RAAF Patch Tng Royal Australian Army 40 Air Dispatch Platoon
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RAAF Patch Tng Royal Australian Army 40 Air Dispatch Platoon

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  • Item #: 1P 51AS 2ARM 08PLT 2OP 40ADPL 01
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RAAF Patch Royal Australian Army 40 Air Dispatch Platoon 1972 Holesworthy Embroidered on twill cut edge 82mm by 76mm three and one quarter inches by three. 

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Although a number of ad hoc resupply air drops were carried out by the Australian Flying Corps during WWI the first formalised Australian Forces air dispatch capability was organised during the New Guinea campaign in WWII with the first airdrops undertaken on 28 July 1942 at Efogi and Kagi during the withdrawal to Kokoda. In early 1943 Colonel T G Millner MC Deputy Director of Supplies and Transport allocated air supply to the Australian Army Service Corps AASC responsibility with 1 2 and 3 Air Maintenance Companies known as The Biscuit Bombers were activated from members of the AASC to conduct aerial resupply air dispatch operations in support of Australian and US troops fighting Japanese forces.

At the end of the War the Air Maintenance Companies were disbanded although a small reserve Citizen Military Forces CMF contingent 39 Air Dispatch Platoon maintained an air despatch capability. Regular army air dispatch tasks were carried out by scratch crews put together by 1 Transport Company RAASC and trained at the RAASC School Puckapunyal Air Dispatch Wing during the 1950s. The requirement for regular army ARA air dispatchers was recognised in 1959 following exercise Grand Slam in North Queensland where the Monsoon Season in the Mackay Sarina area limited the resupply of units by conventional road transport due to the torrential rains.

The Army raised and trained a Section of Australian Regular Army ARA air dispatch personnel drawn from 1 Transport Company RAASC in October 1960 which formed the regular component of 39 Air Dispatch Platoon CMF as 1 Section at Frenchmans Road Depot Randwick Sydney the reserve contingent retained after WWII. The ARA 1 Section 39 AD Platoon was detached to the British Army 55 Company RASC AD in February 1961 for duty on the Malaya Thailand Border to gain operational experience including the aerial resupply of the Commonwealth Brigade fighting Communist Guerrillas. On return to Australia the ARA Section of 39 AD Platoon carried out extensive parachute training undertaking logistic support air supply and pathfinding missions. A second ARA Section was formed within 39 AD Platoon as 2 Section in mid 1961 and was detached to 55 Company RASC AD for operational duties on the Malaya Thailand Border from February to May 1962. Both ARA 1 and 2 Sections were deployed to RAF Seletar Singapore heavy drop training at the Far East School of Land Air Warfare in May 1962 with both sections undertaking SEATO Exercise Trumpeter in Malaya.

Returning from Singapore in July 1962 both ARA 1 and 2 Sections 39 AD Pl were used as the NCO base to form the newly activated ARA 40 Air Dispatch Platoon at Avoca Street Randwick achieving full strength by mid 1963 with detachments for operational training to the Malaya Thailand Border Singapore and Ubon Thailand.

The Australian Army formed HQ 1 Army Air Supply Organization HQ 1AASO in February 1964 and expanded the number of units dedicated to providing Air Transport duties. HQ 1 AASO activated 36 AD Platoon to join 40 AD Pl as Australian Regular Army units and 37 and 38 AD Platoons to join 39 AD Pl as Australian Citizen Military Force ACMF Reserve units together with five Air Supply Control Sections ASCS numbered 1 to 5 and an Air Maintenance PIatoon manned by RAAOC personnel. At the same time the joint service Army RAAF Air Movement Training and Development Unit AMTDU was activated at RAAF Base Richmond which undertook all corps courses for Unit Movement Enplaning Officers and Unit Air Loading Teams to maximize Air Portability.

HQ 1 AASO deployed the AD Sections to Papua New Guinea for Air Dispatch duties during the 1964 1965 Indonesian Confrontation on the border with PNG. The ARA units started to receive National Servicemen from the first intake at the end of 1965 with the initial group joining 36 AD Platoon.

1 AASO was fully trained in trade skills with 70 percent parachute trained and military battle skills by early 1966 which led to 36 and 40 AD Platoons used as the Enemy Forces in February to March 1966 for the final combat exercise at Gospers for 5 Battalion Royal Australian Regiment RAR prior to departure for South Vietnam. At the same time the requirement was announced for an AD Unit for operations in South Vietnam with two Officers and 40 Other Ranks selected from ARA volunteers from 36 and 40 AD Platoons to form Detachment 176 AD Company RAASC at 1 Transport Company at Ingleburn. 176 was reportedly numbered by adding the 36 and 40 to get 76 then putting 1 in front to create 176. Det 176 AD Coy undertook Operational readiness checks at Land Warfare Centre and deployed to Vung Tau  South Vietnam on the 25 May 1966 as part of 1 Transport Company RAASC 1 Australian Logistic Support Group ALSG under 1 Australian Task Force.

Det 176 AD Coy adopted the motto Nil Loadum Caribou and provided assistance for the movement of stores and artillery batteries by CH 47 Chinook CH 54A Skycrane UH 1 Huey helicopters and CVZB Caribou aircraft. The Company became widely known as Ali Baba and the 41 Thieves due to its involvement with most US and Australian operations from the base and changed its motto to Nil Loadum Anything. Det 176 AD Company relocated from Vung Tau to nearby Nui Dat the location of 1 Australian Task Force HQ on the 12 May 1967 and continued operations until returned to Australia on the 27 February 1972.

36 and 40 AD Platoons at Holesworthy remained providing support and trained personnel to 176 AD Company in Vietnam and moved to Wallgrove where they were formed into 186 AD Company. The Royal Australian Army Service Corps was disbanded on 1 June 1973 and the Royal Australian Corps of Transport RACT formed at the same time with 1 Army Air Supply Organisation AASO redesignated 1 Air Transport Support Regiment ATSR taking responsibility for Air Dispatch.

1 ATSR renamed 176 AD Company to 176 AD Squadron as its ARA unit and formed 177 AD Squadron as its CMF Reserve unit. 1 ATSR and 177 AD Sqn was disbanded in 1994 and with reservists transferred to 176 AD Sqn. 176 AD Squadron relocated to RAAF Base Richmond under 9 Force Support Battalion and in addition to its AD troops was provided with a platoon of RAAOC parachute riggers. Elements of 176 AD Sqn have deployed to East Timor the Solomon Islands and the Middle East.



This patch dates from 1972




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