Field Regiments in Egypt

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by Neilie, Feb 24, 2021.

  1. Neilie

    Neilie Member

    I am modelling a Morris CDSW in 1/76 scale and would like to do it in NA theatre colours. I have a photo showing a column in Egypt but unit and year are unknown. Also unknown is the gun type as I thought it may be an 18 Pdr although a friend thought it may be a 3.7" with the #24 Trailer.
    Can anyone shed any light on gun type, possible unit and markings please?

    Thanks in advance.


    Neil photopyramidsoldiers.jpg
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  2. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    Hi Neil
    I'd like to make a CDSW 'toastrack' one day, but haven't got round to it yet! I think the gun in the foreground is a 4.5 inch howitzer and should have a No 26 or No 30 limber (info on 'Trailers Artillery', other than the 25 pounder's No 27 and to a lesser extent the earlier No 24) is extremely sparse. I have pics of some if you're stuck. No idea of the unit, but will search. I am certain it is a much bigger gun than the 3.7 howitzer.
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  3. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    Further to the above, I have been through Field Regts RA and RHA up to 99 Fd Regt. I looked for units that were in Egypt 39-41 (many did not go there till 42) and were equipped with 4.5 inch howitzers. Hits were 4 Fd Regt who were said to have 4.5s in Jan 1941 (each battery had a troop of 4.5s and a troop of 18 pounders), and belonged to 4 Indian Div (note they went to Eritrea and then came back to Egypt) and 51 (Westmoreland and Cunberland) Fd Regt RA TA who were in Egypt much of 1941 and were said to have 4.5 howitzers too. They belonged to British Troops Egypt.
    Hope this helps though it is not definitive! It may give you some ideas. NB do not confuse the ancient 4.5 Howitzer with the more modern 4.5 inch gin (like the 5.5 but longer barrel).
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  4. Derek Barton

    Derek Barton Senior Member

    Chris has got it right, it's a 4.5 inch. The 3.7 inch is smaller and is a mountain or pack piece breaking down into a number of loads for mule transport.
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  5. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    I am no spotter, so will go with the flow as to it being a 4.5" howitzer.

    There were approx 80 of them in the ME.

    The regiments which arrived from India had 4 to an RA battery alongside 4 18-pdr. Thus 8 per regiment. They came with 1, 4, 25 & 28 Fld RA but were turned into stores as and when 25-pdr became available.

    I believe the three Yeomanry regiments of 1st Cavalry Division (104, 106 & 107 RHA) also landed with 8 apiece.

    As Chris mentionned above, 51 Fld RA brought 12 from the UK, and I believe 31 Fld RA was also equipped with 12 initially.

    By May 1941, the distribution was as follows:
    - 51 Fld RA's remaining 10 had be reissued to 2/12 Fld RAA in Tobruk,
    - 4 Fld RA still had the 8 they brought from India and were using them in Eritrea/Ethiopia,
    - 2/7 and 2/8 Fld RAA had been issued 12 each in Egypt after returning from Greece empty handed,
    - the Polish Artillery Regiment had 18 (also in Egypt),
    - 16 had been sent back to India, and
    - a number resided in training or ordnance depots.

    In otherwords, there are a few candidates for which unit.

    No doubt there are others I have not listed.

    Markings in the ME were non-standard and haphazard until September 1941 when an edict was sent out by GHQ ME with the rules.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2021
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  6. Neilie

    Neilie Member

    Thanks all for the great input chaps. I had intially considered the 4.5" Howitzer but discounted it due to the tubular support circled in red. I don't see that anywhere in my photos of 4.5's although it could have been a variant. I thought possibly an 18 Pdr split trail due to the absence of a firing platform and what appears to me to be a #24 Trailer. I do have a #24 trailer and the CDSW but just need to sort the gun and unit ID. From the look of the column there must be at least 12 of whatever they are towing so possibly the 51st Field Regt. but the photos seems fairly early. I know they were there for Crusader in 1941 but not sure when they actually arrived there. Will keep looking and welcome any more discussion.


    Neil photopyramidsoldiers - Copy.jpg
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  7. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Well-Known Member

    Sorry to butt in but remember that a Field Regiment would have 24 guns which in 1939 would be split into two Batteries of 12. Usually one Battery of 18 pdr and one of 4.5 howitzers. Due to the limitations of the guns.
    Post 1941 there would be three batteries of 8 guns all 25 pdrs.
    They would therefore be in a column or convoy in combinations of the above.
  8. Derek Barton

    Derek Barton Senior Member

    That tubular bar is present on the Mk 1P & PA as part of the conversion to Pneumatic tyres. A tubular axle & supports is mounted beneath the standard axle.
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  9. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    Not strictly true.

    RA field regiments in India were established with 16 guns not 24. Two batteries of 8 guns. The same applied to (initially) UK based RHA regiments - regular and converted yeomanry.

    That didn't change until the latter half of 1941.

    Above I listed nine regiments who started off with 4.5" howitzers and those that held them in May 1941. In between, there were several other regiments that had them whilst in Egypt/Palestine before being issued with 25-pdr guns. To know who, when and how many exactly can be established by reading through the Australian and New Zealand war diaries and official histories. For example, l found one entry indicating the NZ artillery regiment in Egypt during mid 1940 had some (presumably ex 31 Fld RA based on dates).

    However, you are correct not to assume the picture has to be 51 Fld RA based upon numbers. The picture is not clear enough to determine whether there is more than 16 guns in the column and certainly not which type each of them is.
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  10. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    51 Fld RA arrived in Egypt the latter half of 1940. The first I see it in operation is for the assault on Bardia when it was under command 6 Aus Division in December.

    Perhaps with more than the 10mins I did on a google search and read, you might narrow down the details more precisely.
  11. Neilie

    Neilie Member

    Well, more good info and for my purposes, it seems I could likely do the 31st or 51st and I now realize the trailer is a #26 not #24 (typo). Does anyone know what markings either may have carried in 1940, both AoS and Formation? If the 31st, it likely had the 4th Indian Div formation sign...not sure about the British Troops Egypt unless it was the camel. Any help with these would be much appreciated.


  12. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    31 Fld RA had converted to 25-pdr before Caunter scheme. 51 Fld RA arrived in the ME after Caunter became standard.

    31 Fld RA gave up their 18-pdr and 4.5" before they joined 4 Ind Division. 51 Fld RA were attached (ie not part of) 6 Aus Division with 25-pdr too.

    This last piece of information creates a bit of confusion in my mind. In January 1941 they swopped their 25-pdr guns with the 18-pdr / 4.5" of 2/2 Aus Artillery so the Aussies could take the new equipment to Greece. This then leaves open a question as to whether 51 Fld RA arrived from the UK with 18-pdr / 4.5" or 25-pdr. If they arrived with 25-pdr, it means they never had 18-pdr / 4.5" in Egypt. They only had them for a 2-3 months in Cyrenaica. If they arrived with 18-pdr / 4.5", the question crops up as to how long they retained them before changing to 25-pdr.

    Before September 1941, nobody knows and nobody is even willing to guess. And that relates to the theory so knowing the actual is infinitely more complicated due to frequent changes of command. For example, between arrival in Egypt late 1940 and March 1941, 51 Fld RA was under command BTE then WDF then 6 Aus Div, then CYRCOM then 9 Aus Div. It may even have been under XIII Corps too but I can't be completely sure.

    31 Fld RA did not have 4.5" howitzer in 1940.
    51 Fld RA may have had 4.5" howitzer for a short period in 1940 in Egypt but if they did they gave them up before going forward on operations.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2021
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  13. Neilie

    Neilie Member

    So...back to the original photo....who owns all those guns....51st possibly?
    I really appreciate your input as you seem very knowledgeable and I like to get my model markings "reasonably accurate." Here is one I did recently of a 1/76 Scammell R100 with a 4.5 " in March 1941 of the 7th Med Regt.



    Attached Files:

  14. CL1

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

    Great works as ever Neil

    thank you for posting

  15. Neilie

    Neilie Member

    Thanks Clive!
  16. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    Who owns the guns is impossible to determine without knowing the date the picture was taken. With a date you may narrow down the options, but not necessarily confirm.

    If the date is before July 1939 it is almost certainly 31 Fld RA.

    If it is between July and September 1939 it is most likely to be 4 Fld RA.

    After September 1939 the options become plural as 1 Fld RA arrives to join 4 Fld RA and so on.

    By the time you get to 1940 the possibilities are multiple. British or Australian or New Zealand. By August or September you have several options. From mid-1941 the options start to reduce.

    I'm not a modeller and do not wish to guess what your motives and intentions are. But if it is to replicate the picture, I don't see how that is possible when I can't even discern whether it is a Caunter scheme or not. Can you? If so, that is a great help in eliminating a large timeframe.
  17. Neilie

    Neilie Member

    Thanks for your reply. I'm basically interested in modelling a CDSW with #26 Limber and 4.5" as shown in the photo and in North Africa. I agree the date is all important here so will see if I can come up with something more definitive on it. The colour looks to be all one colour with no apparent disruptive (and almost certainly not Caunter) but not enough is showing and the photo quality is not the best. I have another photo of one in that theatre which seems to be Middle Stone with a Dark Sand disruptive asccording to Mike Starmer. My model does not have to be 100% to the photo but would like it to be representative of a unit that served in North Africa in that period so your point about the date is well taken. I have already done one in BEF colours and markings so wanted this one in North Africa.

    Thanks again for your input and kind assistance.


  18. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    Thinking laterally, are you willing to view the image as inspiration rather than as a template?

    By that, I mean, identify when a unit was equipped with Morris tractor and 4.5" howitzer at the same time and model that unit in that time frame rather than model the picture.

    For example, there is documentary evidence that shows 4 Fld RA was equipped with 24 x Morris tractors, 8 x 4.5" howitzers and 8 x 18-pdr guns in January 1941. At that time they were in Sudan under command 5 Ind Div.
  19. Neilie

    Neilie Member

    That would be perfect for my purposes. The photo was of interest as it showed that the Morris CDSW was indeed used in NA. Now I would need to know the relevant AoS and marking for the 5th Indian Division.
    Any assistance there would be much appreciated.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
  20. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    Last night a friend from NZ sent me an email asking me to confirm 4 Fld RA had Morris CDSW not Morris QUAD in January 1941. He sent me 2 pictures to indicate the two different vehicles. The document I have just states Morris so which of the two it was I have no idea.

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