War on the Wheels

War on the Wheels
The story of the people

Sunday, 1 February 2015

The Beginning

Had you been a passenger on the omnibus from Nottingham railway station to the little village of Chilwell on a wet November morning in 1934, you may have seen a tall, heavily built soldier fidgeting as he sat, his eyes scanning all that passed, one cigarette lighting the next. In his pocket was the letter from the War Office instructing him to visit the site of a former shell filling factory. In his mind were wild imaginings, a fully mechanised army light years from that which he had experienced in the four long years of the Great War. He could hardly believe it; he had been asked to see whether the site could be right for the first Royal Army Ordnance Corps Depot specifically for motor transport and, if so, how he would create it.

In the late 1920’s the War Office had begun to explore just what a mechanised army might look like by setting up an experimental armoured force, however with the depression this came to nothing. During the depression, as government sought to conserve resources and set its face against re-armament, the Royal Army Ordnance Corps had suffered more than most. It was the cinderella of the army and it is probably safe to say that it was regarded as a corps of store-men, never to confront an enemy and seldom to leave the safety of the warehouse. This was reflected in the staffing which was overwhelmingly civilian, and even the soldiers were not regarded as combatant troops: pen-pushers, little more. If the Corps itself had suffered, so too had its equipment: there were no more than 4,000 vehicles for the whole Army and most of those old and unreliable and with few in the Corps able to maintain them; it had only 25 drivers. Now things were going to change.
Post a Comment