Red Devils

Red Devils

The Trailblazers of the Parachute Regiment in World War Two: An Authorized History


Brought to you by Penguin.


The Parachute Regiment is Britain's elite airborne infantry. On the 80th anniversary of their first crucial campaign, in Operation Torch in North Africa, historian and broadcaster Mark Urban combines perspectives from German and British sources to tell the gripping stories of the men who had the resilience, fitness and self-reliance to be "Red Devils" -- the name they were given by their German enemies.

The Paras comprised everyone from circus performers to solicitors, policemen to gravediggers, Christian Jews and communists. From recently-widowed Colonel Geoffrey Pine-Coffin, who had to leave his little boy to head to the front, to Mike Lewis, whose photographs became iconic images of war; from those who survived to those who longed for "a bloodbath" and died in action; Urban brings life to these men and their experiences, exploring what drove them and covering their daring actions at D-Day, Arnhem and across the Second World War.

Based on deep archival research and new material from the men's families, and giving overdue recognition to the North African campaign, this compelling account paints a true and moving picture of the heart of war.

© Mark Urban 2022 (P) Penguin Audio 2022


  • Gripping and authoritative. Family men, circus performers, solicitors, communists, and reactionaries all fought together and shed blood for their country-a true and moving story of war
    Andy McNab

About the author

Mark Urban

Mark Urban is the Diplomatic Editor of BBC's Newsnight programme and was formerly defence correspondent for the Independent. He formerly served in the British Army, both in the Royal Tank Regiment and in the Territorial Army. He is the author of several books, including Task Force Black (his deep-dive look at the SAS in the Iraq War, which was a Sunday Times number one bestseller) and The Skripal Files, a Sunday Times Best Politics Book of 2018.
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