216 Parachute Signal Squadron
The Lanyard   


Immediately following the landings in Normandy by 6th Airborne Divisional Signals on 6 June 1944, the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel 'Pygmy' Smallman- Tew, encouraged each man to plait for himself a lanyard from the camouflaged rigging lines of parachutes still scattered on the DZs.

The aim of this exercise was to ensure that each man had in his possession a length of strong cord which might be useful should he be involved in any future attempt to escape capture by the enemy. All soldiers carried out their Commanding Officer's wish and the lanyard was worn by all ranks.

Some weeks after the landings, Lieutenant Colonel Smallman-Tew, although wounded in the arm by a piece of shrapnel, elected to remain at duty and took it upon himself to take a newly joined officer, Lieutenant Much, to his Brigade Signal Section (K) at Le Mesnil. On 22 July 1944, on the journey by airborne jeep, Lieutenant Colonel Smallman-Tew , Lieutenant Much and their driver were killed when a German mortar shell hit their vehicle near Escoville. Lieutenant Colonel Smallman- Tew was extremely popular throughout the Regiment and the lanyard continued to be worn after his death as was his wish.

The special camouflaged rigging lines were later obtained from RAF sources as it was traditional that each man plaited his own lanyard. After the war, the camouflaged rigging lines of the X type statichute were obtained from the manufacturers. Brigadier D A Pringle, who at the time was the Commanding Officer of 6th Airborne Divisional Signal Regiment, recalls that in 1947 he wrote to the GQ Parachute Company of Woking in an attempt to buy rigging line. The owners of the Company sent to the Regiment with their compliments and blessing, their entire residual stock as a present. The Regiment at this time was fortunate in that a Signalman who had been in the Merchant Navy was an expert at knotting. He soon became a one man lanyard factory.

It was not unti1 1954 that an official request was made by 16th Independent Parachute Group Signal Squadron for the lanyard to be recognised officially. In the same year, the request was granted and the lanyard became formally recognised as an official embellishment and therefore became available from Ordnance sources.

The lanyard has been proudly worn since 1944 by all ranks of airborne signals units in direct descent from 6th Airborne Divisional Signals in memory of Lieutenant Colonel Smallman-Tew. It continues to be worn today with equal pride by all signallers of 6th Field Force HQ and Signal Squadron.