A British paratrooper takes a picture of himself while parachuting.

Image: Haywood Magee/Picture Post/Getty Images

In 1944, an editor at Picture Post, a UK photojournalism magazine similar to LIFE, assigned photographer Haywood Magee to shoot a story on British paratroopers, which were still a relatively new division of the armed forces.

Magee accompanied a unit of soldiers on a training exercise as they packed into the cramped hold of an Armstrong Whitworth Whitley bomber and one by one dropped through a gun turret aperture which had been modified to form an egress hatch.

Not content merely with photos of the troops jumping from the plane and landing on the ground, Magee took his assignment one step further. He passed a camera to one of the soldiers and asked him to shoot some pictures on the way down. Read more…

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1944: A British paratrooper snaps a few selfies while falling