The 2nd Parachute Battalion was formed at Hardwick in Derbyshire using volunteers from across the Army in September 1941 under Lt Col Flavell.
C Company under Major JD Frost conducted the second British parachute raid of the war on 27 February 1942 against a German radar installation at Bruneval on the Channel coast in France. Vital radar components and German technicians were captured and the group successfully taken off by the Royal Navy. This was the first battle honour awarded to The Parachute Regiment, which was formed shortly after in August 1942, and reaffirmed Prime Minister Churchill’s belief in the future of airborne forces.
All parachute battalions became battalions of The Parachute Regiment on its formation, within the Army Air Corps. As such it was formally designated as 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, however in practice it was commonly called by its original formation name, 2nd Parachute Battalion, until disbandment.
The battalion departed for North Africa with the 1st Parachute Brigade and dropped at Depienne on 29 November 1942. Frost was the battalion commander this time and the objective was Oudna, nine miles from Tunis. This was briefly achieved but unexpectedly heavy German resistance prevented the link up with the advancing 1st Army and the 2nd Para Bn was isolated 56 miles behind enemy lines. Attacked by German air and armour, Frost conducted a fighting withdrawal to regain the Allied lines, losing 16 officers and 250 men en route. During the next five months to April 1943 the battalion fought through the winter as line infantry. Oudna became a Parachute Regiment battle honour.
The 2nd Para Bn dropped with the 1st Parachute Brigade during the hard fought costly attempt to secure the Primosole Bridge in Sicily on 13 July 1943; it also participated in the later sea landings and fighting around Taranto in Italy the following September. In November the battalion returned to the UK with the 1st Airborne Division.
During Operation Market Garden the 2nd Para Bn dropped at Arnhem on 17 September 1944 and with recce and airborne engineers and some 3rd Para Bn soldiers, captured the road bridge. The force was soon cut off but held its ground against incessant German tank and infantry attacks for three days and four nights. The division objective was to hold for 48 hours before being relieved by the advancing XXX Corps, which never arrived. By dusk on 20 September Lt Col Frost was wounded and his battalion reduced to a few survivors ordered to break out. Lt John Grayburn, with A Company, was awarded a posthumous VC.
After the war the under-strength 2nd Para Bn deployed to Palestine and was amalgamated on 13 December 1947 with the 3rd Para Bn to form the 2nd/3rd Parachute Battalion, It was disbanded the following year.
2nd Parachute Battalion: