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Britain's Airborne Forces of WWII (Hardback)

Uniforms and Equipment

WWII Frontline Books Photographic Books Colour Books WWII Photographic Books Frontline: WWII

By Mark Magreehan
Frontline Books
Pages: 168
Illustrations: 290 b&w & colour illustrations
ISBN: 9781526779465
Published: 16th March 2021



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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Despite being initially poorly equipped, operating outdated aircraft and wearing clothing copied from captured German examples, the Parachute Regiment rapidly grew into what would become two complete airborne divisions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.

This book provides a comprehensive pictorial display of Britain airborne forces which will prove to be a ‘must have’ tool for military history enthusiasts, airborne collectors, re-enactors and modellers, as well as current serving soldiers linked by service to this truly special military formation.

"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."

Read the review here

Gallipoli Association

"This is a useful beginner’s guide to the subject."

Military Historical Society

Featured in

WWII History

"For the modeler who seeks historical accuracy for British paratroopers, and with Polish and Canadian kit for completeness, look no further than this book. It'd be a joy for re-enactors, too."

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The Historical Miniatures Gaming Society

This is a book that uses photographs and captions, rather than the text, to tell the history, and the formula works extremely well in this case.

Gun Mart, September 2021

It is the wonderful collection of photographs accompanying the text that makes this book stand out. Some of them are familiar, but many are not. Magreehan is also adept at highlighting developments in equipment and weaponry through his descriptions of the photographs. In doing so, he also underscores how the Paras rose from being an experiment to an essential component of the British war effort. His inclusion of Polish and Canadian Paras is an important contribution to the history of this force, lest we forget. Anyone with an interest in the Paras will enjoy this book, and modellers and wargamers will be particularly rewarded by adding this to their collection.

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Beating Tsundoku

For the modeller who is looking for those little touches to lift their work to a new level this book will likely have the answers. The photographs have well written captions, and the period photographs may give the modeller an insight on how they wish to display their masterpieces. While this book may not have been written with the modeller in mind, it is a title I would highly recommend, for any modeller with an interest in Airborne forces of this period.

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This is another superb reference guide, lavishly illustrated with pictures. These are mainly from the author's own collection. He must have a garage the envy of most of us, to quote "Thanks must go to my partner Sarah for pressing me to do something with all the junk in the garage"

As the title states, it covers the WWII period but shows not only the NW Europe and Desert fronts but areas such as the Far East, Greece and Norway. these are places that I for one hadn't realised they had been in.

The contemporary photos are in black and white, but everything from his vast collection is in colour. this makes the book invaluable to modellers and is IMO is a must-have for that very reason to anyone interested in the subject and/or period.

There's a brief (understandably given the size of the book and period covered) but well written and laid out text in between the many illustrations, as mentioned the illustrations are the making of the book. Every kind of item is displayed here down to ration packs and first aid kits.
To sum up it's a must for anybody with the slightest interest in the field and a treasure trove for modellers.

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ARRSE (Army Rumour Service)

Superbly illustrated with contemporary photographs and well-taken shots of uniforms and materiel, this will be a useful reference book as we move through the 80th anniversaries of WW2 anniversaries and begin the long countdown to centenary events.

The author has an enviable collection of airborne forces ephemera and is to be both congratulated and thanked for sharing this with a wider public in this valuable addition to the Second World War reference library.

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Paul Nixon

From his first days as Prime Minister, Churchill was determined to fight on and to take the battle to the enemy. He encouraged the formation of airborne and shipborne commando forces, starting a development process that produced airborne forces for mass drops in direct support of conventional forces. – Very Highly Recommended

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With extra material included from the Airborne Assault Museum, based now at the IWM Duxford this is an amazing collection and marvellous that the author is able to share it with the rest of us via this book. It will be especially attractive to re-enactors and modellers, let alone miliaria collectors and historians of British Airborne forces.

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Military Model Scene, Robin Buckland

The author has done great service to those interested in British Airborne forces history and I am confident that this volume will become a standard reference work for photographs and imagery of the British paratroopers and glider borne infantry of World War 2. It is well priced and worth every penny.

Dr Stuart C Blank

There are some great photos of both uniforms and equipment, because we’re just seeing the uniform on the outside but also the whole layers of clothing worn by the men down to their underwear. What’s more is that in this book it’s not all about the uniforms and equipment but you also get a bit of history about the raids too. A really fascinating book indeed, one I have thoroughly enjoyed reading through. Certainly one for all those who love their detailed history.

5 stars

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UK Historian

'The book is published to a high standard on glossy paper and is logically organised. It is a very useful tool for historians, re-enactors, and collectors alike. The famous Denison Smock and the lesser known “Whitley Bag” sleeping bag for use inside an airplane with your parachute on are just two examples of the kit shown in this book. It is a superb book and uses a unique approach to show the pace of innovation for one of the most famous fighting formations in World War Two and it will appeal to all readers with an interest in the British Airborne forces'.

Todd Shugart

This is a great book for reenactors looking to portray airborne servicemen and will provide the ability to help them portray specific campaigns during WW2. I would highly recommend this book for anyone looking at learning about the parachute regiment and airborne forces evolution in World War 2.

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Medieval Sword School

An excellent book that offers good text and images. Anybody interested in Airborne forces will delight in this.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

About Mark Magreehan

MARK MAGREEHAN was born on 13 June 1975, at the British Military Hospital, Munster in Germany. A serving member of the Parachute Regiment from 2000, he has undertaken duties in an operational capacity in Macedonia, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq. He has a strong family link with the British Army with consistent service by his great grandfather, grandfather and father. He has delivered several presentations on military actions and conducted several battlefield studies for the British Army. Alongside contributing to the Airborne Forces Museum, British Army Remembrance videos and articles for Soldier magazine. Alongside of all of this he is a father to four children and is supported by his long-suffering partner, Sarah.

Perfect Partner

First In: The Airborne Pathfinders A History of the 21st Independent Parachute Company, 1942-1946 (Hardback)

They were volunteers to a man. These were the airborne troops who dropped into enemy territory ahead of any others, pinpointing the Drop Zone by means of a radio marker. They would then prepare the ground for the main forces that would follow. Once they had marked out the Drop Zones, they then had to defend them, whatever the odds. The volunteers had to pass exacting physical and psychological tests before they could join this elite force. These were the men of the 21st Independent Parachute Company, which was part of the Parachute Regiment, and this is their story, told by one of that unique…

By Ron Kent

Click here to buy both titles for £44.99
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