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The Parachute Regiment and Hardwick Hall

A black and while image of a man walking through the Hardwick Parklands with brick military houses stretching into the distance.
The Para Regiment army village which then turned into the Polish resettlement camp. | © Rita Szmydt

Learn the history of the Parachute Regiment born in 1941. Find out about their strong ties to the Hardwick Estate and how this made way for the post-war Polish resettlement camp for allied soldiers.

Para Regiment Brigade & History

The Para Regiment is the airborne infantry regiment of the British Army, they have strong ties to the Hardwick Estate as the first training camp was based on Hardwick’s grounds.

A year after the success of Operation Dynamo in Dunkirk (1940), Prime Minister Winston Churchill called for the formation of a new fighting elite, this came to be known as the Parachute Regiment.

In 1941, Hardwick Hall was requisitioned. An entire army village and battle school was built above the ponds. The army village was no small feat, it included a gymnasium, a cookhouse, cinema and medical facility. The most fascinating features in the battle school included the Trapeze, to mimic the rocking motion of a deployed parachute, the 250ft jump tower and a barrage-type balloon which allowed descents from up to 1,000 ft.

Daily Life

Training was long and hard, not everyone who passed through the camp ended up with the coveted red beret. There was no room for error if you wanted to be part of this prestigious regiment. If any mistakes, refusal or insubordination became apparent, the soldiers would be returned to unit (RTU).

For those that made it through the arduous training programme, the reward was a 50-mile march to Ringway (now Manchester Airport). Here they finalised their land and glider training.

By the end of the war, 14 Parachute Battalions, 8 glider-borne battalions and many airborne trained units had been raised, with many passing through Hardwick as part of their training.

Training exercises taken from a daily drill sheet by Major Reid:

0830-0915: Organisation & Equipment

0915-1030: Formations

1030-1115: Observation

1115-1300: Concealment training & crossing of obstacles


1. Grenade Throwing

2. Sniping

3. House Snapshooting

First hand accounts

Whilst on the march (The Bash), the instructors were constantly subjected to abuse and harassment from housewives en-route because of some of the army language which was directed towards us to gee us up in order to successfully complete the march, which we all wanted to do. - Geoffrey Read, Paratrooper

We had to run everywhere and the two weeks' training was intensive and very physical. The first day was gruelling but it did settle down, although we had to run a mile early in the mornings before we did anything else. - Gerald Beavan, Paratrooper

The Polish Resettlement Camp

When the British Army left their battle school and village after the war, it was turned into a Polish resettlement camp for allied soldiers. Here Polish veterans, and later Hungarian refugees, were homed until they managed to find a more permanent place to stay. Many of the inhabitants later settled in the local area.

We would like to thank, Alex Collins, Paul Rickett and Geoff Wood from the 7th Battalion Parachute Battalion Facebook page for their contributions and research for this page.