Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Library_Soldier2, Aug 5, 2008.
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As title, thanks for replies!
There is a variable answer to your question as a result of how the training programme / standards evolved between April 1940 through to 1945.
There was also a distinction between airborne soldiers and SOE / Jedburgh teams, with the latter undergoing 5 days training and completing 4 descents to be considered 'para trained'.
From July 1940 the first volunteers - 100 men from No2 Commando, 'B' & 'C' troops did 6 descents from a converted Whitley bomber.
On 8th. April 1941 the balloon was introduced into the programme which adjusted the programme and a night descent was introduced. The course was now 2 or 3 descents from a balloon and 2 or 3 descents from a Dakota, the Whitley being considered no longer suitable for 'mass' drops.
In 1945 the standard course format was 3 balloon descents and 5 Dakota jumps.
Between 1940 and 1945 there was a change in parachute design which influenced the above courses, but that's another theme. Trust that helps.
Then there were the SOE who's first jump was into France.
No training jumps for them.
Some Arnhem and Normandy vets only did 2 ie Arnhem and Normandy. Many of my unit vets did this Jack-Daniels can verifiy this as we were in the same Para Unit.
Absolutely correct on a needs must basis. As I said it's not a straightforward question to answer.
Some 300 SOE members were recorded having undertaken para training. They were kept seperate from the regular troops and were housed in three locations near Ringway / Tatton Park.
Invariably there were some agents who undertook limited ground training with their first descent straight into ops.
Some descent stats from the 1940 > 1946 period. # Note descents not students #
1940 - 2,100 descents.
1941 - 20,000
1942 - 61,000
1943 - 102,300
1944 - 114,300
1945 - 122,000
1946 - 7,400
That's what I meant Alex. They did training but sometimes they had to get in PDQ and the training was a luxury they could not afford.
A friend of mine did P Coy as a Pay Cpl, and probably a score of descents (including the Balloon on Queens Parade). Some years later, he attended some Airborne get-together (maybe Airborne Forces Day), and got chatting to an old WW2 Para. He asked him how many jumps he'd made, and the old chap said "Two. One at Ringway, the other at Arnhem."
Exit my mate with glowing face.
I can and we were!
That says it all.
I understand that 30AU had such an intensive training regime that they only trained for parachuting as an immediate pre-cursor to an operation as it wasn't a general requirement. Most 30AU op drops were first drops! Balls of steel.
I thought that the reasoning behind agents doing no training jumps was because statistically, there was less chance of them being injured doing the one jump than doing a 'crash-course' involving a limited number of jumps. Definitely men and women of outstanding courage.
By the way, I am unclear as to which of the groups mentioned so far would have been eligible to wear the para wings.
Is it, or was it the case that one operational jump qualified you to wear wings in perpetuity?
Does that still apply today? Even if you spanked in and broke your back?
Just curious, but what was the unit?
I'm sure there were a few individuals who were transferred from the 6th to the 1st Airborne Division after Normandy, but didn't know of any units that participated in both drops.
I'd be interested to hear more.
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