First Australian Parachute Battalion (Army) had its beginning late in
1942, and was part, in its infancy, of the (RAAF) Royal Australian
Paratroop Training Unit at Tocumal NSW, under the command of Wing Commander
P Glasscock (RAAF). The Army Personnel were known as Group 244 R.A.A.F.
The formation of the First Australian
Parachute Battalion began at Tocumal NSW and continued at Richmond NSW
and then at Schyville NSW, where the unit reached Battalion strength. It
then moved to Mareeba on the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland, where it
trained until the end of the war.
The majority of its members were
seasoned soldiers, who had already served in other theatres of the war,
and a considerable number had been decorated; there were no less than
ten Military Crosses (MC) in the unit. Several members refused advancement in
rank in their own units to become Paratroopers.
The unit never went into action but
was represented by 195 Officers and other ranks at the surrender of
Singapore in September 1945. While there, they were under the direct
command of Lord Louis Mountbatten, who often visited the Australians in
their billets for a chat.
All of the members of the Australian
Parachute Battalion were volunteers and had to pass rigorous medical
checks before acceptance. They had to qualify for the winged Insignia,
and the "Red Beret" with a total of seven jumps during their training.
The Commanding Officer of the 1st
Australian Parachute Battalion was Lt. Col. Sir John Overall, KT, CBE,
MC & Bar.
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