The Real History of WWII's Band of Brothers
Easy Company, otherwise known as the Band of Brothers, was a part of the 101st Airbourne Division, which was extremely active during WWII. The 101st Airbourne Division was created in 1918, and the Band of Brothers formed in the early 1940s as the Second World War came to a climax. Easy Company was formed to directly support allied European war fronts, and this regiment endured one of the most significant soldier casualty rates during WWII. The real history of WWII's Band of Brothers is a story of courage, bravery, and a group of men who did everything they could to save their country.
Preparing For War
The members who were a part of Easy Company were some of the most in-shape soldiers in the entire 101st Airbourne Division, and they even got to skip parts of training because of this. Generally, the members went through 15 months of training before they were ready for the battlefield.
Training In Georgia
Easy Company started training in 1942, and the main base was established in Camp Toccoa, Georgia, where the paratroopers would perform exercises such as the one pictured below, where a formation of planes practices dropping troops.
Almost all of the soldiers who were a part of Easy Company had no previous experience before joining the war effort, so the incoming soldiers required extensive training, which included terrestrial and avian exercises.
Jumping For The First Time
No amount of training prepared the members of Easy Company in the 101st Airbourne Division for their first jump, and it is unlikely that the majority of the members had jumped out of one before. Before they were allowed to jump, they needed to learn all the inner workings of the parachute equipment.
Over 1,600 men learned how to jump out of planes and dive into combat because of the intense training that Easy Company ( a section of the 206th Parachute Infantry Regiment) provided them with, and they were some of the fittest and most courageous soldiers in the entire 101st Airbourne Division.
Training Was Crucial
A Training Glider
Mishaps In The Sky
Easy Company suffered from some of the highest soldier casualty rates, mostly because aviation technology was not as developed as it is today. Not only were the Band of Brothers trained physically, but also mentally to be able to problem solve in times such as these.
The Commanders Of Easy Company
Leaving Behind Foxholes
Preparing For The Battle Of A Lifetime
The Authorities Perform An Inspection
The Importance Of Equipment
Eisenhower Speaks To The Easy Company
Easy Company Scores A Victory
These 101st Airbourne Division paratroopers always looked forward to these air-dropped supplies, especially since their bodies required so much nourishment after carrying around over 100 pounds of equipment every day.
A Token Of Appreciation
The Band of Brothers missed Christmas back home in 1944 because they were fighting the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne, Belgium in December of that year. The generals of the 101st Airbourne Division understood this sacrifice of both the soldiers and their families, so he sent them a token of appreciation for their time.
A Typical Day For Easy Company
On an average day, members of Easy Company would haul around anywhere from 120 to 150 pounds of equipment, which included their tools for terrestrial combat and their supplies to be able to jump out of the plane (like their parachutes).
Landing On A Field Of Death
Easy Company landed in multiple locations throughout World War II (including Normandy and Bavaria), and oftentimes they would land in a landscape like the one pictured below, where the Earth would be scattered with those who had lost their lives to the war.
The paratroopers who were a part of Easy Company experienced several types of traumas from their war experience, for they saw all of the damage and chaos from far above and had it barreling at them as they tried to land safely on the ground to fight for their life.
Easy Company Was Always Cautious
Last Minute Instructions
Anthony C. McAuliffe was the Brigadier General of the 101st Airbourne Division, and on September 18th, 1944, he gathered his division to give them last-minute instructions as they prepared for battle in England. In the background of the photo you can see the glider planes, and about 16 men could fit into each one.
The Normandy Conflict
Mass For Easy Company
A Moment On Land
They Liberated Multiple Villages
Easy Company's Leisure Time
Taking A Break
Proper nourishment was required for the success of these paratroopers, and another tactic to maintain good health can also be seen in this picture, for the men are airing out their feet at any chance they can to prevent deadly diseases from developing on their skin.
Communication Was Vital
Discussing The Fate Of Easy Company
The Battle of the Bulge was outrageously difficult for the Band of Brothers because it was extremely cold, and they had a high risk of frostbite as they dived to the ground. During the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne, Easy Company suffered 15 casualties.
Boarding The Planes
Easy Company Did More Than Jump Out Of The Planes
A Special Show For The Band Of Brothers
Going To War
Possibly one of the scariest moments for Easy Company was the walk to the C-47 transport plant or Horsa gliders, and one of the most famous marches to the planes took place in England on June 6th, 1944, during Operation Overlord.
The British And Easy Company Collaborate
Flying Into Normandy
Making Mass Jumps
Anybody who is terrified of heights wouldn't have been cut out to be a part of the Band of Brothers, for they had to jump from extremely high heights, which would propel them to the ground at an immense speed, sometimes up to 150 miles per hour.
Jumping For The War Effort
Skydiving can be exceedingly dangerous at high altitudes and airspeeds, and so back in the 1940s, the Band of Brothers were at substantial risk for injuries because of all of the equipment they had to carry.
If Easy Company had to jump from higher heights than the standard procedures, they were at much more risk to be unable to control their landing, which could have resulted in injuries or even death before they reached the battlefield.
Ready To Fight
After the Band of Brothers boarded the planes, jumped off, and landed on the ground, they were ready for combat, but on the way down, they had numerous worries before they reached the ground, such as the fear of random falling weapons from other paratroopers hitting them.
The C-47 was like a sense of safety for Easy Company and any member of the 101st Airbourne Division because it is the last place they are before they have to jump and land into a deadly mission. As soon as they jumped from the plane, their lives became even more at risk as they approached the ground.
The Essential C-47 Plane
They Had Hearts Of Gold
Easy Company had hearts of gold because they had the courage to not only perform their war duties as paratroopers but also cared for those who suffered from the effects of the war effort when they were on land.
The Band Of Brothers Fought On Land
Paratroopers spent most of their time learning how to safely jump out of planes and into combat, but only a fraction of their time was spent in C-47 transport planes and in the air.
It is insane to think that Easy Company spent over a year learning how to skydive into active combat, yet they only spent around five minutes in the air, and the time depended on the weather and how much equipment they had on them.
The Fight In France
Not only did Easy Company parachute into Normandy, but they also helped with the efforts nearby that day at Utah Beach, where they fought on land to clear a German trench, which prevented multiple casualties.
Awarding The Brave
The End Of The War
After the end of the Second World War in 1945, Easy Company essentially disintegrated, but before that could happen, a photo of the surviving paratroopers was taken in Austria in 1945.
Monuments To Celebrate The Soldiers
The Screaming Eagles Were Presented In Various Art Forms
A Piece Of History
Commemorating The Heroes
A plethora of plaques were created across the country to celebrate those who lost their lives while fighting for Easy Company, and in some cases, statues were even erected to celebrate some of the most famous war heroes.
Pictured above is a statue of Major Richard D. "Dick" Winters, who served in an array of battalions, but is most known as the leader of the Band of Brothers in the 1940s.
The Legendary Richard Winters
Major Winters was a fearless and iconic leader for the members of Easy Company, and here he is seen with the American flag in 2000, 55 years after the end of the Second World War.
The Surviving Screaming Eagles
There were 38 people all together at this gathering, and some of the attendees were a part of Easy Company back in the 1940s, and to celebrate the event, the veterans also performed a skydive over Normandy.