Jim Knox: A Red Devil hero on Gustav Line
James Jim Knox was born in West Ham, London district, in 1924. In October 1940, following a German raid, his house was completely destroyed and along with his family was forced to move in the Essex region. In 1939 he decided to enlist in the Army, and although he was only 16 years old, convinced the recruiter that his real age was 18.
In August 1942, he demanded for the newborn Parachute Regiment, and after passing the difficult selection, he was sent first to Hardwick Hall to complete the “commando” during six weeks, and then passed the course for the qualification to the launch Ringway at the Training School.
Once you reached the coveted “wings”, was sent at the 4th Parachute Battalion, units belonging to the 2nd Parachute Brigade.
In December of 1942, he was transferred to the Intelligence Section of the General Headquarters of the Brigade where he became the bodyguard of Lieutenant Stefan Havlena, a Polish official who spoke five languages fluently.
Along with his units landed in Taranto, September 9, 1943, as part of Operation Slapstick, and from December 1943 until the end of March 1944, he participated in operations on the Sangro Front. Being the Intelligence Section of the 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade considered the most efficient, Jim they supported the operations of all divisions British Eighth Army from Ortona until the Maiella. In December 1943, the unit of the Paratrooper Jim Knox, helped to coordinate the actions of British paratroopers and volunteers of the Municipality of Civitella Messer Raimondo employed in forcing the German occupiers from Civitellesi hills.
Since the beginning of April to mid-May 1944 the British paratroopers were deployed on the front of Cassino. As part of Operation Diadem, his unit played a crucial role: Lt. Stefan Havlena was chosen as liaison officer between the Polish 2nd Corps and the rest of the allied units, during the final assault of the Polish soldiers to Montecassino stronghold.
When the operations in Italy, was reinstated as a rifleman in the 4th Parachute Battalion. The August 15, 1944, was launched along with its units in southern France as part of Operation Dragoon, and October 12, 1944 took part in Operation Manna, once the expulsion of the German units from Greece.
In October 1945, the 2nd Parachute Brigade landed in Palestine and took cantonment at Haifa. The British paratroopers had to cater to counter the activities of the Jewish paramilitary movements Haganah, Palmach, Irgun and Stern Gang. The May 8, 1946, following a reorganization of the British airborne forces, Jim got his discharge from active duty. E ‘was decorated with the Legion of Honour by the French Republic for his contribution to the liberation of the South of France and for the support given to the actions of the French partisans.