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M.T. Companies (Coys)

Thanks to David Bale for the following information


The Mechanical Transport (M.T.) strength of the RAF had been reduced at the end of the First World War. The exact vehicle and personnel establishment in November 1922 being printed in precise detail in Bruce Robertson's excellent book 'Wheels of the RAF' published by Patrick Stephens Limited in 1983.

In 1934 the politicians finally realised the danger of falling behind in the air and RAF expansion was agreed. No.1 Universal Equipment Depot was opened at Hendon, moving to Wembley in 1936, being a MT storage unit. Further M.T. stores depots were opened, these later became Maintenance Units (M.U.s)

At the outbreak of war it became necessary to impress civilian vehicles, the Army having priority.

Advanced Air Striking Force (AASF) in France had barely sufficient transport some standard vehicles were shipped from the U.K. and 40 Renault vans and a few busses, the latter held in a pool, were bought locally.

It was necessary to have a pool of vehicles and drivers to afford greater mobility to squadrons and stations and transportation between railheads and ports, from these factors came the introduction of the M.T. Companies (Coys).

The first three were formed in July of 1940, No.1 at Darlington, No.2 at Cambridge and No.3 at Borough Green, Kent.

No. 1 M.T. Company

Darlington On 16th July 1940 Fl/ Lt Carmichael and P/O Murphy from RAF Henlow went to The Air Ministry, Kingsway to form the new unit, ordering typewriters and stationery, traveling from Kings Cross to Darlington to set up No 1 M T Company.

They were to be based on Neasham Road ground. W.O George and eight airmen had already arrived. Tables and chairs were provided by RAF Catterick.

On 19th July P/O Whitehead and P/O O'Neil and 110 N C Os and airmen arrived. Fatigue parties set about digging drainage ditches. P/O O'Brien was posted in on 25th July.

At the end of the month the unit received six Commer 15cwt trucks. Twenty airmen and a NCO went to No. 1 MT Storage Unit, Wembley to collect 10 coaches (It would be interesting to find if these were impressed civilian vehicles. )

Crossley tenders were collected from No.7 M.U. RAF Quedgley.

31/8/40 Unit HQ was set up at Mowden Hall, a Cpl and 4 Cooks and Butchers arrived.

The move to Mowden Hall was made on 12th September and NAAFI facilities sought, the NAAFI was set up later in the month. Writing in 1975 Mr F H Marchbank, who had set up a Preparatory School at Mowden Hall in September 1935 told of a holiday at Windermere in 1940 where ''he saw a suitable building Fallbarrow, which he considered to be a suitable ''funk hole''. Knowing that parents wished to move their boys west the school evacuated to Fallbarrow. He received a telegram from the Air Ministry telling him that the building had been requisitioned for the RAF. He returned to find RAF vehicles on the tennis court and a sentry at the door.

22nd October 25 Bedford (these were probably OY models or possibly impressed. and 25 Ford 3-tonners were brought from RAF Quedgley.

No. 7 Squadron Bomber Command had recently converted to the new four engine Short Stirling at RAF Leeming. Early in November on their first major operational task 1 MT moved the bomber squadron to RAF Oakington, Cambridgshire.

A revised establishment from No.40 Group, Maintenance Command resulted in Sergeants being posted in to take charge of Sections, a Warrant Officer in charge of discipline and a Fl/Lt AS Unit Adjutant.

The Unit paraded on the 17th November for Mayor's Sunday and on the 22nd collected a Me 109 to be exhibited as part of War Weapons Week.

At the end of December 1940 the Unit collected another 25 Fordson trucks form No.7 MU Quedgley.

1941: Mileage figures published were:- January 17,087. February March 75,604

April 24,835 May 27,019 June 12,154

August 18,068 Sept 15,874 October 17,756.

In February 1941 F/O Whitehead was posted to No.3 MT Company. In May 2 Officers were attached and 3 Motorcyclists were posted to No. 5 MT Company, then forming at Woodvale.

In July a major convoy was involved running between Lindholme, Syerston and Swinderby, In September a similar exercise from Topcliffe.

During October two Crossleys towed the Cooker trailers, equipped with Turley and Williams cookers to Whitley Bay where meals were provided for 1700 men. This was possibly for the construction of a camp for 22 Recruit Centre?

In July 1942 the cooker trailers were positioned at Carlisle railway station where they fed United States personnel passing through.

In August a detachment at RAF Wyton helped No.2 M T Company to move American personnel.

1943 A full dental inspection was carried out by a mobile team.

29th August 1943 the Unit was to be disbanded and No. 2 MT Coy were to become a four Flight company..

F/O J C Ellis was appointed O C Rearguard and the Unit disbanded in September 1943.

No. 3 M.T. Company

Borough Green The Unit was set up on 16th July 1940 at Maidstone, Kent under the command of Fl/Lt A A Radclyffe.

On 24th he was joined by a Flt/Sgt, a Sgt 4 corporals and 24 airmen who were billeted at Greenway, London Road, West Malling. Two Flights were to be billeted at the Bull Hotel, Wrotham with one at Maidstone and one at Oakenshott.

Three days later four F/Sgt's seven Corporals and 115 Airmen, with Crossley tenders and an articulated vehicle arrived at Oakenshott together with a Corporal and two Cooks and Butchers.

On 9th September 1940 the Unit was put on Standby ready for an immediate move.

In October the cooker trailers provided meals to No 66 Spitfire squadron at West Malling and to Defiant squadrons No. 141 at Gravesend and 264 at Rochford.

The Unit was part of 54 Wing

November the unit moved to Ightyr???

In July 1942 the unit moved to requisitioned premises: The Close Borough Green.

July 1942 consideration was given to cultivating land again 27/11/42???

3 M.T. vehicles were used in Northern Ireland during December 1943. The Unit operated from Leicester East from 22/5/43.

Disbanding 31/3/46 and amalgamating with No 2 M.T. Company.

No. 4 M.T. Company

The RAF Form 540 pages for No 4 MT are very sparse.

St John's Wood

The Unit was established at 9 Abbey Road on 1st May 1941 under command of Fl/Lt C J Smith MC.

On 15/1/42 moved to 20 Langford Place, St Johns Wood NW8.

On 22/11/43 to 116 Hamilton Terrace.

31/12/45 the Unit provided 80 vehicles for operations with the United Nations Conference.

Freddie Jones mailed and later wrote in November 2010.....

But now I've managed to find your Email, I can expand a little on my time with 4 MT, RAF Kidbrooke. I had an exciting and hectic time there. A huge pool of vehicles at the place, mostly in hangars. Many of the drivers were aircrew awaiting de-mob. I was a frustrated aircrew candidate who opted for MT when I discovered aircrew were no longer needed.

Every day was an adventure. Sometimes taking Bedford QL troop carriers to main line stations where we would often stay overnight until the troops arrived. Then a taxi service for officers and others for transit across London, sometimes to private addresses, hospitals, military establishments, etc. As I said in my letter, I was not a good driver and had many hair raising incidents. Improved after posting to war-torn Germany. RAF Kidbrooke is now a large housing estate. There is not a trace of the place, or the WRAFs I used to chase in my free time. Hope you can tell me a little about your experiences in MT.

Regards, Freddie

Percy Featherstone wrote in November 2010.....

I did square bashing at Hednesford and MT training at Weeton. I was at RAF Kidbrooke (No. 4 MT Coy) London SE3 From December 1951 to June 1953. I was a MTD and re-mustered to MTDM after 3 months there. driving mainly coaches.

The civilians outnumbered RAF personnel both in fitters and drivers. The Air Ministry jobs you speak of were mainly done by the civvy drivers although we did a few runs as well. But we, the RAF drivers and dispatch riders did most of the longer and more interesting journeys i.e. taking guards of honour to various functions in and around London or further afield. I worked on the Coronation for 6 weeks prior to it and on the day itself. RAF Kidbrooke was situated right beside Kidbrooke railway station Southern region. If you look on Google Earth for Kidbrooke Park road SE3 you'll see where it was. It's now a school, where the football pitch is was where our billets and cookhouse were then. The tennis courts is where the workshops were, the school itself is where the SHQ and married quarters were and the present entrance was the Main Gate.

Percy Featherstone
15 Rockwood Close
Darton Barnsley
S75 5LR.

Colin Gray wrote.....

He was at Kidbrooke from June 1961 until June 1965. There was a detachment at Woolwich Arsenal for the storage and transport of ''Deep sea'' boxes these being taken to the various London docks, Royal Albert and Victoria, West Indies, King George Vth Wapping Basin and St Georges Wharf.

No. 5 M.T. Company

Was formed in January 1941 to handle Liverpool docks traffic moving cased/crated aircraft from Southport to the docks.

Many imported U.S. aircraft were handled for later erection in December 1943 nine crated Stinsons and eight Piper Cubs were transported to the American depot at Grove. Towed from the docks was a U 64A Norduyn Norseman utility aircraft.

The Unit moved to Woodvale in February 1946 and disbanded on 16th September 1946

No. 6 M.T. Company

Was formed at Bishopsbriggs in March 1941 to serve Glasgow docks. Donald Service served there as well as on 51 MT Company in Egypt.

The Unit disbanded in September 1948.

No. 7 M.T. Company

Anlaby Hull The Unit formed at Commercial Road , Anlaby, Kingston upon Hull on 13th March 1941. Where it operated for a year, the unit moved to Cardiff, staging overnight through RAF Stafford in February 1942.

Cardiff. It was established at 82 Pearl Street by 24th April. Later moving to Tremorfa where the Form 540 also indicates flying activity.

The Unit disbanded on 31st July 1946.

No. 8 M.T. Company

Colerne Box The Unit formed on 11th December 1941 and by June 1945 was at Colerne.

The Form 540 records discussion groups being held the topics including:

Treatment of Germany after the war.

Should an election be held before the defeat of Japan

Trade Unions

The Jap War

Grants for reinstatement in private business.

The Unit moved to Leicester East on 21st March 1946 and disbanded on the 31st, presumably being absorbed into No 2 M.T. Company.