12th Yorkshire Parachute Battalion - some tips on where to start?

Discussion in 'Airborne' started by Paul Champkin, Oct 5, 2018.

  1. Paul Champkin

    Paul Champkin Member


    I am starting to research my grandfather's time in the 12th Yorkshire Parachute Battalion.

    I have his Number: 4396667, his name was James Henry Overfield. He joint via the Green Howards. Before he died (25-years ago) I remember him telling me about his training as a ParaTrooper, Arnhem and the Middle East.

    He is on the "famous" full Battalion photo from Feb 1944.

    I'm willing to roll my sleeves up and travel to research, etc. I guess in particular I'm keen to learn:

    i) Where he trained and fought.
    ii) What jumps he did.
    iii) If he is referenced in any materials, anywhere, at all.

    I have ordered, on inter-library loan the Para memories book.

    Are there any museums I should focus on, or any other material sources, or can anybody share anything else?

  2. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

  3. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    12 Para weren’t at Arnhem.
    12 para being part of 5 Para Brigade which was part of the 6th Airborne Division.

    If he was with them from the “start” he would’ve done Normandy ( D day) The Ardennes Offensive and Operation Varsity ( the Rhine Crossing)
    Operation Varsity has been my big interest and have researched if thoroughly and visited the site of the DZ’s and fighting areas.
    I have the Para Memories book and I’ll check the name. Feel free to message me with any questions.

    Andrew P Smith and BrianHall1963 like this.
  4. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

  5. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

    Wounded after D-Day originally reported to have happened on the 14th June 1944 but was later corrected to 12th June 1944.


    GBM_WO417_077_0053 para.jpg
    GBM_WO417_077_0447 para corr.jpg
    Paul Champkin, Ludo68000, Cee and 2 others like this.
  6. arnhem2280

    arnhem2280 Member


    4396667 Pte J H Overfield was on Parachute Course 69 at Ringway. This course ran between 21/6/43 to 1/7/43. He is shown as having been wounded on 12/6/44 with a penetrating wound of the right elbow.

    Hope this helps.


    Andrew P Smith, Paul Champkin and Cee like this.
  7. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    Welcome Paul.

    TNA has the original war diary WO 171/1245 - an extract has helpfully been transcribed by The Pegasus Archive. Obtaining a reader’s ticket at Kew is pretty painless if you want to see the original and you will find many tips here.

    It is always good to see original documents Kyle but where do these come from please?
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2018
    Paul Champkin likes this.
  8. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad


    Paul Champkin and Richelieu like this.
  9. Paul Champkin

    Paul Champkin Member

    Thank you for all of these replies - they are fantastic. I'm now hooked on the research - thank you.
  10. Paul Champkin

    Paul Champkin Member

    Out of interest - how did you find this out?
  11. Malcolm Ford

    Malcolm Ford Member

    Do you have any pictures of this unit with names on please ? my uncle was in this unit Private Edward Fisher Service Number 1400028 KIA 12/6/44 buried in Ranville I have a few papers including
    original letter from Richard gale to his mother and his damaged pay book.
    Many Thanks
  12. Dale1981

    Dale1981 New Member

    My grandfather was 5th Parachute Brigade, 6th Airbourne Division. As a staunch Yorkshireman, I believe he would have originally been a green howard and subsequently became part of 12th (Yorkshire) Parachute Battalion. I have just started out in my research. I know he was injured (shot in the leg) at some point whilst fighting in Europe but I don’t know where or when. Can anyone here help with how I would find out? He was Alfred Henry Booth 7647903. I think he was a Cpl around the time of D-Day and left the army as SSgt.
    WW2Nation and BrianHall1963 like this.
  13. WW2Nation

    WW2Nation Member

    My name is Lawrence. I am a researcher who is currently researching the Battle of Breville-les-Monts in June 1944, and specifically the British 12th (York’s) Parachute Battalion’s involvement within this, as well as also focusing on their Normandy campaign. As I am trying to help keep the history of this period alive alongside fellow 6th Airborne Division historian Neil Barber, and tell the story of as many of those men of 12th Parachute Battalion as I can do.

    I am very keen to get in contact with any surviving members of the 12th Parachute Battalion who served in Normandy in 1944, and also speak with any relatives/family members of those veterans that served here with the 12th Battalion.

    I’m incredibly keen to try and help keep the story of these men alive and tell as many of their individual accounts / experiences as I can do, as a way of paying my respects to this remarkable generation.
  14. Paul Champkin

    Paul Champkin Member

    Hello Lawrence. I'll share what I know. First of all, the most insightful book is PARA MEMORIES - The 12th Yorkshire Parachute Battalion. It's impossible to find a copy, however, I successfully managed to get a copy on Intra-Library loan - if you haven't already read this, this is certainly the best source of information. When my mother and aunt read it (my grandfather's daughters) they recognised many stories within it, as did I. What I mean, is that my grandfather shared would often share odd-and-ends of stories, but upon reading the book, everything fell into place, in that every story he mentioned was referenced....
    WW2Nation and CL1 like this.
  15. Paul Champkin

    Paul Champkin Member

    As mentioned below, he trained on Parachute Course 69 at Ringway. He had several stories of this time - the main was how he was petrified of water - he really was, he never swam. On the day the practised landing into water, his fellow trainee's covered for him with a number of elaborate excuses. He also remembered two chaps being seriously injured in training at Ringway and the book highlights these accidents.
    WW2Nation likes this.
  16. Paul Champkin

    Paul Champkin Member

    There were three stories that really stuck in my mind. The first was the sheer brutality of the Battle of Breville. My grandfather spent 3-4 hrs in 1991 on a Sunday afternoon recounting the battle to me in great depth - I was only 14 and one of my life's biggest regrets is that I didn't take notes or tape record what he said. I think this was the most he ever opened up. He told me of being in a situation were he was walking with his units leader by the side of a hedge, and unfortunately that individual was shot through the head - my grandad took cover, right next to them - it was a haunting story - again, I'm sure it's referenced in the book.
    He talked about a jump whereby his friend, a methodist preacher/vicar, who was the last to exit the plane on the fixed-line system, was not properly released and was killed as there body was drawn/pulled alongside the fuselage, with no-one in the aircraft able to salvage him. My grandad talked of looking up back at the plane and seeing this - once again, this story was in the book.
    Finally, I remember my grandad explaining what a 'shambles' the battle of breville felt like, I've read in several artefacts that the reason there is so little written about the battle, is owing to the realisation that it was poorly planned. I'm no war historian however so please take this with a pinch of salt. That being said, I remember being upset when my grandad told me it was the first operation he'd been involved with, where he realised as a young man, that there really "was no plan" - and him feeling very nervous about this fact.
    WW2Nation likes this.
  17. Paul Champkin

    Paul Champkin Member

    This is my grandfather, he passed away in 1992.

    Attached Files:

    WW2Nation likes this.
  18. Paul Champkin

    Paul Champkin Member

    His medical field card after he was shot in elbow.

    Attached Files:

    WW2Nation likes this.
  19. Paul Champkin

    Paul Champkin Member

    Lawrence, if I can provide anything else do let me know. This is my go to article to get a feel for the battle; 12th Parachute Battalion
    In particular, knowing my grandfather was injured on 12/06, I'm able to link this back to the original war diary -

    12th June 1944
    Place: Le Bas de Ranville
    2200 - Rested until 2030 hrs when marched to LE PLEIN to form up for attack on BREVILLE. 2215 attack went in and Bn occupied BREVILLE. Casualties killed Lt. Col. A.P. Johnson, Major H.D. Rogers, Lieut B.M. Brewer + 28 O.Rs. WOUNDED Major C.W. Stephens, Capt P.C. Bernhard, Capt W.G. Medd, Capt J.N. Sim, Lt Campbell + about 100 O.Rs.

    It's brutal, but my grandfather was one of the 100 "Other Ranks" injured on this day. One thing my mother and aunt can remember, is that he spoke of Lt Col A.P. Johnson in high regard.
    BrianHall1963 and WW2Nation like this.
  20. Hi Paul
    I've recently put in a library request, at least i know there is still one in the UK. My father was Thomas Alfred Smith RCofS [817089] 12th Para Battalion, I have stories , but want to learn more - this is obviously the book to have! Hes in the div signals photo and the K section photo, Also in a Pathe video holding a pigeon container, and an EWM stil

Share This Page