On this day British Airborne Forces 70th Anniversary


Mi Sergeant Major
MI.Net Member
Apr 12, 2005
A short history of British Airborne Forces on its 70th anniversary.

In 1940, the Second World War was going very badly for Britain. May had seen the Germans employing parachute and glider troops with devastating effect during their Blitzkrieg on Western Europe. Despite a lack of enthusiasm by the War Office to incorporate a similar airborne force into the British Army, the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill sent a note to the head of the military wing of the War Cabinet Secretariat suggesting that "We ought to have corps of at least five thousand parachute troops. The Army responded swiftly to Churchill's note and two days later Major John F. Rock of the Royal Engineers, was ordered to take charge of the organization of the British Airborne Forces. He was given neither orders nor advice on how he was to achieve this task. That he did is now a matter of record. Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Rock was dispatched to Ringway, Manchester's civilian airport which was renamed the Central Landing School and later retitled the Central Landing Establishment, where volunteers underwent rigorous and dangerous training to initiate them into the art of leaping into action.
The first aggressive action took place in February 1941 when a small force of 38 officers and men successfully attacked the Tragino aqueduct in Southern Italy. In early 1942 a raiding party from number two parachute battalion attacked the Radar station at Bruneval gaining valuable technical equipment which was brought safely back to Britain. Action in North Africa against the Afrika Korps gained the parachutists the respect of the 1st German Parachute division who gave them the title of 'The Red Devils', a title that has stayed with them to this day. At Normandy and Arnhem and across the Rhine the men of the Glider Pilot Regiment fought beside their Infantry comrades, while glider borne support units, Artillery, transport and medical, provided invaluable assistance. The Special Air Service performed fetes of valour behind the German lines in the Western Desert and Italy.
Post War successors have maintained the Airborne traditions, standing between Jew and Arab during the Palestine confrontation, and successfully quelled a fierce attempt by the Greek Communists to overthrow the government. They have fought in the jungles of Borneo and Malaya, sweated in the Persian Gulf and choked in the summer heat of Cyprus. They spent more than a decade facing terrorist bombs and bullets in Northern Ireland, and experiencing the sub-zero temperatures of the South Atlantic as they crossed the Falklands to spearhead the victory of 1982.
In recent times, soldiers of the now renamed 16 Air Assault Brigade have fought in Iraq and in Helmand, Afghanistan where they have acquitted themselves with distinction.
The "Airborne Spirit" is as alive today as it was seventy years ago when the first volunteers jumped from the tail end of converted Whitley bombers.
They live up to the Regimental Motto of "Utrinque Paratus". Which, loosely translated means "Ready for Anything".

British Airborne Forces Association (Vic) Australia comprises a group of men who are banded together by a common interest. That of sharing experiences in the Airborne setting. Unfortunately, age is now the enemy, and it is a foe against which we have no hope of success. Sadly we loose around four old soldiers each year, and there is no relief party in sight. To loose men who took part in the Bruneval Raid, fought against Rommel, dropped into France on D Day, survived the hell that was Arnhem, missed their Christmas dinner with loved ones because they were bailing out our Allies at the Battle of the Bulge or who crossed the Rhine is a bitter blow to bear. These men were living histories and we miss their stories and their humour. There are fortunately still with us men who took part in the actions of World War Two and in the troubles that followed. Long may they raise a glass or two.

Harry Rhodes
Publicity Officer.
British Airborne Forces Association ( Vic)
I salute the bravery and guts it takes for all those soldiers who volunteered for Airborne Forces.

I volunteered for Air Assault Forces... I just couldn't see the point of jumping out of a perfectly good airplane...

All kidding aside, whether you're Airborne or Air Assault, you've got more guts than the average GI!!

Now we need a graghic representation of Air Assault troops repelling out of a chopper...
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These men were living histories and we miss their stories and their humour

That is what this site is all about mate. Even if the memories,stories or photos come form loved ones left behind, it is our duty to keep all our brave Allied Heroes memories alive.

We Will Remember Them (Y)

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