Motorization of Allied troop in May 1940

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Gary Kennedy
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Re: Motorization of Allied troop in May 1940

Post by Gary Kennedy » 14 Sep 2018 16:02

It might make more sense to see the figures tabulated, especially as I'd still got my 8-cwts and 15-cwts wrong :( . Forgotten how much fun it is to try and pull seemingly simple figures together from a large number of other documents.

"Ellis 's encyclpodeia on WWII" - is that the old WW2 data book? If so I recall getting that so many years ago, hoping it would resolve all my WE, TO&E and KStN queries, only to find it just gave vague details!

The only comments I've seen re the three Divs used for labour and training duties is that they left all RA, bulk of signals and part of Admin units in the UK. The latter may mean their RASC Coys didn't take the Secs for use by the Div Arty. All told it would be a good deal of transport left out from the RA and Sigs alone.

Gary
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MarkN
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Re: Motorization of Allied troop in May 1940

Post by MarkN » 14 Sep 2018 18:04

Knouterer wrote:
08 Sep 2018 08:15
According to the plans as they stood in 1938, six Territorial divisions would become “motorised” divisions (50th (Northumbrian) and 1st (London) among others); their role would be to exploit a gap in the enemy front created by the Mobile Division, renamed the 1st Armoured Division in 1939. These motorised divisions were smaller than a normal infantry division, with two brigades; however none were sent to France as such and by mid-1940 they were all reorganised as standard infantry divisions.
See underlined.

Are you sure that is true or are you just speculating?

Knouterer
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Re: Motorization of Allied troop in May 1940

Post by Knouterer » 15 Sep 2018 07:59

If I'm just speculating I normally say that I'm just speculating. But I should have phrased it a little differently perhaps - the initial attack would of course be carried out by infantry supported by infantry/heavy tanks, then the mobile division followed by the motor divisions would pour through the gap, so the thinking went. From David French, Raising Churchill's Army (p. 41):
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Kelvin
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Re: Motorization of Allied troop in May 1940

Post by Kelvin » 15 Sep 2018 09:06

Gary Kennedy wrote:
14 Sep 2018 16:02
It might make more sense to see the figures tabulated, especially as I'd still got my 8-cwts and 15-cwts wrong :( . Forgotten how much fun it is to try and pull seemingly simple figures together from a large number of other documents.

"Ellis 's encyclpodeia on WWII" - is that the old WW2 data book? If so I recall getting that so many years ago, hoping it would resolve all my WE, TO&E and KStN queries, only to find it just gave vague details!

The only comments I've seen re the three Divs used for labour and training duties is that they left all RA, bulk of signals and part of Admin units in the UK. The latter may mean their RASC Coys didn't take the Secs for use by the Div Arty. All told it would be a good deal of transport left out from the RA and Sigs alone.

Gary
Hi, Gary, you are right, that is very old book.

And thank for your data on three labour divisions.

MarkN
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Re: Motorization of Allied troop in May 1940

Post by MarkN » 15 Sep 2018 12:35

Knouterer wrote:
15 Sep 2018 07:59
If I'm just speculating I normally say that I'm just speculating. But I should have phrased it a little differently perhaps - the initial attack would of course be carried out by infantry supported by infantry/heavy tanks, then the mobile division followed by the motor divisions would pour through the gap, so the thinking went. From David French, Raising Churchill's Army (p. 41):
Many thanks for that excerpt from David French's book. Does footnote 117 provide any identification of which primary documentation he used?

As GaryKennedy hints above, the (re)formation of the initial 3 motor divisions appears to have been based primarily around a lack of units (to complete a standard infantry division) rather than the creation of a new doctrinally based structure only requiring two brigades rather than three.

I'm intrigued as to when and how the formation was doctrinally aligned to the 'break through'.

It's immediate demise post-BEF suggests a lack of original doctrinal thought and leans again towards a resource-based creation.

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: Motorization of Allied troop in May 1940

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 15 Sep 2018 16:17

MarkN,

Footnote 117: Cooper, German Army, 560-1; LHCMA Liddell Hart MSS 15/8/136, The Motor Division (Including the Motor Cycle Battalion) (London, 1939).

Regards

Tom

MarkN
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Re: Motorization of Allied troop in May 1940

Post by MarkN » 15 Sep 2018 21:31

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
15 Sep 2018 16:17
MarkN,

Footnote 117: Cooper, German Army, 560-1; LHCMA Liddell Hart MSS 15/8/136, The Motor Division (Including the Motor Cycle Battalion) (London, 1939).

Regards

Tom
Most appreciated Tom. Thank you.

Ahhhhh! Liddell Hart! Bless his sole. British speculator-in-chief of all things regarding armoured warfare.

So, what we have so far is a chain of speculation (Liddell Hart - French - Knouterer) that the role of the motor divisions was to support the Mobile/armoured divisions in the "break through" - not the start point of a primary document of the British Army indicating that to be the case.

Doing a wee googeling this afternoon threw out a plethora of internet (mostly wiki and wiki-like) sites which have decided, like Knouterer, that this should be understood as a fact (using French and looking no further - again like Knouterer) as their reference point.

I wonder whether LHCMA Liddell Hart MSS 15/8/136, The Motor Division (Including the Motor Cycle Battalion) (London, 1939) is one of his journalistic musings, political lobbying efforts or a confidential note passed to him secretely by the WO. :wink:

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Motorization of Allied troop in May 1940

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 16 Sep 2018 02:59

I'm glad my research is mostly in artillery, & I have a body of literature like the Journal of Royal Artillery & other items to draw from.

Knouterer
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Re: Motorization of Allied troop in May 1940

Post by Knouterer » 16 Sep 2018 08:39

MarkN wrote:
15 Sep 2018 21:31
So, what we have so far is a chain of speculation (Liddell Hart - French - Knouterer) that the role of the motor divisions was to support the Mobile/armoured divisions in the "break through" - not the start point of a primary document of the British Army indicating that to be the case.
Perhaps you'd like to offer some speculation of your own on what ELSE the motor divisions might have been intended for?
"The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man's observation, not overturning it." Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

MarkN
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Re: Motorization of Allied troop in May 1940

Post by MarkN » 16 Sep 2018 12:51

Knouterer wrote:
16 Sep 2018 08:39
MarkN wrote:
15 Sep 2018 21:31
So, what we have so far is a chain of speculation (Liddell Hart - French - Knouterer) that the role of the motor divisions was to support the Mobile/armoured divisions in the "break through" - not the start point of a primary document of the British Army indicating that to be the case.
Perhaps you'd like to offer some speculation of your own on what ELSE the motor divisions might have been intended for?
I see. So your belief/opinion is predicated upon your inability to come up with an alternative explanation; QED your belief/opinion must be correct. :(

The word 'motor' is not evidence of a specialised role in support of an armoured division in the "break through".
The addition of a second TCC RASC is not evidence of a specialised role in support of an armoured division in the "break through".
The lack of a third infantry brigade is not evidence of a specialised role in support of an armoured division in the "break through".
The substitution of a m/c btn in lieu of a div cav regt is not evidence of a specialised role in support of an armoured division in the "break through".

I have not come across any primary documentation that details the intended purpose or doctrinal role of the motor division. Not one thing or another. The primary documentation I have (just a little) regarding the doctrinal role of armoured forces - and in particular the armoured division - does not mention the motor division in any way. Some documentation on the matter may exist/have existed, but the lack of it is of no surprise to me.

I do not see how any speculation I could offer will be of any use to you or the wider context of defining the facts. It's just speculation.

But what we do know is that the two motor divisions with the BEF in France in 1940 were tasked and roled no differently than the 'standard' infantry divisions alongside whom they served - albeit, when necessary, on a smaller scale reflecting their 2-brigade structure.

I remain intrigued as to when and how the motor division was doctrinally aligned to the "break through" - if it ever was. But the answer (perhaps faux) may lie in Liddell Hart's musings.

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: Motorization of Allied troop in May 1940

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 16 Sep 2018 19:54

what ELSE the motor divisions might have been intended for?
To impress the French of course! 8O

Tom

Knouterer
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Re: Motorization of Allied troop in May 1940

Post by Knouterer » 19 Sep 2018 09:29

MarkN wrote:
16 Sep 2018 12:51

But what we do know is that the two motor divisions with the BEF in France in 1940 were tasked and roled no differently than the 'standard' infantry divisions alongside whom they served - albeit, when necessary, on a smaller scale reflecting their 2-brigade structure.
Incorrect - what we do know, as I wrote before, is that neither went to France organized and equipped as a motor division, that is, with enough organic transport to be fully mobile. The 50th had a third brigade (the 25th) attached by the 10th of May (but only two field art. regiments), and the 23rd was shipped to France in April as a "labour and training division" and was very short of everything. So no motor division ever saw action as such.
As speculations go, the idea that no one in the entire British army was willing to tell Liddell Hart what the intended role of the motor divisions was seems a pretty wild one :milwink:
"The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man's observation, not overturning it." Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

MarkN
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Re: Motorization of Allied troop in May 1940

Post by MarkN » 19 Sep 2018 12:25

Knouterer wrote:
19 Sep 2018 09:29
MarkN wrote:
16 Sep 2018 12:51
But what we do know is that the two motor divisions with the BEF in France in 1940 were tasked and roled no differently than the 'standard' infantry divisions alongside whom they served - albeit, when necessary, on a smaller scale reflecting their 2-brigade structure.
Incorrect
Really? :?
Knouterer wrote:
19 Sep 2018 09:29
- what we do know, as I wrote before, is that neither went to France organized and equipped as a motor division, that is, with enough organic transport to be fully mobile. The 50th had a third brigade (the 25th) attached by the 10th of May (but only two field art. regiments), and the 23rd was shipped to France in April as a "labour and training division" and was very short of everything. So no motor division ever saw action as such.
Nothing in your words disagrees with what I wrote. If you want to disagree, at least have the sense to argue against the point rather than wibble on with text that agrees. :lol:
Knouterer wrote:
19 Sep 2018 09:29
As speculations go, the idea that no one in the entire British army was willing to tell Liddell Hart what the intended role of the motor divisions was seems a pretty wild one :milwink:
Whether it was a "wild idea" or not is irrelevant. What's important is whether it was British Army doctrine or not. Perhaps you could provide evidence that it was indeed British Army doctrine - rather than speculating on the 'wildness' of conversations held or not neld over tea and crumpets. :roll:

Gary Kennedy
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Re: Motorization of Allied troop in May 1940

Post by Gary Kennedy » 20 Sep 2018 17:19

Well, one thing that did occur was the actual availability of RASC Troop Carrying Coys in the BEF. Leo Niehorster's site shows seven;

http://niehorster.org/017_britain/40-05 ... _rasc.html

What I wondered about was the expected allotment of Tp Carrying Coys to a force of three Corps, plus GHQ elements? Or perhaps those more familiar with the 1940 campaign have seen specific reference to the expected attachment of such Coys out to HQs and formations?

Gary

Knouterer
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Re: Motorization of Allied troop in May 1940

Post by Knouterer » 23 Sep 2018 18:08

MarkN wrote:
19 Sep 2018 12:25
Nothing in your words disagrees with what I wrote. If you want to disagree, at least have the sense to argue against the point rather than wibble on with text that agrees. :lol:
You wrote: "the two motor divisions with the BEF in France in 1940 were tasked and roled no differently than the 'standard' infantry divisions alongside whom they served "

I just pointed out that there were no motor divisions with the BEF in France.
"The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man's observation, not overturning it." Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

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