Britain's Airborne Forces of WWII, Uniforms & Equipment

...from Frontline Books

Title: Britain's Airborne Forces of WWII, Uniforms & Equipment
Author: Mark Magreehan
Publisher: Frontline Books
ISBN: 978-1-52677-946-5

A new 160-page hardback taking a detailed look at the uniforms and equipment of British Airborne forces during WW2. Not only a record of a series of operations they carried out through the course of the war, but accompanied by a lot of archive images plus modern colour images of the items in the author's personal collection. Starting from the formation, training and early operations they took part in, it makes clear the evolution of their gear over the course of the war.
Early equipment had a fair bit of inspiration from that used by German Falschirmjager operations in their Blitzkrieg drops in 1939/40. Split across 20 chapters, we see the early rubber crash helmets, which continued to be used for training, along with the early smocks, which in turn were fairly straight copies of German gear. The smock was designed to fit over the top of personal equipment so it didn't catch on the rigging lines of the parachute when they dropped. Many interested in WW2 history will know of their involvement in D-Day, Market Garden and Varsity, the Rhine crossing. It adds many others that are less well known, such as their first drop, Operation Colossus in Italy, in February 1941; Operations in North Africa in 1943, Operation Fustian in Sicily and towards the end of the war, in both Norway and Greece. From the first examples of the Denison smock, where the dyes have badly faded, quite a contrast to the later was examples, which have lasted in much better condition. Other equipment includes various weapons, grenades etc, along with special webbing gear. It does also include items used by both Polish and Canadian units.
With extra material included from the Airborne Assault Museum, based now at the IWM Duxford this is an amazing collection and marvellous that the author is able to share it with the rest of us via this book. It will be especially attractive to re-enactors and modellers, let alone miliaria collectors and historians of British Airborne forces.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for the review copy.

Robin