Shortly after his return from the Bruneval Raid, John was transferred to A Company in 2nd Parachute Battalion.
John recounts in the book “Without tradition” by Robert Peatling1 his experience of some experimental jump training:
“At Bulford in the early summer of 1942 I was told to take a section of my platoon from A Company and report to Ringway for some experimental jumping. The section included Sgt. Dowey, Cpl. Le Maitre and Bill Fishwick. On arrival I was told that the first battalion were to take part in a raid but there were insufficient Whitley aircraft to lift the whole battalion and we were to evolve a drill to drop sticks of eight from Wellingtons. Only singles had been dropped up to this time.
A grounded Wellington was available and we started practising immediately. Next morning we were accompanied by a Lysander, since the jumping was experimental and was to be photographed; we took off for the first jump. It was without weapons and containers and I was to jump number eight, last man, to see what happened during the jump.
It was a very quick stick and I was caught around the ankle by the number seven’s static line. Instinctively I grabbed it and when I felt the grip on my ankle ease, I let go. My ‘chute opened and all was well but because of the momentary delay I was heading for the lake. The ‘chute caught the top of a tree bordering the lake and the air from the canopy was spilt. The ’chute was dragged off the tree and I was left lying flat on my back on the ground, very relieved. I remember I tried to light a cigarette but could not get the flame from my lighter to meet my cigarette.
The lads who were not jumping arrived in a pick-up truck and off we went to the WVS van for tea. Back at Ringway I had my damaged hand treated and was shown the photographs of the episode; these showed I had finished up at the tail caught by my ankle.
We were jumping again next day and for the next fortnight trying out various drills with weapons and containers. Then back to Bulford where after a few weeks I was given the Signal platoon from the fourth battalion and told to jump in sticks of ten from Wellingtons which we did and all went well. However when the raid did take place, I imagine it was the Dieppe raid, parachute troops were not used and this must have been a great disappointment to the first battalion.”
1 Book: Without Tradition: 2 Para 1941 -1945 (2004) Author Robert Peatling Publisher: Pen and Sword Military ISBN 1-84415-111-5.
Reproduced for ParaData by kind permission of Harvey Grenville
Source: Harvey GrenvilleRead More