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Unit Parachute and Airborne Training School RAF Aqir

Air transport for 6 Airborne Division in Palestine was provided by 283 Wing of the Royal Air Force, comprising of 644 Squadron and 620 Squadron, later redesignated as 47 Sqn and 113 Sqn respectively, until June 1947 when the Wing returned to the UK. Thereafter air support was provided by various other Transport Command Squadrons in the Middle East.

Both Squadrons of 283 Wing had a strong association with airborne forces having previously been involved in airborne assault and resupply operations in North West Europe.

Halifaxes and Dakotas were the primary aircraft used to support airborne troops in Palestine.

The Airborne Training School at RAF Aqir conducted air training exercises and operated a Parachute Training School, under the command of Sqn Ldr Stannard. The School ran courses during 1946 and 1947, when over 20,000 descents were made.

Most of the training consisted of refresher courses for trained parachutists, but in addition a small number of untrained men, who could not be spared for training back in England, were given basic courses at Aqir. 

Major battalion size air training exercises were rare because of the operational demands in Palestine. One of the most notable of these was Exercise Gordon in May 1946, in which a large battalion group was flown from Palestine to Khartoum. The exercise was marred by a high casualty rate from a parachute drop by A Company, 8th Parachute Battalion. Out of an establishment of 108 men, 1 was killed, and 77 suffered injury.

Further Reading:
'Cordon and Search' by Maj Gen Dare Wilson Published by Gale and Polden 1949; American edition published by Battery Press 1984.

by ParaData Editor

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