6th AB Div: Strength for Varsity?

Discussion in 'Airborne' started by alberk, Jul 20, 2021.

  1. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member


    I am trying to establish the exact number of 6th AB Div soldiers dropped/landed on March 24th, 1945.

    As so often with numbers - once you look closer, confusion grows...

    Let's start with the paratroops:

    HQ 38 Group RAF in its "Report on Operation Varsity" , 20 May 1945, states:
    3837 British paratroops dropped by US IX TCC. That would be just over 1900 for each Para Brigade.

    Do these numbers include Brigade HQ, RAMC and RE troops dropped by parachute?
    (please note: the glider-born elements of 3 and 5 Bde are excluded in these numbers)

    The "Battlefied Tour Operation Varsity" in Appendix D, p. 89/90 gives higher numbers for the British parachute element. All counted this report arrives at 4341 British troops dropped by parachute.
    This higher number would include 660 men of HQ, RAMC and RE units for the two brigades.

    The attached pages from appendix D break up the overall number and the airfield to which the troops were allotted.

    So, which number is more realistic?

    Were the individual parachute batallions somewhat understrength?

    The HQ 38 Group RAF report was written closer to the event - the "Battelfield Tour" is a post-war document - how reliable are its figures?

    US author John C Warren in his 1956 study "Airborne Operations in World War II"
    gives the following numbers:
    1920 for 3 Para Bde
    1902 for 5 Para Bde

    So he's supporting the lower strength version...

    2020-06-04 12_06_00-Window.jpg
    2020-06-04 12_06_39-Window.jpg
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2021
    Andrew P Smith and Alex1975uk like this.
  2. Hi, sorry I cant help you with your research. I am interested in the 12th Battalion as my father was part of it. Signaler which i know was K section 6th AB DIV signals. I've spent years trying to find out anything about him in the 12th battalion. read something recently which i cant find again which implies that the HQ company wasn't part of the fighting in Brevill, which is probably why I'm alive. I would be very interested in any info you have on the signal section etc attached to the 12th . The battalion size above looks surprisingly like full strength ... like it had been brought back up to strength.
    Sorry to bother you
    alberk likes this.
  3. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Hi Andrew, are you familiar with The Pegasus Archive? If not, please to take a look. It is accessible online and holds all the war diaries for many of the sub-units of 6th Airborne - and for all the campaigns they fought in.
    The Pegasus Archive

    Other than that, I am afraid I have no specific info on the signals section of 12th battalion.
    BrianHall1963 likes this.

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