Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Men of 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion in North Africa

Members of the independent American 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion in North Africa. The picture most probably taken between December 1942 and June 1943 when the 509th trained in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco in preparation for the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943. During the invasion of Sicily, the 509th was attached to the 82nd Airborne Division, but was held in division reserve and saw no action in that campaign. You will note the 50 niners are wearing the small gauze 82nd pattern arm flag. The 509th although attached to the 82nd at this time never did adopt the 82nd Patch and in fact had a bad relationship with the "All Americans" during this attachment! Please note that at least the trooper on the left has bar lacing. The Bar Lacing method was intended for the medics to be able to cut easier. Paratroopers and honor guard usually used this method, but sometimes still use ladder lacing due to its distinctive look. The picture was taken by LIFE photographer Robert Capa

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