"...what some mild-mannered soldiers called "A Hell on Earth"; others were more outspoken. The engineers, with great ingenuity, had built a set of ropes, planks, jumps, walls, cat-walks and leaps in the park and through the woods, which had been christened "The Monkey Grove". [or in Polish "Małpi Gaj"].
Many officers who joined the Brigade had escaped from Poland and survived amazing journeys before reaching Britain. One of them had his recollections of Largo House quoted in Sosabowski's memoirs, as follows...
"...the following day I reported to Monkey Grove....some macabre humorist had painted above the entrance: All hope abandon, ye who enter here. An instructor told us the course lasted two weeks.....For raw recruits, men whose feet had never left the ground, there came P.T.: Jump, skip, hop. Stand, lie, fall. Arms, legs, heads. Swinging, bending, stretching. Aching, sighing, moaning, groaning. Into a mad Monkey Grove, shouted at by monkey-lie men. Jump from fallen trees; somersault forwards, backwards, sideways...fall out of windows, swing from trees, get thrown from trees.... "
"After climbing the long ladder to the top, a man was fitted into a harness and then hung under the stretched silk, the top of which was attached to a cable. At the press of a button, the cable ran out and the man floated down, just like a normal jump, but without the initial sensation of falling. The instructor could stop the cable halfway, or whenever he pleased, correcting faults during flight and preparing the men for landing."
The Sikorski Archives in London hold images of the 'Monkey Grove' at Largo House, some of which can be seen on the following blog:
By July 1941, 5,470 troops had been trained at Largo - mostly Poles, but also trainees from several other countries. After the pre-parachute training work had been completed, Polish personnel continued to be based at Largo House throughout the war - both within the house and in huts within the grounds. The Polish Military Geographical Institute remained until 1946.