“Battle of the Bulge” 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment 13th Airborne Division Company F what happened January 4, 1945??

+10 votes
“Battle of the Bulge” 513th Parachute Infantry regiment 13th Airborne Division Company F what happened January 4, 1945?? My Great uncle William “Bill” Lionel Gibbs served as a Private, Infantry, U.S. Army during World War II. He was a paratrooper 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR)13th Airborne Division Company F. He resided in Washington County, Vermont prior to the war. William was "Killed In Action" during World War 2 and was awarded the Purple Heart. Service #31340274. I would like to know exactly how he died in January 4, 1945 in Belgium in the “Battle of the Bulge” was he killed in the sky or ground? There is a book we have ordered “The Sky Men” by Kirk B. Ross. His papers say 513th PIR 13th Airborne Division. Was this part of the 17th airborne ?
WikiTree profile: William Gibbs
in Genealogy Help by Andrew Simpier G2G6 Pilot (361k points)
edited by Andrew Simpier
The book I mentioned has my great uncle William “Bill” Lionel Gibbs all in it and his last moments of how he died in chapter 5. Hard for me to read this part but we now know what happened in his last moments. He is immortalized in this book. An amazing resource for our family. Book name is The Sky Men: A Parachute Rifle Companys Story of the Battle of the Bulge and the Jump Across the Rhine. By Kirk B. Ross.  I recommend everyone read this book.
William L Gibbs Pvt, KIA is listed with 17th Airborne, 513th PIR on page 117 of "Thunder from Heaven" Story of the 17th Airborne Div 1943-1945 and also on the "Roll of Honor" 17th Airborne Div (ww2-airborne.us).

The 4 Jan date has the 513th at "Deadman's Ridge" sw of Bastogne, Belgium and quite a story you might find personal info in various accounts.

To get exact details you might try a FOI Freedom of Information Request with the DOD. It is a process you can find on their website. may take awhile.


I never knew about those other sources. “Thunder from Heaven” and I haven’t tried the FOI yet but this is very helpful  and appreciated. 

Thank you yes

Edit: book is out of print will be a challenge getting a copy. I will try to get this book if possible smiley

My dad was 513th both 13th Div and 17th so there is a lot of time spent here!

At 8:15 a.m. on January 4, 1945, in the middle of a snow storm, the 17th Airborne and other units began the Allied counter-offensive in the southern part of the Bulge.  The 17th Airborne was a green unit and this would be their first day of combat.  The battle would be fought along a ridge line that followed the Bastogne-Marche Highway, an area about 10 miles west of the town of Bastogne.  Digging in along the ridge and using armor to counter-attack, the Germans repelled several of the 17th's attacks.    Over the course of the next  nine days,  the Division's casualties were catastrophic and several battalions were nearly annihilated.  The fortified ridge would latter be dubbed "Dead Man's Ridge" since so many men lost their lives trying to take it.

copied from Hugh McLain (http://thedropzone.org/europe/Bulge/Mclain.html)

I doubt their "first day of combat' as the 513th reinforced the 508th in Dec, but "green" maybe an ok description.

Patton was demanding the offensive and apparently pretty harsh with Ridgeway almost relieving him of command. He later apologized when he realized the 17th had been up against the full might of the after Bulge forces.

That is a great detail of the event especially the snow storm! Thank you very much appreciated! Tragic losses for the families of them brave men who fought there.
Those guys were true heroes with everything they endured! Amazing generation
Yep, makes us look pretty "whiney" sometimes! Maybe truly the "greatest generation".

Good book on 513th is "Four Hours of Fury" James Fenelon lots of credit to glider riders as well...not often heard. (Fury is Operation Varsity and whole 17th Airborne. two months after Pvt Gibbs died, but  a good read.)

If you have a pic of Pvt Gibbs you could add it to https://www.ww2-airborne.us/units/513/513_trp.html

It makes the story more complete for all of us.

Also, a Frenchman or Belgium wrote this tribute to 513th...


Very interesting. The Europeans haven't forgotten.

4 Answers

+11 votes
Best answer

The 513th did not jump into Belgium, so your great uncle was probably killed on the ground.  Hope that helps.


by Living Tardy G2G6 Pilot (732k points)
selected by Pip Sheppard
Thank you yes this does help! I noticed his paperwork I have on his profile to view says 513th parachute Infantry 13th airborne. Was the 13th separate  from the 17th. These two divisions both have a 513th. I have all his info on his profile.


Kind regards


Wikipedia says the 513th was originally part of the 13th Airborne, but transferred to the 17th Airborne in 1944.  Here's another link with more details about their actions in the Battle of the Bulge:  http://17th-airborne-in-the-bulge.eklablog.com/the-bulge-513th-pir-p322576

Thank you! Yes this helps so much. The confusing part was his papers said 513th PIR 13th airborne division then I read how 513th was 17th division. Yes I want to know what happened every detail of his day that he died to get the story we never were given
My pleasure!  I hope you find the story.
+8 votes
Hi Andrew,

Small problem here.  According to this site on the 13th Airborne did not make landfall on Continent Europe until 10 Feb 1945.  http://www.ww2-airborne.us/18corps/13abn/13_order_battle.html  And never entered combat.

Also, both this site and WikiPedia ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/13th_Airborne_Division_(United_States ) do not show a 513th PIR for the 13th Airborne.  There is a 513th Airborne Signal Company in the 13th though.

So, I believe he was in the 17th Airborne which had a 513th PIR as per Herbert's answer with the data he supplied.  This fits your Uncle's bio.

http://www.ww2-airborne.us/18corps/17abn/17_overview.html  and  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/17th_Airborne_Division_(United_States)
by LJ Russell G2G6 Pilot (193k points)
Thank you! Yes this helps. I have his certificates of completing his training and pics of him etc. on his profile; so this definitely helps try to figure out what happened that fateful day January 4, 1945. What really happened to him that day as I mentioned was he killed in air or ground and appears on ground.


Kind regards


He was definitely killed in a ground operation and not an air operation. The weather during this time was horrible to iffy.  I believe all troops were trucked in to the Battle of the Bulge and no airborne operations were ever undertaken for 2 reasons.  The weather and the front was so fluid as to make planning a jump almost impossible.  However, they were flown to Reims so they could move into the battle.

From 23 to 25 December, elements of the (17th) Division were flown to the Reims area in France in spectacular night flights. These elements closed in at Mourmelon. After taking over the defense of the Meuse River sector from Givet to Verdun, 25 December, the 17th moved to Neufchateau, Belgium, then marched through the snow to Morhet, relieving the 28th Infantry Division, 3 January 1945. 

Per the 17th Airborne site.  So sadly, I would say William was killed in ground action around Morhet Belgium which is about 4 miles west of Bastonge.

Thank you


This information is so helpful and vital in my recreation of events for my Great uncle William “Bill” Lionel Gibbs and his division. He was a farm boy like so many of that time living with his newlywed wife who was Olive Blanche Maxham. She was left a widow and remarried. The family he came from was very large 15 kids total with 14 living to adulthood. None of them ever forgot his service to our nation and his sacrifice. He never got to live a full life with his wife and have kids, but he won’t be forgotten. Memorial Day is special to us. The day January 4, 1945 will never be forgotten by the family. All the information about this day as you provided helps us immensely. We are so appreciative. It would appear he died on the ground and not in the air as is documented in the historical facts and a question we always had asked was he killed in a jump or on the ground so this narrows it down and helps us with the story of that fateful day for so many not just great uncle “Bill” but his buddies and those in his division  and company  

Kindest regards

+5 votes

On the day, the 513th PIR was attacking in this general area:

Here's a detailed account of the action, for the 3rd battalion of the 513th.  Do you know which battalion your great uncle was in?
by Living Tardy G2G6 Pilot (732k points)
I do not have the battalion but will see if I can get the info. That town circled I’ve seen mentioned on this day related to division operation. Thank you for posting map view it narrows down the general area.
Picture in my photo gallery shows great uncle Bill and buddies with airplanes in background. Sorry for poor quality of photo. Has the subtitle on photo

Company F getting ready to jump, Fort Benning, Georgia November 1943
Hey Andrew, it was probably 2nd battalion.  I did some googling on WW II infantry regiment organization and found that Companies A-D made up 1st battalion, Companies E-H made up the 2nd, and Companies I-L the 3rd.  I also browsed through your excellent profile.  I think you have a great deal of information for piecing together the circumstances (location, type of action, etc) of your great uncle's death.  If you know his platoon or the name of his lieutenant, you might be able to narrow it down further.  I doubt that you will get any more specific answer than that, unless you are lucky enough to find an eyewitness account that mentions him by name.

The other town prominent in the reports, Flamierge, is near the left-hand side of the oval on the map, where the roads form a sharp angle.  A slightly tighter zoom on googlemaps brings out the name.

Good luck!
This is excellent! Thank you
My pleasure, and thank you for the star!
I found his full obituary he was in the 17th airborne as mentioned and transferred from the 13th. I posted the pic. I’ll get better photos scanned!!! I typed out his obituary for easier reading
+4 votes
You can order his Individual Deceased Personnel File  (IDPF) from St. Louis. It should give you the location and cause of death.
by Barbara Geisler G2G6 Mach 1 (13.7k points)
Oh nice! Where do I do this ?
Andrew, you could order from St. Louis, which might take a year, or hire a private researcher.  Here is the link for the archives:  https://www.archives.gov/st-louis.   The files have been digitized through the letter M, so it should be available for you to request.  There is also the OMPF , Official Military Personnel File.  I do believe that can also be ordered from St. Louis.   Perhaps a researcher could do both?
Thank you this helps so much :)

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