The Paratrooper Training Pocket Manual 1939-1945.

The Paratrooper Training Pocket Manual 1939-1945.

Author
Chris McNab.
ARRSE Rating
4 Mushroom Heads
The Paratrooper Training Pocket Manual 1939-1945.

Airborne Assault was one of the great military innovations of the 1930s and 40s. The German in particular demonstrating the potential of elite parachute and glider borne Infantry in the opening movements of the war in Europe. In particular the taking of the Belgian Fort of Eban Emael by a small force of Fallschirmjager.

The Soviets, Americans,Japanese, and British had all also invested time and men in the concept but the advent of war took these efforts into overdrive. Though the Soviets and Japanese failed to make significant use of their units.

The invasion of Crete though successful for the Germans, exposed the vulnerability of lightly armed paratroops to conventional forces during the initial phases of their assault. The 7000 men killed led to the Fallschirmjager being relegated to the role of elite Infantry found where the fighting was hardest from Monte Cassino to Normandy. The Allies went on to employ Airborne forces en masse on D-Day, at Arnhem, the Ardennes , and to bounce the Rhine.

In this book from the Casemate Pocket Manual series the author Chris McNab has examined the ethos, training, and to some extent the doctrine behind these forces. Concentrating on the Germans, British, and Americans he has lifted sections from the actual training manuals and intelligence reports to discuss and illustrate his salient point and explore the ethos of these forces.

I suspect much of the technical data will be of great interest to those with experience in parachuting, gliding or flying, though I have to admit found some of it a little dry. This in no way detracts from the book overall and there are some wonderful snippets of information included even exploring diet and recruiting. I found the document captured from a German Paratrooper in Greece particularly fascinating. It detailed “The Parachutists Ten Commandments”, a succinct illustration of the entire Airborne ethos.

As with its corresponding volume on the USMC this book would make a great travelling companion or holiday read.

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