11th A/B History
For the World War II Weekend at the Reading, PA Airport, we portray Baker Company, 511th PIR, 11th Airborne Division. The 11th Airborne Division fought in the Pacific Theatre of Operations.
The 11th Airborne Division was formed in February 1943 at Camp Mackall, North Carolina. After initial training, the division moved to Camp Claiborne, LA and participated in the Knollwood Maneuvers. Because of their performance in those maneuvers, The U.S. Army's airborne concept was saved. After the high casualty rates and miss-drops in North Africa and Sicily, many in the War Depatment felt that division sized parachute units were unnecessary and should be done away with.
In mid-1944, the 11th Airborne Division set sail for the South Pacific. They arrived in New Guinea to begin their jungle warfare training. While in New Guinea, the 11th's CO, General Swing, set up a parachute school. It was his intention to have as many of his troopers parachute qualified as possible, even the glider troops. By war's end, over 80 percent of the division was airborne qualified.
In November the men of the 11th Airborne entered the fighting in the Philippines. The 11th, or units of the 11th, made several combat jumps during the Philippine campaign. In February of 1945, elements of the 11th executed the raid and subsequent liberation of, over two thousand civilian internees of the Los Banos prison camp. After months of heavy fighting, the division went into reserve to prepare for the Invasion of Japan.
In August of 1945, after Japan's surrender, the soldiers of the 11th Airborne accompanied General Douglas MacArthur to Japan to commence occupation.