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Reconstruction And Expansion Of The British Army After Dunkirk.


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#1 Inhapi

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Posted 02 December 2019 - 1152 AM

As the title implies, are there any good books or sources on this topic.

 

I'm mostly interested in the economic background: How fast could new weapons be cranked out etc ...

 

I know of the exotic weapons dreamed up by al sorts of individuals (from the Beaverette to the Blacker bombard and everytyhing in between) but was most of this stuff seen as serious weapons or more like militia arms (i.e. the home guard)

 

Ocf, a lot of field forticifations in a bewildering array of lines and types were also build, but i'm more interested in the "conventional" weaponry.

 

How long did it take for example to crank out enough artillery and MG's and individual weapons (with ammo) for example to arm say 5-10 infantry divisions ?

 

 


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#2 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 0305 AM

There was a book I had but ive misplaced on the British war effort as far as production. That might be just what you want. If I can find it again Ill give you a name.

 

The Bombard was not actually a bad weapon. As I understand it, it was scaled down and that proved to be the foundation of the PIAT. Which whilst terrifying to use seems to have been genuinely effective, to everyones surprise.

 

When the Army came back, there was only one fully equipped division to defend the UK, which would have been the Canadian Division that was newly arrived. There was an effort put underway to arm the Home Guard (so they could put the majority of new production to the Army I guess) and that included donations from America of handguns, shotguns etc. There was also an effort by the War Office to buy Ross Rifles from Canada, which seems to have been issued to everyone from the Royal Navy to the Metropolitan Police.

https://en.wikipedia...wiki/Ross_rifle

 

I understand there was quite a ramp up even Prewar. Some of the supply trucks that went to France were Bedford Tipper lorries that were actually built under a local council contract, before being taken over by the Army. There is a fair case to say in 1939/40 we ramped up production in a way the Germans did not for another 4 years.


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#3 Inhapi

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 0449 AM

There was a book I had but ive misplaced on the British war effort as far as production. That might be just what you want. If I can find it again Ill give you a name.

 

The Bombard was not actually a bad weapon. 

 

Thanks,

 

Wasn't the bombard used in the siege of Tobruk (i vaguely remember a photograph of this).


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#4 Rick

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 0528 AM

Richard Overy's "Why the Allies Won" touches upon what your are asking.


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#5 Rich

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 1838 PM

Overall, the British Army was not as badly off as many think by the time the Germans were reaching the point they could actually execute SEELOEWE.

 

For example, 548 Cruiser Tanks had been built by 30 September; 158 had been lost in France and 137 were in Egypt, which still left possibly 250 in Britain, enough to equip the four Cruiser regiments of 1st Armoured Division that were active. The situation with Infantry Tanks was even brighter, of 524 completed, 126 (the Half-yearly RAC Reports give 186, but that appears to be an error) were lost in France and 52 had been shipped to Egypt on 18 August leaving about 340 available, enough to equip the five regiments of the GHQ Reserve 1st and 21st Army Tank Brigade to full War Establishment and leave enough left over to allow the continued training and equipping of the six regiments of 23rd and 24th Army Tank Brigades at about one-quarter establishment. And there were a plethora of Light Tanks available, of 1,340 built, 407 had been lost in France and 275 were in Egypt, leaving over 650, nearly enough in theory to equip the dozen or so regiments formed to War Establishment with a small shortfall. Note that by actual count the three ‘light’ regiments of 22nd Armoured Brigade averaged 42.33 tanks, 73 percent of their War Establishment of 58.

 

Just 139 A11 Infantry Tank ‘Matilda’ Mark I were built, 65 prewar and 74 between 1 September 1939 and 31 March 1940. In contrast just 2 prototype A12 Infantry Tank ‘Matilda’ Mark II had been completed prewar and 34 more up to 31 March 1940. All production Matilda from 1 April 1940 were A11 Mark II, but were supplemented by Valentine production beginning in May. There were a total of 121 Matilda II and Valentine ‘I’ tanks produced in the second quarter, 227 in the third and 354 in the fourth of 1940. Of the 140 Mark I, 97 (?) were lost in France, along with 29 (?) Mark II. In addition, 50 Mark II went to the desert in August 1940. So although the bulk on hand with troops as of 1 June were Mark I (60+), by the end of September the majority in England were actually Mark II (300+).

 

In terms of newly produced artillery, not counting guns evacuated from France (a total of 322 of all types or roughly one-in-eight had been brought back), there were about 140 2-pdr AT guns, 568 40mm Bofors AA guns, 294 25-pdr guns, 728 3.7-inch AA, and 118 other miscellaneous guns added to the Army from 1 April to 30 September. In terms of ‘B’ Echelon vehicles, 63,879 had been lost in France, but 54,057 new ones had been produced.

 

Also by that time the initial shipments of equipment sold by the US had arrived, including 895 M1917 and M1897 75mm guns, each with 1,200 rounds of ammunition, 300 3-inch mortars, each with 325 rounds of ammunition (enough for 150 battalions under current WE), 1,157 Lewis,  7,071 Vickers, 10,000 M1917 MG, and 25,000 BAR.

 

The best overall source for the recovery of the British Army and the development of the defense is David John Newbold, British Planning and Preparations to Resist Invasion on Land, September 1939-September 1940, PhD (War Studies), King's College, University of London. It is masterful; I am surprised it has never appeared in print.


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#6 LouieD

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Posted 04 December 2019 - 1053 AM

Here is the PDF ........
https://kclpure.kcl....15/DX199711.pdf

Also you might want to look at David Frenchs Raising Churchills Army: The British Army and the War against Germany 1919-1945

https://www.amazon.c...75474757&sr=8-1
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#7 Markus Becker

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Posted 04 December 2019 - 1523 PM

Some time in the late 1930s the UK realized it needed a much larger army in case of a war with Germany. I don't re all the exact details. They can be found in "The Right of the Line"(about the RAF) but we talk about a force several times larger than the BEF.

Thus arms production was already on high levels before Dunkirk. The weapons and equipment intended for units to be raised was then used to rearm the evacuated units. Much to the annoyance of individual soldiers. The dad of a guy in another forum was expecting some R&R but they got their new 3.7" in the port they disembarked and were send straight to beach defence.


"1,157 Lewis, 7,071 Vickers"

30-06 Lewis and even Vickers?

Edited by Markus Becker, 04 December 2019 - 1525 PM.

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#8 LouieD

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Posted 04 December 2019 - 1640 PM

Some time in the late 1930s the UK realized it needed a much larger army in case of a war with Germany. I don't re all the exact details. They can be found in "The Right of the Line"(about the RAF) but we talk about a force several times larger than the BEF.

Thus arms production was already on high levels before Dunkirk. The weapons and equipment intended for units to be raised was then used to rearm the evacuated units. Much to the annoyance of individual soldiers. The dad of a guy in another forum was expecting some R&R but they got their new 3.7" in the port they disembarked and were send straight to beach defence.


"1,157 Lewis, 7,071 Vickers"

30-06 Lewis and even Vickers?


Yes, it was the 1935-36 timeframe that the re-armament began in earnest. Most of the Royal Navys ships that it fought the war with (KGV battleships, Town Class Cruisers, Illustrious Class carriers, etc) were ordered or laid down. (Shipbuilding in the UK reached maximum capacity in 1937-38). Prof David French is currently at work on a book regarding the inter-war years, I would also suggest this book

https://www.amazon.c...&s=books&sr=1-8
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#9 Inhapi

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Posted 05 December 2019 - 1636 PM

Here is the PDF ........
https://kclpure.kcl....15/DX199711.pdf

Also you might want to look at David Frenchs Raising Churchills Army: The British Army and the War against Germany 1919-1945

https://www.amazon.c...75474757&sr=8-1

 

That is some good stuff !!


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#10 Redbeard

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 1506 PM

Britain alone (excl Empire) produced more guns, planes, tanks etc. than the Axis combined in 1941.


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#11 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 0330 AM

Amazing what you can do if you are willing to build stuff like the Sten. :D


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#12 bojan

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 0832 AM

Sten being worst actually useful SMG. :) Even if there were only a few real duds among WW2 era SMGs.

OTOH, PPS is as simple as Sten and way better in actual use. Even if it is uglier than Sten, which is a tough achievement. :D


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#13 rohala

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 1000 AM

Also you might want to look at David Frenchs Raising Churchills Army: The British Army and the War against Germany 1919-1945

https://www.amazon.c...75474757&sr=8-1

Seems very interesting but 94$ for the kindle version!? Are they crazy?


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#14 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 1553 PM

Sten being worst actually useful SMG. :) Even if there were only a few real duds among WW2 era SMGs.
OTOH, PPS is as simple as Sten and way better in actual use. Even if it is uglier than Sten, which is a tough achievement. :D

Oh I like the Sten, and I deeply regret not buying one when they were dirt cheap 20years ago. From what I read, the mk5 was actually fairly well built.

That said, I've read of too many jokes about them (for room clearance throw one through the door) for them to be a complete fabrication.

Edited by Stuart Galbraith, 07 December 2019 - 1554 PM.

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#15 bojan

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 2123 PM

They suffered from firing if dropped with bolt forward, but so did a lot of other SMGs. It was not accurate at all, courtesy of the crappy sights and lack of the pistol grip. OTOH, it was easy to make or maintain by guerillas and pretty concealable with removed stock. It also used 9mm, which meant ammo could be captured.


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#16 MiloMorai

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 0115 AM

They suffered from firing if dropped with bolt forward, but so did a lot of other SMGs. It was not accurate at all, courtesy of the crappy sights and lack of the pistol grip. OTOH, it was easy to make or maintain by guerillas and pretty concealable with removed stock. It also used 9mm, which meant ammo could be captured.

During the FLQ crisis some solders were camped near my uncles place. A solder jumped out of a truck and his Sten went off.


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#17 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 0206 AM

They suffered from firing if dropped with bolt forward, but so did a lot of other SMGs. It was not accurate at all, courtesy of the crappy sights and lack of the pistol grip. OTOH, it was easy to make or maintain by guerillas and pretty concealable with removed stock. It also used 9mm, which meant ammo could be captured.

 

Yeah, Irgun (or one of the Jewish groups) had an underground workshop to build them. Without rifling, although I have to wonder if it really made very much difference at close range.

 

The Germans (I vaguely recall it may have been one of the companies owned by the SS) set up a factory building a copy very late in the war. Supposedly they were used in the Battle of Berlin. So even the Germans put their pride away in the end.

 

 

 

They suffered from firing if dropped with bolt forward, but so did a lot of other SMGs. It was not accurate at all, courtesy of the crappy sights and lack of the pistol grip. OTOH, it was easy to make or maintain by guerillas and pretty concealable with removed stock. It also used 9mm, which meant ammo could be captured.

During the FLQ crisis some solders were camped near my uncles place. A solder jumped out of a truck and his Sten went off.

 

I idly wonder if an M3 Greasegun suffered this problem?


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#18 Adam_S

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 0208 AM

Amazing what you can do if you are willing to build stuff like the Sten. :D

Everybody was building cheap, crappy SMGs though. I mean it's not that different to a Grease Gun or a PPSh when you get right down to it.


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#19 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 0247 AM

No, I absolutely agree with you. It was not any worse than anything else. Even the stories about jamming were a lot of the time mishandling. The well documented failure in the assassination of Heydrich was largely down to grass in the mechanism and the failure to fit the buttstock, which played a role in supporting the cocking mechanism IIRC. Later they made a specially reduced one so it only had the trigger guard, for SOE and resistance work, and it didnt happen again.

 

The Silenced MKIIS was actually used as late as Vietnam by SOG groups trying to capture prisoners. But notably, they always dismantled it after they no longer needed it. :D


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#20 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 0301 AM

There is quite an interesting video on the German copy here.


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