RAF personnel were invited to volunteer for ‘Hazardous Operations’. Those that applied embarked on a course of training that would lead to them becoming the ‘RAF Servicing Commando’.
These RAF Ground Personnel were already trained in servicing the RAF’s inventory, or were RAF Regiment ‘Gunners’. They then went on to train as Commandos, to become specialists in maintaining RAF Operations on the frontline.
I had the honour of knowing two of these ‘RAF Servicing Commandos’. These are their stories.
The Role of the RAF Servicing Commando
Air support and air superiority were as crucial to the success of ground operations during WW2 as they are today.
So as to minimise the flying time to the front, airfields were established literally just behind the front line. Often the bombs and rockets were armed immediately the wheels left the ground, as the fighting was still taking place only hundreds of yards away.
Pilots didn`t leave the cockpits of the aircraft, and the servicing crews had to be on the look-out for counter attacks, which would mean a hasty evacuation of the airfield.
The ground-crews of these squadrons were the men of the RAF Servicing Commando.
Impressed by the mobile servicing units of the German Luftwaffe during the Blitzkrieg of 1940, Lord Mountbatten formed the RAF Servicing Commandos.
Formed in flights, consisting of 4 Beford trucks, 1 Jeep and despatch riders, the RAF Servicing Commandos were to be a highly mobile unit able to follow the frontline, and defend it if need be…..
The modern equivilent of the RAF Servicing Commando is the Tactical Supply Wing.