The Filthy Thirteen was the name given to the Demolition Section of the Headquarters Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, of the United States Army, which fought in the European campaign in World War II. This unit was assigned and trained to demolish enemy targets behind the lines. They were ordered to destroy a bridge over the Douve River during the Normandy Invasion of Europe in June 1944, a mission that cost the lives of most of these men. The group was airdropped for the mission by aircraft of the 440th Troop Carrier Group of the U.S. Army Air Forces.
This unit was best known for the famous photo which appeared in Stars and Stripes, showing two members wearing Indian-style "mohawks" and applying war paint to one another. The inspiration for this came from Jake McNiece, who was part Native-American.
After a disciplinary incident while on leave, McNiece joined the "Pathfinders". These were paratroopers sent in ahead of the main force to guide them in. Expected casualties were 80-90%. The pathfinders were dropped into the encircled city of Bastogne at the height of the Battle of the Bulge. Their equipment enabled them to guide in subsequent airdrops of supplies crucial to the continued resistance of the trapped 101st Airborne Division.
E.M. Nathanson's inspiration for his book The Dirty Dozen came from a friend who filmed a documentary during the war that included a unit he believed had been recruited from convicts. Following that lead, Nathanson scoured the archives of prison records from the European Theater of Operation to find any prisoner sent to this organization. His exhaustive research provided no such person, because no such unit of convicts existed. Quite possibly Nathanson's friend was involved in the filming of the preparation for the D-Day jump that included the Filthy Thirteen. While the members of the Filthy Thirteen were made famous by the photographic image of their shaved mokawks and war paint, the still photographer was accompanied by a motion cameraman recording the very same activity. What his friend had most likely heard was the rumors and myth that circulated around the Filthy Thirteen.
While there were similarities between the Filthy Thirteen and the Dirty Dozen, there were also many differences. The name "Filthy 13" referred to the fact that while training in England, they washed and shaved once a week and never cleaned their uniforms.
Read more about Filthy Thirteen: Members
Other articles related to "filthy thirteen":
... However, there was a unit called the "Filthy Thirteen", an airborne demolition unit documented in the eponymous book, and this unit's exploits inspired the fictional account ... Barbara Maloney, the daughter of John Agnew, a private in the Filthy Thirteen, told the American Valor Quarterly that her father felt that 30% of the movie's content was historically correct, including a scene ... Unlike the Dirty Dozen, the Filthy Thirteen were not convicts however, they were men prone to drinking and fighting and often spent time in the stockade ...
... Of the activities of the Filthy Thirteen, Jack Agnew once said, "We weren’t murderers or anything, we just didn’t do everything we were supposed to do in some ways and did a whole lot more than they wanted us ...
Famous quotes containing the words thirteen and/or filthy:
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—Jules Feiffer (b. 1929)
“What images are these
That turn dull-eyed away,
Or shift Times filthy load,
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What heads shake or nod?”
—William Butler Yeats (18651939)