Recollections of 1st Air Troop RE
The first Air Troop RE came into being in September 1941 under the command of Captain S Dorman and Lieutenant D Vernon.
On 15th September 1941 authorisation was given for the formation of the 1st Parachute Brigade under Brigadier Richard N Gale. It was first employed operationally during the North African campaign where it was nick-named the ‘Red Devils’ by the Germans. It fought in Sicily, Italy and Arnhem with the 1st Airborne Division and also took part in the Liberation of Denmark.
In 1946 it was deployed to Palestine with the 6th Airborne Division and disbanded in 1948.
Order of Battle:
Attached Units 1942-43
Assigned Units May to Jul 1945
Arab intransigence over the surge of Jewish immigration that followed the Holocaust in Europe led to the forming of extreme dissident Zionist groups such as IZL (Irgun Zwai Leumi) and the Stern Gang, all seeking to promote their aims through violence.
The airborne soldiers were well suited to exploit the fluid situation that occurred following the collapse of the Rhine barrier defence. Short fierce actions were fought from the tanks of the 4th Tank Battalion of the Grenadier Guards and whatever transport could be purloined.
1st Allied Airborne Corps, which included the American 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, was tasked to secure the main canal and river crossings between Eindhoven and Arnhem.
Speed was essential to prevent the consolidation of Italian and German defences facing a rapid pincer movement launched from the west and south east immediately after the amphibious landings. Key bridges and ports were to be captured by airborne assault.
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