In 1960 fifteen volunteers from the SADF were sent to England, the majority to train as parachute instructors, some as parachute-packers and one SAAF pilot in the dropping of paratroopers. These formed the nucleus of 1 Parachute Battalion at Tempe in Bloemfontein. The first paratroopers were Permanent Force men, but soon the training of Citizen Force (similar to the National Guard) paratroopers commenced. Members of 1 Parachute Battalion were the first S.A. Army men to see action after WWII when, in 1966, they participated, with the South African Police, against terrorist insurgents in S.W.A. (now Namibia).
In 1966, members of 1 Parachute Battalion participated in the first action in the war in South West Africa during a heliborne assault on an insurgent base. Thereafter, Parabats were involved in operations in SWA/Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Mozambique and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and elsewhere on an almost constant basis for over 20 years.
1 Parachute Bn. was organised as follows: Permanent Force - Batt. H.Q., H.Q. Coy and A and B Coy's; Citizen Force: C Coy Cape Town, D Coy Durban, E Coy Pretoria and F Coy Johannesburg. Further battalions were added: 1 Para Batt. in 1971 and 3 Para Batt. in 1977.
In 1974 and 1975 1 Parachute Bn. operated along the Angolan border with S.W.A; along the Caprivi Strip; a platoon jumped near Luiana, Angola to relieve a group of Bushmen trapped by a SWAPO force; and in Operation Savannah during the Angolan Civil War of 1974-5 when 2 companies of 1 Parachute Battalion were dropped on the northern border of SWA at Ruacana and Santa Clara in Angola to relieve two Portuguese communities trapped by the MPLA.
With the coming of 44 Parachute Brigade in April 1978, under the leadership of Brig. M J du Plessis as O.C. and Col J.D. Breytenbach, a co-founder of the Brigade it became a powerful force. The first large airborne exercise of the Parachute Battalion Group took place in 1987 in the North Western Transvaal (now North West Province). With the eventual disbanding of 44 Parachute Brigade its full time personnel were moved to Bloemfontein and incorporated into the 1 Parachute Battalion Group.
In 1986, the Parabats embarked on their first HALO/HAHO (High altitude Low Opening/High Altutude High Opening) course in Bloemfontein. This would enable the Parabats to drop in to enemy territory from aircraft following commercial routes. Two CIA operatives had previously arrived in South Africa in 1981 to train the Parabats in this new form of freefall.
Its interesting to note that 3 Parachute Battalion reserve force units consisting of A-Company, C-Company and D-Company form an active part of the 1 Parachute Battalion today and are active participants in monthly jumps, exercises, 2 annual water jumps and refresher courses to maintain their professional active status.
Over the years, the S.A. Parabats have participated in eighty-four operations. Forty-five Parabats have been killed in action.
Battle vs. Russian Airborne Troops (by Samurai234)Edit
In a small area near South Africa, five Parabat soldier are checking out the area, having been alerted about a possible air attack. The leader has a BXP sub machine gun, one is hiding in a hut with a Truvelo Sniper Rifle, another is armed with a R4 Assault Rifle, and the last two armed with grenade launchers. Suddenly, a airlane flys overhead and drops off five Russian Airborne Troops. The commander has an AEK-971, two soldiers have OTs-02 Kiparis sub machine guns, one has a Saiga Shotgun, and the last one has a RGS50M grenade launcher. The Parabat sniper aims his rifle at a Russian and fires, tearing him in half and causing his body parts to fall. (4-5) As the Russians land, the one who with the RGS50M fires a grenade at the hut, and blows up the sniper. (4-4)
The rtwo sides then enter a firefight. During it, one Parabat soldier is blown up by a Russian with his OSV-96 Anti-Material Rifle. (4-3) Realizing their losing men fast, the Parabat leader tells him men to fall back. As they retreat, one soldier fires his R4 assault rifle and takes out a Russian. (3-3) However, he is taken out by a Russian with a AEK-971 assault rifle. (3-2)
The Russian approach a abandoned factory, with one covering the commander. A parabat soldier armed with a M79 grenade launcher fires at him, and blows him up. (2-2) However, as he tries to reload, another Russian armed with a Saiga shotgun walks up to him and blows his head up. (2-1)
Meanwhile, the Parabat leader, who is now armed with a Milkor MGL hears the sound of foot steps. He fires off all the grenade and kills one of the two Russians. (1-1) The Russian commander pulls out his Makarov and fires at the Parabat leader, who fires back with his Star Model P. Eventually, they both run out of ammo. The Parabat leader tries to punch the Russian commander, but the Russian blocks it, and throws him to the ground. Unaware to him, the Parabat leader manages to grab his Star Model P and shoots the Russian in the heart, killing him. (0-1)
The Parabat leader then mourns the loss of his men and exits the factory.
This was a very close battle. While the Russian Airborne Troops had slightly better training, this was only a tiny edge, allowing the Parabats' more accurate weapons to rake in a win.