John Stevenson's Personal Account of fighting in North West Europe during the Second World War.
The 2nd Bucks was a very smart regiment, and there was an air of seriousness everywhere and everyone seemed under pressure all the time.
The 2nd Battalion, Oxford and Buckinghamshire (Ox and Bucks) Light Infantry were stationed in India on the North West Frontier (as 52nd Ox and Bucks Light Infantry) at the start of the Second World War, before being recalled to the UK. In the early years of the war, they formed part of the 31st Independant Infantry Brigade, undertaking Home and Coastal Defence roles in Wales, East Anglia, London and Kent.
At this stage in the war, the British Airborne Forces consisted of just the 1st Parachute Brigade. In September 1941 however, the War Office decided that a Brigade of glider infantry should be raised to compliment them. The 31st Infantry Brigade was selected for this task and accordingly, on 10 October 1941, it was renamed the 1st Airlanding Brigade. In addition to the 2nd Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, this experimental formation consisted of a further three battalions; the 1st Battalion, Border Regiment, 1st Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles, and 2nd Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment.
Gliders were seen as a necessary method of supporting airborne operations, as they were able to carry additional infantry to reinforce the parachute brigades, and also heavy equipment, such as jeeps and Anti-Tank Guns. It was this factor, and the subsequent formation of the 1st Airborne Division, that made it possible for the role of the British Airborne Forces to advance beyond the small-scale and infrequent commando raids that had been previously envisaged.
The transformation to an Airborne Battalion saw the 2nd Ox and Bucks remain in England and start training for the planned invasion of North West Europe the following year as part of the redesignated 6th Airlanding Brigade of 6th Airborne Division. Elements of the Battalion (D Coy and parts of B Coy) formed a Coup de Main force, tasked with an attack on the bridges over the River Orne and adjacent Canal in Normandy (subsequently known as the attack on Pegasus Bridge).
The Battalion's involvement in the successful Coup de Main action at Pegasus Bridge, under Major John Howard proved one of the most remarkable British Airborne actions during the Second World War. The 2nd Battalion itself would continue to see Airborne action however, serving as part of the 6th Airborne deployment to the Ardennes and the Rhine Crossing in early spring 1945.
Profile under construction - compiled with assistance from Phil JennettRead More
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