Archive for the ‘the paras’ Category

The book I read to research this post was The Paras by John Parker which is a very good book that I bought from a local secondhand bookstore. This book is around 380 pages so is a decent length and was published in 2000 so probably misses some of their exploits. They were formed in 1942 and incorporated the SAS who were under Captain David Stirling leaving that title vacant. It was at the orders of Winston Churchill in the wake of the Blitzkreigs in Europe when Britain had been driven out of France. The Germans were to nickname them the Red Devils partly due to their red berets. The Germans had a lot of success with their parachute regiments especially in the invasion of Norway where they secured many key installations like the airports. Germany having parachute regiments was in direct contravention of the Versailles Treaty signed at the end of World War 1. Russia also had extensive parachute regiments. 95 % of these kind of troops would probably be mown down before reaching the ground at least according to British preliminary estimates. They helped secure Sicily during the invasion of Italy. They were key in the Arnhem and D-Day landings. The former depicted in the film A Bridge Too Far. They were also important in Palestine just after World War 2 and the Falklands War. There is a post on this site on Goose Green which must go down as one of their greatest victories. There were also key battles at Mount Longdon and Wireless Ridge. They were also to see action in Northern Ireland & Kosovo and also Iraq although the latter one isn’t in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed this book which of course I recommend.  John is a former journalist who has written many books on the military including the Foreign Legion and the SBS among others. The Paras earned 2 posthumous Victoria Crosses during the Falklands Campaign. They are the highest accolade given to British soldiers. One was there commanding officer Colonel H Jones who led a 1 man charge on a machine gun implacement and died as a result at Goose Green. Initially his regiment wasn’t to be used in the war and he did everything he could to get them included.

The book I read to research this post was Goose Green by Mark Adkin which is an excellent book and which I got from amazon.

Goose Green which was part of the falklands war in 1982 was the first land battle of that war. The war came about because argentina invaded the falkland islands along with some other british properties like south georgia island. The main problem was that there was a military dictatorship in argentina at that time. The UK didn’t want the islanders to be governed by a dictatorship and there was concern that if the UK let matters rest other UK possessions might be invaded.

With two of the important battles of the war – pebble beach and goose green – the british intelligence thought there was far less argentine troops stationed there than there was. Pebble beach involved the SAS and SBS whereas goose green involved 2 Para. It’s worth noting many of the argentine troops were killed while they slept without the chance to fire a shot. What started as a night time attack turned into a 14 hour battle. Colonel H the leader of 2 Para charged a machine gun implacement single handed and died as a result although it is worth noting they had been pinned down for 3 hours, he got a victoria cross as a result. There was also controversy over the argentines storing huge amounts of napalm although it wasn’t used in the battle. There were also breaches of the geneva convention by the argentines, they waved a white flag and then shot dead the two troops who approached. Also a gazelle crashed and they fired at the occupants. Nowadays argentines are taught about the geneva convention as part of their training because of that incident. Although the paras won that battle, for a long while it hung in the balance and was far from a foregone conclusion.

 

The book I read to research this post was Sky Men by Robert Kershaw which is an excellent book which I got from the library.

During world war 2 any members of the special forces captured by the germans could expect to be shot. The nazis thought it was a dirty kind of fighting and at the end of the day they could do a lot more damage than ordinary soldiers. The paras were formed in the UK in 1940. In the early days if they were parachuting from a plane they had to climb out on the wing. In 1948 in response to the fact that there weren’t really any wars the UK was fighting the paras were reduced to a single brigade. Around this time bigger and more powerful tail loading aircraft were introduced. The american fairchild C-119 flying boxcar was introduced in 1949. Then in 1957 trials were started for the C-130 hercules which was a huge plane which had a tail loader from which they could jump and which had a heated deck which was also pressurized.