BEF Artillery Markings

Discussion in '1940' started by May1940, Feb 17, 2011.

  1. May1940

    May1940 Senior Member

    There seems to be limited published information about the markings used by artillery units of the BEF. These included tactical markings in circular and triangular form which appear to have been discontinued after Dunkirk. These markings in particular are a puzzle. In the hope that others may have pictures or information to help illuminate this subject, here is what I have found so far.

    Geometrical tactical markings

    A 15cwt truck shown on another thread carries a circular marking with 'B2' in it, next to the red over blue artillery AoS plate. The circle is divided into three parts. Comparison with the tones of the AoS plate indicates that the top left is red and top right is blue. The bottom portion could be white but study of other pictures, including the next one below, indicates this colour may well be yellow. I have added a picture to illustrate how it might have looked in colour.

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=45851&stc=1&d=1297960430

    Light Dragons Mk III of 2 RHA advancing into Belgium in 1940 also carried a circular marking divided into coloured sections as shown below. Here it can be seen more clearly that the bottom section is probably yellow. As with the previous marking it can also be seen that the bottom section is approximately 1/3 the height of the circle. This time no letter or number in the circle but a 'C' in a dark square is nearby.

    [​IMG]

    Finally, here is one on a Scammell where the lower part of the circle is half the height of the circle. Again, no letter or number in the circle.

    [​IMG]

    Can anyone explain the pattern behind this type of markings?

    Andrew
     

    Attached Files:

  2. rolfi

    rolfi Member

    Great minds think alike (or fools seldom differ); I've been putting material together on the same subject. With the weekend looming it's unlikely to appear 'til Monday.

    RW
     
  3. May1940

    May1940 Senior Member

    Rolfi

    Clearly it must be 'great minds'. I look forward to seeing what you have come up with. I have prepared a few more examples so will share those too.

    Andrew
     
  4. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    In the first pic anyone know whats the vehcle further up the road on the right ? or is it a trailer?
    Craig
     
  5. rolfi

    rolfi Member

    Whatever it is, it's German.
     
  6. May1940

    May1940 Senior Member

    Following the same theme here are three more circular markings.

    In this first picture the pattern is a new one - the lower half of the circle is clearly divided in two. I have indicated again what might be the colours (if, as before, the bottom colour is yellow and not white).

    Note that both Scammells have the same marking, so perhaps the marking is the same for one troop. (Note also that the right Scammell has the same marking on both doors - no surprise there really.)

    In the previous post I showed a Dragon entering Belgium. There are pictures of other Dragons in the same column with different letter markings but the same circular marking. This suggests again that one pattern might relate to one troop.

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=45977&stc=1&d=1298122967

    The second circular marking is a Morris CDSW FAT. This is back to the same pattern and colours as the 15 cwt truck in the previous post but with different letters. Unfortunately, no AoS plate here.

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=45978&stc=1&d=1298122967

    Finally here is an ebay picture of a CDSW at Malo les Bains. It is clearly 'A2' as can be seen in a German colour picture of it but thanks to the poor colour reproduction (all the vehicles look grey/blue) there is no help with this marking. This angle though shows up a vertical division and I am guessing at the yellow segment below. This time however it looks like the blue is on the left side - the opposite to the CDSW above. (Or could it be that red is appearing darker than blue due to the type of film? If so,it could be the same red-then-blue pattern as the other CDSW.)

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=45980&stc=1&d=1298124005

    I shall now make one more post to provide a bit more of the puzzle.

    Andrew
     

    Attached Files:

  7. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    Excuse me butting in: have you ruled out the 'obvious' explanation that the yellow segment indicates Army Troops under some system that was superseded by the AoS plates?

    I realise that this doesn't account for the triangular variations. Would it be worth summarising the theories that you've discounted so far? Apologies if I've missed something in one of the other threads.
     
  8. May1940

    May1940 Senior Member

    While I cannot be certain I would say that these geometric markings are based on just circles and triangles. I haven't seen squares in the same position or with different coloured segments.

    Here then are a couple of triangles.

    The first is a Scout carrier from an artillery unit in a picture which appears in Blaxland's excellent book. The red over blue AoS plate allows confirmation of the red-then-blue in the top part of the triangle. Note that it follows the same pattern as the first Scammell in post #1 above. I have no reason for saying the bottom here is yellow rather than white, other than consistency.

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=45982&stc=1&d=1298125355

    The next picture shows an Austin truck sporting a triangular marking with the lower half divided in two - like the division of the Scammells' markings in the previous post.

    (I can also just make out what looks to be an additional white bar below the triangle on the door, so I have shown that in my picture but don't have a clue what it might be. I can also see on the mudguard what seems to be a smaller triangle but divided vertically. I have no idea what that is either. Finally the truck carries what looks like 15 on its AoS plate with a bar below - so a GHQ artillery unit.)


    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=45984&stc=1&d=1298125980


    Andrew
     

    Attached Files:

  9. May1940

    May1940 Senior Member

    Excuse me butting in: have you ruled out the 'obvious' explanation that the yellow segment indicates Army Troops under some system that was superseded by the AoS plates?

    I realise that this doesn't account for the triangular variations. Would it be worth summarising the theories that you've discounted so far? Apologies if I've missed something in one of the other threads.

    Nothing is ruled out and I'd be very interested to hear people's ideas (or any written evidence) about these markings. As far as I am aware this is the first time this topic has been looked at on this forum so there are no previous theories to catch up on.

    As to whether the yellow (if it is yellow) could indicate Army Troops - I have seen a picture of a Quad belonging to a Corps unit with a triangle on the door and that seems to have yellow below so that may not be the explanation.

    We need some more pictures or diary evidence.

    Andrew
     
  10. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    Andrew

    Nitpicking perhaps (we modellers know it as rivet counting), but that Scout Carrier in your post above does not look like a Scout Carrier to me; the armour on the drivers side extends too far back. Could be a Bren or Universal.

    Incidentally, can you give a URL for the 15 cwt at the top of this thread; it has an unusual tailboard which I would like to follow up.

    Chris
     
  11. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Is the Blaxland Carrier not one of those AOP converted Scouts or a Universal ? It's a shame that the AoS marking has been obscured by the British censor, along with the street sign. It's credited as an IWM photo. I wonder if they've found a neg without the censor's marking since Blaxland was published ?

    I imagine it's likely to be Brussels. Which GHQ Arty troops would have advanced through Brussels with II Corps ? I'd assume that 60th and 88th Army Field Regts would be candidates ?

    Andrew, Further to an earlier mention, the 1940 period gas detector paint was very yellow (canary yellow would have been appropriate) so if you can find a clear image showing the gas paint near to your mystery marking colour then you should be able to make a comparison of shade. It certainly looks darker than the white areas to me.
     
  12. rolfi

    rolfi Member

    This is what I was working on, in light of what’s been posted since it could probably stand some correction and with the usual caveats about interpeting grainy old photos …

    Geometric tactical signs of the Royal Artillery c. 1940.

    Many will have noted, especially on photos sold on ebay, the presence of geometric signs on vehicles of the RA in 1940. These signs differ from those described in Peter Hodges' "British Military Markings 1939-1945" and elsewhere.
    The signs are simple geometric shapes: half red half blue. A coloured area is added to denote the battery. On some signs alpha numeric codes are added. Sketches follow
    To my mind the apparently common use of these signs, in France and at home, suggests that some official instruction or recommendation was circulated; possibly an Artillery Training Pamphlet, all someone has to do is find it.

    What colours were used?
    In May 1940 the 74 Medium Regiment RA, then in Brighton, were using these...
    [​IMG]
    Headquarters
    A Battery green base
    B Battery yellow base

    At about the same time New Zealand's 4, 5 and 6 Field Regiments used the same sequence of colours:
    4 Field Regt: red/blue square
    25 Bty: green base
    26 Bty: yellow base
    5 Field Regt: red/blue rectangle
    27 Bty: green base
    28 Bty: yellow base
    6 Field Regt: red/blue triangle
    29 Bty: green base
    30 Bty: yellow base.

    Based on those slender threads I'm about to weave a whole tapestry. I would suggest that...
    each unit was allocated one of three shapes; either a circle, triangle or a square/rectangle,
    that how the shape was divided into red and blue differentiated between units with the same shape; as did the way the battery colour was applied,
    green and yellow were most commonly used battery colours; although photos suggest that white and black may also have been used especially in the Heavy Regiments that had four batteries.


    Based on a study of grainy, over or underexposed photos and more than a little, hopefully inspired, guesswork I offer...
    [​IMG]
    140 Field Regt RA
    The signals marking can be seen on a 30 cwt truck marked as S7 (Spare Cable Layer/Stores Truck 30 cwt)

    [​IMG]
    2 Royal Horse Artillery

    [​IMG]
    97(Kent Yeomanry) Field Regt RA
    These signs had alpha numeric markings e.g. C3

    [​IMG]
    2 Medium Regt RA

    [​IMG]
    5 Medium Regt RA
    These signs had alpha numeric markings e.g. M4 on the HQ sign

    [​IMG]
    possibly 88 Field Regt RA

    [​IMG]
    1 Heavy Regt RA


    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Some unknowns and...



    [​IMG]
    Field Regt of 2 Corps

    [​IMG]
    97(Kent Yeomanry) Field Regt

    Given the amount of supposition and speculation on my part I'd be surprised if all the above is all correct but it's a start others will be able to amend and add to.
     
    Rob Dickers likes this.
  13. May1940

    May1940 Senior Member

    Andrew

    Nitpicking perhaps (we modellers know it as rivet counting), but that Scout Carrier in your post above does not look like a Scout Carrier to me; the armour on the drivers side extends too far back. Could be a Bren or Universal.

    Incidentally, can you give a URL for the 15 cwt at the top of this thread; it has an unusual tailboard which I would like to follow up.

    Chris

    Thanks on the carrier - I'll look more closely at it.

    Please tell me about the tailboard as I agree it is unusual. Rich posted it and the URL is:

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/1940/30097-bef-army-troops-vehicle-arm-service-markings-others.html

    (It is quite a tragic picture in its uncropped form as there is a guy lying on the ground behind it.)

    Andrew
     
  14. May1940

    May1940 Senior Member

    Rolfi

    Great work - it must have taken a long time to amass all that information. I never thought there might be more than three colours.

    I don't have many of the pictures to which you must be referring but I will look at what I have. I have certainly seen that triangle with the upward sloping line (titled 'possibly 88 Field Regt').

    All this reminds me of an IQ test question - "Here are three shapes, what comes next?"

    Andrew
     
  15. May1940

    May1940 Senior Member

    Is the Blaxland Carrier not one of those AOP converted Scouts or a Universal ? It's a shame that the AoS marking has been obscured by the British censor, along with the street sign. It's credited as an IWM photo. I wonder if they've found a neg without the censor's marking since Blaxland was published ?

    I imagine it's likely to be Brussels. Which GHQ Arty troops would have advanced through Brussels with II Corps ? I'd assume that 60th and 88th Army Field Regts would be candidates ?

    Andrew, Further to an earlier mention, the 1940 period gas detector paint was very yellow (canary yellow would have been appropriate) so if you can find a clear image showing the gas paint near to your mystery marking colour then you should be able to make a comparison of shade. It certainly looks darker than the white areas to me.

    Hi

    I can't make my mind up about the carrier - could be a Scout or Universal converted to AOP - needs more study. I think the number is 18 (or possibly 13). Could it be our Medium Regt on its way through Brussels? (See Army markings posts 11 and 12.)

    Andrew
     
  16. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Well done chaps. This is ground-breaking stuff. The clues are slowly starting to add up.
     
  17. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    Thanks on the carrier - I'll look more closely at it.

    Please tell me about the tailboard as I agree it is unusual. Rich posted it and the URL is:

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/1940/30097-bef-army-troops-vehicle-arm-service-markings-others.html

    (It is quite a tragic picture in its uncropped form as there is a guy lying on the ground behind it.)

    Andrew

    Thanks Andrew. It would appear to be an early Guy Ant - the early ones did not have a cut-out in the tailboard according to John Church.

    Chris
     
  18. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Very definitely a Guy, from contract V2869 (Z352386 - Z353296). At this stage of the 1930s, the prefix to the census number is a pretty good guide to the expected build date so this would be a 1935 /36 example.
     
  19. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

    morris with a M4
     

    Attached Files:

  20. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Those are interesting close-ups, C8.

    Clearly I Corps and the AoS '12' was issued to 5 Medium Regt. R.A. according to the listing that Andy found.

    What's the significance of the 'M4' though and who's going to have a go at extrapolating the colours ?
     

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