British tanks in Egypt - Spring-Autunn 1940

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by FrencioSchiavi, Jan 26, 2017.

  1. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    May looks very like WS 8x
  2. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Hi Nuno,

    The information in Peter Brown's table seems to come from the Monthly Progress Reports written up by AFV WO to SD.3 WO. Most of the information matches. However, there are some discrepancies in numbers here and there. For example, I copied this down 2 years ago while I was at Kew: Tank Deliveries to North Africa The Brown data has 5 Cruiser Mk.VI not 6 and makes no mention of the Light Tank Mk.VII.

    It is impossible to know whether those discrepancies are typing errors (notice 1AB is written not 1 AD), printers errors or whether Brown found 'better' information eleshere and merged it all together.

    As regards convoy information, you can probably match it up with the information found here: WS Convoys in World War 2 - the 'Winston's Specials'
  3. Francisco_Neves

    Francisco_Neves New Member

  4. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Sorry I don't really have anything that useful to add, but I think you're probably on the right track. "WE" stands for "War Establishment" which was the list of equipment for a unit. For instance, in my research on the Archer, I came across two different WEs, which varied in whether a regiment would have a battery entirely made up of Archers or not (and the other batteries would have a troop of Archers, and two troops of towed guns).
  5. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    You may need a M.E.W.E
  6. Aixman

    Aixman WE addict Patron


    As above mentioned, one has to distinguish between theory and reality. Concerning reality, this thread contains many details.
    Regarding theory, War Establishments are the correct address. But as there are tons of them, one has to regard the theatre to know which volume is the correct one.
    The WEs come in the following pattern
    I - volume
    1931 - system (as the were all the same system, introduced in 1931, this part was omitted during 1941; I will neglect it throughout)
    5E - table
    1 - version

    The WE for Armoured Regiments you mentioned belongs to volume I that represents (standard) armoured formations at the beginning of the war (but there are others: I/5B [heavy], I/5C [light], I/5D [light, wheeled], I/5E - the one you mentioned). Middle East WEs appear in volume VI (volume VI introduced on 09.08.1939), but Armoured Regiments not before 23.09.1942, effective 13.08.1942 (VI/560/1). At about the same time, the "standard" Armoured Regiment's WE was transferred to volume II (divisional WEs); II/151, and in May 1945 II/157. There were still others. And most of the above mentioned had different versions.

    This was about "Armoured Regiment".

    I/5A was a Cavalry Light Tank Regiment.

    There are some special WEs for Royal Tank Regiments: at least 37th, 38th, 39th (VI/264 to VI/266) and 101st R.T.R (XII/102); volume XII is for Mediterranean

    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018
  7. Francisco_Neves

    Francisco_Neves New Member

    Good day to all

    Thanks for your replys.

    Aixman, I'm looking for the administration sections of 1st RTR and 6th RTR and also the distribuition of the ranks by vehicle and weaponry: pistols, rifles, Boys, Bren, Besa or Vickers.
    I've seen here War Establishments details of distribuition of all I need for other formations but not this ones.

  8. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Hello Francisco_Neves.

    What is your doubt?

    It has already been explained in this thread that there was:-
    1) a theoretical war establishment that the War Office (WO) in London has officially designated to each unit;
    2) a practical establishment that each command is trying to achieve based on resources available; and,
    3) an actual and real number of men and equipment in a unit on a given day.

    You can get all of the War Establishments here: Discovery | The National Archives

    If you visit Kew yourself, you can copy all of the documents yourself for free.

    If you cannot get to Kew, you can contact them through the website and they will copy them and send them to you. Alternatively you can pay someone to copy them for you and send them.

    The War Establishments changed as the war progressed. So, it will be a different WE for different time periods.

    At the beginning of the war in Libya/Egypt, the WE for the 5 armoured regiments were:-
    7H. 8H & 11H - I/1931/5D/1 Light Tank Regiment (wheeled)
    1RTR & 6RTR - I/1931/5E/1 Armoured Battalion or Regiment
    Chris C and Aixman like this.
  9. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    I had a thought to look at Peter Brown's two photohistory books about the Cruiser tanks. Unfortunately my phone is out of commission as taking photos of the pages would seem easier than transcribing. This is from the A9 & A10 book:

    In April the Armoured Brigades were reorganized by swapping 7 Hussars and 1RTR between them. 7th Hussars were to have two Squadrons of Light Tanks and one with Cruiser A9. There were not enough Cruisers available though more were expected in May. 8th Hussars would keep their Light Tanks until their old Light Tank Mk IIIs could be replaced when A9 became available. 1RTR and 6RTR were to stay as they were. Tank Strength would then be:

    Div HQ: 7 (Light Tank) Mk III
    HQ 4th Armoured Brigade: 4x A9, 3 x Mk III, 3 x Mk VI
    8th Hussars: 15 x Mk III, 40 x Mk VI
    1 RTR: 23 x A9, 26 x Mk VI​
    HQ 7th Armoured Brigade: 4 x A9, 6 x Mk VI
    7th Hussars: 7 x A9, 48 x Mk VI
    6 RTR: 23 x A9, 26 x Mk VI
    There is more text but I am going to plead off on transcribing it now, because I currently have a sprained left shoulder. When my camera battery is charged (I need a new cable) may I can just use that.

    Based on this text, looking at the War Establishments may be a red herring because the units seem like they might be being organized on a locally established basis.
    Aixman likes this.
  10. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    WEs are only for theory. Almost complete red herring for actual historical study of what units had, when and where.

    The WE for the 5 battalion/regiments required 174 Light Tanks (wheeled) and 104 Cruiser Tanks. There were also small numbers of cruisers required in the 3 formation HQs. In reality, in June 1940, there was not a single Light Tank (wheeled) in the Middle East! The first 10 arrived in September/October 1940.

    Units were organized according to semi-official local establishments which, given no documentary evidence was saved (if it ever existed), can only be estimated based upon various actual holdings. 1RTR and 6RTR seemed to be on a 23 Cruiser and 26 Light Tank basis when hostilities commenced.

    Having said that, GHQ ME did get the WO to approve an official revised WE for a light (7th) armoured brigade HQ. That provided for 4 Cruisers only. No Light Tanks.

    Of course, what they actually had on a given day was something completely different again.... :)
  11. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Just to nitpick Peter Brown's excellent research, 7 Cruiser tanks provided for half a squadron not a full squadron. Both 7H and 8H had one of their squadrons with the following semi-official organisational basis:-
    SHQ: 1 x Cruiser Tank, 2 x Light Tank
    Tp: 3 x Cruiser Tank
    Tp: 3 x Cruiser Tank
    Tp: 3 x Light Tank
    Tp: 3 x Light Tank
  12. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Ok, sorry, Mark, you're referring to the underlined bits and his assessment of their organization. I did not catch that.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
  13. Francisco_Neves

    Francisco_Neves New Member

    Good day to all

    I've seen my doubts answered

    Thank you all so much

    Best regards
  14. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    I agree with Peter Brown's research that the local organisation provided for 7 Cruiser Tanks each to 7H and 8H. I disagree that 7 Cruiser Tanks constituted a 'cruiser sqn' and suggest it constituted a 'half-sqn cruiser'. A 'cruiser sqn' required 15 or 16 Cruiser Tanks.

    As far as I can tell, the 23/26 split in 1 & 6RTR provided for 3 x 'half-sqn cruiser' with the other 2 held an RHQ. Often you will see authors referring to a 'cruiser sqn' in these units when they were all the same: half and half.

    In reality, the actual holding was usually less. For example, it is recorded that on 20 October 1940 7H held just 2 and 8H held 5. On 6 December 1940 the records show 7H and 8H held 4 each. It seems, often one of the Cruiser Tanks would be 'pinched' to serve in RHQ as its size meant it could carry the RHQ-level radios more comfortably.

    Edited to add,
    Just seen that Peter Brown shows 48 Light Tanks allocated to 7H and 40 to 8H. I don't buy that. I think 42 should be the number. But what they actually had on a given day is something else....
  15. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    I assume he's reporting the actual holdings rather than the theoretical basis in that table. But I should point out that I don't really know anything about the subject, just what's in his book.

    Interesting point about the radios.

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