Unit History: Parachute Squadron - Royal Armoured Corps
The Parachute Squadron, Royal Armoured Corps came into existence on 3 February 1965, raised from cadres of Cyclops Squadron 2nd Royal Tank Regiment and The Special Reconnaissance Squadron (SRS). The Parachute Squadron was the first RAC unit to serve in Airborne Forces since the disbandment of the 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron and the 6th Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment after the Second World War.
In 1964 the SRS had been given the sad news that they had been written out of the 1(BR) Corps plan for operations in BAOR. They would be disbanded in 1965 and their role taken on by 23 SAS. At the same time Cyclops had been equipped with the Hornet (Humber 1 ton armoured), armed with the Malkara anti-tank missile, with the role of providing 16 Parachute Brigade with an effective long range anti-tank capability. However Cyclops at this time had some difficulty in meeting their establishment for NCOs and soldiers.
Major Ken Bidie, then OC of SRS, was duly summoned by the DRAC, Major General J A d’Avigdor-Goldsmit, who offered the shortly to be disbanded SRS the chance of joining Cyclops to form an independent parachute squadron, taking on the long range anti-tank missile role for the Parachute Brigade. Both Cyclops (Major Ian Baker) and SRS would provide significant cadres, with subsequent manpower coming from volunteers from all the regiments of the Household Cavalry and the RAC. The Hornets and all other vehicles and equipment would come across from Cyclops.
Thus it was that the Parachute Squadron RAC was formed in February 1965, under the dynamic leadership of Major Ken Bidie (QRIH) and SSM Paddy McLaughlin (QOH). The Squadron was based in Candahar Barracks, Tidworth, on the edge of Salisbury Plain, some 30 miles from the rest of the Parachute Brigade in Aldershot. The Squadron only moved once again, in 1973, to the airfield at Old Sarum just north of Salisbury.
The Squadron was established as a totally independent unit. In addition to the normal compliment of officers there was also an Air Adjutant and Quartermaster. REME support was provided by a full Workshop under command, led by a Captain, and supported by a Stores Section RAOC. A full compliment of cooks from the ACC was attached, as well as an RAPC pay clerk.
As a result of the 1974 Defence Review, it was decided that the Parachute Squadron RAC would be disbanded. After almost exactly 11 years of service in Airborne Forces, the Squadron held its final disbandment parade on 12 February 1976. The inspecting officer was Field Marshal Sir Michael Carver, then Chief of the Defence Staff and of course an old friend of the Squadron as the Colonel-in-Chief of the RAC and one of the most renowned former RTR officers.