Major Desmond Jack Kippin

Officers of the 8th Parachute Battalion shortly before take-off

The grave of Major Kippin

Major Desmond Jack Kippin


Unit : "B" Company, 8th Parachute Battalion

Award : Mentioned in Despatches.


Major Desmond Jack Kippin was the son of John Ernest and Emily Kippin of Ilford, Essex, and husband of Bessie Kippin.


He enlisted in the 2nd Battalion The London Scottish in April 1939 and volunteered for service with Airborne Forces in November 1940, joining No.2 Commando at Ringway, near Manchester. He served in the ranks of the 1st Parachute Battalion until he went to 165 OCTU for commissioning in November 1942. On the 23rd December 1942, he was granted an emergency commission in The Essex Regiment and was transferred to the 5th (Scottish) Parachute Battalion. 2nd Lieutenant Kippin was one of a group of reinforcements sent to Tunisia to strengthen the 1st Battalion, joining them in the Bou Arada area on the 15th February 1943, where he took command of No.2 Platoon, "R" Company.


Lieutenant Kippin was wounded in Tunisia in June 1943 and evacuated to the UK. After recovering from his wounds he was posted to the Airborne Forces Depot at Hardwick Hall, and on the 17th December he was posted to the 8th Parachute Battalion in the 6th Airborne Division. He landed in Normandy on attachment to Headquarters 3rd Parachute Brigade, initially as Liaison Officer and then, a week after D-Day, he was promoted to Captain and made Intelligence Officer.


Returning to the 8th Battalion, Kippin was promoted to Major and given command of "B" Company. He was Mentioned in Despatches on the 22nd March 1945, two days before embarking on Operation Varsity. The appointed task of the 8th Battalion was to land on DZ-A and secure the zone against enemy interference whilst the remainder of the 3rd Parachute Brigade arrived. "B" Company were charged with capturing the dominating feature of "Axe Handle Wood", so named for its hatchet-like appearance on the aerial photographs, but they became somewhat fragmented as a consequence of the drop and had difficulty forming up due to enemy fire. Major Kippin rallied an ad-hoc platoon about him and led an attack into the wood from the south, advancing up the "axe handle" towards the "hatchet". Two platoons of German paratroopers were found to be dug-in around the wood and, finding themselves outnumbered, Kippin's men were forced back having suffered several wounded and both Major Kippin and Lieutenant Cox were killed. The survivors gave covering fire to another of "B" Company's platoons, which quickly penetrated the German positions and overwhelmed them with grenades and bayonets. At least half of the Germans defending the wood were killed or wounded and 27 prisoners were taken.


Major Kippin, aged 25, was buried in the Reichswald Forest Cemetery.


My thanks to Mick Kippin for this account.


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