- Who are we?
We are a group of WWII reenactors from Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois. Our first goal is to portray for the public the 1/401st GIR of the 101st
Airborne division. In order to accomplish this we participate in living history and tactical reenactments throughout the year. Our second goal is to educate the
public about these Americans who sacrificed their so much to preserve the freedoms that we all enjoy today, and ensure that their memories and
experiences are not forgotten. We accomplish this both sharing the results of library research, veteran interviews, and to the extent possible, our experiences.
We are a fairly new WW2 Living History organization with a growing membership and a wide range of members –
with and without prior military and/or re-enacting experience, from young men just out of high school to age-defying ‘seasoned’ members.
We are a member unit of the
World War Two Historical Reenactment Society
We chose the 401 GIR for several reasons, both historical as well as practical.
Being part of the storied 101st Airborne, they participated in the keynote conflicts of the European Theater:
D-Day, hedgerow fighting in Normandy, Operation Market-Garden, the Battle of the Bulge.
Their story is often overlooked compared to their more glamorous brethren, the paratroopers, and we enjoy educating the public
as to their contributions to these historic events. From a practical standpoint, the Glider Troops were equipped much like regular infantry
(“We fight in fatigues, no fancy jump suits, no bright leather jackets, no polished jump boots” from the Glider Rider’s song)
so due to its more generic GI impression you can get started for a relatively lower expense for the uniform and equipment
as compared to the more expensive Paratrooper impression.
We are always looking for new members! If you are interested in learning more about, or joining our unit, please contact us by clicking here:
Events and Participation
- Are there dues, meetings, etc?
- At this time there are no dues or fees charged by the 401st. As a chapter of the WWIIHRS you will pay a $20.00/year membership fee, which helps insure the events in which we participate.
- There are no regularly scheduled meetings or mandatory events. We run a squad training event each year on private property (“Camp Bowen”) in central Wisconsin, and designate a small number of public events as “maximum effort”, meaning that we try to get full membership attendance at these.
- What kind of events do you participate in?
Outside of private training events, there are three types of events we participate in; many are a combination of one or more of these -
- Living History events: These focus on equipment and uniform display, and public education;
- Public Battles: Usually scripted to some extent, occasionally following an actual historical battle (D-Day, etc.), the details being worked out ahead of time by both sides;
- Tacticals: Competitive events fought according to the rules set out by the sponsoring unit and to a lesser event, the Society (e.g., WWIHRS) of which the competing units are a part. Generally not scripted beyond the initial conditions, and not open to public viewing.
- We also participate in parades, veteran recognition ceremonies, and conduct interviews of actual 401st and other Glider Rider vets on an irregular basis.
- Where are these events?
- Reenactments are conducted nation wide and 12 months a year.
- For practical reasons, fair weather months have more opportunities, and we usually stay within half a day’s drive of most members’ homes.
- We have traditionally picked one Big Event worth traveling farther for each year if interest is high enough.
- What do they cost to participate?
- Most events do not cost, in fact, many have inducements (food, free ammo) to get you to participate. These are usually events focusing on Living History / Public Battles.
- Pure tacticals usually require you to provide your own food and ammo. If you camp out, your lodging is “free”, and we ride share to most events when practical.
- How often do they occur?
- There are perhaps 10 events each year when we can get 6 or more members to attend.
- This will grow as membership grows
Ranks, Ratings, and Advancement
- What kind of gear do I need to get started?
A basic field impression (an ‘impression’ is everything you are wearing / carrying with you) will consist of the following: (All will need to be WWII issue or reproductions that match real G.I. items)
- Enlisted man’s Uniform shirt
- Enlisted man’s Uniform pants
- Combat Boots
- M1 steel helmet / liner
- Hat / cap (can’t wear that helmet all the time)
- Web gear (your belts/ suspenders that carry ammo, etc.)
- Canteen and cover, First Aid pouch
- Weapon (M1 Garand is most common)
- Much more can be said on this subject. Contact us directly for additional recommendations.
- What will it cost?
- Most reenactors report that they invest on the order of $1000.00 for a full field impression, more than half of which is tied up in the weapon.
- This varies greatly depending on availability, preferences, your shopping ability, luck, etc
- What is your command structure?
- We have an elected governance structure, supplemented with members volunteering time and effort collectively to plan, organize, and communicate.
- In the field, we have designated squad leaders that conduct our operations as a combat unit during events.
- Does everyone start out as a private?
- Yes. Most armies are comprised of mostly privates, especially Rifle companies.
- We have only recently become large enough to ‘deserve’ our own officers: we have a few NCOs and many riflemen.
- How do I advance?
- A combination of experience, participation, and the respect of your fellow G.I’s.
- If you’re bucking for General, you’re probably in the wrong unit! We are here to honor and portray the ordinary GI who did extraordinary things.
- Who was the 401st Glider Infantry Regiment?
- The 401st was one of the original Regiments making up the 82nd Infantry Division when it was raised in 1942 by a Cadre of NCOs and Officers from the 9th Infantry Division.
- When it was decided to use the 82nd ID as the basis for two new Airborne Divisions, it was assigned to the 101st Airborne along with the 327th GIR, the 325th GIR going to the 82nd Airborne.
- What's their story?
The story of the 401st follows that of the 101st throughout the war in Europe. If you are familiar with HBO’s “Band of Brothers” or the original Stephen Ambrose book of the same name, you know the general outline of the actions in which the 401st participated. As Glider troops, there were some differences. For a detailed look at the History of the 327th/401st look for a copy of SkyRiders by James McDonough and Richard Gardner. A brief outline of their service looks like this:
- Training – Camp Claiborne, 1942, Ft Bragg 1943
- Embarkment on the SS Strathnaver for travel to England
- Brock Barracks, Berkshire, England for invasion training and exercises.
- D-Day – Enter the continent on D-Day+1 on Higgins boats behind the 4th Infantry Division
- St Marie Du Mont, St Come Du Mont, Carentan- assault towns with the 506th PIR and 327th GIR
- Reading, England – Rest, Refit, replacements
- Operation Market-Garden – glide in on Sept 17, 1944 in the Eindhoven area
- ”The Island”, October 5,1944, defend against German counter attacks to hold the salient open between the Lower Rhine and the Waal in the Arnhem – Nijmegen area.
- Mourmelon Le Grand, France, November. Rest, refit, replacements.
- Bastogne. December 18, (Travel by Truck) Hold road junctions southwest of Bastogne. Future author Robert Bowen captured.
- March. Cross the Rhine. Officially become the 3rd battalion of the 327th GIR. Advance to Berchtesgaden, Germany
- May 7, 1945, VE Day. Return to US.
- November, 1945, 101st AB Div deactivated.
Thank a Vet