RAOC - Bullet Mechanic?

Discussion in 'REME/RAOC' started by ClankyPencil, Jul 24, 2012.

  1. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member

    My late grandfather was in RAOC. He was

    Pte. Eric Taylor - 10590069 and served in North Africa and Italy, and spent some time in Greece. (I don't yet know what units he served with).

    When i asked some of the family what he did, one of them said jokingly in a nice way that he was a 'bullet mechanic'.
    I have some correspondance from after the war, enquiring if he would become a reservist, and it refers to him being in 'movements'.

    I also have a well worn and used 'notebook' of his (actually a OR field return book which he has used the blank pages in to make notes on).
    In it are his own sketches of shells, fuses and notes of things like ammuniton box sizes and how boxes to a 3 ton truck (see attached images for a couple of examples).

    i've also attached a couple of photos of him while on service.

    Can anyone give me any background as to what type of unit within RAOC he would have been in and his likely duties?

    Also if anyone is interested i am happy to scan the rest of the 'notebook' for reference. (it will probably take me some as there are 30-40 pages of hand written notes, and its not in the best of condition)



    Attached Files:

    RosyRedd likes this.
  2. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    The clues can be found in the Initials RAOC - ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS =
    Ordnance = ammunition - bullets - shells - guns et al - that is what they were all about

  3. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    Ammunition Technician in today's language checking munitions of all types.
  4. RosyRedd

    RosyRedd Senior Member

    Hi Scott,

    Is there any info written on the back of those photos, ordnance depot numbers etc?

    It would be very interesting to see the notebook, so if you do get time to do it, please do :)
  5. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Required reading for ammunition technicians WW2 - update publications:

    Ammunition GB WK II
  6. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Hi Clanky

    My father was also in the RAOC in North Africa. He was a driver and was transferred into the REME upon its formation in Oct 1942.

    Was your grandfather in Greece in 1941 or 1944? If it is the latter I might be able to tell you where he probably was, as I have a list of the locations for all of the RAOC ammunition stores.


  7. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member


    He wouldn't have been in Greece in 1941 - he only passed his army medical in december 41. Prior to this he was involved in building Manchester/ Lancaster bombers in a factory in Manchester.

    I have a postcard in what appears to be his handwriting that simply states Greece 1944, a photo postcard of himself which states 'Athens - 5th Feb 1945' and a small 1946 diary which appears to show he was Greece until he demobbed early 46. So looks like he spent a fair amount of his time there.


    I re-looked over the photos and there isn't anything on the back of them, but while doing this came across these (see images).
    One appears to be a unit photo (my grandad is the one at the far back on the right). North Africa maybe?

    and the other is an address list for the 80 B.D. Ammo & Stores Sections. (I could only find the first sheet with names A-J and have had to enhance it best i can to make it readable).

    Any ideas what the 80 B.D. means?

    Attached Files:

  8. RosyRedd

    RosyRedd Senior Member

    I think that it is 8 Ordnance Beach Detachment - 8 OBD

    The unit is mentioned in the History of the RAOC 1920-1945 (page 263)

    Subsidiary Operations

    Italy was a base for the support of the partisans in Yugoslavia but the burden on Ordnance resources was not significant. But when the Germans withdrew from Greece a British force was sent into the country. This was in the autumn of 1944 and it was a matter of real difficulty to find RAOC units for the force from among the already overburdened resources in Italy. It was the old story of "robbing Peter to pay Paul".

    140 Ordnance Depot was established in Athens, staffed from 3 and 8 OBDs. It was designed to handle only clothing and general stores, the replenishment of MT and technical stores being undertaken by the Middle East. 140 Ordnance Depot acted as a composite unit dealing also with the limited requirements of ammunition and vehicles.

    In December 1944 the force found itself in the middle of a civil war - the ELAS rebellion - and the depot was withdrawn to a protected area near the Piraeus. It maintained the force from there throughout the occupation...
    ClankyPencil likes this.
  9. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Following up on Rosyredds information. From my own notes.

    4th December 1944. Rouf Barracks, home of 140 Ordnance Depot and on the western edge of the protected area was soon surrounded by a large ELAS formation. Worried about the 500 vehicles held within, 23rd Armoured Brigade HQ despatched A Sqn, 50th Royal Tank Regiment (RTR) (acting as infantry - no tanks) to intervene and they successfully dispersed the ELAS insurgents without a shot being fired. I will post a map position later.

    14th December 1944. 50th RTR’s Light Aid Detachment (REME) team lost three men when shot up on their way to 140th Ordnance Depot, at Rouf Barracks that morning to assist in prepping the brigades complement of vehicles. The LAD team, commanded by Captain H Rothwell, remained there for the next 8 days, during which over 400 artillery shells landed in their area. Bullet ridden radiators were patched up with chewing gum and the LAD team successfully recovered over 70 vehicles to Piraeus.

    Hope this helps

  10. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Hello again

    Here's a report of Supply Dumps in Athens and Piraeus dated 2nd Dec 1944, found in the 23rd Armoured Brigade Daily Situation Reports (WO 204/9286).

    I've also included a map of 'The Athens Battlefield' from "Scobie Hero of Greece - The British Campaign 1944-45" by Henry Maule.

    And finally Rouf Barracks as shown on the original maps used by 23rd Armoured Brigade during December 1944 and January 1945.


    Attached Files:

    RosyRedd likes this.
  11. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member

    Gus & RosyRedd

    Thanks for info

    i am now sure your spot on with all that information; it fills in a lot of gaps and ties in with some family recollections. I have also seen some of his documentation held by other family members referencing a unit with 140 in it, but didn't realise its relevance at the time.

    I am starting the process of requesting his service records and will update when i receive them (i understand they can take some time) but for now have a basic idea of his likely movements as follows.

    Early 1943 - North Africa
    Mid 1943 - Italy probably via Sicily
    Late 1943 - Salerno Landings (family recollection that he met his badly wounded brother-in-law being evacuated off the beaches there)
    1944 - Transferred to 140 OD in greece.

    I will endevour to scan the rest of his notebook when i can get the time.

    A last note with regard to the notebook and my grandfather's handwriting: my grandfather was actually left handed, and his early schooling was in a church school run by nuns, who would repeatedly beat him to try and make him write right handed! oh how times have changed.

    Would also like to thank everyone who has contributed to the thread, and say I really. appreciate your time and effort.


  12. LCplCombat

    LCplCombat Member

    Judging by the note listing ammunition boxes/contents/size and weight/per truck and his rank of private I would suggest he was more likely to be an Ammunition Storeman rather than an Ammunition Examiner. AEs were highly trained and promotion came with the job, it still does as an Ammunition Technician.
  13. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member

    I am sure you are correct,

    I have spoken to another family member recently, and they believe he was involved with beach landings; following in after the initial wave with resupplies. it would also probably explain the documentation i have seen with 'Movements' referred to on them.

  14. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Part 54 - Ammunition Examiner

    Extracted from above:

    'Ammunition Examiner' (AE for short)
    It was not However until 1942 that a specialist badge 'AE in Wreath' was in general use. Only tradesman up to and including full Corporals could wear trade qualification badges at this time. Once you were promoted to Sergeant, you had to remove it. Ammunition Examiners never wore the ‘General A Class Tradesman Badge’ because the ‘AE’ badge predates this by two years

    If he made those drawings my suspicions are of somebody studying for a trade test. He may well have been a driver wishing to pass a trade test.
  15. LCplCombat

    LCplCombat Member

    An Ammunition Storeman would also be trained in the basics of the ammunition they handled. I can't see any reason an AE would need a list of how many boxes of a particular nature would fill a 3 ton truck. His job in an OBD is to examine and classify as fit/unfit ammunition coming off ships and going forward to user units. Its a shame you don't have his paybook, it would tell you which trade tests he had passed and when.
  16. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member

    LCplCombat & Wills

    I got hold of his 1946 diary again and found these bits of info (see images). Looks like he was promoted as some point to LCpl. and his notes could of been for some trade test he took in 1943.
    There is also an entry for 14 May 1946 as' 4 years in the army today'
    Based on this and the diary notes his likely movements are as follows:

    03 December 41: Passed army medical.
    14 May 42: Joined army.
    15 May 42 to 08 July 43: Unknown (Notebook is dated 22 January 1943)
    09 July 43 to 01 August 43: Sicily
    02 August 43 to 10 September 43: North Africa
    11 September 43 to 09 September 44: Italy
    10 September 44 to 08 March 46: Greece.


    Attached Files:

  17. RosyRedd

    RosyRedd Senior Member

    These two war diaries held at TNA Kew might be of interest to you:

    WO 170/6438 140 Ordnance Depot (Formerly 3 Corps Troops) 1945 Jan.- Dec.
    WO 170/8614 Ordnance Depots: 140 Ordnance Depot 1946 Jan.- June
  18. LCplCombat

    LCplCombat Member

    Can you read the word before "wing" underneath his army number? I'm terrible at deciphering joined up writing.
  19. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member


    Could it be 'Amn'? - ie. short for ammunition.

    Your grandfather had noted in his diary that his entry into Greece was on 10 Sep 44. According to my research, the first to go into Greece was a small group of 58 special forces under the command of Major Earl Jellicoe, SBS, on 23rd Sep 44. The vast majority of troops went in between the 9th and 16th October. The Germans having pulled out of Athens on the 12th October.

    However, 23rd Armd Bde's official history does mention several other more 'unusual' elements that were already in Greece at the time. As the text extracted below shows.

    "On the one hand units appeared whose existence had never previously been suspected. Of such were the so-called "Alphabeticals" – SIME (Secret Intelligence Middle East), CSDIO (Combined Services Directorate of Information Operations), AIS (Air Intelligence Service), PWB (Psychological Warfare Branch) (these latter one and the same thing, it was eventually discovered) ML (Military Liaison) - and a conglomeration of extraordinary engineering units whose function was to deal with the water supply problem that would arise if the Germans blew up the Marathon Dam. This body of Engineers was called DAMFQRCE, but it was some time before it was realised that they had nothing to do with the Dam."

    May I suggest that he could have meant the 10th October 1944.

    Just found this paragraph in Scobie - Hero of Greece - about the OBD at Rouf.

    4th Dec 1944 - Soon there came the mounting sound of gunfire from the direction of the Acropolis as ELAS and EDES guerrillas clashed by the temple of Theseus, both sides intent on winning the soaring Athens monument to the greatness of Greece. James Rehill, of Liverpool, a corporal in an Ordnance Beach Detachment in Rouf barracks, remembers: ‘I was awakened at dawn by rifle and mortar fire. A battle was taking place on the Acropolis. It was a very eerie sight in the half-light, with dull yellow and red flashes with accompanying explosions and the rattle of rifles and machine-guns. As the light improved figures could be seen running about. At length the shooting died down and a red flag was raised over the Acropolis.’

    Hope this helps

    ClankyPencil likes this.
  20. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member

    Gus/ LCplCombat

    I suspect you are correct. I haven't found any evidence of him being in any special detachment. I believe it likely that he finished his last posting in Italy on 9th September and the discrepancy in dates could be attributed to time in transit and possible time on leave.

    The word before wing is likely 'amn ' for ammunition as there are a couple of references in the diary to '25 pounder receipts'. There is also mention of new CO 'Major Barker' arriving and him seeing a friend/acquantance from 17 OFP (ordnance field park?).

    I am away for the weekend and have a pretty busy month ahead already planned, but when i get chance i will try and scan the rest of notes and also the the diary and stick them in an album on my profile. Will update you when it is done.



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