A MILITARY milestone anniversary was commemorated with a special ceremony attended by paratroopers past and present, as well their families - check out our full gallery from the event above.

Merville Barracks, at Colchester Garrison, hosted the Parachute Regiment’s 80th birthday celebrations on Wednesday with a historic thanksgiving service.

The regiment was formed in 1942 to exploit the then new technologies of parachuting, enabling them to deploy by air to outflank the enemy.

Since the Second World War, the unit has been deployed to the likes of Palestine, the Falklands and Afghanistan conducting missions, from peace support to war fighting.


The event saw all four of the regiment’s battalions – two of which are based in Colchester - march around the complex to the sound of an army band.

They then came to a standstill under the baking hot sun as they locked into formation on the parade square as hundreds of spectators proudly watched on.

The ceremony was led by the Rev Nigel Kinsella, the Rev Richard Meikle and the Rev Stewart, all of whom are part of the Parachute Regiment.

Following the service, the paratroopers departed the parade square before the Red Devils Parachute Display Team jumped into action to add some airborne amazement.

Regimental secretary major Adam Jowett said: “This has been a fantastic occasion to bring together paratroopers past and present and our families to mark 80 years since the establishment of The Parachute Regiment in 1942.


“Formed during the Second World War as an innovative force to pioneer the then new methods of airborne operations, the regiment has had a proud and illustrious history serving in every conflict that British soldiers have fought in since.

“The achievements throughout those 80 years set the standards that we expect of the current generation of paratroopers in their vital role as the tip of the spear for the British Army.”

The 2nd and 3rd battalions which are stationed at Colchester Garrison serve as airborne infantry within the 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team, the British Army’s global response force.

One of their most recent missions included the evacuation of Kabul last August, after Taliban forces invaded the Afghanistan capital.


Captain Elliot Sanderson, officer commanding of the 3rd Battalion’s patrols platoon, has been part of the historic Parachute Regiment for three years.

He is currently based at Merville Barracks at Colchester Garrison and attended the regiment’s birthday ceremony, which commemorated its eight decades of service.

Last August Elliot was part of the huge operation in Afghanistan for which he helped evacuate 15,000 people fleeing Kabul following a Taliban invasion.

He said: “It was as crazy as you can imagine but a good experience to see the lads pull together in a difficult and complex environment - there was no time to sleep.

“The Parachute Regiment is the best place to be in the Army and the opportunities to get away and explore the world are endless.

“Days like today are important because we have closed gates, so it is really good to welcome the families and veterans in to see what we do.”

Sergeant Taylor, 37, also stationed at Colchester Garrison, has been part of the Army for sixteen years having joined during the Afghanistan and Iraq period.

He added: “There are bad things that happen, but it is exciting and gives you a bit of an adventure and overall it is a good experience – I wanted to explore the world.

“It is really important to celebrate the 80th anniversary and great to get some involvement from families so they can get an insight into what we do at work.

“Being part of the Parachute Regiment is a good job and a stable career and it can really help young men from perhaps less privileged backgrounds.”


Amy Clarke attended the 80th anniversary celebration with her children and husband, who is a paratrooper with the regiment’s 3rd Battalion.

She said: “The children love it and it is really nice for everyone to come together and for the families to be involved because this does take up a big chunck of their lives.

“Events like this are so important because otherwise you just feel you are excluded from it really so it is really, really nice for the families to involved.”

ALL PICTURES: Richard Watt