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Paratroopers: Ready for Anything – From WWII to Afghanistan

Paratroopers: Ready for Anything – From WWII to Afghanistan

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Paratroopers: Ready for Anything – From WWII to Afghanistan

Lunghezza:
130 pagine
1 ora
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Mar 6, 2014
ISBN:
9781909284036
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Contents
Introduction: The Formation of the British Parachute Regiment
Section 1: World War II : Operation Colossus; Operation Biting; Operation Torch; Operation Husky; Operation Tonga; Operation Hasty; Operation Dragoon; Operation Market Garden and the Battle of Arnhem; The Battle of the Bulge; Operation Varsity; Operation Doomsday
Section II: The Post-War Years : The Aden Emergency – Radfan; The Malaysian Confrontation: The Battle of Plaman Mapu – Borneo
Section III: Northern Ireland : Operation Banner; Bloody Sunday; The Warrenpoint Ambush
Section IV: The Falklands War : The Battle of Goose Green; The Battle of Mount Longdon; The Battle of Wireless Ridge
Section V: Iraq : Operation Telic

On Friday 10 May 1940, Britain awoke to the awful news that Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and France had been invaded by Hitler’s forces in a lightning advance through the Low Countries. Overnight it had become clear that the country had lost confidence in the prime minister, Neville Chamberlain’s ability to steer Britain through the war, and he had resigned. After a lengthy cabinet meeting, Winston Churchill, a man who had recognized the threat posed by Hitler long before the war even started, was named as his successor. Churchill was summoned immediately to Buckingham Palace where King George VI asked him to form a government. His first act as prime minister was to write a letter to Chamberlain, thanking him for his support. Until this time the British government had hoped to negotiate an armistice with Germany. Churchill knew that this would not be possible, and used his considerable rhetorical skills to convince the British public that real action was needed, and fast. The Battle of Britain loomed large on the horizon. Defeat and invasion were becoming real possibilities. The country needed resilience, courage, effort, sacrifice and determination if it were to stand a chance against the might of Hitler’s armies. More than that, it needed air power.
Their Finest Hour : On 18 June 1940, Churchill delivered his ‘finest hour’ speech on the floor of the House of Commons. Only four days later, in a memo to the War Office dated 22 June, Churchill recommended that ‘we ought to have a corps of at least 5,000 parachute troops’. His words were instantly heeded and, despite a lack of equipment and experience, a small group of resourceful men began to assemble a force. The Central Landing Establishment was set up at Ringway Airport in Manchester with the combined efforts of the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the British Army. The men of No. 2 Commando, who were always intended as parachute troops, were selected to begin training, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel C. I. A. Jackson. These were volunteers who had passed the rigorous medical and interview process with flying colours. They were expected to be high quality, tough, fit, independent and intelligent. On the whole, these were individualists – men who were attracted to danger, or who realized the need for radical measures in the face of Nazi threat, and were prepared to sacrifice themselves in a blaze of glory for the good of the nation.

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Mar 6, 2014
ISBN:
9781909284036
Formato:
Libro

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Paratroopers - Freya Hardy

Paratroopers

Ready for Anything – From WWII to Afghanistan

Freya Hardy

Published by RW Press Limited at Smashwords

Copyright 2014 RW Press Limited

© 2014 RW Press Ltd

This 2014 edition published by RW Press Ltd

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission, in writing, of the publisher.

The views expressed in this book are those of the author but they are general views only, and readers are urged to consult a relevant and qualified specialist for individual advice in particular situations. The author and RW Press Ltd hereby exclude any liability to the extent permitted by law, for any errors or omissions in this book and for any loss, damage and expense (whether direct or indirect) suffered by a third party relying on any information contained in this book.

Although every effort has been made to trace and contact people mentioned in the text for their approval in time for publication, this has not been possible in all cases. If notified, we will be pleased to rectify any alleged errors or omissions when we reprint the title.

ISBN: 9781909284036

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Contents

Introduction: The Formation of the British Parachute Regiment

Section 1: World War II

Operation Colossus

Operation Biting

Operation Torch

Operation Husky

Operation Tonga

Operation Hasty

Operation Dragoon

Operation Market Garden and the Battle of Arnhem

The Battle of the Bulge

Operation Varsity

Operation Doomsday

Section II: The Post-War Years

The Aden Emergency – Radfan

The Malaysian Confrontation: The Battle of Plaman Mapu – Borneo

Section III: Northern Ireland

Operation Banner

Bloody Sunday

The Warrenpoint Ambush

Section IV: The Falklands War

The Battle of Goose Green

The Battle of Mount Longdon

The Battle of Wireless Ridge

Section V: Iraq

Operation Telic

Section VI: Afghanistan

Operation Herrick

INTRODUCTION: THE FORMATION OF THE BRITISH PARACHUTE REGIMENT

On Friday 10 May 1940, Britain awoke to the awful news that Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and France had been invaded by Hitler’s forces in a lightning advance through the Low Countries. Overnight it had become clear that the country had lost confidence in the prime minister, Neville Chamberlain’s ability to steer Britain through the war, and he had resigned. After a lengthy cabinet meeting, Winston Churchill, a man who had recognized the threat posed by Hitler long before the war even started, was named as his successor. Churchill was summoned immediately to Buckingham Palace where King George VI asked him to form a government. His first act as prime minister was to write a letter to Chamberlain, thanking him for his support. Until this time the British government had hoped to negotiate an armistice with Germany. Churchill knew that this would not be possible, and used his considerable rhetorical skills to convince the British public that real action was needed, and fast. The Battle of Britain loomed large on the horizon. Defeat and invasion were becoming real possibilities. The country needed resilience, courage, effort, sacrifice and determination if it were to stand a chance against the might of Hitler’s armies. More than that, it needed air power.

Their Finest Hour

On 18 June 1940, Churchill delivered his ‘finest hour’ speech on the floor of the House of Commons. Only four days later, in a memo to the War Office dated 22 June, Churchill recommended that ‘we ought to have a corps of at least 5,000 parachute troops’. His words were instantly heeded and, despite a lack of equipment and experience, a small group of resourceful men began to assemble a force. The Central Landing Establishment was set up at Ringway Airport in Manchester with the combined efforts of the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the British Army. The men of No. 2 Commando, who were always intended as parachute troops, were selected to begin training, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel C. I. A. Jackson. These were volunteers who had passed the rigorous medical and interview process with flying colours. They were expected to be high quality, tough, fit, independent and intelligent. On the whole, these were individualists – men who were attracted to danger, or who realized the need for radical measures in the face of Nazi threat, and were prepared to sacrifice themselves in a blaze of glory for the good of the nation.

Training methods were crude, at best. Recruits were swung from ropes attached to trees and builder’s scaffolding. They were suspended from their shoulders and dragged along the ground at speed by four men, presumably in preparation for landing in difficult situations. Most of these guinea pigs had never flown before, so they were split into groups of six and taken up in a number of old Whitley bombers to experience the wonders of flight for the first time. These old planes were not really suited to the task. The insides were noisy, smelly and cramped, and the recruits were restricted to clambering about on hands and knees within the aircraft. It can’t have been a pleasant introduction to their new role as airborne soldiers. One or two must have wondered what on earth they’d got themselves into, especially when RAF instructors began demonstrating parachuting techniques, which they did on 13 July. On 15 July, the first jumps by training instructors were seen, and the first live jumps by men of No. 2 Commando happened shortly after that.

The First Fatality

It was bound to happen sooner or later, and on 25 July, following a number of successful jumps, it did. Driver Ralph Evans jumped from the aperture in the fuselage of a Whitley Bomber at 8 a.m., but his canopy became tangled and failed to open properly. He plummeted to the ground and was killed on impact. Jumps were immediately suspended and No. 2 Commando was sent away to Scotland for training in unarmed combat and deer stalking. Meanwhile, a number of dummy jumps were performed using sandbags instead of soldiers – a number of these sandbags met the same fate that Evans had so tragically encountered. There was a problem with the parachutes.

The parachutes the trainees had been using were standard Irvin parachutes. The canopy developed first to pull out the rigging lines. Sometimes, these lines became entangled, causing the canopy to fail, resulting in a ‘roman candle’, or ‘streamer’ effect. The Paras called in a parachute manufacturer named Raymond Quilter, of the GQ Company, to develop a way to fix the problem. He came up with a modified version of the Irvin ‘chute whereby the rigging lines were released and extended before the canopy was deployed. This simple modification reduced the opening shock and minimized the chances of the rigging lines snaring the canopy. In tests the new model proved to be extremely successful, and the GQ X-type statichute, as it came to be known, was used widely right up until the 1960s. The method of deployment Quilter developed is still in use today. Driver Evans, it seemed, had not died in vain. It is worth noting, though, that in those days, reserve parachutes were not issued – so any further problem with the parachute’s opening mechanism was likely to be fatal. Two more trainees would die over the period between August and November. Each time the GQ Company reacted straight away, further modifying the parachutes to make them as safe as possible.

Gliders

Whilst the parachutes had improved, the planes still hadn’t. One of the men in charge at Ringway, Major J. F. Rock, remained unconvinced of the suitability of Whitley bombers to transport airborne soldiers. His views were supported by the War Office but the Air Ministry had different ideas. Parachute training was ready to resume by early August, but Rock refused to allow his men to jump until the matter of the planes had been resolved. The Air Ministry refused to listen, and insisted that the Whitley bombers were good enough for the job at hand. By mid-August, Rock and the War Office were obliged to resume training regardless.

It was eventually decided that gliders were the right aircraft to transport airborne troops into battle. In September the first Hotspur Gliders were ordered from General Aircraft Limited. Gliders were only meant to make a single journey, and so they were made out of the cheapest materials available. The Hotspur was constructed from wood and designed to carry eight fully-armed troops. It had a wingspan of 62 ft (18.90m), and was 39 ft, 3.5’’ (12m)-long. Fully loaded, it weighed about 3,600 lb (1,600kg). Squadron Leader L. A. Strange and Major J. F. Rock were charged with gathering together a unit of glider pilots – mainly military recruits who had learned to fly gliders before the war. The Whitley bombers would be used for towing the gliders into position. The Hotspurs had hooks at the front and back so that a number could be towed

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