Captured Enemy Equipment

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by dbf, May 8, 2013.

  1. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    From TNA Reference: WO 171/376, GAD HQ

    Gallery Album:





    1. Definitions
    (a ) The term captured equipment will be understood to include all types of equipment, vehicles and stores taken from the enemy irrespective of the country of origin.

    (b ) Captured equipment is classified as follows:-
    (i ) New equipment on which completed information is lacking or which has not been subjected to technical examination or research.

    (ii ) Other equipment on which, although technical information has been gained, some further specimens may be required for technical research but the bulk is available for issue or disposal.


    2. The adoption of new or improved weapons, types of ammunition and of other supplies by the enemy has had, and will continue to have influence upon the course of Allied Military Operations and upon the improvement of our own equipment. It is of the utmost importance that a rapid and steady flow of detailed information on enemy equipments is maintained.


    (a ) New Equipment
    Intelligence Officers will be kept informed by technical intelligence staffs as to what items of captured equipment fall under this heading and will advise their Commanding Officers accordingly. The collection, custody, examination and disposal of such items will be the responsibility of technical intelligence staffs. Commanders will ensure that the equipment is adequately guarded until taken over by these staffs.

    (b ) Other Equipment
    Commanders will ensure that all captured equipment is collected into dumps and guarded. Ordnance representatives will be informed of the location and contents of these dumps and will give disposal instructions.

    (c ) Recovery and Evacuation of Heavy Equipment
    Commanders will ensure that means for prompt recovery and evacuation of items of heavy equipment are made available. Recovery Officers in Armies will be furnished by the Staff with a list of priority items of new and other heavy equipment for recovery.

    (d ) RADAR Equipment
    Responsibility for the technical examination of all captured RADAR Equipment including AntI-Aircraft and Searchlight Control RADAR and Naval RADAR stations ashore is vested in the Air Technical Intelligence of the Air Force. Ground forces capturing such RADAR equipment are responsible for their safeguarding and security until such time as disposal to this authority is accomplished.

    Ship-borne RADAR Equipments will be the responsibility of the Navy.

    (e ) Airborne Equipment
    Airborne and Paratroop equipment including parachutes will be the responsibility of the Army.

    (f ) Medical Equipment
    All items of captured medical equipment will be handed over to, or placed under care of, military medical personnel. It will be despatched without delay to the nearest Depot of Medical Stores where it will be taken on ledger charge and remain at the disposal of the DMS. The following points are to be noted in connection with the GENEVA Convention (of Laws and Usage of War on Lad, Secs 200-209 in the Manual of Military Law.)
    (i) Mobile medical units must not be deprived of their material (but this may be used by the competent military authority for treatment of the wounded or sick)
    (ii ) The buildings and material of fixed medical establishments may only be used for medical purposes, except under certain conditions
    (iii ) The material of Voluntary Aid Societies is considered private property but may be properly requisitioned like other private property in case of urgent necessity.




    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
    TTH likes this.
  2. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    It's all very well for someone in the UK telling us what we should do and don't do..BUT...when the opportunity arises to use the enemy's gear - it was always taken - witness the fact that when "Smokey" Smith of the Seaforth Highlanders of

    Canada won his V.C. by knocking out one enemy PzMkV Panther - another reversed into a ditch and was abandoned - the third just took off ....we were presented with the ditched Panther by the Seaforths and we enjoyed shooting up the

    enemy with their own tackle until the November 11th '44 when the gunner of this Panther - my friend Walter Pollard stood on a schu mine and died in agony two hours later - this alerted Brigade what we were in error and thus had to give up

    this panther.

    This was brought home to me earlier to-day when Randy a.k.a 17DRYCH who is visiting that area left a poppy on Walters grave at Cesena

  3. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Very interesting about the Mortar bombs.
    For some reason I'm unsurprised by the smallarms ammunition, but had thought mortars might be a rather more specialised fit.
  4. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    I think it's telling that the tables also show what can be used with British ammo, Tom.

    I asked my Dad if they'd been warned off because his CO wrote about how he could follow a battle and his infantry by sound as much as anything else, and, how the use of captured weapons could lead to tragic results.

    He also described the aftermath of Welsh Guards mucking about with a captured 88mm - not something they repeated, I should think.

  5. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Brian's mentioned before (long time ago) that using a captured MP40 was a very bad idea because of the sound issue.
  6. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    the noise factor seldom entered the question as being inside a tank meant that you heard NOTHING except your A - B sets - internet - or Infantry yelling into the phone

  7. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    An excellent post, Diane, thanks.

    I have a (somewhat neglected) thread on captured and substitute equipment used by Briitsh forces, but this document told me some things I didn't know. I had not realized, for example, that you could use German 81mm and 50mm mortar rounds in the 3" and 2" with some adaptation.
    Non-standard, substitute standard, and captured weapons in British and Commonwealth service

    And yes,apparently you could get British 7.92mm Besa ammo to work in the MG34 and 42, but by all accounts your father was right about the distinctive "notes" of those guns being dangerous to friendly users. This was especially true of the MG42, which sounded like nothing else. Yet both the 34 and the 42 were used by British forces from time to time, as photographic evidence shows. The MP40 was quite a popular captured item as well.
  8. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    My Uncle Fred kept an MP-40 in his M8 armored car. Wish I had a picture of him with it. He also mentioned that he had to careful with it because of the sound.
  9. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    I realise the 'sound issue' when using certain weapons is widely accepted but adding this for reference:

    From A Soldier's Story, Vandeleur:

  10. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    It was the norm for chaps serving in units such as mine NOT to have the odd German piece of equipment.

    I looked in my records to see when I picked up my Jerry rifle and found this:

    Later on, also in my diaries, I see that I was later to throw the rifle away.

    ceolredmonger likes this.
  11. Richard G

    Richard G Junior Member

    According to the official history the 9th Div at El Alamein used additional enemy weapons to boost firepower, not as substitutes. Such weapons included 71 Spandau MG's, 63 Bredas ranging from 6.5mm to 47mm and 15 81mm mortars.

    Apparently there was no problem as to sound identification etc which was considered more important than giving the troops extra firepower which ultimately should have resulted in lower own casualties.
  12. Aeronut

    Aeronut Junior Member

    My father served with the Black Watch in Normandy and they appear to have routinely used captured material and personnel for their own use. They certainly had Italians captured in German uniform who were given British uniforms and kept on the unit as Officers Mess staff rather than go in the cage!
    My father's letters describe a trip he made to the German's crossing point of the River Siene in a truck with his Batman, he returned in 'peoples car' filled with booty followed by his Batman driving the truck which was filled with German field telephone equipment (Dad was Battalion SO) and 4 Mongolian POW who had done the loading. He also said that if he knew how to drive a tank he could have returned in a Tiger. Unfortunately his ownership of the VW didn't last long as it received a direct hit from a mortar a few days later.
    The copy of the Op Order for 'Op Astonia' ,the attack on Le Harve, I have lists the battalion MT amongst which is a 'German half track Ambulance' presumably a 251. Following the capture of the port the Battalion also kept a Luftwaffe unit with its generators and electric lights. They were later 'swopped' to another unit reputedly for a lorry load of liberated booze.
  13. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

  14. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Granddad mentions, in one letter, that he has an SS knife on his office desk just after the war in Europe was over and he was serving in the BAOR (he probably was using it as a letter opener there).

    I haven't yet found it in his effects, so I suspect he threw it away or just left it there.

    Particularly after he had been to the concentration camps. At one stage the SS seemed like just fanatical(ly brave) fighters I guess? I'm not sure how loathed the "shiny" SS stuff was there (made by Hugo Boss before the end of the war. Immediately afterwards I think that the whole SS thing was utterly despised and thought worthless? and to be thrown away? It's a deeply worrying trend to see any of this stuff valued as anything but "historical artifacts" of hate now. Hence lingering disgust at shows like "Nazi war diggers" etc.

    Usually he was more interested in capturing the enemy soldiers or their mess kits and food (mostly for varieties sake) rather than their purely military equipment, much of which he wasn't trained to use or couldn't get the ammo or parts for. But I remember a little while back a documentary about the front line soldiers "liberating" the Germans of some of their personal effects (like watches, compasses, binoculars etc) as as POW's they would not have been able to keep these anyhow (not sure about the watches though?).

    I think he mentions having German binoculars in his tank, these were either broken or just "went missing" at some point - and occasionally having used the odd German gun* (typically put soon aside rather than carried on though) but one of the problems was keeping an eye on everything that they already had. Whenever you lost a tank you lost a lot of your personal effects and besides you were kipping down in fields and barns, and had only very limited space to keep things with you whilst "on-the-move".

    He says he liked to send unusual stamps back when he found them and had a tiny collection of coins, he slowly augmented.



    When the SRY captured a whole Tiger tank nr. Rauray it was shipped back to Blighty post haste and I think they were a bit miffed to hear perhaps that as well as being looked at by the boffins part of the primary (?) purpose was to have it on display in London (?) for the marveling crowds.

    It might have been useful in Normandy, but once it broke down and/or ran out of shells they probably would have had to abandon it anyway. Particularly in the rush across France when it would frankly have been about as much use as a lead balloon.

    The chances are anyhow a Tiger in the possession of the Brits would hae been bombed post-haste by the Airforce (the British tank crews there had enough problems with blue-on-blue even in their Shermans!). I dread to think what a prime target a Tiger was to anyone "passing by"!

    All the best,


    * Ps. BTW… At one point (I think) he tried to use a German sniper's gun (for hunting with) but found that the sights were off and was a bit disgusted that he had to correct them himself, with a toolkit he had. He only realised after the event that the fact that the sights were off had probably saved some allied soldier his life, perhaps even his own? (I know a nice "story" but... ;) )

    But the snipers ammo was not much use for hunting anyway (I suspect) if they used hollow points / dum dum bullets there?

    Not much use for the black rabbits (they went after - which when skinned the American’s thought anyhow were cats and so didn't much care to share!) as this would have just literally blown them apart but might have been okay for deer or boar, not that there were many of those there after 5-6 years of war.

    But what could an allied tank commander do with a German sniper rifle in a tank anyhow? I suspect this was pretty swiftly “passed” along, or exchanged for something more useful toot sweet.

    (I guess my point is they would have had to have had a baggage train of trucks carrying all this "loot" along with them, not just the odd chicken slung off the back of the tank, which is not really the impression I get of the kind of war that they fought there?) A lot of the time whilst moving about you literally had to carry all of your own kit from place to place muchly on your own back. Under those circumstances lightness of burden was a real issue, so minimalist would have tended to be the thing that worked best. Hence you have the invention of the Swiss Army knife for example, and multi-functionality wherever possible in bits of kit. I wonder if sometimes they didn't carry stuff for a fair while though before realising all of the stuff it was actually "designed" to do.

    Multifunctionality in army kit:

    You might carry a German watch for a few weeks before realising it was designed inside to flip up to reveal a compass too...

    ...even a Jerry can:

    Has a number of interesting design features which I guess the typical tommy would have had to pick up on through a bit of training or through use?
  15. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    I covered this in my book. The 9th was more energetic about salvaging equipment to supplement its firepower than any other formation in 8th Army. They did the same in Tobruk.
    dbf likes this.
  16. Richard G

    Richard G Junior Member

    What book is that? Perhaps you could list it in your signature panel.
  17. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Images now restored in post 1.
    Apologies for not spotting their loss sooner.
    Recce_Mitch and Tricky Dicky like this.
  18. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    I think this is the best thread for this; feel free to move if not.

    Elsewhere is a thread, where the last post refers to the 8th Army using captured Italian kit: American unit serving with the 8th Army in North Africa

    Anyway via an American contact an Austro-Hungarian Steyr sniper rifle captured by the Italians in WW1, looks like it was put into service in Ethiopia / Abyssinia, hence the stamp on the butt and now is in the USA for sale on an auction site: 'Rare Austrian WWI Steyr Model 1895 Sniper Rifle. Captured by the Italians in WW1 it was subsequently used in Italian East African colonial service. This is evidenced by the circular stock cartouche with AOI (Africa Orientale Italiana) inside the circular border. The AOI included pre-war Italian possessions on the Horn of Africa, as well as, Ethiopia in 1936. In 1940 the British successfully occupied the AOI and perhaps this rifle came into their possession at that time. The rifle has matching stock to receiver. The bolt is factory unnumbered as is correct for Steyr M95 rifles and carbines made for the Austro-Hungarian Empire before the end of WW1. The rifle is in the original 8x50 caliber and the bore is a bit dark. Fully operational and optically excellent. The overall condition is very good! This a fascinating rifle with history spanning both world wars.'

    Rather expensive today US$8.5k lowest bid. See: Austrian WWI Steyr Model 1895 Sniper Rifle - Bolt Action Rifles at : 790342443
  19. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    This short film clip appeared today on my YouTube selection: Last German Panzer Battle - Six Day War 1967. Given it was posted on 9/2/19 it already has 155k views and 895 comments. The narrator is Pat Cordell. There is a little B&W grainy footage and lots of photos. Anyway it is there:
  20. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    On Twitter by Caesar @Ninja998998 yesterday a tweet with four photos from the contemporary battlefields of Syria, they show a WW2 German LeFH 18 howitzer during World War II was used in Syria. Remarkably they show quite a lot of ammunition being available. Just how the gun got there is a mystery to me.

    I had to check it is a 105mm gun and Wiki refers to a 2015 video of the gun in action - the video is no longer available there. It is available here though:

    See: 10.5 cm leFH 18 - Wikipedia

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 8, 2019

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