Independent Parachute Squadron
In 1954 the 22nd Special Air Service (SAS) Regiment required a replacement ‘Sabre’ (fighting) squadron for deployment during the ‘Emergency’ in Malaya. The Parachute Regiment were invited to provide the personnel. Around 80 officers and men were selected from a large number of volunteers to form the Independent Parachute Squadron under command of Major EWD Coventry. It consisted of an HQ Troop and four ‘sabre’ troops of 14 soldiers sub-divided into three patrols.
The squadron formed up at Lille Barracks, Aldershot, on 7 Feb 1955 and comprised of the following officers and senior NCOs in the Squadron Headquarters:
O.C: Major EWD. Coventry (1 Para)
2 i/c: Captain D Chatterton (2 Para)
S.S.M: WOII Philipson (3 Para)
S.Q.M.S.: S/Sgt Hay (2 Para)
In addition the four 'sabre' troops were initially led by:
11 Troop: Lt Williams (1 Para); Sgt. Butler (1 Para)
12 Troop: Lt Watts (3 Para); Sgt. Mitchell (3 Para)
13 Troop: Lt Oldfield (2 Para); Sgt. Cannon (2 Para)
14 Troop: Lt Clark (3 Para); Sgt. Ferguson (Depot)
The Independent Parachute Squadron joined the SAS for operations in 1955 following preparatory jungle training. Formally assimilated into the 22 SAS regimental structure, it was later known as The Parachute Regiment Squadron (22 Special Air Service Regiment).
The squadron patrols penetrated deep jungle on foot, by parachute drop or helicopter insertion. Carrying a variety of weapons and two weeks' rations they were re-supplied by air. Jungle patrolling is arduous, lonely, hazardous and often unrewarding; 500 hours of patrolling was required on average to achieve one ‘contact’ with the enemy.
It spent most of 1955 patrolling the Iskander swamps of southern Malaya and then the southern Selanger swamps of Tasek Bera. The task was to gain information, destroy Ladangs and terrorist bands through ambush and rescue oppressed Aboriginals. The aim was to force the CTs to jungle fringe areas where they could be mopped up by conventional security forces. Most of the second year of the deployment was spent in the mountain area between Ipoh and the Cameron Highlands, where some successes were achieved.
In April 1957 the squadron tour expired and it was disbanded. Troops were returned to the UK and re-posted to their parent units.