25 pdr guns used by US Army

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by alberk, Jul 15, 2020.

  1. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    25 Pdr.JPG
    This picture was shot on March 27th or 28th, 1945, after the Rhine Crossing - in the sector just south of Wesel, Germany. The 30th US Infantry Division advanced in the area and had reached the track of the unfinished Autobahn (today the A3 leading from the Ruhr to Arnhem in the Netherlands). The US artillery unit is equipped with 25 pdr guns - is this an oddity or something quite common? Who knows anything about this?
     

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  2. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    The US did have an ammunition supply problem in 1944 and they were 'loaned' 100 25 pdrs at the end of the year. It is difficult to find photos of them in US service.
     
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  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

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  4. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Thanks, m kenny. Very interesting - so it was a bit of an oddity...
     
  5. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: Jul 15, 2020
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  6. Osborne2

    Osborne2 Well-Known Member

    Not so uncommon as you may think. 1942 Ireland 34th Inf Div. were equipped with 25 pounders and took them to Tunisia. US 105mm were in very short supply at that stage. Quote: 'The 34th also holds this first: the first artillery round fired by American ground forces against German
    troops was leveled by PFC Joseph Pisch of B Battery, 175th Field Artillery Battalion, using a British 25 pounder on November 19, 1942 at Medjez-El-Bab, Tunisia.'

    https://minnesotanationalguard.ng.mil/documents/2018/11/34th-infantry-division-history.pdf/ .
     
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  7. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    What I find most surprising ist that the British had equipment to spare and to give to the US forces. The usual perception is that it was the other way round... But it does make sense - considering that in 1942 the US armaments industries were not in full swing yet.
     
  8. Osborne2

    Osborne2 Well-Known Member

    Britain fell over backwards to supply the US with weapons, food, combat rations, aircraft, ammunition, hospital equipment, first aid supplies, NAAFI facilities, training, you name it, they did it in 1942. It was a come-on to the US in gratitude, I think, for the agreement by the US to make Germany the priority to defeat first. The full story of UK largesse and huge reverse lease-lend is yet really to be told. When one looks around there are only two books in print , as far as I am aware, with Bolero in the title, one by Buckton and one by Wakefield. (Please let me know if you know of more) Neither of these analyses the Bolero build up, they describe the some events. Buckton is good on personal stories though. As ever campaigns with real fighting are the focus for many authors and readers and not the logistics end of it all. Bolero/Neptune/Overlord was a magnificent effort, but Torch in many ways was even more remarkable AND would not have happened without the disproportionate effort put in by Britain. The lead time for Torch from approval to landings was 25 July to 8 November. Ships had to be moving to three landing areas in two countries in Africa to do this from two continents by 21 October. (All dates from decaying memory).
     
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  9. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Indeed and also considering that Torch was Churchill's preference over an early invasion of the European mainland which was FDR's then leaning over backwards to facilitate US ability to conduct a N African operation would be most logical
     
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  10. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    Did Britain lend the US any Austin K5s ? :peepwalla:
     
  11. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    It was an ammunition shortage and not a gun shortage. The 25 pdr was needed to fire the 25 pdr rounds. The US had at least one Unit with captured 8.8cms.
     
  12. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    The 25 pdr in US hands in NWE is a new one on me but it was not the only such example of British combat equipment being used by American forces. I believe that a number of USAAF squadrons used Spitfires in TORCH and perhaps in the early days of the 8th Air Force as well. The 2nd Marine Division got some Bren carriers while in New Zealand and Australian scout cars were also supplied to US forces. I think some US units also received Boys Anti-tank rifles until the bazooka was ready.
     
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  13. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    The US also used Hurricanes
     
  14. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    Another opportunity to repost this fantastic video

     
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  15. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    The US built carriers and these were deployed in the Philippines before the US entered the war and were used during the Japanese invasion. I suspect that the Marine carriers came from the US built stocks. Note not all carriers were Bren carriers by a long way and the US ones were not Bren carriers
     
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  16. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    Reverse Lend-Lease of British built aircraft is covered in “Air Arsenal North America”. 3 USAAF fighter groups were equipped with Spitfires in 1942. One, the 4th, by transfer of the three RAF Eagle squadrons. The 31st and 52nd FG went to the Med after Torch and didn’t relinquish their Spitfires until Spring 1944 when P-51B/C became available. A USN squadron also got them for D-Day.

    But that is only the tip of the iceberg. 4 USAAF nightfighter squadrons in North Africa got Beaufighters VI, and PR squadrons got Spitfires and Mosquitoes. Also large numbers of Ansons, Oxfords, Defiants and Proctors to fill second line roles. The list goes on and on.

    But most reverse Lend-Lease was not in the form of equipment. It was in the form of airfields and other bases built by British contractors for use by US services both in the U.K. and abroad (especially India) and foodstuffs. Australia managed to run up a surplus on its Lend-Lease account by the end of the War. “Bases of Air Strategy” by Robin Higham deals with the airfields aspects.

    There is also one other complication to reverse lend lease. It included equipment supplied to the Britain by the US but then subsequently sent to the USSR in satisfaction of US commitments to that country. That included for example P-39 Airacobras that the RAF decided it didn’t want.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2020
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  17. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    I had heard of the loan of British 25-pdr gun/howitzers to the US in early 1945 and thought it would probably be easy to find some info on the net of the details. It ain't.

    As already noted it was in relation to the US forces experiencing problems in the flow of munitions coming into the ETO, as opposed to a physical shortage of guns. There's a little extra info on HyperWar: Logistical Support of the Armies, Vol. II

    "The emergency measures taken as a result of the Bull mission were to have no effect on ammunition availability in Europe for several weeks. Meanwhile the armies met the enemy's December onslaught with stocks already on hand and did some of the heaviest firing to date. Credits went out the window in the face of emergency needs of hard-pressed units, and allocations to the subordinate corps and divisions were suspended. Instead, Third Army, for example, adopted the practice of issuing informal status reports of critical items which corps commanders then used as a guide to expenditures. For the most part firing was unrestricted. In the First Army, expenditures of 105-mm. howitzer ammunition rose to 69 rounds per gun per day as compared with 13 rounds in the period of the pursuit and a previous high of 44 in November. For the 155-mm. howitzer expenditures were at the rate of 44 rounds as against 8 and 29 respectively in the earlier periods.

    "In the most of the major categories the firing in December was the heaviest of any month thus far. The result was to increase the gap between authorized and actual levels in the theater to the widest it was to reach during the war. In the case of the high explosive shell for the 105-mm. howitzer M2, the December expenditures, totaling 2,579,400 rounds, reduced theater stocks to 2,524,000 rounds against an authorized level of 8,900,000. In terms of days of supply at War Department rates this stockage represented only twenty-one days as against the authorized seventy-five.79

    "In the 6th Army Group expenditures did not soar until early in January, when the enemy launched his counteroffensive in the Hardt Mountains area. Firing continued heavy with the launching of the operation to clear the Colmar Pocket. The sustained firing during the month placed a heavy drain on army group reserves. At the end of the operation on 8 February 6th Army Group concluded that it would have to conserve ammunition in the heavier calibers for a full thirty days before undertaking additional offensive operations. Allocations were accordingly cut to one half of the SHAEF day of supply rate for the next month. Unallocated ammunition was used to rebuild the army group reserve.80

    "The heavy firing in December and January was thus supported only by drawing heavily on reserves. The flow of ammunition was anything but plentiful, and the theater continued to resort to various expedients to supplement normal supply and augment the armies' fire power. Late in November the First Army, using personnel from the 32d Field Artillery Brigade, formed two provisional battalions in order to make use of forty-eight German 105-mm. gun-howitzers and 20,000 rounds of captured mmunition turned over to it by the Communications Zone. The captured guns and ammunition were used to good effect in harassing and interdictory missions during the Ardennes fighting. First Army's 155-mm. gun battalions also made use of approximately 7,500 rounds of captured 15.5-cm. ammunition.81 Meanwhile the Communications Zone arranged with 21 Army Group for the loan of one hundred 25-pounders along with sixty days' supply of ammunition to the 12th Army Group, which divided them between the three armies.82

    "82 - The loan was renewed for another sixty days at the end of February. Cbl EX-85176, COMZ to 21 A Gp, 11 Jan 45, Cbl SD-1159, 21 A Gp to COMZ, 4 Mar 45, Memo, Arty Sec 12 A Gp for G-4, 4 Jan 45, and Memo, Arty Sec to Ord and G-4, 26 Feb 45, all in 12 A Gp 472 Cannons and Field Pieces."

    100 pieces would be enough for seven full US Field Artillery Battalions, with a 16 gun reserve, or eight Battalions, with a four gun reserve. I've only found two US FA Bns linked with use of the 25-pdr in this period, the 76th and the 692nd, both of which were non-Div units. The US frequently attached extra FA units to Divs.

    I thought there might be some mention in the US Field Artillery Journal of the matter, but haven't been able to find much. The June 1945 edition makes the briefest reference to the 692nd having at least one 25-pdr in February 1945, page 361 refers.

    https://sill-www.army.mil/fires-bulletin-archive/archives/1945/JUN_1945/JUN_1945_FULL_EDITION.pdf

    They do make equally passing mention of the use of the 25-pdr in North Africa, page 129.

    https://sill-www.army.mil/fires-bulletin-archive/archives/1944/FEB_1944/FEB_1944_FULL_EDITION.pdf

    From my experience looking for details on non-Div units is particularly frustrating, as they so often just seem to vanish between the cracks in terms of records. If the US sent its 25-pdrs to non-Div FA units that might explain why they are so poorly referenced.

    Gary
     
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  18. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

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  19. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Hi Gary,
    I know for sure that the photo of the 25 pdr guns I posted was taken in the sector of the 30th US Infantry Division - maybe this helps to find out whether an arty bn of the 30th was equipped with the British pieces.
    Best
    Alex
     
  20. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    The below link gives the FA units noted as being directly attached to the 30th Inf Div for late March 1945 into April, as shown in the 'Order of Battle of the US Army in WW2, ETO', (which is available complete as a PDF download via archive.org).

    30th Infantry Division - Order of Battle of the United States Army - WWII - ETO | U.S. Army Center of Military History

    I also had another look through fold3 and again found a similarly vague reference. This mentions 72 guns being in action so perhaps only six FA Bns were re-equipped, which would only be a fraction of the US non-Div units in the ETO.

    Gary
     

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