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1st Parachute Brigade
The divisional shoulder flash of the airborne forces
Active 5 September 1941
Country Great Britain
Branch British Army
Type Airborne
Role Parachute Infantry
Size Brigade
Part of 1st Airborne Division
Brig Richard Gale
Brig.Gerald Lathbury

The 1st Parachute Brigade was formed during the Second World War as part of the British Army .


History in World War II

Brigade HQ formed 5 Sep 1941 in the UK. Assigned 1st Airborne Division 10 Dec 1941. Relieved from 1st Airborne Division 22 Sep 1942 and allotted to forces for Invasion of North-West Africa. (One battalion moved by air 10 Nov 1942, pausing at Gibraltar and then landing near Algiers 11 Nov 1942; the remainder of the brigade moved by sea and arrived at Algiers 12 Nov 1942.) The brigade engaged in two battalion-sized drops (late Nov and early Dec 1942), then served as infantry for the remainder of the campaign in Tunisia, remaining in action until 15 Apr 1943.

Assigned 1st Airborne Division 7 May 1943, which was then concentrating in Tunisia. The brigade was dropped in Sicily the evening of 13 Jul 1943 to capture Primosole Bridge. They were relieved 15 Jul 1943 and then returned to Tunisia. The brigade sailed with its division to Taranto, arriving 9 Sep 1943. It then left for the UK in Nov 1943.

The brigade next went into action 17 Sep 1944 when dropped into Arnhem during Operation Market Garden. One battalion was able to seize the northern end of the Rhine bridge, but was then isolated and later overrun. The remainder of the brigade was in a pocket with 1st Airborne Division until the remnants were withdrawn the night of 24/25 Sep 1944. This largely destroyed the brigade, which absorbed remnants of 4th Parachute Brigade and was reconstituted Nov 1944 in the UK. Relieved from 1st Airborne Division 5 May 1945 and then posted to Denmark at the end of the war. Brigade lapsed when the brigade commander left for new assignment and units posted away 19 Jul 1945. 1st Parachute Brigade reformed 30 Jul 1945. Assigned 1st Airborne Division 25 Aug 1945.


Assigned Units

1st Bn Parachute Regiment: 15 Sep 1941 - 30 May 1945
2nd Bn Parachute Regiment: 30 Sep 1941 - 5 Aug 1945
3rd Bn Parachute Regiment: 1 Oct 1941 - 8 May 1945
4th Parachute Bn: 1 Jan 1942 - 31 Jul 1942
1st Bn Parachute Regiment [2]: returned 31 Jul 1945
2nd Bn Parachute Regiment [2]: returned 31 Jul 1945
17th Bn Parachute Regiment: 14 Aug 1945

Attached Units 1942-43

1st Parachute Sqn RE: 23 Sep 1942 - 6 May 1943
16th Parachute Field Ambulance: 23 Sep 1942 - 6 May 1943

Assigned Units May to Jul 1945

‘B’ Coy, 13th Bn Parachute Regiment: 10 May 1945 - 16 May 1945
1st Royal Dragoons {armoured cars}: 10 May 1945 - 18 Jul 1945
2nd Bn KRRC {motor bn}: 10 May 1945 - 18 Jul 1945

Commanding Officers

5 Sep 1941: Brig R.N. Gale
18 Apr 1942: Brig E.W.C. Flavell
28 Apr 1943: Brig G.W. Lathbury (WIA 18 Sep 1944)
19 Sep 1944: Lt-Col J.D. Frost (acting) (WIA 20 Sep 1944)
23 Oct 1944: Brig G.W. Lathbury
1 Jun 1945: Lt-Col A.H. Pepys (acting)
12 Jul 1945: Brig E.E.G.L. Searight [left 19 Jul 1945]
30 Jul 1945: Brig S.J.L. Hill


Information based on:

  • Lt. Col. H. F.Joslen, Orders of Battle, Second World War, 1939-1945 History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Military Series (London: Her Majesty's Stationary Office, 1960 in 2 vols; reprinted London: The London Stamp Exchange, 1990 in one vol)
  • Lt-Col T. B. H. Otway, Airborne Forces The Second World War 1939-1945, Army (London: Imperial War Museum, Department of Printed Books, 1990; originally published as Confidential volume 1951 by the War Office)


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