The story of the British Airborne Forces in the Second World War is dominated by the 1st and 6th Airborne Divisions, and their famous battles of Arnhem and Normandy. Despite its early appearance in this story, the 2nd Parachute Brigade remains an unfamiliar unit which never had the opportunity to receive similar acclaim. Their part in the Sicily landings was cancelled, the months of skirmishing and patrolling in Italy did not grab any headlines, and it is not even widely known in Britain that there was an invasion of Southern France. The most severe test the Brigade faced came a few months later, not against the Germans but the Greek Communists in a difficult, bloody, completely successful yet quite unglamorous struggle for the control of Athens. Consequently, even amongst the vast library which has been published about the Airborne Forces, it is difficult to find more than a few dozen pages dedicated to the exploits of the 2nd Parachute Brigade. It is hoped that this website, which has been an absolute pleasure to research and assemble, may go some way towards addressing the imbalance.
Forgotten though the Brigade may be, it is worth remembering that it holds the distinction of being the only component of the Parachute Regiment to survive the post-war reorganisation of the British Army. The 1st Airborne Division was disbanded in 1945 and the 6th Airborne Division followed suit in 1948, but the 2nd Parachute Brigade lived on and was renamed the 16th Parachute Brigade, consisting of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions The Parachute Regiment; formed respectively from the amalgamated 4/6th Battalion, 5th Battalion, and the 7th Battalion formerly of the 6th Airborne Division. The Brigade Headquarters was disbanded in 1977, but the battalions remain, and although they prefer to trace their heritage back to the wartime 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions, they are nevertheless the direct descendents of the 2nd Parachute Brigade.