The Glider Pilot Regiment Society held its annual Remembrance Service at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire on 13th May. The event commemorated the 553 men who lost their lives while serving with the Regiment, mostly during WWII.
Glider Pilot Veteran, Lt Col Nick Nichols next to the Renkum Stone after the Service in the National Memorial Arboretum
Glider Pilot Denzil Cooper from Sutton Coldfield, in the West Midlands, was one of the veterans who attended the service. He is a recent recipient of France’s Légion d'Honneur in recognition of his contribution to the liberation of France, where he took part in the D-Day assault of Normandy. His 68ft Horsa Glider was constructed almost entirely out of plywood, yet it survived landing at 80mph after flying from RAF Brize Norton and being subject to vicious anti-aircraft barrages from the ground. He bid farewell to the troops he brought in, as they set out in the trailer and jeep also transported in the glider, never knowing their names, or whether they made it through the conflict alive. Thirty four men from the Regiment were killed during the operation to secure bridges that were vital to the Allies’ strategy. Denzil returned to England by sea and three months later took part in Operation Market Garden, where a lump of shrapnel became embedded in his leg.
In an interview with the BBC after the service Denzil 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."
Denzil Cooper being interviewed by the BBC
The Glider Pilot Regiment Society would sincerely like to thank the National Memorial Arboretum for hosting us and thank all those who attended and supported the service. The society will hold the service next year in this wonderful setting and hope to have even more members join us to commemorate our Glider Pilot relatives and friends.
For further information about the society, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Details of the National Memorial Arboretum can be found on www.thenma.org.uk