Headlines in the Sunday papers first informed members of the Brigade [16th Independent Parachute Brigade] that a new sub-unit, the Independent Squadron, The Parachute Regiment was about to be formed for service in Malaya. 22 S.A.S. Regiment, to which we shall be attached, has known about this for some time, as have other people outside the Brigade. We feel that on Sunday, 9th January [1955], the Brigadier must have been mentally singing “and everybody knew but me”.

The response was both excellent and immediate from all ranks and battalions. Even when it was announced that members would have to extend their regular engagements the list remained largely oversubscribed. Much elimination had to be carried out and it was regretted that all who volunteered could not be taken. Eventually the Squadron, of a total strength of 76, was formed on 7th February [1955] at Lille Barracks, Aldershot, amid the rejoicings of the chosen few and lamentations of those unfortunate subalterns left behind to face further winters’ cold and overdrawn accounts.

Here at Lille Barracks we have been well accommodated by the staff of the Week-end Training Centre, R.A.S.C., who have been most helpful and intending over our difficulties. Thanks to all concerned, we are now well settled in and the organization of pay, rations, clothing, documentation has proceeded smoothly. The issued olive green fits in places except for jungle hats, where even the most swell-headed of us has to be content with a size six or under balanced precariously on the crown of the head. Even so many styles have been achieved which would do credit even to Dior.

Brigadier Gordon visited the Squadron the day after formation and after a brief inspection addressed us. He wished us good luck and expressed his confidence in us and in our ability to uphold the good name of the Regiment.

The idea of a Squadron within the Parachute Regiment is causing concern amongst us, and a movement is under way to change us into an Independent Company. However, our organization is a strange one for a Company and is based on the old S.A.S. Squadrons.

O.C: Major. E.W.D. Coventry. (1 Para)
2 i/c: Captain. D. Chatterton. (2 Para)
S.S.M: W.O.II. Philipson. (3 Para)
S.Q.M.S.: S/Sgt. Hay. (2 Para)

The above-named form the Headquarters with the following Troop organisations;

1 Troop: Lieut. Williams. (1 Para)
Sgt. Butler. (1 Para)

2 Troop: Lieut. Watts. (3 Para)
Sgt. Mitchell. (3 Para)

3 Troop: Lieut. Oldfield. (2 Para)
Sgt. Cannon. (2 Para)

4 Troop: Lieut. Clark. (3 Para)
Sgt. Ferguson. (Depot)

Each Troop contains thirteen good men and true from the various Battalions.

Although former units are here mentioned, we are now thoroughly mixed together as Independent Squadron, Parachute Regiment, and we expect no cliques whatsoever.

Despite the acute shortage of training equipment, we have managed to keep ourselves occupied with map-reading exercises without maps, jungle exercises without jungle, and rifle exercises without rifles!

[Editor's Note: name changed to Parachute Regiment Squadron (22 Special Air Service Regiment)]

Since our last notes, a great deal has happened and many countries have been seen for a short period, also a large amount of jungle and ground has been covered.

The advance party, consisting of Major Coventry, Lieut. Oldfield, C.Q.M.S. Hay, Sgt. Mitchell, Cpl. Lannery, and Ptes. Roberts, Steptoe, Catling and Usher, left Aldershot on 1st March and spent that night at the London Assembly Centre, Goodge Street, emplaning next morning at Blackbushe. The passage to Singapore was made with stops at Rome, Nicosia, Bahrain, Karachi, Delhi, Calcutta, Bangkok and finally Singapore, where they arrived on the afternoon of Saturday, 5th March, and were then moved to Nee Soon Camp, where it was discovered by Monday morning that they were in quite the wrong place, and were transferred to Selerang Garrison, near Changi.

The next two weeks were spent in drawing up all types of stores from Ordnance, in preparation for arrival of the main body of the Squadron on 20th March. Travelling by an entirely different route, ldris Habbaniya, Marripur, Nagombo, Singapore. The main body arrived to schedule, but unfortunately Pte. Phillips, who had managed to get as far as Lyneham, was taken off the plane with a collapsed lung.

The next five days were spent in settling down to the new surroundings, servicing weapons, playing football and swimming.

On 26th March the whole Squadron moved to Kotah Tinggi in Johore. where they carried out jungle training at the Far East Training Centre; this instruction proved most interesting as it was new to practically everyone. and such keenness was shown in the drills that the instructors at the school had to admit that they were a bit "pushed" in keeping up. For the last week of this period we took part in Operation "Rex," taking the place of a company of the 2nd/10th Ghurkas in the Penang peninsula.

This proved to be quite an unusual way of going into operations, as it started with a three-hour journey on three motor launches of the Royal Malayan Navy. Liaison was good on the way there and even better on the way back. Unfortunately the Squadron did not get a kill, but recent signs of Communist terrorist movement were discovered, the chief handicap was the time factor, as we had to come out on 22nd April and therefore could not follow up their tracks.

A lot of valuable experience was gained on this operation, including the fact that it is possible to run out of water in an area marked swamp-once more freak weather conditions had followed us. This time in the form of a drought. Most members of the Squadron have now learnt to open a coconut without removing their fingers, but when they eventually return to England and are found to be a finger or two deficient, this will be the probable cause.

On 23rd April the Squadron returned to Selerang and settled in over the week-end, then from 26th to 29th April, a concentrated programme of parachuting was carried out, every man completed two jumps, one with a Bergan and one with abseiling Gear. The only casualty was Pte. Bealer who injured his back slightly and should be returning to us any day.

On 30th April the whole Squadron moved up to Kuala Lumpur to join 22nd Special Air Service, travelling up on the night train and arriving at 0810 hrs. on 1st May. We were met at the station by Colonel Lea, M.B.E., Commanding S.A.S. Major Peacock and the Adjutant, Capt. Carey. The officers, sergeants and men were taken away to their living accommodation and, entertained by the S.A.S.; many old faces from the Brigade were seen by all ranks, and on Monday morning everyone was completely settled in and had been made to feel welcome and a part of the Regiment.

The Squadron have already supplied three members for the Regimental football team, namely L./Cpl. Lewington, Ptes. Ball and Rickaby; three members for the water-polo team: Major Coventry, S.S.M. Philipson and Pte. Catterall; and three members for the darts team, Ptes. Maitland, Patrick and Carter.

All officers and sergeants are attached at the moment to the two squadrons in the jungle for 10 days, the men are under the S.A.S. Training Officer doing a final cadre, and we hope to go into the jungle on 3rd June until 3rd August.


At the present moment the Squadron is waiting to begin its second operation with 22 Special Air Service Regiment. The last four months have been filled with varying occupations and tasks. Whereas our last notes were written whilst still in training, we now feel that if we are not yet old hands, we have done almost everything at least once. Two things have evaded us however; one is an actual kill, the other is the opportunity of parachuting from a helicopter.

Our first operation took place in the Palong Forest Reserve, and although few signs of enemy activity were seen, the Squadron showed itself well able to deal with the climate, diseases, boredom and stress of this type of work. Throughout the morale of the troops remained extremely high and we had only one person evacuated through sickness,Tpr. Bland, who had a peculiar skin disease and who has now fully recovered.

The erection of camps and bashas and the provision of minor comforts are always improving. Some of the bashas are wonders of improvisation.

All troops worked well and the enemy was contacted three times, once by Cpl. Shelton and Tpr. Finn of H.Q. Troop, once by a small patrol from 12 Troop under L./Cpl. Parr, and once by three men of 14 Troop under Cpl. Ballantyne. In all cases, however, the enemy was a single person who soon became lost in the undergrowth. On the credit side we found many camps and destroyed some areas of cultivation. The area was truly dominated for the duration of our stay.

Leave followed immediately and all ranks made the most of all accumulated funds among the bright lights of Singapore, Penang and Kuala Lumpur. Perhaps too many inquiries into happenings whilst on leave are not advisable, but the number of detected misdemeanours was extremely low and the good-humoured, high-spirited enjoyment refreshed everybody.

Luckily, the S.A.S. "Cycle of events" includes retraining and recuperation at Morib Beach, where we were all able to rest from the effects of the last operation and the revelries of leave. Morib Beach was well appreciated and useful work was done on the "Jungle Range" as well as in the canoes and boats of the S.A.S. The beach brought back many memories for at least one member of the Squadron, S.Q.M.S. Hay, who landed there with the 12th Battalion in September 1945, before moving into Singapore.

We are glad to welcome Tpr. "Aussie" Phillips, who has now rejoined us after being detained in the U.K. through illness; this brings us once again up to full squadron strength. Actually our members have been increased; we have five Iban trackers from Sarawak attached to us who are joining our activities, settling down, and being welcomed by all.

The Squadron's sporting record remains impressive. Our soccer team has played seventeen matches and has lost only two. We have several "stars" in the swimming team which includes Tpr. Catterall, S.S.M. Philipson and our O.C., Major E. W. D. Coventry. Lieut. Williams, Sgt. Cannon, Tprs. Lewington and Allan are now in strict training for the Regimental rugby team. We congratulate Tpr. "Scouse" Catterall on his being selected to play water polo for the Army, and having the nerve to score all five goals in their win against Selanger Golf Club, five goals to four.

The domestic side of the Squadron's affairs are steadily improving, with only the family of Sgt. Mitchell yet to arrive. All appear to be settling down well in the sunshine, and we wish them a very happy stay in Malaya. Congratulations to Tpr. and Mrs. Biggs on the recent birth of a baby daughter, also to Tprs. Richardson and Weaver on their appointments to lance-corporal, and to LCpl. Shelton, the Squadron chef, on promotion to substantive corporal.


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