War Establishments

Discussion in 'Higher Formations' started by kaylan1, Apr 24, 2017.

  1. kaylan1

    kaylan1 Member


    Here my first mail to the forum.Its about the WE of the Second World War British Army units.
    Is there an index to the WE of 1939-1945 and were to find them in the archive.
    what i know that they are in WO24..
    Did go to the site of the National Archives in Kew., to WO 24 but couldn''t find them.
    I want go to Archive later this year.:)

    With regards,

  2. RCG

    RCG Senior Member, Deceased

    Hi Kaylan1 Not sure what you are actually looking for, maybe this site could be helpful.
    War Establishments
  3. kaylan1

    kaylan1 Member

    thanks RCG,the site War Establishments is known to me.What I mean is if there is an sort of contents/index
    to each of the Volumes I-XIV of WE.
    Like Volume III
    Light Anti Aircraft Battery. War Establishment III/171/1. Page 1.
    Light Anti Aircraft Battery Mobile. War establishment XIV/455/1. Page 2
    Light Anti Aircraft Battery Mobile. War establishment XIV/459/1. Page 3
    Light Anti Aircraft Battery PDA. War Establishment XIV/451/1. Page 4 ect.
    En so on.

    for the diffent years between 1939-1945.
    Is it correct that they are in WO24.

    With regards,

  4. Aixman

    Aixman War Establishment addict Patron

    Hello Kaylan1

    Concerning British War Establishments of WW II it is the so called system 1931.

    To get a quick view, look at Trux' brilliant work on 21 Army Group here on this site. It might keep you busy for weeks ...
    Contents/About the Trux information.

    Overview concerning TNA Kew records:
    War Establishments are held in 16 Volumes plus 3 Volumes African Establishments (East and West Africa, not Middle East or Mediterranean).

    Volumes are always in Roman numbers (I, II, ...) and have special purposes that sometimes changed over the time.
    Volumes I to VII and IX to XVI are held in WO 24; starting at about Wo 24/933 and going on for about some 35 volumes chronologically, if you are interested in the time say until the end of WW II:
    Browse records of other archives | The National Archives

    Volume VIII is quite another thing ("not printed"). You find the WEs starting at WO 24/1113 for about 20 volumes, concerning WW II.
    Browse records of other archives | The National Archives

    African Establishments are held from WO 24/1000 to WO 24/1009, but they keep only WEs from about 1944 to 1946. Earlier ones I wasn't able to find yet.

    As I have some overview over the whole thing, you could ask me specific questions, provided you have some patience to let me search my material.

    Last edited: Apr 25, 2017
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  5. Aixman

    Aixman War Establishment addict Patron

    Now answering to your proper question:
    Index? Yes, there are some, but to my opinion they are not too useful. I tried to get my own idea of the whole thing. That took me for about one week at Kew in each of the last five years, after Trux gave me a very useful hint in the right direction. If I remember correctly, we talk about 60,000 pages for the time from 1931 (start of the system) to the end of 1945.

    And you should probabely know that Gary Kennedy (member here) edited nine volumes about WEs in the Northwest Europe campaign of 21 Army Group as well, with useful comments.
  6. kaylan1

    kaylan1 Member

    Thanks Aixman for the info.This is Exactly what I'm looking for!:rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:
  7. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    Just to add on to Aixman's directions and info, there is an index to the contents of each piece, copies of which I have for 1932 to 1945. So if you know what type of unit tables you're after I can at least tell you where to look. If it's a wider search though they're less use. I was quite targeted in what I was after, and had planned a gentle 'swan' through the service units until the archives put the prices up!

  8. kaylan1

    kaylan1 Member

    thanks for the reactions to my questions about WEs. I want to make visit to the Archive.
    Is there a index to the contents for the volume 1932 emd 33 to begin with.I''m interested
    in all branches of the army.On which units did excisted and there WE for an period.

    With Regards,:)
  9. Aixman

    Aixman War Establishment addict Patron

    To get an idea how the system works, you should start at the beginning (1932). First, there were only 4 volumes, each with about 50 tables, more or less, and a sharp definded purpose, and there ist an introduction (~ 20 pages) with an organizational chart for each volume. With the time passing, there appeared new tables, new versions and new volumes (V - Home; VI - Middle East; VII - AA; VIII - the most secret ones "not printed",; and so on). Publications came with the Army Council Instructions (A.C.Is.) on a weekly basis, at least after the war had started. More new volumes, changing their purposes a bit here an there according to needs and circumstances having appeared during the war. Then there were of course changes to existing WEs concerning name and/or number due to switching from one volume to another (airborne units switched between volumes X and I) and so on. Of course there were mistakes made here and there. And the WEs in TNA Kew - as far as I found them, and I found many - are by no means really complete. Renumberings are sometimes difficult to trace. And sometimes, one cannot be sure on which of several possible WEs a certain unit was really organized. Some changes didn't find their way into the existing WEs (e.g.: AA platoons abolished during the Normandy campaign). Not to forget, that most WEs handle tiny sub-units. The smallest WEs go down to a single soldier, battalion size units ar rare, and to my knowledge, only once appears a full (training) brigade. One has to know which sub-units and how many of them are needed to "build" the whole thing (e.g.: The Long Range Desert Group appears as a whole unit, but then, there appears a workshop, a signal platoon, a cipher section and so on).
    Some WEs contain very comprehensive information as a kind of preface about the whereabouts, purpose and connections to other sub-units (transport companies in the brick system from 1941 on are a real good and detailed example), but most don't contain any information about this. Some WEs use gliding scales, depending on what purpose and for which unit or formation they are working (e.g.: workshop platoons).

    Note: Writing these lines with growing enthusiam, I made all the examples out of my memory, as I have no sources at hand. So some examples might contain mistakes.

    The deeper you dig into WEs, the more questions arise. To me, that seems to be the real fun.

    Get started, and you will know what I mean.
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  10. lionboxer

    lionboxer Member

    Aixman can you tell me what Driver I/C means. For the life of me I can't think what it could be and I was a Driver!!
  11. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Driver Internal Combustion, I believe.
    It might be a Gunner-specific appointment (not trade ;) ) to distinguish them from the Drivers of horse teams on the guns, but I stand to be corrected on that.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2017
  12. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    I have seen it on a WE as Driver in Charge, but have also been advised as Idler notes that it was Driver (internal combustion). I think the Army was in two minds as well!

  13. lionboxer

    lionboxer Member

    Thanks. I don't know why they didn't use MT as in motor transport.

  14. Aixman

    Aixman War Establishment addict Patron

    I think Idler is right. And I know, that term existed and was used.

    A guess: A.C.I.93 and 144 of 1935 (and others later) ruled "Tests for Drivers of Mechanically-propelled Vehicles - Certificate of passing Driving Test" that might have brought a license as proof of the driver's abilities for the first time into the army.
    On the other hand, looking into a quity early WE (II/8/1 - A Light Brigade, R.A.) with lots of animals ("ponies or mules, draught and pack"), there were "drivers, R.A."

    Literally, "driver, I/C" was not a tradesmen. The "rank an file" (corporal/bombardier and below) were listed at the end of chapter ii "Distribution of rank and file by trades and duties", starting with the tradesmen (e.g.: clerks, technical storemen, ...), followed by the "non-tradesmen" (e.g.: driver, I/C, batmen, storemen). As I learned here as answer to my very first question some years ago is that this difference was a matter of pay.

    Moreover, there were some kind of qualified drivers, as one might take it (e.g.: driver-mechanics, driver-operators). They were proper tradesmen.

    Another guess: The term "driver in charge" might have been used in respect of the driver's responsibility for a certain vehicle. I doubt if that fits in the WE-system, as there seem to be often more drivers than motor vehicles (e.g.: transport units of the brick system).

    Just one more guess: Trux might know exactly.
  15. Aixman

    Aixman War Establishment addict Patron

    Oh, I should add: "Driver, I/C" is the term used throughout the WEs containing motor vehicles.

    And: there were combinations of duties, espacially regarding drivers, I/C. For example an excerpt from II/213/1 - Armoured Divisional Signals (1943):
    Drivers, I.C. (sic!) for duty as -
    Butchery dutyman - 1
    Batmen - 9
    Batmen-drivers - 10
    Drivers of vehicles - 73
    General dutymen - 3
    Sanitary dutymen - 2
    Water dutyman - 1
  16. Aixman

    Aixman War Establishment addict Patron

    And one more for Lionboxer, just to add to the confusion.
    The term "M.T. Drivers" was used, too.
    Here not WE matters, but clothing:
    A.C.I. 441 of 1938 "Issue of Goggles to M.T. Drivers." (" ... 1 pair of goggles (with case) for each 15-cwt. or 8-cwt. truck possessing a "half" type wind-screen ...".
  17. lionboxer

    lionboxer Member

    Driver I/C = general dogsbody! At least you got to wear goggles though, possibly useful when on Sanitary duties!
    Many thanks to all for the explanations.

  18. Trux

    Trux 21 AG

    Trux cannot give chapter and verse for the regulations etc. but:

    Driver IC is Driver Internal Combustion engine which was introduced to differentiate between them and the many drivers of horse drawn transport and the smaller number of drivers of motor transport which was not internal combustion ie steam or electric.

    A source of confusion is Driver ic which I have seen used to indicate a driver in charge of/responsible for a vehicle.

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  19. kaylan1

    kaylan1 Member


    Are the WW1 WEs also numbered?
    Btw. Are WEs collected in boxes, like WO 24/900 is in boxs...together with WO 24/ 899 and 901 in one boxs.

    With Regards,

  20. Aixman

    Aixman War Establishment addict Patron

    The format of the files change sometimes. Over the last 5 years I experienced the staff of TNA Kew being busy to keep the documents in a manageable state. This results in changing the formats of packaging from time to time. So it might be you find a file this year in a desolate state, being completely new bound and maybe boxed with one to four other files. On the other hand, I sometimes wasn't able to find certain single pages I saw before, as they were lost in the meantime. What a pity ...

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