Decades of service in conflict and peace were marked at RAF Wittering recently as No 2 Mechanical Transport Squadron reached its 80th birthday.
Formed at King’s College in Cambridge in 1940, the squadron’s first role was to ferry aircraft spares and ammunition between RAF stations during the Battle of Britain. In the following 80 years 2MT, as it is known, has seen service in almost every UK major military operation.
Now 80 years on and 2MT Squadron remains the RAF’s road going heavy lift capability. It recently deployed to the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission in Estonia, carrying the vital spares and supplies needed to keep the Typhoon jets flying. The squadron’s trained military drivers also operate the specialist vehicles, fuel bowsers and towing tractors, needed to keep a modern airbase moving.
The unit’s recently appointed Officer Commanding, Squadron Leader Dan Cook, said: “It is an honour to be entrusted with the command of this Squadron. The people here are dedicated and focussed, and they have a real can-do attitude to their work. 2MT Squadron is an amazing place to be.”
2MT’s drivers made national headlines in March 2018 when, along with their colleagues from No 1 Expeditionary Logistics Squadron, they rescued dozens of key workers stranded in their homes when the Beast from the East poured deep snow onto Lincolnshire.
Being a 2MT driver is not easy. Corporal James Meade is one of the squadron’s instructors. He said: “2MT drivers have to operate a lot more vehicles than just trucks. As an instructor, the people that I’m training, I’m looking for their ability to forward plan, that they want to be here, they’re wanting to learn, and a bit of passion in what they do.”
The squadron had hoped to celebrate its 80th birthday with a party. Sadly, with the coronavirus pandemic the plans had to be postponed. During the early stages of the pandemic, 2MT drivers delivered crucial oxygen supplies to key locations across the UK as part of Operation Rescript.
Squadron Leader Cook said: “Our drivers are not just drivers, they are properly trained military personnel who have completed basic training and specialised driver training at the Defence School of Transport. They understand how to safely operate vehicles around aircraft on a military airfield and possess the skills to overcome challenging conditions in order to deliver their vital freight.”
2MT Squadron is an A4 Force Element. The A4 Force Elements are specialised, high-readiness, engineering and logistics units that support RAF operations and exercises at home and abroad. The A4 Force Elements are headquartered at RAF Wittering, and commanded by Group Captain Jo Lincoln.
Group Captain Lincoln said: “Eighty years is an amazing milestone, and it teaches us that the need to move freight by road is as necessary now as it was in 1940. Having drivers and vehicles ready at a moment’s notice to take equipment and spares to where they are most needed is an essential capability. Huge congratulations to the all the members of 2MT, past and present, for everything they have achieved over the last 80 years.”