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

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

Post by Gooner1 » 11 Dec 2014 15:02

phylo_roadking wrote:
One (1) squadron of Matilda 1s and one (1) squadron of carriers...and a single company of infantry? Against a battalion-sized (at least) blocking force?
Blimey Phylo, MILFORCE grouping is written just above you!

I'll just add the bits you missed :P

7 A.Tk.Regt. less detts. (armed as Inf) - 32 A/Tk. Bty. (8 vehicles)
MG. Coy. (10 vehicles)

Given that an anti-tank battery would have roughly the same number of men as an infantry company and they were armed as infantry, I make that two companies of infantry. You should probably count the dismounts of "C" Squadron Division Cavalry as another half-company albeit the squadron including the six Vickers Mk.VI had as a whole had twice the firepower of a rifle company

The MG company is a huge asset for a battalion sized grouping such as this, not least because of the vast amount of ammunition they took around with them.

Oh, and the Matildas are the Mark IIs.

So no I wouldn't give much hope to a battalion sized blocking force :lol:

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

Post by phylo_roadking » 11 Dec 2014 16:17

"At 13:50, the two thousand two hundred and eighty-three men of the 1st Parachute Brigade and assorted other parachute-trained units, including the majority of the Reconnaissance Squadron, began to jump over DZ-X"

"The Brigade's three battalions and their attached units assembled very quickly and were able to begin the march to Arnhem at 15:00"

"A" Company [2nd Battalion] arrived at the northern end of Arnhem Bridge at 19:30
"
I notice you don't mention what time between 13:50 and 15:00 "A" Company (2nd battalion) landed... :wink:
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by phylo_roadking » 11 Dec 2014 16:37

One (1) squadron of Matilda 1s and one (1) squadron of carriers...and a single company of infantry? Against a battalion-sized (at least) blocking force?
Blimey Phylo, MILFORCE grouping is written just above you!

I'll just add the bits you missed

7 A.Tk.Regt. less detts. (armed as Inf) - 32 A/Tk. Bty. (8 vehicles)
MG. Coy. (10 vehicles)
It is indeed...
Tps: "C" Sqn. Div. Cav.
32 A/Tk Battery
"C" Coy. 21 Bn.
M.G. Coy
.

Sig. Dett.
"C" Sqn. 8 R Tanks
Given that an anti-tank battery would have roughly the same number of men as an infantry company and they were armed as infantry, I make that two companies of infantry.
As we've already seen elsewhere courtesy of Knouterer numerous examples of various artillery units etc. with far less than establishment on small arms etc. in this period..before making THAT statement you really should check their war diary.

Given all the other period caveats we know regarding tranpsort etc., I wonder if "C" Coy. 21 Bn., the M.G Coy etc. were fully up to establishment on vehicles....and what they were.
The MG company is a huge asset for a battalion sized grouping such as this, not least because of the vast amount of ammunition they took around with them.
Hardly...unless MILFORCE/NZEF actually exercised sitting down in the middle of a battle en masse and stripping belts of .303 and filling stripper clips/Bren mags etc...

If you remember it being mentioned elsewhere - this was one of the major reservations the RAF had in 1939/40 regarding arming their erks; RAF airfields also had "vast amounts of ammunition" in .303 rifle calibre...but to the RAF it came in boxes of ready-filled belts for Brownings, not boxes of loose .303 ball or in stripper clips. (Nor were the RAF issued stripper clips in 1940; rifle-armed RAF personnel had to cram loose rounds into their pockets 8O (Kingsley Oliver))
Oh, and the Matildas are the Mark IIs.
I seem to remember discussion elsewhere on this recently - and it being concluded that they were actually MkIs...especially given that the 8 mph convoy speed mandated by INSTRUCTION No.4 equated to the MkI's top roadspeed for their deployment forward from Charing :wink:

In other words - MILFORCE...both the force at Charing and the whole force covered by INSTRUCTION No.4 as a whole...was being instructed not to move faster than the top speed of its slowest vehicle.

Which is actually pretty sensible - especially given that the Matildas were to be in the advance guard and covering force :lol:
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by Gooner1 » 11 Dec 2014 17:05

phylo_roadking wrote:Assuming of course that NZ Div. "C" Sqn Divisional Cavalry's carriers for some reason go faster than ordered in INSTRUCTION NO.4; remember, they're there to cover the advance

However, given the role specified for MILFORCE including the Divisional Cavalry...
Just to clear this up.

"8. Adv. Guard Mob Tps: "C" Sqn. Div. Cav."

FSR Vol. II, section 42. Advanced guard mobile troops
1. When an army is advancing, the commander will usually send ahead a mobile force with the object of reconnaissance or with some other special mission. The action of this force will afford to the main columns information and a degree of protection which will vary according to the mission, but since it may be operating at a considerable distance from the main body, it cannot be relied on for local protection. <>

3. The advanced guard mobile troops will usually be employed to cover the advance of the column by reconnoitring and giving early warning of the presence of the enemy, by driving away minor opposition and by checking any advance on the part of the enemy. When they encounter opposition which they cannot overcome, they will endeavour to ascertain the strength of the enemy and the extent of the front which he holds, preparatory to support by the remainder of the advanced guard.<>

4. The advanced guard mobile troops, in covering the advance normally move from one tactical feature to the next by "bounds";<>
The leading cavalry patrols should, in open country, be about four to five miles ahead of the nearest infantry; light tanks should be about the same distance ahead of the leading vehicles which they are covering.

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

Post by Gooner1 » 11 Dec 2014 17:06

phylo_roadking wrote:
Hardly...unless MILFORCE/NZEF actually exercised sitting down in the middle of a battle en masse and stripping belts of .303 and filling stripper clips/Bren mags etc...
:?

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

Post by phylo_roadking » 11 Dec 2014 17:12

Gooner1 wrote:
phylo_roadking wrote:
Hardly...unless MILFORCE/NZEF actually exercised sitting down in the middle of a battle en masse and stripping belts of .303 and filling stripper clips/Bren mags etc...
:?
Well, don't you think the majority of that "vast amount of ammunition" the M.G. Coy would be carrying into battle in their vehicles would be for their machine guns? :P That "vast amount of ammunition" as issued to an M.G. company would not be the "huge asset" to 5 Bde. NZEF you think.

P.S. - the issue of their particular vehicles is entirely relevant too; bit of a bummer once the cross country sweep starts if, as of September 1940, they weren't equiped with 4x4 vehicles...
FSR Vol. II, section 42. Advanced guard mobile troops
1. When an army is advancing, the commander will usually send ahead a mobile force with the object of reconnaissance or with some other special mission. The action of this force will afford to the main columns information and a degree of protection which will vary according to the mission, but since it may be operating at a considerable distance from the main body, it cannot be relied on for local protection. <>

3. The advanced guard mobile troops will usually be employed to cover the advance of the column by reconnoitring and giving early warning of the presence of the enemy, by driving away minor opposition and by checking any advance on the part of the enemy. When they encounter opposition which they cannot overcome, they will endeavour to ascertain the strength of the enemy and the extent of the front which he holds, preparatory to support by the remainder of the advanced guard.<>

4. The advanced guard mobile troops, in covering the advance normally move from one tactical feature to the next by "bounds";<>
The leading cavalry patrols should, in open country, be about four to five miles ahead of the nearest infantry; light tanks should be about the same distance ahead of the leading vehicles which they are covering.

Now - tell me what the glaringly obvious problem in there is for MILFORCE on S-Day....it's in point 4, by the way...
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by RichTO90 » 11 Dec 2014 17:22

phylo_roadking wrote:I seem to remember discussion elsewhere on this recently - and it being concluded that they were actually MkIs...especially given that the 8 mph convoy speed mandated by INSTRUCTION No.4 equated to the MkI's top roadspeed for their deployment forward from Charing
Really? Why? Other than the "evidence" of the convoy speed? Ninety-seven of the 127 A.11 built were lost in France. Another two - at least, were sent to Egypt as training vehicles. So, at most, there were 28 left in England. And perhaps 300 A.12. Why would one squadron of 8 RTR be refitted with A.11 on its return from France after the A.11 had been relegated to training?

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

Post by Gooner1 » 11 Dec 2014 17:26

phylo_roadking wrote: Well, don't you think the majority of that "vast amount of ammunition" the M.G. Coy would be carrying into battle in their vehicles would be for their machine guns?
Well clearly you didn't! :lol:

Just to clear another couple of things up.
"and the infantry had almost 100 per cent of their equipment."
"the Second Echelon was an obvious choice, for it had been training for the last two months as a mobile force, complete with all reserves of ammunition and three days' supplies."
http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarl ... ee-c2.html
"The Divisional Cavalry were fitted out with their full-scale establishment of vehicles and practically all their weapons"
http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz//tm/scholar ... Ca-c3.html

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

Post by phylo_roadking » 11 Dec 2014 17:57

Really? Why? Other than the "evidence" of the convoy speed? Ninety-seven of the 127 A.11 built were lost in France. Another two - at least, were sent to Egypt as training vehicles. So, at most, there were 28 left in England. And perhaps 300 A.12. Why would one squadron of 8 RTR be refitted with A.11 on its return from France after the A.11 had been relegated to training?
There were actually 140 built, including the prototype; two initial contract batches of 60, plus a third batch of 19 ordered in January 1940. Production didn't finish until July 1940, with the last A.11 not being delivered to units until August IIRC...

Prototype T1724 (CMM889) ordered January 1936

First Pattern T3433 to T3492 (HMH788 to HMH847) 60 tanks ordered April 1937

Second Pattern T5551 to T5610 (RMY905 to RMY964) 60 tanks ordered May 1938

and T8101 to T8119 (PMX458 to PMX476) 19 tanks ordered January 1939.

The awkward historiographical issue with this is that it's George Forty who's the source for the widely-disseminated comment regarding the A.11 being relegated to training after Dunkirk - but he's also the source for 140 being built, not 127, based on Bovington's contract record cards ;)

Apart from the fact that training units were combed out of everything that moved on tracks in the summer of 1940, albeit temporarily until new builds came off the lines...A.11s, Vickers "Dutchmen", "India" pattern Lights - especially for the period immediately after the last two weeks in August, when half the "modern" tanks in the UK were sent abroad...

...the issue of whether they were MkIs or MkIIs doesn't actually matter that much in this particular circumstance; not when they're mandated, whatever they were, to 8mph...and their best anti-personnel weapon against their prospective enemy on S-Day, the FJ, was a single MG...
Just to clear another couple of things up.
"and the infantry had almost 100 per cent of their equipment."
http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarl ... ee-c2.html
Indeed. Did I say otherwise? It doesn't however say anything about the Anti-tank battery.
"The Divisional Cavalry were fitted out with their full-scale establishment of vehicles and practically all their weapons"
http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz//tm/scholar ... Ca-c3.html
Again - did I say otherwise? My comments weren't about "C" Sqn Divisional Cavalry... :wink: They were about -
P.S. - the issue of their particular vehicles is entirely relevant too; bit of a bummer once the cross country sweep starts if, as of September 1940, they weren't equiped with 4x4 vehicles...
...the M.G. Coy and "C" Coy 21 Battalion.

Well, don't you think the majority of that "vast amount of ammunition" the M.G. Coy would be carrying into battle in their vehicles would be for their machine guns?

Well clearly you didn't!
Actually - I did; that's why *I* drew it to *your* your attention.....in that it wouldn't necessarily be the "huge asset" (your words) to the rest of the force that you thought it would be...

Especially when the 2NZ....5 & 7 Bdes.....were ALREADY "...complete with all reserves of ammunition and three days' supplies"
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by RichTO90 » 11 Dec 2014 19:16

phylo_roadking wrote:There were actually 140 built, including the prototype; two initial contract batches of 60, plus a third batch of 19 ordered in January 1940. Production didn't finish until July 1940, with the last A.11 not being delivered to units until August IIRC...

Prototype T1724 (CMM889) ordered January 1936

First Pattern T3433 to T3492 (HMH788 to HMH847) 60 tanks ordered April 1937

Second Pattern T5551 to T5610 (RMY905 to RMY964) 60 tanks ordered May 1938

and T8101 to T8119 (PMX458 to PMX476) 19 tanks ordered January 1939.
Sorry Phylo, but it isn't actually that clear-cut that I can tell. One prototype and 139 production models were ordered, but AVIA 46/188 and AVIA 22/456-514 are contradictory with the number actually completed and accepted by the War Office, showing 127. If we take the 345 Valentine and 392 A.12 completed to the end of 1940 and subtract them from Postan's 878, we get 141, which is even more confusing...
The awkward historiographical issue with this is that it's George Forty who's the source for the widely-disseminated comment regarding the A.11 being relegated to training after Dunkirk - but he's also the source for 140 being built, not 127, based on Bovington's contract record cards ;)
It's even more awkward than that, given that it was David Fletcher and not George Forty that did so... :lol: And, given that the two known examples recorded as lost by British Forces Middle East were noted as being on the training establishment in Egypt, it is difficult to see how that widely-disseminated remark is incorrect.
Apart from the fact that training units were combed out of everything that moved on tracks in the summer of 1940, albeit temporarily until new builds came off the lines...A.11s, Vickers "Dutchmen", "India" pattern Lights - especially for the period immediately after the last two weeks in August, when half the "modern" tanks in the UK were sent abroad...
392 A. 12 and 345 Valentine were completed by the end of 1940. 29 A.12 were lost in France. 50 A.12 went to Egypt in August, but possibly including the A.11 training vehicles of unknown number (at least 2). The first Valentine was completed in June. So it is likely the majority of the 128 "I" Tanks completed by the end of June that could not be A.11 or the 29 A.11 lost in France would have to be mostly A.12. Which means the remaining production to the end of the year was roughly 392-128-29 = ~235 A.12 and ~345 Valentine to the end of the year. Another 227 I tanks were completed to the end of September. So likely at least 140 to the end of August. Thus, the 50 sent to Egypt constituted less than one-quarter - not one-half - of the roughly 268 A.12 and Valentines available. To equip roughly six battalions of 1st Army Tank Brigade and 21st Army Tank Brigade (23rd and 24th ATB had virtually no armored vehicles and 25th at the time was reorganized as 2nd MMGB), 218 A.12 and Valentines was probably adequate, especially given that only 1st ATB were likely brought up to strength. And at that, six battalions is an over-estimate, with 7 RTR moving to Egypt and being replaced by 42 RTR from 21st ATB.

BTW, the A.12 and Valentine weren't the only "modern tanks" in the UK in August 1940. OTOH, aside from mention of some Vickers Mediums and Lights, and some "Matildas" for brigade headquarters, there is remarkably little to indicate that anything other than the five-six battalions of 1st and 21st ATB had tanks during this period.
...the issue of whether they were MkIs or MkIIs doesn't actually matter that much in this particular circumstance; not when they're mandated, whatever they were, to 8mph...and their best anti-personnel weapon against their prospective enemy on S-Day, the FJ, was a single MG...
So you don't have any actual evidence beyond the 8 MPH bit?
Last edited by RichTO90 on 11 Dec 2014 19:20, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by nmao » 11 Dec 2014 19:19

Hi!

Actually 8 RTR did not go to France, and stayed in the UK all trough this time.
According to "CAB 70/1: DC(S)(40)4th, Annexe, Statement of Tank Position as known on 10 Jun. 1940, 11 Jun. 1940." they were issued with 7 light tanks, 27 infantry tanks Mk I and 23 infantry Mk II.
They still had them in October according to "CL 70/2 : DC(S)(40)80, Return of Tanks in the Hands of the troops in the United Kingdom on 20 0t. 1940,
23 October 1940."


So it is possible that this squadron had some A.11.

regards,

-Nuno

PS: on the web, this document has some nice statistics: "BRITISH PLANNING AND PREPARATIONS TO RESIST INVASION ON LAND, September 1939 - September 1940 - DX199711"

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

Post by RichTO90 » 11 Dec 2014 19:59

nmao wrote:Hi!

Actually 8 RTR did not go to France, and stayed in the UK all trough this time.
According to "CAB 70/1: DC(S)(40)4th, Annexe, Statement of Tank Position as known on 10 Jun. 1940, 11 Jun. 1940." they were issued with 7 light tanks, 27 infantry tanks Mk I and 23 infantry Mk II.
They still had them in October according to "CL 70/2 : DC(S)(40)80, Return of Tanks in the Hands of the troops in the United Kingdom on 20 0t. 1940,
23 October 1940."


So it is possible that this squadron had some A.11.

regards,

-Nuno

PS: on the web, this document has some nice statistics: "BRITISH PLANNING AND PREPARATIONS TO RESIST INVASION ON LAND, September 1939 - September 1940 - DX199711"
Thanks, Nuno that helps clear it up. Yes, 8th RTR stayed in England, 3rd and 7th went to France, then 7th went to Egypt in September and 4th (minus B Squadron to Eritrea) followed in October.

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

Post by phylo_roadking » 11 Dec 2014 23:07

The awkward historiographical issue with this is that it's George Forty who's the source for the widely-disseminated comment regarding the A.11 being relegated to training after Dunkirk - but he's also the source for 140 being built, not 127, based on Bovington's contract record cards
It's even more awkward than that, given that it was David Fletcher and not George Forty that did so... And, given that the two known examples recorded as lost by British Forces Middle East were noted as being on the training establishment in Egypt, it is difficult to see how that widely-disseminated remark is incorrect.
Well, if you're going to base the judgement call on those two items only - it's really correct for Egypt only. Especially now that we know courtesy of Nuno that 8RTR had MkIs in service through the summer of 1940.

Regarding the comment - it's most commonly referenced to George Forty's Tanks of World War I and II
Sorry Phylo, but it isn't actually that clear-cut that I can tell. One prototype and 139 production models were ordered, but AVIA 46/188 and AVIA 22/456-514 are contradictory with the number actually completed and accepted by the War Office, showing 127.
IIRC the contract cards at Bovington record production rather than acceptance; but I'll email them and check that.
If we take the 345 Valentine and 392 A.12 completed to the end of 1940 and subtract them from Postan's 878, we get 141, which is even more confusing...
...though only by one compared to the 140 contract-card number; which, using a secondary course and working backwards, is better than most thumbnail calculations!
392 A. 12 and 345 Valentine were completed by the end of 1940. 29 A.12 were lost in France. 50 A.12 went to Egypt in August, but possibly including the A.11 training vehicles of unknown number (at least 2). The first Valentine was completed in June. So it is likely the majority of the 128 "I" Tanks completed by the end of June that could not be A.11 or the 29 A.11 lost in France would have to be mostly A.12. Which means the remaining production to the end of the year was roughly 392-128-29 = ~235 A.12 and ~345 Valentine to the end of the year. Another 227 I tanks were completed to the end of September. So likely at least 140 to the end of August. Thus, the 50 sent to Egypt constituted less than one-quarter - not one-half - of the roughly 268 A.12 and Valentines available. To equip roughly six battalions of 1st Army Tank Brigade and 21st Army Tank Brigade (23rd and 24th ATB had virtually no armored vehicles and 25th at the time was reorganized as 2nd MMGB), 218 A.12 and Valentines was probably adequate, especially given that only 1st ATB were likely brought up to strength. And at that, six battalions is an over-estimate, with 7 RTR moving to Egypt and being replaced by 42 RTR from 21st ATB.
I was basing my comment on the material in Newbold, not figures in Postan. When I find it again I'll post up what he says.
BTW, the A.12 and Valentine weren't the only "modern tanks" in the UK in August 1940. OTOH, aside from mention of some Vickers Mediums and Lights, and some "Matildas" for brigade headquarters, there is remarkably little to indicate that anything other than the five-six battalions of 1st and 21st ATB had tanks during this period.
Indeed they weren't; there were the various cruisers....or remnants thereof after France. I'll have to check (as above) but IIRC Newbold details crusiers being sent to the Delta as well.
...the issue of whether they were MkIs or MkIIs doesn't actually matter that much in this particular circumstance; not when they're mandated, whatever they were, to 8mph...and their best anti-personnel weapon against their prospective enemy on S-Day, the FJ, was a single MG...
So you don't have any actual evidence beyond the 8 MPH bit?
IIRC standard British Army convoy speed in the period was actually 15 mph (I think I opened a thread on that question literally years ago on here...?)...which was the commonly-referenced road speed for the MkII. You regard the 8 mph figure as a coincidence, I regard it as too much of a coincidence.

Now that Nuno has posted and confirmed that there were indeed Matilda Is in 8RTR hands as of the date in question...it it should be checkable by their war diary for the period.
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by Knouterer » 12 Dec 2014 11:59

The WD of "Milforce" states quite clearly that as of 18 Sept. C squadron 8 RTR had Mk II Matildas and the other two squadrons, which would follow on behind later, Mk Is. There's no question about that.
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Re: Chemcal Warfare Coys, R.E. post-Dunkirk 1940

Post by Gooner1 » 12 Dec 2014 14:45

phylo_roadking wrote:
P.S. - the issue of their particular vehicles is entirely relevant too; bit of a bummer once the cross country sweep starts if, as of September 1940, they weren't equiped with 4x4 vehicles...
What cross country 'sweep'? In none of the documents, instructions or diaries relating to MILFORCE and the NZEF have I ever encountered the term 'sweep'. It is your word and assumption only.

BTW its probably worth reacquainting yourself with the '30s OS map to see how dense the roadnet was.
Now - tell me what the glaringly obvious problem in there is for MILFORCE on S-Day....it's in point 4, by the way...
The only glaringly obvious problem I can think of would be one that existed almost entirely in your mind :D

I think what got left out of the MILFORCE Operational Instruction No.4 transcription was Method, in this case the road march order - that is probably whats confusing you. To wit:

METHOD.

8. Adv. Guard Mob Tps: "C" Sqn. Div. Cav.
Main Gd: 1 Tp. 'C' Sqn. 8 R Tanks.
MILFORCE HQ.
Comd. Inf. & MG. Gp.
'C' Sqn. 8 R Tanks (less 1 Tp.)
H.Q. Inf. & MG. Gp.
32 A/Tk. Bty. (8 vehicles)
MG. Coy. (10 vehicles)
'C' Coy. 21 Bn. (7 vehicles)

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