A British Army lieutenant has become the first female officer in the Parachute Regiment.
Lieutenant Hannah Knapton has been given the coveted maroon beret after passing the Parachute Regiment’s extensive and exhaustive entry tests.
She is now qualified to lead members of the Parachute Regiment into battle, a landmark moment for the British Army and the UK’s Armed Forces.
Lt Knapton, along with six other new Platoon Commanders after passing P Company, were awarded their Parachute Regiment berets.
They will now be dispatched to their respective battalions to start their new careers in the regiment.
Pegasus Company, known as ‘P Company’ is a three-day test separating the Parachute Regiment from the rest of the Army.
Major Chris Braithwaite, Officer Commanding Pegasus Company, said: “Pegasus Company is designed to test an individual’s physical fitness, determination and mental robustness under stress, to ensure they have the self-discipline and motivation for service in Airborne Forces.”
Major Braithwaite was speaking following the achievement of Private Addy Carter, of 16 Medical Regiment, who became the first female enlisted soldier to pass the Army’s Airborne Forces’ gruelling All Arms Pre Parachute Selection (AAPPS) – also known as P Company.
AAPPS is for non-Parachute Regiment recruits but includes the same eight challenges as the course for soldiers joining the regiment.
The three-and-a-half-week course at Catterick culminates in the gruelling eight events of Test Week, including loaded marches, log and stretcher races, and an aerial confidence course.
Private Addy Carter, who was honoured with a maroon beret in October after completing the course, said that she wanted to be treated equally and was not treated differently by the instructor.
She added: “I hope that I’ve shown to other female soldiers that it’s achievable. Coming back to my unit, there are other women who’ve said that they’re now more confident to give it a go.”
One of the elements, the loaded march, is 20 miles long and must be completed in under four hours and 10 minutes while carrying a 35lb backpack and a rifle.
Pte Carter said: “Physically, I found it very challenging, but it’s about showing that you can deliver when things get hard – I just kept telling myself that every step was a step closer to the end.”
The 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery works alongside the Parachute Regiment in a parachute role.
The Parachute Regiment is the airborne infantry regiment of the British Army, based at Merville Barracks in Colchester, Essex.
(Image: British Army)