Guide to the Papers of the 1st Australian Parachute Battalion


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Manuscript Name Papers of the First Australian Parachute Battalion
Manuscript Number MSS 200
Last Updated September 2009
Extent 7 cm (2 boxes)
Location Academy Library, UNSW Canberra
Abstract Nominal Roll, 4 Platoon, B. Coy Roll Book, diary extracts, newsletters, newspaper cuttings, poster, cloth colour insignia badges and photographs relating to the 1st Australian Parachute Battalion collected by Michael Derek Fleming.

Collection Subject Type 

Military

Scope and Content

This collection comprises Nominal Roll, 4 Platoon, B. Coy Roll Book, diary extracts, newsletters, newspaper cuttings, poster, cloth colour insignia badges patches and photographs relating to the 1st Australian Parachute Battalion collected by Michael Derek Fleming.

Date Range of Content 

1942-1946

Biographical Note

The First Australian Parachute Battalion (Army) had its beginning late in 1942, and was part, in its infancy, of the (RAAF) Royal Australian Paratroop Training Unit at Tocumal NSW, under the command of Wing C P Glasscock (RAAF). The Army Personnel were known as Group 244 R.A.A.F. Army (Z).

The formation of the First Australian Parachute Battalion began at Tocumal NSW and continued at Richmond NSW and then at Schyville NSW, where the unit reached Battalion strength. It then moved to Mareeba on the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland, where it trained until the end of the war.

The majority of its members were seasoned soldiers, who had already served in other theatres of the war, and a considerable number had been decorated; there were no less than ten military crosses in the unit. Several members refused advancement in rank in their own units to become Paratroopers.

The unit never went into action but was represented by 195 Officers and other ranks at the surrender of Singapore in September 1945. While there, they were under the direct command of Lord Louis Mountbatten, who often visited the Australians in their billets for a chat.

All of the members of the Australian Parachute Battalion were volunteers and had to pass rigorous medical checks before acceptance. They had to qualify for the winged Insignia and the red Beret with a total of seven jumps during their training.

The Commanding Officer of the 1st Australian Parachute Battalion was Lt. Colonel Sir John Overall, KT, CBE, MC & Bar.

Referenced: From http://www.abc.net.au/wa/anzac/land2.htm 29 July 2010. Link no longer available. 

See also the Wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1st_Parachute_Battalion_(Australia)

Michael Derek Fleming (donor of the items) was born in England in April 1919. He was associated with parachuting in the Australian Army during World War II from the initial formation for training purposes at RAAF Station, Tocumwal, NSW in November-December 1942, when the formation was known as Group 244 (RAAF) Army Z. He was a member of the first Company formed in respect of the Battalion. He was discharged from the Australian Army in June 1946.

When World War II ended, and the 1st Australian Parachute Battalion was disbanded, one of the unit members retained the original Nominal Roll, which was in use by the Pay Sergeant of the Battalion. The member then gave it to M.D. Fleming (solicitor) in 1946, along with other items. The nominal roll records the name and regimental number of every person who, from the formation of the Battalion, was on its strength and, where appropriate, shows the date that any person marched out of the Battalion. It also shows all members who embarked for Singapore either in the first or second drafts. On the back page are separate matters of interest relating to members of the Battalion. There is also a section roll book and attendance record.

In 1958/1959, Fleming arranged for the Australian War Memorial to supply him with the war diaries of the Battalion. From them he extracted, in chronological order, certain entries which appeared to him to be of some importance, and which provided a reasonably clear outline of the whole process of the formation and operation of the Battalion, which was the first of its kind in the history of the Australian armed forces.

Also some papers of the Australian Paratroopers Association (NSW) of which M D Fleming was a member.

References:
Correspondence from Michael Derek Fleming to the Academy Library, 1985.

Access and Copying Conditions

Access: Open Access

This collection contains a variety of copyright material. Copyright is held by the creator of each item. Specific conditions for this collection are listed below. If no conditions are stipulated then the standard terms of the Copyright Act apply for published and unpublished items. Digitised material from manuscript collections is provided to clients by UNSW Canberra in good faith for private study and research only, and may not be published or re-purposed without the express and written permission of the individual legal holder of that copyright. Refer also to the UNSW copyright, disclaimer and takedown policy. 

Copying: Official Government Records are Crown Copyright. Items more than 50 years old are out of copyright and can be freely copied.

Preferred Citation

Papers of the 1st Australian Parachute Battalion, Academy Library, UNSW Canberra, Australian Defence Force Academy, MS 200, Box [Number], Folder [Number].


Provenance

The collection was donated by M.D. Fleming to the Academy Library Special Collections in response to a national appeal placed in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1984 for people to donate military or literary items of significance to the newly established Special Collections. 

Additional Information


Related Material

The Australian Army Parachute Training School (AAPTS) archive at Nowra have complimentary materials on parachute training and have digitised a significant amount of photographs. Contact the Curator (voluntary reservist). The Australian Army History Unit (AAHU) also have information.

Separated Material

This collection originally included the following publication, listed below. The work has been catalogued separately, and added to the Library's main collection.

Bragg, J.J. and Roy Turner. Parachute badges and insignia of the world : in colour. Poole: Blandford Press, 1979.

Subjects

World War, 1939-1945 -- Regimental histories -- Australia

Nominal Roll

Insignia badges

Section Roll book

Personal Names

Fleming, Michael Derek, 1919- (donor)

Names of the Battalion members are listed in the nominal roll, which has also been transcribed by a volunteer - see Folder 2 below.

 

Corporate Names

Australian Paratroopers Association (N.S.W.) -- Archives

Australia. Army -- Parachute troops -- Archives

Australia. Army -- Parachute Battalion, 1st -- Archives

Container List


Folio 1

Folder 1
Comprises:
Two unit cloth colour patches

Digitised items: Patch 1 https://cloudstor.aarnet.edu.au/plus/s/FmivOBQ7anXUGie

Patch 2 https://cloudstor.aarnet.edu.au/plus/s/rmTkFGB9nO2esdG

Black and white illustration of the wings patch
Correspondence to the Academy Librarian providing information on the 1st Australian Parachute Battalion, 1984-1985
Correspondence relating to the 1st Australian Parachute Battalion with M.D. Fleming, 1967, 1979, 1980

4 Platoon, B. Coy Platoon or Section Roll Book and Attendance Record, Singapore, September-October 1945 Digitised item: https://cloudstor.aarnet.edu.au/plus/s/EQQgMuiFK8ZBKTh

Photocopy typescript extracts from the 1st Australian Parachute Battalion's war diaries, compiled by M.D. Fleming, 19/4/1943-29/1/1946
Photocopy typescript extracts relating to parachuting in the Australian Army published in Despatch (monthly newsletter of the New South Wales Military Historical Society), p. 81-91
Photocopy typescript notes on 503rd U.S. Parachute Infantry Regiment from New Guinea 1942-44 by Timothy Hall, published by Methuen Australia, Sydney, 1981
Roneoed copy and photocopy of Winged wingers, serial 1, vol. 1, 26 October, 1945
Roneoed copy and photocopy of Para news, vol 1, no. 2, Saturday 26 May 45, issued weekly
Roneoed copy of the poem 'The red beret' by J.T. Hamilton, ex-paratrooper
Paratroop Christmas invitation entitled 'Something different', Coronet Restaurant, 21 December 1949
Richmond Football dinner menu, 18/8/1943
Newspaper cuttings relating to the 1st Australian Parachute Battalion, 1945-1979

Folder 2
Nominal Roll of the 1st Australian Parachute Battalion, 1943-1945 Digitised item: https://cloudstor.aarnet.edu.au/plus/s/ovI2fZkE74QtGbK

All the names on this roll were transcribed in 2017 by Phill Thamm, Curator of  APTS Historical Collection into a word document which can be downloaded here: https://cloudstor.aarnet.edu.au/plus/s/bgFVYq4Tufjk9qh

Folder 3
Poster entitled 'Tea revives you' Digitised item https://cloudstor.aarnet.edu.au/plus/s/EoJG8SZPbUmadNR

Folder 4

Comprises:
Photograph of the banner of the A.I.F. Australian Paratroopers Assn, 1943-1946
One b/w and two colour paper copies of Australian Paratroop Assn badges
Invitations from members of 1 Aust Para Bn A.I.F. W.O.'s and Sgts' Mess
Christmas card with Christmas greetings from the 1st Australian Parachute Battalion Singapore, 1945 to Chappie from Bill Murphy


Album 1

Box-folder 1
Black and white photographs relating to the 1st Australian Parachute Battalion including:
Inspection of the 1st Australian Parachute Battalion by Lord Louis Mountbatten in Singapore outside Government House late in 1945
Three postwar group photographs of unidentified men
Inspection of the 1st Australian Parachute Battalion by the Governor-General the Duke of Gloucester, Mareeba airstrip, Queensland, 1945
Armistice Day March - personnel of the 1st Australian Parachute Battalion march to the Cenotaph in Singapore, issued 11 November 1945 by the Army Film and Photo Section
RAAF publicity photographs - Series of jumping photographs, 1943
Photographs of clips from Fox Movietone Film made at Richmond Aerodrome, 1943, and released in cinemas in 1945 after VJ Day