Unit History: Royal Army Service Corps Mechanical Transport Company
The Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) was a former corps of the British Army. It was responsible for land, coastal and lake transport; air despatch; supply of food, water, fuel, and general domestic stores such as clothing, furniture and stationery (but not ammunition and military and technical equipment, which were the responsibility of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps); administration of barracks; the Army Fire Service; and provision of staff clerks to headquarters units.
For centuries army transport was operated by contracted civilians. The first uniformed transport corps in the British Army was the Royal Waggoners, formed in 1794. It was not a success and was disbanded the following year. In 1799 the Royal Waggon Corps was formed; by August 1802 it had been renamed the Royal Waggon Train. This was reduced to only two troops in 1818 and finally disbanded in 1833.
A transport corps was not formed again until the Crimean War. In 1855 the Land Transport Corps was formed. This was renamed the Military Train the following year.
In 1869 there was a major reorganisation of army supply and transport capabilities. Before 1869 supply duties had been the responsibility of the Commissariat, a uniformed civilian body. In 1869 the commissaries of the Commissariat and the officers of the Military Train amalgamated into the Control Department. The following year the other ranks of the Military Train were redesignated the Army Service Corps (ASC), officered by the Control Department. In November 1875 the Control Department was divided into the Commissariat and Transport Department and the Ordnance Store Department (which developed into the Royal Army Ordnance Corps). In January 1880 the Commissariat and Transport Department was renamed the Commissariat and Transport Staff and the Army Service Corps was renamed the Commissariat and Transport Corps. Finally, in December 1888 these two bodies amalgamated with the War Department Fleet to form a new Army Service Corps, and for the first time officers and other ranks served in a single unified organisation.
The ASC subsequently absorbed some transport elements of the Royal Engineers. In 1918 the corps received the "Royal" prefix for its service in the First World War and became the Royal Army Service Corps. It was divided into Transport and Supply Branches.
The RASC was merged with the Transportation and Movement Control Service of the Royal Engineers (which was responsible for railway transport, inland water transport, port operations, and movements) in 1965 to form the Royal Corps of Transport. All its supply functions, along with the staff clerks, were transferred to the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, leaving the new corps solely responsible for transport and movements. The modern descendant of the ASC is the Royal Logistic Corps.