Gavin file photo [674]

James Gavin

Given NameJames
Born22 Mar 1907
Died23 Feb 1990
CountryUnited States


ww2dbaseBorn in 1907 in Brooklyn, raised in Pennsylvania, James Gavin joined the US Army at age 17. By 1929, Gavin graduated from West Point, and later became the first commander of the 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment. Gavin is perhaps best known as the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II.

ww2dbaseAccording to one biography, “Jumping Jim” Gavin “led assaults on Sicily and on Salerno Bay, Italy, in 1943, reaching the rank of brigadier general, and jumped with the parachute assault section of the division on the first night of the Normandy Invasion (June 5-6, 1944). Elements of Gavin's section took the town of Sainte-Mère-Église and guarded river crossings on the flank of the Utah Beach landing area.” He continued to lead the 82nd through the end of the war.

ww2dbaseAfter the war, Gavin played a major role in Army research and development, advocating the use of the helicopter in combat. He also served as ambassador to France (1961-1963). An author as well, Gavin penned Airborne Warfare (1947) and On to Berlin (1978) about his experiences in Europe.

ww2dbaseGavin died in 1990.

ww2dbaseSources: Coal Region, Wikipedia

Last Major Revision: Apr 2006

James Gavin Timeline

22 Mar 1907 James Gavin was born.
23 Feb 1990 James Gavin passed away.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
17 Feb 2009 01:27:50 PM

General Gavin jumped with his troops, during the invasion of normandy. How many General Officers were in the lead. The Generals I ever saw, looked like tired miners or alcohlics what an inspiration for the troops.And their jungle fatigues,helmit covers, flack jacket and boots spit shinned.
2. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
24 Feb 2017 12:18:05 AM

The first British General to land in Normandy on D-Day was Major-General Richard Gale, Commander of the 6th Airborne Division. He landed with the main glider force at 0330 with only his A.D.C., his Jeep and driver , a motorcycle despatch-rider and two or three Headquarters staff in his glider.

At 48 years of age, General Gale was considerably older in years than every one of his junior commanders although his mental or physical agility had not been dimiinished by the passing of years. Thirty years in the army (he had fought in the bloody battles of the FIrst World War, winning the Military Cross on 1918.) had moulded his appearance and his character. Six feet three tall, standing straight as a ramrod, and sporting a fiercely bristling moustache he delighted in the knowledge that his subordinates feared his displeasure even more than they feared the Germans.

So confident did he feel that the Invasion would be a success that, while crossing the Channel, he had told his A.D.C. to wake him when they crossed the French coast and then went to sleep. The landing however had been rather rough. His Glider careered across a sunken lane and the resultant bumb had rammed the undercarriage up through the fuselage jamming the General's Jeep in the wreckage. Gale would not wait for it to be extracted. He set off for his headquarters at Ranville on foot, confident that his Division could be relied upon to carry out their appointed battlefield missions whatever the cost.
3. Commenter identity confirmed ALAN CHANTER says:
15 Sep 2020 10:36:33 AM

James Gavin was brought up in the coal-mining town of Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania. An orphan he had been adopted at the age of two but left school at the age of twelve determined to get a job to help with the family coffers. He soon realised that a career as a miner was not for him, and at seventeen ran away to New York where he managed to blag his way into the army, even though he was under age. Posted to Panama he read prodigiously which was noticed by a senior NCO who took the young man under his wing and encouraged him to apply to a local army school – an opportunity for Gavin to better himself, because from there the brightest and best students were encouraged to try for admission to West Point academy. Quickly catching upon his lost schooling he earned a place at the army school of Corozal in the Canal Zone. From there he gained entry into West Point and duly graduated as a Second Lieutenant in June 1929. Service at home and in the Philippines was followed by a return to West Point to study Tactics which was where he was when the US went to war in 1917.

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More on James Gavin
Event(s) Participated:
» Invasion of Sicily and Italy's Surrender
» Normandy Campaign, Phase 1

Related Books:
» The Battle for the Rhine

Famous WW2 Quote
"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You win the war by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country!"

George Patton, 31 May 1944

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