How many tanks?

Discussion in '1940' started by MarkN, May 29, 2016.

  1. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    How many tanks went to France, were lost in France and made it back?????

    When I read Ellis' official history a few years back I sensed that something wasn't quite right with his numbers. But with nothing to hand to cross-check or challenge those numbers, I let it pass.

    Now I have the benefit of a significant quantity of unit WDs and other documents from the PRO and, being at a bit of a loose end this morning, I thought I'd run through what I have on the matter.

    The first thing I picked through was Peter Brown's work in Military Modelling and he's a cunning bugger, isn't he? In various places he notes what others have recorded without actually pinning his flag to any mast. At one point (part 4 of his A13 story) he highlights the discrepancies within 1st Armoured Division by the various offerings without, regrettably, offering any analysis of his own on the matter.

    I'm currently plodding through the various data going through a myriad of mathmatical calculations and, so far, have come up with a quite different story to all that's gone before. The numbers for infantry tanks seem to be boxed away and not disputed. The numbers for light tanks gets a bit fuzzy here and there. The cruiser tank situation ought to be simple, but seems to cause the most confusion.

    It all seems to be down to rather lax record keeping at the time - especially within AFV Branch at the War Office. I've noticed a similar lack of accuracy and care in the admin keeping of AFV Branch in GHQ ME. It seems tankies and donkey wallopers didn't like paperwork!

    Has anybody else ever worked through this puzzle and come up with an answer?

    I suspect nobody will ever now be able to claim a definitive answer, but it would be nice to somehow reach a credible consensus.

    Any thoughts or comments on this?
  2. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Didn't they have more pressing matters at the time?
    Records kept but lost in the fighting?
    Records exist but information not in the files you have accessed to date?
    Could be shed loads of reasons. The only number that really mattered was surely the number of serviceable tanks in the UK.
  3. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    Some of the information I've come across.

    Since I don't have the WDs of the seven divisional cavalry regiments to cross check against GHQ and WO guesswork, I'm concentrating on the tanks held by the 1st Armoured Division. This constitutes all of the cruiser tanks and a fair proportion of the light tanks.

    To start with, Ellis in the official history notes ...
    ... on page 162 that 3RTR took 27 cruiser and 21 light tanks to Calais,
    ... on page 254 that 1ArmdDiv took 143 cruiser and 114 light tanks to France and it seems to be presumed that this does not include 3RTR,
    ... on page 327 that just 9 cruiser and 13 light tanks returned from France.

    We can extrapolate from this that 1ArmdDiv had a total of 170 cruisers and 135 light tanks - 305 combined - which was 35 short of establishment.

    Ellis offers no information on the total number of tanks sent to France.

    AFV Branch at the WO produced monthly and half yearly reports. Monthly reports 1-16 do not seemed to have survived. Half Yearly Report No.1 (undated) for the period Sept 1939 to June 1940 notes ...
    ... on page 6 that 407 light, 158 cruiser and 126 infantry tanks were lost in France,
    ... on page 7 that only 6 light and 7 cruisers of 1ArmdDiv returned.

    We can extrapolate from this that 413 light, 165 cruisers and 126 infantry tanks went to France.

    This contradicts Ellis in two places: first, in the number fo tanks that returned from France; and second, the number of cruisers in 1ArmdDiv. We cannot ascertain any other differences from this information.

    Half Yearly Report No.2 (undated) for the period May to December 1940 notes ...
    ... on page 1 that at the beginning of May, 390 light, 172 cruisers and 126 infantry tanks were "in or under orders for BEF France".
    ... on page 2 that only 6 light and 7 cruisers returned,
    ... in annex A it gives a breakdown of the unit holdings and states that 1ArmdDiv held 172 cruiser and 143 light tanks

    You will notice that this not only contradicts Ellis and the Official History, but it is also at odds with the numbers presented in Half Yearly Report No.1.

    Annex M (to AFV Branch WO document archives) dated 8 January 1941, provides a detailed breakdown of the numbers and types of tanks lost in France. This list has been widely repeated on the internet and notes:-

    345 Light Tank VI.B
    ..62 Light Tank VI.C
    407 total light tanks

    ..97 Infantry Tank I
    ..29 Infantry Tank II
    126 total infantry tanks

    ....6 Cruiser Tank I
    ..18 Cruiser Tank I CS
    ..31 Cruiser Tank II
    ..38 Cruiser Tank III
    ..57 Cruiser Tank IV
    ....8 Cruiser Tank IVA
    158 total cruiser tanks

    The level of detail in this last document would suggest that it is based upon solid investigation of the facts rather than guesswork. Although dated 8 January 1941, the totals (407, 158 & 126) match the figure produced in Half Yearly Report No.1 which further suggests the infomation had been gathered, and was thus known and available for some months previously.

    What puzzles me is how - and why - Half Yearly Report No.2 would revert to publishing data relating to the beginning of May on how many tanks 1ArmdDiv had "under orders for the BEF in France" when it could (should) have published exactly how many they actually took. This report cannot have been published before the end of December 1940 - several months after the event - when the numbers should have been known. This is especially troublesome when it clearly contradicts their own previous report and contradicts other information that they had generated and published around the same time (Annex M).

    Food for thought?

    No definitive answer as to how many tanks went to France or how many returned. However, the level of detail in Annex M regarding the actual losses would seem to be definitive. One question down, two to go.

    More to follow, ....

    Edited to add:-
    The WO AFV Branch documents mentionned and quoted above can all be found in the PRO file WO 165/89
  4. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    The relevence of the WO AFV Branch information/data cannot be understated. This was the 'office' which served as the clearing house for all RAC matters going up and down the chain of command. If the PM needed an update on the tanks state, this was the office that was required to provide that information. If they didn't know the answer, or had recorded the information incorrectly, serious consequences could have occured.

    Moreover, it is the data recorded and held by this office that formed - or should have formed - the basis of statistics and data in the official history. It was the inability of this office to keep accurate and credible records that meant Ellis in the Official History had to leave out this key information and why we today still cannot reach a definitive answer.

    To evidence this the PRO file WO 366/54 shows just how silly this had become. In October 1950, Ellis wrote a latter to the then DRAC (ie head of WO AFV Branch), Major General Duncan, asking him to come up with the answers. This was not his first attempt to get the information. This was his last gasp attempt before he pushed out his draft book for approval. The same question had been asked repeatedly over the preceeding years because nobody had been able to pin the numbers down and the 'official records' held by the WO AFV Branch were so clearly unhelpful and inaccurate.

    A year earlier, Lt Colonel Joslen at the Cabinet Historical Section Office had tracked down three contradictory sets of information for Ellis and made his suggestion to Ellis as to what was, perhaps, the best answer to work with. Here is the summary document.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    You will notice in his "correct answer", Joslen manages to lose 30 light tanks held by units in France!!!

    The first two answers are the details from Half Yearly Reports No.1 and No.2 that I posted yesterday. The third source of information also has two glaring inaccuracies, but at the same time highlights the glaring inaccuracies of the previous two. Brigadier Dunphie's data is most enlighting.

    First, it demonstrates that these questions were being asked as early as the beginning of 1944.

    Second, given that Brigadier Dunphie was DRAC, it shows once again that WO AFV Branch is the go to office for this information and that they are expected to hold the correct information.

    Third, it highlights that the staff of WO AFV Branch circa 1940-41 who wrote Half Yearly Reports No.1 and No.2 were unaware that they had sent 9 divisional cavalry regiments to France and only accounted for 8 in their calculations (guesswork).

    Fourth, it highlights that the staff of WO AFV Branch circa 1943-44 - who no doubt did the work for Brigadier Dunphie - although spotting the correct number of regiments in France, managed to ignore all the reserve stocks sent over.

    Fifth, they are still persisting (4 years later) with the early May 1940 "under orders for the BEF in France" numbers for 1st Armourd Division rather than what the division actually took. Why????

    This file is a treasure for highlighting the inability of the WO AFV Branch, over many years, to be unable to get to the bottom of this and to brilliance in producing document after document with glaring ommissions and inaccuracies.

    To cap it all, not only did Joslen have a bit of 'typo moment' and lose 30 light tanks, but his "correct answer" merely muddies the water even further since it generates a fourth set of data which still does not add up. You will notice that his final "correct answer" for total losses is 405,163 and 126 which contradicts an earlier note he had sent Ellis stating 407, 158 and 126 (see yesterday's post).

    It is a year after this that Ellis, presumably in a state desperation, wrote directly to the then DRAC, Major General Duncan. The file contains an apology about why it is taking so long, but contains no response as to what the numbers should be.

    As we know, Ellis just left it out in end!

    More to follow, .......
    Rich Payne likes this.
  5. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    I hope that I have managed to demonstrate why this information is still not known despite over 75 years having lapsed and essentially all existing documents now being publically available: the office which should have recorded the correct details didn't - and their own words in their reports prove that point.

    I mentionned earlier that I would focus on the 1st Armoured Division. This is where that focus begins.

    A.) Ellis in the Official History states that 1ArmdDiv (including 3RTR in Calais) took 170 cruiser and 135 light tanks - 305 combined - which was 35 short of establishment and that 9 cruiser and 13 light tanks returned from France.

    B.) We can extrapolate from the AFV Branch at the WO Half Yearly Report No.1 that 1ArmdDiv (including 3RTR in Calais) took 165 cruiser tanks and returned with 7 cruisers and 6 light tanks from France. We can extrapolate with any confidence the number of light tanks they took.

    C.) AFV Branch at the WO Half Yearly Report No.2 states that 1ArmdDiv (including 3RTR in Calais) had "under orders" 172 cruiser and 143 light tanks - 315 combined - which was 25 short of establishment and that they returned with 7 cruiser and 6 light tanks from France.

    So, three different sets of answers so far. Here are some others that I have found.

    D.) Major General Evans, GoC 1st Armoured Division, wrote a 19 page report of the events and actions of his division south of the Somme (ie not including 3RTR) dated 22 August 1940. In that report he states that 1ArmdDiv (excl. 3RTR) took 150 cruiser and 134 light tanks - 284 combined - which was just 4 short of establishment and that 14 cruiser and 11 light tanks returned from France.

    E.) A large quantity of literature exists regarding the actions and events concerning Calais. There are various different recordings of what number and type of tanks 3RTR arrived with. Some say 27 cruiser tanks, some say 28 and others repeat the Ellis number of 30. All concur that there were 21 light tanks. Nobody records any returning.

    If we combine (D) and (E) together, and taking the cruiser tanks in Calais to be the lowest recorded (27), we have a grand total of 1ArmdDiv taking 177 cruiser and 155 light tanks - 332 combined - which was just 8 short of establishment.

    F.) On 11 June 1940, the War Cabinet Defence Committee (Supply) convened for its 4th meeting at No.10 Downing Street. To put into context, this was after the Dunkirk evacualtion but during the period that 1ArmdDiv was still operating south of the Somme. One of the papers produced was this (from D.C.(S.)(40) 4th Mtg)...

    [​IMG] My apologies for the shaky photo and invasion of my left thumb!!!!

    This clearly states 1ArmdDiv taking 169 cruiser and 135 light tanks to France. That's 304 combined. If that number excludes 3RTR, which having been sent north of the Somme and already lost it should, then it suggests that the bulk of the division took 16 more tanks than establishment. An armoured division establishment of 340 less the 52 establishment of one regiment (3RTR) is 288.

    If we combine (E) and (F) together, which technically we should if the words on the document presented to Churchill are correct, and taking the cruiser tanks in Calais to be the lowest recorded (27), we have a grand total of 1ArmdDiv taking 196 cruiser and 156 light tanks - 352 combined - which was 12 over establishment.

    If the words "Sent to France South of the Somme" are not quite accurate, and yet another of the administrative errors that we have seen all too often, and thus the total already includes the 3RTR tanks taken to and already lost in Calais, then it is 36 short of the 340 establishment.


    As you can see, the variance in the possibilities is quite significant.


    Are you still with me?
  6. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    Please let me know if this is of interest to readers and ww2talk.

    If all I am doing is boring everybody and clogging up your bandwidth, I'll happily desist from posting any more....

    Otherwise, more to follow....
  7. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Yes - keep going!

    Haven't had a chance to really go through it yet, but intend to. I did note that yesterday's update mentioned depots which was one source of discrepancy that occurred to me.

    Your comments about the 'organisation' resonate a bit as I found some correspondence relating to the unwritten AFV staff history.
  8. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

    Very interesting stuff.
    Random thought. Would approaching from a different angle by looking for shipping manifests from the vessels used to bring the BEF to France be of any use? Not sure if these are even accessible or would provide any details of type of tank transported by ship.

    Looking forward to further postings ...
  9. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Coming at it from the other end:

    The Bays embarked 29 cruisers and 21 lights (Beddington - Regimental History)
    2 R Tks embarked 27 cruisers and 21 lights (Delaforce - Battles with Panzers)
    3 R Tks embarked 27 cruisers and 21 lights (Delaforce - Taming the Panzers)

    Can't see anything in the others.
  10. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    John Plant in ‘The 1st Armoured Division’, New Generation Publishing, 2013, states:

    Later, when recording details of the evacuation:

  11. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    Thanks for your comments and contributions.

    To answer the questions first, there are lots of papers at the PRO which show numerous attempts by various historians to elicit from the Cabinet Historical Section Office the numbers of tanks in France or the UK in the summer of 1940. They tried a number of different routes to get this information and never managed to find a solution that made sense. This included checking Q.Stats, Q.Mov, Shipping data, COD Chilwell records and so on and on....

    The one route they seem not to have taken is to trawl the unit WDs. Or, perhaps they did, and decided it was too much work and gave up.

    And that is the first route I picked to go down. Not because I expected it to provide the definitive answer, but because I hoped and expected it would provide enough insights to understand in which range of figures the answers were most likely to be found.

    It turned out to be a good start...
  12. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    Trawling the unit WDs turned out to be rather helpful - and, in my opinion - it suggests some of the figures often quoted can be dismissed.

    My first thought when looking at the various offerings was to compare them to the laid down establishment of the time. You will notice I made that comparison in my post yesterday and may have wondered why. You will see that the various answers regarding how many 1ArmdDiv took to France range from 35 down on establishment to a possible 12 over establishment. If the various unit and sub-unit WDs indicate that they took tanks at, or near to establishment, then the totals are likely to be at or near to divisional establishment. Not so? Or vice versa of course.

    From the WDs...

    1st Armoured Division WD gives no information on the tanks that its own protection troop actually held. Theoretically, it should have been 8 cruiser tanks. That was never going to be possible as the division was not expected to become an all-criuser equipped formation until the late summer.

    However, there is some very interesting documents to be found. Here are the two key documents that indicate how the organisation of the division was being foreseen and implemented. They are key to understanding these knotty questions and formulating credible conclusions.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Putting aside the obligatory donkey walloper arithmetical errors (MarkNote: do your own calculations, don't trust theirs) the data is very revealing.

    First, we see the organisation of units and sub-units is very fluid as more and more cruiser tanks arrive (and are expected to arrive) to replace the light tanks.

    Second, we see the expected interim organisations for 1 May and 1 June. Given the division moved during this period, and received a mad rush of tanks just before embarkation, the actual organisation would certainly be similar too - but not exactly the same as - that indicated for 1 June.

    Third, that interim organisation indicates that each regiment will be homogenous - no cap badge favouritism thank you sir! - and would consist of 22 light tanks and 29 cruiser (22 A13, 4 A9CS and 3 A10). A total of 51 tanks not the written down 52 (notice the third squadron HQ has 3 light tanks in place of 4 cruisers) in each regiment. The two brigade HQ are to have 7 A10 cruiser and 3 light tanks each and divisional HQ 5 A10 cruiser and 3 light tanks.

    Before I go any further compare the interim establishment that they were aiming for with the details that idler and BFBSM posted above. Close or not?

    This interim organisation produces a grand total for the division of 334 tanks: 24 x A9cs, 37 x A10, 132 x A13 cruiser and 141 x light tanks.

    Very briefly, the other unit WDs provided insights but little hard data. Much of which has been misread and misquoted by many publications over the years.

    Neither 2nd or 3rd Armoured Brigade WD indicates anything of substance as to what their protection troops took to France. The best available is some notes on tanks that 3ArmdBde swopped once hostilities were ongoing.

    Neither 9 Lancers or 10 Hussars WD provide a figure for what they took to France. Little help there.

    Queen's Bays WD is a bit more helpful. However, the numbers that idler quoted above are listed as a 3 May entry regarding what their planned interim organisation will be. Of course, it has the obligatory donkey walloper errors and manages to miss an entire troop off their list! There is then a many page handwritten "battle order" of the actual organisation to go to France. That battle order is not that helpful in discerning which types and models of tanks were taken. But pencilled notes suggest it was a bit different to that planned interim establishment and perhaps lacked a total of 4 tanks. Ie. they arrived in France with a total of 48 tanks not the 50 or 51 they were hoping for. Perhaps the history of the regiment that idler has contains better and more accurate information, whereas David Fletcher in his book quoted the planned organisation of 3 May as that which actually went.

    The 2nd RTR WD is a treasure trove of information. But also contradictory. An entry for 20 May states that the battalion took 48 tanks to be loaded at Southampton: 8 A9, 1 A10, 18 A13 cruiser and 21 light tanks. However, an entry of 4 June provides a tank state of their "own" tanks and their locations. This list goes to 53 tanks: 10 A9, 1 A10, 21 A13 cruiser and 21 light tanks which is 2 over the interim establishment. Careful reading back suggests that the difference could be a handful of tanks that the battalion claims ownership of, but were transferred to 9 Lancers just before embarkation.

    The 3rd RTR WD only contains post-BEF reports as the battalion diary was lost in Calais. No help there.

    The 5th RTR WD is also not much help on what they actually took. However, the exact details of the tanks, including their serial numbers, was kept by the battalion EO and his diary is held by the tank museum. The information has been reproduced by Peter Brown within his excellent articles in Military Modelling. In brief, 5RTR took to France 52 tanks: 3 A9, 4 A9cs, 3 A10, 15 A13 Mk.I, 7 A13 Mk.IIA cruiser and 20 light tanks. He also states in a different article that 5RTR took 56 tanks, but hey ho!

    I will add more analysis to add meat to these bones later, but already you can see that each regiment/battalion took close to the number of tanks specified in the interim establishment set out by 1ArmdDiv. That means the total numbers taken should be around the 325-330 mark. Around +/-185 cruiser and +/-135 light tanks. Hmmmmm!!!!

    Edited to add.
    Almost all the WD information and certainly all the good bits, and lots lots more, have been reproduced by Peter Brown in a series of articles in Military Modelling. If you can't get to the PRO, order the back copies of the magazine.
  13. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    The embarkation lists regrettably don't help us here as they show only 'vehicles' and 'motorcycles'...presumably they were more interested in the space taken up than the end use. In any case, they begin a little late for some of the Div. Cavs and there are missing units.

    It occurs to me that any unit that could have claimed to have been under establishment had something of a built-in excuse for any failings.

    Don't be too hard on those who compiled the figures though...what you're attempting would be a complete non-starter with any of the softskins. It's odd really as logically there must have been a master list by census number of all vehices but there must have been utter confusion after the fall of France. It's evident from the 'Missing Men' files that half the time the army didn't know where even many of the men who came back were...
  14. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Is part of the problem that the smallish quantity of vehicles in dispute could be well within the expected number of breakdowns? Reported figures could be 'runners' rather than 'on strength'.

    Press on Regardless, the 'unofficial' 5 R Tks history, provides a summary several days into the campaign at which time they were down to around half strength, from memory. This was mostly due to breakdowns.
  15. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Another thought: I would expect each regiment to provide crews, if not commanders, for the tanks in the formation HQs. Could the over-establishment tanks mentioned by Bays and 2 R Tks be Bde/Div vehicles crewed by regimental personnel? Are they being counted as 'embarked' but not 'on strength'?

    If so, 2 cruisers per regiment would give 10-12 (depending on whether or not you count 3 R Tks in the mix) - roughly a troop per formation HQ. Some way short of the ideal, but it's reasonable to assume that the sabre regiments would have priority.

    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but why no mention of over-establishment light tanks? All I can offer is that if there was a shortfall, it's not hard to imagine the formation HQs dispensing with them as they lacked the convenience of a loader/operator making them less suitable as 'command' vehicles.
  16. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    Thanks again for additional contributions and comments. Keep them coming...

    Rich Payne,

    Your point about debarkation lists is very appropriate and something I will be turning to in a later post regarding those that came back.

    Not sure about being short of 3 or 4 tanks out of 52 being an valid excuse for any failings real or perceived.


    Not sure I understand where you're going with your first point. Whether a tank is lost due to mechanical failure or enemy action it should count as being sent to France. Not so? But in respect of the numbers lost to mechanical failure was indeed so great that it meant the lack of 3 or 4 on establishment mention by Rick Payne was an irrelevance in the bigger picture.

    On the second point, while it is true that the formation HQ protection troops were indeed manned by a pool of RAC and cavalry cap badges, they were in addition to the established strengths of the units themselves. The same with the tanks. In other words, they were not at the expense of the manpower/tanks available to the battalions and regiments, they were in addition.
  17. idler

    idler GeneralList

    The first point was only in the context of what the units themselves might be reporting in their WDs. Not really an issue given the scarcity of such reports.

    Point 2 - just trying to understand why some units might be reporting extra vehicles *over* establishment. The hypothesis is that a unit's spare crews (first reinforcements) crewing Div/Bde vehicles *might* be travelling with their unit, rather than the HQs themselves. Sorry if that wasn't clear.
  18. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    Quick recap before moving forward...

    The planned interim establishments for 1 May 1940 were (MarkNote: remember, do your own arithmetic, don't trust their totals)...
    ...for each regiment: 50 total = 20 cruiser (2 A9cs, nil A10, 18 A13) and 30 light tanks
    ...for the division as a whole: 328 total = 139 cruiser (12 A9cs, 19 A10, 108 A13) and 189 light tanks

    They were transitionning to this interim establishment for 1 June 1940 when they departed for France...
    ...for each regiment: 51 total = 29 cruiser (4 A9cs, 3 A10, 22 A13) and 22 light tanks
    ...for the division as a whole: 334 total = 193 cruiser (24 A9cs, 37 A10, 132 A13) and 141 light tanks

    One additional reorganisation that 1st Armoured Division had put into place was to concentrate all the brand new Light Tank Mk.VIC in the regiments of 2nd Armoured Brigade (QB, 9L and 10H) with the other units and sub-units retaining the older Light Tank Mk.VIB. Similarly, the Cruiser Tank A13 Mk.II, whilst the regiments of 3rd Armoured Brigade were to have their A13 allocation made up A13 Mk.I, A13 Mk.IIA and gun armed A9.

    From the WD information I posted yesterday, and from the details held in a myriad of books published about Calais or similar, we can see that the regiments actually took to France...
    2RTR: 27 cruiser and 21 light tanks (8 A9, 1 A10, 18 A13 and 21 LT. IVB) or more...
    3RTR: 27 cruiser and 21 light tanks at least...
    5RTR: 32 cruiser and 20 light tanks (3 A9, 4 A9CS, 3 A10, 15 A13 Mk.I, 7 A13 Mk.IIA and 21 LT. IVB)
    QBays: at least 48 tanks in total.

    MarkNote: the 2RTR WD notes that they were expecting to have 3 A10s, but only managed to have one ready by the time of sailing.
    MarkNote: the 8 A9s in 2RTR were probably 4 gun and 4 CS variants.
    MarkNote: please recall the 2RTR WD also had a tanks state for 4 June listing a total of 32 cruiser and 21 light tanks.

    There seems to be a patterm emerging - albeit not perfect - along exactly the same lines as the 1ArmdDiv organisational planning.

    This pattern seems to suggest an unwritten (and unevidenced) interim establishment on sailing for each regiment as: 48 total tanks being 27 cruiser (4 A9cs, 3 A10, 20 A13) and 21 light tanks. Where possible, additional tanks could and were taken. Where certain tanks types were unavailable, the numbers would be reduced such as 2RTR only taking 1 A10 not 3.

    It seems reasonable to me to assume that 9L and 10H were similarly equipped. There is no evidence to suggest otherwise. And there is a calculation that we can do to see if this is realistic. It comes in several parts and we have to refer back to the detailed list of losses that I posted earlier.

    Remember, Queen's Bays, 9 Lancers and 10 Hussars were operating, and uniquely so, the Cruiser Tank A13 Mk.II and the Light Tank Mk.VIC. The hypothetical interim establishment that I have just posted above gives a requirement for 60 and 63 respectively. The list of tank losses in France notes 57 and 62 respectively. That's just 3 and 1 tank unaccounted for. Moreover, there is a note on one document I have which lists Cruiser Tank A13 Mk.II T.9104 has having been to France and returned. Now the numbers are just 2 and 1 in separation between requirement and evidenced as being in France. The calculations for the 4 A9cs and 3 A10 required to make up this hypothetical interim establishment are a bit more involved and complicated as other units and sub-units are involved (see part below). But the take away point is that both 9L and 10H also would have gone to France with, give or take, 48 tanks total (27 cruiser and 21 light).

    The numbers seem to pan out for 2ArmdBde. The calculation for 3ArmdBde is a bit more complex, but can also be done. When you aggregate the likely number of A9 gun tanks with the two versions of A13 that were available to them, you can reach the required 60 on my hypothetical interim establishment. The problem lies in identifying the precise break down by type, not the totals which have already been stated.

    Then we have the three formation protection troops which, combined they should have had 19 A10 cruiser tanks and 9 light tanks. A quick calculation on the A10. The hypothetical interim establishment requires 18 for the regiments and 19 for the protection troops. A grand total of 37. We know from the 2RTR WD that they were two short, and from the list of losses in France 31 were left behind. This is a difference in numbers of just 4. Whether those 4 are tanks that went to France and returned, or were lacking in one of the units or sub-units is impossible to determine. However, it demonstrates that even if all the 5 regiments (not including 2RTR who we know had just 1) had their alottment of three, the least that the protection troops could have is 15. The Light Tank Mk.VIB was plentiful so there is no reason to suspect there were any less than the 9 expected.

    What we are thus faced with is the very realistic possibility that at least 177 cruisers were taken to France. Probably more. This compares to Ellis in the Official History who states 170; the two AFV Branch WO reports which suggest 165 and 172; it matches the number derived from General Evans' report (177) combined with other information in 3RTR; and, lies between the two possible interpretations (169 and 196) that the Defence Committee reported to Churchill on 11th June.

    The numbers of light tanks are a bit more problematic due to the Mk.VIB being used by numerous other units in France too. Nevertheless, in brief, the hypothetical interim establishment suggests 135 or thereabouts (72 Mk.VIB and 63 Mk.VIC). Feel free to cross check that with the other claims above.

    You will see that whilst the cruiser total tallies nicely with General Evans, the light tanks are horribly out. And so on...

    Moreover, at 177 cruiser tanks to France is on the higher side of the various options and, with only 158 supposedly lost, completely disagrees with the number allegedly returned.

    Is it possible that significantly more tanks went to France and returned than previously understood?

    More to come...
  19. jhunt

    jhunt Junior Member

    Hi Mark

    The 1st Armoured Division in France is a topic that I have been interested in for some time, so I'm glad you brought this up. Over time I have become pretty much reconciled to the number of Cruisers sent to France as 172; 158 left behind and 14 returned.

    This leaves an apparent discrepancy if Regiments are similarly equipped, the nominal standard seems to have been RHQ 3 Cruisers, A Sqn HQ 2 Cruisers & 2 A9CS with 2Tps of Cruisers and 2Tps of Light Tanks with B Squadron similarly equipped and C Squadron HQ with 3 Cruisers and three troops of Light Tanks and one Tp of Cruisers, This would nominally give 4A9CS 26Other Cruisers and 21 Light Tanks. It of course would vary slightly.

    However period Photos indicate that various Sqn HQ in both 9L and 10H contained MkVIc light tanks, indicting a substitution for cruisers. In addition there seems to be total lack of photo graphic evidence for the presence of any A9CS or A10 in 10H, suggesting there were none of probably that they were below establishment. Further to this some time ago Roddy de Norman posted a list of WD Census numbers for A13's in 10H in 1940 on Missing Lynx it contained only 19 numbers, while in the flurry before action some transfers may have been missed it also suggests that this unit in particular was below establishment.

    It is unfortunate that we have really good information on the other Regiments but not on 9L and 10H. I will post some detail information I have gathered on the organisation of 3RTR, 2RTR and QB. This is based on observation of photos, and accounts.
  20. jhunt

    jhunt Junior Member

    This is the Organisation of 3 RTR as I understand it in Calais in 1940, it is mostly based on observation of the photographic record.
    RHQ 1A9
    HQ A Sqn – 2 A9CS 1 A13 MkI 1A13MkII
    1Tp 3 A13 MkI
    2Tp 3 Mk VIb
    3Tp 3 Mk VIb
    4Tp 3 A13 MkI
    HQ B Sqn – 2 A9CS 2 A13 MkI
    5Tp 3 13MkI
    6Tp 3 Mk VIb
    7Tp 3 Mk VIb
    8Tp 3 13MkI
    HQ C Sqn – 3 A13 MkI
    9Tp 3 Mk VIb
    10Tp 3 Mk VIb
    11Tp 3 Mk VIb
    12Tp 1 A13 MkI 2 A13MkIIa
    Total A9 – 1, A9CS – 4, A13 MkI -19, A13MkII -1, A13MkIIa -2, MkVIb - 21
    i.e. 27 Cruisers and 21 Light

Share This Page