253 (Airborne) Composite Company RASC

253 (Airborne) Composite Company RASC

1942 to 1946

253 Divisional Airborne Composite Company RASC was originally raised in February 1942, based at Bulford. By early 1943, the Coy worked increasingly closely with the 1st Airborne Divisional Composite Coy RASC (subsequently 250 Coy) for instruction in the techniques being developed in the packing and loading of ammunition and supplies, prior to preparation for departure to North Africa in support of 1st Airborne Division operations in May 1943.

Based at Sousse, 253 Coy was immediately pressed into service and also continued Pannier re-supply experimentation in July 1943, alongside 250 Coy. In September Cpt CM Hall and 95 ORs formed a party which travelled to Taranto in support of 1st Airborne operations in Italy (before returning to the UK directly ahead of the rest of the Coy). The remainder had continued to work on the development of Re-supply by Air techniques and embarked for return to the UK aboard HMT Maloja on Boxing Day, December 1943.

Back in the UK, the Coy reunited at Boston. 253 Coy members spent much of the early part of 1944 in further Air Supply training at Branston and Harlaxton Park, whilst four-man 253 Coy air crews were sent to Langar (23 crews) and Folkingham Airfield (48 crews) to undertake Air Despatch training exercise. In the meantime the 1st Airborne Division Supply Dump was created at Southrop to cater for the stockpile of several thousand Airborne Panniers.

In June and July 1944, the Coy (at a Field Strength of 11 Officers and 387 ORs) were involved in over 200 Re-supply missions flown by Stirling in support of 6th Airborne Division, the Special Air Service (SAS) and Special Operations Executive (SOE) in North West Europe. It was during this period that Maj Hare-Scott replaced OC Maj Gordon, following his promotion to command 49 Air Despatch RASC.

During the 1st Airborne operations in Arnhem, during Op Market Garden, 253 Coy provided 200 of the 1120 operational despatchers, manning 211 of the 624 sorties flown in Stirlings and a small contingent of Dakotas. Following the Battle of Arnhem, 253 Coy initially remained committed to 49 Air Despatch, with its supply dump moved to Earls Colne in October 1944.

In late March 1945 it was replaced by 749 Air Despatch Coy and returned to 1st Airborne Division. 253 Coy subsequently took part in Op Doomsday in May 1945, to assist disarming the German forces in Norway before returning to the UK in September.The Coy was disbanded in the Winter 1945-46.


A memorial was erected near the Cemetery at Oosterbeek, Arnhem in September 1994 to commemorate the Air Crews and Despatchers who lost their lives during the battle of Arnhem.

Commanding Officers

1942-4     Maj RK Gordon
1944-6     Maj KB Hare-Scott

Record under construction - compiled with assistance from John White



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