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Third Battalion, Parachute Regiment
Cap badge of the Parachute Regiment
Active 1941–1948
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Army
Type Airborne infantry
Role Air assault infantry
Size Battalion
Part of 16 Air Assault Brigade
Garrison/HQ Colchester Garrison
Motto(s) Utrinque Paratus
(Latin for "Ready for Anything")
Gerald Lathbury
Richard Lonsdale

The 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment (3 PARA), is a battalion sized formation of the British Army's Parachute Regiment and subordinate unit within 16 Air Assault Brigade.

Roled as an Airborne light infantry unit and is capable of a wide range of operational tasking's. Based at Merville Barracks, Colchester Garrison, their barracks in England, personnel regularly deploy outside of the United Kingdom on operations and training.

All personnel will have completed the Pre Parachute Selection (P Company) course at Depot PARA at Catterick, North Yorkshire (previously Aldershot, Hampshire), entitling them to wear the maroon beret.

A unique part of the 3rd Battalion is the inclusion of the Guards Parachute Platoon incorporated into B Company and also known as 6 Platoon. The Guards Parachute Platoon is made up of volunteers from the 5 Regiments of the Foot Guards who can be distinguished from other paratroopers by a "blue red blue" patch sewn to their beret beneath the Parachute Regiment cap badge.


Three of the first British paratroopers June 1941.

Impressed by the success of German airborne operations during the Battle of France, the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill directed the War Office to investigate the possibility of creating a corps of 5,000 parachute troops.[1] On 22 June 1940, No. 2 Commando was redeployed to parachute duties and on 21 November re-designated the 11th Special Air Service Battalion, with both a parachute and glider wing,[2][3] the men of which took part in the first British airborne operation, Operation Colossus, on 10 February 1941.[4] The success of the raid prompted the War Office to expand the airborne forces, setting up the Airborne Forces Depot and Battle School in Derbyshire in April 1942, and creating the Parachute Regiment as well as converting a number of infantry battalions into airborne battalions in August 1942.[5] This resulted in the formation of the 1st Airborne Division with the 1st Parachute Brigade and the 1st Airlanding Brigade. Its commander Major General Frederick Boy Browning, expressed his opinion that the fledgling force must not be sacrificed in "penny packets" and urged the formation of further brigades.[6]

All parachute forces had to undergo a twelve-day parachute training course at No. 1 Parachute Training School, RAF Ringway. Initial parachute jumps were from a converted barrage balloon and finished with five jumps from an aircraft.[7][nb 1] Anyone failing to complete a descent was returned to his old unit. Those men who successfully completed the parachute course were presented with their maroon beret and parachute wings.[7][9]

Airborne soldiers were expected to fight against superior numbers of the enemy armed with heavy weapons, including artillery and tanks. Training was as a result designed to encourage a spirit of self-discipline, self-reliance and aggressiveness. Emphasis was given to physical fitness, marksmanship and fieldcraft.[10] A large part of the training regime consisted of assault courses and route marching while military exercises included capturing and holding airborne bridgeheads, road or rail bridges and coastal fortifications.[10] At the end of most exercises, the battalions would march back to their barracks. An ability to cover long distances at speed was also expected: airborne platoons were required to cover a distance of 50 miles (80 km) in twenty-four hours, and battalions 32 miles (51 km).[10][nb 2]

3rd Battalion[]

The 3rd Parachute Battalion was formed in 1941, from volunteers amongst infantry regiments in the British Army. It became part of the 1st Parachute Brigade, later part of the 1st Airborne Division. The battalion first saw action during the Operation Torch landings, and then further operations in North Africa, by the independent 1st Parachute Brigade. After the Tunisian campaign, the battalion and brigade rejoined the 1st Airborne Division, and took part in Operation Fustian in Sicily, and Operation Slapstick on the Italian mainland.

Withdrawn to Britain with the rest of the 1st Airborne Division, their next mission was during Operation Market Garden and the Battle of Arnhem. During which the battalion was virtually wiped out. Afterwards the battalion was reformed but never saw any further action during the Second World War. The battalion was then assigned to the 3rd Parachute Brigade in the 6th Airborne Division and served with them in Palestine. The battalion was disbanded in 1948, but was reformed by the re-numbering of the 7th (Light Infantry) Parachute Battalion as the 3rd later the same year.

Recently, 3 PARA took part in a large training exercise to return to the Airborne Assault role.[12]

Paratroopers from 3 PARA deploy from a French C-160 aircraft during Exercise Joint Warrior, on 16 April 2012.

3 PARA is training with its anti-tank platoon to take on the AATF role from May 2014, with the unit's airborne infantry bolstered by artillery, engineers, medics and logisticians from 16 Air Assault Brigade.[13]


Organization of the Battalion after the Army 2020 reforms:[1]

  • Headquarters Company
    • Quartermasters
    • Motor Transport Platoon
    • Regimental Administration Office
    • Regimental Aid Post
    • Catering Platoon
  • D (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) Company
    • Battalion Headquarters
    • Intelligence Section
    • Training Wing
    • Patrols Platoon
    • Signals Platoon
    • Assault Engineer
    • Provost Staff (Military Police)
    • Sniper Platoon
  • A Company - Rifle Company
    • Company Headquarters
    • 1 Platoon - Rifle Platoon
    • 2 Platoon - Rifle Platoon
    • 3 Platoon - Rifle Platoon
  • B Company - Rifle Company
    • Company Headquarters
    • Guards Parachute Platoon - Rifle Platoon
    • 5 Platoon - Rifle Platoon
    • 6 Platoon - Rifle Platoon
  • C Company - Rifle Company
    • Company Headquarters
    • 7 Platoon - Rifle Platoon
    • 8 Platoon - Rifle Platoon
    • 9 Platoon - Rifle Platoon
  • Support Company
    • Company Headquarters
    • Machine Gun Platoon
    • Mortars Platoon
    • Anti-Tank Platoon

See also[]


  1. Barrage balloons were used to speed up training jumps and meet the target of 5,000 trained parachutists.[8]
  2. This ability was demonstrated in April 1945. When the 3rd Parachute Brigade advanced 15 miles (24 km) in twenty-four hours, which included eighteen hours of close-quarters fighting.[11] In the same month the 5th Parachute Brigade marched 50 miles (80 km) in seventy-two hours, during which they also carried out two night time assaults.[11]
  1. Otway, p.21
  2. Shortt & McBride, p.4
  3. Moreman, p.91
  4. Guard, p.218
  5. Harclerode, p.218
  6. Ferguson, pp.7–8
  7. 7.0 7.1 Guard, p.224
  8. Reynolds, p.16
  9. Guard, p.226
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Guard, p.225
  11. 11.0 11.1 Reynolds, p.87
  12. "Back to basics for 3 PARA | British Forces News". Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  13. Ministry of Defence and Defence Infrastructure Organisation (2013-09-19). "Javelin missiles fired at Norfolk training range - News stories". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 


  • Ferguson, Gregor (1984). The Paras 1940-84. Volume 1 of Elite series. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 0-85045-573-1. 
  • Guard, Julie (2007). Airborne: World War II Paratroopers in Combat. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84603-196-6. 
  • Harclerode, Peter (2005). Wings Of War – Airborne Warfare 1918-1945. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 0-304-36730-3. 
  • Moreman, Timothy Robert (2006). British Commandos 1940–46. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-986-X. 
  • Otway, Lieutenant-Colonel T.B.H (1990). The Second World War 1939–1945 Army – Airborne Forces. London: Imperial War Museum. ISBN 0-901627-57-7. 
  • Reynolds, David (1998). Paras: An Illustrated History of Britain's Airborne Forces. Stroud, UK: Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-2059-9. 
  • Saunders, Hilary Aidan St. George (1950). The Red Beret: the Story of the Parachute Regiment at War, 1940-1945 (4 ed.). Torrington, UK: Joseph. OCLC 2927434. 
  • Shortt, James; McBride, Angus (1981). The Special Air Service. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 0-85045-396-8. 

External links[]

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