On 5th September 1940 volunteers from No 2 Commando were selected for pilot training and attached to RAF army Cooperation Squadrons. There were only a few single seat civilian gliders in early 1940. The first Hotspur training glider flew in November and a prototype Horsa assault glider in September 1941.
In September 1941 it was decided that all glider pilots would conform to RAF selection procedures and undertake standard RAF elementary flying training in powered aircraft before converting to gliders. When the Army Air Corps was formed on the 21st December, the Glider Pilot Regiment was included within it.
The initial 40 volunteers completed training in March 1942, beginning a number of small scale glider exercises with troops providing valuable experience in evolving basic techniques. The War Office decided the glider pilots were to train and fight as soldiers one they were on the ground. They were trained to fight with any weapon used by airborne troops and be taught as a signaller and liaison officer. All were either officers or NCOs and normally formed the Airborne Division Commander’s reserve after landing. They were the pilots that flew in the later Airborne Division Air –Landing Infantry Brigades.
They performed distinguished service in North Africa, Sicily, Normandy, Southern France, Holland, Rhine Crossing and in the Far East. An extremely high degree of intelligence, initiative and discipline were required. Once qualified pilots wore the Army Flying Badge, their numbers reached a peak of 2,500 pilots in 1945.
Gliders were not used in action after the Second World War, but the pilots served in Palestine, Korea, Malaya and elsewhere until they were disbanded in 1957.