C-47 Dakota Wartime British Paras

by Herbert Holeman, Colonel, USA(Ret)

The C-47, designated as the "Dakota" by the British dropped dropped both American and British paratroops in North Africa, Sicily, the Normandy Invasion, and in the Arnhem operation. The latter, was known as Operation Market Garden involved the British First Airborne Division, along with the U.S. 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. In particular, the British paras, including the 1st Independent Polish Brigade and the Dutch commandos were dropped behind the lines to seize and hold the bridgehead at Arnhem.

The standard issue pack for both American
and British paratroopers was similar. However,
while also similar to his American counterpart,
the British Para Officer pack had minor exceptions.

1 Sten gun with spare magazines of 9mm ammunition
2 lb. plastic high explosives (HE)
2-36 primed hand grenades
two full belts of Vickers
.303 ammunition
wire cutters
radio batteries
basic equipment webbing
48 hours' worth of rations
cooking and washing kit
Whistle, thunderer...Left chest pocket

But the largest mass paratrooper drop in history occured in the Second World War when the decision was made to launch Operation Market Garden. More than 1,000 planes were required some 10,000 paratroopers in a daring attack. A video of the actual operation can be seen here. Another definitive work on Operation Market Garden by Hoekstra can be vieweds here and here.


Click here for Brit Paras jump from a Dakota in Operation Market Garden commemoration jump at Arnhem.

Click here for an explanation the British Operation Market Garden plan.

Click here for the Pathfinder Airborne Website, dedicated to preserving the paratrooper traditions.Their membership is comprised of serving and retired UK and Commonwealth servicemen.


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    Copyright © 2018 Herbert P. Holeman, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.