This picture shows King George VI inspecting members of the 1st Airborne Division in March 1944.
King George VI inspects members of the British 1st Airborne Division in March 1944. To the left of the picture, the officer (wearing his parachute regiment beret) is Lieutenant Colonel Smyth of the 10th Parachute Battalion.
To the right is Brigadier John Hackett, 4th Parachute Brigade.
The First Airborne Division did not take part in the Normandy landings, and was held in reserve as they had recently returned from Italy in December of 1943. The Division would instead take part in Operation Market Garden in September 1944. Landing 60 miles behind German lines, the Division’s objective was to capture the bridges that spanned the River Rhine. They were also engaged in heavy fighting in what later became known as the ‘Battle of Arnhem.’
Unfortunately, the Division was unable to secure its objectives, and was quickly surrounded by the Germans. Despite being surrounded and taking heavy casualties, the men of the 1st Airborne Division managed to hold out for nine days, before being evacuated.
Lieutenant Colonel Smyth, captured in the photograph above, passed away as a direct result of his wounds sustained at Arnhem in October 1944.
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