Captain McCord Sollenberger

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Grouping: Captain McCord Sollenberger (ASN: 01031210)

McCord Sollenberger joined the Army on May 25, 1942 at the age of 31. He started in the Cavalry as a private, and in September 1942 he got promoted to Corporal and joined the Officers Candidate School. He took general courses in officer qualification, tactics, and techniques for employment in the cavalry. Mac graduated on December 9, 1942 and got promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. His first assignment was as a unit Officer in the Cavalry. He got promoted to 1st Lieutenant and served as a platoon leader and troop commander of a horse cavalry unit. After 10 months Mac joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), in September 1943. He first followed the Parachute Jumping Course and went into training for techniques of parachute jumping and tactical employment of parachute units.

On November 29, 1943, Mac satisfactorily completed the Parachute Jumping Course, and was rated qualified parachutist from this date. Mac Sollenberger served overseas for twelve months in England (training), Scotland (training), and Holland (Operation Market Garden). Prior to Operation Market Garden, Mac got promoted to Captain. During those twelve months overseas, he was assigned to the Office of Strategic Services as a Parachute Unit Commander. He was part of a so called Jedburgh team.

The Jedburghs were created by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and British Special Operations Executive (SOE). The Jedburgh plan provided for 100 three-man teams. Each team would consist of one officer who was either British SOE or American OSS, a second officer of French, Belgian, or Dutch nationality, plus a radio operator. This was considered ideal to cover all the requirements for military tactical experience, radio communications, and language skills. These teams operated well behind German lines, with the primary mission of coordinating the activities of the various resistance elements to ensure that their operations supported the overall Allied campaign effort.[1] Contrary to various stories, the name “Jedburgh” was a random code name with no other significance, assigned by a security officer in 1942.[2]

On September 17, 1944 Mac infiltrated into Holland by glider (LZ near Groesbeek). His teams job was to contact, organize and direct the Dutch underground movement in support of operations, and gather intelligence. After his time with the OSS, Mac became an Operations and Training Staff Officer. He directed and coordinated functions of staff relative to organization and training for combat operations. He also supervised activities pertaining to mobilization, organization, and training of a horse cavalry regiment.

Captain McCord Sollenberger was authorized to wear two overseas bars (1 bar represents 6 months overseas service), the European-African-Middle Eastern Theatre campaign medal with one battle star (Rhineland campaign) for his participation in Operation Market Garden, the American Bronze Star medal, and various other decorations. He was relieved from active duty on December 20, 1945, but remained in the reserves.

Jedburgh operation in Holland (17 September – 28 September 1944)
On September 17, 1944 Captain Sollenberger, as a member of the five-man Jedburgh team ”Edward” had infiltrated into Holland by glider. Team Edward announced its arrival in the field in the following W/T message dated September 17: “Arrived safely. No contact yet with resistance”. This team was to act as headquarters for three other Jedburgh teams sent in with the American 82nd, 101st and the British 1st Airborne Divisions.

Team Edward consisted of the following members;
• Captain M. Sollenberger (United States Army)
• Captain J. Staal (Royal Netherlands Army)
• Captain R. Mills (British Army)
• 2nd Lieutenant L. Willmott (British Army – W/T Operator)
• Technical Sergeant J. Billingsley (United States Army – W/T Operator)

The four jedburgh teams attached to the Airborne Divisions were known as the “Dutch liaison mission” and, in addition to setting up important radio communications with London headquarters, they were to secure the services of the Dutch underground forces in supplying G-2 (U.S. Army Intelligence) with military information and in supporting the field commanders with assistance as guides, guards and patrols.

The most valuable contribution of Team Edward was the provision of intelligence information to the American 82nd, 101st and the British 1st Airborne Divisions. This information concerned the local military situation, defenses of railway and road bridges, and the disposition of enemy troops and installations, which otherwise could not have been obtained by the Airborne Divisions. In order to communicate this information the team quickly established underground telephone communications with Arnhem, Nijmegen, Eindhoven, Amsterdam, Malden, Utrecht, Rotterdam, The Hague, Elst, Geertruidenberg and Zwolle. The volume of information received over this widespread network was so vast that it was shortly turned over to the 30th Corps and 2nd Army. Contact was maintained via this method at all times. The information was obtained from the Mission’s contacts with the various local Resistance Groups. The task of the team was liaison. Contact was maintained with London 24 hours a day, 28 messages being sent out and 48 received in the period of nine days. On one occasion, information was furnished about the railway and road bridges across the River Waal. On another occasion the 30th Corps was put in contact with the Chief Engineer of Water Works & Ferries in Nijmegen, and detailed information on possibilities of river crossings and bridges in the Nijmegen area was obtained.

The team also acted as a coordinating headquarters for the resistance groups. In this capacity they gave specific instructions with regard to sabotage targets and attacks on enemy communications in addition to requests for military intelligence. Plans were also made for the use of 300 Dutch resistance men for mopping-up operations. The mission also put a total of 250 men to work on the construction of air strips at Malden and at Nijmegen. Resistance men were also recruited by the mission for tactical direction-guide purposes and guarding prisoners and were used extensively in this connection by Airborne headquarters.

Captain Sollenberger exhibited a high degree of courage and ability in the accomplishment of this mission, conducting these operations under heavy enemy fire at a time when the military situation in this area was exceedingly critical.

In a letter dated May 31, 1945, Mac has been recommended for the Bronze Star Medal for his participation in Operation Market Garden. He was also awarded the Dutch “Bronze Cross” (Bronzen Kruis) for having distinguished himself by his courageous and prudent action when facing the enemy during the Airborne Operations near Nijmegen in September 1944, thus the citation. Captain Sollenberger was serving as a member of the Special Operations branch (Office of Strategic Services), in the European Theater of Operations.

[1] A Special Force: origin and development of the jedburgh project in support of operation overlord, 1991 (p. iii)
[2] The Jedburghs, http://olive-drab.com/od_history_ww2_stories_jedburghs.php