Second World War
The Raiding Support Regiment was formed in 1943. Its general role was to harass the enemy in the Mediterranean and the Adriatic. It was used as a raiding force in a similar way to the Long Range Desert Group in the desert.
It was organised into five batteries with ‘A’ Battery being the Machine Gun Battery, equipped with Vickers Mk. I MMGs and locally procured German ‘Spandau’ Machine Guns (either MG34 or MG42).
The MMG Battery consisted of two troops, each with three sections of two guns – a total of 12 Vickers MMGs. A full detailed War Establishment is available as a PDF download.
All ranks were parachute trained and proficiently trained in both Allied and Axis weapons of all nations within the theatre they were operating in. They were also trained in sabotage, swimming and working with mules – the common transport in the region. This included a period in the mountains of the Lebanon.
Training for the RSR was completed in February 1944 and the Regiment began to see action in the Adriatic and Balkan regions, with A (Machine Gun) Battery seeing action in Greece and the surrounding islands, including Lemnos in October 1944.
“From the high ground overlooking the harbour the raiders could see the Germands jostling each other on the quay for caiques and other craft, and German E-boats that had put to sea before being turned back by British MLs lying in wait for them. They could also see a well-armed Siebel ferry loaded with troops, which was just moving away from the wharf. There was no time to wait for the main body to catch up, and so while their Vickers guns poured a devastating fire into the scattering group of caiques the remaining men charged into the melee. The fight on the quayside was a sharp affair of close-quarter grapple, and part of one report reads: ‘…here two Allied colonels, armed only with pistols, shot it out with a party of Germans attempting to escape in caiques.’ The Siebel ferry, firing from 2,000 yards out, caused some anxiety – and nearly accounted for Brigadier Turnbull – but when she miscalculated and came within 1,500 yards to take in tow a large fuel lighter lying in the bay, the forces’ machine guns were able to sweep her decks, killing many Germans.”
At the end of the war, in 1945, the Raiding Support Regiment was disbanded and the remaining soldiers on strength were transferred back to their original units or demobilised.
Operations requiring a similar role have been subsequently carried out by the Special Air Service.