The Foundations of the GPR are laid
A Glider Training Squadron had been set up, under the command of Squadron Leader H E Hervey, MC. Initial gliding tests were carried out by using Swallow aircraft with their propellers removed. A nationwide request for sailplanes brought in enough to begin training instructors, pilots and ground crew. Of the Squadron's first four trainer gliders, three had been built in Germany!
On 26 September, 1940, the Duke of Kent watched a demonstration involving two towed gliders. The following month a five-mile night tow was undertaken with two Avro 504s and four sailplanes. Also in October, sixty-six men, from No. 2 Commando, with previous flying experience were attached to Army Co-operation Command squadrons for preliminary training prior to conversion to glider coxswains (the initial name for glider pilots). When a Glider Wing was formed in December, the sixty-six were held on its establishment. However, the question of further recruits from the Army lay in the balance. The ability of Army personnel as fit to fly was a long-standing and contentious issue. Indeed, the Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Arthur Harris, thought Army flying preposterous:
"The idea that semi-skilled, unpicked personnel (infantry corporals have, I believe, even been suggested) could with a maximum of training be entrusted with the piloting of these troop carriers is fantastic. Their (the gliders) operation is equivalent to forced landing the largest sized aircraft without engine aid - than which there is no higher test of piloting skill."
Two events brought the issue to a close. On 26 April, 1941, Churchill visited the Central Landing Establishment at Ringway. He found just a handful of glider pilots in training. Then, on 20 May, Germany captured Crete with airborne troops. Churchill called for immediate action, and it was agreed that the Army would supply glider pilots with the RAF taking responsibility for qualifying them. To counter any problems which might arise at parent units with personnel on detached duties, it was also decided to form a new Army Air Corps with two autonomous regiments, the Glider Pilot and the Parachute. The former was established by Army Order on 24 February 1942.