On the night of the 27/28 February 1942, company of the 2nd Bn the Parachute Regiment took off in RAF Whitleys of 51 Sqn RAF to carry out an Airborne raid on the Radar Station near the village of Bruneval situated on the French Coast north of Le Havre.
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Background: On the night of the 27/28 February 1942, company of the 2nd Bn the Parachute Regiment took off in RAF Whitleys of 51 Sqn RAF to carry out an Airborne raid on the Radar Station near the village of Bruneval situated on the French Coast north of Le Havre.
The background to this operation was this. Our bomber raids on German occupied territory were receiving heavy casualties, and it was discovered that Germans had established a network of Radar Stations on the French Coastline, a type of radar equipment which we knew nothing about. It was imperative that we capture the working parts of this radar in order to counteract it.
The company, C company 2nd Bn The Parachute Regiment, was commanded by Maj J. D. Frost now Brigadier J. D. Frost DSO, MC who commanded the operation. It consisted of six officers and 113 other ranks including Airborne Sappers and Flight Sergeant Cox RAF who was a radar expert. The company was split into three groups, codenamed DRAKE, RODNEY, NELSON.
In the area of the radar station there was a large house, which was the living quarters of the German Signallers, to the EAST of this was a group of buildings known as La PRESBYTERE which housed approx 100 German Infantry, and in the village of BRUNEVAL to the west of the Radar was a platoon of 30 Germans who manned the Machine Gun Posts protecting the beach approaches, from the cliff.
The task of the force was to capture the essential parts of the radar equipment withdraw to the beach, embark on Royal Naval vessels and return to England. The Royal Naval detachment was commanded by Commander F. N. Cook, Royal Australian Navy. At all costs that equipment must get back.
The operation was extremely successful and but of the 120 men, three were killed, two missing and seven wounded, some of whom escaped through the French resistance. We capture three prisoners one of whom an expert on that particular type of Radar.
The operation at BRUNEVAL was only the second operation carried out by British Parachute soldiers during the war, and helped greatly the development and expansion of Airborne Forces, which at that stage was in its infancy.
The Battle honour of Bruneval was granted to the Parachute Regiment in 1956 and still serving in the 16th Indep Para Bde Gp as it is today are two soldiers who took part in this operation: C/Sgt F. Welsh MM Airborne Forces Depot, and CSM R. A. Orton DCM BEM of 9 Independent Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers.
This year the present C Company 2nd Bn the Parachute Regiment commanded by Maj P. J. O'Kane, Royal Berkshire Regiment, are dropping on Bruneval, and hope to re-enact the original operation, with the co-operation of the French Military authorities. They will be flown in by two Blackburn Beverleys of 47 Squadron RAF Transport Command.
Taking part in the exercises will be two of the original raiding group, CSM R.A. Orton DCM, BEM and C/Sgt Welsh MM and also flying over will be Brigadier J. D. Frost DSO, MC who commanded the original raid and Lt Col H.E.N. Bredin DSO, MC the Commanding Officer 2nd Bn The Parachute Regiment.