253 Forward Delivery Squadron - Research

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by ItfcLewis, Dec 3, 2019.

  1. ItfcLewis

    ItfcLewis New Member

    Hi all - first time posting on here! I am researching my Great Grandfather and have recently received his Service Records.

    The record state that he was posted to 253 T.D.S (Tank Delivery Squadron) as a Driver (Mechanic) and served in the N.Africa between 23rd April 1943 to 17th July 1944. From piecing some high level bits of information together, I assume that this Squadron formed part of the RAC.

    In the first instance, I wanted to know a little bit more about the structure of the RAC in relation to the 253 T.D.S (or indeed, 253 F.D.S (Forward Delivery Squadron)). I also had a few questions such as how many people were in this squadron, what roles were they involved in? What battles were they involved in? (I would basically like any kind of information that could get me started!)

    It would be fantastic to understand how I could find the relevant information to continue making good progress with this research. Furthermore, it would be great to receive some hints and tips in researching this kind of stuff so anything like this would be appreciated!

    I have attached an excerpt of his service records (Max upload only 2mb) including a 'timeline' of his service which may provide some further background reading to the experienced researcher.

    Apologies in advance for the rather basic questions!



    Attached Files:

    CL1 likes this.
  2. Aixman

    Aixman WE addict Patron


    Forward Delivery Squadron, R.A.C., North Africa would most probably be on War Establishment XII/107/1, effective 01.03.1944:
    A Major's command, 42 in all, plus 7 attached:
    3 officers (Major, Captain, Subaltern)
    1 warrant officer (Squadron serjeant-major)
    1 staff-serjeant (Squadron master-serjeant)
    1 serjeant (mechanist)
    3 lance-serjeants
    4 corporals
    9 lance-corporals
    20 troopers
    1 R.E.M.E. lance-corporal Armourer
    1 cook for officers' mess
    1 corporal cook for other ranks' mess
    4 cooks for other ranks' mess

    2 motor-cycles, solo
    2 cars, 5-cwt. (jeeps)
    3 trucks, 15-cwt., (office + water + personnel)
    6 lorries, 3-ton, (mobile kitchen + store + 4 General Service)
    1 carrier, T.C.P. slave battery
    3 trailers, 2-wheeled (mobile servicing + 2 General Service)

    Weapons (in addition to personal weapons):
    2 light Machine-Guns
    1 Projektor, Infantry, Anti-tank (P.I.A.T.)

    To show where they were involved in, I list the 16 tradesmen (making up the "rank and file", i.e.: lance-serjeants and below):
    1 Clerk, general duties (corporal)
    1 Clerks, general duties
    6 Driver-mechanics
    1 Gunner-operator
    1 Electrician
    1 Equipment repairer
    3 Vehicle mechanics
    1 Storeman (corporal)
    1 Storeman
    ... and the 20 non-tradesmen:
    1 Batman
    2 Batmen-drivers
    9 Drivers, I.C.
    2 Motor-cyclists
    1 Mechanical greaser
    1 Medical officer's orderly (lance-corporal)
    1 Post orderly (lance-corporal)
    1 Sanitary dutyman
    1 Water dutyman
    1 Storeman, non-technical

    Having said this about the F.D.S. to give you an idea of the structure, I understand that your father belonged to the attached signals which were no integral part of the squadron itself. There are several War Establishments and I am not sure which one applies.

    Some kind members offer copy service to get the relevant war diaries.

    Trux likes this.
  3. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    The Forward Delivery Squadron was the final stage in supplying replacement armoured vehicles and crews to armoured regiments. Typically each armoured brigade was served by a Forward Delivery Squadron.

    Vehicles were transported from Army Squadrons and Corps Squadrons to the Forward Squadrons by Tank Transporter Companies RASC. The Forward Squadrons were close enough to the front for the vehicles to be delivered to units under their own power. The forward squadrons were equipped to maintain and service the vehicles, and to train the crews so that an armoured fighting vehicle ought to reach its user unit fully operational, fully equipped, fully crewed and probably fully fuelled and ammunitioned.

    The subject of your research certainly seems to have been Royal Signals attached to the Delivery Squadron. The following is the establishment for a squadron in NW Europe. N. Africa and Italy would be similar.


    2 X corporal
    6 X lance corporal
    9 X signalman
    4 X driver
    Attached cook, ACC

    3 X driver mechanic
    6 X operator, wireless and line
    4 X electrician
    4 X instrument mechanic
    3 X cipher operators
    driver of vehicle

    1 X motorcycle
    3 X 15cwt Wireless House
    1 X 3ton 4 X 4 GS

    15cwt Wireless House 1
    corporal operator, operator, driver mechanic
    Carries Wireless set No 19 HP
    This vehicle is for squadron control net
    15cwt Wireless House 2
    2 X operator, driver mechanic
    Carries Wireless set No 19
    This vehicle is for anchor at division headquarters
    15cwt Wireless House 3
    2 X operator, driver operator
    Carries Wireless set No 19
    This vehicle is for anchor at corps headquarters
    3ton lorry GS
    4 X instrument mechanics, 4 X electrician, cook, corporal cipher operator,
    2 X cipher operator, driver IC

    Signals nets can be complicated but in this case there are only three sets, one for communications within the squadron, one for communication with the headquarters of the division to which the squadron was attached and one for communication with the corps headquarters.

    My knowledge does not extend to details of units and operations in N.Africa.

    Aixman likes this.
  4. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member


    I have the 1944 War Diaries for 311 FDS RAC and they had:

    Royal Armoured Corps

    1 Officer - Captain
    1 x Quartermaster Sergeant (WO2)
    2 x Sergeants
    3 x Corporals
    6 x Lance Corporals
    28 x Drivers (Privates)

    That's 1 Off plus 40 ORs

    They also had:

    1 x Army Catering Corps Corporal (Cook)
    4 x Army Catering Corps Privates (Cooks)
    1 x REME Sergeant (Fitter)

    So quite a small unit by most standards.

    As far as I am aware, the FDS's role was to bring back armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) which had been sent away for repairs. Or deliver fresh AFVs that had been called for. I think they usually support an Armoured Brigade

    In Greece in December 1944 311 FDS was still in Egypt, when an urgent call came from 23rd Armoured Brigade for more Sherman tanks.

    311 FDS delivered them withing a matter of days on a LST but as most of the Brigades tank crews were too busy fighting ELAS (as Infantry), had to drive some of the tanks into battle themselves. This is not the norm as far as I know.

    Hope this helps

    Last edited: Dec 4, 2019
    Aixman likes this.

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