Tip of the Spear: An Intimate Account of One Canadian Parachute Battalion, 1942-1945-a Pictorial History


312 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 1-55002-388-8
DDC 940.43'1271





Reviewed by Steve Pitt

Steve Pitt is a Toronto-based freelance writer and an award-winning journalist. He has written many young adult and children's books, including Day of the Flying Fox: The True Story of World War II Pilot Charley Fox.


The One Canadian Parachute Battalion was created on July 1, 1942, when
the War Cabinet Committee in Ottawa approved the establishment of the
Canadian army’s first airborne regiment. In typical Canadian style,
the government sent troops to train at both the British and the American
jump schools and then formed their own jump program using a combination
of British and American training and equipment.

This book is a companion volume to Paratroopers Versus the Reich: One
Canadian Parachute Battalion at War 1942–1945. The difference between
the two is that this history is related primarily through pictures,
while the earlier book outlines the regiment’s history in prose. More
than 450 pictures, from both official and personal collections, document
the battalion’s short history from its establishment in 1942 to its
demobilization in 1945. The brief text is provided by Lieutenant-Colonel
Bernd Horn, an honorary historian for the Canadian Airborne Forces
Museum, and Michael Wyczynski, the honorary archivist for the Airborne
Regiment Association of Canada.

The text is well researched and well written, and even contains “The
Parachutist’s Song” which has to be the least profane song ever sung
in the Canadian military. Of course, the parachute battalion’s
spectacular war record also makes for great reading. The One Canadian
Parachute Battalion’s baptism of fire on D-Day was a daunting one. Due
to confusion over the battlefield only 30 percent of the battalion
landed on its assigned drop zone. Yet the Canadian paratroopers achieved
all their objectives and fought off continuous German counterattacks
until relieved by Allied forces. This book does a fine job of depicting
this unit’s combat exploits, and the authors also manage to capture
the grinding routine of everyday training that honed this handful of
Canadian soldiers into one of the finest military units on either side
during World War II.


Horn, Bernd, and Michel Wyczynski., “Tip of the Spear: An Intimate Account of One Canadian Parachute Battalion, 1942-1945-a Pictorial History,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 16, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/9239.