Girl Gunners of WW2

Discussion in 'General' started by Sheila M, Mar 6, 2009.

  1. Jay Jafo

    Jay Jafo Junior Member

    I'd love to see some of those photographs John. Also, if you have ever managed to get any stories I'd love to read them.

    Sheila


    Sheila,

    The plot between the Royal Artillery's and the RAF Regiment's at the National Memorial Arboretum is ATS Ack Ack.

    Pete
     
  2. john_w

    john_w Junior Member

    One of my mother's friends who was in the Army for years claims that the girls didn't actually operate the guns but merely acted as spotters and range finders.
    It may have varied from place to place but my information - direct from my mother - is that the girls were required to undertake whatever duties were necessary to ensure the guns could operate properly. The only exception being actually firing the gun. So spotting, rangefinding, loading, aiming etc were daily duties.

    In my mother's case she did fire a gun once, as did all the girl gunners. It was a rite of passage which marked acceptance by the men. The night my mother had her shot was the night an Australian fighter pilot was brought down by AA fire in their area. She often wondered.......................
     
  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    There is some video footage of female Gunners including a interview with a female Sgt. at 4 Minutes 45 Seconds on the video below

    YouTube - Dover, 1943

    Cheers
    Andy
     
  4. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    I've just bought a little book about the ATS, published in 1942. 'She Walks in Battledress' by Anthony Cotterell

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    This is the chapter about girl gunners, 'life in a mixed battery'.

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  5. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    If you search IWM Collections with
    Keyword: ATS
    Photographer: Tanner
    There are lots of nice shots of ATS women serving the guns.

    eg.
    [​IMG]
    "An ATS spotter with binoculars at the anti-aircraft command post. A 3.7 inch anti-aircraft gun can be seen in the background."


    [​IMG]
    "Auxiliary Territorial Service: Two ATS girls operate a mobile power plant on an anti-aircraft gun site at night."
     
  6. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

  7. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    Just picked up this little training pamphlet, produced by AA Command for ATS of mixed regiments, 1943.

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    It includes a few photographs and cartoons as well as this interesting piece of propaganda..

    We have heard a lot about the German 88 mm gun in the press. How great a gun it is, both for A.A. and anti-tank work. How marvellously it has done in the Middle East and Russia. 88 mm, by the way, is equivalent to just under 3.5 inches.
    It is, undoubtably a good gun. But it is not as good as our 3.7 inch mobile gun. Our 3.7 inch is a better A.A. gun and a better anti-tank gun than the German 88 mm. In fact, the 3.7 inch is probably the best gun in the world.

    So there.
     
  8. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Bodson -
    couldn't agree more as most Tank crews were screaming for a better gun when we were crawling through the 2 pdr - 6 pdr - finally for the D Day thing the 17 pdr was fitted to many Shermans - and all that time i.e from early '42 when we had hundreds of 3.7's lying around in the mid east - we finally had the A/T version - when ? - Battle of the Bulge - February 1945 ......

    Cheers
     
  9. Groundhugger

    Groundhugger Senior Member

    I seem to Remember A film in the late fifties about an Ack Ack unit with searchlights , "Light up the Sky" a 1960 film
     
  10. dovermarine

    dovermarine Senior Member

    Here are two pictures from my brother-in-laws unit history. 1st Canadian Radio Location Unit. (Radar) They were attached to gun sites along the south coast and worked with ATS girls. Their unit later became the 1st Canadian Radar Battery. Derek
     

    Attached Files:

    Bodston likes this.
  11. penance

    penance Member

    Bodson -
    couldn't agree more as most Tank crews were screaming for a better gun when we were crawling through the 2 pdr - 6 pdr - finally for the D Day thing the 17 pdr was fitted to many Shermans - and all that time i.e from early '42 when we had hundreds of 3.7's lying around in the mid east - we finally had the A/T version - when ? - Battle of the Bulge - February 1945 ......

    Cheers


    3.7" had been used in At role way before then ;)
     
  12. Oggie2620

    Oggie2620 Senior Member

    Sheila

    This is a great thread. Glad they found some stuff for you.

    Before I became a RAF Aux Supplier I was a RAF Aux Regt Gunner and I used a 35mm Oerlikon. The one I trained on is here in the RAF Regt Museum! Gunners are a great gang of people so all power to your mums elbow...

    Dee
     
  13. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Penance-
    some of us recall the use of a 3.7" AA gun as an UNOFFICIAL A/T gun - as in Medenine- March '43 with TWO 3.7's and four 17 pounders- which went back to the Uk immediately for OFFICIAL platforms as opposed to the bodged up 25 pounder platform.....That was the last we saw of the 17 pounder until a Canadian battery landed with them at Sicily in the July '43 invasion...and they were the only ones to have them as they were all being fitted to Cromwells and Shermans for D.Day !

    I am referring to the OFFICIAL use of that 3.7" A/T Gun for the first time at the Bulge in Feb of '45 complete with it's own platform...when they knocked out four Tigers without loss at Celle ....can you enlighten us on the OFFICIAL use before then ?

    Cheers
     
  14. Rob Dickers

    Rob Dickers 10th MEDIUM REGT RA

    Here are some Canadian photos of the 3.7in AA Gun. Note that there was an AP shot for the 3.7in AA Gun. Also when in the horizontal firing position the 3.7in AA Gun had a lower profile than the German 8.8cm flak guns. However, because the British had such fine A/T guns like the 6 and 17 pdrs there was really no need to use their heavy AA guns on the A/T role. Because of their long range (18,800m) the 3.7in AA guns were often used in the field artillery role especially in the counter battery role.

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    Anti-tank capability
    The 3.7-inch (94 mm) gun was never used as an anti-tank weapon, except in one or two emergencies. This is in contrast to the German Army, which integrated their equivalent "88" into anti-tank defensive screens from 1940 onwards, or the American M2/M3 90mm, which also was capable in the anti-tank role from 1942 and onward.
    This was mainly because the 3.7-inch (94 mm) gun mobile mounting was almost twice as heavy as the German "88". Redeploying it was a slower operation, and the heavy AEC Matador artillery tractor normally used for towing could operate on hard surfaces only. Additionally, heavy AA Regiments equipped with the 3.7-inch (94 mm) gun were controlled by Corps or Army HQ, or at even higher level HQs, and command of them was not often devolved to the commanders at Divisional levels where the anti-tank role might be required. Prolonged firing at low elevations (not part of the original specification) also strained the mounting and recuperating gear.
    The gun was used as the basis for the Tortoise assault tank's 32-pounder anti-tank gun, but this tank, which is best described as a self-propelled gun, never saw service.
     
  15. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Rob -
    The thing was - at the time - we were outgunned by even the Panzer MkIV's with their long barrelled 75mm - the MkV Panther with the same gun AND the Tiger with the 88mm - while we had the comparitively useless 6 pounder - this was why we were screaming for a better gun - and to see all those 3.7's just sitting there with NO lufwaffe to shoot at -really got up our noses.
    After Cassino we had a demo of the 17 pounder - which blew a PzMkIV turret about 50 yards away - so we were chuffed and asked when we could have them to be told to forget it as they were all going into NWE...didn't help us very much !

    We lost five Churchill Tanks in less than 15 minutes one day later on.....that didn't help either ! Gerry Chester lost 14 Churchills in about the same time as did the 51st RTR in the Liri Valley ...The Army Commader boasted that he had 2000 Tanks - and could afford to lose 50% of them - thing was - he was an Infantryman while we were in those Tanks he could lose - and he damn near did - he lost 800 of them !
    Cheers

    Cheers
     
  16. Rob Dickers

    Rob Dickers 10th MEDIUM REGT RA

    Tom
    Looks like it was down to bad command again. As you say with Divisions losing their 17pds and only left with a few 6pds they should have been using the 3.7's in a ground role if they were laying idle and badly needed even if there were a few problems with mounting. As said above AP Shot was avalible for the 3.7 and even if not, a lot of damage could be done with HE. Later in NWE they were increasing used in a field role and very effective as in 'Veritible'. Think its a case of the CRA's not rocking the boat about the designation of the AA gun at the time.
    With dad's Regt the thinking was better, in France they regularly knocked off panzers with their 5.5's.
    Rob
     
  17. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Rob -
    Probably was a bad command but we were finally told that it came from the war ofice with some desk bound jockey saying that the 3.7 stood too high off the ground -
    he had never seen an 88mm standing at 11' off the ground ! More to the point I think that the weight of the 3.7 was a deciding factor - and it's mobility - but then again the enemy had the same problem converting the 88mm to an A/T role - and solved it whereas we spent the same time making a new gun in the 17 pounder - and at that it didn't show up in numbers until early '44 ! Three years late - a lot of tank crews were lost in that time...
    Cheers!
     
  18. Oggie2620

    Oggie2620 Senior Member

    [​IMG]
    This is similar to the gun except its ones owned by the Finns.
    Dee
     
  19. penance

    penance Member

    Tom,
    No can't help with the official part.
    I do know that 153 bty of 51st HAA used their 3.7"s in AT role during Operation Compass. They we relieved from 51st and under control of 7th Armoured.

    Sorry if i misread the post, didnt realise it was meant in conext of official useage.
    I presume if AT rounds were available that it had been seriously considered?
     
  20. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Penance-
    Didn't know the 153 bty were involved in Compass - no mention of them in the OB - there is 51st Field Regt RA and 7th and 64th Mediums in Corps troops - 3rd and 106th RHA in 7th Armoured although they might have been attached to Selby force ?
    Cheers
     

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