5th Scottish Parachute Bn during Op Dragoon and Op Manna !

Discussion in 'Airborne' started by Korps Steiner, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. Korps Steiner

    Korps Steiner Senior Member

    I'm looking for information on the above Bn from the 2nd Parachute Brigade during Op Dragoon /Manna if anyone can point me in the right direction i would be obliged,


  2. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    7th Battalion Queens Own Cameron Highlanders was converted into a parachute battalion in August 1942. Re-designated 5th (Scottish) parachute battalion, they saw action in North Africa, Italy, South of France and Greece. They maintained their regimental origins wth their Pipes and Drums wearing the 79th Tartan Kilt.
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  3. Korps Steiner

    Korps Steiner Senior Member

    Thanks for the info , it's really info on the Bn's time in the South of france and Greece that i'm after.
  4. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Hi Paul, here's what I hope you are after about OP MANNA.

    In May of 1944. The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, asked his Chief of General Staff (CGS) to look into sending a small force to Greece. CGS recommended that 80,000 troops would be needed. An ambitious figure given the fighting in Italy.

    In June of 1944, the Headquarters, 3rd British Infantry Corps, under the command of Lt-Gen Ronald Scobie, was hastily re-formed in Naples to plan for operations in Greece. And with just 25,000 men available, OPERATION MANNA had one objective:

    ‘To establish and maintain law and order, in the Athens area and therefore facilitate the establishment of the Greek government in Athens, in order to make possible the introduction and distribution of relief supplies’.

    Lt-Gen Scobie mustered his forces primarily to meet the long term requirements for Greece’s ‘relief and rehabilitation’. He would, however, still need a minimum of two infantry brigades, about 5,000 troops, to provide and maintain security during the initial landings and later in the streets of ATHENS.

    General ‘Jumbo’ Wilson, Supreme Commander Mediterranean Command (SACMED) provided the 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade Group, on the promise that they would be returned to Italy at the earliest opportunity. General Bernard Paget, C-in-C Middle East Command (MEC), provided the remainder by ordering the 23rd Armoured Brigade Group, to be dismounted from their Sherman Tanks and retrained as infantry (ARKFORCE). This was unprecedented in the history of the Royal Armoured Corps (RAC).

    2nd IND PARA BDE, upon arrival by air were to:

    “Secure the airfields at MEGARA and KALAMAKI, then make best speed to occupy the area of central ATHENS for the purpose of maintaining law and order”.

    ARKFORCE, upon arrival by sea were to.

    “Move immediately to ATHENS to take over from the 2nd Ind Para Bde and maintain law and order in ATHENS whilst securing the PIRAEUS Beach Maintenance Area”.

    At 1200 on 11th October 1944, Lt-Col. Jellicoe (BUCKETFORCE) who’s special forces had been preparing the ground sent a message to SACMED, that German forces of Army Group ‘E’ were withdrawing from ATHENS. OP MANNA was quickly put into operation with D-Day set for the 15th October 1944.

    At 0030 on 12th October 1944, a last minute intelligence report, subsequently found to be incorrect, was received at HQ 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade, which suggested that the Germans still had strong anti-aircraft defences in the area surrounding the airfield at KALAMAKI, 5 miles to the south of ATHENS. The result was a last minute change to the planned ‘drop zone’ for the airborne assault elements of FORCE 140 to the landing ground at MEGARA.

    Early on the 12th October 1944, 14 x C-47 Dakota aircraft of 10th Squadron, 60th Group, BAF packed with paratroops and 9 x HP-61 Halifaxes loaded with supply containers, all under a heavy fighter escort, flew over MEGARA and dropped the Advanced Guard of 2nd Parachute Brigade. This comprised ‘C’ Coy, 4th Btn, under the command of Major IAN ‘JIMMY’ GOURLAY, MC and ‘A’ troop of 2nd Parachute Squadron, RE under the command of Captain I.L. MCHARG. With the exception of some spasmodic German artillery fire, the landing was unopposed.

    Unfortunately 30 knot winds at the drop zone dragged some along the rocky terrain by their parachutes causing 97 casualties, including the deaths of 3, Lt. D.C. MARSH, L/Cpl CUNNINGHAM, J and Pte BLAKEMORE, F.E.

    Many vital air dropped supplies were also blown out to sea by the high winds. Their orders were to secure the landing ground and make it useable for future operations. The casualties were tended to by medics of 127th Para Light Field Ambulance (LFA), with their most serious injuries evacuated back to Italy as soon as practicable.

    The winds on the 13th October 1944 remained as strong, forcing Brigadier C.H.V. PRITCHARD, CO of the 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade, to cancel the scheduled drop. However, 9 WACO CG-4As (aka Hadrian) gliders took off from MANDURIA, in Italy and were successfully released over the LG, bringing in much needed bulldozers, engineers and jeeps. A second attempt by Halifaxes to drop supplies was more successful. The Germans had blown the runway so the REs got to work making it suitable for landings once more.

    On 14th October 1944, 68 x Mediterranean Allied Tactical Air Force (MATAF) C-47s of 51st Troop Carrier Wing (TCW), 12th US Air Force, took off from their Italian Airfields at SAN PANCRAZIO, MANDURIA and BRINDISI, under escort from 54 x P-38, long range fighters of 15th US Air Force. Bad weather was encountered at CAPE DUCATO, but the flight leader managed to manoeuvre them around. The plan was to land the aircraft and disembark the troops on the ground, but the first plane found the LG still full of craters, making mass landings too dangerous. So the flight changed formation and approached the LG in groups of 3, in ‘Vee’ formation and separated by 15 seconds. They reduced speed to 110 Mph and descended to 800ft MSL. On the ‘green light’, the parachutes of 1000 more paratroops and 130 equipment canisters filled the skies. As they each touched down, they were swooped upon by over enthusiastic locals who collapsed their parachutes, determined to ensure their landings were somewhat smoother than those who had come before them. Behind them were 20 more CG-4A gliders, but on finding the same bad weather en-route, they were forced to return to Italy.

    The bad weather arrived at MEGARA through night in the form of torrential rain causing some subsidence on the newly repaired surface which limited air operations on the 15th October 1944 to just 14 more C-47 aircraft, dropping bundles and equipment canisters in two separate passes. The REs worked frantically to make good the damage. Two aircraft landed containing supplies and the personnel, communications equipment required to build and operate a control tower. The 16th October 1944, day 5 of the operation, saw 85 more MATAF C-47s over MEGARA escorted by 29 x P-38 Lightning fighters. The first 40 dropped the last of the paratroops whilst 24 dropped more supply canisters. The last 21 towed gliders packed with personnel, jeeps, mortars, small arms and medical supplies before being ‘back-filled’ with the most urgent medical cases from the landings of the 12th October 1944 and requiring evacuation to Italy. Over the 17th and 18th October 1944, yet more C-47 aircraft arrived escorted by 41 x P-40 fighters packed with supplies. Now that MEGARA was operational, the focus turned to the primary airfield at ATHENS, KALAMAKI. Troops moved south in Jeeps to secure the airfield and on 17th & 18th October 1944, 55 aircraft landed there loaded with supplies.

    Over the first week of OPERATION MANNA, aircraft of 12th US Air Force flew a total of 412 sorties, of which 178 were airborne delivery and 234 air transport. They brought in 126 Officers and 2025 troops of 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade Group; along with 69 Jeeps, 44 trailers, 9 Motor Cycles, and 327 tons of equipment into Greece without the loss of a single aircraft.

    If there is anything else you need, just ask.

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  5. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Hi Paul.

    How's your French? There's some information on the 5th in France if you follow the links from Mission Albatross. I doubt if it goes into the kind of detail you seek.


    If available the WDs for the periods in question would be a good idea. As for photos you will find them scattered around the web at ParaData, the IWM, etc.

    Regards ...
  6. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  7. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    Interesting document about Troop Carrier Group from HQ Twelth Air Force about 51st Troop Carrier Wing USAAF which includes Operation Dragoon and Manna and lots of photograhs of 2nd Parachute Brigade on Operation Manna.

    Troop Carrier Operations 1944
  8. Hello gus,
    What happened with the 5th after 1944? My grand dad joined them in 1945, i believe in italy so curious about what they were doing?
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  9. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    All I know is they left Greece in late January of 1945. Have a look at paradata.org.uk.
  10. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Here is something about 6 Para Btn. 6th Bn RW AIrborne

    As they were in the same Parachute Brigade the 5th wouldn't have been too far away.

    Hope this helps

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  11. actually, that's the most info for that period i've seen so thank you! and it makes sense now why he did his parachute training in italy at that time - "to prepare for the spring offensive across the River Po, and training became more intensive. Many operations were planned but on each occasion the ground troops did not need help and the operations were cancelled."
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  12. arnhem2280

    arnhem2280 Member

    I think I have a copy of a list of all the members of 5th Battalion that were wounded and killed including dates and locations. If I can find it would it be of interest to you?


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