Standard RA personal weaponry?

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by Chris C, May 29, 2019.

  1. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    What personal weapons would an ordinary gunner have had, if any? A pistol? Lee-Enfield rifle?

    Someone on the missing-lynx scale model forum asked this with respect to Archers but I don't know the answer in that context or in the context of (for instance) a field artillery battery.
  2. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    1945-026 Guard Room, Ferndorf, Austria (BBC).jpg

    A Lee Enfield rifle

    When my mob was disbanded in December 1944 and I was eventually posted to the 4th QOH this was replaced by a Smith & Wesson revolver, always worn on the hip.

    Last edited: May 29, 2019
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  3. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    From the Trux Forum:
    Field Regiment War Establishment 1943
    All personnel were armed.

    • Officers and RSM carried pistols
    • Warrant Officers, drivers, motorcyclists and Bren gun Number 2 carried Sten guns
    • Everyone else carried a rifle.
    LAA Regiment
    Officers, warrant officers, motor cyclists and Bren lmg detachments are armed with pistols.
    One man per vehicle is armed with a Sten gun
    All others are armed with a rifle.

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  4. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Thank you very much!

    edited PS - timuk, I can't find where in the Trux forum that information is located. Was there any difference for anti-tank or SP anti-tank batteries?
    Last edited: May 29, 2019
  5. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    The WE Lists are here: Artillery
    I've had a very quick look at the Divisional and Corps A/T lists but can't see any mention of personal arms only PIATs and Brens. I may well have missed it as it was a very quick look.

  6. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    I did some work on RA personal weapons allocations a few years ago. I'll have a look tonight as I know when it got to the Archer I had to base on what I could divine for the M10. RCA WEs still have individual weapons on, not sure if they are detailed to Troop level though.

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  7. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    I think I saved out the sheets regarding Archer WEs or I took some photographs. Hadn't thought it would include personal weapons but I'll take a look. I wonder about M10s too. Did they have the room for a Lee Enfield rifle??
  8. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    This was the example I used for the M10 equipped SP Bty on II/188/2 from Dec43.

    Personal weapons

    Pistols - 7 (all officers)
    Stens - 63 (all warrant officers, drivers of motorcycles and vehicles and spare drivers, other ranks of LMG detachments)
    Rifles - 106 (remainder, but not to exceed 200% of scales prior to 23rd June 1942, balance, if any, Stens)

    I reckoned the crew of an M10 were authorised a rifle each for Numbers 1 to 3, with a Sten each for the driver-operator and driver-mechanic. The preceding WE for such a Bty was II/188/1 of Jul43, which did give an overall figure for small arms of;

    Pistols - 7
    Stens - 68
    Rifles - 103

    The two WEs were not identical, the former having 12 solo motorcycles, which became four m/c and four Jeeps, and the earlier had two more ORs. Getting within a half dozen for both rifles and Sten guns ove the two versions while applying the same logic gave me some confidence.

    The details of who had what are compiled from Appendix A to War Office letter No.57/SA/2139 (Inf.1) dated 25th June 1943, which is the only document that I'd then seen that detailed individual weapons.

    When it came to the Archer (SP 17-pr Valentine) I had no earlier model to compare against, and while I can't recall what persuaded me I went with Sten guns for all four crew members. I probably cogitated on the matter for hours but I've no recollection of what made my mind up.

    The Canadian WEs do include small arms, but no clue as to who carried what. There is something on the matter of individual weapons issues in the Canadian Archives I recall, but it's not something I've got. Comparing the Canadian figures to my estimates is a bit awkward as they are about a dozen different in the two or three I've just looked at. It depends to a degree as to who was counted as a driver or spare driver as well.


    The Canadian WEs
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  9. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    I found my photographs - possibly I didn't photograph every page, but what I have only lists personnel numbers and does not include individual pieces of or personal weapons. Perhaps I will go back and be sure to take comprehensive photographs next visit.

    The stowage list from August 1944 for the Archer lists 1 Bren and 2 Sten guns.
  10. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    Cut myself off mid-flow re the Canadian WEs it seems! The Canadian WEs do give total numbers of individual weapons, but there's no indication as to who was authorised what firearm. My estimate for the RA Bty on four 6-pr guns and three each towed and SP 17-pr guns as compared to the Canadian figures for the same Bty;

    7 pistols - 7 Cdn
    73 Sten guns - 63 Cdn
    67 Rifles - 77 Cdn
    17 LMGs - 19 Cdn
    4 PIATs - 4 Cdn
    6 2-in mortars - 6 Cdn

    Unusually the British WE didn't include any details for LMGs, PIATs or 2-in mortars, so I estimated from the later ones that did. Perhaps I was half right about there being four Stens at least :).

    Oddly enough both the RA and RCA WEs for the same Bty type have exactly the same number of vehicles, motorcycles and personnel. I'd guess the disparity lies with armament of gun numbers.

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  11. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    Canadian infantry units were notorious for scrounging non-standard weapons to increase their firepower. I wonder if they're artillery brethren adhered to the WE allocations or also equipped themselves with more exotic weaponry. The degree of difference between the official compliment and actual weapons would be an interesting study.

    The most well known example of Canadian artillerymen using personal weapons was the engagement at Otterloo on April 16/17, 1945 by the 17th Field Regiment Royal Canadian Artillery 5th Canadian Armoured Division. There is no mention of anything other than Stens, rifles and pistols.
    Battle of Otterloo from the 17th Field Regiment history
    Last edited: May 29, 2019
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  12. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    One British example is the men of 12 and 15 Batteries 6 HAA and 78 Battery with B Troop 89 Battery 35 LAA in Sumatra when, unsupported by infantry, they were attacked and overrun by Japanese Paratroopers. The story is well covered in Patrick Walker's book '6 HAA Regiment'.
    Extracted from: Standing on Granddads Shoulders the story of a Bombardier.
    "The only arms I had been issued with was a revolver and it didn't take me long to get it!....................Shortly after taking up position at the road block we were blessed with the sight of a lorry full of rifles and ammunition. All had a few extra slings of ammo and I took a rifle, which I thought would be of more use than the revolver."
    Later, after one of the Bofors positions had been overrun, he commented that the gun crew would have been unable to put up much resistance as "Even on active service there were only about three rifles between a gun crew of eight." (The gun crew actually escaped into the jungle.)
    On retreating to Java and having had to leave their guns behind these gunners were then employed as infantry ground support.

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  13. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    From: CAB 106-20 Report of action at Pelambang, Sumatra by the CO of 6HAA. I wonder if his recommendation (v) caused the WE for AA Regiments to be increased.


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  14. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    The pre-war and early war RA WEs indicate only a portion of personnel were to carry an individual weapon. For example the 1941 WE for a Field Regt, RA, showed 37 officers and 636 ORs armed with a total of 79 pistols and 170 rifles. The personnel in the Gun Sections, actually working the 25-pr guns, appear to have been entirely without rifles, while Tp HQ was equipped with pistols and rifles, plus a Bren and Boys. The situation obviously changed, and in mid-1943 the Field Regt was issued 46 pistols, 340 rifles and 287 machine carbines for the same 673 all ranks, so a weapon for each.

    I'm not sure when the example Tim has posted above refers to, is it 1941 at all? A Sub-section manning a 40-mm gun as found in an Inf Div shows 6 rifles for 16 men (as in the quote of 3 rifles for 8 gunners).

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  15. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    February 1942. Gary that's interesting info.
    Bad enough being rushed to Singapore rather than the intended Middle East without the proper kit let alone not having a rifle.

    Last edited: Jun 1, 2019

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