HISTORY OF THE 10TH BATTALION, THE PARACHUTE REGIMENT
THE 10th Battalion, the Parachute Regiment was raised from volunteers in the Egyptian desert for what proved to be a short existence brought to a tragic end in the woods and houses of Oosterbeek during the Battle of Arnhem.
Little more than two years passed between its formation from the Royal Sussex Regiment at Kibrit in Egypt to the drop as part of Operation Market Garden that resulted in the loss of so many members of this airborne infantry battalion.
After joining the 1st Airborne Division, the 10th Battalion first saw action in Operation Slapstick during an Allied invasion of Italy, but was then withdrawn to England at the end of 1943 and held in reserve during the Normandy landings.
It was preparations for Operation Market Garden which led to the Battalion being stationed in and around Somerby before setting off to join the action the day after the outbreak of the Battle of Arnhem on September 18th, 1944.
Commonly referred to as ‘A Bridge Too Far’ and portrayed in a 1970s’ film production featuring some of the biggest screen stars, they were unable to reach their assigned objective which was to hold a position north of Arnhem.
Consequently, the Battalion was gradually destroyed over two days of fighting, leaving any survivors to withdraw into the divisional position at Oosterbeek before they were subsequently evacuated south of the River Rhine.
Those who did survive were posted to the 1st Parachute Brigade when the 10th Battalion was disbanded due to such heavy losses.
When the Territorial Army was reformed after the Second World War, a new 10th Battalion was raised as part of the reserve 44th Parachute Brigade, but as a result of defence cuts it was eventually amalgamated with the 4th Battalion.