverly W. Wray, XO D Co. 2nd Bat 505th PIR 82nd AB was nominated for the CMH for actions on June 7th 1944....down graded to the DSC. The 05 always got the tuff jobs.
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  #12  
Old 12-07-2016, 10:26 AM
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Ronnie I'll send you that picture, though I don't know why you cannot copy it. It is in photobucket and anyone can copy the picture. As a D-day airborne historian, I am open to new information. However, allow some gentle disagreement. The software I had employed on this picture indicated a 90 percent certainty match of the inserted faces and those in the snapshot. I think you might lose a vote about the similarity of the faces in that overlay/picture...but as I said, you are free to draw your own conclusions. It is probably not appropriate to rehash the discussion about this picture that has taken place elsewhere. Suffice to say it is accepted by the 508th association historical website.

Allow me to mention that I am airborne qualified and I experienced small unit combat with the 5th SF in Vietnam. I spent 10 days walking the airborne battlefield in Normandy (which is quite small) visualizing it from the standpoint of my combat experience. In addition to collecting a serious amount of published and unpublished data, I have interviewed dozens of paratroopers that made that night jump. I have an article that I will publish some day entitled "The Secrets of DZ "N."

Note: Gavin was supposed to jump into "N" but was dumped into the Merderet river, a few of miles north. This picture of Gavin was taken during the reorganization of the 508 on Hill 30 after the forcing of the Merderet and before the 508 was committed in the cross-Douve assault which resulted in the capture of Baupte. (the Baupte attack relieved 101st abn div in Carantan from the counter-attack by the 17th SS panzer grenadier division and 6th parachute reg.)

I somewhat disagree about the 505th, heroic and famous as they are. The toughest jobs on D-day for the 82nd were across the river. The job of the 505th was made somewhat less strenuous because they were closer to the landing forces. They did their job well.. but were tremendously helped by the geography of their drop zone compared to what was faced by the 507th and 508th across the river (that will be part of the article I'll publish.)

The 508th people always felt that they were thrown into the most advanced positions D-Day, Holland, Bulge, because they were attached, not assigned, to the 82nd. There were some mixed feeling toward the 82nd command that were carried for life by the 508. When they disbanded the regimental association in 2002, they gave their accumulated memorabilia to the museum at Camp Blanding instead of the 82nd museum at Ft. Bragg.

But I will never judge or compare airborne units against each other. Those were some amazing outfits.



Above, "chalk 18" 3/508 Pathfinders, commanded by Lt. Gene Williams top left without face blacking, moments before departure for Normandy. The three 508th pathfinder sticks flew in Chalk 16, 17, and 18 and pretty much held position throughout the jump, but were jumped 2 clicks south of the DZ target... which was actually lucky. Had they jumped where they were supposed to, none would have survived. Even so, the 508 pathfinders jumped into a bivouac area and lost half their force almost immediately and only 2 lights and one Eureka set (and probably one BUPS set) were turned on.

Last edited by Jacknola; 12-08-2016 at 01:48 PM.
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Old 12-07-2016, 05:12 PM
jeepster jeepster is offline
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Btw if you had your dad's M42 uniform with the camp paint you would be holding a very very nice chunk of money.
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Old 12-07-2016, 05:58 PM
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Actually they did not paint their uniforms... the mottled look is because of the application of a gas resistant treatment. The gas treatment reportedly made the uniforms pretty uncomfortable. I think only the 505 pathfinders painted camouflage on their fatigues. Quite a few 508 troopers used cloth from the cammo parachutes to cover their helmets a la Marines in the Pacific. Most took it off pretty quick because it looked like Germans.

Yes this combat uniform would be an amazing artifact. Our family had a lot of his possessions returned including his Rolex watch, many uniform items, his leather coat with the 508 patch on the front, dress jump boots (left in England), etc. My mother lost most of those items through the years...sad. I have one coverall uniform and a few odds and ends, patches, medals, brass, wings, and original 508 patch, etc.

What happened to his combat uniform is a story in itself and was widely reported and commented on. I wont repeat the details here. Suffice to say I met one of the men responsible at one of the reunions and he was pretty apologetic about it all. I also talked to two troopers who were present when he was KIA. They cleared up some questions and I've visited the exact site. But this has nothing to do with Randalls. Regards.



The picture upper right is the only known picture of all six of the 508 PIR pathfinder officers for the Normandy night jump. Only Lt. Weaver survived the war.


Last edited by Jacknola; 12-08-2016 at 10:41 AM.
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Old 12-07-2016, 11:30 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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Unhappy My condolences Jacknola

Looking at these pictures brings back memories of my Uncle who I was named after kind of. His name was James and they named me Jimmie because that is what they all called him. He landed on Omaha beach and would not hardly ever talk about it. I never understood why until I went to VN. It makes me emotional to see these pictures Jack, my heartfelt condolences for losing your father, he looks so young. You must have been very young, do you remember him? For what it's worth that picture looks like Gavin at the very least.

I carried a standard M14 bayonet and a cheap used Ruger .357 Blackhawk my brother sent me. It was a single action. I also carried a Swiss Army pocket knife with a bunch of attachments, I used that thing all the time. To call it a lifesaver would be no exaggeration as it was used to fix many things including a 105mm recoilless rifle with a malfunctioning firing mechanism.

If you know someone deployed overseas send them a swiss Army Knife, a Huntsman model like I had with a case or a good but smaller model Leatherman type tool (weight). To be honest I do not remember exactly the model I had, but it had a lot of tools and I think it was a Huntsman. Those were the knives I carried. The knife that sticks out in my memory was the big Bowies that a few guys had, They were made by Western Knife Co. I remember from pictures that some guys had Randalls, but it wasn't something I remember well. There were a lot of knives as you can imagine.
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