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Revisting first successful British airborne raid

25 February 2017

Paratroopers have looked back to their proud history as they prepare for the challenges of future operations.

This weekend, C (Bruneval) Company, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment is marking the 75th anniversary of Operation BITING. The Second World War raid on northern France was the first successful British airborne mission.

The February 1942 operation saw C Company 2nd Parachute Battalion parachute in to assault a German radar station at Bruneval, near Le Havre. The paratroopers captured radar equipment and technicians, before being picked up by the Royal Navy. The raid enabled radar countermeasures to be developed and was a massive morale boost, showing that Britain could strike back at Nazi-occupied Europe.

Bruneval was the first battle honour awarded to The Parachute Regiment and the name is carried by C (Brun) Coy 2 PARA in tribute to the men who carried out the raid and helped set the standards that paratroopers are expected to meet.

Four of the paratroopers who took part in the Bruneval raid in 1942. Image from The Museum of the Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces

Four of the paratroopers who took part in the Bruneval raid in 1942. Image from The Museum of the Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces.

The in-depth study of Operation BITING has relevance to the modern role of 2 PARA, with a company raid on a key strategic target, an operation that the unit could be tasked with. Learning what went into the preparation and execution of the successful Bruneval raid will give paratroopers an insight into how they might conduct a similar mission.

2 PARA’s core role is to alternate with 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment as the lead unit in the Air Assault Task Force, which is ready to deploy anywhere in the world to conduct the full range of military operations. 2 PARA is training to take on the AATF role in spring 2017, with the unit’s airborne infantry bolstered by artillery, engineers, signallers, medics and logisticians from 16 Air Assault Brigade.

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