The living history of the Parachute regiment and Airborne Forces
The Living History of the Parachute and Airborne Forces.
During 2007-08 I was the historical editor for the ParaData project. This is an online encyclopaedia of the Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces and can be viewed at www.paradata.org.uk on the internet.
Paradata won the outstanding achievement award in the ‘Military’ category of the 2008 Interactive Media Awards (IMA) in 2008.
In parallel I provided historical advice during the setting up process for the new Airborne Assault Museum, which was opened by HRH the Prince of Wales on 8th December 2008 at Duxford. The two projects were complimentary and inter-active on completion. When the Museum of the Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces was moved from Aldershot to Duxford in the autumn of 2008 and its Archive digitised as part of the process. Over 12,000 documents, maps, photographs, posters and associated historical items were electronically scanned covering the evolution of Airborne Forces from the birth of the Parachute Regiment in 1940 to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan today.
Airborne Assault and ParaData focuses on the human and individual contribution of airborne soldiers to their rich history. There is an In Memoriam section providing a permanent record of every airborne soldier recorded killed in service. Timeline enables the history of Airborne Forces to be explored and Roll Call shows service details of past and present soldiers. The comprehensive Index based around a world map with a responsive key enables battles, campaigns, places and events, units and decorations to be interactively viewed. ParaData terminals are available in the Museum and new archive, enabling show-case exhibits to be explored and investigated even further.
I wrote over 130 articles for ParaData during this setting up process as well as researching and locating material for maps and numerous film and audio clips that populate the exhibition and digital archive.
ParaData was an exciting project and allowed some personal ‘add-back’ after a fulfilling career serving alongside some of the finest soldiers in the world.
Individual ‘snapshots’ of airborne soldiers sharing their unique insights of what service life was like for them from early raids in the 1940s through Arnhem, Suez, the Falkland Islands, Northern Ireland and now Afghanistan are shown at selected points throughout the Museum. They were collated and included with in a specially commissioned booklet, which I edited, illustrated above. It personifies the countless veteran in-puts captured on film, recorded on radio and exhibited at the Airborne Assault Museum and on ParaData.
Visit the ParaData website
Stories of the men who go to war from the air
Edited by R J Kershaw and available from the airborne Assault Museum Duxford
Supporting research for Airborne Assault Museum exhibition artefacts and for the digital search tool ParaData uncovered many human stories previously hidden among ranks of impersonal filing cabinets.
Veterans have readily shared unique glimpses of what service life was like for them from the formation of Airborne Forces through to Afghanistan today.
This booklet offers an opportunity to view representative ‘snap-shots’ of this experience. They were unremarkable to them but make fascinating reading now.