Stoke & Staffordshire

World War Two glider pilots commemorated at service

The memorial
Image caption The service was held at The Glider Pilot Regiment Association Memorial, Renkum Stone

A service to commemorate hundreds of wartime glider pilots has been held at the National Memorial Arboretum.

The inaugural annual remembrance service of The Glider Pilot Regiment Society was held in Staffordshire.

It marked the contribution of the 553 men who died serving with the regiment, primarily during World War Two.

The regiment played a central role in several key engagements during the war, including on D-Day.

It was disbanded in 1957.

Image caption Glider pilot Denzil Cooper was among those in attendance

Established in 1942, it was formed of volunteers from other sections of the army.

Training initially took place on powered aircraft, before progressing to small, Hotspur gliders, and eventually the huge Horsa and Hamilcar aircraft capable of carrying troops, jeeps, artillery pieces and tanks.

'Doing our jobs'

During the service, veterans, family members, and friends of the regiment gathered to pay their respects.

Glider pilot Denzil Cooper, of Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, was among those in attendance.

Mr Cooper, who received the Légion d'Honneur in recognition of his contribution to the liberation of France, where he took part in the D-Day assault of Normandy, said: "We didn't have time to be scared, we were too busy doing our jobs, we needed to get our men into combat, we couldn't sit around worrying about whether we'd make it back alive.

"It's only now that you realise how lucky you were to have made it.

"I hope this new annual service will preserve the enduring legacy of those who answered the call to serve their country and laid down their lives in pursuit of freedom."

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