Changes to Army Transport Coy RASC

Discussion in 'Trux Discussion Area' started by Tom OBrien, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    I thought you might be interested to know that before D-Day the type of vehicles issued to the Army Transport Companies was changed from that recorded in their War Establishment:

    So, whereas their WE suggests that they should have:

    "Army Transport Company.
    2 X Transport Platoons each with five sections of 3ton lorries
    2 X Transport Platoons each with five sections of 6ton lorries.
    1 X General Duties Platoon
    1 X Workshop Platoon, Serial 3."

    the following alterations were made at a 21 Army Group conference on 27 Apr 44:

    "Owing to 6-ton and 10-ton Rigid G.S. vehicles being in short supply, a re-organisation of vehicle holdings in certain RASC units in 21 Army Group is necessary. It has therefore been decided that the following policy will be adopted immediately.
    1. (a) All Heavy and Medium Regt Pls RASC will be equipped temporarily with 3-ton GS vehicles only.
    (b) Army Transport Coys (four Pl) to be temporarily equipped with one Pl 6-ton rigid vehicles in lieu of 2 Pl 6-ton.
    (c) The necessary 2nd line coys RASC will be completed with rigid 6-ton vehicles.
    2. In order to effect the above policy without delay all 6-ton rigid vehicles will be withdrawn from HAA, LAA and Med Regt Pls, and 6-ton GT Coys in order to equip units in para 1 (b) (c). These transfers will be carried out under the orders of DST 21 Army Group."

    Therefore, in the description of the layout of the MT units supporting 2nd Army on 31 Aug 44, we find that 1, 36, 104, 701 and 702 Army Transport Coys had 3 x 3-ton plns and 1 x 6-ton pln; while 279 Army Transport Coy had only 3 x 3-ton plns.


  2. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    That is very interesting and useful. The RASC was very flexible and its War Establishments capable of rapid alterations.

    The Administrative History of 21 Army Group lists a number of variations but I had not seen this one before.

    Over the years I have probably been asked more questions about RASC units than any others. I could not answer many of them.

  3. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    i'm interested in RASC units as I'm trying to identify how much affect problems with the infamous defective Austin K5 3-ton 4x4 lorries actually had on 21 Army Group's logistics during the autumn of 1944.

    As such I do seem to be collecting a vast range of war diaries of RASC units and it is very interesting trying to balance the information they contain and the fantastic resource that you have produced here.

    I would be delighted to try to help with any RASC questions.


  4. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Tom, Mike, that must have neccessitated a rapid change of loading tables for Overlord surely?
  5. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Tom, does this new information suggest that the Army Transport Companies were over-stretched from the beginning as they were a platoon of six-tonners short? The remaining three-tonners might have been seeing a greater workload because of this. If things were that tight then perhaps it wouldn't have taken many failures to tip the balance ?
  6. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    I am at present working on the operation of Sword Beach on D Day and the weeks after. Most of the 3ton 4 X 4 lorries landing on D Day and D+1 were Austin K5. Nearly every unit of 3 Division is listed as having them and the numbers with units far exceed the few in RASC hands.

    I have come across references to these vehicles being produced, waterproofed and stockpiled for issue just before the landings. It seems that this was a bad idea since the water proofing deteriorated and had to be replaced. A stray thougth is that if these vehicles had been run on MT80 fuel and then left in store for many months this could cause engine damage.

    Presumably there would be a reserve of 3ton lorries in the UK formed from those withdrawn and replaced by the Austins. Later in the campaign a considerable number of transport companies were raised with Dutch and Belgian personnel. These found 3ton lorries from somewhere.

    Mike L,
    Army Transport Companies were not early arrivals on the Continent so would not be included in the landing tables made up by PMLO staffs.

  7. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    You said that:

    "Most of the 3ton 4 X 4 lorries landing on D Day and D+1 were Austin K5. Nearly every unit of 3 Division is listed as having them and the numbers with units far exceed the few in RASC hands.

    I have come across references to these vehicles being produced, waterproofed and stockpiled for issue just before the landings."

    I would be very grateful if you would share the source that has given you this information. I have been wading through unit war diaries and found that very few detail the make of the vehicles they were equipped with. I have also, however, also come across many units describing how they collected pre-waterproofed vehicles in the run up to D-day.

    The following details from "The Administrative History of 21 Army Group" sheds light on some of the plans made for replacement vehicles being delivered into Normandy as a reserve rather than being held in the UK and then issued in response to demands from units in Normandy

    "The requirement for light 'A' and 'B' vehicles was to produce in the beach-head between D-day and D+42 the calculated rate of wastage for that period, plus one month's reserve to cover exceptional losses in the assault and the creation of a repair pool. There was considerable conflict in priorities between shipment of reserve vehicles and fighting formations in the build-up. The General Staff were, however, advised and agreed that reserve vehicles to maintain the force ashore should have priority in shipment over fighting formations where conflict between the two arose.

    11. Maintenance of Vehicle Strength
    In general, replacement of vehicles in NORMANDY worked according to plan. Owing to the small losses in the assault and immediately afterwards, serious consideration was given to the phasing back of the replacement vehicle programme. It was, however, decided that no substantial alteration would be made to the planned programme and this was found to be a wise decision, because by the time the battle of CAEN was finished all vehicle losses suffered by formations in the early days had been made good. It proved possible to maintain the vehicle strength of all formations then in the bridgehead and a small GHQ reserve stock was also beginning to build up.
    The initial reserves of "A" vehicles arrived in the theatre with Corps Delivery Squadrons between D+8 and D+18. After D+18 "A" vehicles were shipped unaccompanied in bulk to depots in the bridgehead from which they were available for issue to the Armoured Replacement Group organisation. Small numbers of "B" vehicles were taken into the bridgehead by Corps Ordnance Field Parks until D+18 after which "B" vehicles were also shipped unaccompanied in bulk."

    I would be very happy to share any information that I already have re units landing on Sword Beach (RASC companies, Petrol Depot, etc) if it would be of interest.


  8. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    I guess the answer to your question is "well...maybe...but"!:D

    As Mike states the Army Transport Coys were not early arrivals and the one Army Tpt Coy that I have got the WD for (by coincidence No1 Army Tpt Coy:)) states that they didn't arrive on the continent until early July and that they were equipped with 6-ton Maudsley's and 3-ton Bedford OY 4 x2 vehicles.

    Now, looking at Mike's WE for Army Tpt Coy I noticed that he talks about 3-tonners rather than in other WE's (eg those of the RASC companies within divisions) where it states the vehicles were 3-ton 4x4 vehicles. This led me to think that perhaps the vast majority of 2nd and 3rd line RASC companies were equipped with 4 x 2 3-tonners (not suprisingly when you consider their role) and it was only the 1st line tpt that needed the 4x4 vehicles. Oh, and the 3-ton companies that landed on D-day - one of which (305 GT Coy definitely had Austin K5 4 x 4's).

    In this case, the infamous K5 problem would not, in fact, have had any effect on 21 Army Group Line of Communications - which in my opinion is what the statement in "The Admin History of 21 Army Group" actually says, but Chester Wilmot misread it, and then it has been used as a stick to beat the British (by both British and other historians ever since).

    Anyway, thanks for showing interest in my research (and my ramblings!).


  9. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    A quick reply.

    The Landing Tables for Sword are very detailed and do give the make of almost all vehicles landing on D Day. I have 100 digital photos of the Landing tables for the three British beaches and have made transcripts of most. Some units have attached the unit landing tables to the War Diary but this is not common.

    I can send a transcript by email attachment. I could send digital images on a CD if you need them.

    I also have some 5000 images of the War Diaries for the Beach units on Sword. These have just arrived and as yet I have only had time to dip into one or two.

    I do have a copy of the Administrative History 21 Army Group.

    I think the information on stockpiling pre waterproofed vehicles is from the REME official history but may be the RAOC official history.

    Thank you for your kind offers. More later.

  10. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    Yes please to all your kind offers:D

    A kind friend from America has just sent me a CD of some 3 Div war diaries and by chance I just opened the 2 Lincs diary to check that they had successfully loaded on to my laptop. By happy coincidence the first folder I opened contained the May WD which contains their loading tables, which disappointingly mention 3-tonners (without saying whether 4x4 or not) and 15-cwt 4x4s, but not the particular make of each type. If your tables do contain those makes though, I shall be very, very grateful. Would the Beach units themselves (by which I take it you mean the infantry Brach Protection battalions?) have taken 3-tonners?

    I have not given up hope, however, although perhaps my early find in the war diary of 53 Div CRASC which describes the complete changeover of the RASC vehicles in Apr/May 44 to Ford WOT6 4x4 3-tonners led me to underestimate the complexity of the task.:) I'm also pretty sure that Guards Armoured had Bedford 4x4s in their RASC units.

    I shall be searching the library catalogue for those official histories tonight:). Thanks for the suggestion.


  11. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    Beach units cover a wide variety. There are the Beach Group battalions but also many others which operated the beaches, assembly areas, medical units, dumps, and unloaded shipping, provided air defence. Except for a bridging unit they all list 3ton Austin 4 X 4. The 15cwt 4 X 4 were CMP 15cwt. These also seem to have been waterproofed and stored.

    Great efforts were made to achieve standardisation within divisions but there still remained a great variety of types which makes them interesting.

    The Guards Armoured Division RASC seems to have had Bedford QL, Ford WOT6 and CMP Fords.
  12. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    Thanks for the reply - I guess it makes sense that the beach units would have used 4x4 3-tonners what with getting ashore and operating in areas with bad/damaged road networks. Interesting that they all seem to have been Austins though - I wonder why, especially when we consider that the more "normal" units don't seem to have used them to such a great extent. Perhaps the spring of 1944 was when the Austin K5 production line kicked in/was at a peak? But does this mean they were cutting back on other 4x4 production or was 4x4 production as a whole hitting a peak and there just happened to be a big delivery of Austin's just at the right time? Or perhaps the Austin was manufactured already waterproofed or more easily waterproofed?

    That's what I love about this subject - just when you think you are getting somewhere a whole new field of questions springs to mind!:D


  13. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    I have the following.
    From REME History published by the War Office. 'The Ministry of Supply had actually waterproofed several thousand 'B' vehicles and put them into store ready for D Day. Unfortunately it had not been appreciated that deterioration could occur to materials left long standing in storage, and when in 1943 a test was carried out on representative sample they all failed.'

    From History of the RAOC 1920 to 1945. 'Early in 1944 the War office stated that the original order for waterproofing 'B' vehicles was to increased from 1,600 to 2,139.' ... 'Then it was discovered that the waterproofing on the original 1,600 had deteriorated and they had to be done again.'

    Somewhere that I have not found yet John Church mentions 1,200 CMP vehicles being ordered and stored for use by the British Army.

    Instructions for Beach Groups say that all 15cwts were to be replaced with 15cwt 4 X 4 (CMP) or Loyd Carriers.

    I have sent you a Private Message concerning sending Landing Tables.

  14. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    Thanks for the further details.

    One quick question which probably displays my ignorance - who's John Church?

    Re Canadian vehicles - I have seen a few references to CMP Ford F60L's being used by British units - including 551 Coy (GT), 39 Coy (GT), 106 and 128 Coy (Bridging). Looking at the war diary for 551 Coy does indeed reveal that they received Ford 4x4's in May 44, but I'm not sure if they were pre-waterproofed or not as the WD discusses conducting 'waterproofing' the new vehicles; although I recall elsewhere that 'waterproofing' was conducted in stages. Another mystery that needs solving.:D


  15. Pak75

    Pak75 Member

    HI Guys
    I read your posts with interest, I am researching Normandy AFV campaign June - Aug 1944.
    Whilst looking at 8th armoured brigade for June 1944 (Gold Beach I know) i noticed that regiments were receiving replacement tanks before 265th Field Delivery squadron arrived. These must have come from the 254th Corps Delivery sqdn which could well have had replacement tanks from the regiments in it - a reference is made to this in 4/7 RDG history, 'First and Last'.
    Can anyone confirm the composition of landing parties for 254 CDS and 259 CDS (Sword Beach)?
    I have the WD for 254 CDS which is not very detailed for first two weeks of June if anyone is interested.

  16. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  17. onyx

    onyx Junior Member

    Hi, My dad drove a Bedford petrol lorry.He landed on 15th June 1944. Where would he have landed so i can try and trace his movements? We have photo's of him and some mates standing next to the lorry dated 1947 and taken in Jervis ,Germany 1947 would this of been were he was before he game back home?
  18. onyx

    onyx Junior Member

    I think it was Jever Germany not Jervis. Sorry
  19. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    Do you have any more information? A unit perhaps? Was your dad in the RASC or was he driving a lorry in another unit?

    Happy to try to help but very difficult from the limited information you have posted so far.

    BTW how do you know it was a Bedford lorry and how do you know he landed in France on 15 June 44. Your source might be a good pointer that gives us further clues.


  20. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    Another anomaly in the 1 Coy RASC (Army Tpt) WD is recorded on 24 April 44:

    "W.O.U.M. 79/Mob/6430/188 (AGS Mob) dated 23 APR 44 received whereby General Duties Platoon is deleted from organisation of this unit."



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