On 22nd June 1940, Sir Winston Churchill sent a note to the war office requesting the formation of an elite corps of at least 5000 parachutists. In only five months, 5000 parachutists had fully qualified from the Parachute Training School, which had been established at Ringway Airport near Manchester, and the 11th Special Air Service Battalion was formed. In October 1941, Major General FAM (Boy) Browning DSO, was ordered to form an Airborne Division and was appointed its GSO. Major Browning was responsible for the design of the regiment's emblem, Bellerophon mounted on the winged horse Pegasus.
As recounted in Greek Mythology, Bellerophon, with spear in hand, rode through the air on Pegasus swooping down on the terrifying Chimera, and destroying it. This myth is the first documented account of an airborne warrior, providing the perfect emblem for the 11th Special Air Service Battalion.
The regiment quickly grew throughout WWII and on 1st August 1942, the Parachute Regiment was formed. In November of the same year, the battalions of the 1st Parachute Brigade were dropped, with widely separate objectives, into Tunisia to harass the advancing German Army. By this time, the maroon beret had been introduced and it was in Tunisia that the men earned the nickname "The Red Devils". Field Marshall Lord Montgomery said:
"Whenever the maroon beret is seen on the battlefield, it at once inspires confidence, for its wearers are known to be good men and true."