[page last updated 14 May 2015]
The 591 Antrim Parachute Squadron, had its foundations in the Antrim Fortress Company, and even though the majority of its personel were from everywhere but Northern Ireland by the time it became a qualified parachute squadron, the symbol of the red hand of Ulster was retained as the reminder of its Northern Irish origins in the identity badge for the Squadron.
The cloth badge to be sewn on to their kit consisted of a dark blue diamond patch with a red hand embroidered in the middle of the diamond. More of a mitten than a hand in shape.
The red hand symbol was also painted through a stencil, on to smocks and other squadron clothing, kit and equipment and vehicles. According to Lt. Mitchley's account, Squadron Serjeant Major H K Peden used the rallying call "Up the Red Hand" when addressing the squadron.
The following image below was kindly sent in by M.Jackson. It is Major Andy Wood's own flash badge.
An extract from the above 1983 letter extract reads:
During military exercises, and on military operations, the squadron would be assigned it's own passwords, sirens, signals and bunting.
.... The blue one with the Red Hand of Ulster was
entitled to be worn only by 591(Antrim)
Parachute Squadron RE which was a war
time descendant of the Antrim Fortress
Company RE(TA). We wore the red hand
sign along with the airborne forces
sign and the Squadron dropped into
Normandy in the early hours of D-day
as part of the 6 Airborne Division.
On D-day, the 591 Parachute Squadron call sign to attract its member in the dark of the Normandy countryside, was a rubber horn, ( old motorcycle horn.)
Other units had bugles or whistles or claxons and various other distinctive sounds to summon their own troops to their respective pre-arranged rendezvous points.
The 6th Airborne Brigade used the following audio and visual signals and passwords on D-day itself and subsequent days:
Rendezvous & Map Reference
Brigade Head Quarters South side of copse 110745 Same as for 7 Parachute Battalion 7 Parachute Battalion North side of copse 113747 Green light and Bugle 12 Parachute Battalion Quarry 113749 Red light and whistle 13 Parachute Batallion Copse 120734 Amber light and hunting horn 591 Parachute Squadron Copse 113738 Motorcycle horn 225 Parachute Field Ambulance Trees East of Road 114745 Same as for 7 Parachute Battalion Royal Army Service Corps Rendezvous Quarry 113749 Same as for 12 Parachute Battalion
Daily Passwords or countersigns, were pre-arranged but only released to the men, by each Battalion Head Quarters, on the day before intended use.
D day at 0200hrs
D day +1 1200hrs
D day +2 1200hrs
D day +3 "
D day +4 "
D day +5 "
D day +6 "
D day +7 "
D day +8 "
D day +9 "
D day +10 "
NB: Jimmy Nervo and Teddy Knox were a comedy double act of the 1930's as were the more famous Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.
The alarm signal for everyone was only to be issued on the command of the Officer in charge of the covering force, and consisted of three consecutive red coloured Verey Lights and the code word 'RED' sent by wireless. The lights and wireless signals would be sent from the crossroads located at map reference 116736.
Unless the 'RED' alarm signal was made, enemy activity should not interfere with the tasks at hand.
Verey Lights were flare guns fired in to the air, in much the same way as modern flares are used, they ignited and glowed bright colours as they dropped down through the sky.
Yellow Verey lights were used to indicate to the land and sea troops, that the Merville Battery had been captured.
26 May 1943 News Media Announcement: Parachute Regiment Badge
The new cap badge of the Parachute Regiment will be worn by all parachute troops instead of the badge of the Army Air Corps of which the Parachute Regiment forms a part. The design of the badge is a Parachute on spreadwings, with the Royal crest above. As a war economy the officers badge will be in white metal and collar badges will not be worn; normally the officers cap badge would be in silver and collar badges bronzed. The shoulder title for other ranks is "PR".
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