MEMBERS of the Glider Pilot Regiment Society will gather at Tilshead on February 22 for a special service of remembrance.

The service at 11.30am will be led by the Venerable Alan Jeans, Archdeacon of Sarum and Honorary Chaplin to The Rifles Association.

Members of the public are being invited to meet from 10am at Tilshead Village Hall on Salisbury Plain.

The service will include the re-dedication of a new bench to the 8th (Midland Counties) Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, and a bench to the late Brigadier Maurice Sutcliffe, the last commanding officer of the Glider Pilot Regiment and a founding member of the modern Army Air Corps.

He also initiated the unveiling of the Glider Pilot Regiment Memorial Stone at Tilshead on May 30 2004 in his role as President of the Glider Pilot Regimental Association. The bench is situated next to the Memorial Stones.

In 1997 the Parachute Regiment presented a wooden bench to the village of Tilshead.

Last year, due to the poor condition of the bench, it had to be removed.

As a result of tremendous support from Tilshead village activities, individual donations and a donation from the Parachute Regiment Association, a new bench was purchased and now sits outside the Tilshead Village Hall.

Because the fundraising exceeded expenditure, a second bench was purchased from a very fortunate bequest from the estate of Brigadier Sutcliffe, who died on April 8 last year aged 97.

When it was formed in February 1942, the Glider Pilot Regiment acquired as a training depot a deserted airfield at Tilshead which had formerly been the base for 225 Squadron RAF, with its 12 Lysander aircraft.The Regiment used Horsa Gliders made from wood and were nearly as large as Royal Air Force Lancaster Bombers.

The regiment's troops took part in some of the most famous actions of WW2, including D-Day in June 1944 and the Arnhem Market Garden attack in September 1944.

The Horsa Gliders were towed aloft by various aircraft, including four-engined heavy bombers displaced from operational service such as the Short Stirling and Handley Page Halifax, the Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle and Armstrong Whitworth Whitley twin-engined bombers, as well as the US Douglas C-47 Skytrain/Dakota.

The loads carried on board and transported by Horsa Gliders included infantry troops, jeeps, motor cycles and heavy equipment.

The larger Hamilcar Glider transported tanks in this same way.