British 6th Airborne Division

Men from the 22nd Independent Parachute Company

Men from the 22nd Independent Parachute Company

The 6th British Airborne Division (English: 6th Airborne Division) was an airborne division of the British Army, which was formed during the Second World War and lasted until 1948.

The division was on 3 May 1943 set in the United Kingdom and consisted of paratroopers – and glider units. The name 6 British Airborne Division was chosen to simulate the impression that there are 5 other airborne divisions. In fact, there were only 2 – The 1st and 6th British Airborne Division. Famous members of the Division were Major John Howard, Lieutenant-Colonel (Lieutenant Colonel) Terence Otway, of Lieutenant John Hollington Grayburn, and the Lieutenant Brotheridge, the first fallen Allied soldiers on D-Day.

The division captured in 1944 during Operation Tonga important key positions for the invasion of Normandy, fought during the Battle of the Bulge, and in March 1945 took part in the crossing of the Rhine. After the war, the members of the Division were used among other things in Palestine.


World War II


In the last hours of the 5th June 1944 landed units of the division, which had been transported by aircraft and gliders during the operation Tonga, in Normandy, behind the beach section Sword of the next day, the 6th June, D-Day, British troops should land. The task of the 6th British Airborne Division was to the eastern flank of the 6th June landing troops to secure. This included, among other things, the conquest of the Pegasus and the Horsabrücke that had to meet a part of the D-Company, under the command of Major John Howard, and the destruction of the artillery battery at Merville, the 9th Battalion, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel (Lieutenant Colonel) Terence Otway, had been transferred. The two units that had to perform these tasks, were some of the first units landed in Normandy. On the morning of the 7th June, at approximately 13.00 clock, pushed the 1st Commando Brigade under Lord Lovat prior to Howard’s troops. Although the landings had been tested extensively, many units were scattered in Normandy. The area of the Pegasus and Horsabrücke was successfully defended against the Germans until the Allied troops after the Germans had launched many counterattacks, on the evening of 6 June from 3 parts of the British Infantry Division were relieved.

On 12 June bombed the British artillery during the attack on Breville same. Here, a grenade hit a group of British officers’ e The Lieutenant-Colonel (Lieutenant Colonel) Johnny Johnson was killed and Brigadier Lord Lovat Kindersley and were seriously injured.

From June to August, the Division successfully defended the area in the east of the River Orne. On 2 August 1944 was the 6th British Airborne Division of the 1st Allied Airborne Army. In mid-August, the division took on the push towards His part and returned early in September 1944 in the United Kingdom back to recover and regroup. The division had lost 4,000 men who were either killed, wounded or missing.

The Battle of the Bulge

On 16 December 1944, the Germans launched the Battle of the Bulge, a recent attempted attack against the Allies in the Ardennes. The 6th British Airborne Division urged, shortly after helping to repel the attack, Belgium. Fighting continued in very bad weather conditions until mid-January 1945.

The crossing of the Rhine

On 24 March 1945, the division took to the air crossing of the Rhine’s (Operation Varsity), which took place one day after the crossing of the Rhine by ground troops (Operation Plunder). However, the Germans had expected the division, which meant that the division suffered heavy losses in the air and on the ground. The operation was a success yet, but bought with a price. Then came the sixth British Airborne Division from the east to end of April 1945 to meet with the Russians near the port city of Wismar.

End of the war

8 May 1945, the Second World War ended in Europe with the unconditional surrender of the Wehrmacht. For elements of the division, however, the war continued elsewhere. The 5th Paratroopers Brigade was sent in July 1945 with the intention to follow the rest of the division in the Far East to take part in the campaign against the Japanese. In August 1945, the Second World War ended with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the signing of the Japanese surrender on 2 September.


By the end of the war did not come to a combat mission in the Far East. The 5th Brigade was in service still in operations in Malaysia and Singapore, to disarm the Japanese forces. After the brigade went to Java, where they remained until 1946, the Royal Netherlands Army reached the island.

The division was then moved to Palestine, where they should provide for internal security. They remained there until April 1948 when it was dissolved. In Palestine, a total of 58 men were killed. Further 236 men were wounded during the deployment in Palestine.


The shoulder of the 6th British Airborne Division (as well as the first) was created by Major E. Seago and launched in May 1942. It consisted of a red-brown square with a sky-blue winged horse, the mythical Pegasus, in the middle.


•Richard Gale (7 May 1943)

•Eric Bols (8 December 1944)

James Cassels (1946)

•Hugh Stockwell (August 1947)


•The role of the Division during Operation Tonga is shown in the film The Longest Day War of 1962.


•Christopher Chant: Operation Overlord: Sword Beach and the British 6th Airborne Division, 6 June 1944 (Ravelin’s Order of Battle p), Ravelin, 1994, ISBN 1-898994-00-5

Military Association (British history)

Military unit in World War II

Airborne Association (UK)

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