In December 1942 authorisation was given to form F Parachute Squadron, Royal Engineers (RE), in Moascar Egypt, at the Royal Engineer Training Depot near to the Suez Canal.
It started with a war establishment of 17 officers and 127 other ranks and the first recruits began to join the squadron throughout January and February of 1943.
Initially its role was undefined until March 1943, when it was placed under command of the 4th Parachute Brigade and renamed as 4th Parachute Squadron RE.
The unit was tasked with supporting the three parachute infantry battalions of the brigade in its engineering role, including mine laying and mine lifting, bridge building and bridge blowing, destruction of buildings and obstacles. The engineers were also required to fight in an infantry role in certain circumstances.
The squadron was first deployed on operations in Italy in September 1943 and returned to the UK with 1st Airborne Division in December.
There were a series of cancelled operations as Allied forces advanced from Normandy towards Germany in 1944. The sqn was eventually deployed again in September 1944, during Operation Market Garden, as part of 1st Airborne Division’s airborne assault to capture the Rhine crossings at Arnhem.
Out of the 157 men deployed, 18 were killed and only 64 men were withdrawn across the Rhine to the safety of Allied lines after the nine day battle.
4th Para Sqn RE was disbanded on 30 October 1944, with the remaining personnel transferred to 1st Para Sqn RE.
1st Para Sqn RE was further strengthened with reinforcements, and redesignated as 1st Airborne Squadron RE, still attached to 1st Airborne Division, on 26 March 1945.
Further information and reading
‘Basic Function – The 4th Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers at Arnhem’ by John Sliz ISBN 9780978383817
4th Para Sqn RE Website run by Steve McLaughlin
Compiled with the assistance of Steve McLaughlin.Read More
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