Lieutenant Rudyard D Penley

{ Rudge }

Rudyard David Penley was the first young officer directly to join the permanent cadre of The Parachute Regiment. He commissioned into the Parachute Regiment in August 1958.

2nd Lieutenant Penley was posted to the 1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment (1 PARA) and was promoted to Lieutenant in August 1960.

In 1961 shortly before his tragic death Lt Penley moved to the Regimental Depot.

Lt Penley, 22 years old, died due to a bad landing in a parachuting accident on 16 May 1961. He was given a funeral with full military honours at Portsdown, Hampshire.

Pegasus Journal July 1961.


Lieutenant R D Penley The Parachute Regiment .

If ever anyone could, in real life "-fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run " it was Rudyard Penley. The death of one's comrades in peacetime is always shocking, the more so when someone so vital as he is lost to the world.

"Rudge" was one of those people who are born to a love of the field. In boyhood he was a Queen's Scout and the only cadet ever yet to hold the appointment of R.S.M. in his school C.C.F. From Sandhurst he found himself the first young officer directly to join the permanent cadre of The Parachute Regiment, a distinction which in his own words "took some living down!" but which others would say he magnificently lived up to.

He brought with him into the Regiment a determination to uphold what he knew to be jealously-guarded standards. His outstanding characteristic was a burning enthusiasm which had to be seen to be believed, coupled with the ability-rare in one so young-to recognise the limits of human endeavour. Because of this, those projects to which he turned his hand, notably the development of canoeing and free-fall parachuting, always bore fruit.

Indeed he contributed more in his short life than many a man with twice his experience, and this in an age which tends to close its eyes to the bright fires of enthusiasm. As might be expected, Rudyard Penley soon became a popular and valued member of his Regiment, and an asset to its professional future of the sort that this country can ill spare. But, for us who served with him, he will always be associated with the first ventures into the realm of free-fall parachuting, and it is a sad stroke of chance that he, a skilful and safe jumper, should be a victim of a thousand-to-one landing mishap.

We offer to his family and many close friends our sincere sympathy. Rudge was a good soldier and a staunch comrade. Surely, for him at least, the trumpets sounded upon the other side.

1st Battalion Free Fall Club.

The death of Mr. Penley came as a severe shock to the club. He started the idea of a Free Fall Parachute Club in the Battalion, and without his enthusiasm and drive the club would not be in the strong position that it is today.

He was a careful, patient and tolerant instructor, and a safe and experienced parachutist. All those who have jumped under his instruction agree that he had the happy knack of imparting complete confidence even to a beginner.

We sympathise deeply with Mr. Penley's parents and family.

1st Battalion Canoeing Club.

We were all very sad to learn of the tragic death of Lieut. Penley in a parachuting accident. Lieut. Penley had been Canoeing Officer since the formation of the club, and it was due to his strenuous efforts that representatives of the Battalion have achieved so much in only two years of long-distance canoeing.

Regimental Depot.

It is with very deep regret that we tell of the sad death of Lieut Rudge Penley through an accident whilst free-fall parachuting. Rudge had been with the Depot for a short time only but he had, in that time, become a true friend of all ranks, liked by all for his charm and enthusiasm and respected by everyone for his ability and live personality. A funeral with military honours was held at Portsdown on Friday, 18th May. To his brave parents we offer our sympathy in their loss which is also that of the whole Regiment.

The Penley Trophy was awarded to 'Best Competitor from The Parachute Regiment' in the  Army Parachute Championships.

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Rudyard D Penley

Latest Comments

Tom Godwin said:
Lt."Rudge"Penley was my platoon Commander in C Company 1 PARA.He and I together with another ten canoeists took part in the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race of 125 miles during Easter of 1961.The race was a doubles not stop event involving about 174 crews civilian and tri service and was at that time the longest canoe race in the World. It is still run over the Easter Weekend and makes the Annual Boat race look like a row in the Park !Major Jack Thorpe was " Rudges " Partner .
Rudge was a fine Platoon Commander and I do believe that he was very first Parachute Regiment Direct Enlistment Officer.
submitted by Major(QM) Tom Godwin .Ex 1 PARA.
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