ABBL Artillery 1939-40: Field & Heavy Artillery

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ABBL Artillery 1939-40: Field & Heavy Artillery

Postby r/t/s » 09 Nov 2014 19:02

Hi! Here's news to anyone who takes interest in the Belgian artillery
of WW2, and who didn't: I recently came across some scans of original
Belgian documents on the subject. Struggling in both French and
English, I was able to make this summary. I think this data doesn't
exist anywhere else on the forum - sorry if I'm mistaken. The data was
extracted from Belgian governmental documents, dated 1939, Nov 1939,
Jan 1940, and Feb 1940. They're available, as of 2014-11-08, at
http://www.abbl1940.be/ABBL1940files/DownloadsNL.htm

ABBL ARTILLERY 1939-40: FIELD & HEAVY ARTILLERY

Original documents: Sect 1-5, except notes in [] that are mine (rts).
Summary: Section 6, by rts. Skepticism adviced, corrections welcomed.

1
L'ARTILLERIE D'ARMEE (FEV 1940)

Le 1er règiment d'artillerie d'armèe
[l] Un groupe de C. 155 L. [12]
[h] Un groupe de C. 150 L./43 [12]
[m] Un groupe de C. 155 M. 24 [12]

Le 2e règiment d'artillerie d'armèe
[n] Trois groupes de M. 220 [36]

Le 3e règiment d'artillerie d'armèe
[l] Trois groupes de C. 155 L. [36]

Le 4e règiment d'artillerie d'armèe
[g] Un groupe d'Ob. 150 [12]
[g] Trois groupes hippomobiles d'Ob. 150 [36]
[j] Deux groupes d'Ob. 6" [24]

2
LE CORPS D'ARMEE (JAN 1940) [4]

Des divisiones d'infanterie actives ou de réserve [12]
Un régiment d'artillerie [12]
[a] Deux groupes de C. 75 T. R. [12*24]
[b] Un groupe de C. 75 G. P. [12*12]
[d] Un groupe d'obusiers de 105 G. P. [12*12]

Un régiment d'artillerie [4]
[k] Trois groupes d'obusiers de 155 [4*36]
(Dont deux groupes automobiles au I C. A.)
[e] Un groupe de canons de 105 L. [2*12]
[e] (Deux groupes aux I et IV C. A.) [2*24]
[f] Un groupe de 2 batteries C. 120 Mod. 31 [2*8]
[f] (Deux groupes aux II et III C. A.) [2*16]

3
CORPS D'ARMEE DE RESERVE (JAN 1940) [2]

Des divisions d'infanterie de deuxième réserve [6]
Un régiment d'artillerie [6]
Deux groupes de C. 75
[a] (C. 75 T. R. aux 14e, 15e et 16e D. I.) [3*24]
[b] (C. 75 G. P. aux 13e, 17e et 18e D. I.) [3*24]

4
LE VIIe CORPS D'ARMEE ET LES DIVISIONS DE CHASSEURS ARDENNAIS (NOV 1939)

Un régiment d'artillerie [1]
[c] Deux groupes à 2 batteries de 4 C. 75 mod. 34 [16]
[d] Deux groupes à 3 batteries de 4 obusiers 105 [24]

5
LE CORPS DE CAVALERIE (1939)

Deux divisions de cavalerie
Un régiment d'artillerie [2]
[b] Deux groupes de C. 75 G. P. [2*24]

Un règiment d'artillerie [1]
[b] Deux groupes de C. 75 G. P. [24]
[d] Deux groupes d'ob. 105 G. P. [24]

6
SUMMARY OF ABBL FIELD & HEAVY ARTILLERY 1939-40

id - ABBL designation - Total - Distribution - Designer* Yr of introduction* L of barrel*

[a] - C. 75 T. R. [A.] - 360 - D.I. + D.I.[2] - Krupp '05 L/30
[b] - C. 75 G. P. [I / II / III] - 288 - D.I. + D.I.[2] + D.C. + C.C. - Krupp / Cockerill
[c] - C. 75 Mod. 34 - 16 - VII C.A. - Bofors '34 L/24
[d] - Ob. 105 G. P. - 192 - D.I. + VII C.A. + C.C. - Schneider '13 L/28.4
[e] - C. 105 L. - 72 - C.A. - Rheinmetall '16 L/22
[f] - C. 120 Mod. 31 - 48 - C.A. - Cockerill '31 L/37
[g] - Ob. 150 - 48 - A. - Krupp '13 L/17
[h] - C. 150 L. - 12 - A. - Krupp '16 L/43
[j] - Ob. 6" - 24 - A. - Vickers '15 L/13
[k] - Ob. 155 - 144 - C.A. - Schneider '17 L/15
[l] - C. 155 L. - 48 - A. - Schneider '17 L/30
[m] - C. 155 Mod. 24 - 12 - A. - Cockerill '24 L/38
[n] - M. 220 - 36 - A. - Schneider '16 L/10.6

13 models [+ 4 sub-models] - 1,300 artillery pieces

* sources Wikipedia, Axis History Forum

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Re: ABBL Artillery 1939-40: Field & Heavy Artillery

Postby r/t/s » 15 Apr 2015 17:31

Hi again!
I extracted some more data from the Belgian sources they've kindly published in http://www.abbl1940.be. This time I tried to get data on the Belgian 76mm mortars. Let’s see…

M. 76 MORTARS IN ABBL SERVICE IN FEB 1940
Source : ‘Organisation de l'Armée sur le pied de guerre’. 1939. L'Etat-major général de l'Armée [Bruxelles]

ORIGINAL TEXT WITH HAND-WRITTEN ADDITIONS AND CORRECTIONS [+MY REMARKS]

[1–2] ARMEE DE CAMPAGNE (FEVRIER 1940)
[1] Des divisions d'infanterie actives ou de réserve [6 + 6]
[1.1] Trois régiments d'infanterie [12 × 3]
[1.1.1] Un bataillon d'engins à 3 compagnies (1 Cie de M. 76) [36 × 8 = 288]
[2] La deuxième division de Chasseurs Ardennais
[2.1] Trois régiments cyclistes de Chasseurs Ardennais [3]
[2.1.1] Une compagnie de M. 76 [3 × 8 = 24]

TOTAL

312 M. 76

COMPARISON

Most sources say that a total of 198 M. 76 F. R. C.’s were produced. If so, is the data in ‘Pied de Guerre’ so much over-exaggerated? Usual explanations –a shortage of supply, still in delivery, war-time changes in the OOB– won’t do since the error is huge, +114 pieces or +58 %. One of them must be mistaken (or misleading), ´Pied de Guerre’ or these ‘most sources’ (whatever they be).

Here’s a hypothesis I made up… In ‘Pied de Guerre’ there are actually TWO organisations for M. 76 Companies: one for M. 76 F. R. C. and the other for M. 76 A. They’re nearly identical, so their weapons must be very similar, too. ‘F. R. C.’ is short for Fonderie Royale des Canons, but I don’t know what ‘A.’ stands for. Assuming that there did exist two different ‘M. 76’s’, we can conclude that:

Total: 198 M. 76 F. R. C. + 114 M. 76 A. = 312 M. 76 (both types)

According to ‘Pied de Guerre’, each of 12 active and reserve divisions had 24 M. 76’s. It’s possible then that 4 reserve divisions still had the variant ‘A.’ in 1939/40 (4 × 3 × 8 = 96) and 1 div. had the upgrade process underway.

I still have another hypothesis… Variant ‘A.’ is an old type that was slowly being replaced by the new ‘F. R. C.’ variant. It was obsolescent if not obsolete, perhaps from WW I. Considering that many weapons in the Belgian arsenal in 1940 were ex-German (Maxim MGs & several types of Krupp Field Guns), I think it’s possible that M. 76 A. is actually Rheinmetall 7,58cm Minenwerfer a. A. If you compare it with M. 76 F. R. C. you can see that they’re not so much different. Maybe the 7,58cm Minenwerfer is a forerunner of the Belgian design. It’s just a theory with little proof. So – what say you, gentlemen?

Comments & corrections are welcomed, as always! And if someone knows the model year of ‘M. 76 F. R. C.’, please let me know,

RTS.

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Re: ABBL Artillery 1939-40: Field & Heavy Artillery

Postby Alexander Taper-Bore » 16 Apr 2015 08:16

If you look at this page in Flemish and scroll down, you can see both types of mortars ided as FRC.
http://www.bunkergordel.be/3-0a1%20Het% ... oepen.html
That's clearly wrong and I support you Rheinmetall hypothesis.

Here it says the weapon was used by the Belgian Army in the 30s:
http://www.landships.info/landships/art ... cles.html#

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Re: ABBL Artillery 1939-40: Field & Heavy Artillery

Postby r/t/s » 16 Apr 2015 15:32

Excellent links, thank you, Alexander !

Now it looks like we can safely say that ABBL M. 76 A. = 7,58 cm Minenwerfer n.A. (design by Rheinmetall, introduction in 1916).

We have one 'new' weapon in the Belgian arsenal, gentlemen ! (Well, it was there all the time...)

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Re: ABBL Artillery 1939-40: Field & Heavy Artillery

Postby Alexander Taper-Bore » 16 Apr 2015 16:32

I reckon the A. stood for Allemand? The army was not bilingual yet, so a French abbreviation would suffice...

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Re: ABBL Artillery 1939-40: Field & Heavy Artillery

Postby r/t/s » 16 Apr 2015 21:08

My guess is 'Affût', as in French Mortier de 270 Modèle 1889, ou mortier sur affût G. The circular mount or affût was just one of this mortar's prominent features - it was also breech-loading and had a rifled barrel. Its elevation of 0° to 75° allowed it to fire point blank - reportedly Germans used it in AT role in WW I (unconfirmed sources).

Alexander, do you know when the ABBL became bilingual? I haven't thought about it before... I imagined that they always (since 1830) had both French and Dutch/Flemish-speaking regiments.

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Re: ABBL Artillery 1939-40: Field & Heavy Artillery

Postby Alexander Taper-Bore » 16 Apr 2015 21:43

r/t/s wrote:Alexander, do you know when the ABBL became bilingual? I haven't thought about it before... I imagined that they always (since 1830) had both French and Dutch/Flemish-speaking regiments.


I think before WW2 the officer class spoke French and most official designations would be in French, but I can be wrong...

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Re: ABBL Artillery 1939-40: Field & Heavy Artillery

Postby Prosper Vandenbroucke » 16 Apr 2015 22:57

r/t/s/ wrote:
I imagined that they always (since 1830) had both French and Dutch/Flemish-speaking regiments.


It's only since 1938 that Flemish and French speaking regiments exists separetely into the Belgian Army. Before that date all the orders where given in French language.
Sorry for my poor english knowledge.
Kindly regards from Belgium
Prosper :wink:

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Re: ABBL Artillery 1939-40: Field & Heavy Artillery

Postby Alexander Taper-Bore » 17 Apr 2015 08:12

r/t/s wrote:My guess is 'Affût', as in French Mortier de 270 Modèle 1889, ou mortier sur affût G. The circular mount or affût was just one of this mortar's prominent features - it was also breech-loading and had a rifled barrel. Its elevation of 0° to 75° allowed it to fire point blank - reportedly Germans used it in AT role in WW I (unconfirmed sources).


In Colonel Lothaire's book on the Belgian heavy artillery, several Krupp weapons are indicated as A. (= Allemand)... even the Mortier 220 A, the Obusier 15cm A-13, etc....

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Re: ABBL Artillery 1939-40: Field & Heavy Artillery

Postby r/t/s » 17 Apr 2015 08:34

I agree - A. for 'Allemand' must be right. I thought that M. 220 is a French (Schneider) weapon?

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Re: ABBL Artillery 1939-40: Field & Heavy Artillery

Postby r/t/s » 17 Apr 2015 09:07

Prosper Vandenbroucke wrote:It's only since 1938 that Flemish and French speaking regiments exists separetely into the Belgian Army. Before that date all the orders where given in French language.


Thank you, Prosper, for this important piece of information ! There weren't many multilingual armies in 1940, so Belgium was a rarity in this respect. Or unique - were there other armies that had more than 1 command language in 1940 ?

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Re: ABBL Artillery 1939-40: Field & Heavy Artillery

Postby r/t/s » 17 Apr 2015 11:50

Hello, all!

I extracted some more data from the Belgian sources they've kindly published in http://www.abbl1940.be (http://www.abbl1940.be > ‘Links & Reglementen download’ > ‘Reglementen download’). I'm posting them to this thread for convenience, although I know that AT guns were not part of the artillery. There's a lot of discussion of Belgian AT guns elsewhere in Axis History Forum, so more, much more information is readily available and worth to get to know.

C. 47 ANTI-TANK GUNS IN ABBL SERVICE IN FEB 1940
Source : ‘Organisation de l'Armée sur le pied de guerre’. 1939. L'Etat-major général de l'Armée [Bruxelles]

ORIGINAL TEXT WITH HAND-WRITTEN ADDITIONS AND CORRECTIONS [+MY REMARKS]

[1–5] ARMEE DE CAMPAGNE (FEVRIER 1940)
[1] Des divisions d'infanterie actives ou de réserve [6 + 6]
[1.1] Trois régiments d'infanterie [12 × 3]
[1.1.1] Un bataillon d'engins à 3 compagnies (1 Cie de C. 47) [36 × 12 = 432]
[1.2] Une compagnie de C. 47 tractés [12 × 12 = 144]
[1.3] Une compagnie de C. 47 sur T. 13 [12 × 12 = 144]
[2] La première division de Chasseurs Ardennais
[2.1] Trois régiments cyclistes de Chasseurs Ardennais [3]
[2.1.1] Une compagnie de C. 47 sur T. 13 à 4 pelotons de 4 C. 47 [3 × 16 = 48]
[3] La deuxième division de Chasseurs Ardennais
[3.1] Trois régiments cyclistes de Chasseurs Ardennais [3]
[3.1.1] Une compagnie de C. 47 [3 × 12 = 36]
[4] Des régiments cyclistes frontières [2]
[4.1] Une compagnie de C. 47 sur T. 13 [2 × 12 = 24]
[4.2] Une compagnie de C. 47 sur T. 13 pour les deuze compagnies [?] [= 12]
[5] Des divisions de cavalerie [2]
[5.1] Trois régiments motocyclistes [2 × 3]
[5.1.1] Un escadron d'engins (1 peloton de 4 C. 47) [6 × 4 = 24]
[5.2] Un escadron de C. 47 sur T. 13 [2 × 12 = 24]
[6–8] LES TROUPES DES FORTERESSE (NOVEMBRE 1939)
[6] Le régiment de forteresse de Liège
[6.1] La compagnie de C. 47 sur T. 13 de la P. F. L. (3 pelotons de 2 sections de 2 pièces) [= 12]
[7] Le régiment de forteresse de Namur
[7.1] La compagnie de C. 47 sur T. 13 de la P. F. N. (3 pelotons de 2 sections de 2 pièces) [= 12]
[8] Les unités spéciales de forteresse
[8.1] Deux compagnies type C (16 Mi. et 2 C. 47) [2 × 2 = 4]
[8.2] Deux compagnies type E (1 peloton de C. 47) [2 × 4 = 8]

TOTAL

648 C. 47 (« Canon anti-char de 47mm Fonderie Royale de Canons modèle 1931 »)
276 C. 47 sur T. 13 (« Canon automoteur T13 Vickers modèle B1/B2/B3 »)
Total : 924

COMPARISON

I have a good feeling about Tanks-encyclopedia.com so I compared above-mentioned T. 13 figures to their data. I’m not sure what sources they've used, though.

According to http://www.tanks-encyclopedia.com/ww2/b ... an_T13.php there were 251 T. 13's deployed in September 1939 as follows (compared with data in 'Pied de Guerre'):

Tanks-encyclopedia.com (Sep 1939) vs ‘Pied de Guerre’ (Fév. 1940 / Sep. 1939)
Infanterie : 116 vs 144
Chasseurs Ardennais : 32 vs 48
Cavalerie : 34 vs 24
Cyclistes frontières : 42 vs 36
Positions fortifiées : 22 vs 24
Gendarmerie : 4 vs ?
Ecole mobile : 1 vs ?
Total : 251 vs 276

According to Tanks-encyclopedia.com, a total of approx. 306 T. 13's were produced by May 1940, 32 vehicles being B1 variants, 21 B2's, and 250 to 255 B3's. So their total of 251 is possibly just for B3's. Not all B3's were in service by September 1939, so it’s also possible that some T. 13’s were still in delivery and therefore are not included.

The figures in 'Pied de Guerre' presumably cover all the variants. Assuming that they include just B2’s and B3’s (21 + 255 as per Tanks-encyclopedia.com), we get the same total, 276. It’s reasonable to think that B1’s were already removed from the service because of wear and tear (10.5 % write off).

'Pied de Guerre' was published in 1939 but parts of its information are dated February 1940. Therefore its figures must refer to a projected strength, not actual. And as it's always the case, what was planned never fully realised. Also the OOB in May 1940 was surely different from that of peace-time plans, explaining differences in the distribution among units.

There are plenty of hand-written additions and corrections on the pages of ‘Pied de Guerre’, some written in ink and others with a pen. The section of Des régiments cyclistes frontières is completely re-written to reflect the 1940 situation. It’s entirely possible that I’ve been mistaken there – or just anywhere. All the comments and corrections are appreciated.

RTS.

Many thanks to the contributors of http://www.tanks-encyclopedia.com, http://www.abbl1940.be, and –of course– this Forum!

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Re: ABBL Artillery 1939-40: Field & Heavy Artillery

Postby daveh » 18 Apr 2015 12:13

A) For an earlier discussion of artillery numbers see e.g. viewtopic.php?f=12&t=137063&hilit=artillery
This was started before Organisation de l'Armée sur le pied de guerre was on line


More recently

Roger Lothaire in L'artillerie legere de campagne belge de 1900 a 1940 Tome I
p. 101

gives the following numbers

388 C 75 T.R. With modified trail
61 C 75 T.R.
378 C 75 G.P.
20 Ob 75 (= C75 Mod 34)
223 Ob 105 G.P.

Total: 1070

This number covers guns in Infantry, Cavalry and Chasseur Ardennais divisions, schools, CRI, and reserves.

Roger Lothaire in L'artillerie lourde de campagne belge de 1914 a 1940

gives the following numbers:

Artillerie de Corps d'Armee: 364
Artillerie d'Armee: 192
TRI: 32

Total 588

This total includes coastal defence and railway guns.

For an overall total of 1658 guns



B) Concerning the use of the French and Flemish languages in the Belgian army and the problems this created
I strongly suggest reading:

Belgium's Dilemma:n the Formation of Belgium's Defence Policy 1932 – 1940 by
Jonathan A. Epstein
Published by BRILL ISBN-13: 978-9004254671


C) As regards 76mm mortars:

According to Eric Simon's listing for the full TOE for Belgian Infantry Regiments

Active divisions had the canon de FRC 76
First reserve divisions had the FRC- A
Second reserve divisions had NO mortars at all

Of the Chasseur Ardennais divisions only the 2nd Chasseur Ardennais division has a platoon of 4 76mm mortars per regiment type unknown.
see http://www.niehorster.org/021_belgium/1 ... rd_02.html
and http://www.niehorster.org/021_belgium/1 ... rd_01.html

The FRC – A was the Rhienmetall Leichtes MinenWerfer model 16 modified post 1919
and canon de FRC 76 is called the FRC -B in Eric Simon's listings.

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Re: ABBL Artillery 1939-40: Field & Heavy Artillery

Postby r/t/s » 18 Apr 2015 14:48

Thank you, daveh for all this information !

Especially the book you recommended is a true gold mine! Belgian politicians seem to have influenced heavily in several decisions that are essentially 'within military domain'. Another interesting book in Brill's History of Warfare series is 'Small Powers in the Age of Total War, 1900-1940' . 2012 . Herman Amersfoort, Wim Klinkert (eds) . Brill . ISBN 9004203214.

When we look at the figures on the Belgian artillery that daveh kindly reported, it becomes clear that the sources conflict. The big question is then: 'Which of the sources is most trustworthy?' I have no idea. But I know one veteran member who hopefully has, namely daveh... Is 'Pied de Guerre' more/less reliable than Niehorster's OOB or other sources, how do you see it daveh?

Now I think I'm going to spend some time with a brilliant Brill book...

Best regards, RTS.

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Re: ABBL Artillery 1939-40: Field & Heavy Artillery

Postby daveh » 27 Apr 2015 13:04

The Organisation de L'Armee sur le Pied de Guerre is a product of the Belgian Ministère de la Défense Nationale and was produced in 1939 with additions and alterations dating up to February 1940. It is an official publication and is thus as accurate as any such publication can be.

The planned mobilized organisation section of the Belgian Armed Forces http://niehorster.org/021_belgium/1940_ ... ation.html
is based on the“Pied de Guerre”. It re arranges the tabular information of Pied de Guerre into the same format as that used in the Belgian Order of Battle section
http://niehorster.org/021_belgium/1940_ ... _army.html.

The Belgian Order of Battle section
http://niehorster.org/021_belgium/1940_ ... _army.html.
matches other sources I have seen in terms of the organisation shown.

However there are differences to other sources when we look at some of the information provided in the notes:

http://niehorster.org/021_belgium/1940_ ... -inf_.html

note 2 referring to the AA company within the Transport Battalion states that it may be equipped with 8 20mm Madsen. The source of this idea appears to be wartime German Intelligence reports and I have seen no other sources supporting this suggestion.

In the details provided for the Artillery Regiments of Active and First Reserve Infantry Divisions the following is stated.

1 AR has 3 Groupes of 75mm GP guns
11AR has 2 Groupes of 75mm GP guns, 1 Groupe of 75 mm T.R.

The standard organisation of these divisional AR was 1 Groupe of 75mm GP guns, and 2 Groupes of 75 mm T.R.

Lothaire gives all these divisional AR as having 1 Groupe of 75mm GP guns, and 2 Groupes of 75 mm T.R..

http://18daagseveldtocht.wikispaces.com/1e+Artillerie
gives 1AR as having the standard 1 Groupe of 75mm GP guns, and 2 Groupes of 75 mm T.R.

http://18daagseveldtocht.wikispaces.com/11e+Artillerie
gives 11AR as having 2 Groupes of 75mm GP guns, 1 Groupe of 75 mm T.R.

The bibliography of http://18daagseveldtocht.wikispaces.com suggests that its sources are more extensive and detailed than Niehorster's and hence I would rely more on http://18daagseveldtocht.wikispaces.com in this instance.

Lothaire concentrates more on the technical than the organisational aspects of Belgian Artillery and so again I prefer http://18daagseveldtocht.wikispaces.com in this area.


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