Ordnance

Ordnance
Stokes Mortar - one of the simplest inventions

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

The problem of MT spares - there could be only one D Day

In March 1943 The War Diaries of the DOS Allied Forces HQ North Africa, Brigadier WEC Picknall  reported ‘Warren and McCausland have arrived and I think their visit, and that of the Chilwell party, should be most helpful'.

One issue that had haunted the North African campaign was that of spare parts for motor vehicles. There were a great many different vehicles all requiring their own spares with parts wearing at different rates, some demanding frequent replacement some less so. Somehow the right number of the right parts had always to be in the right place at the right time.

Warren and McCausland were key men at Chilwell which was the British Army's centre for mechanisation. Sending them out to Africa on a mission, which was part advisory and part investigatory, underlined just how crucial this issue was.

It wasn't though about Africa, or indeed Sicily or Italy; it was about the invasion of mainland Europe which was then being planned. It was essential that all the lessons stemming from mistakes revealed in earlier campaigns should be taken on board.

There could be only one D Day.



Landing stores after D Day



Monday, 20 February 2017

Dan Snow's seal of approval for War on Wheels

Dan Snow has Tweeted this to his 155,000 followers @thehistoryguy

I learn from this excellent book that during WW2 the number of vehicles in the British Army went from 40k to 1.5mill
What can I say? I'm thrilled at this affirmation.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Paris in February 1917

What would it have felt to be here, in Paris, in 1917. The war had dragged on for three gruelling years. Everyone must have known someone who had died or been injured. Yet life went on.

The firm of Joly Fils had been given the job of storing, cleaning and repairing British uniforms when summer moved on to winter. Not only uniforms but blankets, great coats and underwear. To say that Christmas had arrived early would be unfair, but there must have been a sense of clouds with silver linings. The Paris fashion houses, which had been deserted by war,  were given the job of cleaning fur lined coats.

Dressmakers remade the kilts of the Scottish regiments and, from the fine quality of the material, were left in little doubt that Scotsmen need wear nothing under them.

There were surely other examples of the war driving the economy. There were tales of the massive number of bakers gathered round Calais in order to be part of the machine feeding the troops. Of greater moment were the armament manufacturers, the ship builders, the clothing and boot companies.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Talking at Chilwell

What an experience!
Seeing some of the places that I have been writing about; not for the first time since I was there in 1966 for the sliver jubilee of the Shell Filling factory, although I have no real memory of the occasion.
To imagine the Chilwell site, now a shadow of its former self, as a square mile of brambles and derelict buildings. To imagine the men from Long Eaton builders, F Perks & Son, setting to, to clear the site to make it fit for the centre of army mechanisation.
To imagine my grandfather, Frank Perks, overseeing the work, remembering his time as a supervisor in the melt shop, recalling the devastating explosion that killed 134 and injured 340, but also the men and women who came to work the next day and soon were beating their own production records.
To imagine my father, Bill Williams, who first visited the site in November 1934 and who in March 1935 became the Chief Ordnance Office with the remit to create what was probably the largest motor distribution business the world had ever seen.
It was a privilege to give a talk in such a place. There is so much to talk about in this story that can say so much to today's soldier.