Britain's Airborne Forces of WWII: Uniforms and Equipment

  • Author: Mark Magreehan
  • Publisher: Frontline Books (Pen & Swords, 2020), 168 pages, numerous photographs
  • Price: £25.00 (Hardback)
  • ISBN:  9781526779465

Publishers’ blurb … The Second World War saw huge advancements in military tactics and technology occurring at an unprecedented pace. One such development was the employment of forces able to deploy at short notice by parachute across the globe, utilising the opportunities created by the advancements in aeronautical technology. These forces were created to deliver an in-depth shock effect, and few have attracted more attention than Britain s famed Parachute Regiment. This formation was born from the humble beginnings of a fledgling unit drawn together from the British Army and Royal Air Force after Winston Churchill called for a new capability to be created following German airborne successes in the opening stages of the Second World War. Despite being initially poorly equipped, operating outdated aircraft and wearing clothing copied from captured German examples, the Parachute Regiment rapidly grew into what would become two complete airborne divisions formations which played a key role in the destruction of the Axis forces. The equipment needed by these men rapidly changed as the war evolved and this is clearly illustrated in the author s fine and unique collection of rare airborne items from that period, several of them being the sole surviving items known to exist. The chronological historical information on Britain’s paratroopers role and development during the Second World War in this highly illustrated book is not only supported by a comprehensive and rare collection of items displaying the development and expansion of their equipment for each operation, but also by hundreds of original pictures which embrace the entire period. Additionally, the book also briefly covers the Polish Parachute Brigade and the Canadian parachute formations embedded into the British order of battle.


A lavishly illustrated book full of period and modern photographs of Britain’s Second World War Airborne Forces uniforms and equipment. The book charts the story from the Airborne Forces formation in 1940 through their various operations of the war. From the Bruneval Raid of 1942, North Africa and Italy in 1943, D-Day, Southern France and Arnhem in 1944 to the crossing of the Rhine, Norway and the Far East in 1945. The book is full of colour photographs of the kit paratroopers, the 'Red Berets', would have worn and carried during the wars various operations.

The author's collection appears very comprehensive and is presented as kit layouts according to the operation, organised by chapter, showing the more common varieties of clothing, arms and equipment that would have been used. This evolution is fascinating to see in the series of clear photographs, including such variations in the parachutists helmet, the famed Denison smock, the sten and various insignia. The books focus is the Parachute Brigade and thus doesnt go into too much detail on the nuances of uniform and kit of divisional troops, such as the artillery, medical and engineers, or the Air Landing brigades. Whilst the book could have benefited from a bigger A4 style footprint, this does not detract from this handy size of print. This book is very much a go-to reference book for the military collector, re-enactor or modeller. If you want to know about British Airborne uniforms and equipment (including Canadian and Polish), this is the book for you.

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