British Sky Tours

                  

 

 

 

***  AIRBORNE  ***

 

 Anyone taking our Normandy sky tour finds it helpful to have an idea of the scale of Operation Overlord. Their Finest Hour, Map Table and The Special Relationship are worth a glance to understand some of the events before America's entry into the Second World War. Many visitors to our website probably know much of what is set out below. Please grant us your forbearance. We try to ensure that those less familiar with the background to D Day, particularly the young, start their tour with a sound conception of what was at stake thereby making their time with us all the more worthwhile and enjoyable.

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For some time we have felt the website lacked enough detail on two topics - airborne forces, and the role of the French Resistance during the Battle of Normandy including the politics among the main resistance groups. We're still working on the latter but hope our readers find these pages and photos explain some of the basics about airborne forces. There is a vast amount of information on the Internet and several good sites are linked to ours. Many excellent books have been written about airborne forces, the best always by those who took part. Therefore the material on our site provides most detail on the early parachute operations which are less familiar to our regular readership before offering brief descriptions of the better known operations and some thoughts on future operations. We've also tried to bring alive what it's like to take part in an airborne mass jump.

 

EARLY DAYS

The Experimental Parachute Platoon at Fort Benning in summer 1940 shows the influence on techniques from smoke-jumpers from the US Forest Service.

" Where is the prince who can afford so to cover his country with troops for its defense, so that ten thousand men descending from the clouds might not, in many places, do an infinite deal of mischief before a force could be brought together to repel them? "

Benjamin Franklin's inspiration stemmed from watching a balloon during his time as Ambassador to the King of France. Before the invention of the aeroplane a general could attack an opposing army only by direct assault on its front, by trying to turn either of its flanks, if possible from behind through encirclement - and only Hannibal achieved this feat at the Battle of Cannae in 216 BC. Over two thousand years afterwards the aeroplane brought the chance of vertical envelopment - leap-frog the opposition's front line, land far behind his combat troops, and seize vital objectives among his rear areas where his defences are weak.

Towards the end of the First World War in 1918 Brigadier-General Billy Mitchell proposed employing the new bomber force to parachute drop troops of the US First Infantry Division behind German lines near Metz. Detailed planning was commenced by a young lieutenant named Lewis Brereton of whom more later. The war ended before any preparations started but Mitchell believed the troops could have been trained quite quickly.

The first experimental paratroop drop was carried out by the Italians in November 1927. Within a few years several battalions had been raised and formed into the two elite Folgore and Nembo divisions. Although these would later fight with distinction neither division made an operational parachute drop. Men drawn from the Italian parachute forces were dropped in a special forces operation in North Africa in 1943 - an attempt to destroy aircraft of the USAAF on the ground. The US Army experimented with parachutists in 1928 but America's armed forces suffered as much as Britain's from lack on money and the idea went no further.

At about the same time Russia experimented with the idea, planning to eventually drop entire units complete with vehicles including light tanks. Parachute clubs were set up all over the Soviet Union to train enough experienced jumpers for transfer to the armed forces when needed. Planning and organization progressed to the point that brigade-sized drops including heavy weapons and vehicles were demonstrated to foreign observers, one of whom was the British Military Attaché, the future Field Marshal Archibald Wavell, at the Kiev military district manoeuvres of 1935. Rumour had it that the general was a woman! By the late 1930s, the USSR possessed the largest Airborne forces in the world, but development stagnated prior to the Second World War because of Stalin's purges of the Red Army's officer corps.

Russian paratroops jumping free-fall and pulling a ripcord to open their parachutes.

Among those observing the Kiev manoeuvers were officers from Germany and in 1936 Major F W Immans set up a parachute school at Stendal. Three-motor Junkers 52 aircraft were modified for parachute jumping. The first training class began in May 1936 known as ' Ausbildungskommando Immans - Immans Training Commando ' learning on non-steerable parachutes. France, Poland and Japan also organized airborne formations.

Several groups within the German armed forces attempted to raise their own paratroop formations, resulting in confusion. As a result a Luftwaffe general, Kurt Student, was put in overall command of developing an airborne force. Student created a force with three elements - a small glider commando for attacking special targets, one division of paratroops backed by another of air-landing troops. In support was a 500 strong force of Junkers 52 aircraft.

During the invasion of Scandinavia on 9 April 1940 the Luftwaffe dropped paratroops for the first time on operations. In Denmark a small unit was dropped on the Masnedøfort on the small island of Masnedo to seize the Storstrom Bridge linking the islands of Falster and Zealand. Paratroops also dropped onto Aalborg airfield which was crucial for planned Luftwaffe operations over Norway. A company sized force dropped onto Oslo's undefended airfield. Over the course of the morning and early afternoon, Student flew in sufficient reinforcements to move into the capital during that same afternoon. By that time the Norwegian government had fled the city.

A month later on the 10 May 1940 Hitler invaded Holland, Belgium and France. German paratroopers landed at three airfields near the Hague and hoping to seize the Dutch government. They were soon driven from one of these airfields. The first wave of reinforcements flown in by Junkers 52s suffered heavily from anti-aircraft fire and fierce resistance by the Dutch troops. Landing aircraft crashed and burning aircraft blocked the runway, preventing further reinforcements from landing. This was one of the rare occasions where airfields captured by paratroops were recaptured - the other two airfields were recaptured. Another group landed by seaplane to seize bridges near Rotterdam. Simultaneously the Germans dropped small packets of paratroopers to seize crucial bridges that led directly across the Netherlands and into the heart of the country. These latter attacks, though not all successful, opened the way for the 9th Panzer Division. Within a day the Dutch position swiftly deteriorated. The airborne operation eventually recovered its momentum but the Dutch forces inflicted high losses among the Junkers 52 fleet.

From the Swiss frontier to the southern Ardennes, a string of fortresses known as the Maginot Line defended France. Northwards the wooded hills of the Ardennes were regarded as impassable for the German armoured formations and Belgium remained neutral. Hitler launched his main attack through the Ardennes with a right hook through neutral Belgium. The British Expeditionary Force moved straight into Belgium to defend Brussels and cover the northern flank of the French Army.

Troops of the Brandenburger Regiment landed by Storch light aircaft on the bridges immediately to the south of the 10 Panzer Division's route of march through the southern Ardennes. A small group of German glider-borne troops landed on top of the Belgian fortress of Eban Emael on the morning of 10 May. Attacking through the roof hatches, they soon disabled the majority of its heavy guns. The fort held on for another day before surrendering; it's loss opened up Belgium to attack by a whole German army group. Ironically it was the British who took to heart the brilliance of these tactics and four years later employed the same formula during the night on D Day.

Two days after the Dunkirk Evacuation ended on the 4 June 1940 Winston Churchill wrote a minute with a list of offensive measures - including 5000 paratroops - for attacking the coastline of occupied France. After the French surrendered Churchill returned to the charge with another minute on the 22 June 1940 to General ' Pug ' Ismay his Military Aide at 10 Downing Street, proposing a corps of at least 5000 parachute troops and urged that advantage be taken of the summer to train these forces, who could play a role as shock troops in home defence. Short of aircraft, facing massive air attack and invasion, not surprisingly the RAF only reluctantly agreed to train a small force of 500 rather than the 5000 paratroops Churchill wanted. A fundamental decision was whether to create small airborne units for coup-de-main operations, like Eban Emael, or whether to form entire Airborne Divisions for large operations. As with most innovation in the British Army a Royal Engineer was sent for and two days after Churchill wrote his perceptive minute the War Office summoned Major John Rock and informed him that he was charged with the formation of airborne forces.

Across the Atlantic on the 25 June the Parachute Test Platoon was set up at Fort Benning. The Chief Instructor, Warrant Officer ' Tug ' Wilson, was a veteran of the 1928 experimental jump. They began jumping during August and a leading figure was Major William C Lee who was promoted and the following spring created the Provisional Parachute Group. Many of the famous names in US airborne history became involved at this stage and Lee, who later rose to high rank, became known as the ' Father of Airborne Forces ' in the US Army. Crete in May 1941 triggered the major expansion of US airborne forces and the newly formed 501 Parachute Infantry Battalion was ordered to expand into a regiment of three battalions. From this time starts the ' airborne brotherhood ' between American and British airborne troops. General Hap Arnold, Chief of the USAAF and a staunch supporter of mass airborne tactics, took Lee over to England and General Browning paid a return visit to the USA. Churchill then invited Roosevelt to allow the 2nd Battalion of the 503 Parachute Infantry Regiment an attachment with 1 British Airborne Division. America's military attaché lent the 1 Airborne the very first jeep to reach British shores. Today the tradition continues strong as ever with cross-postings, exchanges of ideas and presently combat in Afghanistan. 

The German airborne assault of the island of Crete in May 1941 -jumping from three motor Junkers 52 transports - at least three still flying today - although with parachutes they could not steer.

During July and August 1940 both German airborne divisions prepared to spearhead an invasion across the Channel. Throughout the summer and autumn a great air battle raged over southern England. By early October the Luftwaffe recognised they had been defeated by the British fighter pilots and that while night bombing could be carried out almost without loss, there was no possibility of supporting an invasion force during daylight. 

A year later Student's airborne force won its greatest victory and suffered its greatest losses during the invasion of the island of Crete in May 1941. Ultra intercepts enabled the British Commonwealth Forces to strengthen the defences at each intended German drop zone but the intercepts - detailed Luftwaffe message traffic - also implied a seaborne threat and General Freyberg, a tough New Zealander, had no choice other than to allow for the possibility otherwise the invasion might have been repulsed.

Despite compromised secrecy, consequent severe losses, the surviving German paratroops and air-landed mountain troops established airheads on the airfields and pushed the Commonwealth Forces off the island. Air support from bases in Greece proved overwhelming and the paratroops were heavily armed. Though seaborne reinforcements were destroyed by the Royal Navy at night - the Royal Navy dared not operate during the day off Crete. Eventually there was no choice when the garrison needed to be taken off the island. After the evacuation almost half the Mediterranean Fleet had been sunk or damaged. However, Student's losses were so great that Hitler forbade any more such operations. He regarded the main power of the paratroops was their novelty. Clearly the British had learnt how to defend against paratroops. No further major airborne operations were attempted but later a parachute corps was based in Southern France as a strategic reserve.

The battle that ended Germany's airborne operations had the opposite effect on the Allies. Heavy German casualties during the Battle of Crete were hidden from Allies. Convinced of the effectiveness of airborne assaults, the Allies hurried to train and organize their own airborne units.

With a blank sheet of paper the instructors at Ringway copied whatever they could from the German Fallschirmjaeger in the right photo.

The previous summer the Central Landing School opened at Ringway near Manchester to train the first 500 paratroops who became known as the ' Argonaut ' in British Airborne folklore. These troops belonged to Number 2 Commando commanded by Lieutenant Colonel I Jackson. All were volunteers. B and C Troops arrived on 9 July and the first training jumps took place on the 13 July with a demonstration by the RAF instructors.

Rock quickly discovered that nobody in the Army had any advise let alone a policy on airborne forces. He set to work with two RAF officers - Louis Strange and ( Sir ) Nigel Norman - and Major John Lander who concentrated on designing equipment. Training jumps were made from an old Bombay bi-plane and later from the cramped fuselage of converted Whitley bombers. The Bombay with a door exit was a far better parachute aircraft but obsolete for operations. Aircrew clothing and flying helmets were used to begin with but gradually a soft helmet and parachute smock were developed - copying samples captured from German paratroops as were the parachutes for there was not much else to go on. The first jumps employed the pull-off - an established method for teaching aircrew - where the parachutist stood on a platform ( replacing the rear-gun turret ) faced into the slip-stream and pulled the rip-cord. However, airborne troops would need to land close together, so an aperture cut in the aircraft floor became the normal exit method. The great fear was a ' roman candle ' when the parachute failed to open and there were two fatalities before GQ the parachute makers produced a parachute that would open safely with a static line attached to a wire cable running through the aircraft. Once equipped with this forerunner of the famous X type parachute - which remained in service for nearly three decades - the RAF instructors mastered the techniques of teaching soldiers how to exit safely.

Training was hampered because there were only four Whitleys and not always serviceable. All sorts of ground equipment was invented and tried out. Not all proved wise - such as jumping from moving trucks - and the injury rate soon ruled out other ideas. At this stage some instructors were Army and that November one officer along with Flight Sergeant Brereton RAF and another volunteer travelled south to try jumping from a balloon cage. The balloon floated like a tired elephant over a hangar floor at Cardington. As it was too windy for parachuting they tried floating inside the hangar until below the bird and bat infested roof. All three were soon violently sick. Next day in calmer weather all three jumped and before long every paratrooper made their first two jumps from a balloon.

The author aged 18 on the left of the stick about to jump from the balloon cage at 800 feet. You can see behind us the cage and the balloon's tail fin and the windsock on its cable. We're all wearing the wartime X type main parachute with its central quick release box. This allows you to slip from the parachute harness rather than have the wind drag you along the drop zone after landing. We're also all wearing reserves - one fails to understand the British though not American wartime logic which regarded reserve parachutes as superfluous! Balloon jumps allowed the parachutist to master exits and steering without the wind blast experienced when leaving a big aircraft. And cost much less!

Only in recent years has the balloon given way to a small aircraft. For those lucky enough to experience balloons, nothing quite matched the peaceful ascent, nor that feeling of stepping off an 800 foot high wall. Once you stepped into the void, all you heard was the swish of slipstream until your boots floated level with your eyes just before a crisp crackle announced the parachute opening and you peered skywards at a streaming khaki canopy. The colours and sharpness of sky and landscape were never less than spectacular. I once counted mushroom rings from 800 feet, clearly showing below on the green meadows of Oxfordshire. The RAF trained no less than 60,000 troops as parachutists during the war and with remarkably few fatalities and relatively few serious injuries. During the 1950s and 1960s some 10,000 paratroops and SAS troopers made at least 8 jumps each year with hardly any serious accidents. This amazing record continues to the present day although the troop numbers are now halved and all too often penny-pinching cancels jump training sorties. After the war the parachute school moved from Ringway to RAF Abingdon in the Thames Valley and nowadays is not far away at RAF Brizenorton. 

A Horsa glider towed by an Albermarle bomber.

Sadly John Rock was killed testing a glider during October 1942 otherwise he would have become an even greater influence on airmobile strategy and tactics. George Chatterton took his place as commander of the Glider Pilot Regiment.

Britain’s first airborne assault - Operation Colossus - took place on 10 February 1941 when 'X' Troop, No 11 Special Air Service Battalion (which was formed from No 2 Commando and subsequently became 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment) dropped into southern Italy from converted Whitley bombers flying from Malta and demolished a span of the aqueduct at Tragino. One wonders why this target was chosen other than nobody in Southern Italy expected an attack by paratroops from southern England. After destroying the aqueduct the raiding party had to march 50 miles to the coast where a submarine, HMS Triumph, would pick them up. Nearly seventy years later this sounds an incredibly optimistic plan.

Jumping with weapons containers from a Whitley over Netheravon. This left hand photo was probably taken in 1941 or 1942. A paratrooper is exiting through a hole in the aircraft floor keeping himself at attention so he falls cleanly and avoids his rigging lines twisting as the canopy opens. It's surprisingly like a modern student free-fall exit. The previous jumper is already well below the aircraft - showing it's flying slowly to reduce the wind blast - and the parachute rigging lines are fully paid out along with the parachute canopy emerging from the bag dangling below the aircraft. Only a cotton break-tie still holds the parachute apex to the bag - so that the chute drags against the aircraft's speed and thus opens faster and tidily - and this tie about to snap before the canopy deploys cleanly. The basic techniques for opening static line parachutes are still the same. Netheravon is now the home of the Army Parachute Centre busy teaching soldiers how to jump free-fall for business or sport. The right hand photo shows a parachutist making a good clean door exit and wearing a soft helmet.

Everyone in the battalion volunteered but the force selected numbered 38 men led by Major T Pritchard. A strong Royal Engineers contingent under Captain Daley were to carry out the demolitions while the rest of Pritchard's force acted as the protection party. Three spoke Italian including a former waiter from the Savoy Hotel. Two of them were Italian citizens. Lieutenant Tony Deane-Drummond was sent ahead to organise the preparations in Malta. On the night one man drowned through landing in a lake and the explosives were dropped two miles off target. Worse, engine failure caused a Whitley to crash - exactly where HMS Triumph was to wait offshore to pick them up. Her captain decided that staying in such a hot spot risked losing his ship and was given permission to slip away. All the raiders were soon captured; the former waiter, sadly, was tried and shot. One man escaped and eventually returned to England.

During April Winston Churchill paid a visit to the Central Landing School with Averill Harriman, President Roosevelt's personal representative, and they watched a demonstration jump and glider landing. Churchill was asked if he would like to give the order to start the show. He politely declined. This was just as well - a voice over the loud speakers explained that he couldn't start right then as six of the buggers had just fainted.

Winston Churchill and General ' Boy ' Browning in 1941 - centre photo about a year later during the war showing a test flight with the Hanibal glider capable of delivering a small tank - American airborne troopers making a training jump. Already the troops are tucking tight into an exit position - avoiding twisted rigging lines - and jumping with steel helmets thus ready for combat, moreover wearing purpose designed jump boots. Their parachutes are also designed for the job.

After the Battle of Crete, barely a month later, Winston Churchill immediately pressed for his 5000 parachute troops and brooked no argument. Churchill had no wish to be told that Cyprus had been captured by German paratroops or worse, the Suez Canal. He saw the strategic opportunities. The future General Frederick ' Boy' Browning became the commander of Britain's airborne forces. Browning had shared a dugout with Churchill on the Western Front during the latter's political exile during the First World War. A guardsman and qualified glider pilot, he believed in training, professionalism, discipline and smartness. Browning was married to the popular novelist, Daphne du Maurier. Airborne folklore claims that he took home a selection of berets and emblems for the new formation - sand, maroon, sky blue and green berets plus heraldic badges. Daphne du Maurier chose the maroon beret. She may have influenced the decision is a more probable story. Browning commissioned Major Edward Seago, an artist, to design an emblem - Seago came up with Bellerophon and Pegasus the winged horse in sky blue. Later David Stirling's SAS was to take the sand beret and the Army Air Corps the sky blue. Green berets were adopted by Britain's commandos. At first the parachute troops wore the Army Air Corps cap badge until replaced by the one still worn today. The red beret first went into action in North Africa during November 1942 and its wearers soon baptised as ' Die Roten Teufeln - the Red Devils ' by their German opponents. 

Operation Squatter took place on the night of 16 November 1941 and was a raid on Axis airfields in Libya. Some 54 members of 'L' Detachment, Special Air Service Brigade (largely drawn from the disbanded Layforce) mounted a night parachute insertion onto two Drop Zones in Bir Temrad, North Africa. The operation involved an attack on the forward airfields of Gambut and Tmimi in order to destroy the Axis fighter force on the ground before the start of a major offensive by the British Eighth Army.

Among Browning's first actions was to pick Brigadier Richard Gale and task him with forming the First Parachute Brigade from the core First Parachute Battalion. Gale split the battalion into three and built three battalions from the original companies. Much of the attitude, approach and spirit of Britain's airborne forces was sown by Richard Gale. He was much loved by his men and famed for a turn of phrase that was both earthy and inspiring.

Johnnie Frost describing the Bruneval Raid still wearing his jumping jacket copied from the Germans and years later with Lord Louis Mountbatten at the dedication of the memorial on the cliffs.

The first airborne venture across the Channel was Operation Biting on the 27 February 1942. Scientists were anxious to know more about the German radar - particularly whether it could be confused by a technique known as ' windows ' by which strips of foil dropped from aircraft resembled radar reflections of ships or aircraft. Today we call this by its NATO code-name - chaff. The radar known as a giant Wuerzburg sent out medium length waves of sufficient accuracy to enable flak gunners to engage unseen aircraft. At that time Britain possessed no comparable position finder or gun-layer radar and the Wuerzburg had been giving RAF aircraft trouble for some months. The scientists were keen to have a look at components from this superior radio-location equipment. A site near Cap d' Antifier on the cliffs at Bruneval was chosen. On a snowy night a company of British Paratroopers from 2 Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, commanded by Major John Frost took off from Thruxton and jumped about a mile inland from the Wuerzburg radar. Sergeant Cox of the RAF jumped with them. He dismantled the key electronic components of the system and brought them back to Britain for examination so that counter measures could be devised and the technology stolen. There was considerable opposition from the Germans but nearly all the force reached the beach and were taken off by the Royal Navy.

On the way to Normandy we fly alongside Bruneval and point out where the raid took place. Left hand photo shows the Wuerzburg radar dish and odd-looking villa where its crew lived. Right hand photo taken from near the memorial shows the cliffs today - the villa has long gone - and the valley exit onto the rather exposed beach where Frost's men waited for the Royal Navy to come inshore and pick them up. Three pill boxes on the cliff are also long gone but the photo gives a very clear idea of how hard it must have been to hold the beach under heavy fire before the navy arrived. Bruneval was a text book coup de main by a small airborne force - tactical daring married to surprise delivered a huge strategic gain. Windows confused German radars for the rest of the war and played a vital role in the crucial deception plan on the night of D Day.

Horsa glider towed by a Lancaster bomber.

 For some time SOE had been receiving reports from the Norwegians that the Norsk Hydro plant at Rjukan was involved in the production of deuterium oxide - heavy water - which acts as a moderator in nuclear reaction. After the invasion of Norway the Germans ordered Norsk Hydro to produce a substancial amount of heavy water for their atomic bomb research. Situated on the side of a steep wooded valley among high mountains east of Stavanger and north of Oslo, the plant was a difficult target for bombers, nor was there a suitable open space for landing gliders or  paratroops. A suitable LZ for gliders was found a day's march from the plant and Eureke signals devices smuggled into the area by the Norwegian resistance. On the 19 November 1942 the operation went ahead.

 Two Halifax bombers each towing a Horsa glider set off from Wick airfield in northern Scotland for their distant objective in southern Norway. The importance of the task was such that all risks had to be taken but this remained the first time that British gliders set out to attack the enemy. One flown by Sergeant M. F. C. Strathdee and Sergeant P. Doig of the Glider Pilot Regiment, the other by Pilot Officer Davis and Sergeant Fraser of the Royal Australian Air Force. Each glider carried fifteen sappers, all volunteers, under the command of Lieutenant Methven, G. M. The Royal Engineers were from 9 Field Company and 261 Field Park Company. Their task was to destroy the heavy water production plant and the difficulties were considerable. In the first place, towing gliders was an art which the tug crews had not been given much time to practice. Secondly, the tugs had to be adapted and their engines, having to pull the added weight of the glider behind, developed defects, particularly in the cooling system. Fortunately these and other troubles were discovered during the practice tows and remedied, so that on the night of the operation two Halifaxes were serviceable, though a third held in reserve could not be flown. The greatest difficulty of all was the distance to be covered, some 400 miles on a freezing night, combined with the necessity for extremely accurate navigation over the rugged mountainous district where their target lay.

We shall never know all the details because so few survived. A correct weather forecast was of vital importance. On the morning of the attempt, thick cloud for most of the way, but clear skies and a good moon over the target area were promised. The two Halifax bombers took off while it was still light and set course for Norway. Almost immediately the intercommunication system connecting the gliders and the tugs broke down. One Halifax kept low, seeking to fly beneath the cloud and then to gain height on nearing the Norwegian coast, where the pilot hoped for clear weather. What happened is not exactly known, but at some moment the tug hit the side of a mountain, crashed, and all its crew were killed. The violence of the shock loosed the glider, which made a very heavy landing close by, killing and injuring several of its occupants.

The other Halifax was more fortunate. It flew high and approached the Norwegian coast at 10,000 feet. Here, as promised, the weather cleared, but it was found impossible to locate the landing zone. Though the best that could be obtained, their maps were exceedingly inaccurate, and the necessary pin-point navigation could not therefore be achieved. The whole district was covered with snow which made the identification of objects on the ground even more difficult. The pilot of the Halifax, Squadron Leader A. B. Wilkinson, with his commanding officer, Group Captain T. B. Cooper, DFC, on board, made every effort to find the right spot, until, with petrol running low, he was forced to turn for home. The glider was still at the end of its tow rope, but on crossing the coast the combination ran into heavy cloud and icing conditions, the air became very bumpy, and the two parted. This glider, too, made land and crashed not very far from the other. The survivors of both gliders were captured and almost immediately fell into the hands of the Gestapo. Hitler had given an order that all commandos were to be shot. The injured of the second glider were administered poison by German doctors in Stavanger Hospital. The remaining survivors of the first glider were shot within a few hours and the survivors from the second glider some two months later. Because he did not intervene or disobey the order - the legendary Desert Fox, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel ignored such orders - after the war, General von Falkenhorst, German Commander in Norway at the time, was found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to be shot himself. This was later commuted to 20 years in prison. In a sense von Falkenhorst, dismissed by Hitler because he behaved well towards the Norwegians, became a scapegoat for the Nazi Chief in Norway, the hated Josef Terboven, who rather than surrender blew himself up along with the corpse of the SS Commander who already had shot himself.

All these operations were small scale, classic coup de main attacks, Frost's smash and grab raid on Bruneval with a whole company by far the largest.  Shortage of aircraft dictated that nothing more could be attempted. This situation was about to change dramatically. Nearly 2000 miles south the newly formed British First Parachute Brigade and US 503 Parachute Infantry supported by USAAF 60th and 64th Troop Carrier Groups had gone into action along the coast of North Africa.

 

AIRBORNE TWO

AIRBORNE THREE

BRITISH DEFENCE STRATEGY

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OUR VIRTUAL D DAY TOUR HAS LOTS OF PHOTOS OF THE LEGENDARY SITES TODAY

SEE ALSO

CHURCHILL COLLEGE CAMBRIDGE

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