US PARAS Batcheller, Herbert Frank

John Robertson

Staff member
Herbert Frank
  • UNIT
508 Parachute Infantry Regiment (HQ Company 1 Bn - Commanding Officer)
  • RANK
Lieutenant Colonel
7th June 1944
  • AGE
Normandy American Cemetery, France Plot G Row 28 Grave 15
from Hennepin County, Minnesota
born 22.07.1909 Hillyard, Washington, USA
father Herbert Milo Batcheller (1881-1973)
mother Mabel Pauline (nee Peterson) Batcheller (1891-1972)
1935 graduated West Point
award D.S.O. (GB)
KIA Normandy
Herbert Batcheller was born 22 July 1909 at Hillyard, Washington (a suburb of Spokane). He attended grade and high schools in Kalispell, Montana, and Great Falls, Montana and entered the University of Washington (Engineering Course) in 1929 and attended the University for two years. In the summer of 1931, while on Kodiak Island, Alaska, with the Coast and Geodetic Survey, Herb was notified that he had been appointed to the United Stated Military Academy from Montana. He entered the Academy on 1 July 1931.

Herb graduated as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Infantry on 12 June 1935 and on 28 July 1935, while on graduation leave, was married in St. Michael's Cathedral, Boise, Idaho, to Sylvia Gardner of Boise, Idaho and Boston, Massachusetts.

In September 1935, Herb reported to the 16th Infantry at Fort Jay, N.Y., for temporary duty, prior to sailing for Puerto Rico in December 1935, where he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 65th Infantry, at Henry Barracks. He was attached to "D" Company of the 65th when that company won the Howard Clark Machine Gunners Trophy in 1937. While in Puerto Rico, he helped prepare the first complete detailed contour map of the island and a saddle in the hills south of Cayey was named after him. He also began flying while there and qualified for his private pilot's license. His oldest son, was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, on 20 July 1937.

In April 1938, Herb reported to Fort Benning and was attached to the Department of Experiment. While with this Department, he was a member of the 1st Test Platoon, doing special work which later resulted in the setting up of the parachute training center.

He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on 12 June 1938, after which he attended and graduated from the Regular Infantry School Course, 1938-1939. Upon graduation, he was assigned to the 24th Infantry at Ft. Benning. While with the 24th, he bought a small plane and did a great deal of flying in his spare time. His youngest son, William Angus Batcheller, was born at Fort Benning, on 28 August 1939. He served as special aide and interpreter to the South American officers who visited Benning in the Fall of 1940. He was promoted to Captain, 9 September 1940.

On 16 March 1942, Herb was ordered to the Parachute School at Ft. Benning to take the training course. Having a broken coccyx at the time (the result of a motorcycle accident), he had to pad himself with sponge rubber so as to be able to get through jump training without the medicos finding out about the accident. He graduated from the course on 2 May 1942 us a qualified parachutist and was assigned to the 504th Parachute Iufautry as Battalion Commander of the 3rd Battalion.

Herb was assigned to the 505th Parachute Infantry (The Black Panther Regiment) upon its activation in May 1942. Immediately thereafter, he was placed in charge of a group of officers sent to Great Britain to study British Airborne methods. He worked with the British 1st Airborne Division while there and went on at least one commando raid with that unit.

In December 1942, Batch became Executive Officer of the 505th and was promoted to Lieut. Colonel on 22 December 1942. He went overseas with the 505th to Africa, Sicily and Italy, and made the first combat jump with that regiment on 9 July 1943, on Sicily. When Colonel Jim Gavin was promoted to Brigadier General, Herb became acting CO of the 505th and commanded it through the rest of the Italian campaign. In Naples, the officers of the regiment presented him with an inscribed silver cup in celebration of their entry into the city. Their regimental colors were the first to enter Naples.

During the Italian campaign, the regiment was attached to a British Division for a few days. This action was illustrated by a letter to his wife, as follows: "My combat team was just attached to British Armored Division for four or five days, but it was great sport while it lasted. We rode tanks forward in daylight and fought forward on foot at night, when the armor went into harbor. There were plenty of mines, booby traps, mortar and artillery fire, but the most exciting action was that which we had around the Command Post of my assault battalion in the wee hours one night. I had developed an infection in my right hand from brier scratches. Without much attention, my forearm started to ache, so I decided to go forward where I could keep in close touch with the situation and get a little medical attention at the same time. One company had pushed on the far side of a little village and we had gotten well set up on the near side with a CP in a little stone railway section hut. I had my fist in a basin of hot Epsom salts when the fireworks started. Apparently, the assault company had either done a poor job of clearing out the place or a German patrol had moved in on our flank. Anyway, the machine pistol bullets started to spatter on the outside of the building and then the machine gun tracers flashed through our area. I expected an enemy mortar or some artillery fire to register at any moment, but decided that would be no worse than being riddled by a machine pistol at short range, so continued to soak my paw until the Boche were forced to withdraw". For service during this period Herb received the Distinguished Service Order—one of two awarded to members of the 82nd Airborne Division during the war. The decoration was formally awarded on 8 February 1944, while the regiment was in England. Herb's services in Italy might well be summed up by a letter, dated 10 October 1943, which reads:

Following the Italian Campaign, Herb's Division was transferred to England to participate in the Normandy Invasion. It was during this important action that his career was brought to a close. After his unit had successfully dropped behind the German beach defenses he was killed in action by a sniper in Normandy on 7 June 1944, and buried at Sainte Mere Eglise, Normandy. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the French Croix de Guerre with palm, 30 October 1945.

This biography was gleaned from





Distinguished Service Order : On 4 October 1943, the armor of a British Brigade was held up by enemy covering demolitions and mines on the road north of Qualiano, Italy. Two parachute infantry battalions and an artillery battalion under the command of Lieutenant Colonel BATCHELOR went into action under highly unfavourable weather conditions and during the night captured Villa Litterno and established positions on the canal north of the village. This operation prevented the enemy from completing his demolition program. During the next 24 hours, by aggressive patrolling and skillful offensive action, the regiment cleared the area of the enemy on the Brigade front. Throughout the operations Lieutenant Colonel BATCHELOR was constantly with his forward troops. His initiative, drive and personal courage were and example to those under his command, and his conduct was largely responsible for aggressiveness of his troops in driving the enemy north of the Volturno River, despite heavy enemy mortar fire and counterattacks.

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