In my rummaging around for more information on Dad’s (Private Desmond Le Pard) time in the forces towards the end of the Second World War, I have found these photos which have Dad’s own explanations written on the back. I give them to you as written by him.
First, there is the static balloon drop, the first jumps you do when qualifying as a paratrooper. Dad did these at Ringway in Manchester in Spring 1945. They are not of him dropping but they are, unless otherwise stated by him, contemporary to his time.
The Balloon with the cage is just descending. Standing on the deck is the next ‘stick’ awaiting their turn for ‘Up 7 – down 5’! Very probably this will be their first drop, and the moment is pretty tense.
Taken from the deck as the balloon ascends the boys are sitting round the edge of the hole in ready position for the drop. It is now the potential paratrooper becomes scared – very scared!
Very good photograph of a bloke just dropping through the hole from the balloon cage. Note the static line coming up from his pack; it is this which pulls the ‘chute from the pack.
This chap jumped thro’ the hole about 1½ seconds before this photo was taken, as his ‘chute has only just developed. With close scrutiny the basket can just be discerned under the balloon. There were two balloons at Ringway, affectionately named ‘Bessie’ and ‘Betty’; and it is from these balloons that every paratrooper does his first two jumps.
This is quite a good photo of a chap doing a kitbag drop – see it swinging from his leg. He is holding quite a good position but his feet should be together. Note the air-vent in the top of the ‘chute.
Once you’ve done your basic static balloon jumps you move onto jumping from a plane; in Dad’s case a Dakota.
This is my ‘stick’ taken just before we took off for the first jump. Note the wing of our Dakota just behind us. I am in the centre of the front row.
I think this was taken in Italy – these mountains don’t look like England. Actually these are canisters being dropped, probably contain ammo or small arms. It is a Dakota they are being dropped from, although Lord knows why the undercart is down.
This was probably taken during these blokes training at Ringway. They are sitting inside a Dakota, waiting for take-off. Some have rifle valises and some have kit-bags. The first bloke on the left is stick – N.C.O. – he is holding a Sten gun. The officer stick – commander is standing at the end. Now you know what I mean by ‘pregnant peanuts’ – see the second bloke on the left! The bulge is his small pack, which, personally I prefer on my chest.
This is a rather dramatic photo. The chap is standing at the door of a Dakota and you can see him looking down, watching for the green light. In about a second after this was taken he jumped, because the red warning light must have been on, or otherwise he would not be standing at the door. You can see No. 2 behind him, ready to follow him right away. In a stick like this the boys go out at a hell of a lick.
Probably, certainly in fact, this photo was taken at Ringway – I recognise the wood on the deck. He had just baled out – you an see the static line coming from the top of his pack. In the bottom left hand corner is a chute just developing and farther down is one fully developed.
Snap No. 1. this bloke has just jumped and his chute has not yet started to develop.
Snap No. 2. Farther on now. Note the static line from his chute to the aircraft. Smoke on the deck is to give pilot and paratrooper an indication of wind strength, drift etc.
Snap no. 3. Here comes his chute, still attached to the static line. Note his position – feet and knees together. That is very important for combating the slipstream of the aircraft.
Snap No. 4. Well away now. Chute developed and broken from static line. Now he is on his own and it’s a glorious feeling. In a few seconds he will be landing.