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  • Writer's picturePaul Press

Part 2: The Parachuting Cook?

Updated: May 16, 2023

This blog focuses specifically on Albert’s activities between 21st September 1941 and 17th January 1945, during which time all sources agree that he was permanently attached to the 2nd Parachute Battalion, which later became the 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment (hereafter simply referred to as the 2nd Battalion in this blog).

Private Albert Joseph Holtom in Army uniform carrying his son, Richard, c1941

A cursory glance at Albert’s Service and Casualty Form for this period would suggest that he attached to the 2nd Battalion from the

Army Catering Corps as a Cook, and served in this role in North Africa between November 1942 and November 1943, thereby earning the Africa Star with 1st Army Clasp, alongside the War Medal.

There is no mention in his Service and Casualty Form of him taking part in parachute training, or any operations involving parachute jumps, which is consistent with him being an Army Catering Corps Cook. Unfortunately, however, this narrative of Albert’s movements not only varies significantly from his own testimony, but also highlights a discrepancy within the records themselves.

On the basis of Albert's service records, Albert should also have qualified for the Defence Medal and 1939-45 Star, yet neither of these awards is mentioned in any of his records. This suggestion that Albert’s service records may be incomplete prompted a deeper critical review to try and determine the role he played throughout his time with the 2nd Battalion.

This blog aims to apply the Historical method to the available evidence, in an attempt to answer the question of to what extent did Corporal Albert Joseph Holtom play an operational role as a Parachutist with the 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, between 21st September 1941 and 17th January 1945?

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