Army

A history of the Parachute Regiment through the eyes of those who served

A veteran paratrooper has written a book, described by author Damien Lewis as "glorious, gripping, authentic", which details the history of the Parachute Regiment through the eyes of those who served. 

Released to coincide with the Parachute Regiment's 80th anniversary this year, 'Paras in Action: Ready for Anything', written by former paratrooper-turned-author Jason Woods, focuses on the main deployments, operations, conflicts and wars the PARAS have been involved with since their beginnings in 1942. 

Wood's first book was his autobiography, 'Long Road to Libya', in which he writes about his "often turbulent journey through life" as a paratrooper whose transition to civilian life saw him take on a number of roles such as a private security operator, businessman and now an author. 

Image ID E0R739 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment 6 June 1958 CREDIT Keystone Press Alamy Stock Photo
Men from 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment pictured on 6 June 1958 (Picture: Keystone Press / Alamy Stock Photo).

Thanks to first-hand accounts, the veteran's latest non-fiction book takes a close look at what makes a paratrooper fearless and determined in the face of adversity. 

He adds: "It reveals what makes them better, man for man, than other infantry regiments in the British Army and what it is that has made the Paras the feared fighting force they have become in the eyes of those who have had the misfortune to come up against them on the field of battle." 

And the headline 'Paras In Action: Ready For Anything' is more than just a nice eye-catching tagline. 

In fact, it relates to the Parachute Regiment's motto – 'Utrinque Paratus' – which translates to 'ready for anything', the core of the Paras' standards and ethos. 

2 PARA Battlegroup C-17 Globemaster high altitude low opening HALO jump Northern Macedonia CREDIT Crown Copyright
A paratrooper leaps from a C-17 Globemaster during a high-altitude low-opening (HALO) jump into Northern Macedonia (Picture: Crown Copyright).

Woods joined The Light Infantry as a Junior Leader in 1988 and after a stint with 1st Battalion The Light Infantry in Berlin just before the fall of the Berlin Wall, he transferred to 557 Platoon after completing P Company and parachute training before deploying to Belfast with 1 PARA. 

He uses his own 10 years of military experience, plus the memories of those he interviewed, to explain what it was like to serve in places such as Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Kosovo, and Sierra Leone.

Image ID ET0KDC D Company, 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment 17 June 1987 CREDIT Trinity Mirror Mirrorpix Alamy Stock Photo
Men from D Company, 4th Battalion the Parachute Regiment on 17 June 1987 (Picture: Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo).

Speaking to Ashley Paul, a BFBS broadcaster, Woods explained that he would not describe himself as an historian and never imagined while he was serving that he would write a book, saying: "In them days I had trouble writing out my orders on a crib sheet or something, so I never thought I'd actually be writing a book. 

"But I think, like everyone in life, you get the chance to evolve, you learn, you know you become a better version of yourself as the years go on." 

Paras In Action Ready For Anything book cover CREDIT Pen and Sword Books
'Paras In Action: Ready For Anything' is available to pre-order now (Picture: Pen and Sword Books).

Woods has adored the Parachute Regiment since he was a child so found writing about the history of his beloved Paras was an "unbelievable" experience. 

He said: "I reconnected with my former peers, talked to them about what they had done after I left – it really kind of ends the story. 

"All the way up to Operation Pitting and right back to the early days, the Second World War and, what I call, the unknown operations. 

"The secret wars in the likes of Borneo and Aden, Indonesia etc, where the PARAS fought and no-one really knew much about it, so I was able to speak to a lot of the guys who actually served there who are now in their late 70s and 80s." 

Pegasus sculpture 16 Air Assault Brigade Merville Barracks Colchester CREDIT British Army
The Pegasus sculpture at 16 Air Assault Brigade HQ, Merville Barracks, Colchester (Picture: British Army).

'Paras In Action' also includes an overview of the epic battles paratroopers fiercely fought in Iraq and Afghanistan on Operation Telic and Herrick, plus the subsequent withdrawal of all British citizens and troops from Kabul in 2021, on Operation Pitting. 

Woods is particularly proud to have written in great detail about the little-known Battle of Plaman Mapu which took place on 27 April 1965. 

Woods said: "No-one knows too much about it at all and I think I'm the first person to actually pen that story in this book, which I'm really proud to do, having spoken to some people there and I'm hoping people really enjoy reading and learning about it." 

'Paras In Action: Ready For Anything' will be published on 3 October and can be pre-ordered via the Pen and Swift website.

Cover image: Men from D Company, 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment on 17 June 1987 (Picture: Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo).