1st Parachute Squadron RE

1st Parachute Squadron RE

1942 to 1945

1st Air Troop Royal Engineers  was established in late 1941 to support the infantry element of 1st Parachute Brigade.

In early 1942, 1st Air Troop RE was expanded to four troops: A, B, C (each composed of a Captain, three subalterns and 36 other ranks) with a Headquarters Troop  and redesignated as 1st Parachute Squadron RE on 16 February 1942. 1st Air Troop's Officer Commanding, Captain Stephen Dorman, was promoted to Major and took command of the squadron.

The squadron was attached to 1st Parachute Brigade until 18 June 1942 when it joined 1st Airborne Division RE on formation.

Members of the squadron were deployed  on the Bruneval raid. Their stick commander, Lieutenant Charles DH Vernon went on to serve as the B Troop Commander in North Africa where he was awarded a Military Cross. He was subsequently promoted and took over command of the 2nd Para Sqn, R.E.

In Sicily, the Squadron had a difficult flight from Tunisia where they were hit by both allied and enemy flak. Their task was to remove demolition charges from the Primosole Bridge, before laying defensive mines of their own. Only one aircraft out of six managed to drop its men on the intended dropzone. Ironically, this was the Dakota named 'Miss Carriage' which contained Captain Peter Stainforth's B Troop. Despite the inaccuracy of the drop, the Squadron succeeded in its task before the Germans briefly retook the bridge. As the enemy were unable to destroy it, however, the engineers had achieved their objective. The bridge was captured intact by the ground troops of the Durham Light Infantry on July 16, 1943. 

The squadron was also deployed to North Africa, Italy and Arnhem where squadron personnel helped to play a crucial role at the bridge.

A force, about 60 strong, under the command of Captain Eric Mackay, took up positions in the school house close to the bridge. They played a significant role in the defence of the bridge, one sapper having knocked out six or seven armoured vehicles with a Piat anti-tank gun and fought magnificently in the infantry role. Captain Mackay was subsequently awarded the American Sliver Star.

Remnants of the 4th Parachute Squadron were transferred to 1st Para Sqn towards the end of 1944 when 4th Para Sqn was disbanded.

1st Para Sqn RE was further strengthened with reinforcements, and redesignated as 1st Airborne Squadron RE, but still a part of the 1st Airborne Division, on 26 March 1945.

Commanding Officers.

Major. S.L. Dorman.                        November 1941 – December 1942. KIA: 18/12/42

Major. D.C. Murray.                         December 1942 – September 1944

Captain. E. M. Mackay.                   October 1944 – December 1944

Major. A.F.M. Jack.                          December 1944 - August 1945

With thanks to Bob Hilton

Read More


War Diaries_1

Official accounts_1

Post-combat reports_1

Group photos_10

Personal accounts_2

Official documents_1

Medal Citations_1

Solo photos_1

Latest Comments

There are currently no comments for this content.

Add your comment


Make a donation to Airborne Assault ParaData to help preserve the history of The Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces