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Australian Parachute Troops!


auchonvillerssomme
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As an obsessive reader of leaflets I came across this interesting little piece in a leaflet I picked up at Thiepval Visitors Centre.

Published by 'The Battlefields on the Somme'

Titled 'The Australians in the Somme'

Le Hamel

This village and its surrounding area are important feature in Australian military history. On 4 July 1918 with the support of American Forces, General Monash launched a spirited and victorious attack which for the first time combined infantry, artillery, tanks and parachute troops - a forerunner of modern war tactics.

Mick

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Mick

Could this a mix up with the fact that parachutes were used to drop ammunition to troops in 1918, for the first time?

Gunner Bailey

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it probably is (hopefully is) something lost in translation, but it made me smile.

I'm looking forward to the wings appearing on ebay.

Mick

The title is correct 'The Australians in The Somme'

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it probably is (hopefully is) something lost in translation, but it made me smile.

Yes - many of the French leaflets contain some pretty funny errors due to poor translations, but you have to thank them for trying.

GB

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G'Day Mick. Gunner Bailey is correct. Although it would have been a spectacular 'world first', there were no Aussie troops dropped from planes by parachute. At le Hamel it was only ammo and food. I think the only troops that packed 'chutes were the blokes in observation balloons. But what a sight it would have been to see seasoned Diggers dropping from the sky! And as an aside, my Great Uncle, a Lewis Gunner in the 44th Battalion was killed at le Hamel on the morning of July 4, 1918. Rupert Walton of Pingelly, Western Australia, RIP.

Stu

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I think that GB has hit the nail on the head here.

from 'Hamel' in the Battleground Europe series published by Pen & Sword

and written by Peter A. Pedersen

"Copying the technique used by the Germans on the Lys and the Aisne. No.9 Squadron would begin shuttling from Poulainville airfield near Bertangles after daybreak to parachute ammunition onto five drop zones or wherever the infantry displayed a white V-signal. Each of its twelve R.E.8's carried two 1,200-round boxes on a release mechanism designed by Captain L. J. Wackett, temporary commanding No.3 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps."

From elsewhere I understand that this was machine-gun ammo and that 'V' of the white V-signal referred to 'Vickers'

Regards

Michael

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True enough although generally they are pretty accurate.

Mick

I think that GB has hit the nail on the head here.

from 'Hamel' in the Battleground Europe series published by Pen & Sword

and written by Peter A. Pedersen

"Copying the technique used by the Germans on the Lys and the Aisne. No.9 Squadron would begin shuttling from Poulainville airfield near Bertangles after daybreak to parachute ammunition onto five drop zones or wherever the infantry displayed a white V-signal. Each of its twelve R.E.8's carried two 1,200-round boxes on a release mechanism designed by Captain L. J. Wackett, temporary commanding No.3 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps."

From elsewhere I understand that this was machine-gun ammo and that 'V' of the white V-signal referred to 'Vickers'

Regards

Michael

I will print that off and stick it on as an amendment.

Mick

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If the Aussies had indeed been the first paratroops, I think we`d certainly have heard quite a lot about it. In fact, they wouldn`t be called Diggers, they`d have been the Droppers ever after. Aussies don`t hide their lights under bushels. ;)

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But they are such a modest bunch! They probably just wanted to keep quiet about it.

Mick

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Agents were parachuted behind German lines from O/400s in 1918. Studies were carried out to see if troops could be delivered in the same way. In the end there were plans for the use of airborne troops in 1919 but these would not be dropped but landed behind the lines in specially converted O/400s. With the armistice these ideas were shelved and no further develpment carried out.

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  • 4 months later...

There is a diaorama of an airdrop over the Western Front at the Airborne Forces Museum at Aldershot....although it's currently closed pending it's move to Duxford.....I think it is of Hamel...although there were supplies dropped by air at the siege of Kut.....so probably that was the first attmept at aerial resupply.....

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Indeed, n cherry, it was the first succesful dropping of ammunition supplies by parachutes in history.

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My original comment was tongue in cheek about the accuracy of the leaflet, the information about supply drops is certainly well documented.

Mick

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