Browning, Lieutenant General Frederick ‘Boy,’ 1896-1966

Browning was a British General who pioneered the use and training of airborne troops. From his experiences of parachuting and as a glider pilot he developed ideas on the use of advance airborne troops which were opposed by the Air Ministry. However by 1941 he had converted enough people close to CHURCHILL to his way of thinking and he was transferred from the Guards with orders to form a parachutist brigade. In April 1943 Browning was made Major General of Airborne Forces after having trained three parachutist brigades and a glider-borne brigade. The Parachute Regiment eventually totaled seventeen battalions and in 1942 was given its emblem, the red beret, from which the nickname the ‘Red Devils’ was derived. In September 1944 Browning was finally given a chance to test his troops; they were to participate in Operation Market Garden, an advance thurst to seize a bridgehead over the Rhine. Browning was BRERETON’s deputy and responsible for ground operations. Browning was in command of the 1 Airborne Corps which was used to take the bridge at Arnhem. However the numbers of German troops in the area had been underestimated and the 1st Airborne Division lost touch with its headquarters and did not receive sufficient supplies. They fought bravely but were forced to withdraw. Out of 10,000 men dropped into the area only 3400 returned to Allied lines. Despite the failure of this particular operation the airborne troops had demonstrated that they could achieve spectacular gains in territory, provided the planning was thorough. Browning’s men received much praise and Browning was recognized as a tough Commander. Towards the end of the war he was appointed MOUNTBATTEN’s Chief of Staff in the Far East.

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