Ordnance Quick-fire 17-pounder gun

Discussion in 'Canadian' started by stolpi, Jan 28, 2017.

  1. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

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  2. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

  3. idler

    idler GeneralList

    As this thread has wandered into SP naming on occasion, I offer this piece of evidence from Ebay on Ram v Sexton:

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  4. idler

    idler GeneralList

    There's been another one of the above on Ebay that some bugger's got for a bargain (not this one, though). Putting that aside, the seller included a few key pages, one of which has 'Sexton' in semi-official use from 1943:

    s-l1600.jpg s-l1601.jpg s-l1602.jpg

    Equivalent manuals ought to exist for other equipments that might shed further light on names.
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  5. Wapen

    Wapen Well-Known Member

    I'm the same with Crabs. The Flail regiments used the name in 44 but nobody else so I've got one mate telling me 'those names were post war' and another saying not.
  6. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    I came across a mention of PHEASANT in the war diary of 10 Corps RA Branch for Feb 1943 and thought it might be of interest (WO169/8596):

    2 February 1943
    12 PHEASANTS arrived ex DELTA for 76 ATk Regt 1 ARMD Div.

    I thought it was interesting that they were coming from the Delta rather than into North Africa direct from UK. Was that widely known?


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  7. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Most of the people disputing contemporary nomenclature are firmly in the AKSHUALLY bracket.
  8. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    Hi Tom,

    I'm not clear about at what point 8th Army's supplies changed to come via Gibraltar. Maybe not until after the capture of Tunis?

    I suppose this would have meant they would have reached 8th Army regardless of the progress of the war. Supposing Rommel had been able to bring things to a standstill further east, for instance.

    They probably had to be shipped out a couple of months prior to that.
  9. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Hi Chris,

    76 A Tk Regt were in TIMIMI at the time (East of DERNA) so I'm assuming that the PHEASANTS came up across the desert from Egypt or may have been shipped up to TOBRUK and then along the coast road.

    So yes, I agree they most likely came round the Cape and up through the Red Sea and would have reached 8th Army whatever happened in the Western Desert. I'll keep an eye out for any mention of their being shipped.


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  10. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    The British borrowed 987th FAB battalion of twelve M12s for D Day and until the end of June. The need arose from D Day fireplanning. Initially no Medium artillery was to be landed on D Day because naval gunnery could do all the fire support anticipated. However, as the plans for D Day developed with ambitious plans for armour to crack on inland, XXX Corps identified that their D Day objective of Villers Bocage was well beyind the range of the biggest naval guns, and demanded medium guns for D Day.

    21 Army Group did not want to land wheeled artillery tractors on D Day, hence the addition of 3 inch M10 SPs to the Divisional Anti tank regiments and deployment of SP 40mm and triple 20mm Crusader SP AA guns. There were no British tracked medium guns or gun tractors for medium guns. The British asked Bradley if they could borrow some guns. Bradley's response was sure, why not take the detachments with them, we weren't expecting to land them for several weeks. Source - Parham Papers which I read researching Gunners in Normandy-

    I have wondered what the artillerymen of the 987th must have thought. If you are a gunner in a medium or heavy artillerypiece, you are a bit of a nine mile sniper, a Gambardier. You don't expect to be deployed in the front line. These fellas might have thought we are OK we are due to land at D+14, long after the excitement has died down. Then they were plucked from the depths of the reinforcement schedule to be told. Err you are landing on D Day, under British Command.... Get yourself ready to enjoy kippers for breakfast and soya link sausages. (They must have rationed them with American grub, at least in the UK) Discover the delights of Clacton on Sea in April.

    They actually landed on D+1 rather than D Day, but were the first unit of 5 AGRA ashore. Here is one of their guns on 10 June

    Summary of unit history here.
    987th FAB in WWII, Harlan Harner
    Note that theuy were also used in the direct role against pill boxes and bunkers on the Siegfried line.

    There is a bit about the unit in the museum at Ver-sur-Mer, which is well worth a visit, but often ignored by British visitors.

    One other odd point about the M12 is that it mounts the French 155mm GPF - the same ordnance as the Germans mounted in the battery at Pointe du hoc. This and the 40mm bofors are the only weapons common to all armies on D Day.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2023
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  11. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    The generally reliable David Boyd states:

    There seems to be a lot of confusion as to the 17 Pounder carriage, the first production 17pdr carriages were completed in May 1942 but production was extremely slow, when the War Office issued urgent demands for 17 Pounder guns to be sent to North Africa there was not enough carriages available to mount the guns required so guns were mounted on 25 Pounder carriages instead, these were known as 25/17pdr carriages, codename Pheasant. 150 of these carriages were ordered and this order was completed by December 1942. In October 1942, 59 17 Pounder and 27,000 rounds of ammunition were shipped to the Middle East, I have not yet found the exact date of the guns arrival but they were definitely present by the end of December. In November/December a further 40 guns were sent.

    The minutes of the LMAB, Army Assignment Sub-committee (Army (42) 80th meeting, 30 Sep 42) records:

    The agenda for Army (42) 97th meeting, 31 Oct 42 states:

    So it would seem that 59 or 60 17/25 pdrs were in transit for the Delta by the end of October. Although page 5 of Annexure “I” records combined figures for the ‘3 in/16 cwt and 3 in/25 pr’ they would almost certainly be 17/25-pdrs at this point. Of course this raises a discrepancy with Boyd’s 150 production figure but it is important to note that these allocations are not hard numbers but rather allocations based upon anticipated deliveries.

    A further 68 17/25-pdrs were allocated at the Army (42) 110th meeting, 1 Dec 42, bringing the total to 228 - whether or not they were all produced or whether the previous 160 included any 17-pdrs will need further research. The 68 includes 40 (2 x 12 gun batteries with 8 reserves) in a War Office special reserve earmarked for First Army which fits with Boyd. It was at this meeting that the first, at least overt, 84 17-pdr allocations were made: 8 M.E.; 64 P.A.I.C. and 12 Home training.
    Canadian Military Headquarters, London : T-17500 - Héritage

    The next allocation was exclusively 17-pdr: 40 Home Forces; 16 War Office units and 60 War Office general reserve (First Army).
    Canadian Military Headquarters, London : T-17500 - Héritage
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  12. tankbarrell

    tankbarrell Junior Member

    This is part of the sight bracket that was fitted to my 17 pdr. It had been modified in Danish service into a sort of hybrid Mk 2/5 sight.

    Attached Files:

  13. tankbarrell

    tankbarrell Junior Member

    This being the more normal marking which it has now.

    Attached Files:

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  14. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    The Troop commander of D Troop Lt Charles Kydd RCA went forwards on foot under machine gun and mortar to see if he could find a good fire position for his 17 pounder M10 SPs. He found a re-entrant north of the Dammershof and led an SP to 400 metres of the JagdPanther. This put four shots inton the Jegdpanther knocking a track and vision block off. The crew abandoned the vehicle and were taken prisoner by 9RTR.

    This is the only incident I am aware of where a 17 pounder M10 SP took on a JagdPanther which is why it is the subject of a foirthcoming book in Osprey's Duel series.

    The 17 Pounder M10 SP Anti tank gun tends to be overlooked. It tends to be left out of many of the comparisons of Allied v German tanks in NW Europe in a way that German SPs are not. .
    For example:

    #1 Much is made of the significance of the 17 pounder Sherman Firefly to boost British anti tank firepower. Back of an envelope calculations indicates there were around 400-500 Fireflys in the Normandy campaign. The ten Anti tank regiments assigned to Armoured Divisions and Corps each had 24 M10 SPs making, 240 in total which signifcanly added to the anti armour capability.

    #2 Almost every history mentions the impact on Allied tank crews of facing "invulnerrable" Panther and Tiger tanks. Questions were raised in the House of Commons in 1944 raising the concenrs of soldiers forced to fight with "inferior tanks" . I have been researching the stories of the Anti tank gunners for over ten years, and cannot find any comparable lack of confidence in the M10 with its paper thin armour. To quote one regiment's historian, a decoprated battery commander:. "The 3 inch M10 was a decent SP Anti tank gun. But, the 17 Pounder was a terror. There was no enemy tank that copuld not be knocked out by it."

    A further feature of the 17 Pounder M10 SP was that in the absence of tanks it was a useful assault gun. The WD of 6th Canadian Anti Tank Regiment includes a report on their experience of the battles around the Scheldt with recommendations about their tactical use. The M10 also retained the 0.5inch M2 machine gun on a pintlem mount as its only secondary armament. Although this was for AA purposes, this was about the only platform for "Ma Deuce" in 21st Army Group and one appreciated by the infantry,..
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2023
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  15. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    The 6 pounder was a very good anti tank gun. It was light enough to manhandle and capable of knocking out German medium tanks and SPs, at least at ranges of hundreds of yards. .With APDS ammunition it could do serious damage to a Tiger or Panther. The first Tiger to be knocked out in Tunisia was with a 6 pounder using AP shot. The limitation was range. The 6 pounder was fine in the enclosed hedgerow country, but out ranged over 1000 yards/metres. Not at all fine on the slopes of Hill 112 or south of Caen.

    This is where the 17 pounder supplied the extra range. The towed 17 Pounder was a good gun if the detachment had the time to dig it in. It took about 12 hours of hard graft to dig a pit the for the monster, sometimes referred to as "Coastal Artillery" . Great at Medennine in 1943 when the 8th army laid an anti tank ambush for the Afrika Korps. Not so good when the infantry are in the advance and need anti tank defences against the inevitable German counter attack within minutes or hours of capturing the objective.

    For most of the NW Europe campaign the towed 17 pounder batteries did very little in their primary role, while the SP 17 pounder batteries went from task to task, By 1945 the towed batteris were increasingly used as infantry while the gun tractors (crusader and Ram gun tractors) were used as "Kangeroo" APCs. Within the Guards Armoured Division 21st Anti tank Regiment became an extra battlegroup with a mix of 17 Pounder SPs and Gunners acting as infantrymen. One of their NCOs is awarded an MM for some very infantry related gallentry. .
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2023
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  16. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    This account gives the impression of only looking at the regiments in the corps and armoured divisions. There were eight regiments in infantry divisions with towed 17 pounders, who until close to the end of the war continued to try to use their guns in an artillery role.

    Although I agree that the towed 17 pdr was not a good weapon for the advance. Strangely though, upper command seems to have felt that the additional firepower was worth the clumsiness as the 6-pounder was removed from the anti-tank regiments in the infantry divs in Feb/March 1945 when they switched to 50% towed 17-pounders and 50% Archers.
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  17. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    The Infantry divisional anti tank regiments did not receive the 17 Pounder M10 SP. The three D Day assaul;t divisions 3rd, 3rd Canadian and 50th received the 3 inch M10 on a scale of four per battery, with the remainding eight guns 6 pounders. The infantry divisions did receive the 17 Pounder Valentine SP, which was regarded with scorn by some serving the M10. (Whoever heard of an AFV shooting out of its backside!) I am not sure what the divisional anti tank regiments got up to in the last four months of the war. Some were around for Veritable but they did not seem to play much of a part in clearing German SPs on the 53 division front. They get no mention in Tim Saunders' tome on the Reichwald, but he ignores the 17 pounder M10 SP equipped 56 Canadian anti-tank battery too and its exploits near the Dammerhof as mentioned in post #1 on this thread. .So proof Tim Saunders does not use WW2talk....
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2023
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  18. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    The "A" names are internal Ministry of Supply code names. The justification was that they could refer to these vehicles on drawings etc. without giving a clue to what the vehicle's purpose was, or what it was armed with. I've got the rationale on a document somewhere, but can't remember quite where at the moment.
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  19. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    I think I only partially arnswered post: 1022385.

    It is a bit of an understatement to say that the towed 17 Pounder was not a good weapon in the advance. The story might have been different had the allies faced hordes of heavily armoured tanks or if the the topography of NW Europe been closer to North Africa or the Ukraine and engagement ranges longer.

    If there were any doubts, OR Study No 27 "Anit Tank guns in the Ardennes" (Monty's Scientists p 443-452) demonstrated the limitations of towed anti-tank guns compared to SPs. Although the operational setting for the ardennes was allied defence rather than attack, German defensive doctrine emphasized the counter storm and counter attack, and .was put into practice.

    By and large by 1945 Towed 17 pounders in the Corps units were relegated to secondary infantry duties, e.g. manning quiet sectors of the line. The Allies were short of infantry. All artillerymen had a secondary role as infantrymen. Many of the anit tank regiments had been converted from infantry battalions and retained a core of soldiers with infantry expertise.

    The Ram gun tractors of 6th Canadian Anti-tank regiment's two towed batteries were used as "Kangeroo" APCs for infantry assaults in 1945, while their gun detachments were miles away minding a section of the front line near Nijmegen.. . .

    21st Anti tank regiment of the Guards Armoured Division became a fifth battlegroup within the division with the towed batteries acting as motorised infantry mounted in M3 Half tacks supporting the SP batteries. One of their NCOs was awarded the military Medal for leading an attack as an infantryman.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2023
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  20. Packhow75

    Packhow75 Senior Member

    Royal Armoured Corps Training - Volume III - ARMAMENT, Pamphlet No 7. July 1952. W.O Code No. 8743

    • SP 17-pr M10

    There is no mention in the publication of the name "Achilles".

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