4th Battalion, Parachute Regiment
Cap badge of the Parachute Regiment
|Part of||16 Air Assault Brigade|
|Nickname(s)||The Red Devils
(Latin for "Ready for Anything")
|March||Quick—Ride of the Valkyries
Slow—Pomp and Circumstance No 4
|Mascot(s)||Shetland Pony (Pegasus)|
|Colonel-in-Chief||HRH The Prince of Wales, KG, KT, GCB, OM, AK, QSO, PC, ADC|
|Colonel Commandant||General Sir John Reith, KCB, CBE|
|General Anthony Farrar-Hockley GBE, KCB, DSO & Bar, MC|
The 4th Battalion, Parachute Regiment (4 PARA), is an Army Reserve unit of the British Army and is based across the United Kingdom. Originally the Battalion covered the North of England, with its headquarters located in Pudsey, West Yorkshire. Following the Options for Change review in 1993, 4 PARA amalgamated with the 15th (Scottish) Battalion of the Parachute Regiment (XV PARA), which was downsized and became 15 (Scottish) Company of 4 PARA. As part of further changes in 1999 (Strategic Defence Review), the Battalion also merged with the 10th (Volunteer) Battalion which then became 10 (London) Company.
The present day Battalion is the successor to several T.A. Parachute Battalions which were all raised in 1947, although it can trace its history back to units raised during the Second World War.
The original 4th Parachute Battalion was formed in 1942 and saw service in;
- Algeria ( as part of the British 1st Airborne Division during Operation Torch)
- Tunisia (Supporting American forces)
In 1943 Operation Avalanche (Invasion of Italy) was launched and the Battalion was in action at Taranto and Cassino. In August 1944, the battalion was part of Operation Rugby in Southern France. In October 1944 the Battalion seized by airborne assault (Operation Manna) the airfield at Megara near Athens in Greece. The battalion spent the rest of the war supporting the 2nd New Zealand Division. Then from 1945 served with the 6th Airborne Division in Palestine.
The original 10th Parachute Battalion was a war-formed unit which as part of the British 1st Airborne Division fought at the Battle of Arnhem (Operation Market Garden). During this action Captain Lionel Ernest Queripel was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. A new 10th Battalion was raised in 1947 as part of the T.A. based in London.
The 12th (Yorkshire) Parachute Battalion and 13th (Lancashire) Parachute Battalion were dropped at Normandy as part of the 6th Airborne Division during the 'D' Day landings (Operation Overlord) and on 12 June took part in the action at Breville.
In 1945 as part of the 6th Airborne Division both battalions took part in Operation Varsity (the Rhine Crossing). Both battalions were re-raised in 1947 in the TA, although with no official lineage to their wartime namesakes.
The 15th (Scottish) Parachute Battalion was raised in 1947 with HQ in Glasgow whilst 17th (Durham Light Infantry) Parachute Battalion was raised the same year in North East England by converting the 9th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry.
One of 15 PARA's past members is the well known Scottish comedian, musician and actor, William "Billy" Connolly, CBE. He served in the Glasgow HQ during the early 1960s and later commemorated his TA experiences in the song, " Weekend Soldier".
On the right sleeve of the smock worn by XV PARA soldiers just below the wings was a tartan DZ flash. This was similar to that used by the Lowland Scottish Regiments being a section of the Hunting Stewart Tartan. It was also worn on the beret behind the parachute regiment capbadge.
4 PARA was re-formed on 1 April 1967 as a Territorial Army Battalion from a merger of the 12th/13th (Yorkshire and Lancashire) Battalion (this had been formed in 1956 from an amalgamation of the 12th and 13th Battalions) and the 17th (9 DLI) Battalions of the Parachute Regiment.
All of the TA Parachute Battalions formed part of the 44th Parachute Brigade (V) which was disbanded on 31 March 1978. After this 4 PARA came under the administrative command of North-East District with an operational role to reinforce an armoured division in the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR).
In 1982, 4 PARA became part of 15 Infantry Brigade.
In 2014 D Company 4 PARA was created to cover the Midlands area. The Coy HQ is based at Edward Street, Rugby, with a Platoon located at Triumph Road Barracks in Nottingham.
The level of fitness required for joining 4 Para is far higher than the level mandated for other Army Reserve Infantry units.
4 Para conduct their own recruit training programme independent of Regional Training Centres.
The 2 week Army Reserve Combat Infantry Course (CIC) for 4 Para is run by the P Coy staff at ITC Catterick. These high standards are carried on once in Battalion, and are maintained by the regular staff posted there for that purpose.
Training evenings (Tuesday night) will usually include a combination of fitness, military skills and admin. One or two weekend exercises per months of ranges, tactics, military skills etc. (9 weekends maximum) before TSC Alpha. Advanced skills in TSC Bravo takes place before P Company and Parachute training. Annual camps (one per year, 2 weeks duration) are for longer exercises, parachuting and more advanced range work.
A Company (Scotland)
B Company (Greater London)
C Company (North of England)
D Company (Midlands)
Current operations and exercises
Recent overseas annual camps have been held in the Czech Republic 1999 (Ex Czech Mate); France 2001 (Ex Gaulish 1); Germany 2002 (Ex Paperchase); Ukraine 2003 (Ex Cossack Steppe); Wyoming, USA 2005 (Ex Stoney Run) and Albania 2006. In addition the Battalion has a number of regular exercises and unit exchanges which it takes part in, these include Ex Paperchase (exchange with German 272 Fallschirmjager Battalion); Ex Anthropoid (Patrol competition with Slovak Special Forces); Ex Pathfinder (Exchange with Czech airborne forces) and Ex Market Garden (annual commemoration and jump into Arnhem). The Battalion also regularly sends teams to the annual Exercise Cambrian Patrol competition held at the Sennybridge Training Area.
A total of 104 soldiers from the Battalion were mobilised to reinforce the 1st and 3rd Battalions during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 Operation Telic. The Battalion provided a Platoon for Force Protection duties on Op Telic 3 in 2004 and a Company for Op Telic 7 in 2005-2006. Most recently the Battalion mobilised soldiers in support of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions in Afghanistan on Operation Herrick 4 in 2006, Op Herrick 8 in 2008 and Op Herrick 13 in 2010-2011, as well as in support of the Yorkshire Regiment on Op Herrick 15, and The Royal Tank Regiment on Op Herrick 18. The Battalion has also provided soldiers for operations in Northern Ireland and the Balkans.
- 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment
- 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment
- 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment
- United Kingdom Special Forces
- List of Second World War British airborne battalions
- "Army 2020 Update" (PDF). Ministry of Defence.