WWII British Tacsigns

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Obergefreiter, Jul 17, 2011.

  1. Obergefreiter

    Obergefreiter Junior Member

    Hello there!
    Does anyone know a publication about British tactical signs of WWII? Or a website where I could find further information? You know, those esoteric red, green or multi-colored squares with white numbers! For the campaign in NW Europe, I've found the table of organisation of an Armoured Division in an Osprey book and that of an Infantry Division in a French publication. But what about North Africa, Italy and the Far East?
    Many thanks in advance!
    Obergefreiter
     
  2. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    I'd recommend the ongoing Warpaint series by Dick Taylor - two volumes published, two to go. The downside is that the arm of service signs and unit serial codes are in the delayed Vol 3.
     
  3. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  4. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Squares with numbers are Arm of Service markings. A good reference if you can find it is

    British Military Markings 1939-1945. Originally by Peter Hodges and updated by Michael D Taylor. Canon Publications 1994.

    Mike
     
  5. Obergefreiter

    Obergefreiter Junior Member

    Thanks a lot! Your references should be very helpful! The Warpaint series is easily to find via Amazon - two available, another one announced, but not so the book by Hodges and Taylor, which seems to be quite rare and expensive.
     
  6. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    I picked up a copy of 'Warpaint Volume 3' at Beltring War & Peace show from a man who claimed to have the only stock in the country. So the wait is nearly over. I have not tested the AoS tables in the book yet, but they are very comprehensive. I would recommend it.
     
  7. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    It might be stating the obvious but these serials were deliberately made obscure and were changed regularly with the express purpose of confusing those with such names as 'Obergefreiter'. :)

    There is only one source for BEF markings in France and Flanders 1940 and that is forum member Andrew's publication. :exactly:
    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/books-films-tv-radio/35279-bef-1940-vehicle-markings-book-forum-member-may-1940-a.html

    If you're intending to study all periods and all theatres then you're entering a complicated field. As mentioned, Hodges & Taylor is the best that I've seen so far but it's by no means complete. There is no mention of SE Asia for instance. It is to be hoped that Dick Taylor has collated all the loose information in one place.

    Bodston, what's Taylor like on the BEF ? Anything for 1st Armoured or the post April arrivals in France ?
     
  8. 26delta

    26delta Senior Member

    There is a copy of WO199/21 posted somewhere on this website. Some of the more knowledgeable members of this group might be able to steer you in the right direction.
     
  9. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Were the vehicle schemes related to uniform worn arm indicators?



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  10. 26delta

    26delta Senior Member

    My understanding is that vehicle TAC signs and uniform shoulder patches come under a common title of 'formation indicators'. Sometime in the midst of WWII, American units changed to using unit crests as shoulder patches but maintained the TAC signs to avoid confusing other members of the AEF. During Vietnam, the TAC signs changed to a common olive drab disk or square with a two/three digit number indicating the unit's position in the major command's TO&E. Batteries of the Royal New Zealand Artillery use the number 41 on its TAC signs. While serving in Vietnam, I served with 64th QM Battalion. All of our trucks bore the digits 09 on the disk.
     
  11. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    I dont suppose anyone knows the tacsign colors for a battalion in the 78th division. All I have is black and white photographs, reading this thread made me realize I have no idea what colour it was!!!
     
  12. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    I dont suppose anyone knows the tacsign colors for a battalion in the 78th division. All I have is black and white photographs, reading this thread made me realize I have no idea what colour it was!!!

    Do you have a specific unit serial number that you are interested in?
     
  13. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    Do you have a specific unit serial number that you are interested in?

    Did each Battalion in the divisional Bdes not have the same colours with a different number? Im (for obvious reasons) interested in the Guards Bde, and 2 CG.
     
  14. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    Well, I may be opening a huge can of worms here.. but this is how I see it.
    I did not know the order of battle for 78th Infantry Division so I googled it. Wiki page confirms that it was a conventional 3 brigade Division and gives the seniority as,

    11th Infantry Brigade
    2nd Battalion The Lancashire Fusiliers.
    1st Battalion The East Surrey Regiment.
    5th Battalion The Northamptonshire Regiment.

    36th Infantry Brigade
    5th Battalion The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment).
    6th Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment.
    8th Battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

    1st Infantry Brigade (Guards) (until March 1943)
    3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards.
    2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards.
    2nd Battalion The Hampshire Regiment.


    Therefore superimposing the standard Vehicle Serial Numbers for an Infantry Division in the middle east from late 1941.
    Senior Inf. Brig. would be HQ - 65 on Red
    Bn.1 - 91 on Red
    Bn.2 - 80 on Red
    Bn.3 - 52 on Red

    the 2nd Inf. Brig would be HQ - 72 on Green
    Bn.1 - 84 on Green
    Bn.2 - 80 on Green
    Bn.3 - 92 on Green

    the Junior Inf. Brig. would be HQ - 58 on Brown
    Bn.1 - 60 on Brown
    Bn.2 - 62 on Brown
    Bn.3 - 89 on Brown


    This changed for Italy 1943 so that the Junior Inf. Brig became

    HQ - 94 on Brown
    Bn.1 - 67 on Brown
    Bn.2 - 68 on Brown
    Bn.3 - 69 on Brown

    I hope that that makes sense.
     
  15. Obergefreiter

    Obergefreiter Junior Member

    I picked up a copy of 'Warpaint Volume 3' at Beltring War & Peace show from a man who claimed to have the only stock in the country. So the wait is nearly over. I have not tested the AoS tables in the book yet, but they are very comprehensive. I would recommend it.

    Hello together,
    following Your recommendations, I bought Warpaint Vol. 1 and 2 from Amazon. Those books even explain the odd-looking camouflage used on the Shermans of the Royal Scots Greys in Italy! And two or three weeks ago, I received my copy of Vol. 3 via Amazon. It covers the AoS marks in detail, although the Far East is still missing.

    Does anyone know if the Commonwealth Forces in North Africa, Italy and NW Europe used the same marks? The Polish Armoured Division did, I think.

    Greetings from Germany,
    Obergefreiter
     
  16. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Commonwealth forces should have been using the same series of markings as the British forces that they were alongside but there were inconsistencies and the Middle East in particular was complicated and often altered.

    Certainly in Italy and in NW Europe from 1944, they should have been consistent.
     

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