Arms of Service numbers

Discussion in 'Trux Discussion Area' started by DUKW crew, Nov 29, 2019.

  1. DUKW crew

    DUKW crew Member

    I am trying to identify the correct vehicle markings for a DUKW restoration

    I understand most of them but not the significance of the number on the Arms of Service square. Wikipedia offers some explanation but it appears incomplete.

    So far from contemporary photos of RASC vehicles I have 377 Company - 1392, 168 Company- 517, machine at Duxford (? company unknown) - 1346, and 297 Company (?) on the DUKW with King George VI - 54.

    Does anyone have a list of these or know where to find one please? I am interested in 168 Company when it operated amphibians within Operation Overlord, at Normandy and in Holland/Belguim in autumn/winter 1944.
  2. DannyM

    DannyM Member

    Michel posted a list in this thread about DUKW markings Ford GPA & DUKW's

    There also a couple of threads on this forum about the DUKW.


    CL1 likes this.
  3. DUKW crew

    DUKW crew Member

    Thank you - I enjoyed reading through the Ford GPA and DUKWs thread. It enabled me to take a much more informed view of many other sources I had to hand.

    So - to summarise:-
    • There are different AoS colour patterns for different services and functions - (wikipedia sets out the logic for the UK forces of NW Europe in 1944; I assume similar logics for forces elsewhere).
    • the AoS number is then allocated to a unit of the army (regiment, battalion or company etc) in some sort of seniority hierarchy and order of precedence. The number bears no connection to any other identifying numbers - eg company number.
    • There is a white stripe in different locations to signify where the unit “reports” within the on-the-ground structure - from GHQ, Army Group, Army and Corps.
    • This AoS number and stripe could change as units moved and changed roles and armies - eg from fighting in Africa/Italy to NWEurope.
    I still have no idea what was the AoS marking for 1546 Independent Amphibious Company.

    However in Feb 1944 they (or some part of the company) were transferred to 168 Company RASC. The book “The History of 168 Company RASC” sets out the AoS markings of that unit in both N Africa/Italy and NW Europe with 21st Army Group. I quote

    by Capt P C Stedman RASC

    Foreword to Second Edition
    (third paragraph)
    As far as the front cover is concerned I would explain that this is made up of four campaign medals with which the company could be said to have won, flanking the RASC badge. The 1191 badge was carried on all the company vehicles in the Middle East, the camel donating that we were GHQ troops allocated as required. The 517 badge was carried in Europe with our own company sign which I designed, and had approved. The pyramid represented our Middle East time and the duck’s head our amphibious role with DUKWs on the Normandy beaches.

    (see second attachment)

    This differs from the table in the last post from Michel at Ford GPA & DUKW's
    The marking is shown as RASC, 517c, not x. This appears to be confirmed by a photo from 1945 (I believe) showing a vehicle of 168 Company - attached (sorry - is an extract of a picture of a picture).

    (see first attachment)

    Should I post this information to Ford GPA & DUKW's ? I am aware of my “rookie” status!

    Why would the formation sign not be 21st Army Group?

    Attached Files:

    Tom OBrien and CL1 like this.
  4. CL1

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

    post it there mate you have as much to give as anyone
  5. Hello DUKW crew,

    Thank you for posting this information. The 'x' in my notation of 168 Coy's AoS Serial simply meant 'unknown', but thanks to you we now know it was the Army Group 'climbing' bar. This however does not necessarily mean that the Formation Sign was that of 21 A Gp, although the fact that all other DUKW units not wearing the Beach Group sign wore it might be considered as a strong indication. Another possibility is the absence of a Formation Sign... The very few photos I have of identified 168 Coy vehicles are not clear enough to tell.

    We would be delighted if you could post The History of 168 Company RASC here!

    I have updated my summary table on the Ford GPA & DUKW's thread.

  6. dml34

    dml34 Junior Member

    Hi DUKW crew

    My thanks to you for posting the marking info for 168 Coy. I too am most interested in seeing the company history if you are able to scan it!

    I have just sent some more info to Michel for his DUKW table at Ford GPA & DUKW on the Missing Lynx website.

  7. DUKW crew

    DUKW crew Member

    Since my post of Dec 3rd, I have been able to read the relevant War Diaries for the Italian Campaign of 1546 Independent Amphibian DUKW Company RASC and then, upon a transfer in of operationally experienced personnel from 1546, 168 GT Company RASC who were fully equipped with DUKWs in April 1944.

    In summary this gives rise to comments on

    1 The formation sign for 168 Company

    2 A lead to Mob Serial number 31612?

    3 A discrepancy between planned deployment and actual events

    4 correction of a TRUX typo.

    5 A question about display of the 168 Company markings.

    In detail:-

    1 In training May 44, 168 Company were within 28 L of C, and the HQ was part of 36 Beach Group; they were then mobilised as part of 36 Brick at Chichester. On landing (D+4) they were under the command of CRASC 104 Beach Sub Area and all subsequent war diary entries until mid July show CRASC 104 Beach Sub Area. They then move to 39 Transport Column for week ending 29 July.

    On balance it would therefore seem to me that the D-Day Formation Sign should be the Beach Group Fouled Anchor, not 21 Army Group Shield. Does anyone disagree?

    2 I do not understand the Mobilisation Serial Number. There is a later post from Dave Leftwich that “Regarding Mob Serial Number 31612, I think you meant 168 Coy, as confirmed to me by Danny, not 705 Coy which was 36902.”

    In 168 War Diary there is an entry of 28th April that they were subject of Mobilisation Order 79/Mob/6430/197(AG5mob) if this helps…..

    3 New issue?

    Despite 168 Company in general landing on D+4, Bill Milward landed on D-Day itself around 4.30 pm on King Beach, (he was delayed from around midday, and describes unloading his DUKW and then taking cover for a brew with some Canadians - from Juno?). He was one of two DUKWs carrying loos and tenting. He later rejoined his unit when it landed on D+4.

    In TRUX detailed D-Day accounts there is no reference to 168 Company. However they do figure in the order of battle, and there is also reference to a suitable sanitation support section within 104 Beach Group.

    Looking at the TRUX description Part 3 104 Beach Sub area Order of Battle there is

    Supply and Transport.

    Commander RASC 28 Transport Column.

    536, 705, 168 and 305 GT Companies RASC.

    One Platoon 633 GT Company RASC.

    2 and 5 Detail Issuing Depots RASC.

    243 and 244 Petrol Depots RASC.


    Detachment 3 Field Dressing Station RAMC for Casualty Evacuation Point.

    16 Field Dressing Station RAMC.

    49 and 50 Field Surgical Unit RAMC.

    57 Field transfusion Unit RAMC.

    Detachment 31 Field Hygiene Section RAMC.

    4 Field Sanitation Section RAMC.

    Later in the details (page 3) 705 GT Company DUKWs E16 and E17 carried stores and equipment for 31 Field Dressing station incl 2.5 tons of canvas. Is it possible that these were actually 168 Company vehicles or drivers “on loan”? There is no mention in the 168 Coy War Diaries.

    Later TRUX describes -

    On Gold two Beach Groups landed initially, with 9 Beach Group on King and 10 Beach Group on Jig. Both were similarly organised. Landing in reserve was 36 Beach Brick which retained much of its Mediterranean organisation.

    4 I think there is a typo in the Gold Beach account - in Phase 3 from 25 June I believe the reference to 160 GT Company should be 168 (there is a reference in 168 Company war diaries of working with 705GT Company).

    There was a basic allotment of transport but additional vehicles could be allotted if available. Jig/Item had a basic allotment of DUKWs consisting of 705 GT Company and one and a half platoons from 160 GT Company

    5 168 Company DUKW markings

    In my quest to paint the restored (real) DUKW in the colours of RASC Driver Bill Milward I am left with two dilemmas.

    If we go with the Italian campaign…..what was the AoS of 1546 Independent Amphibian Company RASC during the Italian Campaign?

    1546 had been a LAA Company in the UK before becoming DUKW equipped and sailing direct from Glasgow to Sicily! Looking at photos, DUKW markings were very simple - just a platoon and DUKW number but one assumes the AoS was somewhere.

    If we go for D-Day markings:-

    I am tending towards the entries in Michael Sabarly’s descriptions at but with the 104 Formation.

    Question please - is the absence of a Company ID in Markings a known fact or a “don’t know”?

    Could anyone provide me with a photo (however fuzzy) of a 168 Company DUKW in Normandy?

    And finally

    6.1 The debate over the colour of 168 Company DUKWS at D-Day. Bill Millward is now 104 - I hope to jog his memory!

    6.2 The copy I have of the “informal” war record of 168 Company is a very poor quality image . I can upload a page or two or send one by email - what is preferred? There are about 12 A4 images in all.
    Here is a sample
  8. DUKW crew

    DUKW crew Member

    The file would not upload - too large?
  9. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Resize them so they are below 2 MB.
  10. DUKW crew,

    In answer to your various points:

    1. The formation sign for 168 Company
    I agree that if any formation sign was worn at all, it should be the Beach Group Fouled Anchor.
    But there is no photographic evidence that 168 Coy DUKWs wore a formation sign during Op NEPTUNE.

    2. A lead to Mob Serial number 31612?
    DannyM confirmed 31612 was the Mob Serial Number for 168 GT Coy

    3. A discrepancy between planned deployment and actual events
    If indeed Bill Milward did land on D Day itself on KING on a DUKW, then he must have been with another unit to which he had been transferred/detached/loaned, and the DUKW belonged to this other unit, not to 168 GT Coy. The joint mention of KING and Canadians casts some doubt about the whole thing. When a veteran account conflicts so greatly with all the available documentation, I tend to question the veteran's memory rather than the historical evidence...

    The War Diaries of the various DUKW Coys involved mention lots of transfers of personnel, so it could have been that Bill was with another unit on D Day.

    4. Correction of a TRUX typo.
    Yes, clearly this "160 GT Company" is a typo for 168 Coy.

    5. 168 Company DUKW markings
    Unfortunately I only have two images of identified 168 Coy DUKWs. They do show the Platoon letter+Vehicle number only (no Company number), but no Formation Sign, AoS Flash & Serial nor Company Sign is visible.
    Additionally, if you want to display Bill's vehicle accurately you would want to know its registration number as well as its platoon and vehicle number. Given that even its belonging to 168 Coy is questionable, you might want to choose another unit altogether, and a vehicle for which the complete set of markings are confirmed by photographs/films.

    First photo is a screen grab from a very short clip in a documentary about DUKWs. This clip must come from a longer IWM film, unfortunately not online yet:
    DUKW N17 168 GT Coy - Battle Stations Duck - 27.12.jpg
    around 27:12

    Next (and last) is an IWM photo, as found in a better quality somewhere on the internet (I did not note where at the time...):
    DUKW N13, Coasters, MULBERRY B, 12-15 Jun 44 - A_024364 - [Lt Pelman] - 47 Normandy Jeeps.jpg
    Source: IWM A24364

    Last edited: Aug 6, 2021
  11. Maybe a lead here. From Trux account:

    Headquarters 104 Beach Sub Area.

    Most of the Advanced Headquarters 104 Beach Sub Area embarked at Southampton, DAA/GMQ and Military Landing Officer on HMS Bulolo. A party, including Staff Captain, DADOS and most of Main Headquarters, due to land on the second tide embarked at Felixstowe.

    The headquarters landed in four echelons. The first echelon, landing on D Day, was the Commander’s party. The Commander, Brigade Major and an orderly landed from the RN Command Ship while the Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quarter Master General (all one person) landed from the Brigade Headquarters Ship. The Commanders party was in fact the second to land, at 1245. The Commander and Brigade Major accompanied by Naval Officer in Charge and his operational staff landed on King Green. The Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quarter Master General and the Principal Military Landing Officer landed on King Green at 1200. These parties concentrated at 9 Beach Group’s Command Post and a Beach Sub Area Command Post was established under the direction of the Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quarter Master General. Communications between the Beach Sub Area Command Post and those of the Beach Groups was established as soon as possible, first by wireless and later by telephone.

    Also landing on D Day was the Sub Area Command Post Party consisting of Deputy Assistant Director of Medical Services (Evacuation) with seven other ranks and a Jeep and the Staff Quarter Master Serjeant with six other ranks and a Jeep. The Deputy Assistant of Medical Services (Evacuation) was delayed.

    The digging of the temporary Command Post began at 1330 and at 1400 a reconnaissance party including the Brigade Major and an RE officer, moved to Meuvaines. They found that fighting was still in progress on the fringes of the village. At 1600 the temporary Command Post moved to a German observation post south of Ver sur Mer Battery. The Naval Signal Station was also established there.

    At 2245 General Officer Commanding 30 Corp landed on King Green and was escorted to 50 Division HQ at Meuvaine by the Brigade Major. The Deputy Assistant Director of Medical Services (Evacuation) landed and reported to the Command Post at 2350.

    Equipment and G1098 stores were landed by a preloaded DUKW from 168 GT Company and a 3 ton 4 X 4 from 305 GT Company.

    It is not said where this information came from, nor when this DUKW landed but one may assume that it was before D+4! No vehicle appears as 168 Coy in any of the known Landing Tables for D Day, so this one was possibly attached to either 536 or 705 Coy for the landing and therefore listed as part of that other unit (contrary to what I asserted in para 3 of my previous post :blush:) in the Landing Tables, or added as a later amendment. The latter is perhaps more likely, because only 99 DUKWs from each of the various GT Coys involved are listed in the Landing Tables, so no supernumerary DUKW, which would mean attached from another Coy, can be traced.

    Last edited: Apr 22, 2020
  12. DUKW crew

    DUKW crew Member

    Thank you Michel - I recognise two specific steps forward - a photo of a 168 Company vehicle and the reference by Trux above of a pre-loaded 168 Company vehicle on D-Day within 104 Beach Sub Area.

    I will end my quest here - delving in such detail into events taking place in the fog of war 75 years ago is a special subject best left to the experts! I am just thankful and a little surprised at the amount of detail that I have been able to uncover. I will however be very happy to pass on anything more if Bill Milward is able to recall any more specifics.

    On the actual DUKW - we do have a registration number but the vehicle itself has a Date Into Service of July 44. We are painting it as Bill Milward's vehicle in his honour, not as actuality, He does not have any records of the DUKWs or other vehicles he drove except the photo I attached some time ago.

    I have seen examples painted "to the limit" in museums. Your photo is rather reassuring as it enables a much simpler D-Day functional representation. We will go with the platoon letter and vehicle number (168 C Platoon was letter 0) plus the AoS and Beach Group Foiled Anchor Formation Sign.

    Thanks again.
    DUKW Crew
  13. hendrix17

    hendrix17 Active Member

    My grandad was a driver of DUKW with 1546 amphibian platoon RASC from 23rd may 1943 and was apart of the invasion in Sicily and Italy. I have copies of war diaries from this period. I was under the impression the DUKW were borrowed from Canadians and then they given over to use in the D-day landings in France.

    I’m no military expert just a enthusiastic amateur genealogist/granddaughter. I too would love to know anything more.

    Attached Files:

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