Bill Scarratt

The Red Devils Free Fall Team

Bill joined 3 Para in 1957.
He was promoted to Sgt in 1963 and sent,on exchange to the 82nd AB Div. at Fort Bragg USA. Whilst Bill was there he completed a HALO Course with the US Special Forces. He had, had no previous free-fall parachuting experience and had about 50 military static line jumps.

All the other jumpers were American Sport parachutists, 14 in all.
Bill had 2 days ground training and the first jump was from a Huey at 4,000 feet. They completed 14 jumps, all free-fall.
Their last 2 jumps were from 20,000 ft, with oxygen and full equipment.
Huey's and Wessex helicopters, DH Caribou, C123 Provider and a C130 Hercules were used for their jumps.

The Americans made sure that Bill always went out first because he was a limey, they spotted for him and always ensured for Bill to have tree landings, Bill's corrective training was to provide a case of beer every time this event occurred.

Bill was to be posted to The Red Devils Free Fall Team, on his return to UK after his tour in the US, so he was sent to The Golden Knights for further training, to build up number of jumps.
There, The Golden Knights trained him for accuracy, style and competition jumping.
His instructors were Phil Vander weg, who was KIA in Vietnam and Bob McDermott. Bill completed his time with The Golden Knights with 154 jumps, which was achieved in about 4 months.
On Bill's return to the UK he was posted to The Red Devils Free Fall Team (Aug 1964) at Guillemont Barracks Cove.
On a sad note, The Golden Knight team members KIA in Vietnam, were
Phil Vander weg, Bobby Letbetter and Tom De Luca.

Tom was The Golden Knights Supply Sergeant - for a case of whiskey,
he sent 2 C130 Hercules, filled full of surplus parachutes, to help form the Team. Bill collected them from Lakenheath. Two 3 Tonners full of kit went to The Red Devils and another two, went to Netheravon to help equip the Centre.
They collected around 200 main and reserve canopies all just outside their shelf life but had never been used.
Bill for his sins, was put in the sport parachute stores and Bill Catt was put in the military parachute stores.
By this time, The Red Devils had moved to Normandy Barracks, Aldershot. Bill's first task was to build two packing tables and stud the ceilings with canopy hanging hooks. The building were brand new and empty so they had to make everything themselves.

Bill was with the team for 4 years and then went for pilot training at Middle Wallop.
From the original Red Devils Team the following went to Middle Wallop.
Alec Parker
Billy Catt
Sherdy Vatnsdal
Bill Scarratt
Gus Martin
Dave O'Connor
Keith Jones
Jim Walmsley

Bill finished his tour with The Red Devils with approximately 900 jumps then transfered to the Army Air Corps (AAC) in 1971.
Bill's eldest son, Jim completed 2 tours with The Red Devils.
His youngest son, Bill did one tour with the team then also transfered to The Army Air Corps and is now an officer. The Scarratt's have 4 tours with The Red Devils between them. Jim has over 7000 descents, Bill Jnr has 2,500 and Bill Snr over 900. A staggering 10,000 descents between them.

More stories from Bill Scarratt Click Here!

Stories about Bobby Jarrett

I'm telling some stories about Bobby Jarrett, personally witnessed by myself to give everyone a good laugh.
These stories of course shall be denied by Bobby but take no notice.


Every Army unit has a Maggot.
The Maggot is usually small and ugly and gets blamed for everything that goes wrong.
In the mid 1960s the Red Devils had two Maggots, George Fettes and Bobby Jarrett.

Sherdy Vatnsdal, the Red Team Leader, had both of them but after a few display disasters, described by Bobby Jarrett in ex Team Members Stories, he bubbled me to the OC and I was ordered, as Blue Team Leader, to take one of them into the Blue Team.
I got the booby prize Bobby Jarrett.

Sometimes, you don't have to try hard, for misfortune to strike but strike it did!.

Every time we went on a display, it was a toss-up where the Maggot was going to land. His set explanation was that he was 'still learning and we always put him on the difficult displays'.
As if we had a choice (o;

If Bobby saw pylons within two miles of the DZ he would immediately steer away, claiming that he either had a bad spot or he was off the wind line.
His reasons for missing the DZ were endless.

I tried to get him to follow me to the target but within a few seconds, he'd go missing.
He always did follow me out of the aircraft but he'd pull late and end up below me, then claim that I'd pulled high.

On one display, again, read one of his stories, he landed on a road, miles away from the DZ, stopped all the traffic, then gave my name to the press.

On his jump suit he had his name tag however he carried a paper clip, in his pocket, in order to turn over and conceal the first letter J so on a disaster, he could blame everthing on me , Scarratt.

On a display in Stockton Upon on Tees, the team were staying at 4 Para Drill Hall. Next door was an old cinema that had been converted to a Night Club called the Fiesta Club.
The CSM (Company Sergeant Major) of 4 Para had kindly got some tickets for us so we could go to the venue that night.
In we went and the place was packed. Inside the old cinema there were levels full of seats which were stepped up,and a bar on each level. At the bottom, where the big screen used to be was a compere, who was busy warming up the audience with birthday greetings, engagements etc amid much clapping and cheering, behind him was a pop band, with drums, flashing lights and spotlights.

I was standing alongside the top bar by a white wall with my pint of ale.

I was thinking to myself where the Maggot (Bobby Jarrett) had got himself to, because I knew for a fact that he would be up to no good. I very soon discovered what it was that Bobby was up to.

That day, I had just completed my 600th jump.
Suddenly, there was a tremendous roll of drums, from the band.
The compere then announced that in the audience were The Red Devils Parachute Team, who had jumped earlier on a display, which most of the audience had viewed.
The clapping and cheering was deafening.
The compere then went on to say that the Team Leader, C/Sgt Billy Scarratt had just completed his 600th jump.
More cheers and claps from the crowd.
With that, the roll of drums struck up again and six spotlights pinned me to the the white wall in a circle of blinding light.

No prizes for guessing who set me up.

He denied it of course but I knew it was Bobby Jarrett.

More to come!!!!!!.

When Bobby Jarrett left The Red Devils he returned to 3 Para where he made it to the rank of RQMS.

I left had the Army in 1980 unfortunately missing the Falklands campaign in 1982.
The Maggot was deployed to the Falklands with 3 Para, a good friend of mine who was also there returned with a juicy little story about the antics of
Bobby J.

As you all know, when you're on exercise or operations, the QM runs a tick book system so the lads can get their chocolate, sweets and pop etc,this is because no one is carrying any cabbage (cash). You have to pay the RQ the money back when you return to civilization, or it was docked out of your wages.

Anyway 3 Para were to launch a night attack on Mount Longdon.
The battalion was brought up to the Start Line, ready for the advance, the leading Company deployed in extended line.
As they were ordered to prep for battle, along comes RQMS Jarrett with his 'Little Black Tick Book' collecting his pennies from the boys, "Just In case you don't come back ", he said.
A real morale booster, would you agree?

This is the Maggot, running true to form.

More stories from Bill Scarratt Click Here!