Ex British Army (North African Campaign) M3 Grant T24676

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by Stuart Kirkham, May 20, 2017.

  1. Stuart Kirkham

    Stuart Kirkham New Member

    Hello Everyone

    I am currently researching the history of a ex British Army M3 Grant under restoration here in Western Australia.

    The tank in question is T24676.

    This is our Facebook page - M3 Grant T24676 Restoration

    Our Grant was manufactured by Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Company of Hammond, Indiana on the 14th July 1942. July 1942 was a significant month as it was the month that production of the British Grant 1 ended at Pullman-Standard. With only 15 Grant tanks manufactured this month, that makes T24676 one of the very last Pullman-Standard Grants built.
    ________________________________________________________________________________________

    I came across this forum when searching the internet for historical information on our tank. I have been able to successfully research the Australian Army service life but it is the British Army service that I am struggling with. The markings found on our grant are a little confusing. Not knowing the British unit markings very well, I was hoping some of the forum members may be able to help me out.

    One of the major problems associated with North African Grants is that unit marking were quite often painted onto the face of each rear and front sand guard. As these were not needed in Australian service, they were removed and disposed of thus eliminating the tanks British history.

    I have prepared an illustration showing the markings I have found on the Grant. Some are production tags, some are British and some are Australian. The markings are as accurate as I can get them so if you see something that doesn't look right, let me know and I will check it out. The tank is stored a couple of hours drive from me so I am unable to simply 'pop out' and have a look unfortunately.

    This particular Grant has tell tale signs that it was used by the British in North Africa. Apart from the markings, T24676 has at some stage prior to Australian service, received a 'hand brushed' sand coloured camouflage paint scheme over the entire tank. The colour appear to match the 'Light Stone' the British used in the North Africa campaign. This coat of paint has been 'slapped' on which suggests a unit level exercise. The paint also shows wear and tear consistent with the effects of wind/sand blast damage.The thinner sections of the paint job have completely worn away leaving the thicker paint only. This paint layer is preserved under the olive drab green paint scheme applied when it entered Australian service.

    Another tell tale sign are the two brackets welded to each end of the transmission case. These brackets were placed there to mount the square cut sand shields over the front of each track. These brackets were only on British Grants used in North Africa. Our tank still has these brackets in place.

    There are a few quite exciting finds on this Grant that may help with it's history. I have posted some photos of each find.

    1. I have found what looks to be a caricature of a MOUSE/RAT/RODENT on the front transmission casting. I believe the 4th Armoured brigade used a similar animal (Desert Rat) for it's mascot. Could this be a caricature of this animal. Could our grant possibly be ex 4th Armoured Brigade?

    Other interesting markings show what looks to be a tank name or similar applied by the crew. The following appears (on an angle) just below the drivers LH side viewing hatch. I believe it is this - TI 1P. It is hand painted in a Roman style font that was so popular on tanks in British service. I have also found what appears to be a large letter 'A' and a hand carried flame torch similar to a small Olympic torch you would see many years ago. There is a 'Greek style' angular number 3 next to it.

    2. What appears to be battle damage is present on the front transmission. I have noticed in photographs of Grants in the desert campaigns, a number of similar sized projectile hits to the transmission. There are three distinct repairs to the armour. Each appears to have been 'cleaned' out by using a grinder of some sort as the edges are neat. The hole has then been back filled, ground flat and then had a stamp applied to it's surface.

    3. The Grant has what may be in service small arm projectile hits as well. I have found 22 strikes to the Grants armour. 20 strikes to the side of the main gun sponson and two on the transmission. The strikes to the sponson are quite close together and suggest the strikes are from a light machine gun. The depth and shape of the strikes also suggests a 'pointed' rather than a 'rounded' nosed projectile.

    So thats a brief overview of the Grant. Any help, no matter how small, will be accepted with open arms.

    Thanks for this opportunity.

    Regards

    Stuart
    T24676 Markings.jpg 026.JPG 064a.jpg 64aaa.jpg 024.JPG 027a.jpg 060.JPG


    Brief history of T24676 in Australian service.

    The following has been researched based on written, pictorial and historical information available to us at this early stage.

    T24676 still carries it's unit markings. Unfortunately these markings are very difficult to identify due to their deteriorate state. I will post up more details as they come to hand.

    T24676 is the registration number given to this Grant.

    T24676 is a Grant l - Riveted hull, British turret, petrol engine. 4,724 built.

    We believe that T24676 was sent to the Western Desert/North African campaign of Sept 1940 - Jan 1943.

    T24676 was eventually transferred to the Australian army sometime after the M4 Sherman was introduced into the campaign. The M3 Grants were deemed redundant by the British and were thus made available to it's allied partner, Australia.

    It is believed that all the Australian bound ex British army Western Desert Grants were transported by ship directly to South Australia where they were off loaded and distributed to various units around Australia.

    Along with a number of other Grants, T24676 was railed across the border to Merredin, Western Australia. The Grants were bound for No.5 Base Ordnance Depot (5BOD) Nungarin (approx 40 kms north of Merredin). Unfortunately a storm had passed through the area a few days prior resulting in the rail line between Merredin and Nungarin being disabled due to flooding. The only course of action left was to unload the Grants and drive them the 40kms to Nungarin. This they did. All arriving safely.

    At the time, the army depot at Nungarin was the largest storage and maintenance facility for Army Ordnance and Vehicles in Western Australia. The depot also comprised a very large and comprehensive repair facility. This facility was capable of both light and heavy maintenance on all armoured and soft skinned vehicles in use with the Australian army.

    T24676 was most probably assigned to 'B' Squadron, 2/7th or 2/10th AUSTRALIAN ARMOURED REGIMENT of the 1st ARMOURED DIVISION, 3rd CORP.

    During January to March 1943 the 2/7th Armoured Regiment moved to Mingenew, Western Australia, with the rest of the 1st Armoured Division to undertake garrison duties. The changing strategic outlook that followed the Allied victories around Buna and on Guadalcanal, coupled with the manpower shortages in the Australian Army and the wider economy at this time led to the disbandment of 1st Armoured Division in September. After this, the 2/7th Armoured Regiment remained in Western Australia and was reassigned to the 1st Armoured Brigade Group. Nevertheless, on 7 January 1944, the 2/7th was also disbanded, having never seen action.

    After the war, all surplus armoured vehicles, including the Grants, were sold off at disposal auction. Most of these tanks were bought by farmers for use on their farms for field and clearing work. The Western Australian Wheatbelt was literally saturated with ex military vehicles for the next three decades.

    T24676 was one of these Grants that were used on a farm.

    To save weight and to facilitate ease of entry and egress from vehicle, the turret and basket was removed and disposed of. The tank was used for all types of work around the farm for many years until modern tractors became available.

    T24676 was therefore 'parked up' on the farm and forgotten about. In early 2015, the Grant was purchased by it's current owner and moved to his property in June of that year.

    Given it's decrepit appearance, T24676 is in rather good condition. It is operational and can be driven without any mechanical problems affecting it's drive-ability. The interior has been stripped out as were most Grants on farms. A replacement turret will be acquired as will a better set of tracks.

    The restoration is now underway. T24676 will receive a full 'down to the last nut and bolt' restoration. It will be a slow and steady process.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 26, 2017
    Chris C, clive_t, DaveB and 3 others like this.
  2. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Hi Stuart,

    The only comment I can make at the moment is to point out that the 4th Armoured Brigade got its symbol (if I remember correctly) from service with 7th Armoured Division, which already had a jerboa (desert rat) emblem, albeit a red one rather than black.

    Now that I think about it, it should be possible to look into whether 4th Armoured Brigade had Grants at one point or not. 7th Armoured Div surely did in one of its units.

    4th Armoured Brigade:

    [​IMG]
    badge, formation, 4th Armoured Brigade. © IWM (INS 6407)
    IWM Non Commercial Licence

    7th Armoured Division:

    [​IMG]
    badge, formation, 7th Armoured Division.. © IWM (INS 5112)
    IWM Non Commercial Licence
     
    CL1 likes this.
  3. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    P.S. Something else to look into is, if TI- is the start of the tank's name, what units gave names starting with T to their tanks? Units tended to follow this sort of pattern.
     
  4. PeterTanker

    PeterTanker New Member

    One point to "Chris" and anyone else, the 7th Armoured Division sign you show is the cloth arm badge used in NW Europe 1944-45 and not the design used in North Africa, see attached.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 26, 2017
    CL1 likes this.
  5. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Good point, Peter. I was mainly just trying to point out the general use of the jerboa, but of course you're absolutely right.
     
  6. Stuart Kirkham

    Stuart Kirkham New Member

    Hello Everyone

    Thanks for all your replies.

    Chris, originally I thought the TI 1P may have been T1 11 until I was able to identify the 1 as being P. I thought that this T1 11 may have been a Bible scripture reference - Timothy 1:11 or Thessalonians 1:11. That theory has now been discarded. I have since found a number of photos of British tanks in North Africa that show names in a similar text as the 'TI'. As for the 'T' belonging to a particular units, I cannot find any info on this apart from the list of tank names I have attached below.

    mmpbooks.biz/mmp/tables/Vehicle_Names_V3.pdf

    109158.jpg

    M3GrantAUX.jpg

    The number '52' (painted in white) to the rear armour of our tank appears to have been applied numerous times. It should also be noted that traces of the colour red are extant beIow and around the number. I have noticed that tanks in North Africa carry this same white number on a red square. Image below shows the number 52 and yellow square belonging to 6 Royal Tank regiment of the 7th Armoured Brigade.

    Brit-Italy-markings-02.jpg

    The red square to the RHS of our Grant has the number 67 stenciled on it. Of interest is that the 67 is located towards the bottom of the square suggesting that something else may have been painted above it. I found this photo of a British North African Dingo sporting a similar unit TAC. I will need to further investigate this marking on our tank to see if there is something else above the 67.

    DingoDesertRat-CU.jpg

    Also of interest is the 'mouse caricature' on our tank. The feet on both the tank caricature and official emblem cloth patch (brown desert rat) you posted show the same bulge for the toe region of the feet. Coincidence maybe but worth consideration. The ears are also rounded as is the caricatures. Unfortunately our tank mouse caricature has been partly obscured by a painted TAC plate. I was hoping to see a tail on the mouse.

    I have found this IWM image of a British 'North African' Grant (desert camo and sand skirts) sporting a cartoon character painted on its left side. This tells me that tank crews did paint these characters on their tanks. May not have been common but it was done.

    M3GrantCartoon.jpg

    Australian Universal Carrier Tobruk with Desert Rat caricature.

    Tobruk_banner.jpg

    And finally. This photo shows the front of a North African Grant. As can be seen, there is a circular marking of some description similar to our tanks mouse caricature. I am not saying that this is another mouse caricature but it is in the same location and has the roundness that the mouse shows on our tank. Long shot I know but I cannot ditch all evidence without some further research.

    M3GrantFront.jpg

    This close up came from this photo. If anyone has a better quality version, please post it up so we can all have a closer look.

    large (11).jpg

    Well thats it for now. I know research can be rather uninteresting to some but it is a very important aspect of authentic military vehicle restorations.

    The research continues....

    Stuart
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2017
    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  7. PeterTanker

    PeterTanker New Member

    Stuart,

    Apologies for pointing out more misconceptions.

    The systems of markings used on British AFVs and those of other countries which followed the same practice varied during WW2, as did which Regiments were with which Brigade or Division. That makes identifying units from markings less than easy.

    The diagram showing markings with that combination of units would only be relevant for 1944 to 1945 - the units within the Brigade changed often, from what I can find 2RTR, 6RTR and 8RTR together was a combination from the end of January 1944. So this is from the time when they were in Italy and not the desert.

    Also, 52 on a red background was an Arm of Service number not used in North Africa which had a separate series.

    On the other hand, 67 on a red background was by used several units in North Africa 1942-1943. It was for the "junior" regiment in the "senior" Armoured Brigade of an Armoured Division at the time when Armoured Divisions had two Armoured Brigades.

    Some regiments which would have used it on Grants at different times include

    10th Hussars (2nd Armoured Brigade, 1st Armoured Division)

    5RTR (4th Armoured Brigade, 7th Armoured Division) which is the unit in the Dingo photo

    Warwickshire Yeomanry (9th Armoured Brigade)

    4th County of London Yeomanry (22nd Armoured Brigade, 7th Armoured Division)

    Staffordshire Yeomanry (8th Armoured Brigade, 10th Armoured Division)

    and there are probably others as well.

    It was also common for regiments to operate two or three types of tanks at the same time.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2017
    DavidW and Tricky Dicky like this.

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