Sculpting The Flying Horse

It started as an idea to sculpt a rearing horse, having carved a large horse head 30 years before. Then, through being a family member of the Veterans' club of the WW2 Parachute Company that my father served with, the idea grew wings – literally – and Pegasus in full flight became the project. It is 45cms high overall on a plinth of Welsh slate and mahogany. Carving it had several false starts - so over the time taken for the work the wings are the second version, with the third mane and tail and second rider plus further problems with others making the base and pillar. But finally completed - I am pleased with it and the recipients are appreciative. In it's final home I know that it will be looked after well .

In 1941 it was decided that battles which required landings by airborne troops needed highly trained pathfinders to parachute in to prepare and mark drop and landing zones with flares and radio beacons for parachutists, gliders and troop carrier aircraft. In 1942 the 21st Independent Parachute Company was formed – commanded by Major John Lander - and volunteers were sought from The Parachute Regiment, Army Air Corps and other regiments and corps. The company served on operations in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, South of France (Operation Dragoon), Arnhem (Operation Market Garden), in the surrender of the enemy in Norway after VE Day and finally in Palestine after the war - and there it was disbanded. In the 1970s several of the ex-members met and formed a club which, including their families, had a gathering annually and they organised anniversary pilgrimages to Arnhem and South of France . With few Veterans left, the club has wound up and so it became appropriate to present Pegasus to them to record the Company's wartime service from 1942 to 1946. The club members decided to pass the sculpture to the modern re-formed Parachute Pathfinders to keep at their regimental depot in Colchester.

In Greek mythology Pegasus the flying horse was a stallion foaled by the Gorgon Medusa , sired by Poseidon and born when Medusa was beheaded by Perseus. Bellerophon was a heroic youth whose first feat of many, was to ride Pegasus and kill the Chimera – a monster with head of a lion, body of a goat and tail of a dragon - to stop it killing the people and animals of Lycia . Pegasus and Bellerophon was suggested as the emblem of the Parachute Regiment by Daphne du Maurier, (who was married to Major-General F.A. 'Boy' Browning) and approved by Winston Churchill. The emblem was controversially discontinued in a defence re-organisation in 1999, but after a long fight was re-adopted in 2015. The Para motto 'Utrinque Paratus' engraved on the glass pillar, means 'Ready for Anything'

Ted Gordon


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