On 1st October 1941 Air Headquarters authorised the formation of an Air Landing School at Willingdon Airport New Dehli, to train the newly formed 50th Indian Parachute Brigade.
The School, later called No 3 Parachute Training School trained parachutists and glider-borne troops as well as conducting experiments on their specialised equipments. The only aircraft available were five Valencias, obsolete and unsuitable for parachuting. Training for the 50th Indian Parachute Brigade, which was also set up in October, began in earnest.
Courses lasted 14 days for 30 parachutists per course until April 1943 when it doubled to 60. There was a shortage of aircraft, parachute instructors and parachutes. The first instructors arrived from Ringway with 14 static parachute assemblies or ‘Statichutes’ in their personal baggage and set up their primitive equipment in two aircraft hangars.
The first Commanding Officer was Wing Commander JHD Chapple, who was replaced by the nominated commander Wing Commander Benito in March 1942. The staff consisted of eight RAF officers, five army officers, four RAF fabric workers from Ringway, who also acted as Parachute Jump Instructors (PJIs) and a number of Ringway trained army NCOs.
In October 1942 overcrowding at Willingdon air base necessitated a change of the school’s location to Chaklala, near Rawlpindi in the Punjab.
Despite the limited output of the parachute courses the casualty rate was far higher than in the UK. There were two fatalities in October 1942, four in November and another in December and January 1943. It was found that some of the Indian X-Type parachutes were not up to specification. Wing Commander M Newnham the Commanding Officer of No 1 Parachute Training School at Ringway visited and instituted improvements on parachute maintenance. Improvements followed as also more and better aircraft, Hudsons, Wellingtons and then the Dakota.
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