Normandy (Operation Overlord)
The 6th Airborne Division had been formed in May 1943 for the Invasion.
During the Second World War it was found necessary and advantageous to form small groups of parachute soldiers into ‘pathfinder’ units, to parachute onto the selected drop zone ahead of the main force. 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 Pathfinder Company 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.
The 22nd Independent Company the Parachute Regiment was formed between May and September 1943 to serve the 6th Airborne Division. Like its sister unit the 21st, the Company consisted of a Company Headquarters and three platoons, each with one officer and 32 men. Each platoon was sub-divided into three sticks, commanded by a sergeant or Corporal. These operated Eureka ground to air radio beacons to Rebecca receivers inside the incoming transport aircraft of the main force. Coloured panels were used to mark DZs by day and 6v battery powered Holophane lamps by night.
22nd Company jumped on D-Day on 6th June 1944 achieving limited success with the subsequent scattered main lift insertion. It fought around Breville and remained as line infantry in Normandy until the break out to the Seine in August.
The Company fought in the Ardennes during the winter fighting of 1944-5 and took part in Operation VARSITY, the Rhine Crossing in March 1945. After the war in Europe the Company was attached and accompanied the 5th Parachute Brigade to the Far East in 1945-6.
22nd Independent Company was disbanded in July 1946.
1943-4 Maj F Lennox-Boyd
1944 Maj N Stockwell
1944 Maj J de T Vischer
1944-5 Maj MG Dolden
1945-6 Maj JHS Lane
1946 Maj DD Campbell, MC
Make a donation to Airborne Assault ParaData to help preserve the history of The Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces