15th Kings Parachute Battalion

15th Kings Parachute Battalion

1945 to 1946

The 15th (British) Parachute Battalion was formed in 1945 from a nucleus of volunteers from the 1st Battalion The King's Regiment in Malthone, India which had previously had a role with Special Forces and Chindit operations. It belonged to the 77th Indian Brigade, part of the 44th Indian Airborne Division.

Training commenced at Chaklala near Rawalpindi from March 1945 with officers and men from other units arriving to bring the new battalion up to full strength. Over the next few months all men received parachute training and the battalion was eventually, in May 1945, encamped at Batrassi in the North West Frontier.

The battalion moved back to the hot and dusty conditions of Rawalpindi in July 1945, followed by a further move to Bilaspur, in central India, where they continued training for operations in the Far East. Bilaspur proved a demanding area during the monsoon season with flooded paddy fields resulting in men wading chest deep in water and with numerous poisonous snakes in and around the camp. However, as the official history of the battalion notes of the men:

“Many had already been in action and wanted to get another crack at the Japanese, the others were just as anxious to be given the first opportunity”

News of the Japanese capitulation, however, saw a team of seven officers and six sergeants from 15th Battalion dispatched to parachute into Japanese prisoner of war camps in Java, Sumatra, Bangkok and Singapore, to provide first aid to the allied prisoners. Of these, Captain G Wishart of the 15th Battalion, became the first member of Allied Forces to return to Singapore since its capitulation in 1942.

The rest of the battalion was then moved to Karachi where training continued at a reduced tempo, with most time being spent on developing what facilities there were and preparing for the return to civilian life. Poltical unrest in India, however, saw the 15th Battalion designated the British Internal Security Battalion for Karachi.

The battalion history notes, in December 1945, that:

'15th Battalion is spending Christmas in Barracks in the centre of town, in the pious hope that Java, Palestine or the Fakir of Ipi will provide the opportunities that the Sons of Heaven (note: the Japanese) failed to give'.

That chance for action came, however, and in February 1946, the battalion was called upon to quell a mutiny on HMIS Hindustan docked in Karachi. After exchanging fire for 35 minutes the Royal Indian Navy mutineers surrendered. Three members of the battalion were wounded during the action. Operations then followed throughout February assisting the Police in restoring order in and around Karachi. Several key points were occupied by the battalion and patrols carried out as a show of force.

Training, public order and ceremonial duties continued, thereafter, in and around Karachi until the battalion was disbanded in 1947.

Commanding Officers:

March 1945 Lt Col G Astell MC (Kings Regt)
June 1945 Maj FE Templer (Royal Ulster Rifles)
July 1945 Lt Col TBH Otway DSO
October 1945- June 1946 Lt Col PGF Young
June 1946 -1947 Lt Col GH Lea

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Group photos_12

  • Group photograph of No 1 Assault Company, 15th (Kings) Parachute Battalion, Karachi, India, 1946

    Group photograph of No 1 Assault Company, 15th (Kings) Parachute Battalion, Karachi, India, 1946

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  • Members of Assault Company, 15th (Kings) Parachute Battalion with the Battalion flag, India, 1946

    Members of Assault Company, 15th (Kings) Parachute Battalion with the Battalion flag, India, 1946

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  • The boarding party of the HMIS Hindustan from A Coy, 15th (Kings) Battalion, India, February 1946

    The boarding party of the HMIS Hindustan from A Coy, 15th (Kings) Battalion, India, February 1946

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  • Another view of the boarding party sent to the HMIS Hindustan from A Coy, 15th (Kings) Battalion, India, February 1946

    Another view of the boarding party sent to the HMIS Hindustan from A Coy, 15th (Kings) Battalion, India, February 1946

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  • Commander-in-Chief Gen Sir Claude Auchinlek inspects the 15th (Kings) Battalion, Bilaspur, India, April 1946

    Commander-in-Chief Gen Sir Claude Auchinlek inspects the 15th (Kings) Battalion, Bilaspur, India, April 1946

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  • Commander-in-Chief Gen Sir Claude Auchinlek completes his inspection of 15th (Kings) Battalion, Bilaspur, India, April 1946

    Commander-in-Chief Gen Sir Claude Auchinlek completes his inspection of 15th (Kings) Battalion, Bilaspur, India, April 1946

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  • Field Marshal Montgomery inspects 15th (Kings) Battalion, Mauripur, India, June 1946

    Field Marshal Montgomery inspects 15th (Kings) Battalion, Mauripur, India, June 1946

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  • Field Marshal Montgomery inspects the 15th (Kings) Battalion, Mauripur, India, June 1946

    Field Marshal Montgomery inspects the 15th (Kings) Battalion, Mauripur, India, June 1946

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