• 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5


Named for Audrey Penfold who joined Gravesend County School for Girls in 1931. She left school at 16 and entered the Civil Service. When World War II broke out she joined the women’s auxiliary air force, and became the RAF’s first woman parachute instructor and in 1944 her trainees, mostly volunteers, flew in RAF transport planes to evacuate the wounded from the Normandy battlefields. The women were banned from using their parachutes if their planes were shot down, their orders were to stay with the plane to treat any survivors! These nurses became known affectionately as the “Flying Nightingales” (after Florence Nightingale) and safely brought back nearly 10,000 wounded soldiers from the battlefields of Europe to British hospitals. By 1948, Audrey was in charge of around 200 WAAFs at the jumping school at RAF Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire. In 1949, section officer Audrey Penfold was awarded the MBE for her work as “Mother” of all WAAF parachutists.

Links to MGSG's School Houses