Unit History: 16 Parachute Heavy Drop Company RAOC
HISTORY OF 16 PARACHUTE HEAVY DROP COMPANY
ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS
16 Parachute Heavy Drop Company was formed on the 16th December 1961 at Arnhem Camp, Watchfield, Berkshire. Prior to 1961 there had been in existence two units which were the forerunners of the present day Heavy Drop Company.
The first RAOC unit to be involved in air dropping was the 2nd Air Maintenance Company which was operational during the Suez emergency in 1956. This unit was superceded by 2nd Airborne Company RAOC. The tasks of 2nd Airborne Company covered both Heavy Drop and Air Maintenance. Those RAOC soldiers involved Air Maintenance dealt mostly with the packing of ammunition and fragile Radio and MT spares.
A re-organisation took place when it was realised that it was impracticable to have both tasks carried out by the one unit. 2nd Airborne Company became 16 Parachute Heavy Drop Company under the command of 16 Parachute Brigade whilst the Air Maintenance Platoon became an organic part of the Army Air Supply Organisation. The Heavy Drop Company at this time was organised into a HQ, a HQ Platoon and a Heavy Drop Platoon.
During the period 1961 to August 1965, there were three Heavy Drop units in existence. 16 Parachute Heavy Drop Company based in the United Kingdom, 17 Heavy Drop Platoon based in Bahrein and 18 Parachute Heavy Drop Section which was located in Cyprus. The Officer Commanding was responsible for co-ordinating all the technical activities of the three units.
On the 1st August 1965 the company was re-organised to meet the changing requirements of the formations it was supporting. 17 Heavy Drop Platoon became the third platoon of 16 Parachute Heavy Drop Company and 18 Section was re-designated to No 6 Section. In August 1967, 3 Platoon was detached to the far east to support FARELF. It was based at Changi, where a platoon remained until 1970 when it returned to Watchfield.
On the 19th February 1971, the unit marched into its present location at Royal Air Force Station, Hullavington. In January 1975 the last remaining element of the company which had by then become known as the Heavy Drop Detachment Cyprus, was brought back to the United Kingdom. Sgts Farrant and Alden having earned the commendations of the Commander in Chief NEARELF for the work that they and the detachment had done there in the 1974 Emergency.
Since the formation of the Heavy Drop Company members of the unit have served as infantry with elements of 16 Parachute Brigade in a number of operational theatres. In 1964, 17 soldiers served with 3 Para in Bahrein. In May 1964, 17 Heavy Drop Platoon served as infantry in the Radfan whilst in 1965 a platoon was attached to 2 Para in Borneo. More recently 14 men were attached to 1st Parachute Logistic Regiment in 1969 and again in 1972 for service in Northern ireland.
Throughout the life of the Heavy Drop Company the achievements of the unit sports teams have been second to none. The unit has won during the last 15 years, every major UK RAOC competition, except Cricket, and many Army and District events. The Army Cross Country Challenge Cup has been won five times in the last eight years. In 1966 a Platoon from the unit became the first winners of 16 Parachute Brigade Infantry Platoon Competition.
Perhaps the achievement which will be remembered longest, is the winning of the coveted Welsh 3000 trophy in June 1975, when the unit beat the much fancied Gurkha and Para Bde teams to set up a record which is likely to stand for many years to come.