17th/21st Lancers, Blade Force

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by MudGrunt3/7, Jan 6, 2014.

  1. MudGrunt3/7

    MudGrunt3/7 Junior Member

    Here we detail the Crusader III troop. The goal is the same as described in post 6.

    17th/21st Lancers Crusader III troop War Establishment

    Troop Leader's Tank
    • Troop Leader & Tank Commander (TC), Subaltern armed with caliber .38 revolver, ? rounds.
    • Driver, Corporal armed with caliber . 38 revolver, ? rounds. The Corporal would take command of the tank when the Subaltern left to coordinate with Squadron & Regiment command as well as any forces being supported.
    • Gunner, Private armed with Sten Mk II 9mm parabellum submachine gun (SMG), 480 9mm parabellum rounds in 16 30 round capacity magazines (this is derived from the excellent diagram Trux provided in post #8, substituting the Thompson SMG with the Sten).
    • Crusader III tank
    • Rota trailer

    Number 1 Tank
    • TC, Sergeant armed with caliber . 38 revolver, ? rounds.
    • Driver, Private armed with caliber . 38 revolver, ? rounds.
    • Gunner, Private armed with Sten Mk II 9mm parabellum submachine gun (SMG), 480 9mm parabellum rounds in 16 30 round capacity magazines.
    • Crusader III tank
    • Rota trailer

    Number 2 Tank
    • TC, Corporal armed with caliber . 38 revolver, ? rounds.
    • Driver, Private armed with caliber . 38 revolver, ? rounds.
    • Gunner, Private armed with Sten Mk II 9mm parabellum submachine gun (SMG), 480 9mm parabellum rounds in 16 30 round capacity magazines.
    • Crusader III tank
    • Rota trailer

    Each Crusader III Tank Contained
    • 6-pdr main gun armament.
    • Besa 7.92x57mm medium machine gun (MMG).
    • 2" bomb thrower.
    • Bren caliber .303 British (7.7x56mm) light machine gun (LMG). Used for anti-aircraft defense, defense in the harbour/leaguer, or if the crew had to bail out of the tank.
    • 1-inch signal pistol No. 1, Mk III or Mk IV.
    • No. 19 wireless set.
    • 65 rounds of 6-pdr ammunition, ? HE and ? armor piercing.
    • 3,150 rounds Besa 7.92x57mm rounds, in 15 boxes (210 rounds per box).
    • 600 rounds .303 British in 6 100 round pan magazines for Bren LMG.
    • 50, 2" smoke bombs.
    • 20, 1-inch cartridges (8 illumination, 6 red signal, 6 green signal).
    • 6, Mark 36 No. 1, 61mm fragmentation grenade ("Mills bomb").
    • 110 imperial gallons of petrol in 3 internal tanks.
    • 4 gallons of drinking water in two internal tanks.
    • A cook stove so that the crew could prepare their own food.
    Each Rota Trailer Contained
    • 40 rounds of 6-pdr ammunition, ? HE and ? armor piercing.
    • 840 rounds Besa Besa 7.92x57mm in 4 boxes.
    • 120 imperial gallons of petrol.
    • 10 imperial gallons of water.
    • 7 boxes of rations.

    Troop Totals
    • 12 All Ranks
      1 Officer
    • 3 Non-Commissioned Officers
    • 8 Enlisted

    [*]3 Crusader Mk III tanks
    [*]6 caliber .38 revolvers
    [*]3 Sten Mk II 9mm parabellum SMGs
    [*]3 Bren caliber .303 British LMGs
    [*]3 No. 19 Wireless Sets
    [*]3 1-inch signal pistols
    [*]3 Rota trailers
    [*]315 6-pdr rounds
    • 195 in tanks
    • 120 in Rota Trailers

    [*]11,970 rounds Besa 7.92x57mm in 57 boxes (210 rounds per box)
    • 9,450 in tanks
    • 2,520 in Rota trailers

    [*]1,800 caliber .303 British rounds (all in tanks)
    [*]? caliber .38 revolver rounds
    [*]1,440 9mm parabellum rounds (all in tanks)
    [*]18, Mark 36 No. 1, 61mm fragmentation grenade ("Mills bomb").
    [*]150 2-inch smoke bombs.
    [*]60, 1-inch signal pistol cartridges
    • 24 illumination
    • 18 red signal
    • 18 green signal

    [*]690 imperial gallons of diesel
    • 330 in tanks
    • 360 in Rota trailers

    [*]42 imperial gallons of drinking water
    • 12 imperial gallons in tanks
    • 30 imperial gallons in Rota trailers

    [*]21 boxes of rations (all in Rota trailers

    Does anyone know the prescribed ratio of HE vs armor piercing rounds for the 6-pdr at this time?

    Missing or questionable details, questions, and extrapolations are in red.
  2. MudGrunt3/7

    MudGrunt3/7 Junior Member

    The Crusader III detailed diagrams provided by Trux were excellent. Lots of great detail. Does anyone have anything like that for the Valentine III?

    Did the Valentine III have the 2" bomb thrower as well as the 1-inch signal pistol? I have no information that references these pieces of equipment, but they are so useful as to be mandatory.

    I am interested in these fine details because they allow me to better understand the capabilities of the tanks and crews, operational endurance, and the scope of logistics the Squadron and Regiment would have to provide for. Ammo, fuel, lubricants, water, chow, clothing, etc. is all heavy.
  3. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Valentine III and V did not have the bomb thrower but could be fitted with smoke dischargers on the turret side. I have the stowage diagrams for Valentine IX. Obviously the 6dr gun makes a difference to the stowage but many features are the same.

    All armoured vehicles carried the signal pistol with different coloured flares. You will also see that signal flags were carried.

    You are filling in the gaps nicely.

  4. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    This may be useful in demonstrating the command and communications system in an armoured regiment. This one is of the correct date but for 8th Army where they had four troops of three tanks. Simply add another troop.

    Blade net.jpg
  5. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    When did the Armoured Regiments changeover to four troops of three tanks as I always knew them to have four troops of four tanks - whereas the Tank Battalions

    and Regiments had five troops of three tanks…with the advent of the 17 pounder and Sherman firefly's SOME Tank Battalions were upgraded to two Churchills with

    two Sherman firefly's for more firepower - then all Tank units became Armoured towards the end of ww2 - with Battle groups…?

  6. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    War Establishment VI/560/4. Effective 14 July.

    This has increments for
    Two squadron Sherman, one squadron Crusader
    Two squadrons Sherman, one squadron Stuart.
    All Crusader
    All Stuart.

    Squadron = 4 HQ tanks, 4 troops of 3 tanks.

    Presumable eking out the available tanks. I can not tell more. This is not really my period.

  7. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    IF your 14th July is of 1942 - then someone at the War House was wide awake - as FDR only gifted Patton's 300 Shermans to Churchill in June '42 when

    Churchill and Alanbrooke were informed of the fall of Tobruk - in FDR's office by Marshall who handed a note to FDR - THEN the first Shermans were used at the

    23rd October battle at El Alamein - after they were desertified with better air filters etc ….. my thinking is that 17/21st Lancers only had Shermans on the

    reinforcements arriving in the March of '43 for " Torch " i.e after Blade force etc……but then - I don't have a B.A. in History so cannot argue the point...

  8. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    My aim was to provide David (Mudgrunt) with a contemporary signals diagram.

    You have spotted that the War Establishment table that I posted in reply to your question was in fact 1943. Sorry.

    However War Establishment VI/560/1. 21 November 1942 has the same organisation - four troops of three tanks. This one gives increments for
    30 Grants and 22 Crusader II
    30 Grants and 22 Crusader III
    30 Sherman and 22 Crusader II
    30 Sherman and 22 Crusader III
    30 Sherman and 22 Stuart
    30 Grant and 22 Stuart
    30 Grant, 14 Crusader II and 8 Crusader III
    30 Sherman, 14 Crusader II and 8 Crusader III
    52 Grant
    52 Sherman

    I do have a BA in history but I cannot explain any of this.

  9. MudGrunt3/7

    MudGrunt3/7 Junior Member

    I also have a question on the number of troops per squadron in the 17th/21st Lancers for this period. Reading reference [2] leads me to understand that each squadron of the 17th/21s Lancers had two Valentine V troops and two Crusader III troops.

    The third image of the War Establishment provided by Trux shows 5 troops in the squadron. On page 92 of reference [2] , then Major ffrench Blake in command of C Squadron describes the first engagement of the 17th/21st Lancers in WWII on 25 November. He states "I ordered the squadron to move up, and waited for them to get level with me. In moving up, two tanks, one from each Valentine troop, ran into the river and got stuck." I interpret this to mean that C Squadron had two Valentine equipped troops. I cannot find a definitive statement in the book on the number of Valentine troops and the number of tanks in each troop; the closest statement is on page 96 when C Squadron was assisting the U.S. 1/1/1 AD a second time on 26 November, 1942 the statement is made "C Squadron had two Valentine troops (Lumley-Smith and Stanford) and a troop of two Crusaders (Morton and Sergeant Sorrell)." Tying the two statements on the Valentine troops together it's reasonable to conclude that C Squadron had two Valentine troops. Lumley-Smith, Stanford, and Morton are Subalterns and troop leaders.

    Page 93 of reference [2] Major ffrench Blake also describes C Squadron supporting the U.S. 1/1/1 AD light tank battalion in an attack against a farm (later known as Coxen's Farm) later on 25 November in the Tine River valley, in which he states "… the Valentine troops attacked the farm under covering fire from Squadron Headquarters and what remained of the two Crusader troops (three tanks)." This gives us a definitive statement that C Squadron had two Crusader equipped troops. For a definitive statement of 6 Crusader IIIs page 83 states that in September 1942 "The obsolete Matildas had gone during the previous winter, and now each squadron was to have six Crusader tanks with six-pounder guns."

    Reference [2] gives a listing of the officers of the 17th/21st Lancers, but only shows the assignment of the Regiment and Squadron officers, not the troop leaders. I will go back through the book piecing together the list of subalterns to references to troop leaders to try and determine how many troop leaders C Squadron had. This is where a unit roster would be invaluable - does anyone know if one exists for the 17th/21st Lancers in the period of 13 - 25 November 1942?

    An important assumption I am operating under is that A, B, and C Squadrons were uniform in the number of troops and tanks.

    For now I can continue listing the fielded War Establishment of a 17th/21st Lancers squadron with three Valentine and two Crusader troops. It will easy to change if it turns out to be two Valentine and two Crusader troops.

    Any insights, knowledge, or opinions will be helpful.
  10. MudGrunt3/7

    MudGrunt3/7 Junior Member

    Trux, thanks for the signal diagram. My time in the U.S. Army was as a Signal Corps officer, so these diagrams are always interesting to me. I will have a number of questions later on the hieroglyphics used as well as the meaning of the net IDs and abbreviations.

    We'll kick that around after we complete the fielded War Establishment for 17th/21st Lancers.
  11. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    17/21 Lancers were organised on the UK establishment of five troops of three tanks.

    Four troops of three tanks was a Middle East (Volume VI) establishment.

    I posted the signal diagram because it is the only one I can find of the correct date, although for the Middle East. It should be identical except that for a unit on UK establishment it will have an extra troop of three tanks. It should then be the signal diagram applicable to 17/21 Lancers.

    Sorry if I have caused panic, confusion etc.

  12. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member


    As always the answer is 'it depends'...

    I'll no doubt regret relying on memory, but as I recall all the Armd Regt WEs from May 1940 assumed a Tp of three cruiser or light tanks. The May 1940 document was based on four Tps per Sqn, plus four tanks at SHQ, so sixteen tanks per Sqn. The Aug/Sep 1942 WE officially called for five Tps per Sqn, so now nineteen tanks, and the same for the Nov 1943 and May 1945 issuances.

    The Middle East WE referred to in earlier posts was specific to 8th Army, and the Jul 1943 version retained four Tps per Sqn even though Home WEs were allowing for five by this time.

    Unit Entitlements for Northwest Europe show the switch to four Tps of four tanks per Armd Sqn, with Sqn HQ dropping to three tanks to stay within the nineteen tank overhead, but it's not something that shows up in establishments. Once the number of Fireflies increased they revert back to five Tps of three each, before swinging back to four of four. I'm afraid I've not seen any UEs for Italy to compare against those for NWE.

    As you'll know only too well, the number of tanks allowed by the book and the number of actual runners would put a dent in the authorised strengths, and therefore subunit organisation. References to 'half squadrons', made up of two Tps and two Sqn HQ tanks, crop up now and again. This might have been a deliberate move, to preserve tanks and crews, or a reaction to shortages of both, dependent upon the unit and circumstances.

  13. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    my reference to not having a BA in History was not meant to denigrate anyone but rather a reference to a recent thread whereby my 25year study of the Desert - Sicily and Italian campaigns were pooh hoohed by two historians who claimed that my Veterans status had no relevance in the "BIG" picture
    the sad fact is that I only gained an M.B.A. after six years competing with 22 y.o's in my 40's when my three-year stint at St.Andrews was knocked on th head when the war broke out as I left High School in June '39...

  14. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Operating in half squadrons was fairly common both in cruiser regiments and in tank regiments. It was allowed for in the War Establishment tables as in WE II/151/2 which has a note referring to Captain in Squadron HQ tank 3 'second in command, and commands half squadron when operating detached'. This is also something with a long tradition in the British cavalry going back at least to the Napoleonic wars when squadrons had two troops but when operating separately squadron commander commanded one while a captain commanded the other.

    Either the above or reorganisation due to losses would account for the organisations Mudgrunt quotes.

  15. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    No doubt you are right about operating half squadrons - BUT - depending on the size of the upcoming battle and the accompanying Infantry strength - often we

    would only send in one or two troops to handle the job…..can't recall any time that we fought as a whole squadron far less a whole regiment - e.g. in my last battle at

    San Martino in the Gothic Line only two troops #3 and #5 supported the less than full strength "A " and "C " companies of the Seaforths of Canada - we lost 5 of the 6

    Tanks - the Infantry repulsed and so that attack was a failure - however the German paras took off - as they knew we had 14 Churchills left - and later near midnight

    another two troops with even less Infantry took over the town…our Squadron leader didn't ask anyone about the WE - he just did it according to the exigencies of the

    day - later we also "found " an enemy Panzer mk5 - which we used against it's makers until the gunner was killed - and Brigade got huffy and quoted the Geneva


  16. MudGrunt3/7

    MudGrunt3/7 Junior Member

    Now the detail of the Squadron HQ. The Squadron HQ is divided into the "A" fighting portion and the "B" administrative portion.

    Squadron HQ Totals

    98 All Ranks
    • 3 Officers
    • 12 Non-Commissioned Officers
    • 83 Enlisted
    Tanks and Other Weapons
    • 2 Valentine V tanks, each pulling a Rota trailer
    • 2 Crusader II Close Support Tanks, each pulling a Rota trailer
    • 44 caliber .38 revolvers
    • 6 Sten Mk II 9mm parabellum SMGs
    • 48 Lee-Enfield, caliber .303 British (7.7x56mm) bolt action rifles
    • 4 Bren caliber .303 British LMGs
    • 2 anti-aircraft mounts with twin Bren LMGs
    • 2 Boys caliber .55 Boys (13.9x99mm) anti-tank rifle
    • 1, 2-seater car, 4x2. What specific make and type of vehicle? Please give me your best guess.
    • 2, 15-cwt, 4x2, personnel trucks. Are these Ford F15 or Chevrolet C15 CMP trucks?
    • 1, 3-Ton, 6x4, store truck. Is this a Ford F60H or a Chevrolet C60X?
    • 9, 3-Ton, 4x4 trucks. Are these Ford F60S/L, Chevrolet C60S/L, or Bedford QL series trucks?
    • 1, universal carrier

    Signal Equipment
    • 4 wireless set No. 19 (all in tanks)
    • 4 1-inch signal pistol No. 1, Mk III or Mk IV. These four were in the tanks - did any of the other vehicles carry signal pistols?

    Ammunition, Fuel, Water, and Rations
    • 792 caliber .38 revolver rounds. This is calculated from the information provided by Gary Kennedy in post #20 of this topic.
    • ? 9mm parabellum rounds
    • ? caliber .303 British rounds
    • 14,280 Besa 7.92x57mm rounds
      12,600 rounds in tanks
    • 1680 in Rota trailers

    [*]210 3" shells (does anyone know the normal ratio of smoke to HE shells?)
    • 130 in tanks
    • 80 in Rota trailers

    [*]370 rounds 2-pdr ammunition
    • 108 in tanks
    • 212 in Rota trailers

    [*]12 Mark 36 No.1 fragmentation grenades (number is only for grenades in tanks, number carried in trucks is unknown)
    [*]80 1-inch signal pistol cartridges (number is only for the cartridges in tanks, number carried in trucks is unknown)
    • 32 illumination
    • 24 red
    • 24 green

    [*]? imperial gallons of diesel
    • 72 in tanks
    • 240 in Rota trailers
    • ? in support vehicles
    • ? carried in fuel truck

    [*]? imperial gallons of petrol
    • 220 in tanks
    • 240 in Rota trailers
    • ? in support vehicles
    • ? carried in fuel truck

    [*]? imperial gallons of water
    • 8 in tanks
    • 40 in Rota trailers
    • ? in support vehicles

    [*]? boxes of rations
    • ? in tanks
    • 28 in Rota trailers
    • ? in support vehicles

    Some Questions
    • Is it reasonable to assume that the Bren LMG in the Valentine V had six 100 round pan magazines as shown in the diagram of the interior of the Crusader III?
    • Is it reasonable to assume the Valentine V had six fragmentation grenades as in the Crusader III?
    • Is it reasonable to assume the Valentine V had 4 gallons of water in two internal cans as in the Crusader III?
    • How many rounds and magazines would a dual Bren LMG anti-aircraft mount be provided? What kind of magazines? I assume the 100 round pan magazines because you need to spray a lot of rounds when you are trying to shoot down strafing aircraft.
    I'll update this post tomorrow with the details of each vehicle in each portion.
  17. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    My reading of the war establishment for the administrative portion of squadron HQ gives:

    Administrative troop
    Car 4 X 2 or 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep)
    Squadron Quartermaster Serjeant, driver IC
    SQMS carries a pistol. Driver IC has a rifle.

    15cwt truck GS
    Cook ACC for officers mess, 2 X batmen, driver IC
    Carries officers mess equipment and baggage.
    Carries two Bren lmg, a twin AA mount and an anti tank rifle.
    All personnel have rifles.

    15cwt 4 X 4 Personnel. White.
    mechanist serjeant, 2 X fitter, 2 X vehicle mechanic.
    Carries fitters tools.
    Vehicle mechanics drive.
    Mechanist serjeant carries a pistol. Others have rifles.

    3ton 6 X 4 store.
    Corporal storeman (technical), motor mechanic, 2 X driver IC
    Carries MT spares and fitters tools.
    One driver IC has a Sten gun. Others have a rifle.

    Car 4 X 2 usually means a light utility. However a Jeep is more likely at this date for a unit going overseas.
    15cwt 4 X 2 is most commonly a Bedford MW. Two of these are shown in the photo of a Valentine with Rotatrailer. CMP types usually went direct to the Middle East, or elsewhere in the world while UK built vehicles were issued in the UK.
    15cwt 4 X 4 is almost certainly an armoured White. As this is for the fitters, who must go onto the battlefield to attend to breakdowns etc, armour would be useful. There were no British 15cwt 4 X 4 at this date.
    3ton 6 X 4 was a British vehicle. A GS body fitted with storage racks and bins for parts. Most common at this date was Leyland.

    3ton 4 X 4 is almost always Bedford QL at this date. Again CMP vehicles went direct to overseas forces. Of course Canadian forces in the UK had CMP types but they had a separate supply chain and provided their own equipment.

    I have looked at some earlier War Establishment tables which give ammunition carried. By 1942 the tables had stopped giving these.

    Pistol. 12 rounds on the man or in the vehicle. Unit (regiment) reserve 1854 rounds. Presumably this equates to a number of boxes.
    Rifle. 50 rounds on the man or in the vehicle. Unit reserve 9000 rounds. Note attached personnel, RAOC or ACC, only carried 30 rounds.
    Bren lmg. 1000 on the vehicle. Unit reserve 5,500.

    Carrier is
    Slave Battery Carrier. Loyd Carrier.
    electrician, driver mechanic
    Battery charging and maintenance
    Personnel have rifles.

    Used for charging and maintaining tank batteries. Also for jump starting tanks. Wireless batteries are not part of the responsibility.

    I have stowage diagrams for the Loyd. It remained in service a long time although overloaded, underpowered and prone to breakdown.

  18. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Carrier, Starting and Charging aka Slave Battery Carrier.

    Carrier S and C 1.jpg

    Carrier S and C 2.jpg

    Carrier S and C 3.jpg

    Although it has a resemblance to the Carrier Universal only the suspension units are the same.

  19. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Leyland Retriever 3ton 6 X 4 GS. Stores differs only in storage fitted in the body.


    In 1942 the cab had a windscreen and higher sides.


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