Xth Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers

Discussion in 'Trux Discussion Area' started by L. Allen, Nov 18, 2021.

  1. L. Allen

    L. Allen Member

    I am looking to gather some data on the structure and equipment of the Parachute engineer squadrons that served alongside the airborne forces. I have several sources that briefly show that the basic section had around 10 men but there is some iffyness on whether it was lead by a sergeant or a junior officer. Some other sources seem to imply that at least the majority of a section had stens but looking to the closest thing I can find which is the information here on the field companies that is also incorrect.

    As far as I can guess they followed the Field company (Infantry) structure but used the naming scheme of the Field squadron (armoured) without any of the vehicles?

    Does anyone have any good sources for the official structure, equipment and vehicles/ transportation they may have had?
  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  3. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    I'm not sure if the Parachute Squadron, RE, is a WE that is on Mike's pages here. It was issued back in February 1942 and not superseded after that date that I have found. The unit was fairly slight, 17 officers and 132 other ranks, with just two motorcycles, a car and a lorry as transport.

    Squadron HQ had the usual Commander and 2-in-C, with 22 ORs and 5 attached ACC cooks. Each of the three Troops was 40 all ranks, with 5 officers and 35 ORs. There is no detail on Troop org given. Five officers per Troop would allow for four Sections, each lead by a Subaltern. Completing the Troop were a Serjeant, two Lance-serjeants, four Corporals and eight Lance-corporals, and 20 Privates, making for quite a high concentration of NCO types.

    Weapons as of 1942 are given as 19 pistols, 116 rifles and just 14 Sten guns, plus 13 Bren guns. The latter would also fit with four Sections per Troop and one Bren per Section.

    I suspect there were amendments to this organisation but sadly I imagine they are long lost. Excerpts from the Formation Staff Equipment Table for an Airborne Division of April 1945 indicate the same strength of officers and ORs. I'd be surprised if there hadn't been changes to transport at least by 1945.

  4. L. Allen

    L. Allen Member

    Some good operational information but it doesn't quite cover the TO&E data I am looking for.

    Thanks Gary, do you have an electronic copy of the 1942 WE table? I am curious how much equipment they dropped with compared to what was in canisters or the attached gliders.

    Its odd that there is only 3 sergeants in a troop while the Cpls and L/Cpls are divisible by 4 meaning that there is one section without one. Although looking at the numbers it seems there is no Troop HQ so presumably the 1st section contains the troop commander and a subaltern.
  5. L. Allen

    L. Allen Member

  6. L. Allen

    L. Allen Member


    I also tracked down this image, I believe this is a picture of the 3rd Parachute Squadron RE during an inspection by the royal family prior to the D-Day landings.
  7. L. Allen

    L. Allen Member

    Re-reading the Lessons from Arnhem report on Paradata and comparing it to what you shared Gary, there must have been a change in the Squadrons orbat between 1943 and 1944. According to the LLR from Arnhem the 1st Para Sqd had 12 out of 17 Officers for the op, This doesn't match up with the 5 Officers/Subalterns per troop from 1943 which would have them with an establishment of around 22 officers.
  8. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    Attached should be the WE for Feb 1942. It does not contain details of equipment I'm afraid, just personnel, transport and weapons.

    I couldn't see the document you mention above on the paradata.org.uk website? There is always a problem when comparing airborne WEs against actual descriptions as units could not always take all their personnel, and likely had some following on or landing with other units. The last contemporary mention I've seen of the WE strength for the Para Sqn RE is early 1944, which matches the attached, and it still featured in the calculation for an Airborne Division in 1945.


    Attached Files:

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  9. L. Allen

    L. Allen Member

    Last edited: Nov 23, 2021 at 11:31 AM
  10. Aixman

    Aixman War Establishment addict Patron

    „Genealogy“ of Gary’s war establishment (X/78/1, renumbered to I/181/1).

    1. V/227 D/1 An Air Troop, Royal Engineers 30.06.1941 - 23.12.1941
    superseded by
    2. II/54/1 An Air Troop, Royal Engineers 24.12.1941 - 15.02.1942
    superseded by
    3. X/78/1 Parachute Squadron, R.E. 16.02.1942 - 14.09.1942
    renumbered to
    4. I/188/1 Parachute Squadron, R.E. 15.09.1942 - 01.09.1947
    cancelled without a formal successor.

    1. V/227 D/1 An Air Troop, Royal Engineers
    1 amendment: 12.11.1941, content unknown
    A Home War Establishment, in the United Kingdom.
    Structure: Troop HQ, 4 sections.
    Personnel: 4 officers, 60 other ranks.
    Weapons: 31 Pistols 0.38-inch, 3 Rifles 0.303-inch, 30 Machine carbines (Sten), unassigned.
    Transport: none.

    - Troop HQ (17 plus 3 attached):
    1 Captain
    3 Subalterns
    2 Serjeants
    2 Corporals
    1 Lance Corporal Sapper
    8 Sappers
    - Attached :
    1 Cook for officers’ mess
    2 Cooks for other ranks

    - 4 Sections, each (11)
    1 Serjeant
    1 Corporal
    9 Sappers.

    2. II/54/1 An Air Troop, Royal Engineers
    No amendments.
    Volume II brings the war establishment into the divisional part of the basic Field Force (volumes I to IV).
    Structure, personnel, weapons exactly as above. (I have to admit that I cannot find a single numerical difference that should justify the above mentioned amendment of unknown content; so the change should be of formal character.)

    3. X/78/1 Parachute Squadron, R.E.
    No amendments.
    Between its introduction on 11.02.1942 until 14.09.1942, volume X was used for (provisional) airborne war establishments. It was then cancelled for a short period, then reintroduced for a different purpose (Iraq-Persia Command). The airborne war establishments were moved to volume I, until then reserved for units of Cavalry, Mobile and Armoured Divisions.

    Structure: “Consisting of headquarters and 3 troops each of 4 sections.”
    Personnel: 17 officers, 132 other ranks.
    Weapons: 19 Pistols 0.38-inch, 116 Rifles 0.303-inch, 4 Anti-tank Rifles .55-inch, 13 L.M.Gs .303-inch, 14 Machine carbines (Sten), 96 Hand grenades, No. 36M, unassigned.
    Transport: 2 Motor-cycles, 1 Car, 2-seater, 4-wheeled, 1 Lorry, 3-ton, 4-wheeled, G.S.

    - Squadron HQ (24 plus 5 attached):
    1 Major
    1 Captain
    1 Squadron serjeant-major
    1 Squadron quarter-master-serjeant
    1 Serjeant
    2 Corporals
    2 Lance Corporals (sappers)
    9 Sappers
    6 Drivers, I.C.
    - Attached :
    1 Cook for officers’ mess (private)
    1 Cook for other ranks (corporal)
    3 Cooks for other ranks (privates).

    - 3 Troops, each (40)
    1 Captain or Subaltern
    4 Subalterns
    1 Serjeant
    2 Lance-Serjeants
    4 Corporals
    8 Lance-Corporals
    15 Sappers
    5 Drivers, I.C.
    - No further sub-division into sections.

    4 men non-jumping personnel in Squadron Headquarters.

    4. I/188/1 Parachute Squadron, R.E.
    7 amendments until 31.12.1945 (14.10.1942, 14.07.1943, 04.08.1943, 20.10.1943, 15.12.1943, 16.02.1944 and 06.12.1944), content unknown.
    Structure, personnel, weapons, transport all exactly as above as the war establishment had simply been renumbered.

    Each of the “Theatre” volumes (VI, IX, X, XI, XII, XII, XIV, XV) and the “secret” volume VIII could contain war establishments for the same purpose dealing with circumstances special to that theatre. Volume XV existed between 12.07.1944 and 09.03.1949 for “Units and headquarters of the Light Division”, earmarked for South-East Asia.

    XV/1100/1 Parachute Squadron, R.E. (Light) 20.10.1944 – 11.05.1945, cancelled without formal successor.

    Structure and personnel: comparable if not totally equal to the above; Troop leader is now a captain.
    Weapons: 16 L.M.Gs., 4 Ps.I.A.T., 14 Mortars, 2-inch, 4 Pistols, Signal, 1-inch, No. 1.
    Transport: 14 Motor-cycles, solo, 125-c.c., 2 Motor-cycles, solo, 350-c.c., 1 Car, 5-cwt., 4x4, 1 Lorry, 3-ton, 4x4, G.S.

    No further special war establishments for Parachute Squadron, R.E. (e.g.: the Mediterranean or North-West Europe) could be found, so that it can be assumed that the basic establishment was used throughout.
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