Exercise King's Joker

Ex King’s Joker was a brigade group exercise of territorial soldiers from 16th Airborne Division (TA) on the Stanford Training Area, Norfolk, in 1953. At the time, it was the largest Airborne TA exercise in Britain since the end of World War II.

It was divided into two phases, with King’s Joker I taking place in August and King’s Joker II performed on the ninth anniversary of Arnhem, involving around 1,200 troops from 44th Parachute Brigade supported by divisional units.

The airborne assault on King’s Joker II was provided using C-119 aircraft of 60 Troop Carrier Wing of the 12th United States Air Force, based in Germany, and executed in three lifts. The second lift of 600 men following two hours after the first, with a third lift half an hour later providing a heavy drop of artillery and vehicles.

The exercise also provided the opportunity for a field trial of a 7,000lb platform of special light steel with shock absorbers using a cluster of eight parachutes, prior to adoption by the British Army.

The brigade group was tasked with assaulting enemy positions at Frog Hill, near Bodney, which necessitated bridging the River Wissey in preparation for its advance.

The enemy for the exercise was provided by other units of 16 Airborne Division, including 16 Lincoln Coy who also provided the pathfinder element for the drop, and two squadrons of The Royal Horse Guards.

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