BEF 1940 Vehicle markings.

Discussion in '1940' started by Owen, Oct 18, 2006.

  1. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Anyone know of an idiot's guide to BEF Vehicle markings, Div signs etc?
    Masses of info for any other period of WW2 but the 1940 campaign seems neglected.
    I know 51st HD had either a stag's head NOT the famous HD sign.
    I know my mate had this book a few years ago. Maybe he still has it.

    I've found these for models but 4th Div and 51st Div are wrong.
  2. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    If Milicast's decals are getting it wrong then I'd guess that Zaloga's book has too as it's likely to be their own source of reference in the modelling world (keep meaning to ebay it).

    Checked all my references (I think) admittedly largely of a 70's-80's nature for stuff like that and they all go along with the decals.

    Typing 'bef' into IWM Collections Online: Search Photographs Archive gets lots of excellent pictures but sadly very little information on which division is being represented, presumably due to censorship.

    Thinking of doing a kit then?
    are you?
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I saw a photo in Richard Holmes, War Walks in the library the other day.
    In Arras 1940 chapter was a Bren Carrier circa 1940 with Saltire on mud guard.
    That would be 52nd Div. Not at Arras. They went to France after Dunkirk.
    Later 52nd Div added "Mountain" scroll to their Div Sign.

    Doubt if I will make a kit. Knowing Div Signs acts as an "aid memoir."
  4. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I have not been able to find any one source.

    Michael D.Taylor's additions to Peter Hodge's British Military Markings 1939 - 1945 is very good on Arm of Service Markings and Unit serials. It includes a comprehensive list of Infantry Division and Corps troops serials according to a War Office Document of 12th April 1940.

    It does not cover Divisional Insignia in great detail.

    Photographic references seem to show only a limited selection of Divisional Markings for the BEF period. 1st, 3rd, 4th and 50th (on motorcycles) appear quite regularly.

    The following picture is taken from "Mei 1940" by Peter Taghon and shows a carrier of 4th Infantry Division abandoned at De Panne. The quarter is on the oposite side from later practice (reflected light makes the ImageShack picture less clear than the original).


    My "Barn find" WD16H motorcycle which was found in Belgium (still has it's 1939 dated tyres) shows the "Crossed keys" of 2nd Division (They later formed part of 14th Army and were not in Europe again so I think it safe to assume that the markings are BEF).


    If Owen doesn't mind, I would be interested to see any photos showing BEF markings.

  5. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Rich, Thanks for that.
    Confirming that 4th Div badge was different for early war. Mike Chappell had said that in his Osprey MAA 187 . I took it to be just the first quarter only.see my Kilts in 1940 thread.
    ...they adopted a red divisional sign in the shape of a quadrant (the first quadrant- 12 o'clock to 3 o'clock).

    I'll add some more photos when I can.
  6. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive


    Sorry I should have made clear that Taghon states in the caption "4th ID - A white square with a red circle therein from which one quarter is pushed to the right."

    Apologies for a slightly unwieldy verbatim translation from the Dutch !

    The horizontal line is discernable as reflection on the book copy, and presumably the original shows more clearly that the top right hand quarter is separate.

    The picture appears to have come from a German source.
  7. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    It's Mike Chappell who has the dodgey wording.
    We've the photo now to prove the early 4th Div sign.
    Early War 4th Div sign.
    View attachment 703

    Were 50th Div using TT sign in 1940?
    Were 3rd Div using the triangles at this time?
  8. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    50th were using the "TT" as this picture of 4th Btn. Northumberland Fusiliers entering Belgium on 10th May 1940 confirms. It is IWM F4342 taken from Gavin Birch's "Motorcycles at War" It nicely contains the three "B" s - Bikes, Beer and Birds !


    I can't confirm colour of the insignia. 50th was a Motor Division and the unit serial "18" is believed to be on a red background.


    3rd Division were also using their inverted triangle within a triangle but this appears to be within a circle (could that also be red ?) This is IWM F4393 from Taghon's book.


    Interesting items in this picture are the white Recognition square on the front of the hull (which were apparently soon painted over as they made a convenient aiming point !) and the Gas-Detector patches worn on the upper left sleeves.

    The IWM obviously has a huge archive which is not yet on line.

  9. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Almost forgot this one from the IWM on-line photos. It shows the white triangle of 1st Division being hand painted during the Phoney war period with once again the white Recognition / Aiming point square visible.

    It is not surprising that there are detail variations!

  10. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Cheers Rich, these are great.
    Saw a photo of British Infantry recently and wondered what the upper arm patchs were.
  11. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

  12. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

  13. southern geordie

    southern geordie Junior Member

    I've just come across your posting dated19/10/2006 on the subject "BEF 1940 Vehicle markings". on the thread "Allied Units" I feel sure that you are already aware of the following points. I note that the reference is to " Div. Signs". As I understand it, the signs had wider significance. My reference on the subject is from privately produced pamphlets, by Maj. Waring of the D.L.I. The Major was a well respected authority on the subject. He would have referred to such signs to be "FORMATION SIGNS" which embraced all manner of uniits, both larger and smaller than 'a division'. The listings include many, many variations and, insofar as my limited knowledge takes me, they were echoed by the various pictorial and representative badges, authorised and later worn on the sleeves of soldiers serving in the units concerned. As for the time period (Viz. 1940) the exigences of the emerging expansion of the army as a whole, would have limited the original issues and designations, being introduced. Hence the illustration in your thread, showing one such sign in process of being painted on to a vehicle. I would take into acount that (in the case of WW1) much of the patrols into no-mans'-land took place specifically to capture individuals of the enemy, in order to identify the units facing them. Therefore there would be security constraints to consider. In my own collection, I have well over 300, cloth 'Formation signs'. They featured as a separate theme for militaty badge collectors. I appologise if I have missed a more significent point but I couldn't resist adding my opinion, if only to add to my cumulative number of contributions to the site. I have ambitions to become an officer on my Avatar one day.
    Southern Geordie.:goodnight:
  14. kfz

    kfz Very Senior Member

    Who;'s painting his Matilda!!!!

    I already did this yer great copy cat!!!!

  15. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Kev, I started this thread (18-10-2006) well before thinking of that.
    Right, who can tell me what the "11" means on this lorry?
    click>>>F 4780<<<
    nice photo of Carrier's camo but not too good on markings >>>F 3182
  16. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    According to Hodges & Taylor, "11" on a black ground indicates Divisional Signals. This is based on a War office letter of 12/4/40.

    It is the only "11" listed at Div. level for this period which was of course prior to Signals adopting the Blue / White ground which seems to have appeared in the latter part of 1941.
  17. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Thanks Rich.
  18. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

  19. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Cheers Rich, that clears that one up then .
    Good photo, glad this thread is still ticking over.
  20. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD


    A Morris-Commercial CS8 15cwt truck on the quayside at Cherbourg after being unloaded from a ship, 29 September 1939. Note the 2nd Corps 'fish in a brook' badge on the mudguard.

    A RA Unit of II Corps?
    What did the 84 mean again?

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