State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

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Richard Anderson
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Richard Anderson » 10 Oct 2017 15:40

Knouterer wrote:And a little video of the AAC M21 AT gun, which competed unsuccessfully against the M3 for adoption by the US Army. This (or something very much like it) may well be the gun the British found "useless". It doesn't look very powerful for its calibre.
That is actually the AAC-designed 37mm M2E1 Antitank Gun. It is possible a variant, designated the M2A1, was used in the Medium Tank T5 Phase I of 16 February 1938 in a twin-mount proposed by AAC, but Ordnance never accepted it (why it was standardized with an "M" number remains unclear).
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Knouterer
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 11 Oct 2017 08:55

Another angle on the 37 mm Bofors AT guns in British service: according to this generally well-informed website, Britain ordered 250 licence-built guns from Poland, of which only 80 were delivered in 1939 before Poland was overrun. It would seem that most of these guns ended up in North Africa. The story that Sudan bought them seems like a red herring. By the end of 1940, the British-officered Sudan Defence Force was only about 9,000 strong, with a few old armoured cars and four 3.7" howitzers, and it seems very unlikely that the Sudanese were buying artillery on their own account.

http://www.network54.com/Forum/330333/t ... mm+AT+Guns

Bofors still relied on traditional manufacturing methods and was quite unable to meet the huge demand for its products in the late 1930s, especially for the 40 mm AA gun, and sold licences to a number of countries, including Poland. As a relatively poor country, Poland was quite willing to sell such guns to other countries for a good price after its own needs were met.

Note: "112th RHA" in that list on Network54 should be "106th RHA" which in late 1940 was part of the 7th Armoured Division and according to various sources including Farnham was (partially) equipped with Bofors AT guns. Farnham also notes (p. 133) that 24 of these guns were "originally intended for the Sudan Defence Force".
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Knouterer
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 12 Oct 2017 11:01

As noted above, France was another source of AT guns. As far as I have been able to figure out 220 25 mm Model 1934 guns were ordered and delivered in 1939; of these 48 went to equip AT batteries of the Royal Artillery and the remainder, apart from guns for training and spares, to the anti-tank companies of infantry brigades of the BEF, with nine guns each, for which the infantry battalions of those brigades had to find personnel. Originally AT companies of four platoons with four guns each had been planned apparently. A further order of 180 was partially delivered in early 1940 but few if any had been issued to troops when the German offensive started. Only a handful of 25 mm guns were brought back and as no ammunition for them was produced in Britain their usefulness was limited.
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Knouterer
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 12 Oct 2017 11:16

A picture (IWM H8379) illustrating that the British 2-pounder was a fairly heavy piece of equipment compared to other AT guns in the same class (37-45 mm). The main reason for that was the complicated three-legged carriage on which the gun rested after the wheels had been taken off, which allowed it to rotate rapidly through 360°.

Films of artillery exercises in the 1930s show the thinking behind this; the light trucks carrying the tank targets dash to and fro in all directions across the battlefield. In practice a gun that could be swung around like a shotgun - while undoubtedly useful in some situations - was not such a great advantage because German tank units, rather than engaging in mad charges, preferred a more deliberate approach, staying in formation and probing the defences by fire.
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Knouterer
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 13 Oct 2017 08:56

Regarding the brigade AT companies, the OOB of 10 May shows 29; the 5th Division had only two brigades and the poorly trained and equipped "digging divisions" (12th, 23rd, 46th) had no AT companies.

The plan apparently was, given the relatively low rate of production of the 2pdr, to equip the infantry with the French 25 mm for the time being, for which 400 guns seems a reasonable number. By early 1940 the requirements of the French army for the Model 1934 had more or less been met (4,400 guns) so presumably there was spare capacity to fill British orders.
"The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man's observation, not overturning it." Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 24 Oct 2017 16:11

In 1948 captain C.G. Wynne of the Historical Section of the Cabinet Office wrote a report about planning for home defence in the period 1933-1942 (WO 277/37). This report has recently been published by Frontline Books under the title "Stopping Hitler".

Appendix V is a memo from the C-in-C Home Forces, general Ironside, about the state of the defences as of 31 May 1940. At that point in time the evacuation from Dunkirk had not yet been completed, and there were still 150,000 (or so) British troops in France south of the Somme, including the 1st Armoured Division, which had been sent over in a big hurry and in a somewhat disorganized state, and the 51st Highland Division.

I could not vouch for the accuracy of the annexed table, and a lot of data is missing, but it's still interesting. Note that the 1st Canadian Division is the only one to be fully equipped, notably with 48 2pdr AT guns (Newbold mentions 36, p. 150). Only 48 25pdrs are listed, but that is possibly because the regiment (1st RCHA) that was to accompany the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade to France in the coming days was not counted.

The 8th and 11th Canadian Field Regiments, with only four 25pdrs each as yet, would soon become part of the corps artillery of VII Corps.


Footnotes to the table:
(a) In course of completion to this scale.
(b) In course of completion to this scale.
(c) In course of completion to this scale. Weekly production understood to be 350.
(d) In course of completion up to 72 x 25-pounders and 48 x 2-pounders.
(e) Completion of Bren carriers to this scale expected within a month.
(f) In course of completion to 24 x 25-pounders.
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MarkN
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by MarkN » 27 Oct 2017 14:08

Knouterer wrote: How many AT guns the British actually had in September is a bit unclear, the statistics sometimes fail to distinguish between tank and AT guns. The BEF lost a large number of 2-pounder AT guns in France, the number most often quoted is 509 (432 lost by AT regiments and 77 in reserve), ...
A calculation for the Cabinet Historical Section - I believe for Joslen and ultimately passed to Ellis - shows the total number of 2-pdr in France as 547. As normal, it is not an analysis/survey of what was actually taken, but a series of assumptions based upon establishment. The numbers are broken down as follows:

432 with 10 x ATk Regiments RA
8 with 20 Bde Calais
8 with 30 Bde Boulogne
24 with 1ArmdDiv
48 with 52InfDiv
127 with RAOC in reserve
----
547

The paper looks at all arty types taken and comes up with a grand total of 2,794 taken to France with 315 returned during "Plan Aerial" leaving an assumed loss of 2,479. It does not specify what guns these 315 were. However, a hand written note indicates a further 7 guns returned and thus makes the final total lost as 2,472.

There is no allowance shown for any guns of any type taken by 51InfDiv nor 1CanDiv unless they are accounted for in the 10 x ATk regiments. I have not checked this but given 1ArmdDiv and 52InfDiv are listed separately, it seems likely they are not included either and have been 'forgotten' about!!!

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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 30 Oct 2017 09:36

MarkN wrote: [
432 with 10 x ATk Regiments RA
8 with 20 Bde Calais
8 with 30 Bde Boulogne
24 with 1ArmdDiv
48 with 52InfDiv
127 with RAOC in reserve
----
547

Thanks for the info, but that makes 647 by my count, not 547?
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MarkN
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by MarkN » 30 Oct 2017 13:19

Knouterer wrote:
MarkN wrote: [
432 with 10 x ATk Regiments RA
8 with 20 Bde Calais
8 with 30 Bde Boulogne
24 with 1ArmdDiv
48 with 52InfDiv
127 with RAOC in reserve
----
547
Thanks for the info, but that makes 647 by my count, not 547?
EXACTLY!

Well spotted. Shame all those well educated officers at the WO and Cabinet Historical Section were not as sharp as you. In addition to all the other inbuilt inaccuracies within their calculations, the numbers produced by Ellis in the OH are at least 100 in error due simply to the failure of somebody to add up a column correctly and nobody else to spot it!!!

But even from the limited info I posted above, further inaccuracies are contained. I mentioned earlier they have completely forgotten about 51InfDiv and 1CanDiv. At the same time they seem to have double counted 52InfDiv. Follow this:-

The initial 10 infantry divs sent to France (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 42, 44, 48, 50 and 52) each had an RA ATk Regiment each with 48 ATk guns. The number 932 above represents 9 x 48. A side-note to that number explains that 14 ATk Regt of 4 Div had 25mm not 2-pdr guns. In otherwords, the 432 includes 51 Atk regt of 52 Div which then gets counted again separately!!!! So the 547/647 total is over by 48 double counting and under by whatever 51 Div and 1 CanDiv took!!!! :roll:

MarkNote: You will notice that Farndale has a total of 10 ATk Regts: 9 with 2-pdr and 1 with 25mm. He too excludes 54 ATk Regt of 51 Inf Div!

Moving on...

The 25mm column looks like this:-
300 with 10 Divs
9 with 30 Bde Boulogne
3 with 52InfDiv
55 with RAOC in reserve
10 later received
----
377

Did the 52 Div only have just 3 25mm guns across 3 ATk coys!!!! A side note says they were "brought from the UK". Presumably 52 Div ATk coys are allocated in the 10 div number above (like the 2-pdr were but this time not double counted) and those 3 were over and above the complement.

So 10 divs = 29 brigade ATk coys (remember 5 Div only had 2 brigades) each with 9 guns = 261 to which we must add the 48 of 14 ATk Regt for a grand total of 309! Where did they get 300 from???? :roll:
Knouterer wrote: Total losses of field, medium, heavy, super heavy and anti-tank guns come to 1954 ... but then, mysteriously, another 518 "guns destroyed in action or accidentally" are added, bringing the total to 2472.
Whilst Farndale's calculations are also assumptions based on establishment of units on the orbat (except those he forgot to include!) the 518 is a typical British officer-class fudge. 2,472 is the official number lost according to Ellis (which we know is wrong - but never mind). 518 is merely that official/Ellis total less all those he (Farndale) can account for! When the numbers don't add up, don't continue the research until they do, just lose the excess in some oblique explanation/fudge. :lol:

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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Leros87 » 31 Oct 2017 01:11

In his book 1940 - The Last Act, Basil Karslake wrote that after the arrival of III Corps the shipment of arms virtually ceased (except the 2 batteries belonging to 1st Armd Div's Support Group, until after 7 June when 52nd Div arrived. There was no reserve of artillery so when the LofC was severed only 12 Field guns (returned by 51st Div for reconditioning), 1 6 inch howitzer with no recoil mechanism, 40 A/T guns and 8 A/T guns borrowed from the French could be found south of the Somme in the Ordnance depots.

When Beauman Div was formed on 27 May X Field battery (8 18/25 pdr) was created in the A/T role as they lacked dial sights; 2 complete A/T batteries (20 guns) and the 8 20mm (25mm?) French guns formed E A/T Regt.

The Official History stated that 322 guns of all Calibres were returned to the UK, all from south of the Somme. However, it was reckoned that this figure included guns not landed in France.

MarkN
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by MarkN » 31 Oct 2017 10:02

Leros87 wrote:In his book 1940 - The Last Act, Basil Karslake wrote that after the arrival of III Corps the shipment of arms virtually ceased (except the 2 batteries belonging to 1st Armd Div's Support Group, until after 7 June when 52nd Div arrived. There was no reserve of artillery so when the LofC was severed only 12 Field guns (returned by 51st Div for reconditioning), 1 6 inch howitzer with no recoil mechanism, 40 A/T guns and 8 A/T guns borrowed from the French could be found south of the Somme in the Ordnance depots.

When Beauman Div was formed on 27 May X Field battery (8 18/25 pdr) was created in the A/T role as they lacked dial sights; 2 complete A/T batteries (20 guns) and the 8 20mm (25mm?) French guns formed E A/T Regt.
Karslake's words may provide an interesting personal anecdote, but do little (if anything at all) to assist in the understanding of how many bits of equipment went, returned, got lost etc etc.

Ellis' OH figures are lifted from the document I am looking at. The numbers/calculations on the document are problematic in several areas - see above for a couple of hints. One line of the table is titled "RAOC Reserve 10 May 1940". On other documents I have seen, this type of title tends to mean the numbers were lifted from a former RAOC document dated (or data based upon) as indicated. Given that the date is 10 May, it offers no help as to what additional equipment was received or distributed after 10 May. Nevertheless, the numbers are as follows:
72 Field
48 Medium
5 Heavy
127 Anti-tank 2-pdr
55 Anti-tank 25mm

The field, medium and heavy numbers coincide exactly with what Farndale wrote. The anti-tank numbers disagree. Farndale has 127 as a combined total (77+50). There are no anti-aircraft guns showing in RAOC reserve.

Make of that as you will.
Leros87 wrote: The Official History stated that 322 guns of all Calibres were returned to the UK, all from south of the Somme. However, it was reckoned that this figure included guns not landed in France.
As mentionned already, Ellis' OH data is lifted from the document in front of me. And, as posted earlier, the 322 is made up of 315 "guns returned UK Plan Aerial" and a further 7 in a handwritten note. Those 7 returned during March 1940.

From another file on my HD, I've pulled out some of the movement records of returnees during Plan Aerial. I did not copy all of the file, so my data is incomplete. However, I have some of the daily records and the last line is a running total. The last sheet I have shows a total of 310 guns returning. Not far off the 315 written up 9 or 10 years later for Ellis. All of those 310 returned between 16-19 June: 211 from Cherbourg, 56 St. Malo, 36 Brest and 7 Caen. Whilst not discounting some, this would seem to contradict the notion of a majority: "it was reckoned that this figure included guns not landed in France".

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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 31 Oct 2017 13:57

MarkN wrote: [
Moving on...

The 25mm column looks like this:-
300 with 10 Divs
9 with 30 Bde Boulogne
3 with 52InfDiv
55 with RAOC in reserve
10 later received
----
377
Philson has a list somewhere (don't have the exact reference handy) giving the number of 25 mm guns lost as "383 out of 386". Close enough, and seems to confirm that the second order for 180 guns was (almost) completely delivered.

That same list gives the number of 2pdrs lost as "580 out of 647".
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MarkN
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by MarkN » 01 Nov 2017 10:14

First, I'd like to apologise for having an annoyingly persistant doff moment and got the 51st Highland and 52nd Lowland Divisions horribly mixed up in my head. This meant I have been critical beyond that which is genuinely deserved: the guns of the 51st Highland Division (one of the initial 10 divisions sent to France) were not double-counted, and the guns of the 52nd Lowland Division were not excluded. They were both there as they should be. Mind you, Farndale misses the 52nd Lowland Division and everybody misses the Canadians.

What this means...
Knouterer wrote:
MarkN wrote: The 25mm column looks like this:-
300 with 10 Divs
9 with 30 Bde Boulogne
3 with 52InfDiv
55 with RAOC in reserve
10 later received
----
377
Philson has a list somewhere (don't have the exact reference handy) giving the number of 25 mm guns lost as "383 out of 386". Close enough, and seems to confirm that the second order for 180 guns was (almost) completely delivered.
How did Philson generate his numbers? (I don't have his work) They look remarkably similar to the Cabinet Historical Section I am looking at with certain amendments to eradicate errors.

386 represents the 377 shown on the document that I have PLUS the 9 that I feel should be added to the "10 divs" allocation (see above). Perhaps Philson came to the same conclusion as I did. Or perhaps he generated his numbers independent of this document and in a way confirms some of it is at least in part solid and valid.

The 3 returning could well be the 3 shown above allocated to 52InfDiv and brought back by the Division via Cherbourg.
Knouterer wrote: That same list gives the number of 2pdrs lost as "580 out of 647".
If Philson is running with 647, does this imply his start point is the Cabinet Historical Section document or did he arrive at that number independently? Nevertheless, the implication is that 127 were in RAOC reserve not 77 as Farndale suggests. One problem that I have with this 647 number is that 101 LAA&ATk Regt of 1ArmdDiv aquired an additional 20 off 2-pdrs that were 'found' parked at Cherbourg unclaimed. Were these part of the 127 "RAOC Reserve" noted on 10 May or were they additional guns sent over after 10 May and sat waiting for collection by somebody? Are those guns already included in the total of 647 or need to be added?

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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 01 Nov 2017 11:48

Philson's list is in Vol 5 of his OOB of the BEF, which I do not have myself, but according to the internet it is as follows:

"British BEF equipment losses in France (all causes, captured & abandoned included):

1. Tanks:

Mk VIb - 345
Mk VIc - 62
A-9 - 6
A-9CS - 18
A-10 - 31
A-13 Mk 1 - 31
A-13 Mk 2 - 38
A-13 Mk IV - 57
A-13 Mk IVA - 8
Matilda I - 97
Matilda II - 29

2. Armoured cars:

Guy Mk I - 6
Morris CS9 - 39
Scout Cars - 124

3. Carriers:

Scout - 491
Bren - 84
OP - 87
Loyd - 8

4. Guns:

18 pdr - 221 out of 237
18/25 pdr - 700 out of 772
4.5'' how - 103 out of 115
4.5'' gun - 32 out of 32
60 pdr - 19 out of 19
6'' how - 221 out of 221
6'' gun - 13 out of 13
8'' how - 13 out of 13
9.2'' how - 27 out of 27
9.2'' railway guns - 2 out of 2
12'' how - 4 out of 4
25 mm AT - 383 out of 386 (?)
2 pdr AT - 580 out of 647
AA guns - 384 out of 421

5. Other equipment:

2'' mortars - 1350
3'' mortars - 250
AT rifles - 6400
pistols - 10000
rifles - 180000
LMG - 10700

6. Motor vehicles:

motorcycles - 25778
personnel cars - 8834
trucks - 32460
ambulances - 3439
tractors - 2618
trailers - 1551"

No idea what these numbers are based on, but one thing that jumps out at the critical observer is the number of Bren carriers, which is clearly much too low. Perhaps a zero was dropped and it should be 840?
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 01 Nov 2017 12:05

MarkN wrote: Mind you, Farndale misses the 52nd Lowland Division and everybody misses the Canadians.
Regarding the Canadians, I found some hard data (finally ...) on a Canadian website: http://www.mapleleafup.net/forums/showt ... 426&page=4

The 1st Canadian Inf Bde, with a field art regt and some supporting units, was shipped to France after Dunkirk and then hastily recalled on the 17th when the French asked for armistice terms. According to the careful calculations on that website the Canadians were lavishly supplied with motor transport and lost:

- 69 vehicles lost by The Royal Canadian Regiment
- 72 vehicles lost by The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment
- 74 vehicles lost by the 48th Highlanders of Canada
- 94 vehicles lost by the 1st Field Regiment, RCA
- 6 vehicles lost by the 1st Anti-Tank Regiment, RCA
- 30 vehicles lost by the 1st Field Company, RCE
- 52 vehicles lost by Headquarters, 1st Divisional Signals, RC Signals (including 14 LAD)
- 24 vehicles lost by Headquarters, 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade (including 1 LAD)
- 19 vehicles lost by the Anti-Tank Company, 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade

which gives a total of 440 vehicles (including motorcycles) lost by Canadian units in France in June 1940. The AT Regiment seems to have had only a token presence, the six vehicles lost were all motorcycles, while four 15cwt trucks were reembarked.

Canadian military historians make a point of noting that while the artillerymen lost all their vehicles they brought their 25-pounders back.
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