National Archives catalogue reference WO 166/15580

 

Abbreviations

A/C

AD

Adm

ADST

ALO

Amn

Armd

Coln

Comd

Coy

CRASC
DDST

Det

Div

DZ

Gp

HE

Incl

Med

OC

O i/c

Op

Ord

Pet

Q

RASC
SAA

Sup

TAF

Tpt

Trg

Aircraft

Air Despatch

Administration

Assistant Director Supplies and Transport

Air Liaison Officer

Ammunition

Armoured

Column

Commander

Company
Commander Royal Army Service Corps

Deputy Director Supplies and Transport

Detachment

Division

Drop Zone

Group
High Explosive

Include

Medical

Officer Commanding

Officer-in-Command

Operation

Ordnance

Petrol

Quartermaster

Royal Army Service Corps

Small Arms Ammunition

Supply

Tactical Air Force

Transport

Training

 

 

Month and year: September 1944

Commanding Officer: Lt. Col. A.J.F. Kingsmill

 

MAINTENANCE MISSIONS

 

1st September 1944

Place: Field

 

0200 - 1 x 2 men.  223 Coy RASC (AD).  SAS Mission from FAIRFORD.  STIRLING A/C.  2 Panniers 24 BCCs dropped.  No incidents.  Night operation.  General Sir Humphrey Gale visited Gp HQ and made a general tour of the area.

 

5th September 1944

0300 - 7 x 2 men crews 223 Coy RASC (AD).  SAS Missions from FAIRFORD.  STIRLING A/C.  6 A/C dropped complete loads varying from 3 Panniers and 10 BCCs to 4 Panniers and 24 BCCs.  No incidents.  Night op.

 

6th September 1944

0300 - 2 x 2 men crews 223 Coy RASC (AD).  SAS Mission from KEEVIL.  STIRLING A/C.  Only one A/C despatched load.  Flak encountered (believed American) and very rough flying.  Parachute came off 1 BCC and caught on tail of plane.  Crews were ordered "stand by to bale out" but A/C flew into heavy storm and chute was ripped off.  Night op.

 

9th September 1944

0330 - 5 x 2 men crews from 22 Coy RASC (AD).  SAS Missions from KEEVIL.  Various loads of Panniers, Bundles and BCCs.  No incidents.  2 x 2 men crews from FAIRFORD.  1 A/C recalled.  1 despatched 4 Panniers and 24 BCCs.  No incidents.  All STIRLING A/C.  Night Ops.

 

11th September 1944

Place: Poulton

 

Authority received to change from FIELD address to open address: Postal address of this HQ now:- HQ 48 Air Despatch RASC, POULTON, Nr. Cirencester Glos.

 

0200 - 2 x 2 men crews from 223 Coy RASC (AD).  SAS Mission from HARWELL.  1 A/C returned with load as DZ was not identified.  1 A/C despatched 2 Panniers 24 BCCs.  No incidents.  Night Operation.  STIRLING A/C.

 

12th September 1944

0300 - 2 x 2 men crews from 223 Coy RASC (AD).  SAS Mission from FAIRFORD.  1 A/C returned with Load.  No incidents.  Night Op.  STIRLING A/C.

 

13th September 1944

0200 - 2 x 2 men crews from 223 Coy RASC (AD).  SAS Mission from FAIRFORD.  1 A/C returned with Load.  Night operation.  STIRLING A/C.  No incidents.

 

15th September 1944

0300 - 1 x 2 man crew from 223 Coy RASC (AD).  SAS Mission from KEEVIL.  No signal received from RAF Crew therefore A/C returned with 4 Panniers.  Night operation.  No incidents.  STIRLING A/C.

 

16th September 1944

0800 - 3 x 2 men crews from 223 Coy RASC (AD).  SAS Mission from FAIRFORD.  Day Operation.  STIRLING A/C.  No incidents.

 

18th September 1944

0330 - 1 x 2 men crew from 223 Coy RASC (AD).  SAS Mission from HARWELL.  No incidents.  Night Op.

 

19th September 1944

1500 - Maintenance.  42 x 4 men crews (10 x 800 Coy RASC (AD); 32 x 223 Coy RASC (AD)) Operation "MARKET" (Airborne landing 1st Airborne Div at ARNHEM in Holland).  Took off from 46 Group Airfields with crews from 49 Air Despatch RASC (63 and 253 Coys).  6 crews reported missing.  DAKOTA A/C.  See Appendix 'A' re casualties.  Day Operations.  Heavy Flak reported.

 

20th September 1944

1000 - 63 x 4 men crews (30 x 799 Coy RASC (AD); 14 x 800 Coy RASC (AD); 19 x 223 Coy RASC (AD)).  Maintenance.  Day Op.  DAKOTA A/C.  Operation "MARKET".  4 Crews reported missing.  Heavy Flak reported.  See Appendix 'A' re casualties.

 

21st September 1944

1000 - 42 x 4 men crews (18 x 223 Coy RASC (AD); 14 x 800 Coy RASC (AD); 10 x 799 Coy RASC (AD)).  Maintenance.  Day Operation "MARKET".  20 crews reported missing.  See Appendix 'A' re casualties.  Heavy Flak and enemy Fighter action reported.

 

22nd September 1944

0800 - 25 x 4 men crews (15 x 800 (incl one from ASTW (RASC) 10 x 799 Coy) took off on Maintenance Operation "MARKET" and returned to Airstrip B.58 (BRUSSELS) from whence they have conducted 2 more Maintenance Ops for 1st Airborne Div.  Officer i/c Detachment, Capt Payne (800 Coy RASC (AD) assisted by Lt. Croucher (799 Coy RASC (AD).  Bedding, Rations and stores for this detachment were flown to B.58 on 24 and 25 September.  Lt Col Kingsmill (CRASC 48 Air Despatch) visited detachment 24/25 Sep 44.  Major Alford (OC 800 Coy) visited detachment 3/5 Oct 44.  1 x 4 men crew reported missing from these ops.  See Appendix 'A' re casualties.

 

23rd September 1944

1000 - D.S.T. visited Gp HQ and made a general tour of the Airfields.  53 x 4 men crews (16 x 223 Coy; 17 x 800 Coy; 20 x 799 Coy).  Maintenance.  Day Operation.  DAKOTA A/C.  Operation "MARKET".  44 x 2 men crews (33 x 223 Coy; 11 x 799 Coy) and 8 x 4 men crews (800 Coy) also detailed for same operation.  DAKOTA & STIRLING A/C.  1 x 4 men crew 5 x 2 men crews reported missing from these operations.  See Appendix 'A' re casualties.

 

25th September 1944

C.R.A.S.C. visited detachment at B.58 (BRUSSELS).  Report on visit is attached at Appendix 'B'.

 

28th September 1944

1 x 2 men crew from 223 Coy RASC (AD).  SAS Mission from FAIRFORD.  STIRLING A/C.  Night operation.  Despatched 4 Panniers 20 BCCs.  No incidents.

 

NOTES FOR WAR DIARY RE MAINTENANCE 'OPS' (MARKET)

 

        The question of Morale has been carefully watched by Coy Officers and Officers from this HQ and appeared to be very high.  The Officers and men (1 Officer per Coy accompanied each mission) seemed to be extremely pleased that the opportunity had at last arisen to go into action.  A number of crews 'baled out' or crash landed and showed ingenuity in returning quickly to Coy locations.  Several RAF crews commended RASC Despatchers for their coolness and initiative in action and in one case the A/C Captain said that it was due to prompt action by the RASC in putting out flames that the A/C was saved.  The question of mentions in Despatches or Decorations has been taken up with Higher Authority.  Some members of our crews made recordings for BBC broadcasts.  Several crews were assisted by (a) Dutch Underground Movement (b) Guards Armd Div and other British Units (c) General Horrocks and his HQ to return to BRUSSELS and thence by Air to Base.

        Some killed and wounded have been reported (See list at Appendix 'A').  At least one crew suffered casualties due to enemy fighter action after they had baled out and several men saved their lives by presence of mind in doing "delayed" parachute drops (never having dropped before) thus avoiding fighters.

        Application is being made for membership of "Caterpillar" Club for all who baled out and for wearing of manufacturers (chute) badges.  Wound stripes have been issued and operational leave granted.

 

SUPPLY BY AIR

 

        During the month of Sep 44, 3944 aircraft were loaded with Amn: MT.80, and Compo rations, the tonnage of which was approximately 8795 made up as follows:-

                AMN        3933 tons

                PETROL   4312 tons

                COMPO   630 tons

        The bulk of this tonnage was loaded over a period of three weeks.  One week in Sep the formation was heavily engaged in dropping missions for the re-supply of 1st Airborne Div and very little freighting was possible at that time.  The real average daily tonnage was therefore about 440.  Airfields used were BROADWELL, DOWN AMPNEY, BLAKEHILL, KEMBLE & LYNEHAM, and types of aircraft BRITISH DAKOTAS, AMERICAN DAKOTAS.  On one occasion converted LIBERATORS and ANSONS were employed.

        Supply by air, or freighting has produced a crop of unforeseen problems due largely to lack of early and definite information of requirements and frequent amendments to orders received and acted upon.

        Since availability of aircraft for the following day's loading, usually ordered for 0630 or 0700 hrs is rarely known until 2300 hrs or later, it has been necessary either to load vehicles throughout the night and work the drivers all the following day on airfields or to load during the day in anticipation of the requirement, with the risk that the commodity required may be altered.  This has happened on more than one occasion and in consequence 200 or so vehicles have had to be off loaded and reloaded during the night.

        Continuous daily freighting from petrol dumps held by this formation necessitates concurrent replenishment, and this has thrown a particularly heavy burden on the Pet Depot Typt 'C' which is responsible for the issue and receipts of petrol.  A Pet Depot 'C' is quite inadequate for such a purpose.  Circumstances demand that the depot should be able to work in shifts.  This consideration applies almost equally to the operations personnel on formation HQ, where owing to the frequent changes in times availability i.e. a constant watch has to be kept on the progress of operations.

        The only basis upon which anticipatory loading of vehicles could be carried out was on the assumption that the payload would be the normal one for DAKOTAS of 5000 lbs.  When therefore, on the following day payloads were reduced on some airfields or, as has happened, varied with different aircraft on the same airfield, the documents issued bore no relation to the quantities on vehicles and consequently to the quantities issued by depots.  Further confusion has been caused by the numbers of aircraft eventually made available not coinciding with the number of vehicles loaded.  The result has been that lorries have been left over at the end of the day, some with complete aircraft loads and some with part loads, the latter having subsequently to be topped up.  Furthermore so short notice has been given on some occasions of additional aircraft made available that it has not been possible to issue documents in time to get receipts before the aircraft took off.

        All these difficulties arise in short from the following causes:-

                (1) Inadequate notice of requirements.

                (2) Changes of priority of commodities.

                (3) Necessity for loading vehicles before availability of A/C and payloads are known exactly.

                (4) Frequent changes of aircraft availability after the issue of operation orders.

                (5) Changes of payloads.

                (6) Variation of payloads among aircraft and airfields.

        The result has been that documentation and operation orders have rarely not had to be amended.  Since each aircraft requires five Air Freight Consignment Notes, it will be appreciated that last minute alterations in loads and aircraft involve much waste of paper time and labour.

        Further complications are introduced when the demand is for B.L. Ammunition with specified proportions of its components.  In order not to overissue on some components and to avoid breaking down boxes, the composition of each vehicle load for one nature of amn may vary.  This composition has to be agreed upon with the issuing depot, spreading the components as far as possible over the total number of vehicles required for the consignment and loading each vehicle as near as possible to the given payload.  Moreover all loose shells have to be boxed before being freighted on aircraft.

        In general great care has to be paid to the question of weights and types of packs of ammunition.  Packs of some nature of amn vary not only in contents but in weight.  Each replenishment may produce a different pack.  When amn is issued by a C.A.D. loaded in A/C loads on vehicles to go direct to aircraft, documentation should be done by the issuing C.A.D.

        Throughout these operations the first consideration has been to deliver freight to aircraft at the time required, and documentation has had to take second place.

 

[Signed] Captain

for C.R.A.S.C. 48 Air Despatch

 

 

Appendix 'A'

Sep 44

 

Unit

223 Coy RASC (AD)

799 Coy RASC (AD)

800 Coy RASC (AD

TOTAL

Killed

38

11

14

63

Wounded

4

6

2

12

Returned to Coy Location

36

3

16

55

AS AT 30 SEP 44

 

 

Appendix 'B'

VISIT BY C.R.A.S.C., 48 AIR DESPATCH, TO BRUSSELS AIRFIELD B.56 on 25 SEP 44

 

        1.  Left Broadwell airfield at 0600 hours, 25 Sep 44, and arrived at B.56 at 0800 hours.

        2.  Contacted Group Captain Morrison who is normally Station Commander, Broadwell.  Discussed various points:-

                (a) Despatching crews must be given about 3 hours from time of receipt of notice of mission to time of take off.  Half an hour is useless and an impossible time.  This was agreed.

                (b) We have 18 Despatching Crews with two spare crews.  We cannot operate more than 18 aircraft.

                (c) 83 Group is supposed to be supplying B.C.Cs. for use with Fighter Bombers.

                (d) If repacking to suit special demands and packing of B.C.Cs. for Fighters is necessary, we want additional crews over there to take on the job of packing.  We can not pack and despatch at the same time.

                (e) Promised I would do something to send over cooks and equipment, and adm personnel.

                (f) Attempted to contact Brig. Bower and Col. Bond, Airborne Forces, without success.

        3.  Contacted Lt.-Col. Craig, C.R.A.S.C., 20 Tpt Coln, who is O i/c Air Freight, R.A.S.C., on B.56 and B.58.  He handles all the freight that we send over.  He has all our troubles, i.e. no information re aircraft or loads, etc.  He meets all aircraft and clears them irrespective of cargo of goods or bodies, Brit., U.S., R.A.F., etc.  2nd Army has asked him for details of our Despatchers and their stocks of panniers, etc.

        4.  Borrowed Lt.-Col. Craig's car and went to 2nd Army Rear H.Q. to meet D.D.S.T. and A.D.S.T. and gave them a full picture of what we had, personnel and stocks.

        5.  Met Staff Capt. 'Q' Sups, 2nd Army who was trying to arrange for some S.A.A. to be supplied locally to meet a demand for dropping which was not available in our dumps.  We had the other items, i.e., Compo, Med Stores already in stock.  We unpacked some wireless sets to make panniers available for amn.  S.A.A. arrived on airfield too late to be flown.

        6.  Details of Detachment:

                    18 x 4-men crews - 12 from 800 Coy, 5 from 799 Coy and 1 from Air Trg Centre.  O. i/c - Capt. Payne, 800 Coy (original).

             This has been increased:

                    25 x 4-men crews - 15 from 800 Coy.  1 Sgt from 800 Coy.  10 from 799 Coy.  Capt. Payne, 800 Coy.  Lt. Croucher, 799 Coy.  A.T.C. crew has been recalled.  They are being looked after by Lt.-Col. Craig and all are accommodated in blitzed buildings which are quite suitable but overcrowded.  Additional accommodation is being found.  I intend to send two cooks over to help.

        7.  Stocks held in panniers were:-

                14  75mm

                181  Petrol MT 80

                581  Compo

                22  Bundles Med

                  Med Beach block

                63  3" Mortar HE

                7  3" Mortar Smoke

                6  Ord

                64  Wireless

                30  PIAT

                88  Jeep tyres

                40  Bundles blankets

                30  Bundles stretchers

                        Demands are received by Det Comd from A.L.O. who receives them from Group Captain through T.A.F.

        8.  Crews have carried out the following missions:-

                18 crews on 23rd - All returned.

                4 crews on 24th - All returned.

                7 crews on 25th - One missing.

        9.  If it is intended that this detachment is to stay over at B.56 I recommend that a Coy H.Q. or a good sized Adm H.Q. be sent over.

 

(Sgd) A.J.F. Kingsmill Lt.-Col.

C.R.A.S.C., 48 Air Despatch.

26 Sep 44.