OBITUARY - Major PA Wood

An extract from the Obituary for Andy Wood, former Officer in Command of 591 (Antrim) Parachute Squadron.
Royal Engineer's Journal 1990.

Brigadier Andy Wood was educated at Rossall School, the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He was commissioned into the Corps of Royal Engineers in 1929. After a tour at Chatham-during which he played hockey for the Corps- he became Captain and Adjutant of the Tyne Electrical Engineers.

In 1942 after attending the Staff College Camberley, he commanded 591 (Antrim) Fied Company in 54 (East Anglian) Division. Shorty after his arrival the whole unit was invited to become the 2nd Field Squadron in the newly formed 6th Airbone Division-an opportunity which Andy and his unit eagerly seized. By June 1943, 591 Parachute Squadron had completed its airborne training. Months of further vigourous training followed. Capt.AF Jackson, one of his Troop commanders, has an indelible memory of the spirit that existed in the unit during these months of intensive activity-a period during which Andy showed himself to be an outstanding leader. FHL ( Frank Harrington Lowman,) his C.R.E. ( Commander Royal Engineers,) recalls the energy and enthusiasm Andy devoted to training in his new role, and the high hopes with which the squadron took off for Normandy on the evening of 5th June 1944. But fate was not to be kind. Just after crossing the French coast his Stirling was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed in flames. Andy managed to jump and land safely, but many miles from the dropping zone. Despite all his efforts he was captured and spent the rest of the war as a POW. That all his dedication in the airborne field should have so ended was a bitter blow. AF Jackson writes that in captivity Andy showed the same qualities which had endeared him to all ranks before D-day which greatly helped others to endure their drab months before Liberation in April 1945.

From 1946-1948 he served with the Madras Sappers and Miners in Malaya, before serving in the BAOR (British Army on the Rhine) from 1948-1951. During this time he was selected to form up 38 Corps Engineers Regiment and in January 1951 the flag of the new unit as hoisted in Osnabrück. Andy seized this opportunity to fashion his own regiment in his own way. His sense of humour, insistence on high standards from the start and the great affection in which he was held by all ranks was soon to produce a new unit well up to the high standards set by the longer established Royal Engineer regiments in BAOR.

In February 1953 his Head Quarters was in command of an engineer force sent to Holland in a life saving and rescue role arising from the Dutch floods. It was fitting that Andy was thanked personnally by Queen Juliana.

From 1954 until 1958 he was in the War Office before serving again in BAOR as Director of Works. He retired in 1960.

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