6th Airborne Division

Richard N. Gale

James Hill

Alastair S. Pearson

Terence Otway

George Smith

Allen Parry

George Bradbrooke

Nigel Poett

Geoffrey Pine-Coffin

Peter Luard

John Howard
On 31 May 1941, a joint Army and RAF memorandum was approved by the Chiefs-of-Staff and Winston Churchill; it recommended that the British airborne forces should consist of two parachute brigades, one based in England and the other in the Middle East, and that a glider force of 10,000 men should be created. Then on 23 April 1943 the War Office authorised the formation of a second British airborne division. This second formation was numbered the 6th Airborne Division, and commanded by Major-General Richard Nelson Gale, who had previously raised the 1st Parachute Brigade.
From June to December 1943, the division prepared for operations, training at every level from section up to division by day and night. Airborne soldiers were expected to fight against superior numbers of the enemy, who would be equipped with artillery and tanks. Training was therefore designed to encourage a spirit of self-discipline, self-reliance and aggressiveness, with emphasis given to physical fitness, marksmanship and fieldcraft. On 23 December 1943, the division was told to be prepared for active service from 1 February 1944.
The invasion of Normandy started just after midnight 6 June 1944. The first units of the division to land were the pathfinders and six platoons from 'D' Company of the 2nd Battalion, Ox and Bucks Light Infantry, from Brigadier Hugh Kindersley's 6th Airlanding Brigade. While the pathfinders marked the division drop zones, 'D' Company carried out a coup de main glider assault on the two bridges crossing the River Orne and the Caen Canal, 'Bénouville Bridge' and 'Ranville Bridge'. Within minutes of landing, both bridges had been captured and the company dug in to defend them until relieved. The company commander, Major John Howard, signalled their success by transmitting the codewords "Ham and Jam".
Shortly afterwards the aircraft carrying Brigadier Nigel Poett's 5th Parachute Brigade arrived overhead heading for their drop zone (DZ) to the north of Ranville. The brigade were to reinforce the defenders at the bridges, the 7th Parachute Battalion in the west, while the 12th Parachute Battalion and the 13th Parachute Battalion dug in to the east, centred around Ranville, where brigade HQ would be located. Brigadier James Hill's 3rd Parachute Brigade had two DZs, one in the north for the 9th Parachute Battalion who were tasked to destroy the Merville Gun Battery and the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion who would destroy bridges over the River Dives. The 8th Parachute Battalion would land at the other DZ, and destroy bridges over the Dives in the south.
Commander: Major General Richard Nelson Gale  [view folder]
Aide de Camp: Captain Tom Haughton  [view folder]
GSO-1 (OPS): Lt. Colonel Robert N H C Bray  [view folder]
GSO-1 (AIR): Lt. Colonel Bill Bradish  [view folder]
GSO-2 (OPS): Major David Baird  [view folder]
GSO-2 (Intelligence): Major Gerald A C Lacoste  [view folder]
GSO-3 (OPS): Captain M. R. Spurling  [view folder]
GSO-3 (AIR): Captain Nick Pratt  [view folder]
GSO-3 (Intelligence): Captain John H. Max  [view folder] (KIA 6 June 1944)
GSO-3 (CW): Captain W. D. Burton  [view folder]
Royal Army Chaplain: Lt. Colonel J. C. Hales  [view folder]
Royal Artillery: Lt. Colonel JOHN S L Norris  [view folder]
Royal Engineers: Lt. Colonel J. C. Hamilton  [view folder]
Royal Electrical & Mechnalical Engineers: Lt. Colonel Raymond V. Powditch  [view folder]
Royal Army Medical Corps: Colonel Malcolm Mac Ewan  [view folder]
Royal Army Ordnance Corps: Lt. Colonel J. L. Watson  [view folder]
Royal Army Service Corps: Lt. Colonel J. Lovegrove  [view folder]
6th Airborne Division Signals: Lt. Colonel D. Smallman-Tew  [view folder]
  3rd Parachute Brigade: Brigadier Stanley James Ledger Hill  [view folder]
    8th (Midland Counties) Parachute Battalion: Lt. Colonel Alastair Stevenson Pearson  [view folder]
      Hq & Support Company: Major G. Payne  [view folder]
      A Company: Major S. Terrell  [view folder]
      B Company: Major A. J. Wilson  [view folder]
      C Company: Major G. Hewetson  [view folder]
    9th (Home Counties) Parachute Battalion: Lt. Colonel Terence Brandram Otway  [view folder]
      Hq Company: Major George Smith  [view folder]
      A Company: Major Allen Parry  [view folder] (WIA 6 June 1944)
      B Company: Major Harold Bestly  [view folder]
      C Company: Major Ian Dyer  [view folder]
    1st Canadian Parachute Battalion: Lt. Colonel George Bradbrooke  [view folder]
      Hq Company: Major E. T. Munro  [view folder]
      A Company: Major D. J. Wilkins  [view folder]
      B Company: Major C. E. Fuller  [view folder]
      C Company: Major Murray MacLeod  [view folder] (KIA 6 June 44)
    3rd Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery, RA: Major Nick Cranmer  [view folder]
    3rd Parachute Squadron, RE: Major Tim Roseveare  [view folder]
    224th Parachute Field Ambulance, RAMC:
  5th Parachute Brigade: Brigadier Joseph Howard Nigel Poett  [view folder]
    7th (Light Infantry) Parachute Battalion: Lt. Colonel Richard Geoffrey Pine-Coffin  [view folder]
      Hq Company: Major Tullis  [view folder]
      A Company: Major Nigel Taylor  [view folder]
      B Company: Major Roger S. Neale  [view folder]
      C Company: Major R. J. Bartlett  [view folder]
    12th Parachute Battalion: Lt. Colonel Johnny Anthony Johnson (KIA 12 June 44)
      Hq Company: Major D. Mayfield  [view folder]
      A Company: MajorGerald Ritchie  [view folder]
      B Company: Major Harold Rogers  [view folder]
      C Company: Major Clarence W. Stephens  [view folder]
    13thParachute Battalion: Lt. Colonel Peter Luard  [view folder]
      Hq Company: Major Reggie M. Tarrant  [view folder]
      A Company: Major John F. Cramphorn  [view folder]
      B Company: Major George W. Bristow  [view folder]
      C Company: Major Gerald H. D. Ford  [view folder]
    4th Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery, RA: Major Peter Dixon  [view folder]
    591st Parachute Squadron, RE: Major Andy Wood  [view folder]
    225th Parachute Field Ambulance, RAMC: Lt. Colonel Bruce Harvey  [view folder]
  6th Airlanding Brigade: Brigadier Hugh Kenyon Molesworth Kindersley  [view folder] (WIA 12 June 44)
    1st Battalion The Royal Ulster Rifles: Lt. Colonel Jack Carson  [view folder]
      Support Company: Major Ronnie Wilson  [view folder]
      A Company: Major Charles E. Vickery  [view folder]
      B Company: Major Gerald P. Rickcord  [view folder]
      C Company: Major Frederick R A Hynds  [view folder]
      D Company: Major Tony Dyball  [view folder]
    2nd Battalion The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Inf.: Lt. Colonel Michael Roberts  [view folder]
      Support Company: Major E. V. Favell  [view folder]
      Hq Company: Major S. J. Heath-Smith  [view folder]
      A Company: Major Gilbert Rahr  [view folder]
      B Company: Major J. S. R. Edmunds  [view folder]
      C Company: Major Johnny Granville  [view folder]
      D Company: Major John Howard  [view folder]
    12th Battalion The Devonshire Regiment: Lt. Colonel Dick Stevens  [view folder]
      Support Company: Major Eddie Warren  [view folder]
      A Company: Major J. Roger  [view folder]
      B Company:
      C Company:
      D Company: Major John A F Bampfylde  [view folder]
    249th (Airborne) Field Company, RE: Major Sandy Rutherford  [view folder]
      No.1 Platoon: Captain J Hirst  [view folder]
      No.2 Platoon: Captain Jack Neilson  [view folder]
      No.3 Platoon: Captain Smeardon  [view folder]
    195th Airlanding Field Ambulance, RAMC: Lt. Colonel William Maurice Anderson  [view folder]
  Royal Army Service Corps: Lt. Colonel J. Lovegrove  [view folder]
    63rd Airborne Composite Company: Major A. C. Billetop  [view folder]
    398th Airborne Composite Company: Major M. E. Phipps  [view folder]
    716th Airborne Composite Company: Major A. Jones  [view folder]
  22nd Independent Parachute Company: Major Francis Gordon Lennox-Boyd  [view folder] (KIA 6 June 1944)
  Glider Pilot Regiment: Brigadier George Chatterton  [view folder]
    1st Wing: Lt. Colonel Ian A. Murray  [view folder]
    2nd Wing: Lt. Colonel John Place  [view folder]
Divisional Headquarters - War Diaries
3rd Parachute Brigade, Brigade Headquarters - War Diaries
3rd Parachute Brigade, 1st Canadian Pracahute Battalion - War Diaries
3rd Parachute Brigade, 8th Parachute Battalion - War Diaries
3rd Parachute Brigade, 9th Parachute Battalion - War Diaries
5th Parachute Brigade, Brigade Headquarters - War Diaries
5th Parachute Brigade, 7th Parachute Battalion - War Diaries
5th Parachute Brigade, 12th Parachute Battalion - War Diaries
5th Parachute Brigade, 13th Parachute Battalion - War Diaries
22nd Independent Parachute Company - War Diaries
6th Airlanding Brigade, Brigade Headquarters - War Diaries
6th Airlanding Brigade, 1st Battalion - War Diaries
6th Airlanding Brigade, 2nd Battalion - War Diaries
6th Airlanding Brigade, 12th Battalion - War Diaries