Ordnance

Ordnance
Stokes Mortar - one of the simplest inventions

Friday, 29 May 2015

The RAOC Depots

Here is a map of the #WW2 RAOC Depots

Here are some the larger ones.

Bicester, COD, Oxfordshire, OX25, Map
Bramley, CAD, Map
Chilwell, COD, Nottingham, Map
Corsham, CAD, Wiltshire, Map
Derby, COD, Sinfin Lane, Map
Didcot, COD, Map
Donnington, COD, Shropshire, Map
Feltham, COD, Middx, near Browells Lane and the former Aston Martin factory (previously Whitehead Aircraft) Map
Greenford, COD, near the former Heinz factory and the Kelvin Industrial Estate (UB6), Map
Kineton, CAD, near Stratford on Avon in Warwickshire, (CV35), Map
Longtown, CAD, and COD Solway southwest of the town of Longtown in Cumbria, Map
Nesscliff, CAD, Kinnerly, Oswestry, Shropshire, SY10, Map
Old Dalby, COD, Leicestershire, Map
Weedon, COD, Map




Thursday, 28 May 2015

The retreat to Dunkirk

An extract from an account of the retreat of ‘A’ Section 1st Brigade RAOC  Workshop gives a sense of what it might have been like

“On receipt of the news that Holland had been invaded, plan ‘D’ was put into operation and all outstanding work was cleared up. This included assembly of a Ford V8 engine and two Leyland Terrier Engines which had been stripped down for complete overhaul. A Humber with clutch cable trouble and two motor cycles had also been repaired…by 1800 all work in hand had been completed and returned to units and at 1830 hours the workshop moved off…two bombing raids were encountered but no damage done. Workshops were established in a large barn and surrounding buildings at Arbres…Extensive repairs were carried out to a Bofors gun which had overturned…two Bren Gun Emplacements were dug to defend the workshops…many bombing attacks were experienced.

“At Romarin a big amount of gun work was completed. One 3.7 inch AA gun was completely rewired…

“On 28 May orders were received to destroy and dump the majority of our vehicles.

“29 May in the afternoon we were again heavily shelled and moved into the sand dunes behind La Panne…at 2200 hours with 17th AA Battery [the last operating] a light battery and Regiment HQ moved to the racecourse at Dunkirk…the remainder of the vehicles were destroyed and the party marched with personal weapons and two Bren guns in good order onto the mole at Dunkirk and embarked on a destroyer at 2100 hours arriving Dover at 0450 hours on 2 June.

“It was a heart rending process. I saw one particular sergeant who had tended his specialised equipment vehicle with loving care who was in tears when we smashed costly equipment with the sledge hammers we wielded….we slashed tyres, ran engines until they seized up, put sugar in the fuel tanks and hammered cylinder blocks.


“Later, we made our way to the cooks lorry for an issue of stew. We were told it was the last meal to be served, but were each given a tin of bully beef and a packet of biscuits and told to make it last….”


Sunday, 17 May 2015

AEC and the big beasts

AEC at Southall in West London, the manufacturer of the world famous London bus, turned its production in wartime to Matador and Marshall heavy trucks. These had all-wheel-drive chassis with six pairs of wheels powered by 120bhp engine through two gearboxes giving six speeds to all three axles. These beast were used, amongst other things, for transporting pipes for the construction of oil pipelines.

Design work on what became the Matador was carried out by Charles Cleaver of the Four Wheeled Drive Motor Company. AEC bought out FWD and Cleaver finished the design at the Southall Factory. The initial contract was for 200 trucks; by the end of the war 10,500 Matadors had been produced.

AEC also produced the six wheel drive model 850 which it developed from the FWD R6T. Only 57 of these beasts were produced by were used by the RAOC on occasions as temporary tank transporters.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Special Corps Instruction VE Day

Special Corps Instruction signed by Major-General 'Bill' Williams 10 May 1945

Vast number of different vehicles in WW2

Over the five years of WW2 the number of different vehicles used by the British Army grew almost exponentially. Charles Graves puts it like this, referring especially to the tank, :

‘Since 1939, under the stress of wartime conditions, a whole sequence of tanks has been developed. Beginning with the Matilda, of which there have been five designs to date, and the Valentine, of which there have been eleven, there are the Crusader with four designs, the Covenantor, the Centaur, the Cromwell with seven designs, and the Churchill with eight. On top of that, there have been six types of light tank, nine types of reconnaissance car, scout car and armoured car, together with 350 types of army lorries, and all kinds of armoured recovery vehicle…’

The reasons for the huge variety of different vehicles can now only be stabbed at. I would venture one reason as being cultural. In his book, The Industry Ordnance Team, Bill’s American opposite number Levin Campbell wrote that ‘Ordnance is responsible for the design and development of the vast majority of the weapons, ammunition and automotive vehicles of our fighting forces.’ This resulted in common specifications, common spare parts. This may well have come from the Henry Ford dictum, any colour you want so long as its black. This contrasts with the craftsmen based UK motor industry and the tradition of the gifted amateur engineer. To them, variations were seen as challenges to be tackled with relish rather than inconveniences that got in the way of efficiency. I suggest that the suppliers was only too keen to oblige when the army chiefs demanded this or that variation. In between came the Ministry and endless committees - in four years no less than four Minister of War - surely a recipe for chaos.

This is no way detracts from the magnificent way in which the motor industry served the county in war time, indeed it makes it all the more commendable that they delivered as much as they did.