Utrinque Paratus

No.1 Parachute Training School, Ringway

Despite Churchill's support, Britain at that time had neither the aircraft, nor parachutes, nor the experience to provide what he wanted. Critical to everything was the parachute and up to this time, parachuting in the UK had been little more than a 'flying circus stunt`. By mid June 1940 it was decided to establish a Central Landing School (CLS- later to be known as the Parachute Training School-PTS) and naturally the onus for its establishment lay with the Air Ministry.
At first the RAF was by no means keen on the idea. Britain in mid- 1940 did not possess enough aircraft to defend the homeland and it followed that few could be spared to train paratroopers let alone lift them in action. But the Prime Minister's wishes could not he ignored, and since Manchester's civil airport, Ringway, was not considered a vital strategic base for fighters for home defence, it was immediately turned over to parachute training. A further advantage was that Ringway was far enough away from German raids and the intense fighter and bomber activity over the eastern counties.

Left-click for enlarged map
Sqdn Leader Strange DSO MC DFC

Squadron Leader Strange DSO MC DFC was appointed as commanding officer of Ringway
and was joined by Squadron Leader Jack Benham, as chief instructor, and Major John Rock
who was to be the senior army officer at the School. It was quickly realised that Ringway would
be too busy to act as a landing ground for the trainee paratroopers and alternative locations were
considered including Tatton Park, Lord Egerton's large secluded estate strategically located just
five miles south of Ringway.
Louis Strange had been a well-known pilot even before his World War One exploits, and had met
Lord Egerton, who was also an early aviator. Strange visited Tatton Park on 6 July, securing his
lordship's ready agreement to use the park, initially only as the main dropping zone.
Strange attributed the early success of the PTS to Lord Egerton's co-operation, and recorded that
Maurice 'gave us every possible support, assistance and encouragement'. We cut down his trees,
we knocked down his gateposts, we landed all over his park but he never had any complaints and was always helpful and full of encouragement.

In mid-1941, Group Captain Maurice Newnham DFC was appointed Commandant at Ringway. He was over 40 when he made his first jump and it was he more than anyone that was responsible for delivering so many thousands of British and Allied parachute troops as well as Special Operations Executive (SOF) agents expertly trained to their units.
The RAF instructors were also a special breed of men. Sometimes jumping a dozen times a day, and constantly engaged in parachute experiments, these men saw many doubting and nervous pupils through their courses

Group Captain Maurice Newnham DFC


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