The 1st Airborne Division was an airborne infantry division of the British Army during the Second World War. The division was formed in 1941, after British Prime Minister Winston Churchill demanded an airborne force. Its first two missions were raids; Operations Biting, a parachute landing in France, and Freshman, a glider mission in Norway. Part of the division was sent to North Africa at the end of 1942, and when the Allies invaded Sicily, undertook two brigade sized landings. The first, Operation Ladbroke, carried out by a brigade of glider infantry, and the second, Operation Fustian, by a parachute brigade, were far from successful. The division then took part in a mostly diversionary amphibious landing, Operation Slapstick, part of the Allied invasion of Italy. In December 1943, the division returned to England, and prepared for the invasion of France. It was not involved in the Normandy landings, being held in reserve. In September 1944 it took part in Operation Market Garden. The division landed 60 miles (97 km) behind German lines, to capture crossings on the River Rhine, and fought in the Battle of Arnhem. After failing to achieve its objectives, the division was surrounded and took heavy casualties, but held out for nine days before the survivors were evacuated.
Arrived European Theatre of Operations December 1943
Arrived Continent and entered combat on 17 September 1944 (Market Garden)