1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment

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"1 Para" redirects here. For the Belgian unit, see 1st Parachute Battalion (Belgium).
1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment
Parachute Regiment cap badge.jpg
Cap badge of the Parachute Regiment
Active 1941–1948
1948–Present
Country  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Type Airborne infantry
Role Special operations light infantry
Size One battalion
Part of UK Special Forces
Nickname Sporting First
Motto Utrinque Paratus
(Latin for "ready for anything"
Insignia
Identification
symbol
Paras DZ Flash updated.GIF

The 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment (1 PARA), forms the United Kingdom's Special Forces Support Group (SFSG).[1]

An airborne light infantry unit, the battalion has since 2006 been the main contributor of manpower to the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG) and is capable of a wide range of operations. Personnel regularly deploy outside of the United Kingdom on operations and training.

All personnel complete the Pre Parachute Selection (P Company) course at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire (previously it was at Aldershot, Hampshire).

The 1st is permanently attached to the SFSG. Once selected, they receive further training on additional weapons, communications equipment and specialist assault skills.[2] All men within the Parachute Regiment can expect to serve with the SFSG on rotation. This ensures that the advanced military skills taught to the SFSG are maintained in the other two regular battalions.

Under Army 2020, it is expected that 1 PARA will remain as part of the SFSG.[3][4]

History[edit]

Parachute training, 1942

The 1st Battalion can trace its origins to 1940, when No. 2 Commando trained as parachutists. In 1941, the battalion was assigned to the 1st Parachute Brigade which also included the 2nd and 3rd battalions. The 1st Parachute Brigade was part of the 1st Airborne Division and remained with it throughout the war.

The battalion took part in operations in Tunisia in late 1942 to May 1943, suffering heavy casualties. The battalion and the brigade took part in Operation Fustian, when the Allies invaded Sicily and, again, suffered heavy casualties and was withdrawn to England in late 1943 to train and prepare for the Allied invasion of France. The battalion wasn't used in the initial invasion on 6 June 1944, D-Day, but was held back in the UK in reserve in case any of the five invasion beaches encountered serious difficulties and needed support. The plan turned out not to be required. During the fighting in Normandy numerous plans to drop the 1st Airborne were formed, none of which came to fruition. Finally, in September 1944, the battalion dropped into Arnhem the Netherlands in September 1944 with the rest of the 1st Airborne Division, as part of Operation Market Garden where they suffered extremely heavy casualties and never saw combat again for the rest of the war.

After the war the battalion was reconstituted in 1946, and affiliated to the Brigade of Guards and served with the 6th Airborne Division in Palestine. It was disbanded in 1948, only to be reformed by the renumbering of the 4th/6th Battalion. The battalion was part of Operation Musketeer in 1956.

In the 1970s, the battalion first deployed to Northern Ireland in Operation Banner. The battalion was central to the events of both the Ballymurphy Massacre[5] in August 1971 and the more famous Bloody Sunday, 30 January 1972, when they opened fire on unarmed civil rights demonstrators leaving 14 civilians dead and 13 wounded, the greatest killing of British subjects by government forces in one incident since the Anglo-Irish War.[6] The second official inquiry of the killings found 1st Paras actions "unjustified and unjustifiable".[7] To date, none of the killers have been prosecuted.

The battalion was involved in the NATO operation in Kosovo in 1999, Operation Agricola. One Company was also selected to provide support for the Special Air Service in Sierra Leone during Operation Palliser in 2000. In 2003, they were deployed to the Persian Gulf for Operation Telic in Iraq.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]