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Remembering World War II
Name: Arnold Douglas DeRenne Rank: Private First Class Service Number: 31217301 Service: Company E, 327th Glider Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, US Army Awards: Purple Heart Date of Birth: November 21, 1919 Place of Birth: Wakefield, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts Date of Enlistment: November 30, 1942 Place of Enlistment: Portland, Cumberland County, Maine Age at Enlistment: 23 Address at Enlistment: Baldwin, Cumberland County, Maine Height: 5 feet, 5 inches Occupation: Farm hand Marital Status: Single Date of Death: September 19, 1944 Age: 24 Cemetery: Forest Glade Cemetery, Wakefield, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Arnold Douglas DeRenne was the son of George H. DeRenne (1876–1950) born in Eel Brook, Yarmouth Co., NS, and Josephine A. (Gavel) DeRenne (1892–1965) born in Gavelton, Yarmouth Co. NS. His paternal grandfather George Henry DeRenne (1846-1896) was a fresco painter born in Amiens, France who immigrated to Canada in the 19th Century. Arnold’s mother was born in Gavelton, in Yarmouth Co. NS. In 1920 and 1930, the family was living on Cordis Street in Wakefield, Mass. In 1940, the family lived in Baldwin, Cumberland Co., Maine. At the time of his enlistment, Arnold was single and employed as a farm hand. After enlistment in 1942, Arnold served in Company E, 327th Glider Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division in the US Army. In the fall of 1942, the 327th headed to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina to began training with CG-4a ‘Waco’ gliders. Landing in a glider wasn’t easy and some of the landings resulted in serious injuries as the glider snagged trees or fence posts, tearing up the men inside. Still, it allowed a platoon of troops to deploy relatively close without having to assemble before conducting their mission. On September 5, 1943, the whole of the 101st Airborne Division departed New York and set sail for England. On September 15th the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment unloaded from the RMS Samaria (formerly the SS Samaria of the Cunard White Star Line) at Liverpool, England. They were then moved to Camp Ranikhet in Tilehurst, near Reading, where they continued to train and learn about the British Horsa gliders. During the winter, code names and emblems were given to each unit. The 327th received the code name "Keepsake" and the "Club", or trefoil, emblem. The 327th participated in two Command Post exercises during December of 1943. The first exercise was on December 10-11, and the second was December 28-29. These exercises included parachute jumps, glider landings, and supply drops. In the early part of 1944, the troops began preparing for D-day with three different exercises. When the Allied commanders decided to drop both the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions simultaneously into Normandy on D-Day June 6, 1944, the number of available aircraft to tow gliders was greatly reduced. Therefore the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment was not fully committed to battle until the day after the invasion, put ashore by landing craft on the beach at Utah with the 4th Infantry Division. When the regiment was assembled, they marched to Carentan to cut off the fleeing Germans. The regiment reached Carentan on June 9th. At 2200 hours on the following day, the 327th attacked a bridge over the Canal de Vire-et-Taute and advanced through a wooded area, where they became pinned under heavy fire. The regiment received reinforcements form in the from of the 29th Infantry Division helping to breakthrough the German lines and capture the high ground. Although causalities were high, they accomplished their mission and the regiment was removed to England, arriving in Southampton, in Hampshire, England on July 13, 1944, to prepare for its next mission. The next combat operation for the regiment was Operation Market Garden, the airborne invasion of Holland. Unlike General Gavin, General Maxwell Taylor, commander of the 101st Airborne Division, opted to dedicate his glider regiment early and wait on his artillery. This meant that the 327th saw combat much earlier than the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment. On September 18 (D+1), over 160 gliders took off from England destined for Holland. Another 40 gliders arrived on the following day. The 327th landed at Landing Zone W and immediately took up positions around the village of Son in the Son en Breugel Municipality. No sooner had they landed when they were attacked by the 107th Panzer Brigade hoping to recapture the Son bridge. The glider troops managed to hold them off for two days, until the Germans finally gave up and refocused their efforts further north. Arnold was killed in action in the fighting on September 19, 1944.
Angus Douglas DeRenne
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Members of the 327th GIR march to waiting gliders on Sept. 18, 1944