Ordnance

Ordnance
Stokes Mortar - one of the simplest inventions

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The formation of REME

In 1942 Sir William Beveridge chaired a committee to look at making the best use of the technical skills the army had. As part of this the committee recommended that:

There should be established in the Army a Corps of Mechanical Engineers. The success of the Navy in making use of mechanical engineers is not due solely to the fact that the naval problems are simpler to those of the Army. It is due also to the fact that the Navy had had for so long an engineering branch of high authority and has had other technical branches specialised on torpedoes and electricity or ordnance. The Navy is machine minded. The Army cannot afford to be less so. The Navy sets engineers to catch, test, train and use engineers. Until the Army gives to mechanical and electrical engineers, as distinct from civil engineers, their appropriate place and influence in the Army system, such engineers are not likely to be caught, tested and trained as well as in the Navy; there is a danger that they will be missed by men who main interests and duties lie in other fields.

They proposed that the technical elements of RAOC, RASC and Royal Engineers should be combined in the newly formed REME which in future would carry out all major repair work. The RAOC would take over all vehicle and spare part provision.  The RASC would focus on its transporting activities, since, at the same time, it lost its catering activities to the newly formed Army Catering Corps.

From this recommendation REME was born and went on to work closely with the RAOC for the duration of the war.

Post script:
My researches into WW1 indicate that the AOC, as it then was, had extensive repair workshops behind the trenches dealing mainly with artillery. In the early part of WW2 the RAOC had major repair capabilities, not least in setting up the army centre of mechanisation at Chilwell.



Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Possible prequel to War on Wheels

A possible prequel to War on Wheels.

My father, Bill Williams who lead the mechanisation of the army in WW2, was ordnance officer to the 19th division on the Somme in WW1. He would have seen the Lincoln Tank in action, possibly images like these:





The images are taken from a weekly magazine that my grandfather collected.

Bill's friend and rival Dickie Richards commanded an ammunition train, the core means of transport.

I am researching to see what records and images exist to help tell the story of how the British Army was supplied  in WW1 and am finding some remarkable material.

Friday, 8 July 2016

The story after the Lincoln tank

My Dad was ordnance officer in the 19th division on the Somme. He would have witnessed a scene such as this
On 15 July, at Lincoln Drill Hall, I will be telling the story of how this experience influenced the mechanisation of the army in WW2

Friday, 1 July 2016

The Somme July 1916

On 7 March 1916, Lieutenant Bill Williams, as he then was, was appointed DADOS to the 19th Division.

The Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (DADOS) had the job of insuring that the troops in the trenches were properly supplied with everything they needed to do their job apart from fuel and food: so armaments and ammunition, boots and uniforms, periscopes, bicycles, pontoon wagons. Speed was of the essence in making sure what was lost was replaced without delay.

It was a front line job, often under fire and immensely hard work. Bill received a letter from General Sir Tom Bridges, who commanded the 19th Division in the battle of the Somme. It said, 'I should like ot have seen you to thank you for the great services you rendered the division since you joined.'

The 19th Division had been held in reserve on the first day of the battle. In a Special Order of the Day dated 4 August 1916, General Bridges wrote 'I thank all ranks of the Division for the way in which during the last 10 days, they have upheld the best traditions of discipline and hard fighting. The Division leaves a name behind it in the Fourth Army which will never be forgotten.'

The experience of very much the sharp end of ordnance work would help equip Bill for the enormous task that would lay ahead for him in WW2.