Sgt. Airborne Troops, UK 1944

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Del Prado

On 22 June 1940 Winston Churchill sent a memo stating flatly, We should have a corps of at least five thousand parachute troops. Two days later Major John Rock of the Royal Engineers was posted to the RAF parachute training school to take charge of the military organisation of British Airborne Forces. He was given no further information as to policy or mission, he had no men, no aircraft, and had never seen a parachute in his life. However, this energetic and imaginative officer set about the task with what was to hand: six obsolescent Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley bombers and a supply of modified Irvin aircrew parachutes. Parachuting techniques and equipment were primitive and dangerous, and the first task was to make radical improvements if soldiers were to be in a fit state to fight on landing.