Royal Army Service Corps
- Land, coastal and lake transport
- Air despatch
- Barracks administration
- the Army Fire Service
- Staffing headquarters' units
- Supply of food, water, fuel and domestic materials such as clothing, furniture and stationery
The supply of technical and military equipment – for example, ammunition – was the responsibility of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps.
In the Second World War, the RASC supplied the British Army during the North Africa campaign and later supported the Polish cavalry as the Allies advanced through Italy. Some units were attached to the Eighth Army under Montgomery as part of the 7th Armoured Division (the "Desert Rats").
The corps is now part of the Royal Logistic Corps.
For centuries, army transport was operated by contracted civilians. The first uniformed transport corps in the British Army was the Royal Waggoners formed in 1794. It was not a success and was disbanded the following year. In 1799, the Royal Waggon Corps was formed; by August 1802, it had been renamed the Royal Waggon Train. This was reduced to only two troops in 1818 and finally disbanded in 1833.
A transport corps was not formed again until the Crimean War. In 1855, the Land Transport Corps was formed. This was renamed the Military Train the following year.
In 1869, there was a major reorganisation of army supply and transport capabilities. Before 1869, supply duties had been the responsibility of the Commissariat, a uniformed civilian body. In 1869, the commissaries of the Commissariat and the officers of the Military Train amalgamated into the Control Department. The following year the other ranks of the Military Train were redesignated the Army Service Corps (ASC), officered by the Control Department. In November 1875, the Control Department was divided into the Commissariat and Transport Department and the Ordnance Store Department (which developed into the Royal Army Ordnance Corps). In January 1880, the Commissariat and Transport Department was renamed the Commissariat and Transport Staff and the Army Service Corps was renamed the Commissariat and Transport Corps. Finally, in December 1888, these two bodies amalgamated with the War Department Fleet to form a new Army Service Corps, and for the first time officers and other ranks served in a single unified organisation.
The ASC subsequently absorbed some transport elements of the Royal Engineers. In 1918, the corps received the "Royal" prefix for its service in the First World War and became the Royal Army Service Corps. It was divided into Transport and Supply Branches.
Before the Second World War, RASC recruits were required to be at least 5 feet 2 inches tall and could enlist up to 30 years of age (or 35 for tradesmen in the Transport Branch). They initially enlisted for six years with the colours and a further six years with the reserve (seven years and five years for tradesmen and clerks, three years and nine years for butchers, bakers and supply issuers). They trained at Aldershot.
Alone among the "Services" (i.e. rear echelon support corps), RASC personnel were considered to be combatant personnel.
In 1965, the RASC was merged with the Transportation and Movement Control Service of the Royal Engineers (which was responsible for railway transport, inland water transport, port operations, and movements) to form the Royal Corps of Transport. All its supply functions, along with the staff clerks, were transferred to the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, leaving the new RCT solely responsible for transport and movements. In 1993, the RCT and RAOC were merged to form the Royal Logistic Corps, the modern descendant of the ASC.
Officers of the Control Department, Commissariat and Transport Department, and Commissariat and Transport Staff held different ranks from the rest of the Army. From February 1885 they were given honorary military ranks, which they held in conjunction with their commissary ranks. Officers of the ASC and RASC held full military rank.
|Army rank||Control Department rank||Commissariat & Transport Department rank||Commissariat & Transport Staff rank|
|Second Lieutenant||Sub-Assistant Commissary||Sub-Assistant Commissary||Quartermaster|
|Lieutenant||Assistant Commissary||Assistant Commissary||Deputy Assistant Commissary-General|
|Captain||Deputy Commissary||Deputy Commissary||Deputy Assistant Commissary-General|
|Lieutenant-Colonel||Assistant Controller||Assistant Commissary-General||Assistant Commissary-General|
|Colonel||Deputy Controller||Deputy Commissary-General||Deputy Commissary-General|
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