BEF Vehicle Arm of Service Markings (GHQ and others)

Discussion in '1940' started by Rich Payne, Oct 30, 2010.

  1. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    Off-forum discussions have highlighted the fact that there seems to be no surviving record of the AoS markings allocated at Army level during 1939 /40. It is to be hoped that Drew will find a listing similar to that which he turned up for 1 Corps

    1 Corps Formation Signs and AoS Markings

    but in the meantime, it seemed like a reasonable idea to post some images of vehicles and see if any patterns or clues emerge. Many markings are identifiable as 'Army Troops' by virtue of the white bar underneath but there are others, with high serials which don't appear to carry this and neither do they fit into the known schemes for lower units.

    The later 'Army Troops' marking was used by units directly controlled by BEF GHQ according to Hodges & Taylor.

    No.1 seems a good place to start. This Ford saloon on the beach carrying the '1' with a bar under appears to be on a black background and following the known practice at division and corps level must almost certainly be HQ BEF.

    [​IMG]

    Did HQ BEF have a command formation sign ? Howard Cole makes no mention and unfortunately in this image, the strategically placed jack-boot obscures where any would be located.

    Thanks to Andrew (May 1940)'s new publication, we can now categorically identify many of the Arm of Service markings.

    [​IMG]
    The '1' on this Ford, on a black ground with bar under indicates GHQ 1st Echelon, "All Spare Vehicles"
     
  2. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    This is another interesting picture of an abandoned Ford, a 'Woodie' in this case. Taken from Taghon"s 'Mei 1940' and photographed in the Koninklijke Baan in De Panne, it carries the brook insignia of 2 Corps and the '12' with a bar above indicates that it was used by a medium regiment (artillery).

    Sadly, this route seems to have been littered with BEF casualties.

    [​IMG]

    Coincidentally, another view of the same scene appeared on ebay recently showing some additional detail of the location.

    Further research has created a mystery here. According to the GHQ lists, 2 Corps did not follow standard practice and didn't use the serial '12' at all, at least not before 11th April. If they later changed to conform with the other corps then this car is likely to be from 53 Medium Regiment.

    [​IMG]

    ...all of which rather brings me to the point. This location on the road into De Panne also seems to feature in two separate photographs of damaged BSA motorcycles which have appeared in different publications. Jan has joined them together.

    [​IMG]

    The AoS marking '65' on black is too high to be a divisional marking and may therefore be one of those issued at corps level relating to a Field Cash Office.

    The second bike has '110' over the GHQ bar and I have found no reference to indicate what this could have applied to*

    * It can now be confirmed that this '110' relates to 105 Provost Company.

    Any pointers in the direction of additional info would be greatly appreciated.
     
  3. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    A Bedford MWD carrying the GHQ Troops marking '134' Once again I can find no clues for the marking The wing colour does not look to be camouflage.

    [​IMG]

    '134' (on red background) indicates 6th Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers (GHQ Troops)
     
  4. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    '31' on this GHQ Bedford OXD. It looks to have a vertical colour split suggesting Royal Artillery.

    [​IMG]

    *51 Light Anti-Aircraft Regt. R.A.
     
  5. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    Guy 15cwt carrying '17'. If this was a corps unit, it would indicate RA AA and it appears to have a dual colour suggesting artillery but the bar indicates GHQ troops.*

    [​IMG]

    *98 Army Field Regt. R.A.

    There are 37 dead listed from the 98th (Surrey & Sussex Yeomanry) Regt. RA between 22nd May and 4th June 1940 at various cemeteries across Northern France. :poppy:
     
  6. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    I've posted this Thornycroft before, although I'm not sure on which thread.

    [​IMG]

    GHQ Troops and '49' - Is there a vertical colour bar again ?*

    * 2nd Searchlight Regt. R.A.
     
  7. May1940

    May1940 Senior Member

    I think this is a great initiative. Perhaps by pooling information we can fill in some of the blanks in our knowledge of AoS markings.

    Take the picture with the number 17 for example. Red and blue represent artillery but, according to Hodges and Taylor, not anti-aircraft which would be vertical stripes at this time. So the GHQ AoS numbering is clearly different to Corps AoS numbering here.

    I have seen another picture with 17 and a bar below on e-bay. This is on the back of a Morris CDSW field artillery tractor abandoned near Dunkirk (see picture).

    [​IMG]

    Since it is known what field artillery regiments were attached to GHQ, the next step in narrowing down the unit will be to identify which of those GHQ field artillery regiments used CDSWs rather than the more modern Guy and Morris FATs. Can anyone supply that information?*

    Regards

    Andrew

    * The new list of AoS numbers identifies this vehicle as 98 Army Field Regt. R.A. and in doing that tells us that this regiment used Morris CDSW artillery tractors.
     
  8. May1940

    May1940 Senior Member

    The AoS number in Rich's picture of the Bedford OXD has a plate with two colours split vertically. This would seem to be an anti aircraft unit, as no other plates had a vertical colour split. The colours would be red and blue.

    Here is another picture, from ebay, of a truck with a similar AoS plate, split into two colours vertically - so another AA unit - and with the white bar below. Tantalisingly it is not possible to read the second digit but the first is a 3.

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=39913&d=1288933531

    More interestingly this is a Guy FBAX searchlight lorry. Can we therefore assume it must have belonged to one of the three searchlight regiments (1st, 2nd or 3rd) attached to GHQ? Does this indicate that the Bedford OXD may have come from one of these regiments too? *

    Andrew

    * Only one searchlight regiment had an AoS number with a white bar below and a number beginning with a 3 - it was 1 Searchlight Regiment R.A. with the number 38. (The Bedford, as mentioned in the earlier post, came from 51 Light AA Regt.)
     

    Attached Files:

  9. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    Not my speciality I'm afraid, but I hope that this addition may help you to decipher the system...

    [​IMG]

    Jan
     
  10. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    The vertical blue / red for LAA were in use fairly early on at Corps level - This is an IWM print showing 1 AA Bde at Le Mans in September 1939 with a CDSW wearing '20' as we'd expect.

    [​IMG]

    Jan, your '22' (on brown probably) indicates the middle battalion of a junior infantry brigade at division level. I can't see the formation sign to be more specific.
     
  11. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    This is another GHQ Troops image from Taghon. Captioned as Medium Arty. The Morris-Commercial CDF wears '18' with the bar under. I don't know where Peter Taghon has been able to confirm the Medium arty. ID from (unless it's from other, unpublished, images from the same series).

    [​IMG]
     
  12. May1940

    May1940 Senior Member

    Rich

    I think Peter Taghon identified the 18 with bar below as a medium artillery regiment because of the other photo in his book showing a Scammell with the same number towing a 4.5"/60 pounder gun. Refer back to the thread ID of BEF Artillery unit and ammunition in Weapons and Equipment.

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=40760&stc=1&d=1290000009

    I also posted there a Pathe news shot of another Scammell with the number 18 towing a similar gun and we thought the 18 AoS might be 2 Medium Regt. from GHQ attached in support of 3rd Division (II Corps).

    Of course this assumes that the number 18 with a bar below could only be used for one unit in GHQ whereas a particular number at Corps level (with a bar above) could relate to one of three units (one in each Corps) and a particular number at Divisonal level could relate to one of eight or nine units (three in each Division).

    This uniqueness for GHQ AoS numbers should make it easier to pair numbers with individual units (although it is still going to be difficult until Drew finds that elusive list ...)*

    Andrew

    * The now discovered 'elusive' list identifies this as 2 Medium Regiment R.A. Based on this the gun can be identified. Alan Philson's BEF Organisation and Order of Battle Vol 1 says that 2 Medium Regiment had the original 60 pounder guns (not the later 4.5 inch conversion which was used by two other BEF Medium Regiments).
     

    Attached Files:

  13. May1940

    May1940 Senior Member

    Rich

    That is a great picture of the Thornycroft. I have not seen one in France before. It is another searchlight lorry and I agree that the background colours for the 49 are split vertically - as to be expected for a seachlight unit. Again it logically must link to one of the three GHQ seachlight units - 1, 2 or 3 Searchlight Regiment.

    Here is another vehicle with what appears to be the same 49 AoS marking. It looks like an impressed civilian Bedford three tonner so it doesn't help with identifying the unit.

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=39923&stc=1&d=1288958881

    A final thought: if the 3something number on the Guy FBAX relates to one of the three GHQ searchlight units and the 49 is another of those three searchlight units, doesn't this imply that numbers were not allocated in running batches for like units as they were at Corps and Division level (eg 21,22,23)? Perhaps they were allocated as new units arrived in France.*

    Andrew

    * The AoS plate '49' is 2 Searchlight Regiment and, as suggested, the AoS numbers are do not run in sequence with the numbers of the regiments. In fact '38' is 1 Searchlight Regiment, '48' is 3 Searchlight Regiment and '49' is 2 Searchlight Regiment.
     

    Attached Files:

  14. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    Some more: Field Artillery Tractor with "20"...

    [​IMG]
     
  15. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    ... and an Austin lorry ("35"):

    [​IMG]

    Jan
     
  16. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    It seems we're fairly safe then in provisionally linking '18' with at least 2nd Medium Regiment.

    I must admit that I'm not too well up on artillery in general, Ack Ack in particular and it all becomes even more confusing at GHQ level. Some of these comments may therefore seem impossible or implausible to those who know !

    There seem to have been three searchlight regiments within 5th Searchlight Brigade which Ellis lists as being with the BEF as @ 10th May. If LAA units also had searchlight support then these three regiments would then have supplied batteries to five anti-aircraft regiments (1st, 6th, 85th, 60th, 4th), two light anti-aircraft regiments (51st, 58th) and one light anti-aircraft battery (1st).

    Would a searchlight regiment use one single AoS marking (meaning only three possibles) or would they have had a unique one for each battery, possibly taking the number used by the AA battery which they supported ?

    There were also LAA Regiments and Batteries at Corps level with no mention of Searchlight batteries. Were these Corps LAA batteries not expected to function after dark or were they supported by GHQ troops Searchlight batteries ? If so, and the previous suggestion is correct then maybe we could expect to see 17, 18, 19 or 20 with the GHQ bar on the searchlight vehicles ?

    Presumably Brigade HQ Searchlight Regt. would be classed as an 'AA Unit' and thus have the vertical AoS ?

    More photographs needed !:)
     
  17. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    Some more: Field Artillery Tractor with "20"...

    The tractor is interesting as '20' (with a Corps bar over) should indicate a Light Anti Aircraft Unit. That gun looks a little bigger than 'light' to me (IKBA:))
     
  18. rewdco

    rewdco Senior Member

    More photographs needed !:)

    You were asking for more Sir? Here's a Guy pair :D :

    Guy Ant...

    [​IMG]

    ... and a Guy lorry:

    [​IMG]

    Jan
     
  19. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    I think that the Guy FBAX is the one that Andrew was referring to in post #8 but his pictures aren't posting.

    241 on the Ant is a very high number. No idea yet what it might relate to.
     
  20. Rob Dickers

    Rob Dickers 10th MEDIUM REGT RA

    I think that the Guy FBAX is the one that Andrew was referring to in post #8 but his pictures aren't posting.

    241 on the Ant is a very high number. No idea yet what it might relate to.

    Could it be
    241 Bty
    69th Med Regt ?
    Rob
     

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