Army: A Very British Institution
This programme is part of BBC Four's Army: A Very British Institution, a season of programmes looking at the British armed forces.Go to the BBC Four Army Collection
The Parachute Regiment
The Parachute Regiment prides itself on being one of the toughest regiments in the British army. In this film, veteran paratroopers, serving soldiers and new recruits reveal what it takes to become one of the airborne elite. Their regimental history influences everything they do to this day.
In WWII, Churchill ordered the creation of Britain’s first force of 5,000 paratroopers to spearhead the liberation of Europe. In the summer of 1940, the first volunteers reported for duty. We meet some of these men and hear about their training and their first missions in northern France and the Netherlands. Battles in Normandy and at Arnhem helped define the Regiment’s identity and continue to inspire The Paras today.
We go with the veterans as they return to Normandy – some for the last time. They remember how they fought here against the odds on D-Day. One of the regiment’s quirkier characters, Pegasus the Shetland pony, leads the regimental parade.
The Parachute Regiment has one of the toughest selection processes in the British Army. Recruits must pass through a notoriously gruelling course known as P-Company. Physically and mentally demanding it includes a high-level assault course; the gruelling log race and a brutal form of boxing called “milling”. Only by passing P-company will they be awarded the coveted maroon beret and become part of the airborne brotherhood.
With privileged access, frank interviews and early archive footage, this is the story of how the regiment’s history continues to motivate new recruits to the Paras as they fight for the right to wear the regimental maroon beret.
The Parachute Regiment Charter
"What manner of men are these who wear the maroon red beret? They are firstly all volunteers, and are then toughened by hard physical training. As a result they have that infectious optimism and that offensive eagerness which comes from physical well being. They have jumped from the air and by doing so have conquered fear. Their duty lies in the van of the battle: they are proud of this honour and have never failed in any task. They have the highest standards in all things, whether it be skill in battle or smartness in the execution of all peace time duties. They have shown themselves to be as tenacious and determined in defence as they are courageous in attack. They are, in fact, men apart - every man an Emperor."
Field Marshal The Viscount Montgomery of Alamein
- Series Producer
- Graham Cooper
- Sean Pertwee
- Nicola Seare
- Executive Producer
- Chris Granlund
A collection of BBC programmes about the British Armed Forces, available to watch online.