Australian made tank tracks- Western Desert 1941.

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by Waddell, Aug 7, 2017.

  1. Waddell

    Waddell Active Member

    Am reading Tim Hall's book Tobruk 1941- The Desert Siege.

    In an early part of the book he talks about the poor condition of British Armour in the region. He wrote that-

    Their engines were nearly burnt out and their tracks at the end of their lives. When new tracks were finally delivered, specially made in Australia, they were found to be the wrong size and were useless.

    There are no footnotes in the book and only a brief bibliography. Can someone familiar with armour of the time shed some light on that statement concerning the Australian made tank tracks? I am interested in knowing what tanks they were manufactured for? Universal carrier tracks?

    Scott

     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2017
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  2. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    The British 2nd Armoured Division arrived in Egypt late December 1940 - early January 1941.

    On arrival, some of the engines of the A13 Cruisers were well run-in. There is no indication that any, let alone a majority, were "nearly burnt out". By the time that they had reached the front-line on the border of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania, the majority were beyond their expected life. That was down to the mileage driven to get there from Egypt. The same would have occured if the tanks had arrived in Egypt brand spanking new.

    On the otherhand, the tracks of the A10 Cruisers were already shot. A decision was made not to replace them in the UK before sailing as brand new tracks from Australia were being made and shipped to Egypt directly. Those tracks were deemed to be utterly useless and the majority of A10 cruisers were sent to Greece with the original knackered UK made tracks.

    Later in 1941, Australian tracks were fitted to A9 and A10 Cruisers. Whether they were the original tracks sent after local modification or new stocks manufactured to different specs in Australia is not stated. However, the fact that Australian tracks were being used was deemed sufficiantly of interested to be documented.

    As regards other tracks for other vehicles I have no knowledge.

    All information from appropriate unit/formation war diaries and similar contemporary documentation.
     
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  3. Waddell

    Waddell Active Member

    Thanks for shedding light on that Mark.

    Hall was talking about the tanks condition once they had reached the border of Cyrenacia and mentions that no tank transporters were available as a factor .

    It was something I had not heard of and was surprised they were for tanks the Australians did not operate.

    Scott
     
  4. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    Is there any more info available about what was wrong with the tracks from Australia? Were they for a different type of tank than the A10?
     
  5. Waddell

    Waddell Active Member

    I can't find a mention as yet of this in the Australian Official History. In Chapter 2 (Mobilising Industry for War) of Volume V- The role of Science and Industry (1958) there are mentions of rifles and anti-aircraft guns going to England and the Middle East in 1941. Additionally a company at Lidcombe in Sydney named Industrial Steels Ltd had as a government project 'Tank castings and track links, bomb castings, machining and assembly'.

    It is possible that they were made there.

    Scott
     
  6. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Possibly of relevance, here are some file titles as held by the National Archives of Australia - unfortunately none of the files have been digitised (I just used the search words tank tracks)

    TT.png )
     
  7. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Hmmm, search terms Massey Harris tank

    TTT.png
     
  8. Waddell

    Waddell Active Member

    Looks like you have found the right file there Dave. I well may look into that as a project for the near future.

    Scott
     
  9. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

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