by Bernd Horn In the hut no one spoke, no one joked. The assembled British and Canadian paratroop commanders awaited the briefing from their brigade commander on their next major operation. When it came, they were not disappointed. “Gentlemen,” bellowed Brig. Gen. James Hill, the well-respected commander of the 3rd Parachute Brigade, “the artillery support is fantastic! And if you are worried about the kind of reception you’ll get, just put yourself in the place of the enemy. What would you think,” he posited to the troops, “if you saw a horde of ferocious, bloodthirsty paratroopers, bristling with weapons, cascading down upon you from the skies?” [text_ad] The image set all at ease. Among those assembled for the briefing on Operation Varsity, the airborne assault that would breach the Rhine into the heart of the Reich, was a small group of Canadians who belonged to the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. The Canadian unit itself was a dark horse. During the early years of the war, Canadian commanders and politicians dismissed the idea of airborne forces as a luxury the Canadian Army could not afford, and for which it had no use. But the continuing American and British development of these forces and subsequent belief that paratroopers were a defining element of a modern army led the Canadians in July 1942 to organize paratrooper units, though on a much smaller scale than their American and British counterparts. Unsure of what to do with their paratrooper co


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