Paratroopers past and present came together to celebrate the 80th anniversary of The Parachute Regiment at a parade and families' day in Colchester, yesterday (3 August).
The special celebration, at Merville Barracks, saw the Regiment’s Red Devils freefall parachute team jumping in to add some airborne derring-do to the occasion. All four of the Regiment’s battalions were on parade and inspected by Lieutenant General Andy Harrison, Colonel Commandant of The Parachute Regiment.
This has been a fantastic occasion to bring together paratroopers past and present and our families to mark 80 years since the establishment of The Parachute Regiment in 1942. Major Adam Jowett, Regimental Secretary
The Parachute Regiment was formed in 1942 to exploit the then new technologies of parachuting, enabling them to deploy by air to outflank the enemy. During fighting in North Africa, the commitment that paratroopers fought with – and the tail of the parachutists' smock that became caked in the local red earth - earned them the nickname ‘red devils’ from the Germans. The Regiment went on to cement its reputation with heroic actions in Normandy and at Arnhem in 1944.
Since the Second World War, the Regiment has served on operations in Palestine, the Falklands, Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan conducting missions, from peace support to war fighting.
All paratroopers volunteer to take on the additional physical and mental challenges of training for airborne operations
In the current structure of the British Army, the Regiment’s 1st Battalion serves as the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG). The SFSG provides extra firepower and manpower to enable Special Forces operations. It also supports domestic anti-terrorism operations and provides training to our allies.
The Colchester-based 2nd (2 PARA) and 3rd (3 PARA) Battalions serve as airborne infantry within 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team, the British Army’s global response force. Both 2 and 3 PARA deployed on Operation Pitting, the evacuation of Kabul in August 2021.
The reservists of the 4th Battalion provide paratroopers to support 2 and 3 PARA, including High Readiness Reserves ready to give up their civilian lives to deploy on operations within days.
Regimental secretary Major Adam Jowett said: “This has been a fantastic occasion to bring together paratroopers past and present and our families to mark 80 years since the establishment of The Parachute Regiment in 1942. Formed during the Second World War as an innovative force to pioneer the then new methods of airborne operations, the Regiment has had a proud and illustrious history serving in every conflict that British soldiers have fought in since.
"The achievements throughout those 80 years set the standards that we expect of the current generation of paratroopers in their vital role as the tip of the spear for the British Army.”