1st Edition HB 1978
Hardback with dustjacket. First published in the UK in 1979 by "B T Batsford Ltd.".
Printed by "Redwood Burn Ltd." Written by Ron Kent. ISBN number 0713421991.
The task of the Parachute Pathfinder companies in World War 2 was to land at the Dropping
Zone half an hour before their comrades, pinpoint the Zone by means of a Eureka radio marker,
and then clear the area of obstacles and beat off any counter attacks so that the main drop
could be made in relative security. The members of the companies had all 0passed exacting
physical and psychological tests and they were all volunteers. This is the story of the
21st Independent Parachute Company, the original pathfinders of the British Airborne Forces.
Ron Kent, then a sergeant and now a lawyer, served in the Company during the four years of
its existence, and his account is graphic, first-hand and authentic. Before preparing it
he invited the surviving ex-members of the Company to make their individual contributions
to his history and many responded. The Company was on active service in Algeria and Tunisia;
in Sicily and Italy; in Norway, France and Holland; and finally in Greece and Palestine.
Arnhem was the most exacting operation in which it took part. Ron Kent's worm's-eye account>br>
of that abortive battle conveys most vividly the confused involvement of the men on the ground
- in contrast to the detached orderliness of subsequent historians.
'Your unit is unsurpassed by any other in the world' wrote General Browning to their
commanding officer, Major Wilson, after the Arnhem battle, while General Alexander wrote
that the formation had 'shown all the true qualities of good soldiers, high morale,
dash and fighting efficiency. Bravery, esprit-de-corps and professional skill were
the hallmarks of the Parachute Pathfinders. Ron Kent's book shows how these qualities
were realised in action.
Ron Kent was born in Hastings in May 1921 and was educated at church schools in Hastings
and St.Leonards-on-Sea. Upon leaving school he trained as a solicitors clerk until volunteering
for the Army, joining the Royal Sussex Regiment in July 1940. He joined the 21st Ind. Para Coy
late 1942, qualifying as a parachutist in December. He served with the company in N.Africa,
Italy, Holland, Norway and Palestine in all ranks from Private to WOII, being the CSM in Palestine.
Demobbed from Palestine in the summer of 1946, he resumed his pre-war occupation,
becoming Solicitor of the Supreme Court (UK 1950-53) before emigrating to South Africa.
He was solicitor and barrister for the Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland and Rhodesian Federation
from 1953 - 1966 and a manager of a trust company in South Africa (1967-83).
He died in 2006.