Preparation of weapons and vehicles for sea transport.....

Discussion in 'REME/RAOC' started by LADC, Jun 8, 2013.

  1. LADC

    LADC Member

    Like the subject line says does anyone have period documents or publications that outline British Army procedures or doctrine in the preparation of weapons and vehicles for sea transport? Aside from applying grease to key components I'm curious as to what else was done.

  2. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member

    My dad remembered preparing his AVRE for embarkation and the smell of Bostik which they used for waterproofing everything - particularly ignition and distribution as well as all the seals and joints. It took days and days to get all the vehicles done and his unit diary (77 Sqdn A.R.E.) says the waterproofing for Overlotd started in earnest on 14th May 1944. They had a 'rest day' in a glade near Beny sur Mer on 12th June where de-waterproofing was completed.

    This from Frank Yates , an LAA gunner on D Day, at

    "It was late May when I got back to Chatham, and was immediately involved in the great waterproofing mania. All vehicles had to be modified to make them capable of being driven through water. This eventuality would be experienced when driving off the ramp of a landing craft into several feet of sea water. Each make of vehicle had its own problems and an instruction card was issued to make the job foolproof. Large drums of a black sticky compound called “Bostik” were issued, to be moulded round distributors, coils and high tension leads. A plastic pipe was provided rising upwards from the top of the carburettor, to allow air intake and a metal pipe was attached to the exhaust pipe, rising to a height of about 5 feet. As each vehicle was passed OK it was driven to Mote Park at Maidstone, where concrete drive ways crossed the river. The Engineers, who were in charge, had winches ready to recover vehicles that failed the test! I crossed in a 15 cwt. truck, without mishap. Jeep drivers, wearing bathing trunks, crossed with just head and shoulders and two schnorkel tubes showing above water."

    and then on the day itself -

    "Eventually the Beachmasters ordered us to disembark and the guns, backed on by me, two days ago, trundled up the beach to an opening in the low cliff, a little to the west of Arromanches, followed by the top deck vehicles. We had spent days and days waterproofing all the vehicles and, in the event, not even the wheels got wet! We followed the divisional signs to a field which was the de-waterproofing area. Bins were provided for all the pipes and as much of the Bostik that needed to be stripped off the ignition. Then the air filters had to be replaced and things put back to normal."

    And this from Arthur Eade an MT driver in the Wiltshires on D Day (

    "Exercise Porpoise
    In April 1944 we started training for the Normandy Landings. We knew it was going to be a landing because all the vehicles were water proofed. The engine blocks were all cleaned down with petrol and all the leads and everything were covered with a waterproof plastic coating. The petrol tank was sealed with “Bostik”and other compounds. The air intake to the carburettor and breather for the petrol tank had a thin copper pipe going up above the cab roof.
  3. LADC

    LADC Member

    Thanks for this Brian, interesting info.

    I am more curious about vehicles & equipment shipped in holds and on decks of ships for short journeys such as when British units from Egypt were being transferred from Port Said to Taranto Italy in 1944 and unloaded at docks. Have only read a vague reference to applying grease but to nothing specific.
  4. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  5. LADC

    LADC Member

    Thanks for the link Wills, an interesting story. See my comments above.
  6. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    One of the precautions I do remember we had to take when sailing to Egypt and then back to Italy, was to drain off all our petrol tanks leaving just enough for acess to the docks and similarly just enough to disembark on arrival in Italy.

    When you think about it, this was a very sensible anti-fire precaution.


    Just went to my diary and found this:

    Friday 25th. August 1944
    Drove Colonel Mathews around in the jeep all day. Moved from No.1 A.A. Training Camp to Ikingi area, will be moving on boat tomorrow. Kit nearly all packed and petrol drained.

    and then, on our landing at Taranto when we returned to Italy I found this in my diary:

    Tuesday 12th. September 1944
    Went to petrol point but pump was broken so had to turn back. First Firpo ran
    out of gas, then me & Stan had to tow both of us! In the afternoon went for a dip & a
    visit to NAAFI in Taranto. On stag in the evening.

    Good evidence that we must have drained our vehicles just a little too thoroughly :)
  7. LADC

    LADC Member

    Thanks Ron for those memories. You've remined me about something I read in a WO doc regarding draining of fuel. Will have to read through them again.

  8. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    I cant remember the dates on these - I think more general instructions wil be in the Combined Operations series of pamphlets.



    Attached Files:

  9. LADC

    LADC Member

    Thanks Alistair!

    Would these procedures also be applied to vehicles that were transported in a ship's hold and off loaded at a port?

  10. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member


    Has anyone any idea how long it would typically take for a vehicle to be waterproofed.

    I have found a Op Order tasking 23rd Armoured Brigade REME workshops, to waterproof 286 vehicles, in preparation for 2nd Ind Para Bdes trip to Salonika (Op KELSO), on 7th Nov 1944, in just 3 days (30 Oct to 1st Nov 44).

    Vehicles are mostly jeeps, trailers 15 cwt GS and 15 cwt Water.

    That seems an awful lot in a short space of time. Or is it?

    The Workshop diaries state that in Oct they waterproofed 103 vehicles and in November they waterproofed 348 vehicles, but this only a monthly summary.

  11. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    It would depend on the degree of waterproofing of course. Full water proofing for an amphibious landing did take a great deal of time and was generally done in stages. Since you specify a workshop it may well be that they did the more difficult early stages of waterproofing and units did the later stages. There are tables somewhere showing how many hours were required for each stage for different types of vehicle.


    55 man hours for a 'B' vehicle. 220 man hours for a tank. With a 'B' vehicle only 5 man hours work was needed on arrival at marshalling areas for embarkation.
  12. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Hi Mike

    The plan states that any waterproofed vehicle (by 23 Armd Bde WS) will not be used and will stay at port of departure. However it does say any vehicles that were needed would be waterproofed by the 2nd Ind Para Bde REME workshops prior to departure (5 Nov). That might reduce the numbers a bit. But a Para Bde Workshops had significantly less staff than the Armd Bde Worshops, probably explains why they were tasked to help.

    Op Kelso was a beach landing.


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