BEF Vehicle Arm of Service Markings (GHQ and others)

Discussion in '1940' started by Rich Payne, Oct 30, 2010.

  1. May1940

    May1940 Senior Member

    Some good stuff here so I will try to add something. I am going to attach my pics until I find out what went wrong last time.

    Searchlights

    Rich: my understanding is that an AoS marking relates to a regiment not to a battery. Hodges and Taylor and Derek Barton's excellent website for BEF artillery AoS markings would seem to support this. (I guess you know this site well.) RA 39-45 Normandy 6 June 44
    I agree though, more photos needed.

    Field Artillery Tractor with 20

    Jan/Rich: Quite a few FATs show a number 20 on a black circle in this position or stencilled onto the central locker at the back. This is a speed restriction sign. The AoS plate would have fitted in the holder which looks to me like it could be just below the 20. The FAT is a Morris Quad because the bottom of the door (missing) is stepped. (On the Guy it is straight.) The gun is a 3 inch heavy AA gun and would not have been pulled by the Morris. Perhaps they were paired up temporarily to move the gun.

    Rich is right about the AoS 20 being light AA. Attached is a Morris bofors tractor going into Belgium, from Pathe news, with both 20s on the back.

    Bedford lorry AoS number 35

    Jan: another interesting picture. The bar above the number means it belongs to a Corps. We don't know which without the Corps insiginia, which should be on the other mudguard but I can't see it. According to Hodges and Taylor 35 (on red) would be for one of three M/G battalions in the relevant Corps.

    Guy AoS number 241

    Jan: Quite rare to see one of these. Rob's idea that the 241 might match a battery number is possible, but it doesn't look like the plate has the horizontal red blue background it would have if it was artillery. Also, in all other cases the AoS number bears no relation to the number of the unit (deliberately I think). I can however offer no suggestions about the unit.

    Please keep the pictures coming.

    Andrew
     

    Attached Files:

  2. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    Please keep the pictures coming.
    Andrew

    OK, here's another Morris FAT. Picture was taken in Norway, but the period is more or less the same. Unfortunately the AoS is not completely visible...

    [​IMG]

    Jan
     
  3. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    '31' on this GHQ Bedford OXD. It looks to have a vertical colour split suggesting Royal Artillery.

    [​IMG]

    Rich,

    This picture confirms the vertical colour split:

    [​IMG]

    Jan
     
  4. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

  5. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Andrew, thanks for your comments yesterday. I'm sure that you're correct about the missing 'Pass' plate / AoS number.

    Jan, the circular 17 / 12 plate on the Scammell is the bridge plate (with and without towed load).

    I've turned up another photo which can quite definitely be linked to an AA Unit this time with the serial no. 34 and GHQ bar.

    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately, I can't see any colour division on the plate in the eBay scan and the photo collectors who pay top money for the images have little interest in discussing British Markings.

    It looks as if the gun was fired until out of ammunition and last used panning along the coast.
     
  6. May1940

    May1940 Senior Member

    Rich

    I wish my pictures were of better quality but look at this. Different gun I believe because there is still ammunition in the lockers but I am pretty sure this is also 34 with a bar underneath. The plates must be red and blue surely.

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=39862&d=1288897399

    Andrew

    * 34 on red/blue vertical would be 1 Anti-Aircraft Regiment R.A.
     

    Attached Files:

  7. May1940

    May1940 Senior Member

    And here is another - probably the same as your gun Rich*

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=39864&d=1288897736

    Andrew

    * As in the previous post, 34 on red/blue vertical would be 1 Anti-Aircraft Regiment R.A.
     

    Attached Files:

  8. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Isn't it nice to find multiple views of the same subject ? I'm pretty sure the vertical split is visible in the last photo. The picture showing inland looks like De Panne (doesn't it ?) I'd assume that Gort's HQ there would have had substantial GHQ AA protecting it. The question is, which ? War Diaries might well help us pin this one down. References to guns abandoned on the beach there would be fairly categoric.

    I didn't really expect this thread to throw up instant answers but if we keep posting, some patterns must arise.
     
  9. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    Rich

    I wish my pictures were of better quality but look at this. Different gun I believe because there is still ammunition in the lockers but I am pretty sure this is also 34 with a bar underneath. The plates must be red and blue surely.

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=39862&d=1288897399

    Andrew

    Andrew,

    I know that the information below is not relevant for this thread, but I'll give it anyway... :D

    The picture above was taken in De Panne, see peacetime postcard below:

    [​IMG]

    Only the house with the white pointed façade top is still standing today, all the other villas have been replaced by new buildings... :(

    And this one was taken "shortly after" the evacuation (see wrecks in the background). The motorcycle is a Beute BSA M20, the British markings have already been replaced...

    [​IMG]

    Jan
     
  10. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Thanks Jan. The confirmation does help. If we can now find out which AA Regt. was defending and abandoned their guns on the beach at De Panne then we have a pretty good idea which GHQ unit used the number 34.
     
  11. May1940

    May1940 Senior Member

    In post # 103 on Royal Engineers or Corps of Military Police Lorry Piers, Jan posted a picture of some vehicles on the prom at Malo Terminus. On closer examination one of these looks like a Thornycroft searchlight lorry just like the one that Rich posted in #6 of this thread. Zooming in on and pasting Jan's picture into Rich's shows the similarity.

    What is interesting is that, despite the poor resolution of the zoomed in picture, it looks like it has an AoS plate with a vertical split, a white bar underneath and possibly another 49 on it. It would be good to find a higher resolution image of this one.

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=39925&stc=1&d=1288960057

    Regarding which searchlight regiment might have been in Dunkirk, Keith Brigstock has posted a lecture on searchlights at:
    http://www.army.mod.uk/documents/general/RASearchlights-Text-Final(1).doc

    Of the three regiments it looks like the third, mentioned on page 6, is a strong candidate,* the other being largely (although not wholly) in Calais and Boulogne. Here is a quote from Keith:

    "3 (Ulster) SL Regt RA (SR (Special Reserve)), which had only been formed three days before war was declared, faired much better. Its batteries were deployed relatively close together around the Dunkirk area with one battery in Dunkirk itself. On 19 May, after some hard fighting often against tanks, the bulk of the Regiment was ordered to destroy their searchlights and make for Dunkirk. By 21 May, 9, 10 and 11 Btys were in defensive positions around the port while 12 Bty continued in it searchlight role in side the town."

    (Maybe this is also the regiment whose 6x4 searchlight lorries are seen burning in the rue des Fusilier Marins in Drew's post #81 of the thread Dunkirk Related Pictures. Since they are burning they don't help with AoS markings though.)


    Andrew

    * Wrong! The 11 April list of BEF markings shows 49 is 2 Searchlight Regiment R.A. So, returning to Keith Brigstock's lecture on searchlights, and knowing that at least one of the Thornycroft searchlight lorries pictured here is at Dunkirk, we read:

    The bulk of 1 SL Regt and half 2 SL Regt were forced into defensive positions around Boulogne and Calais. Another group from 2 SL Regt – one officer and 80 men – found themselves attached to K Battery, Royal Horse Artillery with orders to help hold the small village of Hondeghem which was on the Germans main axis of advance. The troops fought a valiant action then, running short of ammunition, they charged the German positions and broke through, giving them a route out towards Dunkirk. For this action K Battery was awarded the honor title of Hondeghem, one of only five awarded during the Second World War. Unlike the other searchlight regiments, 2 SL Regt were more widely spread which resulted in its batteries having mixed fortunes. By the 25 May 1940, 5 Bty was completely missing, 6 Bty had over 50 per cent missing and 8 Bty was missing just under a quarter. By the end of May the Regiment had lost over 50 men killed and approximately half the Regiment captured.
     

    Attached Files:

  12. May1940

    May1940 Senior Member

    Here are a few more shots of the AA guns at La Panne. From e-bay and from a book. Looks like just two guns in total.

    Andrew
     

    Attached Files:

  13. May1940

    May1940 Senior Member

    Here's another one - an ambulance apparently in Dunkirk with an AoS number of 90. *

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=39938&d=1288962964

    Andrew

    * The 11 April list shows this to be 4 Motor Ambulance Convoy, a GHQ unit.
     

    Attached Files:

  14. Derek Barton

    Derek Barton Senior Member

    Regarding the 3 inch AA Guns at La Panne, 2 AA Bde was responsible for the AA defence of Dunkirk and its harbour and the flanking beaches. Of the HAA units, we can discount 2 HAA as they had 3.7's leaving 60 HAA and 210 Bty 73 HAA both of whom had 3 inch guns.

    Of the later arrivals, most destroyed their guns outside the town as ordered. The MGAA ordered 1 AA Bde to send 11 of their remaining 20 HAA guns to Bray beach and to destroy the remainder. The guns ordered to provide the final defences were all 3.7's.

    So the most likely owners of the 3 inch guns are 60 HAA or 73 HAA.
     
  15. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I think there was some 40mm guns there too from a RA unit. I read about the AA defence about a year ago and for the life of me I can't remember what book it was in.

    I have all of 2 Searclight Regiments inc. all the batteries war diaries and 9 SL Battery too. I'll check them later for any mention of Dunkirk in May.

    I wish you lot would have waited until I had ALL the diaries before starting great these threads :D
     
  16. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Ref the ambulance don't automatically think RAMC. There were quite a few RASC ambulance units in France during 1940.
     
  17. Derek Barton

    Derek Barton Senior Member

    The organised AA defence for Dunkirk by 24 May consisted of 4 HAA Btys, 2 LAA Btys plus a LAA Tp and 3 SL Btys. Other AA units and sub units arriving as the withdrawl proceeded were to be allocated to the outer ring of defences.
     
  18. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    Definetly Dunkirk for the ambulance post 33 , the flying buttresses to the church behind are quite distinctive. This is the left hand side now with some appropiate vehicles !.
     

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  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Cassel

    5 Royal Horse Artillery?
    [​IMG]
     
  20. Derek Barton

    Derek Barton Senior Member

    Could be 140 Fld as I have them as 10 being the junior of the 2 Army Fld Rgts in 1 Corps. 5 RHA should be 9 with 97 Fld as 10 in 3 Corps. This is presuming they followed regulations with the senior regiment taking the lowest number.

    *Andy was right it is 5 RHA
     

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