Chemical Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

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Knouterer
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by Knouterer » 04 May 2014 16:34

According to Philson (Order of Battle for 30.9.1940), No. 1 C.W. Group, consisting of the 58th, 61st and 62nd Coys, came directly under Eastern Command, while Nos. 2 (64, 65, 66, 67 Coys) and 3 (68, 69, 70) Groups were part of Southern Command.
The WD of the 5th Loyals.contains some interesting documents about the 62nd Chemical Warfare Coy which was to form the main part of the garrison of Cripp’s Corner (see http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue//adsdat ... CORNER.pdf
At the same time, this Coy was supposed to support the 5th Loyals if that unit occupied defensive positions. Mention is made of “H.E. projector targets” which seems to indicate that the use of gas was not envisaged (initially at least) in what was likely to be a fluid and unpredictable battle situation.
Extract from handwritten from A Coy to the C.O. of the 5th Loyals about “Tasks for Livens Projectors”:
“2. Brede – Four Oaks – Oxney. Deal with enemy forming up in valley at KITCHENOUR 3042 (?). This valley is particularly dangerous as enemy could penetrate northwards without interference.”
So the idea was apparently to make more or less informed guesses as to where there might be concentrations of enemy troops (that could not be reached by direct fire) and then set up (or dig in) the projectors to drop H.E. bombs on them if and when they did show up.
As you can see from the note below, the HQ of the Group and the 58th Coy were in the same region.
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by phylo_roadking » 04 May 2014 23:35

A CW company would have 240 Livens Projectors on its inventory http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livens_Projector; a longer range item reaching out to 3,500 yards was in development as of April. I can find no trace of it in service so far...
At the same time, this Coy was supposed to support the 5th Loyals if that unit occupied defensive positions. Mention is made of “H.E. projector targets” which seems to indicate that the use of gas was not envisaged (initially at least) in what was likely to be a fluid and unpredictable battle situation.
Extract from handwritten from A Coy to the C.O. of the 5th Loyals about “Tasks for Livens Projectors”:
“2. Brede – Four Oaks – Oxney. Deal with enemy forming up in valley at KITCHENOUR 3042 (?). This valley is particularly dangerous as enemy could penetrate northwards without interference.”
So the idea was apparently to make more or less informed guesses as to where there might be concentrations of enemy troops (that could not be reached by direct fire) and then set up (or dig in) the projectors to drop H.E. bombs on them if and when they did show up.
Knouterer - did you by any chance read the Wikipedia entry I provided the link to?
The Livens Projector was also used to fire other substances. At one time or another the drums contained high explosive, oil and cotton-waste pellets, thermite, white phosphorus and "stinks". Used as giant stink bombs to trick the enemy, "stinks" were malodorous but harmless substances such as bone oil and amyl acetate used to simulate a poison gas attack, thereby compelling the enemy to put on their cumbersome masks (which reduced the efficiency of German troops) on occasions when gas could not be safely employed. Alternatively, "stinks" could be used to artificially prolong the scale, discomfort and duration of genuine gas-attacks i.e. alternating projectiles containing "stinks" with phosgene, adamsite or chloropicrin. There was even a design for ammunition containing a dozen Mills bombs in the manner of a cluster bomb.

The Livens Projector remained in the arsenal of the British Army until the early years of the Second World War
But it's also worth noting the the "Livens Projector" was an H.E.-POWERED projector...here's a 1941 pic of an American CW company soldier loading pre-sited projectors with their explosive propellant charge - note how the top of the explosive charge and wadding is dished to accomodate the bottom of the actual projectile, as per the diagram below...

Image

Image
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by Knouterer » 05 May 2014 20:49

phylo_roadking wrote:But it's also worth noting the the "Livens Projector" was an H.E.-POWERED projector...here's a 1941 pic of an American CW company soldier loading pre-sited projectors with their explosive propellant charge - note how the top of the explosive charge and wadding is dished to accomodate the bottom of the actual projectile, as per the diagram below...
I don't think so - high explosive (in al its various forms), in the normal sense of the term, is entirely unsuited as a propellant because it detonates too violently. Livens used black powder in his early models and later cordite (see A. Saunders, Weapons of the Trench War 1914-1918 (1999), p. 142-156). So the reference in the note above to "H.E. projector targets" means they were thinking of H.E. bombs, as opposed to bombs filled with gas, oïl or other nasty stuff, although of course those might have been used as well if available.
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by phylo_roadking » 05 May 2014 22:10

I don't think so - high explosive (in al its various forms), in the normal sense of the term, is entirely unsuited as a propellant because it detonates too violently. Livens used black powder in his early models and later cordite (see A. Saunders, Weapons of the Trench War 1914-1918 (1999), p. 142-156).
...as opposed to spring-powered, or compressed gas etc..

Another thing to remember is that where possible the Army preferred "non-personal" names for equipment - the Army was a great leveller when it came to personal ambitions :lol: How often for example to you find references to "spigot mortars"....as opposed to "Blacker bombard"? :wink:
So the reference in the note above to "H.E. projector targets" means they were thinking of H.E. bombs, as opposed to bombs filled with gas, oïl or other nasty stuff, although of course those might have been used as well if available.
You really should go and seek some corroboration of that from elsewhere, as opposed to making yet another assumption with all this 8O

There's actually a very broad hint buried in point 4 of that September1940 order ;) Have you noticed it?
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by Knouterer » 28 Oct 2014 10:54

What assumption??? I'm simply stating a fact. There were no such things as "H.E. powered projectors", nor could there have been, because - as I believe I already explained - "high explosive", in any accepted meaning of the term, can't be used as a propellant because it detonates far too violently.

It follows, logically, that "H.E. projector targets" refers to targets for projectors firing H.E. bombs. I can't explain it any clearer than that, sorry.

In the meantime, I've had a look at the WD of this CW Group in Sussex in 1940 and it appears that they had stocks of mustard gas bombs as well as H.E. bombs.

A problem was of course that setting up all those projectors took a lot of time, far too much in a fluid situation. In one exercise, a CW company was overrun and captured by the "enemy" before they had even finished unloading their vehicles.
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by phylo_roadking » 28 Oct 2014 13:02

Yes, you have indeed missed the hint in point 4 of the order you posted up.
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by Gooner1 » 28 Oct 2014 15:19

Knouterer wrote: A problem was of course that setting up all those projectors took a lot of time, far too much in a fluid situation. In one exercise, a CW company was overrun and captured by the "enemy" before they had even finished unloading their vehicles.

I'm a bit puzzled as to why they didn't just set up the projectors to fire on the beaches, or rather, a couple of hundred yards to seaward of the beaches.

Clip of Livens projector 1.00 minute in here http://www.britishpathe.com/video/news- ... ery/236617

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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by Knouterer » 29 Oct 2014 13:57

Gooner1 wrote:
Knouterer wrote: A problem was of course that setting up all those projectors took a lot of time, far too much in a fluid situation. In one exercise, a CW company was overrun and captured by the "enemy" before they had even finished unloading their vehicles.

I'm a bit puzzled as to why they didn't just set up the projectors to fire on the beaches, or rather, a couple of hundred yards to seaward of the beaches.

Clip of Livens projector 1.00 minute in here http://www.britishpathe.com/video/news- ... ery/236617
Apparently that was the plan for the other CW company, the 58th, which was to defend Pevensey as mentioned in the note, but the info on that is not very definite - I'll check it again.
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by RichTO90 » 29 Oct 2014 17:59

phylo_roadking wrote:Yes, you have indeed missed the hint in point 4 of the order you posted up.
Given that it has been five months since your last hinting post, perhaps you would be kind enough to cease the guessing games and simply state what you think was hinted in that passage?

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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by phylo_roadking » 29 Oct 2014 19:05

4. The tasks have been alloted to the C.W. Coys so that they are close to their billeting areas. This is considered important in order to reduce the time and hazards of travel.
Rich, I would find it hard to imagine that high explosive rounds were considered hazardous to transport, given that tens of thousands of them were in transit around the country on any given day - in artillery limbers and tractors, on munitions trains, on narrow gauge railways around dumps, on bomb dollies on airfields etc.. The vast majority of HE ordnance is safe to transport unprimed, no? But transporting filled gas ordnance around the bumpy roads of 1940s rural England...
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by RichTO90 » 29 Oct 2014 19:54

phylo_roadking wrote:Rich, I would find it hard to imagine that high explosive rounds were considered hazardous to transport, given that tens of thousands of them were in transit around the country on any given day - in artillery limbers and tractors, on munitions trains, on narrow gauge railways around dumps, on bomb dollies on airfields etc.. The vast majority of HE ordnance is safe to transport unprimed, no? But transporting filled gas ordnance around the bumpy roads of 1940s rural England...
Oh, so you decided that the phrase "hazards of travel" could only apply to concerns about the H.E. rounds? 8O

How about...

The hazards of moving troops during an operation where the enemy has air parity or better?
The hazards of moving troops during an operation where the enemy may have air landed troops?
The hazards of moving on country roads with congestion slowing the movement of the troops?
The hazards found on all roads when moving, such as vehicle accidents, flat tires, breakdowns, and the like?

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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by phylo_roadking » 29 Oct 2014 22:25

Oh, so you decided that the phrase "hazards of travel" could only apply to concerns about the H.E. rounds? 8O

How about...

The hazards of moving troops during an operation where the enemy has air parity or better?
The hazards of moving troops during an operation where the enemy may have air landed troops?
The hazards of moving on country roads with congestion slowing the movement of the troops?
The hazards found on all roads when moving, such as vehicle accidents, flat tires, breakdowns, and the like?

No, only gas rounds.

After all - regarding all the rest of that - do we see ANY other British Army unit in the period with orders cut using that particular phrase about any of your list? It's...
4. The tasks have been alloted to the C.W. Coys so that they are close to their billeting areas. This is considered important in order to reduce the time and hazards of travel.
..about distance on the ground - nothing else.
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by RichTO90 » 30 Oct 2014 13:44

phylo_roadking wrote:..about distance on the ground - nothing else.
Thanks, I never realized that the phrase "hazards of the road" only applied to CW units, its CW weapons, and the distance it must traverse on the ground.

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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by David Thompson » 30 Oct 2014 16:05

phylo -- You wrote:
Yes, you have indeed missed the hint in point 4 of the order you posted up.
This sort of "dance of the seven veils" posting is not helpful to the discussion:
Rural customs of discourse, such as feigned ignorance, pettifogging, playing at peek-a-boo, fact-free repartee, redundant and uninformative posts, and/or "stonewalling" denials of facts well-known to most informed persons, are strongly disfavored here.
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=53962

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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by phylo_roadking » 30 Oct 2014 16:39

David, see this post above, where I have already added in the required detail http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 2#p1905702

Checking MILFORCE's orders as an example - as they had to travel some 30-40 miles by road in the event of invasion from their billets to the start line for their counterattack - and there is no mention of "hazards" expressed in the same way. In other words - there was something in a Chemical Warfare unit that was essentially hazardous to transport....
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