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6th Airborne Division:
22nd Independent Parachute Coy
The requirement for a second independent parachute company to provide a pathfinder force for 6 Airborne Division was determined in late 1943. The usual method of “robbing peter” to establish a trained cadre, then reinforce it was complicated by 21 Ind Para being deployed on operations in Italy. Indeed, elements of 21 Ind had been hived off to provide a pathfinder element for 2 Ind Para Bde then forming for Op DRAGOON.
Nevertheless, a second company was formed on the same scale and basis as the first, and employing the same EUREKA radio beaconry and light/marker panel systems to “mark” the dropping and landing zones. The unit would deploy some hours prior to the main force and, secure pre-determined beacon locations, allowing the REBECCA systems, aboard the incoming aircraft, to track into the zones.
It is observed that 21 Ind Para wore a distinctive “XXI” below the obsolete “PARACHUTE” pale blue on maroon shoulder titles to display the “Independent” status of the unit, whereas, 22 Ind wore a blue/white slip on their Denison Smock epaulettes (clearly seen in photographs), similar to the battalion colours 6 Abn Div Bde. It is understood that this was not worn in the field – or on battledress.
It should also be noted that as with 21 Ind Para, a significant number of the NCOs and ORs were of ethnic Jewish origin, providing a German linguistic capability considered essential for forces deployed in the early hours of 6 June. The names below are therefore, in some cases, “noms de guerrre” to protect the identity of the individual. The linguistic capability is mirrored in 317 FSS (see main website), the field security and intelligence unit of the Division.
The following provides a near complete nominal roll for the unit in Normandy, but ongoing research suggests that additional personnel were in Normandy – either as part of the reinforcement party from RAF Keevil or, as battlefield replacements arriving in Normandy prior to the end of August.
Nominal Roll - 22 Independent
Parachute Company – Operations in Normandy
RAF Brize Norton
Aircraft V 1701 - Albemarle - 296 Squadron
Major Francis Gordon Lennox-Boyd (KIA 06/06/44)
Private T. O'Brien
Sergeant L. Drake
Private R. Newton
Sergeant S. Patterson (Royal Army Medical Corps)
Private Hinchcliffe ?
Lieutenant Moore (attached from Royal Signals)
Aircraft P 1383 - Albemarle - 297 Squadron
Captain Ian Andrew Tait (KIA 09/06/44)
Sergeant Frederick Scogging (KIA 09/06/44)
Lance-Corporal G. Fairhurst
Private Edward Sidney Gillum (KIA 09/06/44)
Corporal O. Kendall
Albemarle - 295 Squadron
Lieutenant Robert Edward Vane de Lautour (KIA 20/06/44)
Lance-Corporal Edward Glenn (KIA 07/06/44)
Albemarle - 295 Squadron
Lieutenant D. Wells
Lance-Corporal Howarth (KIA 06/06/44)
Corporal F. Nowell
Sergeant M. Wells
Sergeant P. Fordyce
Albemarle - 295 Squadron
Lieutenant Robert "Bob" Midwood
Lance-Corporal Edward Delaney O'Sullivan (KIA 06/06/44)
Private R Stoodley, No.5 on stick
Albemarle - 295 Squadron
Lieutenant J. Vischer
Sergeant A. Kidd
Lance-Corporal J. Parry
Sergeant P. Holly
Sergeant E. Jordan
Private Taffy Thomas
Private R. Mitchell
Reinforcement Party - up to 20 men, commanded by Sergeant W. Hulme.
War Diary – 22 Ind Para Coy
Four stick emplaned and took off from HARWELL airfield in Albemarle a/c - for 'V' and 'K'
Commanded by: Lt. de Latour }
Lt. Wells } for 'V'
Lt. Midwood }
Lt. Vischer } for 'K'
At 2310 hrs the first Pathfinder a/c took off from HARWELL. Albemarle 'A', piloted by S/Ldr. Merrick of 295 Squadron, and carrying the A.O.C. Air Vice Marshal Hollinghurst as passenger. This a/c, together with that of F/Sgt. Kirkham of 570 Squadron dropped 20 troops of I.P. Coy. with 20 kitbags at DZ 'K' at 00.17 and 00.20 hrs, returning and 01.47 and 01.59 hrs.
This task was Serial No.6.
The route followed was: Base - Mount Farm - Littlehampton - 49.59.45N 00.03.00N - 49.17.15N 00.09.30W - DZ - 49.30.30H 00.30.00E - Y-REVILLE BIVILLE - Littlehampton - Base.
A/c crossed the enemy coast at 1,200 feet going in and at 6,000 feet coming out.
Dropping was from 500 ft. A.G.L.
For their part in this operation the following were awarded the D.F.C.: S/Ldr. Merrick and his navigator W/O Farrow (295).
Two sticks emplaned at 23.00 hrs.
6.6.44: DZ 'K', ref.map 1269.
00.20 - One stick commanded by Lt. Midwood dropped on DZ.
00.35 - One 'Eureka' set up coding channels D/C. One holophane lamp coding letter 'K'. Five of the stick failed to report to stick RV. Four of these have not been seen since and are reported missing: Lsgt Boardman, Lcpl Stoodley, Pte Naughton, Lcpl Hackman. LCpl O'Sullivan killed by enemy action on DZ.
01.30 - Remainder of stick assembled under Lt. Midwood at 8 Para. Bn. RV. road and track junction ref.map 132690. A thorough search of DZ was carried out.
05.30 - Remainder of stick moved off under Lt. Midwood to company conc. area at LE BAS RANVILLE.
12.30 - Lt. Midwood and 4 ORs reported to company conc. area at LE BAS RANVILLE.
Comment on Drop:
Slow stick on account of heavy loads. Stick came under enemy fire almost immediately after landing. One 'Eureka' carried by Sgt. Boardman is missing and must be considered as probably compromised. This DZ has been in the hands of the enemy since D-Day. It has therefore not been possible to establish the exact fate of this 'Eureka'. Search of the DZ is at present impossible owing to enemy opposition. One 'Eureka' was abandoned on the DZ after being detonated.
18.00 - All officers attended final briefing of R.A.F. crews.
23.00 - 2 sticks emplaned at Brize Norton. 4 sticks emplaned at Harwell.
23.30 - 1 stick emplaned at Keevil.
2 sticks emplaned and took off at Brize Norton in Albemarle aircraft, for DZ 'N'. Time, 23.00 hrs.
1. Commanded by Maj. F.G.L. Lennox-Boyd, 2nd i/c Lt. M. More.
2. Commanded by Capt I.A. Tait.
DZ 'N', ref.map 1174.
Two sticks commanded by Capt. Tait and Lt. More dropped on SE corner of DZ.
00.23 - Maj Lennox-Boyd made premature & accidental exit SE of DZ. Has not been heard of since and is reported missing.
00.20 - Stick commanded by Lt. J. Vischer dropped across corner SE of DZ. This stick should have been dropped on DZ 'K', map.ref 1269.
00.35 - Lt. Vischer's stick assembled on DZ, contacted part of Capt. Tait's stick and set up 'EUREKA' beacon and 'T' of 5 lights. 'EUREKA' switched on to channels D/C, holophane lamp coding letter 'N'.
01.30 - All 3 sticks assembled at x-roads (125740) under Capt. Tait, with the exception of Maj. Lennox-Boyd and Pte. Newton (who re-joined the company 2 days later.)
Comment on Drop:
All 3 sticks were dropped somewhat off the DZ across the SE corner. Sticks were slow - heavy loads & cramped spacing in a/c. A number of kitbags broke loose during the drop & were lost. No jumping injuries were sustained by any of 3 sticks. No 'EUREKAS' were compromised, but 3 were damaged by the drop.
03.50 - Marking of LZ 'N' for night glider landing (by Div. HQ troops) under Capt. Tait. 3 sticks commanded by Capt. Tait, Lt. Vischer & Lt. More set out lights on 3 separate landing strips. 2 'EUREKAS' were set up.
Comment on Landing:
Successful landing was made by most gliders, some overshooting the lights. It was later reported that the lights were clearly visible.
07.00 - The party made its way to company concentration area nr. Div. H.Q. at Le Bas Ranville.
Two sticks of pathfinders from 22 Independent Parachute Company was to have been dropped on each dropping zone but, in each case only a single stick was accurately dropped. In three cases two or more runs over the zone were needed to deploy, one aircraft only completing its drop on the-third run, 14 minutes later. All the radar and visual beacons for dropping zone “V” (1 Canadian and 9 Parachute Battalions) were either lost or damaged, and one aircraft carrying a stick for dropping zone “K” (HQ 3 Parachute Brigade and 8 Parachute Battalion) dropped on zone “N” (5 Parachute Brigade) instead. Not realizing that they were on the wrong dropping zone, the “K” pathfinders set up their beacons and lights on dropping zone “N”. The result was that a number of Headquarters 3 Parachute Brigade and 8 Parachute Battalion (with their CLE containers) personnel dropped on to dropping zone “N”, before the “N” pathfinders, who had been dropped awry, arrived and erected their equipment some half an hour late. In addition, some lighting systems were set in standing crops, and they were not able to seen from the air.
Applying Camo before the Op.
Cpl "Jungle" Jones talks to HM Queen Elizabeth
22 Ind Para Coy - Group Shot
Lt. Bob Midwood briefs his men before Op. OVERLORD
D-Day. Officers of 22IndCoy
Robert "Bob" Stoodley ready for off, 5 June 1944 - Photo courtesy of Mr Stoodley himself.
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