Truck, 15-cwt, armoured - Middle East 1942

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Gary Kennedy, Oct 1, 2021.

  1. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    One for the vehicle bods. A few of the War Establishments issued for units in the Middle East refer to a vehicle variously described as;

    Truck, 15-cwt, armoured (wireless)
    Truck, 15-cwt, 4-wheeled, wireless (armoured)
    Truck, 15-cwt, armoured

    There are a few variations to the above, with some including 4x2 and at least one 4x4.

    Someone asked me a while ago what these vehicles might be, and to be honest I couldn't give an answer. The possibility of them being 'shielded' to avoid wireless interference was raised as I recall.

    These vehicles are quoted in Middle East specific WEs issued during 1942, not 1943 or 1944, when the vehicle would more realistically be a White M3A1 scout car, or one of the various halftrack types. It is perfectly feasible they were put on the WEs as a 'future requirement' but normally there'd be a note to the effect that '15-cwt truck, 4x2, may be issued in lieu', and none of the WEs I've had a look at have that proviso.

    Anyone know whether there was a specific vehicle that might be being referred to, and if so what that was?


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  2. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    Maybe a Dodge WC52? They were 1.5 tonners
  3. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

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  4. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    I'm pretty sure that 'Truck 15cwt Armoured' is the official (Brit) designation of the White Scout Car.
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  5. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    I agree with Chris. 15cwt armoured was the White Scout Car. Used in the various roles that halftracks later took on. Wireless versions were certainly fairly common.

  6. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    Thanks for the thoughts all. I agree that the White M3A1 scout was referred to in similar terms, however what makes me a bit leery of taking it for the vehicle referred to in the 1942 Middle East WEs is the date. I honestly didn't think the British Army received the M3A1 until at the earliest the latter months of 1942 in Home Forces. I know that Sherman tanks went direct to Middle East Forces in time for Second El Alamein, so kit didn't have to come from the UK in the first instance.

    Having a look at some of the other Middle East WEs however, there are definite mentions of 'Whites' earlier than I recalled. The Independent Field Troop, RE, from April 1942 includes 'White Scout Cars' (one per Section) and HQ of a Motor Brigade, March 1942 shows two scout cars and two scout cars (White). It's the ruck of August 1942 dated WEs that start to include 'trucks, 15-cwt, FWD, armoured'. I'm currently trying to write something useful on the reorganization of the Motor Battalion in the desert war and the two relevant WEs are not the most helpful documents of their kind. The second of the two refers to 'trucks, 15-cwt, 4x2, armoured wireless', just to add a little more uncertainty. It is perfectly feasible for it to be an error in the original table (I can't shake the feeling whoever drafted the two ME Motor Bn WEs had somewhere else to be...).

    I tried a search for images but I'm not the best at searching for pictures. A few came up in a thread on Armorama, I'm not quite sure but I think a few were actually taken in Sicily or Italy.

    Armorama :: M3A1 Scout Car in 8th Army Service ?

  7. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    I'm guessing this is the King in a White Scout Car in early September 1941?


    Which would mean there is no reason to believe they could not have been in North Africa at the same time, as they received shiploads of trucks directly from the US at the same time

    Haven't ever seen one though.

    All the best

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  8. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

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  9. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    My understanding is that the first deliveries of White M3 were made before Lend Lease was introduced. They were declared obsolete and were being replaced by halftracks in the US Army and being made available for purchase by countries fighting Germany. Some early 'Jeep' variants were made available at the same time.

    I have not yet found the source of this information.

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  10. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    Production figures for the M3A1 Scout Car were as follows starting 1940 and ending 1944.
    20,894 total.
    From here
    White Motor Company in World War Two / WWII

    Half track production only began in 1941 with the initial M2 variant meant as an artillery tractor. Less than 2,000 M3 half tracks were built that year, over half by Diamond T, rather than White. Data from the above noted site.

    Of the nearly 21,000 M3A1 Scout Cars built only (per Wiki) 11,400 went for Lend Lease. The remainder were in use by the US Army, being used extensively in North Africa and then Sicily well into 1943.
  11. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    The 'Truck 15cwt, 4x4, armoured' designation was a specification of a vehicle type for a role where the actual model was not deemed of importance (like Tank, Cruiser or Machine Carbine). Britain had identified the need for such a thing before any such vehicle became practically available. Design and production of the home grown version (mainly with Rootes Group Ltd) was dogged by problems and wishful thinking, ending up in Canadian hands. Both the Scout Car M3/M3A1 and US Halftracks were not thought acceptable on reports from delegations in the US in 1940/41 however were accepted as substitutes until the British/Canadian product was available - (thank goodness). I'm not near my notes for refs. right now.
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  12. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    Thanks for the further thoughts and links all. I'd been having a search back through the Heritage Canadiana reels as I know I've seen something re early talk on White scout cars - not in the LMAB papers linked above, and seemingly not in the CMHQ files that do reference the M3A1. I thought it mentioned an initial order of 500 from the US, and in my head I thought it was from 1942. I just need to set myself up a few more bookmarks and stop thinking 'I'll remember where I saw that', as patently I won't...

    Along with the above refs and pics I did find a few comments from much earlier than I was expecting;

    Canadian Military Headquarters, London : C-5776 - Image 850 - Héritage (

    The above is a link to RAC Periodical Notes No.2 circa September 1941. Page 2, para 10, refs the 'American scout cars (M3A1)' and says 'these cars have been tried and have given considerable satisfaction'. It also gives a very early mention of them being considered as replacements for the soft-skin 15-cwt truck in Motor Bns. I was easily adding a year to them being in the hands of British forces, late 1942, rather than it being around summer of 1941 it would seem. The White was also still being used by various US Cavalry Reconnaissance units as a substitute for the pending M8, well into 1942, so I thought the US Army still had some requirement for them beyond early 1942.

    If I ever happen across the thing I thought I'd remember but forgot I'll tack it on here.

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  13. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books


    There are a few pictures on the AWM of Whites being used at a parade in Australia in June 1942, and intriguingly one in what looks like a demonstration as an armoured Ambulance from 9 March 1942, credited to an 'Official British Photographer', which would indicate either UK or Middle East.

    All the best

  14. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    I have a note of Kew having records of 'White Scout Cars' in AFV repair/disposition logs.
    Confession time - I didn't record the Archive no. I think they were the Chilwell records. I do recall these were huge log books - 4" thick iirc viewed downstairs - and were simply lists type of vehicle, serial no. work done and where. The earliest F35382 was undated however between records for 31/10/41 and 3/11/41.
    A 'Car Scout M3A1' is recorded at Chilwell 12/3/21 when it was sent to 'Messrs Weymans Ltd'. Another record shows one received from Weyman 'after mod'. I would like to think this could be conversion to fit British wireless equipment.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2021
  15. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    A big problem (forgive me if you have heard me vent this before ) is that generally trucks were considered by their class not specific characteristics. AFVs, esp. if tracked, were subject to detailed evaluation by type and modification with many of these records surviving. Unfortunately those not labelled as AFVs have a 'whatever' kind of attitude with records and even designations being vaguely recorded. 'White Scout Cars' seem to have fallen within the AFV bracket initially however fell into the armoured truck fairly soon so largely fell off the record. They were though noticed in the field with many ME theatre 'lessons learned' reports requesting them.
    To quote the MTP No.41.'Tactical Handling of the Armoured Division and its Components - The Motor Battalion' June 1943. 9/The Section Truck. This maybe a 15cwt of one of several makes or it may be a 15cwt four wheel drive armoured truck in that it can be proof against small arms fire, be taken much further forward into the battle area. It also has a better cross country performance. Its carrying capacity is however not so great'. As user demand increased and M3A1 production reduced the door was opened for the initially rejected half tracks...
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  16. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    Ah. Good point. I just checked the Nov 1941 Motor Battalion Training Pamphlet Middle East, which intriguingly mentions a total of 14 Scout Cars (if available) provided for in the TO&E, 3 per Coy and 2 in HQ. I presume these are Dingos at this stage, but the role could clearly be filled quite easily by Whites.

    All the best

  17. ceolredmonger

    ceolredmonger Member

    Andreas. No, the scout cars continued to be Dingos (usually) and the carriers UCs. The use of the less well protected M3/M3A1s was replacing wheeled trucks in the ToEs. These were considered vulnerable to artillery and small arms fire getting to the battle or in supporting roles, not actually fighting the battle under armour. The change in the Infantry companies of British & Commonwealth Motor Bns. from 4x2 trucks to 4x4 then armoured 4x4 then half tracks was gradual. A big demand was for wireless equipped lightly armoured vehicles for other Armoured Brigade support units - especially RE and such.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2021
  18. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    Thanks! All clear now.

    All the best

  19. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    I did find this a while back in the war diary of 3 Field Squadron RE for 1941 (WO169/1860):

    19 December 1941
    Owing indications enemy making complete evacuation of Cyrenaica, role of “Bencol” altered to preventing his escape South. Zero day 20/12. 1 Tp placed under command 3 C.G. (Southern Column), 2 Tp under command 2 S.G. (Northern Column).
    All available armoured vehicles in Sqn – 3 American Scouts, 2 Marmon Harrington armoured cars – given to 2 Tp.


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