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The 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion was Canada's first Airborne unit having been formed on 1 July 1942. The potential of an airborne force was first visualized by Allied Commanders after the German's successful use of airborne forces in Holland and later in the capture of Crete. The official approval for Allied airborne forces was given by Sir Winston Churchill with a minute to the War Office saying:

"We ought to have a corps of at least 5000 parachute troops, including a proportion of Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians together..."

During the summer of 1942, 25 Canadian officers and 60 other ranks who had completed jump training at Ringway, England were returned to join the newly formed Canadian Battalion. They, along with other volunteers, underwent four months of parachute training in the United States at Fort Benning, Georgia and at the Parachute Training Wing at Shilo, Manitoba. The men who were part of this elite force, came from across Canada for training. In the words of one of them, Darrel L Harris:

"We were sent by train to Ft. Benning, Georgia for training. This consisted of four stages, "A", "B", "C", and "D". The first three consisted of ground training and the first week was devoted to physical training. Then introduction to other phases such as the suspended harness, the mock tower (35' off the ground) and in the third stage we were introduced to the high tower and "shock harness".

The high tower was approximately 250' high with three "free" arms, and one "controlled" arm. On the controlled arm we were given rides in a chair suspended beneath a parachute canopy and were also taken up on the shock harness. This bit of apparatus was discontinued many years ago in Canada. The last stage was "D" stage devoted to making the required number of parachute jumps which numbered five...


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