Appendix A Historical Section
Canadian Military Headquarter Report #138
Further Material Relating to the Organization and Training of the
1st Canadian Parachute Battalion
(40) This appendix supplement the information contained in those sections of Report N°138 which deal with the background, the formation and the early training of the 1-CPB. The chief sources of information have been the relevant files at A.H.G. Other material consulted included the War Diary of General A.G.L. McNaughton, various directorate diaries at A.H.Q, and the unit War Diary. For convenience in reference, the paragraphs are numbered consecutively with those of Report N°138.
Background to Formation of the Unit
(41) Although the memorandum prepared by Colonel Burns in November 1940 was the first to be brought to attention of the Overseas authorities (para #3/1-CPB/UK to Combat), that officer had put forward similar proposals 3 months earlier, Aug 13. This earlier memorandum was examined by Colonel (later Lt Gen) J.C. Murchie, D.M.O. & I., N.D.H.Q., who expressed the opinion that although the value of the parachute troops in certain situations was very great, the provision of such troops by Canada would be a project of doubtful value to the combined Empire war effort in view of the expenditure of time, money, and equipment which would be involved. Further, having regard to the probable operational roles of the Airborne Forces, it would be likely that any Canadian parachute units would form part of a United Kingdom Parachute Corps, would be difficult to administer and would be largely out of Canadian control during operations. For these reasons Col Murchie did not recommend the formation of a Parachute Battalion, but considered, rather, the the Canadian war effort should be directed towards the maintenance of such commitments as had already been accepted. ‘If any additional commitments are accepted these should be limited to the formation of units to which Canadians are particularly adapted by reason of nature of this country’. (H.Q.S. 8846: Memorandum by D.M.O & I. for D/C.G.S.,August 16 1940).
Canadian Military Headquarters
1st Canadian Parachute Battalion
Organization and Training
July 1942 – June 1944
Canada’s first specially trained parachute unit was the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion; it did not have the status of a regiment though is considered a direct predecessor to The Canadian Airborne Regiment. The Battalion was formed during the Second World War and disbanded shortly after; it served concurrently with the 1st Canadian Special Service Battalion, the administrative name for the Canadian component of the First Special Service Force. Unlike its counterpart in the US Army, the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion was entirely Canadian, and though it had a Canadian commanding officer, was assigned to the 6th British Airborne Division throughout combat employment and thus was not under higher Canadian command.
(1) Background to the Formation of the Unit (November 1940 – July 1942)
(2) Formation and Early Training (July 1942 – July 1943)
(3) Incorporation in the British 6th Airborne Division
(4) Arrival in the United Kingdom (July 28 1943)
(5) Legal Relationship to British Formation
(6) Administrative Arrangements
(7) Training in the United Kingdom (August 1943 – February 1944)
(8) 1st Canadian Parachute Training Company
(9) Mobilization and Preparations for D Day (March 1944 – June 1944)
By the evening of September 15 1944, the XIX Corps had established a bridgehead on the east bank of the Meuse River in the vicinity of Maastricht in Holland. Both the 30th Infantry Division and CCA, 2nd Armored Division had moved into the bridgehead and were ready to advance East. The 30-ID had the mission of giving flank protection to the VII Corps, whose attack in the vicinity of Aachen, Germany, constituted the current main effort of FUSA. The 2-AD mission was to protect the area West of the Vaart Canal and CCB-2AD had begun to advance in the area East of the Meuse River. Between the Vaart Canal and the Meuse River, however lay a narrow corridor, extending halfway across the XIX Corps front and completely in enemy hands. Obviously, this had to be cleared out before the 2-AD could, with safety, continue its advance East of the Meuse. XIX Corps ordered the 2-AD to clear the enemy from this corridor.
Sept 15 1944
Late in the evening of Sep 15, the company moved out following the Division Artillery and crossed the Albert Canal at Canne (Wonk – Belgium), just east of the famous Fort Eben Emael, about midnight. Just beyond the Albert Canal they crossed from Belgium into Holland, adding another country to their growing list. Pulling off the road about one mile west of the city of Maastricht the company waited until daylight and proceeded through that city crossing the Meuse River on another pontoon bridge and set up the Regimental CP about 2 miles east of the river.