Pathfinder Platoon - and Arnhem

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Goatman, Aug 9, 2012.

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  1. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    Having read the review at , long ago seen ( and read) 'A Bridge Too Far' and various other Arrse and non -Arrse threads about the Battle of Arnhem, I appreciate that it is still being fiercely debated.

    As I was driving past Duxford the other day, a question occurred to me which hopefully somebody with a deeper knowledge of Airbone history may have a quick answer to.

    As I remember, much was made in the film ( yeah Hollywood's version and doubtless full of glaring errors) of the fact that Intelligence on the presence of the SS Panzer Division in the area was ignored.

    Did the current Pathfinder Platoon exist in 1944 ?

    Given the momentum of the Operation, had they dropped prior to the main effort, would their recce report

    ' Take a pause of two marching paces General B - the place is stiff with Tiger tanks and leary swept-up Eastern front vets '

    have actually prevented the Op going ahead ?
  2. I hope not! They'd be ancient now!
    • Like Like x 1
  3. The intelligence was there, and ignored. Not "not gathered," and they went ahead anyway. I suspect the outcome would have been the same.

    It took a lot of forward planning to get everything in place for the drops. They'd postponed enough times prior due to poor weather, so they got a good window and put the operation into action.
  4. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    Exam question - when was the Pathfinder Platoon formed?
  5. HHH

    HHH LE

  6. It was established in 1985.
  7. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    Yup a pair of the notorious Arrse undercrackers

    medium or large for Modom ? PM me a suitable address.

    I understand that, due to the extensive compromise of the Dutch resistance networks, there may have been reluctance to believe the Int. I also understand that an operation this complex, planned so far in advance aquires a momentum of its own which can be irresistible.

    What I did not understand was the role of the pathfinders.

    Alles Klaar - vielen Dank

    Don Cabra
  8. ....and here are some of those very gallant fellows.......

    PF COPY.jpg
    • Like Like x 2
  9. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    Thanks J-D - every day a College day

    Given the text in bold, I guess that the Pathfinder element who landed at Arnhem just didn't come into contact with any of the Panzers until after the main landing had taken place.
  10. The 21st (Independent) Parachute Company was the Pathfinder force deployed at Arnhem. They arrvied shortly before the first main wave to mark and clear the DZ's. Like so many other units they were gradually chewed up over the course of the battle and finished up on the Oosterbeek perimeter. I may be mistaken but it could have been 21 Para Coy members that led the only Coy of 3 PARA who made it through to link up with 2 PARA at the bridge.

    The Pathfinders primary duties included the marking and clearance of DZ's, setting up the directional beacons for Aircraft (named Eurekas?) and snooping about the immediate area. Once the main force landed PF became either a recce asset or reserve force. I don't think the recce role of WW2 era PF was as evolved as the modern day PF platoon.

    Their recce role only began after the drop and only covered their immediate AO so its fair to say they couldn't of done much to prevent the operation from going ahead. Although I do believe they had the power to abort certain DZ runs if they had good reason to. Only the Polish DZ's at Arnhem were in need of initial aborting, the others went quite smoothly.
  11. The picture I posted is of the PF chaps laying a wreath at the crossroads in Oosterbeek just opposite from the Schoonord bar, it's pretty much where they made their last stand.
  12. PRT? ;-)
  13. No I wouldn't think so, seeing that 1st Airborne Div also included a jeep-mounted recce squadron while 6th Airborne Div had a whole recce regt which included a tank sqn and a scout car/carrier/infantry sqn, as well as 3-in mortars and MMGs :

    1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron | ParaData

    6th Airborne Armoured Recce Regiment RAC | ParaData
  14. The question has been pretty much answered but to clarify, the pathfinders from WW2 had a different role than the ones today, essentially their role was securing and marking the DZ matter of hours or even minutes before the main landing force, not the early HALO long range recce job they do today.

    Many attribute the first troops into D-Day as D Coy 2nd Ox and Bucks, but they were the first formed unit, pathfinders landed before they did

    So to the original question, could the PF not warn of German troops in and around Arhnem, possibly but by then the main force was committed and landing shortly, even the above mentioned recce units wouldn't of helped either as they pretty much landed with the main party.

    IN those days it was down to local int and aerial photography, maybe a few early boots on the ground may of made a difference, probably not as this was a succeed at all costs mission.