Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

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Gooner1
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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by Gooner1 » 28 Apr 2011 23:16

phylo_roadking wrote:Brooke. He's C-in-C Uk Home Forces and would be responsible for fighting the invasion and giving the order; he may not of course do so UNTIL he had consulted with his Minister for Defence, but it's Brooke who would issue the order to his commands.
Had the Minister of Defence gained approval from the Cabinet first of course.

See the list posted above. That's what the RAF anticipated ahead of events. Army requirements of the moment might differ AFTER the Germans landed - but then again, that would be the Germans forcing the change...
The RAF wasn't planning on gassing their own troops before the Germans landed :lol:

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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by phylo_roadking » 28 Apr 2011 23:43

What means did the army have for dispensing gas?
As of April 1940, the Chemical Warfare companies had Livens gas projectors with a range of ~1,800 yards and with a drum containing 2 and a third gallons of contaminant - with a 50/50 mix of Mustard and Phosgene. Unlike the Liven flame projector of WWI, the gas projector was a mortar-like device that threw the whole drum which had a burster charge and impact fuse. The Army also had "ground contamination bombs" ("Bomb, Ground, 6-lb"), holding 2 pints of mustard - I thought a mortar round, tho' it also reads as some sort of "demolition"-type munition. They also had the "bulk contamination vehicles" - a pressure tank containing 130 gallons mounted on a 15cwt lorry, which could spray and area of 200 yards by 16 yards. These were for the heavy contamination of ground, ideally in a rearguard or withdrawal, to contaminate the terrain over which an enemy would approach; a C.W. company could run 36 BCVs if only using its truck drivers, or 50 if employing ALL the section's truck and lorry drivers. The C.W. companies also had "gas generators"- basically gurt big tins that had a heating element or something in the bottom, that when heated generated a cloud of gas....but of course these were 100% weather dependent! They could of course also release various gases from cylinders.

The Army also had stocks of last-war 4.5" and 6" gasfilled artillery rounds, regarded as "comparatively ineffective", and as of April a gas round suitable for the "new" 25pdr was expected "by September" - does anyone know if this arrived?

A Bulk Contamination Vehicle
Image

The vast majority of these various devices and means were accepted as being defensive in nature; certainly the Army as of April 1940 did not expect the use gas offensively until 1941 at the earliest. But after all - we're talking about defence against invasion...

(All the above from WO 197/72)
Had the Minister of Defence gained approval from the Cabinet first of course.
As we've ALREADY seen, this was gained on June 30th; apparently Martin Gilbert gives more information on this in "Finest Hour", I'm trying to track it down.
The RAF wasn't planning on gassing their own troops before the Germans landed
I do believe I said "Army requirements of the moment might differ AFTER the Germans landed" - and as you can see above, the Army's C.W. companies had a number of devices for the contamination of terrain in defence.

I presume neither party was actually intending to gas their own men if at all possible - however, we can see that they BOTH had ways of contaminating the terrain over which an enemy was to pass...
Last edited by phylo_roadking on 29 Apr 2011 01:56, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by phylo_roadking » 29 Apr 2011 00:33

Here we are...
The Bomb, ground, 6 lb was a British World War II grenade containing about 2 pints of mustard gas. It was intended to be used to contaminate trenches, dug-outs, rooms, observation posts and small enclosures, and on cross-roads, narrow defiles, obstacles and debris of demolition.

"The bomb consists of a cylindrical steel container, painted grey, varnished internally, 3-3/4 in. in diameter, 9 in. high, weighing 6 lb. [...] It holds 3½ lb. (about 2 pints) of mustard gas. Bombs will be issued, complete with ejection charges, in boxes of ten weighing 75 lb. The bomb is fitted with a metal lid 2in. deep which is a good push fit on the body. This lid is fastened to the body by adhesive tape. In the centre of the underside of the lid is a striker for use on the match composition head of the ejection charge. [...] At one end of the bomb is a screwed plug. This is the filling plug. In order that any leakage may be readily detected the plug is coated with detector paint. [...] When the lid is removed the ejection charge will be seen. It consists of about 1/7 oz. of gunpowder connected by 32 in. of safety fuze to the match composition head. This length of fuze gives a delay of two minutes. The safety fuze is coiled in concentric circles in a shallow metal saucer and is set in bakelite cement. [...] The ejection charge has therefore the appearance of a circular plate 3½ in. in diameter. On the lower side is a threaded boss closed by a tin plate disc. This boss screwes into the bomb, the gunpowder charge being just above the tin plate disc. On the upper side of the ejection charge in the centre there is a flatened projection used for screwing the ejection charge into the bomb. The charge is also housed in the projection. On the rim there is another smaller projection holding the match composition head. The ejection charge is designed to blow out the end of the bomb fitted with the filling plug."
"....used to contaminate trenches, dug-outs, rooms, observation posts and small enclosures, and on cross-roads, narrow defiles, obstacles and debris of demolition" - a defensive munition then too. The following text copied from Military Training Pamphlet No.32, Part IV-Bombs, Ground, 6-Lb , 1940
1. General : 1. The purpose of the Bomb, Ground, 6-Lb. is to enable liquid contamination with persistent gas to be put down in trenches, dug-outs, rooms, observation posts and small enclosures, and on cross-roads, narrow defiles, obstacles and debris of demolition. Its use on larger areas such as woods, belts of demolition and river crossings is possible, but would be uneconomical both in men and material. The chemical mine and the bulk contamination vehicle are more suitable to such tasks. 2. Direct contamination will be used chiefly in defence before contact with the enemy; and in withdrawal, in order to impose delay, and to render the occupation and traversing of, or work in, areas of the type mentioned in para 1. above, impossible except at the risk of casualties. It will be of great assistance in increasing the effectiveness of obstacles and demolitions. 3. The chief characteristics of the bomb are:--i.It is small and easily transportable. ii.It is safe to handle. iii.It necessitates very little training. iv.It enables contamination to be put down exactly where it is wanted.
The Army may also have brought its stocks of artillery munitions BACK from France...an extract from Winston Churchill's Telegram reply to Paul Reynaud's telegram dated Friday 24th May 1940 -
"As for the evacuation of material from Havre is concerned only gas shells have been embarked, which it seemed inopportune to leave there. Some supplies have been transferred to th esouthern bank for safety."
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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by Dunserving » 29 Apr 2011 10:11

Gooner1 wrote:
Dunserving wrote: Ye Gods..... If this happened in 1940 when we were still on our own and there would have been grave doubts that anyone would have invaded us and saved us from doination as we did to France in '44........... Invasion meant we were finished as a nation, beaten, subjugated. So its use would not have been legal.... So what? Who gives a toss? If we are about to go under the jackboot the gloves are off, anything goes, and to hell with the rules of war.
Yes, yes, but who gives the order to start using gas, anyone?
Quite possibly. If I'd got it at my disposal and disruption to my chain of command meant I could not get approval or refusal re its use, and we were about to go under, then yes as an officer I'd have ordered its use. Defending the UK would have been the priority, no retreat, no surrender. In the end individual officers have to make command decisions................

I would not hesitate to use any means available to me to defend my country, though chemical agents would be a last resort for me.

If you were a commander, would you use everything at your disposal or would you prefer to be overrun?

So chemical weapons are very nasty. So what? Ever seen a high velocity bullet wound?

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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by Gooner1 » 05 May 2011 13:22

Dunserving wrote: Quite possibly. If I'd got it at my disposal and disruption to my chain of command meant I could not get approval or refusal re its use, and we were about to go under, then yes as an officer I'd have ordered its use. Defending the UK would have been the priority, no retreat, no surrender. In the end individual officers have to make command decisions................

I would not hesitate to use any means available to me to defend my country, though chemical agents would be a last resort for me.

If you were a commander, would you use everything at your disposal or would you prefer to be overrun?

So chemical weapons are very nasty. So what? Ever seen a high velocity bullet wound?
Gas was not just a nasty weapon it was an illegal weapon. I presume those in charge of the gas weapons would refuse an order to use/supply them until they received authorisisation from Government down their chain of command.
Can anyone confirm/deny this?

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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by Gooner1 » 05 May 2011 13:41

phylo_roadking wrote: As of April 1940, the Chemical Warfare companies had Livens gas projectors with a range of ~1,800 yards and with a drum containing 2 and a third gallons of contaminant - with a 50/50 mix of Mustard and Phosgene. Unlike the Liven flame projector of WWI, the gas projector was a mortar-like device that threw the whole drum which had a burster charge and impact fuse. The Army also had "ground contamination bombs" ("Bomb, Ground, 6-lb"), holding 2 pints of mustard - I thought a mortar round, tho' it also reads as some sort of "demolition"-type munition. They also had the "bulk contamination vehicles" - a pressure tank containing 130 gallons mounted on a 15cwt lorry, which could spray and area of 200 yards by 16 yards. These were for the heavy contamination of ground, ideally in a rearguard or withdrawal, to contaminate the terrain over which an enemy would approach; a C.W. company could run 36 BCVs if only using its truck drivers, or 50 if employing ALL the section's truck and lorry drivers. The C.W. companies also had "gas generators"- basically gurt big tins that had a heating element or something in the bottom, that when heated generated a cloud of gas....but of course these were 100% weather dependent! They could of course also release various gases from cylinders.
In 45th Divisional area there was one CW Group RE as of October 1940. Check the length of coastline they were defending.
The vast majority of these various devices and means were accepted as being defensive in nature; certainly the Army as of April 1940 did not expect the use gas offensively until 1941 at the earliest. But after all - we're talking about defence against invasion...
And the defence was to conducted on the principle of instant attack. :wink:
As we've ALREADY seen, this was gained on June 30th; apparently Martin Gilbert gives more information on this in "Finest Hour", I'm trying to track it down.
Nope, we've seen Cabinet give approval for use of gas 'against any German forces that had succeeded in getting ashore and could not be immediately repulsed.' I suggest it would be up to Cabinet to decide when 'immediately repulsed' ends.

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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by phylo_roadking » 05 May 2011 14:51

In 45th Divisional area there was one CW Group RE as of October 1940. Check the length of coastline they were defending.
I've also seen comments in the past (some years ago) about regular Army units and LDV units being issued with Livens Projectors during the summer of 1940 for a time. Also, by October the "weather window" was closed....I wonder where they were in July, August and September... :wink:
And the defence was to conducted on the principle of instant attack.
We've discussed this elswhere IIRC - nothing "instant" about counterattacking forces that would have taken 4-5 hours to get to their Start Lines - possibly under air attack most of the way...
Nope, we've seen Cabinet give approval for use of gas 'against any German forces that had succeeded in getting ashore and could not be immediately repulsed.' I suggest it would be up to Cabinet to decide when 'immediately repulsed' ends
Hardly - that's a qualitative military and "operational" decision to make.
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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by Gooner1 » 05 May 2011 16:11

phylo_roadking wrote: Also, by October the "weather window" was closed....I wonder where they were in July, August and September... :wink:
Are you suggesting that there were more Chemical Warfare units in 45th Division area in July - September but they had moved by October?
FWiW, Brocforce as of 4th August 1940 did not have any CW units in its composition.
We've discussed this elswhere IIRC - nothing "instant" about counterattacking forces that would have taken 4-5 hours to
get to their Start Lines - possibly under air attack most of the way...

(iv) Cmds of forward bns and coys must realise
what an important effect immediate
counter-attacks, even if carried out by
forces not greater than pls, may have on any
enemy who has affected a landing on the
beaches. As many sub-units as possible
will be held in res. for this role. Comds
and all leaders down to Sec. Comds of all
sub-units earmarked for a counter-attack role
will be carefully rehearsed in the
alternativw attacks they may be required
to carry out.

From 45th Division Defence Scheme. As you can see there are many levels of counter-attack forces and the length of time measured as an instant would vary from the perspective of an army commanders to a platoon commander.
Hardly - that's a qualitative military and "operational" decision to make.
The Politicians were in charge. You seem to have difficulty understanding this?

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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by phylo_roadking » 05 May 2011 16:41

Are you suggesting that there were more Chemical Warfare units in 45th Division area in July - September but they had moved by October?
They were certainly somewhere :lol: There had been THREE with the BEF alone by April 1940, with more expected to arrive month-on-month after completing training...
(iv) Cmds of forward bns and coys must realise
what an important effect immediate
counter-attacks, even if carried out by
forces not greater than pls, may have on any
enemy who has affected a landing on the
beaches. As many sub-units as possible
will be held in res. for this role. Comds
and all leaders down to Sec. Comds of all
sub-units earmarked for a counter-attack role
will be carefully rehearsed in the
alternativw attacks they may be required
to carry out.

From 45th Division Defence Scheme. As you can see there are many levels of counter-attack forces and the length of time measured as an instant would vary from the perspective of an army commanders to a platoon commander.
And you know that we've already TWICE in very great detail discussed the example of the NZEF - whose immediate counterattack was to have been AFTER a 20mile+ drive at convoy speed with the prospect of air attack, to a rendezvous with forward elements of MILFORCE, and THEN a subsequent trip FURTHER towards the coast and a debussing and advance on foot some distance to planned Start Lines. But the decision to move east to counterattack either side of Deal OR south-east towards Folkestone had to be made BEFORE that movement...

So we can see that what officers were advised as being important was a tad different to what the carrying out of those counterattacks would entail. The decision might be immediate - the execution of them was something else!
Hardly - that's a qualitative military and "operational" decision to make.
The Politicians were in charge. You seem to have difficulty understanding this?
In the UK at least - politicans were in charge....but not of the fighting. Those are MILITARY decisions, that's WHY we have Chiefs of Staff and the Staff Chiefs Committe, the General Staff, etc., etc., etc...We have YEARS of history of Churchill even as MoD trying to interfere in fighting decisions and these being rejected time after time by many and various General Officers Commanding. Almost the entire history of the North African Campaign was, for instance, a tale of Winston demanding various actions and the respective GOC refusing until he was ready/thought they were appropriate etc.

The ONLY politician who conceivably would have had any bearing on deciding whether a lodgement could or could not be "immediately repulsed" was Winston as MoD, and only in his role as a member of the SCC; Brooke might have had to put up with him on the phone every five minutes - but the decision would be Brooke's, maybe taken in association with the CIGS - but if the CIGS backed him he could refuse Churchill. We have plenty of examples of that situation in the Med.
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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by Dunserving » 05 May 2011 19:13

Gooner1 wrote:
Dunserving wrote: Quite possibly. If I'd got it at my disposal and disruption to my chain of command meant I could not get approval or refusal re its use, and we were about to go under, then yes as an officer I'd have ordered its use. Defending the UK would have been the priority, no retreat, no surrender. In the end individual officers have to make command decisions................

I would not hesitate to use any means available to me to defend my country, though chemical agents would be a last resort for me.

If you were a commander, would you use everything at your disposal or would you prefer to be overrun?

So chemical weapons are very nasty. So what? Ever seen a high velocity bullet wound?
Gas was not just a nasty weapon it was an illegal weapon. I presume those in charge of the gas weapons would refuse an order to use/supply them until they received authorisisation from Government down their chain of command.
Can anyone confirm/deny this?

ILLEGAL? Don't you get it? It does not matter. If the jackboots land and win our country is finished. Legality would not come into it - remember the slaughter of UK troops - POW's - at the time of Dunkirk? What chance would there have been of a fair trial anyway? Whose jurisdiction? Whose laws? Do you really think the invaders would be bothered about justice? Get real feller!

If the jackboots land and are defeated by the use of gas, do you really think British officers would get court martialled by their own country, after saving the country. They'd be infinitely more likely to get medals! Get real feller!

As for... "I presume those in charge of the gas weapons would refuse ........" I think that establishes your military experience comes from books and the internet rather than from wearing a uniform! :D

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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by phylo_roadking » 05 May 2011 19:45

What chance would there have been of a fair trial anyway? Whose jurisdiction? Whose laws? Do you really think the invaders would be bothered about justice?
After all - the VAST majority of those potentially involved in ANY such decision were already on Schellenberg's Sonderliste for arrest anyway!
I presume those in charge of the gas weapons would refuse an order to use/supply them until they received authorisisation from Government down their chain of command
It was already supplied; the BEF for instance ALREADY had supplies of various gases including Mustard provided to them under the old protocol, the Ministry of Supply had been paying ICI to develop their Mustard production facilities since 1937 under the old "non-first use" protocol...the BEF had three CW companies by April 1940, the BEF had various means for air delivery as well as the 4.5 and 6" artillery munitions mentioned earlier...

As for those in charge of the gas weapons refusing orders??? Seriously? In wartime??? And of course, "authorisation from government" doesn't come down the military chain of command, of course....orders from the Chiefs of Staff do.
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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by Gooner1 » 06 May 2011 13:42

phylo_roadking wrote: They were certainly somewhere :lol: There had been THREE with the BEF alone by April 1940, with more expected to arrive month-on-month after completing training...
Three! :lol: And how long is the British coastline?


And you know that we've already TWICE in very great detail discussed the example of the NZEF - whose immediate counterattack was to have been AFTER a 20mile+ drive at convoy speed with the prospect of air attack, to a rendezvous with forward elements of MILFORCE, and THEN a subsequent trip FURTHER towards the coast and a debussing and advance on foot some distance to planned Start Lines. But the decision to move east to counterattack either side of Deal OR south-east towards Folkestone had to be made BEFORE that movement...
So we can see that what officers were advised as being important was a tad different to what the carrying out of those counterattacks would entail. The decision might be immediate - the execution of them was something else!
WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU ON ABOUT?

The NZEF were about sixth place up on the chain of command of forces for the counter-attack beginning with the Platoon commander who details half-a-section for a reserve.

Edit And the last thing any of them would want to see is some bloody idiot spraying Gas in their faces.
The ONLY politician who conceivably would have had any bearing on deciding whether a lodgement could or could not be "immediately repulsed" was Winston as MoD, and only in his role as a member of the SCC; Brooke might have had to put up with him on the phone every five minutes - but the decision would be Brooke's, maybe taken in association with the CIGS - but if the CIGS backed him he could refuse Churchill. We have plenty of examples of that situation in the Med.
:lol: Utterly crazy. Alan Brook could be bowler-hatted in a minute unless you think he was prepared to undertake some sort of military coup in his determination to use gas!

And the Chain of command went Brook-Dill-War Office-Minister-of-Defence

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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by Gooner1 » 06 May 2011 13:54

Dunserving wrote: ILLEGAL? Don't you get it?
No, you don't get it. Some panicking Brigadier shouting down the 'phone to the local Major C.W. Gp. R.E. demanding gas to be used as their are Germans about would be told "Calm down dear, you know we're not allowed to use gas yet"

That is the point I was trying to get across. But if you know any better ...

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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by Dunserving » 06 May 2011 14:22

Gooner1 wrote:
Dunserving wrote: ILLEGAL? Don't you get it?
No, you don't get it. Some panicking Brigadier shouting down the 'phone to the local Major C.W. Gp. R.E. demanding gas to be used as their are Germans about would be told "Calm down dear, you know we're not allowed to use gas yet"

That is the point I was trying to get across. But if you know any better ...

A Brigadier would be miles away dealing with defence of a large area, not on the beach dealing with the defence of one section of coastline.

Now to try to explain it very simply for you.... If I'd got three different weapons systems available for use by troops under my local command and the boxheads are starting to put leather on sand in front of me, then I would NOT be thinking "I can tell my lads to use those two weapons but not that one because nobody has given me permission to use it yet." What I would be thinking is "They're here, we're in the poo, if we don't stop them we've had it. Hit 'em with everything we've got, 'cause if they don't die we do." Resorting to using chemical weapons would, for me at least, be something I'd much rather not have to do, but if it were needed I'd use it, regardless of whether or not clearance for it's use had been given.

It is all about being capable, and willing, to make independent command decisions when there is no time to get orders from higher up the food chain from people who don't actually know what is happening at that moment in a rapidly changing situation. If you'd ever been anywhere near the inside of Sandhurst you'd have a better idea...........

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Re: Air Action in event of seaborne invasion of UK

Post by Gooner1 » 06 May 2011 14:51

Dunserving wrote:
Now to try to explain it very simply for you....
Thanks! Now I know that the reason that France which had a stockpile of gas weapons and was overrun by Germany never used them, and the Soviet Union which had a stockpile of gas weapons and was nearly overrun by Germany never used them and Germany which had a stockpile of gas weapons and was overrun by the Allied powers never used them, was because no-one in these countries had anyone trained to the standards of a British Officer, eh, wot!

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