The Glider Pilot Regiment was officially established by Army Order, 70 years ago today on 24th February 1942.
Much has been written regarding the formation of the Regiment (see recommended reading list) and there are now also several books dedicated to the overall history and actions in which the Regiment took part. With battle honours including; The Normandy Landings, Arnhem, The Rhine Crossing and Sicily. Let's not forget that the Regiment lived on until the formation of the Army Air Corps in 1957 and so also saw service in Palestine and Malaysia as well as some pilots taking part in the Berlin Airlift in powered aircraft!
The original Commanding Officer of the Regiment, Lt Col John Rock was tragically killed in a flying accident in September 1942. He was replaced by Lt Col George Chatterton who realised that he needed a unit of men who would be able to fight and fly to extremely high standards - total soldiers. To this end Brigade of Guards Drill Sergeants were brought in to manage an in-depth training period and through a unique partnership with the RAF these fighting men we also trained to fly.
Chatterton's now famous address to the Regiment shows his no nonsense approach and the level of commitment he demanded.
"We will forge this regiment as a weapon of attack... Not only will we be trained as pilots, but in all we do... I shall be quite ruthless... Only the best will be tolerated. If you do not like it, you can go back whence you came." (Pegasus Archive)
I will leave our final words to be those of General Sir John Hackett who says:
"Those who went to battle in gliders and above all those who get them there, the Glider Pilots, deserve our enduring esteem."
The Glider Pilot Regiment 1942 to 1957. We will remember them.