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Austin K5 4x4 information / images

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Tom OBrien, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Hi all,

    Michael Kenny kindly posted up a link to a couple of new film clips on the IWM website that relate to Operation EPSOM on one of the 8RB threads, and imagine my big grin when right at the end of one clip a couple of K5's appeared:


    This is the second.

    IWM A70-63-5 - Austin K5 - AOS 73 - 15 (S) Div - 1 Jul 44.JPG

    Now, if we match this photo with the 15th (Scottish) Div RASC AOS '70' one in post #10 and others I've seen in use with 15 Recce Regt (AOS '41'), 131 Fd Regt and 279 Fd Coy RE of that Division, and the details in 6th RSF war diary talking about their Austin K5's, it looks to me like that there is a bit of a pattern developing. Could all the units associated with 44th Infantry Brigade have been issued with the same type of 3-tonners? Was that standard practice across other divisions?


  2. Here is another K5, noted simply as '3 ton GS' in the Landing Table, this time from 184 Field Company Royal Engineers, filmed by Sergeant William G. "Bill" Grant of the Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit in the morning of 6 June in Bernières-sur-Mer just inland of NAN WHITE Beach after it had landed from LCT(4) 637 Serial 1522. Note the Arm of Service Serial which looks like [381d], the Beach Group 'Fouled Anchor' sign and the loading code 31435/1522/LCTIV. Behind is the Sherman V of Captain Kenneth Stead, Officer Commanding Y Troop 4 Royal Marine Armoured Support Battery:
    Austin K5 Beach Gp AoS [381d] MSN 31435-1522-LCTIV - Grant Roll 30, 6 Jun 44 - HDA144 - 04.45.08.jpg
    Austin K5 Beach Gp AoS [381d] MSN 31435-1522-LCTIV - Grant Roll 30, 6 Jun 44 - HDA144 - 04.45.17.jpg

    For a continuation of this view to the right, see from 03:41:14 in the same clip, and also the sixth photo in this post.

    Last edited: May 22, 2019
    Tom OBrien likes this.
  3. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    Thanks. That's a good spot and opens up possible Austin K5 units to all the British Beach units on JUNO as well which is interesting.

    Going back to Sword, I note from the war diary of 90th Company RASC (Armd Bde), which was under command of 27th Armoured Brigade, that its "C" Platoon was equipped with 33 Austin K5's for the assault phase (Source WO171/2377):

    18 May 1944
    33 Bedford 3-ton vehicles 4 x 2 of “C” Platoon exchanged for 33 Austin 3-ton vehicles 4 x 4 pre-waterproofed.

    31 May 1944
    “C” Pln Group (36 Vehs + 98 Personnel) under Command of Capt. Forman and Lt. Neighbour leave Concentration Area PETWORTH & arrive Marshalling Area, Camp 4 Portsmouth.

    1 June 1944
    ‘C’ Pln Group embark at GOSPORT on LSTs 382, 383, 385.

    6 June 1944
    ‘D’ Day.
    11 Vehs of ‘C’ Pln under Capt. E. Forman disembarked ex LST382 at 1430 hrs and reached Coy Harbour Area S.E. of COLLEVILLE-SUR-ORNE (0877) at 1600 hrs, carrying pre-loads of Ammunition for 6 Airborne Div. Contact established with 6 Airborne Div HQ at RANVILLE (1174) at 1800 hrs and Ammunition pre-loads delivered to Airborne Div Maint. Area in WOOD, RANVILLE at 2300 hrs. Fire from snipers encountered at numerous points on the roads during the day.
    L.S.T. 383 (carrying further 11 Vehs ‘C’ Pln) bombed off shore during day – damage caused to Lift Gear. 7 Vehs on Upper Deck were transferred at Sea to LST.385 (already carrying 11 Vehs ‘C’ Pln). Owing to delay on Beaches etc none of these vehs were landed on ‘D’ Day as scheduled.

    7 June 1944
    Remaining 22 Vehs ‘C’ Pln disembarked ex LSTs 383 & 385 and reached Harbour Area at COLLEVILLE.
    During the day the pre-loads of Amn, POL, Water and RE. Stores on the 22 Vehs of ‘C’ Pln landed today were delivered to 6 Airborne Div. Maint. Area, RANVILLE (1174). Further loads of Amn and Compo Sups were collected from Sector Stores Dumps and Beach Areas & delivered. All these deliveries involved the crossing of the River & Canal bridges at BENOUVILLE (0974) which were under intermittent gun fire.

    8 June 1944
    During the day 30 x 3-tonners of ‘C’ Pln were continuously engaged in transporting Amn, POL and Sups to 6 Airborne Div Maint Area from Beach Sector Stores Dumps. While 12 x 3-tonners were drawing Amn & Sups from No.3 Dump, the Dump was bombed and caught fire. 2 ORs were wounded and were evacuated. 11 ORs were missing and are believed to have been killed in the explosion and fire. 9 x 3-ton (Austin) and 2 M.Cs were destroyed by fire.
    There were several air attacks throughout the area during the whole day.

    It would be interesting to see if there are any photos of these Austin K5's out there.


  4. Excellent extracts of 90 Coy War Diary Tom.

    So far I haven't come across any photo of vehicles from this unit, which must have worn the Arm of Service serial 81 over RASC flash plus the 27 Armd Bde sign. Its Mob Serial Number was 23855, so any vehicle with this number in its loading code or alone must belong to 90 Coy.

    The result of the air strike on No.3 Dump was quite conspicuous. See between 02:07 and 03:16 in ADM 1264.

    Last edited: May 25, 2019
  5. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    Thanks for those AOS and Mob Serial Number details - I'll keep my eyes open.

    The use of Austin K5's by Beach Group units and the results of the air strike on No.3 Dump are also recorded in the war diary of 237 Petrol Depot RASC (WO171/2288):

    18 May 1944 COWPLAIN
    G.S. Lorry 4 x 2 exchanged for G.S. Lorry 4 x 4 Austin @ 24 AFV Depot.
    Austin 4 x 2 Utility exchanged for Willys 5 cwt Jeep @ 69 V.R.D.


    25 May 1944 COWPLAIN
    Ptes Parry & Davey proceeded with Willys to London Docks. Camp sealed 2359 hrs.

    30 May 1944

    0900 Unit split into craft parties. Advance party (Capt. Erdal + 3 men) to Camp J2.
    1500 Main party Lt. Erskine + 16 O.R’s to Camp A14.
    Marching Party 1 Off + 13 OR’s.
    Vehicle Part 2 OR’s – 3 ton 4 x 4 Austin + Fire Trailer Ump.
    Ignition trouble Austin 3 ton 4 x 4 5193580 to REME for repairs.

    31 May 1944 WICKHAM
    Confined to camp. Austin 3 ton lorry condemned.

    1 June 1944
    Austin 4 x 4 5193580 replaced by Austin 4 x 4 5193150.
    0600 Main party moved to embarkation area.
    1400 Embarked 382 (LST)(2) Gosport – anchored in Solent.


    3 June 1944
    Vehicle party 2 OR’s + 1 Jeep embarked Tilbury on 943 MTC from T7.


    6 June 1944 Queen Beach
    Main party landed contacted Advance Party.
    Key Plan site still in hands of enemy – Depot set up with 238 P.D. recce party within 150 yards of beach temporarily. Capt Carter + advance party arrive 238 P.D. Proximity of ammo dump and no room for expansion noted. P.O.L. arrives, offloaded and stacked on ground allotted after area tested for mines. Hundreds of planes towing gliders and with paratroops pass overhead to cheers of our troops. Work continued throughout night.

    7 June 1944 Colleville-sur-Mer
    Supplies arrive steadily and small issues made. 27 Armd. Bde using Derv are best customers. Sniping + shelling of beach causes some apprehension. Coles Crane and 2 RE personnel to be attached unit hit mine coming off beach. Personnel O.K. saved no doubt by sandbags under feet in cab – near side wheel of vehicle and most of engine blown off – later houses set on fire by shelling + general marking of snipers remains of vehicle burnt out. Jeep + 2 ORs arrive. Temporary site becomes dangerous as more P.O.L. arrives. B.G. “O” Group asked for new site – none available – strongpoint near Key Plan site not yet reduced. Good RAF cover – plenty of air activity – absence of cover quickly taken advantage of by enemy. AA gunners have much success. Men tired but unshaken.
    238 P.D. main + vehicle parties arrive. Men work on throughout the night tired but standing up the job well.

    8 June 1944 Colleville-sur-Mer
    After night of tension with enemy continuously overhead Capt Carter O.C. combined Depot again reported to B.G. H.Q. necessity for new site. Staff Capt. visits Petrol Depot and recce is made of adjoining area. Additional recce made by O.C. and Major Butcher of Ammo Depot. New sites selected. Stores now pouring in.
    1230 Enemy hits depot. Disastrous fire within 60 seconds H.E. hits loaded D.U.K.W. Immediate fire in Petrol Depot and Ammo dump. Officers of dumps attempt to move and rescue transport. Many drivers leave vehicles and flee. One OR of 96 D.I.D. steps forward and rescues one 3 Tonner. Capt. Erdal badly injured as also is Lt. Col. Sale, 6 B.G. Commander.
    1800 Lt. Erskine and Lt Gibbons 238 P.D. collected + assembled all personnel that could be found and on instructions of Major ?? of 21 Transport Column set up P.O.L., DID and ammo dump at Hermanville. Very short of labour. 40 men obtained from nearby R.E. Company to assist in offloading and stacking of stores.
    2000 Instructions to withdraw P.O.L. to new site recced by Capt. Carter.
    2200 P.O.L. and personnel transported to No.2 Depot Coleville area where Capt Carter and his party had establishment of depot + mine clearance in hand. Roll Call proves Capt. Erdal casualty. P.O.L. stacking [??] in conditions very difficult – shortage of labour and mine clearance in darkness.
    27 Armd Bde demands Derv and is supplied by residue [??] at burnt out site – no hold up caused by loss of stock. Still very small issues due to static line. Estimated loss 400 – 450 tons POL, all 1098 equipment (including vehicles), all records and most personal kit lost.

    9 June 1944
    New site rapidly expands and new fields taken over. Depot now develops along line of hedges, small fields providing staggering of rows. Enemy mine warnings ignored by necessity. Still very small issues due to static line.
    Lt. Erskine assumed command. Lt. Hall posted to unit as 2 i/c. Advised Capt. Erdal evacuated.

    10 June 1944
    Depot hit by 3 H.E. bombs and containers of S.D.Is – fierce petrol fire – dispersal of stacks limits extent, all men working valiantly and energetically in fierce heat and glare to move adjoining stacks – enemy continually overhead – depot efforts successful and at dawn the fire is under control and as the RAF arrived the enemy beat it. All personnel including D Coys 5th [??] Bucks + 5th Kings worked splendidly. Pte Parry removed C.R.S. with shock. S.O.S.
    1400 Recce 1st Key Plan site. Estimated loss 18-20 tons P.O.L.
    Lt. Coe posted to unit [???]
    237 P.D. & 238 P.D. move to new site.
    1800 Rear party under comd Lt. Gibbons left to close down site.
    New site large flat cropped [??] area with little cover. Trenching system already waiting for bivvy area. Dispersal P.O.L. now 1st Priority. Stores on ground by 2000 hrs. Issues being carried out at old site, receipts at new site. Major Scott 101 Beach Sub Area orders delivery emergency transport (1 Weasel + 2nd i/c proceed). Personnel very dishevelled and unkempt but more determined than ever.


    28 June 1944 CRESSERONS
    Receipts small, steady issues. Notification received of Capt. O.W. Erdal’s death at 16 C.C.S. on 11th June. Death from shock and fractured spine. Shock responsible for change in condition after advice of evacuation on 9th.
    3 Ton Austin 4 x 4 lorry drawn from 17 A.O.D in replacement 3 ton lorry burnt out 8th.

    In the historiography of the Normandy campaign much is made of the impact of Allied airpower on the Germans, I don't recall seeing any mention in the popular histories of the impact of German airpower on the Allied landings, especially during the first week or so.

    BTW you can imagine my big grin when I found that this unit had actually recorded the WD Number of their Austin K5. :D:cheers:


  6. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    And further evidence of relatively widespread use of Austin K5 within 15th Infantry Division - that is a K5 I think:


    IWM A70-105-1 Austin K5 - AOS 43 - 181 Fd Regt.JPG

    It's not the greatest photo, but is in a stream of 25 pdrs and tractors all carrying serial '43' and identified on the IWM site as 181 Fd Regt, and that does look like a '43' to me.


  7. From 00:44:
    "As the troops enjoy their swim, an Austin K5 3-tonner from 398th Composite Company RASC, a 6th Airborne Division unit, and a Fordson WOT6 lorry are seen crossing 'York I' Bridge."
    A70 121-2 - 360 - 1944-08-12 - Collins - 00.45 - K5 398 Comp Coy YORK 1 br - 005.jpg
    A70 121-2 - 360 - 1944-08-12 - Collins - 00.45 - K5 398 Comp Coy YORK 1 br - 015.jpg
    A70 121-2 - 360 - 1944-08-12 - Collins - 00.45 - K5 398 Comp Coy YORK 1 br - 024.jpg

    The Aos Serial 71 is clearly visible, but the 6 Airborne Div emblem is not on this version, so I suppose that the original shows it more clearly. The WD number must be L5194053, whearas the small illegible numbers on the side of the body are probably the Mob Serial Number 32058.

    Note that the 360 pixel wide version on the IWM Film website is sharper than the 480 pixel version on the main IWM website, because of the higher compression ratio used in the latter version.

    Tom OBrien and Rich Payne like this.
  8. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Hi Michel,

    Thanks, isn't that the winged horsey badge on the opposite mudguard to the serial number? I think the Pegasus can be seen on the back of one of these vehicles as well.

    From WO171/2453 - 398 Coy RASC:

    4 March 1944
    Advice received from ADOS that new Dodge vehs would be exchanged in the near future for 3-ton 4x4 Austin vehs.

    All those taken to Normandy in June 1944 were left there and when the Coy returned to the UK they were re-issued with more Austins which had been collected by the Coy residue:

    28 July 1944 Winterbourne Dauntsey
    Completion of collection of 105 x 3 ton Austin 4 x 4 from 72 V.R.D.


  9. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    I found this vehicle mentioned in the war diary of 34 Tank Troops Workshops REME. Is a different name for the K5?

    L4892273 Austin (R320) Lorry 3 ton 4x4 GS


  10. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    And a couple more screen grabs from IWM films:

    This first one is of a 15th Recce Regt K5 on 27 Aug 44: (IWM A70 140-2)

    Austin K5 - IWM A70 140-2 - 27 Aug 44 - 15 Recce Regt.PNG

    And then another one but much later (12 Oct 44) thereby calling into question the whole canard about them all being VOR at the same time. I don't know which unit: (IWM A70 176-8) The title says somewhere between Eindhoven and Helmond.

    Austin K5 - IWM A70 176-8 - 12 Oct 44 - Between Eindhoven adn Helmond.PNG

    And it is a beauty!



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