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Parachute Battalion (1941)

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In this pre-Pearl Harbor recruiting poster, colonel's estranged son Bill Burke, football hero Donald Morse, and hillbilly Jeff Hollis enlist in the paratroopers. Their training at Fort ... See full summary »



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Title: Parachute Battalion (1941)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Donald 'Don' Morse
Kit Richards
William Mayberry 'Bill' Burke
MSgt. Bill 'Thunderhead' Richards
Jeff Hollis
Paul Kelly ...
Sgt. Tex McBride
Richard Cromwell ...
Robert Barrat ...
Col. Burke (superintendent)
Edward Fielding ...
Chief of Infantry
Erville Alderson ...
Pa Hollis
Thomas Morse
Grant Withers ...
Jack Briggs ...
Walter Sande ...
Medical Officer
Kathryn Sheldon ...
Ma Hollis


In this pre-Pearl Harbor recruiting poster, colonel's estranged son Bill Burke, football hero Donald Morse, and hillbilly Jeff Hollis enlist in the paratroopers. Their training at Fort Benning, Georgia is followed in semi-documentary style, with time out for personal dramas and the romantic rivalry of Bill and Don over the sergeant's daughter. Written by Rod Crawford <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Thrill TO THE DRAMA OF UNCLE SAM'S NEW JUMP FIGHTERS!... (original print media ad - all caps) See more »


Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

12 September 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Batalhão de Paraquedas  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The world premiere in Atlanta, Georgia, was attended by the members of the 501st Parachute Battalion who worked on the production. See more »

Crazy Credits

After the title and names of the eight featured players, the following statement appears in capital letters while the title song plays and we view the marching infantry: We gratefully acknowledge the splendid cooperation given by the officers and men of the 501st Parachute Battalion at Fort Benning, Ga., who actually made all the parachute jumps for this picture. See more »


Played by a bugler to awaken the recruits
See more »

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User Reviews

Enjoyable, informative look at paratroopers beginnings
14 October 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Although it gives a rather light-hearted treatment to the rigor of paratrooper training, this film has considerable value and interest especially for military and airborne history and development. The light- heartedness may be accounted for because of the newness of the paratroops in 1941, efforts to educate the public and military about airborne training, and intentional efforts not to scare recruits away. Its major flaw is in not showing the rigors of training. As a former paratrooper (from the Cold War years of early 1960s in Germany), I thought the easy-go-lucky atmosphere in this film was quite exaggerated. Indeed, reading accounts of the first test platoon and parachute units (some good online sources), informs that the training from the earliest was most rigorous and with considerable discipline.

The biggest difference noted in the training from then until now, is that enlistees were then going right into training to be paratroopers -- so, boot camp and infantry specialty and jump school were all rolled into one. This film is important to point out that bit of history in the time just before and during the war. But, since WWII, paratroopers have first had to complete 8 weeks of regular basic training (boot camp), then go to their specialty school for 8 weeks or more (infantry, artillery, communications, medical, etc.), and finally spend 3 to 6 weeks in jump school at Ft. Benning, GA. The latter depends on passing the very rigorous physical abilities test. One has three tries (weeks) to make it. If on the first try, jump school then is three weeks. One other note: the Army Airborne school also trains men and women who go into some other specialty fields and from other branches of the service (Special Forces; Long Range Recon Patrol -- it may be called something different now; Navy Seals; Air Force forward observers -- if they're still used, etc.).

Some scenes that other viewers may find strange or questionable are important to have been included because they show things that really happened – in my airborne training and service, and that of two brothers and older and younger paratroopers I've met over the years. Two examples in this film were of men "freezing" in the door and not being able to jump; and of a jumpmaster giving a jumper a boost or shove out the door. The gun scene was overboard – I doubt it has ever happened; but, where the film was quite light otherwise, it may have served to show in earnest the early fear and reticence (anyone in his or her right mind at least has butterflies the first few times up) about going out the door. And, the "yahoo" reaction shown by two or three of the troopers after they have "hit the silk" is a true portrayal of the feeling of elation and somewhat wonderment of hanging suspended in the air and slowly floating to the ground.

Some of the training from the earliest days (packing of one's own chutes, and individual jumps), as well as equipment, had changed by the late 1950s and early 1960s, to say nothing of the aircraft used for jumping (from C-47s, to C-119 Flying Boxcars during most of WWII, to C- 130s, to C-124 Globe Trotters, to the Jet transports of later years). Also, the jump chute design and parachute landing falls were soon changed from what was shown in the film -- to a roll, to prevent broken legs from stiff-legged landings. The 150-foot towers as well as shorter jump training towers with cables are in use today.

All in all, though, this was a very good film. Most likely, veterans and others interested in military history would not be bored by the repeated jumping scenes. And, I think the considerable cast of known actors for the time, with a fairly decent, if somewhat predictable story line, made it an altogether enjoyable film. I'm sure it brings a smile to any veteran's face – of any branch of service – to think that a recruit in boot camp or initial training would get a pass, or be able to go on a date with or visit a training NCO or officer's daughter. But that's part of Hollywood's license for fiction, supposedly to boost the entertainment value and/or box office take. For the historical and educational value, with a cast of good acting and lots of jumping, I score this fairly high – 4 out of 5.

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