HQ 1st Airborne Divisional Column RASC

HQ 1st Airborne Divisional Column RASC

HQ 1st Airborne Divisional Column RASC was established to co-ordinate the roles of the RASC units attached to the newly established 1st Airborne Division in 1941-2. Initially, supply transportation was difficult. There was one RASC Coy (250 Coy) to service the transport requirements of the 1st Airborne Division. The remit, was to provide logistic support for the division both by land and by air. Supply by air, was a new function, for which no handbooks existed. Not deterred by the shortcomings, they set to with a will.

In April of 1943, the situation improved, both 93 Coy and 253 Coy arrived to join the Column, just prior to the departure for North Africa where they would be based at M’saken, near Sousse. The two new companies, 93 and 253 were quickly introduced to the intricacies of re-supply by air. This new feature attracted the interest of the Eighth Army and the Column was tasked to set up, (in addition to Divisional requirements) a supply dropping dump for the Eighth Army and to provide air crews should it prove to be necessary. This function meant air crews were standing by for the invasion of Sicily, Op Husky, although ultimately they were not called for.

In early September 1943, elements of the Division landed unopposed, by sea at Taranto. With the invasion of mainland Europe firmly on the agenda, it was not long before the 1st Airborne Div were withdrawn and returned to the UK. The 2nd Parachute Brigade became independent of the Division, and was detached to remain in Italy during this period. Without transport, they acquired three officers and 93 ORs from 93 Coy, and aircrew from 250 Coy to raise the 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade Transport Platoon (later Composite Company). Furthermore, a detachment of 250 Coy remained in North Africa in this period (four officers and 107 ORs) to train 352 General Transport Company RASC in re-supply by air (Air Despatch) duties, before rejoined 1st Airborne in late April 1944. This reshuffle of resources also saw future CO, Major JM St John Packe transferred to Column HQ as 2-i-c in September 1943.

When Column HQ arrived back in the UK they were reassembled at Fulbeck, Leadenham and were present for the inspection by Gen Montgomery at Belton Park, and the later visit of King George VI to Harlaxton in March 1944.

Following this, there followed an extensive period of Resupply training exercises from Dakotas during March and April 1944 in preparation for the next 1st Airborne operations in Northern Europe. Further exercises also worked on Seaborne supplies in this period.

By August 1944, the HQ Column Field Strength consisted of nine officers and 30 ORs. Of the Column members who emplaned to Arnhem on 18 September 1944, the CO, Adjutant and much depleted OR numbers returned to the UK on 29 September 1944, eventually reforming back at Leadenham.

Their final active deployment was the mission to Norway as part of Op Doomsday to disarm the German troops there in May 1945. On their return to the UK, RASC forces were transferred between 1st and 6th Airborne Divisions. Those having a greater time to serve, transferred to 6 Div whilst those reaching the end of their active terms joined 1st DIv, returning to the UK in September 1945.

The Divisional Column took part in the Farewell Service held at Salisbury Cathedral in late October 1945 and was disbanded in the Winter of 1945-6.

Commanding Officers

1941-3     Lt Col TH Jeffries MC
1943-6     Lt Col M StJ Packe

Record under construction - compiled with assistance from John White

Read More

Group photos_1

  • Headquarters Royal Army Service Corps, 1st Airborne Division, Fulbeck Hall, Lincolnshire, July 1944.

    Headquarters Royal Army Service Corps, 1st Airborne Division, Fulbeck Hall, Lincolnshire, July 1944.

    1 Image Buy Prints

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