The General and His Daughter
The War Time Letters of General James M. Gavin to his Daughter Barbara
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: Fordham University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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This book would never have been written without the war stories, kind words, and encouragement of the World War II veterans of the 82nd Airborne, my dad’s ‘‘boys.’’ It began as ‘‘You ought to put those letters in a book’’ and progressed...
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The General and His Daughter presents for the first time the complete and unabridged wartime correspondence between General James M. Gavin and his daughter Barbara. The 209 letters, which begin when General Gavin...
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Major General James Gavin told me that he wrote letters to his daughter Barbara. Indeed, he wrote to her more than two hundred times while he commanded the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment and later the 82nd Airborne Division...
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History has shown us that there are very few men who become a legend in their own time, and even fewer who have come to be known as a Renaissance man. But during his truly extraordinary and productive life, James M. Gavin easily...
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I was nine when my father left for war. He sailed from the harbor of New York City aboard the troop ship Monterey, a former Matson ocean liner. Just nineteen years earlier he had run away from home to New York to find a new life...
1. The Call to War
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On November 8, 1942, the Allies invaded French North Africa, resulting in the capitulation of the Vichy French colonial forces.1 Expecting complete victory over all Axis forces in North Africa by early spring 1943, plans were formulated for the Allied invasion...
2. Operation Husky - North Africa
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Reaching the coast of North Africa on May 10, the convoy carrying the 82nd sailed into the harbor at Casablanca, French Morocco. While in North Africa, the Division fell under the administrative command of Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark’s Fifth...
3. Operation Husky - Sicily
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Winds strong enough to put the airborne missions at risk began blowing over Sicily during the early hours of July 9; in spite of this, HUSKY had to go on as planned. By late afternoon, the paratroopers of Gavin’s combat team were ready. As they waited beside...
4. Operation Avalanche - Italy
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While still battling on Sicily, Allied command finalized plans, once the island was in hand, for the invasion of the Italian mainland—Operation AVALANCHE. In a two-pronged attack, General Bernard Montgomery and his British Eighth Army would...
5. Operation Overlord / Neptune - United Kingdom
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With orders for the European Theater of Operations, General Ridgway arranged to move the 82nd Airborne Division to the United Kingdom, where the 101st Airborne Division, fresh from the United States and ready to begin training, was already...
6. Operation Neptune - Normandy
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Encountering dense cloud banks and heavy enemy antiaircraft fire as they flew over the coast of Normandy in the predawn darkness of June 5–6, 1944, the transports carrying the paratroopers of Task Force A were unable to maintain their required...
7. Command of the 82nd Airborne Division
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Returning to their bivouac areas in England, the weary troopers were given short furloughs while fresh replacements were integrated into the Division’s units. Though the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment was released, the 508 would remain with...
8. Operation Market-Garden - Holland
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Montgomery’s proposition became a plan—code-named Operation MARKET-GARDEN. Advancing northward from the Belgian–Dutch border, the British Second Army would drive for the Lower Rhine at Arnhem where elements of the British...
9. The Battle of the Bulge - Belgium
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Unable to outflank the Siegfried Line in northern Holland, the Allies elsewhere continued their drive toward Germany, all the while incurring heavy losses in fighting a Wehrmacht ordered by its Führer not to give an inch. Without refitting the depleted...
10. Cracking the Siegfried Line - Germany
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Having once again proven themselves as aggressive and highly successful ground troops during the Battle of the Bulge, the 82nd Airborne Division was thrown into the Allied assault against Germany’s western border defenses. The attack jumped off...
11. A Brief Respite - France
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Anticipating that an airborne operation, most significantly a drop on Berlin, might have to be mounted, the Division was pulled off the line in Germany and returned to its camps in France. Gavin would be able to re-equip and refit the Division after...
12. Back on the Line - The Final Fight
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Returned to Germany, the 82nd Airborne Division was deployed along the western bank of the Rhine River near Cologne. Gavin’s orders were to aggressively patrol the city and its perimeter, while sending patrols across the river to engage and identify...
13. Victory, Russian Camaraderie, and a Visit Home
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On May 7, 1945, the Germans signed an unconditional surrender with all hostilities ordered to cease by midnight, May 8. Twenty-five months earlier, Gavin had written his first wartime letter to Barbara, happy to hear that she was going...
14. Occupation Duty - Berlin
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Germany’s entire infrastructure was damaged or nonexistent, with no civil authority in place and millions homeless and hungry. Though no longer a military threat, the ‘‘soldats’’ of Germany’s Wehrmacht also had to be processed and interrogated...
15. The Call Home
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Gavin received good news—the 82nd Airborne Division was to be returned to the United States, but with that came bad news—the Division would be demobilized upon its return, ceasing to exist in the U.S. Army. With the war over, Army...
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It was December 21. We had received a telegram saying that my dad would arrive in Washington that afternoon. After so many delays and changes, I was afraid to believe it. My mother and I had put up our Christmas tree and were keeping...
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Page Count: 284
Publication Year: 2007