British Vehicle Markings - a rough guide

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by SquireBev, May 30, 2020.

  1. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Did the 'deception' incarnation of 40 Infantry Division use the same yellow (bantam) rooster as the formation did in the First World War and again from 1949?
  2. Christian Fletcher

    Christian Fletcher Well-Known Member

    According to Col Cole they used a brown acorn in both wars. His work is not infallible - like the rest of us - and also really concerns shoulder patches, not vehicle markings. In fact, in several cases, he makes a distinction between the patch and the vehicle markings. Some of the vehicle stencils were simplified and minor colour motives cut out.

    I haven't heard of or seen a Bantam marking but I don't have anything really on the First War! Can you give me a reference? I would assume that some of the 43 Bde vehicles would have been marked to support the deception but with what? I can only speculate (and hope someone turns up some photos from Sicily taken between November '43 and June '44!)
  3. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    You're right about the acorn marking (see link below), but the acorn was a later addition for the First World War formation. Their first patch, I believe, was a bantam on a white diamond. The acorn was added in 1917:

    The badge refers back to the sign adopted by the First World War 40th Division, which added an acorn to its Bantam cock on a white diamond after the capture of Bourlon Wood. The Division was one in name only and was raised for deception purposes when the 50th and 51st Divisions were withdrawn to the UK for the invasion of Europe. It was formed in Sicily on 9 November 1943 by conversion of HQ 43rd Infantry Brigade. This Brigade had been formed in the UK in August 1943 to perform Internal Security duties on the Lines of Communication for Allied Force HQ in Tunisia. The units were the 30th Battalions of the Royal Norfolks, Somersets and Green Howards, which were at full strength in personnel but with eighty per cent being below Category 'A'. They had personal weapons only. The formation was redesignated 40th Division on arrival in Sicily on 9 November 1943, at which time each Battalion became a nominal Brigade and the Brigade Commander having a local rank of Major-General. The formation ceased to exist as '40th Division' on 17 June 1943 and the Brigade was disbanded on 30 June.

    Screenshot 2020-06-03 at 23.54.41.png

    badge, formation, 40th Infantry Division

    Slight contradiction here, but info about the original insignia:

    The badge represents a link to the 40th Division of WWI which, from 1917, had a bantam cock on a white diamond. Cole says that the bantam cock should have a red beak and legs and that the background should be royal blue. There was no 40th Division in WW2 and this formation was formed in June 1949 in Hong Kong, with 26th Gurkha and 27th Infantry Brigades under command, 28th Infantry Brigade from the UK joining in October. Two battalions and some supporting troops were withdrawn from the Division to form 27th British Commonwealth Brigade in Korea between August and October 1950. The Division was disbanded in April 1952.


    badge, formation, 40th Infantry Division.

    Here's the only example I can find:


    As you say, there could be a distinction between uniform and vehicular insignia.
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  4. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    On 13 Division, Dick Taylor has a comment in his insignia chapter:

    "Another Gallipoli formation, the lucky horseshoe countered the 'unlucky' number of the formation. The design was recycled for a short time in 1945." - That's for the WW1 section. Under ww2 he says "The WW1 sign was recycled briefly in 1945 with a red background"

    For 52 Division I previously quoted the WW1 stuff. It is just a blue shield with a white diagonal cross. "Note that the MOUNTAIN scroll was only used on cloth badges, and NOT on vehicles."
  5. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Also he shows 1 Division's triangle in "usually" a black circle or rectangle.
  6. SquireBev

    SquireBev Well-Known Member

    Thanks Chris. Just 1945 for the 13th Division then, and I'll remove the "Mountain" tag from the 52nd.

    As for the deception divisions, if there's room I'll include them in the next chart, as I've still got Commonwealth formations to cover, and independent brigades. Potentially AA divisions and the short-lived County divisions too, but I don't know if they were around long enough to have their insignia painted on vehicles?
  7. SquireBev

    SquireBev Well-Known Member

    Updated the Late War Infantry and Armoured Division charts based on information from this thread and from Terence Wise Military Vehicle Makings Part 2, which arrived today.

    I've removed the Mobile Laundry and Bath units as there seems to be no consistent numbering for them, but I've added the REME workshop for the Light AA regiments. I still don't know for certain whether or not there was a dedicated RAOC HQ in each division, either, but I've left it in for now.

    UK - LW - NW Europe - Armoured Division Organisation-01.png UK - LW - NW Europe - Infantry Division Organisation-01.png
  8. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    I realise that a lot of the below has already been covered, but I recalled I had some contemporary info on 1944 AoS markings courtesy of a reply on WW2Talk to a similar query I made a ways back. I also had a check at what Jean Bouchery's "The British Solder (Volume 2)" had on the subject, and found they matched. Below then is the info from the Appendices to War Office letter 57/Vehs A/1868 (SWV 3) of 15th May 1944. Appendix A covers the Infantry Divisions and B the Armoured.


    HQ Inf Div, Div HQ Def & Emp Pl and Fd Security Sec - 40/Black

    HQ Inf Bde, Grd Def Pl - 81/Red
    Inf Bns - 55, 56, 57/Red
    HQ Inf Bde, Grd Def Pl - 87/Green
    Inf Bns - 60, 61, 62 /Green
    HQ Inf Bde, Grd Def Pl - 94/Brown
    Inf Bns - 67, 68, 69/Brown

    Recce Regt - 41/Green & Blue (horizontal)

    HQ Inf Div RA - 40/Red & Blue (horizontal)
    Fd Regts - 42, 43, 44/Red & Blue (horizontal)
    Atk Regt - 46/Red & Blue (horizontal)
    LAA Regt - 47/Red & Blue (horizontal)

    HQ RE - 40/Blue
    Fd Pk Coy - 48/Blue
    Fd Coys - 49, 50, 51/Blue
    Div Br Pl - 52/Blue

    Inf Div Sigs - White & Blue (horizontal) (use serial number of unit or formation attached to)
    MG Bn - 64/Black

    Inf Bde Coys (RASC) - 70, 71, 73/Red & Green (diagonal)
    Div Tps Coy (RASC) - 72/Red & Green (diagonal)

    Fd Ambs - 75, 76 77/Black
    FDS - 82, 83/Black
    Fd Hgy Sec - 78/Black

    Inf Div Ord Fd Pk - 92/Blue, Red, Blue (vertical)

    CREME - 40/Blue, Yellow, Red (horizontal)
    Inf Bde Wksps - 88, 89, 90/Blue, Yellow, Red (horizontal)
    LADs, LAA Wksp - Blue, Yellow, Red (horizontal) (use serial number of unit or formation attached to)

    Pro Coy - 79/Black
    Div Post Unit - 80/Black


    HQ Armd Div, Div HQ Emp Pl and Fd Security Sec - 40/Black

    HQ, Armd Bde - 50/Red
    Armd Regts - 51, 52, 53/Red
    Mot Bn - 54/Red

    HQ Inf Bde, Grd Def Pl - 60/Green
    Inf Bns - 61, 62, 63/Green

    Armd Recce Regt - 45/Green & Blue (horizontal)

    HQ Armd Div RA - 80/Red & Blue (horizontal)
    Fd Regts - 74, 76 /Red & Blue (horizontal)
    Atk Regt - 77/Red & Blue (horizontal)
    LAA Regt - 73/Red & Blue (horizontal)

    Fd Pk Sqn - 42/Blue
    Fd Sqns - 41, 46/Blue
    Div Br Pl - 52/Blue

    Armd Div Sigs - White & Blue (horizontal) (use serial number of unit or formation attached to)
    Indep MG Coy - 64/Black

    Armd Bde Coy (RASC) - 81/Red & Green (diagonal)
    Inf Bde Coy (RASC) - 83/Red & Green (diagonal)
    Armd Div Tps Coy (RASC) - 84/Red & Green (diagonal)
    Armd Div Tpt Coy (RASC) - 82/Red & Green (diagonal)

    Lt Fd Amb - 89/Black
    Fd Amb - 90/Black
    FDS - 93/Black
    Fd Hgy Sec - 92/Black

    Armd Div Ord Fd Pk - 97/Blue, Red, Blue (vertical)

    CREME - 40/Blue, Yellow, Red (horizontal)
    Armd Bde Wksp - 99/Blue, Yellow, Red (horizontal)
    Inf Bde Wksp - 100/Blue, Yellow, Red (horizontal)
    LADs, LAA Wksp - Blue, Yellow, Red (horizontal) (use serial number of unit or formation attached to)

    Pro Coy - 43/Black
    Div Post Unit - 44/Black


    Just a couple of comments from things that have been mentioned. There's no separate HQ for the RAOC in either of the above Divs. The Ord Fd Pk was a fairly late transfer from Corps to Divs, and Div HQs included an Ordnance section. Similarly, the CRE was included in the Div HQ for an Armd Div, so no separate listing and no separate AoS.

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  9. SquireBev

    SquireBev Well-Known Member

    Thanks Gary. I think that clears up the issue of the RAOC HQ, but there's no mention of an RASC HQ either.

    Do you know if this is an omission, or was the it added at a later date?
  10. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    No, that's just me...

    HQ RASC (Inf Div) - 40/Red & Green (diagonal)
    HQ RASC (Armd Div) - 80/Red & Green (diagonal)

    I hates proofreading...

  11. SquireBev

    SquireBev Well-Known Member

    We're none of us infallible. Only the Pope and Bovril.
  12. You're perfectly correct. MMG is the official abbreviation for "medium machine gun", but I assumed that in the 3 Br Inf Div OOB (see my post # 22 above) mention of "2 Mx (MMG)" it was a shorter, if incorrect, form of "(Mor and MG), i.e. "Mortar and Machine Gun", as written in full in the 2nd chart for Gds Armd Div ("Independent Mortar and Machine Gun Company"). I should have checked the War Establishment first, which does say "Independent Machine Gun Company", i.e. without mentioning "mortar" nor "medium" in the title. The correct abbreviation in the Armd Div chart should thus be "Indep MG Coy" (sorry SquireBev :blush:).
  13. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    Really not sure about the counter mortar battery in the armoured division. What is your source for this organisation?
  14. Christian Fletcher

    Christian Fletcher Well-Known Member

    I've just checked through a list issued on 10 June '44 by 1 Canadian Army which gives the AoS & number of all units under command (including attached British units). It is actually a list of all Canadian units that would come under command because it lists both Canadian Corps and 1 Cdn Corps was in Italy when the list was issued! It does not list all Canadian units in the UK or Italy.

    There were Army and Corps HQ RCAOC but no Ordnance Field Parks allocated to divisionsm on this date. The Ordnance units were designated as Divisional increments under Corps (3 Infantry & 2 Armoured Sub-parks). The ML&BU's are also classed as Divisional increments though 3rd and (I think, it's very blurred) 5th were designated as Corps Troops. The 10th ML&BU is specifically mentioned as being with 1 Cdn Division in Italy.

    All LAD's are listed using the number of the unit they are attached to, on RCEME colours. (REME)

    If you want to do a table for Canadian Divisions 3 of them, I think, turned the RASC colours over to make a unique RCASC sign (red triangle on the right). There is photo evidence but very difficult to pin down to unit!
  15. Christian Fletcher

    Christian Fletcher Well-Known Member

    Very interesting info. Is the Acorn patch from WW1 or 2. I ask because - for the deception to work - there must have been some form of visible evidence. They were. after all. in the midst of a population that weren't all happy to see them. The existence of 'agents' of one sort or another must have been a given. How I wish the b... army wasn't so hung up on people taking photos!
  16. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    The acorn is the Second World War unit's.
  17. Christian Fletcher

    Christian Fletcher Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that.

    It follows - I think - that, if they went to the extent of having shoulder patches produced, they must have painted up some vehicles to match. Very detailed, these deception thingies!
  18. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    They are--I'd always assumed it was 'simply' the generation of fake signals chatter.
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  19. SquireBev

    SquireBev Well-Known Member

    It was from a post my Michel Sabarly earlier in this thread. I'm not so sure about it myself to be honest, as I've struggled to find any reference to it in the books I've got.

    Aha. When I made the first version of the chart I had the RASC flash upside down, because I was working from a diagram on I then assumed this was a mistake and "corrected" it!
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  20. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    Michel's post #22 has the RA units for the Guards Armoured Division from 74-78 with 78 as 94 Light AA and no counter mortar battery. They do not exist in that division 's order of battle 5th May 1945 in "The Story of the Guards Armoured Division" by Rosse and Hill.

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