No 1 PTS RAF Ringway

No 1 PTS RAF Ringway

1940 to 1946

The Central Landing School was established at RAF Ringway airfield near Manchester on 21 June 1940 as a result of Prime Minister Churchill’s direction to create a corps of parachutists. It was initially commanded by Squadron Leader Louis A Strange RAF and designed primarily as a parachute training school and experimentation centre.

On 19 September the School was expanded into the Central Landing Establishment (CLE) RAF, divided into a Parachute Training school, a Technical unit and a Glider Training Squadron. The tasks were to train parachute troops, glider pilots and aircrew for airborne operations, develop the tactical handling of airborne troops, carry out technical research and recommend requirements. The Central Landing Establishment was renamed as the Airborne Forces Establishment in September 1941. Its Headquarters, Technical Development Unit and Experimental Flight were merged into the Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment in February 1942, and relocated to Sherburn-in-Elmet a few months later.

At the beginning of May 1941 Squadron Leader LA Strange was transferred to command a new unit known as Merchant Shipping Fighter Unit. The command of the School then passed to Squadron Leader Jack Benhem on 12 May 1941. Benham had worked along side Strange from the start. However a few weeks later Benhem applied to help form a similar parachute training school being created in India. On 9 July the command of PTS Ringway was offered to Squadron Leader Maurice Newnham. At the age of 44 took his first parachute jump in July 1941 and in the August formerly took over command of the School.

Which became known as Number 1 Parachute Training School, a self contained unit. Additional transport lift was provided by the RAF and expansions of the training establishment with Flying and Glider Training Schools took place to keep pace with the expansion of the 1st Airborne Division. Headquarters 38 Wing RAF was formed to coordinate increased army/air training and operational requirements.

Each RAF Parachute Jump Instructor (PJI) was in charge of a ‘stick’ of ten trainee parachutists at RAF Ringway. ‘Synthetic’ ground training was normally conducted in aircraft hangars using unconventional gymnastic-like apparatus to simulate the conditions a parachutist could expect to encounter from exiting the aircraft to flight and landing.

In one hangar there were mock-ups of the interior and jump-hole or door of all types of aircraft used for parachuting. The student was taught how to exit the aircraft.

In the other hangar were different types of ground equipment used to simulate landing. Trapeze swings simulated flight drills and students slid down chutes or jumped from platforms to practice parachute rolls on landing. The ‘Fan’, a platform apparatus 25-feet high, had a parachute harness connected to a ‘fan’ that used the body weight of the jumper to slow the rate of descent when he ‘jumped’ from the platform.

Certain devices such as the ‘Gallows’ and jumping from the backs of moving lorries to practice landings were discontinued due to excessive injury rates.

The parachute course lasted two to three weeks depending on weather. Up to two weeks ground training preceded the first two jumps made from a cage suspended beneath a tethered barrage balloon. Six to eight aircraft jumps followed, graduating from no equipment to full container load and one by night. The first parachute descent was made at Tatton Park on 13 July 1940.

Up to August 1941 the training capacity of the Parachute Dropping Squadron was 40 parachutists per week. This rose to 100 the following month until by September 1,365 aircraft descents were achieved. By the end of 1941 up to 4,000 training descents were completed.

After nearly 5 years of training the soldiers to parachute from aircraft,  a farewell dinner was held at RAF Ringway in September 1945 before the PTS moved to RAF Upper Heyford in March 1946. 


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Pre-combat reports_1

  • Programme of work at Ringway during lead up to Tragino raid.

    Programme of work at Ringway during lead up to Tragino raid.

    1 Item

Book extracts_8


  •  RAF Parachute Jump Instructors' Insignia  (Until November 1945)

    RAF Parachute Jump Instructors' Insignia (Until November 1945)

    1 Image
  • RAF Parachute Jump Instructors' Insignia (From November 1945)

    RAF Parachute Jump Instructors' Insignia (From November 1945)

    1 Image

Official documents_5

Group photos_48


Solo photos_7

Letters and Cards_4

Association Newsletters_3

Newspaper extracts_8


Magazine extracts_1


Aerial photos_13

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