British ammunition scales (by line/echelon) 1943-45

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Gary Kennedy, Nov 19, 2019.

  1. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    I haven't come up with a question on an obscure topic for a while, so here's one to keep me going...

    Over the years I've found some details of the amount of ammunition provided for various weapons in the US and German armies, but I've never found an equivalent for the British Army. Notes on "Q" matters, comparing British and US approaches, define the British system as;

    First line (with units) - refers to amn carried on the man, in the tank, in trailers or on unit transport
    Second line - in Div RASC transport
    Third line - normally equal to second line, held 'on wheels' and/or in FMA (Forward Maintenance Area, I think)

    'Lines' also seems to be replaced by 'echelon' in some descriptions

    Early war British WEs do include some detail on ammunition issue, which is largely gone by the end of 1942. There is fragmentary information on RA scales (for example, 6-pr guns as 96 on 1st echelon, then 48 each for 2nd and 3rd echelon, total 192 rounds per gun).

    Has anyone seen a single source that may shed some light on this area, particularly for the late war period to include newer needs, such as 17-pr guns in tanks, PIATs, 4.2-in mortars, etc, or have an idea where I could look?


  2. hutt

    hutt Member

    For general interest this appears in the diary of 317 Coy RASC for the 13th January 1944 and has a reference to ammunition scales but its not the comprehensive document you are seeking. (WO170-2487)

    07.00 Weather light cloud cool, dry. 09.00 Amendments to amn dumping programe recd from 1 AGRA. Accordingly messages sent to Plns ordering amn deliveries to be adjusted as follows. 1 Cdn Med Regt plus 180 rds 5 point 5 4 Med Regt less 120 5 point 5 58 Med Regt less 60 rds 5 point 5 10.30 Messages issued ordering amn replenishments as follows 900 rds 5.5 plus 40% 1/2 charges by 1532 pl - 1566 - 1 Cdn Med Pl 1080 rds 4.5 plus 25% 1 charges by 1503 pl 11.00 hrs Message from 1 AGRA requesting deliveries amn today as follows 840 rds 5.5 to 4 Med Regt - 720 5.5 to 58 Med Regt 540 rds 5.5 to 1 Cdn Med Regt 360 rds 4.5 to 70 Med Regt 11.15 Messages sent to plns ordering amn forward. 12.15 Release No 742 received from 1 AGRA for 2100 red 5.5 720 rds 4.5 all plns informed. 15.00 1 AGRA notified ETA of amn vehs as 1600 hrs except Cdn Med Regt - 1900 hrs 18.45 1 AGRA notified continuation of dumping programme i.e. 5200 rds 5.5 2000 rds 4.5 520 rds 7.2 to be delivered 14 jan and repeated 15 jan 20.00 Messages sent to plns ordering amn forward at 0700 hrs 14 jan as follows. 1080 rds 4.5 plus 25% 1 charge to 70 med Regt waggon lines by 1503 Pln. 1800 rds 5.5 plus 40% 1/2 charges to 4 Med Regt waggon lines by 1566 Pln. 1080 rds 5.5 plus 300 4th charges to 58 Med Regt gun sites by 1532 pln. 1680 rds 5.5 plus 40% 1/2 charges to 1 Cdn Med Regt wagon lines by 1 Cdn Med Pl 408 rds 7.2 (to scale) to 54 Hvy Regt wagon lines (264 rds by 1532 pl 144 rds by 1503 pln) 20.30 Message sent to 1566 Pln ordering collection 1000 1/2 charges 5.5 from 203 FMC SAN SALVO 20.45 Tpt detail issued as follows :- 1503 Pln 8 x 3 ton to report to 345 GT Coy for RE work 14 Jan. 20.50 Release No 748 recd from 1 AGRA and communicated to FOSS BEACH DUMP 23.00 Weather dry, some light cloud, cool dry
  3. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Does this help? Information at the Unit level.

    24th Lancers (8th Armoured Brigade) equipped with Shermans, June 1944.

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  4. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    Thank you both very much, and SDP I'm particularly chuffed at seeing those figures for the Armd Regt. I realise that they may have been specific to 24L but it's interesting to see how they decided to apportion their amn by type.

    As soon as I said I'd not seen anything for 17-pr in tanks, I recalled I had seen a snippet at least, from CAB44/243 re 21AG in NWE.

    75-mm Sherman

    On tank 48 APCBC + 38 HE + 10 smoke
    Unit res 25 APCBC + 20 HE + 5 smoke
    2nd Line as for Unit res

    17-pr Sherman

    On tank 44 APCBC + 15 HE
    Uni res 38 APCBC + 12 HE
    2nd Line as for Unit res

    Obviously that differs from the above, but again unit approach would differ I'm sure.


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  5. hutt

    hutt Member

    I thought I had seen something else about this...

    From 1st British Armoured Division CRASC, CMF WO170/303 - 1944
    Subject 2nd Line Deficiencies, 27th January 1944 and other dates spread through the diary

    DSC08170.JPG I thought I had seen something else about this...
    DSC08170.JPG DSC08136.JPG DSC08167.JPG DSC08136.JPG DSC07964.JPG
    ATTACH=full]254819[/ATTACH] DSC07967.JPG
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2019
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  6. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    The administrative history of 21st Army Group includes a table of scales by ammunition nature per weapon per day.
  7. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member


    Thank you very much for posting those, I think the third from last and last pages in particular cover the information I was after. Aixman (Wolfgang) kindly sent me the last WE for a Divisional Ammunition Company (from early 1941) that includes details of the stocks carried as second line. I only had chance for a quick look at the above figures last night, and will need to do a full comparison, but I can already see some familiar figures from as far back as 1940 (600 rounds per LMG and 72 rounds per 3-in mortar).

    Sheldrake, is that table a list of expected expenditure for the weapons shown, or does it reference the 2nd/3rd line scales as well?


  8. Trux

    Trux 21 AG

    I looked at the Administration History of 21 Army Group, having remembered seeing it years ago. I could not make out what its purpose was. It is very detailed, covering signal pistols etc.

    I imagined that it was a document for planning stock holdings based on past consumption.

  9. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

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  10. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    Chris, thanks very much for that, and also for pointing out the RAC reports they form part of. I only got chance for a quick speed read tonight, but there's certainly a lot of info in there that covers my areas of interest> Thanks,

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  11. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Without having looked at this too deeply, there seems to be some interesting disparities between (I assume) what 21 AG felt they required and what the War Office was supplying? Partcularly 17-pounder tank gun ammunition.

    They generally seem to have wanted less sabot ammunition?
  12. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    Yes, I think they were recommending lesser amount of sabot for the 6-pr, 17-pr and 77-mm, seemingly with a corresponding increase in APCBC. I've seen similar recommendations in US documents, normally changing the percentage of mortar and artillery ammunition, but I see very little on British ammunition figures. I tried to find an online version of the Admin History that Mike mentioned a few posts up. There is a typed up version, but it lacks the table he highlighted.

  13. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    SDP - Can you clarify your photo of the note for the 24th Lancers June 44. Is that a contemporary note or later research notes? A June 44 reference to 'Firefly' is a bit of a bombshell!
  14. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    It forms part of what amounts to appendices in a notebook carried, I believe, by the 24th Lancers Commanding Officer (Lt Col W A C Anderson) in Normandy. Most pages comprise the full Nominal Roll plus the ORBAT of each Squadron, officers Call Signs etc etc. It even includes NOK details for the officers! Research confirms the document was effective June 1944 (for example, the Squadron ORBATS can only have been effective at that time - D Day in this case - due to the names they contain). It was also clearly partly updated during June/July 1944 as replacement Officers also get a mention in the Officers Nominal Roll. The 24L were disbanded at the end of July 1944 and WAC became CO of 22nd Dragoons - who were part of Hobarts Funnies - so not exactly a 'Firefly Regiment'. There are also no references to other Regiments so I've got every reason to believe that the notebook (actually a Filofax - they were apparently common issue at that time) relates totally to 24L. Should also be noted that 24L were the first Regiment to receive/fire the 'Firefly' albeit described as 'Mayfly' at that time (a few weeks before D Day). Whilst it is, of course, a possibility that the notes were added later, that doesn't seem to make sense in the general context of the notebook.

    Like you I am slightly puzzled by the timeline but can only go on what the notebook says. 24L veterans certainly used the term and it is also mentioned in the Squadron ORBATS (where each Squadron had a Firefly Troop). Example - C Squadron - herewith.

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  15. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    Thanks SDP. May I file the images and information and circulate it to like minded researchers in due course please?
  16. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Of course you can. Freely distribute for research purposes.

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