8th Rifle Brigade vehicle markings

Discussion in 'Vehicle Names and Census Numbers' started by 8RB, Feb 24, 2020.

  1. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Recently I got this photo (and many others) from Musee Percee du Bocage in Saint Martin des Besaces, to use for my website on the 8th Rifle Brigade. Do the markings on the side of this half track tell me to which company (G?) and maybe even to which platoon (12?) it belongs?
    At some point I made a copy of a brilliant resource by Trux (see text below picture), which I can't find any more. I am now wondering what the equivalent for A, B and C company would be in 8RB (which had F, G, H and E Coy's) and where D Company has gone in Trux's text (possibly I have missed a bit when copying his text).

    {see attached picture, which somehow I can't get in here in full...}

    "As the fourth unit of the brigade the motor battalion also had Green tactical signs marked on the side.

    Headquarters Green Diamond
    A Company Green Triangle
    B Company Green Square
    C Company Green Circle"

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 25, 2020
    Owen likes this.
  2. Great photo!

    Yes, the Green Circle means the third company in the motor battalion, and 12 is the platoon number, thus 12 Pl G Coy if the M5 belongs to 8 RB.

    The fourth company had a Green (vertical) Rectangle. For 8 RB the markings would thus be:

    HQ Coy – Green Diamond
    E (sp) Coy – Green Triangle
    F (mot) Coy – Green Square - see B7537 showing a M5 half track of 6 Pl F Coy
    G (mot) Coy – Green Circle
    H (mot) Coy – Green Rectangle


    [Edit:] I am not so certain anymore of the Tactical Symbol for E & H Coys. The above is the standard for Motor Battalions in 1944, but looking at the cover of the story of E Coy (from 8RB's post), we see a long horizontal (probably green) rectangle below the 'E':
    E Coy 8RB.png

    This could be the tac symbol for this Company, derived from the earlier (white) horizontal rectangle allotted to the Support Company of the lorried infantry battalion in an armoured division. This might be what we see on the front of the Loyd Carrier of E Coy 8 RB spotted by Michael, between the AoS Serial '54' and the Br Class roundel and above the white rectangle whose meaning escapes me (possibly a UK Convoy number as it seems to be made up of the letters 'SE' followed by numerals). The small number '17' (possibly '19'?) would match the numbering of the A tk Platoons:
    351 - 06.32.07 - Loyd Carrier 8RB - 17 Tp -  Notes.jpg

    Last edited: Feb 25, 2020
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  3. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Thanks, great photo, but... how do you/we know it is an F Coy (8RB) vehicle? I am hoping it is, but it could also be 1RB...
  4. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Some more, of Sgt. Fruin's (G Coy) Mortar carriers. So, pretty sure green circle is G Coy.

    Fruin photo 041a.jpeg
    Fruin photo 042a - cut.jpeg
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2020
  5. As I said in the linked post about B7537, the 11 Armd Div emblem and AoS serial 54 can be made out on the second half-track (when zooming on the pic on the IWM website).
    On the half track in the foreground, the typical horizontal white rectangle of 11 Armd Div emblem can also be guessed (under the bag on the left), and the '5' in AoS 54 is partially visible on the right too.

    And yes, the Green Circle is definitely G Coy, as is the green square F Coy (since 6 Pl was part of F Coy). H Coy should be the vertical rectangle, but so far no photo to confirm it, unless you found some? As for E Coy, I'm still in doubt for the reasons exposed above (triangle or horizontal rectangle?)...

    Excellent photos of the Mortar Carrier in G Coy. There should be one such Mortar Carrier in each Mot Coy then (as opposed to them being grouped in a Mortar Pl in the Sp Coy as per the standard WE).
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2020
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  6. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    From Mike Hicks' book "Difficult Days" (H Coy's Mortar Sergeant), I understand each Motor Coy (F, G and H) had two 3" mortars and (two) carriers ("with 70 10 pound bombs each"), attached to Coy HQ, which seems to be confirmed by Trux's excellent Motor Battalion resource document:

    "Mortar detachment
    15cwt truck GS
    lance corporal, driver IC
    Carrier Universal
    serjeant, 3 X mortarman, driver mechanic
    Carries Wireless set No38
    Carrier Universal
    corporal, 3 X mortarman, driver mechanic
    Carries Wireless set No38"
  7. Yes, I stand corrected, there should have been two Carriers Mortars in each Motor Company, because when regrouped in the Mortar Platoon of the Support Company there were six of them.
    In Infantry Battalions they are usually marked M1, M2 etc., but the ones on your photos only have 'M' inside the Company Tactical Symbol, possibly just meaning Mortar Detachment, without an individual vehicule number, much like the Platoon Number for the half tracks. This might mean that Mortar Carriers did not wear any individual vehicle number...
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2020
  8. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Two more F Coy vehicles? Given source, they are certainly 8RB . Given shiny paint (especially of Humber), I suppose these photos were taken a little after 8 May 1945. Sadly no platoon numbers.

    Bren Carrier maintenance.jpg

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  9. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    And confirmation of Diamond, for HQ Coy (front row 2nd from left is Adjutant Captain Nat Fiennes, and 3rd from right 8RB C.O. Lt.-Col. Tony Hunter)!

    8RB HQ Half tracks.jpg
  10. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Recently found a coloured version of the E Company History cover (see below), which confirms the green rectangle. So, I guess, it is safe to assume the following tactical symbols were used in the 8th Rifle Brigade (although I would still love to see photos of actual H Coy vehicles!):
    - HQ Coy: green diamond (open)
    - E (sup) Coy: green rectangle (solid)
    - F (mot) Coy: green square (open)
    - G (mot) Coy: green circle (open)
    - H (mot) Coy: green triangle (open, and still to be confirmed)

    E Coy History cover.jpg
  11. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    So, this (solid rectangle) I suppose must then be E Company... Can anyone tell what "01" stands for and what the significance of the solid circle could be? Picture is a part of a still from IWM-film A70 164-8.

    Still IWM A70 164-8 - cut.jpg
  12. Ronald,

    I am not sure this half track is from E Coy, because there is already a tac sign around the vehicule ID "O1" (albeit a strange one, see below), and because the long horizontal rectangle does not appear under the tac sign on the side:
    A70 164-8 - 480 - 1944-09-20 - Palmer - 00.41 - HT M5A1 O1 8RB - 01.jpg
    Source: IWM A70 164-8 around 00:39

    Additionally, the shade of the long rectangle looks much darker than the (green) outline of the tac sign or the AoS colour, but similar to its (black) filling. It might simply be some black paint over a former marking. The shape of the tac sign is also very strange, looking like the combination of a HQ Coy diamond and a G Coy circle. One explanation could be that the vehicle changed company from HQ Coy to G (or the opposite), and the new tac sign was painted over the old one, without hiding it completely. Of course it's impossible to tell, from the film, which one was painted last. If so, this might explain why a now obsolete marking below the tac sign would have been painted over:
    A70 164-8 - 480 - 1944-09-20 - Palmer - 00.41 - HT M5A1 O1 8RB - 02.jpg

    As to the meaning of "O1", it looks like it was one of two half tracks FFW (one for the Major commanding, the other for the Captain 2i/c) in the HQ of each Support or Motor Company, and maybe also the HQ Coy Captain's half track. See the following several mentions of "O1" or "O2" in "From the Beaches to the Baltic" which you kindly posted. I am not familiar with the various officers (?) mentioned in relation with these half tracks, but maybe someone who is could enlighten us on their position within the Company, and therefore on the role of the half tracks as well:
    BtoB 18-19 - O2 - Notes.jpeg
    BtoB 20-21 - O1 - Notes.jpeg
    BtoB 22-23 - O2 - Notes.jpeg

    Another "O1" radio half track, from F Coy this time:
    A70 87-1 - 480 - 1944-07-18 - Grant - 11 AD adv - 00.51 - HT M5 FFW F Coy AoS 54 O1.jpg
    Source: IWM A7 87-1 around 00:51

    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020
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  13. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    An undated pamphlet titled "Motor Battalion Standing Orders for use in the Field" was issued seemingly based on 1RB procedures. It includes a suggested numering of vehicles for the Battalion, based on the February 1940 WE. "O" prefixes were used for all vehicles in Bn HQ and HQ Coy counted as part of "A echelon", while those in "B echelon" could have Q, M or T. Each Motor Coy HQ used O1 and O2 for the two 8-cwt trucks of the Coy Cmdr and 2-in-C, with Q for the Admin portion vehicles. No lettering is shown for the Motor and Scout Pls. The same document shows the Tac signs as diamond (Bn HQ and HQ Coy), triangle (A), square (B), circle (C) and vertical rectangle (D). This predates the conversion of one Motor Coy to the Support Coy role in the latter part of 1943.

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  14. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Very confusing: circle (G Coy!) painted on the front of what is clearly an E (support) Company MMG Platoon carrier. So, either 20 or 21 Platoon. Platoon number 20 (or is it 21?) can also be distinguished on the side of the carrier.

    B10362.png Photo taken in Deurne, Holland, 26 September 1944 (IWM B10362).
  15. Nice find!

    The circle on the front is not the (green) tac sign (Coy symbol) but the (yellow) outline of the Bridge Class disc. See the next Carrier.

    When you zoom in on the pic on the IWM website, the PL Number definitely looks more like a 20:

    Last edited: Sep 20, 2020
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  16. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Thanks, what a relief!

    I agree. Already thought so, but happy to know you see it the same way.
  17. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Is this light coloured disc and cross, on the back of this 8th Rifle Brigade (note Black bull and "54") half-track (in Antwerp) a red cross of something else?
  18. To conclude (for now...) this subject on tac markings in 8 RB, I quote a letter mentioned in Hodges & Taylor (top of page 122)
    "...originating from RAC1(a), dated 9 March 1944, concerning the addition of a sixth, Support, company to the establishment of infantry battalions (ie: HQ Coy., Support Coy, 4 Rifle Coys). In such cases the support companies in infantry battalions in armoured divisions were to carry a horizontal bar in the appropriate colour."

    I believe the Tac Marks initially were the standard ones for an Inf Bn, i.e.:

    HQ Coy: diamond (open)
    E Coy: triangle (solid)
    F Coy: square (open)
    G Coy: circle (open)
    H Coy: rectangle (vertical, solid)

    Then, when E Coy was converted into a Support Company, it changed its Triangle Tac Mark for the horizontal bar as specified, in its Motor Battalion green colour, while the other companies retained their initial Tac Marks:

    HQ Coy: green diamond (open)
    E (sp) Coy: green horizontal bar
    F (mot) Coy: green square (open)
    G (mot) Coy: green circle (open)
    H (mot) Coy: green vertical bar

    "Open" Tac Marks usually, but not always, had a Black filling. Platoon numbers (or sometimes individual vehicles numbers such as "O1") were written in White colour inside the Tac Marks.

    We still have to find a photo of a H Coy vehicle showing the vertical bar...

    Last edited: Feb 21, 2021
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  19. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    That's very interesting!
    I think I may have found a photo. I had already noticed the vertical bar on the side of the vehicle, but found it difficult to believe it could be H Company's tactical marking. It's from a group of photos from Sgt. Bratton, taken at the end of the war, when he was in H Company!

    Last edited: Feb 21, 2021
  20. Great photo!

    It does seem to confirm the green vertical bar for H Coy, which means you may now update your fb page (Vehicles and weapons - 8th Rifle Brigade) accordingly :)

    ...and take the opportunity to amend the caption for B10362 as showing a Carrier of 20 Pl (not 21 Pl). I also think that what we see below the '20' on that photo might be the green horizontal bar of the Sp Coy.

    By the way, the original source for the still found by Michael Kenny showing a burning Loyd (with one "L" only) Carrier of 17 Pl (platoon number confirmed when viewing several stills), E Coy is German footage published in Die Deutsche Wochenschau Nr. 724 of 20 Jul 44, reproduced by the US War Department/War Office in Official Film MID 2760 and put online by HD Archives here:
    The mark below the WD Reg. No. T211362 on the side must be the green horizontal bar.

    Now it would be nice to find a photo of an E Pl vehicle with the triangle painted over and replaced with the horizontal bar...

    Last edited: Feb 21, 2021
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