BEF Artillery Markings

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

  1. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    I have a hypothesis that G (MercersTroop) Battery had two Troops (A & B ) while K Battery had three (D, E and F). This is because I have assumed that when the new Junior Battery founded in Nov 1940 CC Bty took the next available spare letters (C, and H) these must have been unused - implying that G bty had only two troops.

    The 12 gun three troop battery was adopted as a way to expand the field artillery while minimising the demands on scarce radios and trained junior commanders. A 12 gun battery allowed for a 50% increase in the number of guns without needing 50% more battery commanders, COs and their HQs and wireless sets. There were disadvantages of this structure which was abandoned within 18 months. The RHA may have resisted a dilution of their elite standards. I am not sure how thoroughly the decision not to expand the RHA Batteries might have been documented, as the discussion might have been more likely over a pink gin in Woolwich than at a desk in Whitehall.

    It does not help that we are dealing with D,E&F Troops of K Battery RHA and G (Mercers Troop) Filed Battery RHA and whether Wixley was a GPO in G Battery or might have been in the GPO vehicle of E Troop...

    However, the reason why both numbered, field and lettered RHA, Field batteries had lettered troops and gun subs was to avoid confusion on the gun position. ;) The actions that took place on a gun were defined in gun drill books for each member of the gun detachment, whose roles were numbered, e.g. the no 1 was the detachment commander the No3 the layer. Any practical period of drill will include the commands "Tell Off" which requires each member of the detachment to yell out their number. (Usually followed by the command "change round" and repeated to see if Gunners could remember a different number.)

    To keep it simple on the gun position, guns and vehicles are are letters while gunners are numbers. The Royal Regiment of Artillery lettered its guns sub sections, grouped these into sections called "left, centre and right" in each lettered troop. So an order for "No1s to the Gun Position Officer" will result in the detachment commanders doubling across the position and cannot be misinterpreted as the order for A Sub to be manhandled out of action, even by the most simple minded gun bunny.

    Is there any evidence that Wixley received his MC?
  2. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    Don't like the sound of them 'scare radios ' :wink:
  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  4. May1940

    May1940 Senior Member

    Thanks for explaining why letters and numbers, it makes a lot of sense.

    The diary definitely mentions A, B and C Troops in G Battery so I suppose they had to conform to the structure for a field regiment.

    I looked more closely at the photo of the Morris 8-cwt with the tac sign GE and it can just be seen that the front mudguard has a white vertical line on it. That will be the bottom half of the 1 Corps formation sign and that means this is a 140 Army Field Regiment vehicle. (If it was 5RHA it would have had a 3 Corps green fig leaf on a white square.) So in this case GE would be the Gun Position Officer of E Troop of 140 Fd Regt.

    I don't know if Wixley received his MC but there are others on this forum who know where to find that kind of info and can probably let you know.

  5. May1940

    May1940 Senior Member

    That is a great thread Drew. Thanks for the reminder. Some of the pictures seem to have gone off-line but the rest are great and the little maps are very useful.

  6. fairlie63

    fairlie63 16FdBty

    That marking appears to be similar to the RA red/blue diamond worn on the pugri of sun helmets with the battery designation in brass on it. See the pic attachments, the badge was worn abroad but I don't know if the vehicle marking was restricted to overseas.

    Attached Files:

  7. nico/kemmel

    nico/kemmel New Member

    hey , the foto is made in village westouter in Belgium , not for from my home ..
  8. nico/kemmel

    nico/kemmel New Member

    hey , the foto is made in village westouter in Belgium , not for from my home ..
  9. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    The attached pic of a Guy FAT was picked off the BEF vehicles thread. The truck is clearly from a Field regiment (AoS 5). That square thing to the left of the radiator as you look at it looks as if it might be a variation on the geometric artillery signs, but I wish I could see and identify a formation sign (Starboard mudguard?). Any comments?


  10. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    If that is a rounded light coloured edge appearing beneath the netting then it pretty well has to be 44th Division - I can't think of any other. That would suggest 65 Field Regt.
  11. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    So what is the, also, round thing on the opposite mudguard - bridge class? And any suggestions on the aforementioned square thing and its colours?
  12. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

    Here is one photo of a morris quad from ebay, is it from a Cdn unit ? Sign on right mudguard.
    BEF 1940.
    Keith morris quad 1940 bef.jpg
  13. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    Could be, but 1st Canadian Infantry Division formed part of the 2nd BEF, some of them at least crossing to France (Brest for at least some) in early June 1940 and returning a few days later when it became clear that the battle for France was lost.

    Incidentally, Rich, though the round thing on the right mudguard of the Guy quad in the previous post could be a bridge class, I have no idea what the colours of the 'square thing' might be, except that red, yellow and blue seem to be common. Hadn't thought of 44 Div as parent formation so thanks..


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