Unit Serial Numbers - 11th Armoured Division

Discussion in 'Higher Formations' started by Old Git, Jun 18, 2018.

  1. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    Other than the Histoire and Collections books by Bouchery and Fortin, is anyone aware of a Table showing Unit Serial Numbers for various units within a Division, specifically 11th Armoured Division, in NW Europe 1944-45?
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

  3. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    There is a list in Malcolm Bellis' "Divisions of the British Army", un-illustrated, showing the number and colour combinations for Inf and Armd Divs. I haven't checked it against Jean Bouchery's work so don't know if they disagree.

    I've come to conclude that there is a whole subculture of folks who study the variations in vehicle markings, but I've never found out if it's something codified in a single WO source, or accumulated information from scouring books and photos. It's a lively conversation on a few war game oriented sites.

  4. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    This Almark title from 1971 is about the most comprehensive. It was republished in 1994 with a new co-author but is much the same book. It is the only book that gave me an insight in RA Markings!

    Attached Files:

  5. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    Thanks for the replies guys, my query is really concerning the Serial Numbers for the RE Units, and these are listed in the Bouchery and Fortin books as follows:

    HQ. Div Engineers = 40
    147 Fd Pk Sqn = 42
    13th Fd Sqn = 41
    612 Fd Sqn = 46
    10th Bridging Trp = 52

    My problem is that I think something here isn't right. I've been researching the life of a chap who served in 13th Fd Sqn from October 44 to April 45 and right now I am working through this diaries. For November 44 there is an entry mentioning receipt of a new Morris LRC and they seem quite pleased with their new run-around. Tucked in the back of the diary are a couple of photos of my chap with his new Morris. The Serial number on the shiney new Morris is 46, at first I thought they must have been working with 612 Fd Sqn when the photographs were taken. Today, however, I received some other photographs from a chap whose dad also served in 13 Fd Sqn, but with a different troop. The Serial number on their vehicles is also 46, which has got me wondering if the Histoire and Collections book are wrong! Of course it might be a coincidence but I'm not so sure, I am now talking to some people who had relatives in 612 Fd Sqn to see if they have photographs showing Serial Numbers on vehicles or battle dress.
  6. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

  7. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    Well Bellis agrees with Bouchery;

    Field Sqns 41 + 46
    Field Park Sqn 42
    Bridge Tp 52

    Bellis doesn't list a sign for HQ Armd Div Engrs, which as they were part of Armd Div HQ makes sense to me.

  8. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    The Almark book would seem to be the ticket, but she's a pricey little minx! Anyone here have a copy and can confirm what it says about serial numbers for 13th and 612th Fd Sqn RE in 11th Armoured Division?
  9. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    You also have the Field Force Index numbers allowing far more detailed unit ID, but again OG can't see this ;)

    Always be wary of Bouchery.
  10. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    I have the Taylor/Hodges book from Almark (both versions), several from Malcolm Bellis, and also Dick Taylor's more recent set of books entitled Warpaint (but not Bouchery). All those agree with the numbers shown in Gary Kennedy's post (about 2 or 3 above this), but none of them actually specify the numbers of individual units; merely the number allocated to those types of unit within an Armoured Division. In which case one would expect 13 Fd Sqn to show 41 and 612 to show 46. But I have for some time suspected that when a single unit was replaced within a Division (or Brigade for that matter), it was sometimes considered less hassle for the new unit to take over the AoS of the old one, rather than renumber several units. This could explain the apparent anomaly, though I do not know whether this was the case in 11 Armd Div. At least you could guarantee that an LRC model was correctly marked, but not be certain which unit it belonged to!
  11. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    I seem to have cross posted with a few of you whilst I was hurrying off to din-dins! The Admiral Drax site seems to be making use of the same chart in Bouchery and Fortin books and apparently it agrees with the Bellis text. I shall just have to cross check with the 612 chaps and see what/if they can come up with any pics to add some clarity. Maybe it is just a coincidence that both sets of photographed whilst 13 Fd Sqn personnel were standing next to 612 Fd Sqn vehicles, or It may well be that someone, somewhere in the midst of time, transposed the serial numbers and the mistake has been repeated ever since. Time and a bit of digging will tell!
  12. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    Hi Chris, yes I have Dick Taylor's book also and agree that they merely state that serial numbers 41 and 46 are assigned to the Fd Sqn's RE in 11th Armoured without specifying which particular unit. The Bouchery book, and perhaps the Brayley book too, are the ones who carry the chart identifying each unit with 41 and 46. Like you I'd be inclined that seniority of Unit would mean the lower of the serial numbers but my photographic evidence is suggesting something else. I may be wrong here but I'm pretty sure that 13 Fd Sqn were with 11 th Armoured almost from the beginning, of course it may be that there was a more senior unit with 11th Armoured in the early days and that they were subsequently replaced by 612 meaning 612 simply took over their vehicles and Serial Numbers. I shall have to have look into that.
  13. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Joslen should clear up the 'who'd been with the div the longest' question. If you recall, 3 Div considered the senior fd coy their junior because it was the last one to join them, so 11 Armd Div might be doing something similar.
  14. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    Well done Chris, I think you may well have hit the nail on the head there. The Orbats for 11th Armoured are as follows:

    12th Field Squadron RE 16.03.1941-01.01.1943
    13th Field Squadron RE
    612th Field Squadron RE
    147th Field Park Squadron RE
    10th Bridging Troop RE

    So it looks as though 12 and 13 Fd Sqn were both assigned to 11th Armoured on 16th March 1941 and on that assignment 12th would have had the serial number 41 with 13th taking 46. When 612th Fd Sqn replaced 12th Fd Sqn on January 1st 1943 it is conceivable that they simply took over the equipment and unit serial numbers of 12th Fd Sqn. So it looks like the Bouchery and Fortin books are wrong, as is Martin Brayley's book if that too makes use of this chart. Odd the things that jump out at us when deep in research!
  15. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    Whilst enjoying my morning coffee today I spent about 40 minutes trying to track down 12th Fd Sqn after they left 11th Armoured Div. at the end of 1942. War Diaries for 12 Fd Sqn end in December 1942 and there is nothing for 12 Fd Sqn or Coy after that date.There does not appear to be any metnion of their leaving in Taurus Pursuant or in Delaforce's Black Bull. So, I can only assume one of two things happened to them.

    1.) They were re-designated as an assault unit with a completely different titie and equipment schedule. Or

    2.) They fell victim to the 11th Armoured Div's intended move to North Africa. According to Taurus Pursuant 11th Armoured were intended to be sent to North Africa in late 42/43. However, at Cassablanca it was decided that the situation in North Africa had changed and what was required was more infantry and not Armoured Divisions and so 11th Armoured were stood down. Unfortunately this news came rather late for 11th Armoured who were already in an advanced state of preparedness, with advanced parties already in North Africa and vehicles loaded on ships in the UK. The vehicles were unloaded and returned to the 11th Armoured at its camp in the UK but the advanced party already in North Africa was not, instead these units were broken-up and the men posted elswhere. I do wonder if 12 Fd Sqn were part of this advanced party and had gone ahead with a view to organising a camp for the bulk of 11th Armoured when it arrived in Theatre. With the cancellation then it would make sense that 12 Fd Sqn simply 'ceased to be' as it was broken-up and the men fed into where they were needed most. A glance at 12 Fd Sqn diairies for December 1942 might just answer that question. But if this last scenario is correct then it may well explain why 612 Fd Sqn were able to take over all vehicles and equipment, including Unit Serial numbers. Incidentally, there doesn't seem to be too much info at the National Archives on 612 Fd Sqn so it's possible that they were suddenly called into being in January 1943 to resolve the problem of 11th Armoured being one Fd Sqn down due to the cock-up over the deployment to North Africa!
  16. dml34

    dml34 Junior Member

    Please see the attached, which is part of a document seen at the National Archives. This is dated 20 June 1945. I have a copy of another document dated 22 Jan 1943 which gives the same information.

    Dave RE 11 Armd Div 20 Jun 1945.jpg
    Rich Payne, Old Git and Aixman like this.
  17. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon


    thanks for posting this mate, proof positive that the Histoire and Collections books are indeed wrong (nothing unusual in that as over the years I've found a few issues with these books) and a good indication that it's not always a good idea to make assumptions!

    Might it be an idea for the forum to creat a sub-forum entitled Errata and in which we start individual threads for particular reference books in which users can list errors such as this. In time it could become a really good starting point for anyone looking to update or reprint some of the more useful ones and as an ongoing project it would prove invaluable to those of us who ocassionally make use of these books. It would have to be confined to reference books only or all books by Stephen Ambrose will simply dominate and each thread would run and run ad nauseam!

    If this idea is taken up then I would suggesr the first post in each thread can be reserved for admin use and will be the master list of things proven to be wrong, listed in ascending order by page number. Every post thereafter can be informationaly / discussion on claimed errors etc.

    The other thing to decide is if multi-volume books have one thread per set or one thread per volume, I'm thinking of Dick Taylor's Warpaint books here which run to four volumes. It might be easier and tidier to simply have one thread per set?
  18. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    Just been having an email discussion with a chap who's Dad served in 612 Fd Sqn. During the discussion he said something about his Dad being with the unit from 1940 when it was 12 Fd Sqn and when it became 612 Fd Sqn in 1943. It would seem that they simply renumbered 12 Fd Sqn to 612 Fd Sqn, not sure why yet and have asked the chap if there's any indication of why in the War Diaries (which he has a copy of).

    I presume as they had both 12 and 13 Fd Sqn's in 11th Armoured that they simply renamed 12 to 612 as a quick and easy way of breaking up the serials, to make it slightly harder for the enemy to guess which units were in the Division. If this is the case can we assume that all Fd Sqns\Coy's in the 600 range are renamed from single digit serials, i.e. 15 Fd Coy becoming 615 Fd Coy?
  19. Paul Brook

    Paul Brook New Member

    Really interesting - thank you. We are in the process of restoring a LRC and I knew they were issued to RE units amongst others. I don't suppose you could post a copy of the picture you mention could you? Thank you!!
  20. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    I'm interested in the many, many RASC unit serial numbers and have managed to track down a few in a variety of war diaries which include extracts such as the following from WO171/2591 - 1651 Arty Pln RASC (Heavy):

    12 August 1944 POULIGNY
    Advised by O.C. 323 Coy RASC that Pl Serial now to be 1898.

    The war diary of 22 Tpt Coln contains location statements that provide more serial numbers - can anyone post up the RASC pages of the later version of "British Military Markings"?

    And if anyone could identify the unit which used Serial Number 1725 that would be much appreciated as Rich Payne has very kindly sent me a photo of an Austin K5 (L5193572) with that serial number (with a diagonal 21 A Gp stripe) and the Anchor Sign of a Beach Group.



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