|Extracts from Second Army History, 1944 Apr
|Extracts from Second Army History, 1944 Apr.
- 4 -
"It was initially planned to land one parachute brigade and the air landing brigade before H hour, and retain the other parachute brigade in reserve - to be flown in later, either to join 6 Airborne Division or for use elsewhere should the situation at any part of the front demand speedy reinforcement.
"The enemy, however, has recently gone in for obstructions in a large way, and most if not all the suitable landing grounds near the coast have been so covered with obstructions that a glider landing is not possible. It is considered. impossible to land gliders within ten miles of the coast until obstructions can be cleared away by our own troops. South of this line there are no signs of obstructions being put up, and all the suitable landing areas are available for us.
"So the plan for 6 Airborne Division is to land the two parachute brigades, supported by a small number of gliders, during the night before H hour, and to fly-in the air landing brigade during the evening of D day, by which time a sufficient area will be cleared to enable the gliders to land."
The Army Commander did not go any further into the details of this operation but made it quite clear that:-
"although the landing of the air landing brigade on the evening of D day can be cancelled up to a late hour, it is not possible, owing to obstructions, to put it down at any other part of the front, and there is, therefore, no brigade available for the speedy reinforcement of any other part of the front on D day or on D plus 1. It is just possible, however, that the air landing brigade may not be used on D day, in which event it can be flown in to a previously cleared area on D plus 1, D plus 2, D plus 3 or D plus 4."
The Army Commander regarded this as a very remote possibility, because he felt almost certain that the brigade would join 6 Airborne Division on D day.
"1 Airborne Division will be ready to land from evening D plus 6 onwards. One parachute brigade of it could be flown in evening D plus 2 onwards. This latter brigade was regarded simply as a stop gap to be flown in in an emergency. It was not considered available for offensive operations, that is to say, to be dropped behind the enemy's lines. At any time after the night D plus 6/D plus 7, 1 Airborne Division may be placed under command of one of the corps for offensive operations. Its correct use, and the machinery necessary to plan and organise the operation, have been studied in considerable detail and 8 Corps have recently carried out an exercise with 1 Airborne Division under their command to study the problem.
"Hard and fast rules cannot be given, but if the following factors are understood and considered in this type of operation they will not as a valuable guide when the occasion arises:-
(a) The airborne force must be landed sufficiently close to the main body to obviate the risk of its being defeated in detail. There must be a very fair certainty that the two forces will join up within, say, 24 hours.
(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)