Battle Study # 9       

Study Title: Footsteps of Private Reese

Subject: Battle Detective Assignment to create maps plotting the actions of Private Grady R. Reese of "Dog" Company of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War Two

Date: June, July, September 1944

Location: France, Holland

 

Introduction: Through the contact form on this website, we received this request from the son of a veteran of “D”-Co./502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment:
I am trying to trace my father's steps on d-day & market garden. Pvt Grady R. Reese (junior) serial # 34822101 - 101st-2nd bn - co.d - 3rd pl. wounded 9-18-44 near Best. Please e-mail.
Thanks - Stanley
"

 

 

Private Grady R. Reese

 

The 'assignment': After an e-mail correspondence was established, we accepted Stanley’s assignment and explained our conditions (publication on this website as a reward for our efforts).
Stanley explained his whishes in more detail:

For the past two years I have been trying to put together a tribute to honor my father's military service. He was a member of the 101st airborne, 502nd pir, 2n bn, co d, 3rd pl.
I would like to have a copy of an invasion map showing his drop zone and where he landed & traveled from the time he landed in France on D-Day about 12:48 AM until he returned to England around July 28th(?). What battles he fought in, towns he would have likely traveled through or fought for. I would like to have his course plotted on a map with the rest of his unit. […]If possible I would like to have them in a 11x14 or 16x22 or even poster size suitable for professional framing to add to this tribute. […]

This is the information I have from him in a taped interview done by my brother about 10 years
before he passed in 1996:

He boarded his plane (no. 18) and jumped in France about 0048AM on June 6th. He landed in a field
by himself but saw 5 of his buddies land across the road from him were he joined them. He talked about them finding three of his fellow troopers hanging in a barn.
He spoke of encountering a group of Russian mercenaries. He said they knew they were Russian
because they could hear their officers barking out orders in Russian. He also brought back some
Russian coins. He also obtained a map case from a German SS courier on the 18th of June, 1944 because he signed and dated the map case & I have it today with the German SS soldiers name & number in it.
I believe he fought for the town of Carentan but I am not completely sure. […] In France […]he went with the 101st/2nd 502 all the way from where he jumped on the 6th June till he returned to England, I think by Boat/Ship. I don't know what date that would be.

I would also like a map of the Holland drop zones and were he landed there on the 17th, Sept.44. He
was sent on a scouting assignment on the 18th. His sergeant told him a group of Germans had a
company of men pinned down and he was to go as second scout to check it out. He stated that mortar shells started to fall and he became injured. […] When he jumped in Holland he did not mention his plane (chalk) number or serial. I know his travels in Holland were limited as he jumped on the 17th, was wounded on the 18th, sent to an aid station that came under fire and evacuated to
another aid station/field hospital near Best and then to another Hospital in Belgium, then evacuated back to England. […] I remember my father told me that the last thing he did before he left Holland was that he gave his rifle to a member of the Dutch underground. They too sacrificed greatly during the war. […]If you go back to Chip Cifone’s web site and check his web museum you will find photos of his helmet & liner that shows the damage caused by an inconsiderate German.


These are pictures of both the liner as the outer paratrooper helmet shell. Note damage to left top of both liner and steel shell and the unit markings of 2nd Battalion of the 502nd Regiment.

 

(click on images to enlarge)

steel helmet

left side (damage)

helmet liner

left side (damage)

steel helmet

right side

helmet liner

right side

 

We agreed on creating the map of Holland first.

 

 

By analyzing books, after Unit Action Reports and information provided by Stanley, we were able to retrace the steps of Private Reese during D-Day and D+1 of Operation “Market Garden”.

We created a map detailing his locations and incidents.


This is the map:

 



 

Our ‘client’ was pleased with the result, judging from his post on a popular World War Two internet forum:
"Battle Detective" […] was able to construct a map showing my father's steps in Holland from the moment he landed on Dutch soil, hour by hour until he was wounded & returned to England. Not only did he create this at great expense of time and personal resources but he would not allow me to buy him a meal to show appreciation. I now realize that he did this to honor what my father did there and as a personal tribute to him. Tom...I am grateful to you.

The map of Pvt Reese’s footsteps in France during the 101st Division’s baptism of fire, is a work in progress at this time.
To be continued…

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