2 (British) Independent Pathfinder Company

2 (British) Independent Pathfinder Company

44 (British) Independent Pathfinder Company was formed as the pathfinder unit of the 44th (Indian) Airborne Division in 1945.

It carried out one operational drop, laying the way in to Rangoon via Elephant Point in May 1945.

Personnel from a 'Special Force' Company (ex 'Chindits') formed the nucleus under the command of Major F E Templer. The remainder were generally reinforcements from the UK who were hand picked by Templer.

Initially part of 77th Indian Parachute Brigade in the Order of Battle, it was later redesignated as the 2nd (British) Independent Pathfinder Company when 44 (Indian) Airborne Division was renamed as 2 (Indian) Airborne Division towards the end of 1945.

In 1946, a reorganisation of the 2 Indian Airborne Division resulted in all British units being withdrawn from the division and formed into 6 (British) Independent Parachute Brigade, although it remained under divisional command.

The 2nd (British) Independent Pathfinder Company went into suspended animation in late 1946 and was formally disbanded in 1947.

A pathfinder unit was usually deployed ahead of the main force to parachute onto the selected drop zone. Their tasks were to mark the drop zone, establish directional radio beacons to enable the coming transport aircraft to ‘home’ in on the exact drop point and to clear and protect the area as the main force parachuted or air landed.

The pathinders also acted as an early warning if the selected drop zone was heavily defended, possibly enabling diversion to an alternative. Once the main force was down the pathfinders were employed as a small reserve or reconnaissance force.

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