Mid November I have found an original jacket with an Artillery chest patch. There was a name written inside it, "T. Swirczynski ", and after some research I soon found a Thomas Swirczynski in the 377th PFAB. I immediately bought this jacket, and asked the seller if he maybe had more items from the garages sale where the jacket came from. Coincidentally, he also had a flag which was taken as a souvenir with the text: "377th PARACHUTE F. A. BN. 101 A.B. Div. Sept. 25 1944 ". This was the ultimate proof for me that it concerned Thomas B. Swirczynski, wich is also mentioned in a few books, including one of Michel De trez's amazing books, Orange is the color of the day.
In Normandy, the 377th PFAB lost 11 of the 12 Howitzers, causing the PFAB men to fight as infantrists. Lieutenant Swirczynski gathered 33 men and in the evening of June 7th they captured 130 German soldiers near Ravenoville. Coincidentally, we visited this place several times during 75 years of D-Day, not knowing that half a year later I could include personal items from a veteran who fought there in my exhibition.
Thomas Swirczynski also participated in Operation Market Garden. On Tuesday, September 19, the 377th PFAB landed on Drop zone "W" near Son and Sint-Oedenrode. During Market Garden the battalion Swirczynski was in stayed near the area of Sint-Oedenrode. On September 22, Swirczynski was wounded by a mortar attack.
After a long research, many emails and several phone calls, I finally found Thomas “Tom” Swirczynski's family. I did not have a picture of the veteran in my possession yet, and I would always like to put a photograph of the men of whom I have a coat next to the corresponding jacket. This way every hero gets a face. I therefore asked the family if they might have a photo and perhaps more info about Tom. Then I received a very special e-mail back. The family even owned parts of Tom's uniforms. Then a really big surprise came for me. The family wanted to donate the Tom’s items to my exhibition who will be exhibited during a battlefield tour. My new year started well, because when the things were posted in America and after being in tension for three weeks, we were able to add the items from America to the exhibition yesterday. The result is a great grouping, of which I am very very proud and for which I am reaalllyyy grateful to the family! The "ike" jacket and the 2 blouses have 82nd airborne patches on the sleeves. This is because Tom was eventually got transferred to the 82nd airborne. On the Ike jacket you can see a discoloration of where the 101st airborne patch has been. The Ike jacket and a shirt also embroider ‘S0033’. This was Tom's Laundry number. I am still looking for when he was exactly transferred from the 101st airborne division to the 82nd airborne division (possibly 456th PFAB).
Keywords: airborne paratrooper 101st 82nd 377th Parachute