The following information concerning the organization of the German parachute
battalion has been learned from prisoners recently captured in North Africa.
The battalion is composed of 3 rifle companies and 1 heavy company, each of a
strength of 180 men, a signal platoon of 45 men, and an engineer platoon of 30 men.
Each company consists of 3 platoons of about 45 men each, and each of these platoons in
turn is composed of 3 rifle squads and a light mortar squad. Certain details of the
armament and equipment of the battalion are also of interest. Each rifle squad is
armed with 2 light machine guns, and 1 company has a squad equipped with 2 heavy
machine guns, as well as antiaircraft and antitank guns. In action each man is
equipped with from 10 to 15 hand grenades. In addition, approximately one-fourth of the
riflemen are armed with a rifle-grenade attachment and 6 rifle grenades.
While thus far there have been no reports of the employment of Italian parachute
troops in any theater of operations, it is known that the Italians have recently
been stressing this aspect of modern warfare in their training programs. The
following details, also learned from captured prisoners, concerning the
equipment and training of Italian parachutists are of interest.
(1) At the time of jumping, each parachutist is equipped with the following: a Beretta
machine carbine strapped to his right leg, 400 rounds of ammunition, a haversack
containing 40 grenades, 3 days hard rations, and 1 quart of water.
(2) Guns and ammunition are dropped in sacks by blue parachutes. For the purpose of easier
identification, these sacks are marked with certain distinguishing symbols. Thus the
sack containing the gun barrel is marked a yellow flag, that containing the wheels
and trail with a blue circle, and that containing the carriage with a black circle. The
ammunition is dropped in a sack marked with a red circle.
(3) In the training of Italian parachutists, jumps are never made below an
altitude of 300 feet. A feature of the training is the emphasis on speed in
unloading a plane, and the jumping schedule calls for seven men jumping in an
interval as small as 4 seconds.
Details are now available on the effective part played by Japanese parachute troops in
support of sea-borne landings on Timor.
Paratroops were employed on 2 successive days during sea-borne landings, with the
object of cutting lines of communication. A parachute battalion of 700 men was
dropped--350 on each day.
Landings were made at about 0830 hours in bright sunlight with no wind. The
country was relatively flat and timbered (varying from thick undergrowth, to
high palm trees 15 to 20 feet apart). Each day the principal landings were
made about 5 miles from the fixed defenses and astride lines of communication. Paratroops
were transported in carrier planes, each holding 15 to 24 men. Protection was
given by fighters and bombers, the latter in flights of 9 in arrow formation. During the
actual landing the supporting planes machine-gunned and bombed places nearby.
Paratroops were released in groups of six to eight men from a height of 300 feet. Squad
leaders came down in blue parachutes and platoon leaders in red. During the operations
parachute troops wore rubber boots and green uniforms buttoned at the neck. They
carried compasses strapped to the wrist, and were armed with Tommy guns, which
were fired during the descent. Their equipment included small mortars and a
liberal number of radio sets with batteries. Emergency rations wrapped in
cellulose consisted of rice and compressed fish. There was no evidence that
special containers for arms and supplies were dropped.
The Japanese were well trained. Unlike the paratroop attack on Palembang the operations
at Timor were undoubtedly successful. In one instance they landed within 1 1/2 miles of a
company position, and on another occasion surrounded a battalion and prevented it from
breaking through. On the other hand, at no time was there any air opposition, so that
landings were made close to the scene of operations, and escorting planes were left
free to bomb and machine-gun the area.