Browning continued in the British army after World War I and served a tour as adjunct at Sandhurst (between 1924 and 1928). From 1935, he commanded the Grenadier Guards battalion, mostly in ceremonial duties. In 1940, he took command of a brigade. At the end of that year, Browning, a certified pilot, received command of the 1st Airborne Division, which he built from scratch. In October 1941, Major General Browning then organized the Airborne Command, which eventually had 17 brigades. He set high standards for himself and his men in terms of training, fitness, and dress. Marked by strong esprit de corps, the British Airborne Command adopted the red beret and the name "Red Devils."
Elements of Browning's airborne forces participated in the Allied "race for Tunis" in November 1942. Browning then served as airborne adviser to U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower in planning the airborne assault on Sicily, although he personally saw no action. Promoted to lieutenant general in January 1944, he took command of the expanded airborne formation, I Airborne Corps, which included the 1st and 6th Airborne Divisions, a Special Air Service (SAS) unit, and, later, the Polish Airborne Brigade. He led I Airborne Corps in the Normandy Invasion.
In August 1944, on the creation of the First Allied Airborne Army, Browning became its deputy commander under U.S. Army Lieutenant General Lewis H. Brereton, although he retained command of I Airborne Corps as well. He played a major role in Operation market-garden, landing at Nijmegen by glider with the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division. He then led the I Airborne Corps in the crossing of the Rhine and the advance to the Baltic.
Following the end of fighting in Europe, Browning was appointed chief of staff of South-East Asia Command under Lord Louis Mountbatten. He returned to Britain in late 1946 and served as secretary to the minister of war. He retired from the army in January 1948 but served as comptroller of Princess (later Queen) Elizabeth's household. Browning died at his estate, Menabilly, near Fowey in Cornway, Britain, on 14 March 1965. He was survived by his wife, the novelist Daphne du Maurier.
John A. Komaromy and Spencer C. Tucker
Gregory, Barry. British Airborne Troops, 1940–45. New York: Doubleday, 1974.; Norton, Gregory G. The Red Devils: The Story of the British Airborne Forces. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1971.