. BRITISH ARTILLERY IN WORLD WAR 2
SOURCES FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Updated 10 JUne 2013
Bailey, JBA; 'Field Artillery and Firepower'; 1989. A comprehensive review of field artillery in the 20th century looking at the tactics and operations of all the main armies. An updated and expanded edition was published at the end of 2003.
Bidwell, S; ‘Gunners at War’; 1970. Provides a very good and readable account of the British artillery in the 20th Century.
Bidwell, S, and Graham, D; 'Firepower and theories of war 1904 - 1945'; 1982. A comprehensive account of the evolution of British thinking about firepower.
Dorward, JC; ‘Military Operational Research Unit Report No 3 - The Effects of Bombardment – The Present State of Knowledge’; 1946. Summarises the results of wartime research into weight of fire and its effects. Available at the National Archives, London as WO291/946. WO 291 contains many detailed reports analysing various aspects of artillery use and effects.
Pemberton, AL; ‘The Development of Artillery Tactics and Equipment’;
1950. An official, authoritative and very comprehensive account of all
branches of British artillery in all WW2 theatres with extensive references
to source documents. Unfortunately it is hard to find because it was originally
classified Restricted. It is in the War Office's series of historical monographs 'The Second World War 1939-45', other relevant ones in this series are:
Sayer, AP; 'Army Radar'; 1950
Gravely, TB; 'Signal Communications'; 1950
Gibb, JW; 'Training in the Army'; 1961
Clough, AB; 'Maps and Survey'; 1952
Duncan, WE, ed; 'The Royal Artillery Commemoration Book 1939 - 1945'; 1950. A large book providing a well illustrated collection of short accounts of actions in all theatres and all types of Commonwealth artillery units and formations. There is a similar book for 1914-1919 with a fine collection of illustrations by military artists, notably by Capt Gilbert Holiday RFA.
Farndale, M; ‘Western Front 1914-18’; 1986. A volume of the regimental history focusing on units and events but also providing a chronicle of tactical evolution.
Hughes, BP; ‘Between the Wars 1919-39’; 1992. A volume of the regimental history, providing some information about pre-WW2 developments.
Farndale, M; ‘The Years of Defeat 1939-41’; 1996. Regimental history focusing on units and events.
Farndale, M; ‘The Far East Theatre 1941-46’; 2000. Regimental history focusing on units and events.
Horner, D; ‘The Gunners – A History of Australian Artillery’; 1995. Regimental history focusing on people, units and events 1788 - 1995.
Nicholson, GWL; 'The Gunners of Canada: The History of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery Vol 2 1919 - 1967'; 1972. Includes a comprehensive account of the build-up of the Canadian artillery and its operations in Italy and NW Europe.
Murphy, WE; '2nd New Zealand Divisional Artillery'; 1966. A comprehensive and detailed account of a divisional artillery from 1939 to 1945 in the North African and Italian theatres. Online http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-WH2Arti.html
Nöthling, CJ; 'Ultima Ratio Regnum - The Last Argument of Kings'; 1987. The account of South African artillery over a period of about 100 years . Some chapters are written in English others in Afrikaans.
Mangilli-Climpson, M; 'Larkhill's Wartime Locators - Royal Artillery Survey in the Second World War'; 2007. An extremely comprehensive and detailed account of the twelve survey regiments (11 British and 1 Indian), their origins and operations. Includes summaries of locations from flash spotting and sound ranging bases in all theatres.
Mead, Peter; 'The Eye In The Air - History of Air Observation and Reconnaissance for the Army 1785-1945'; 1983. A comprehensive account of the subject, including air observation of artillery fire. The author was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1931 and retired as Director, Army Air Corps.
The Journal of the Royal Artillery. Published since 1873 by the RA Institution, currently twice per year, wide coverage of both historical and current artillery matters.
RA Notes. Issued monthly from Jan 1943 to Mar 1946 by the Director of Artillery and classified Secret. Main headings were operations, training, equipment and organisation. Contains much useful information including some on allied and enemy artilleries and lessons learned. Accounts were sanitised so that specific units were not identified. Some items are identified as taken from other referenced reports. They also included notification of policy changes concerning organisation and equipment. The RA Institution Library in Woolwich, London, holds a set. Original War Office file number 57/Guns/2710(R.A.8). They continued post war until 1963 being published twice each year. After WW2 RA Notes continued twice yearly until 1962.
Unit War Diaries. Continuously compiled by units on operations. Sometimes includes copies of operation orders and fire plans. Sets held by Public Records Office, London and RA Institution Library in Woolwich, London.
Training Publications, this can seem a complicated subject because there were lots of them, some had many amendments and several had ‘supplements’. They can be found in some specialised military libraries. The 'peak' training publication was Field Service Regulations (FSR), this comprised three volumes periodically amended, those effective in WW2 were:
FSR Vol I Organisation and Administration, 1930
FSR Vol II Operations - General, 1935
FSR Vol III Operations - Higher Formations, 1935
A fourth regulation was Training Regulations. Then there were various Manuals dealing with army wide matters including Defence Against Gas, Military Intelligence, Field Engineering, Signal Training, Small Arms Training, Map Reading and several more. Finally there were the manuals of the various arms and services.
Military Training Publications (MTP) were introduced in 1938. They were an ‘all-arms’ series and included some artillery matters. MTP were important for anti-tank because it was 'all-arms', not the responsibility of a single arm. Artillery, Infantry, Army Air Corps and the Reconnaissance Corps were all equipped with anti-tank guns, and some of the gunnery techniques were also used by the Royal Armoured Corps. Some artillery related MTPs were:
MTP 2, 'The Offensive', several editions during WW2.
MTP 3, 'The Defensive', several editions during WW2.
MTP 4, 'Withdrawal', several editions during WW2.
MTP 5, 'Notes on the New Organization of Field and RHA Regiments and their Tactical Handling', 1938
MTP 10, 'The Field Artillery Regiment', 1938.
MTP 17, 'The Medium Artillery Regiment', 1938
MTP 19, 'Tactical Handling of Anti-tank Regiments', 1939'
MTP 23, 'Operations', several editions and many separate Parts.
MTP 25, 'Construction of Gun Emplacements for medium, Field and Anti-tank Artillery' 1939;
MTP 26, 'Notes on Concealment and Camouflage'.
MTP 43, 'Construction of Gun Emplacements for Field, Medium and Anti Tank Artillery', 1940.
MTP 46, Part 5, 'Camouflage - Artillery in the Field Army', 1942.
MTP 59, 'Anti-tank Gunnery', 1943.
An interesting all-arms publication was the Field Service Pocketbook comprising some 13 pamphlets. The 1939 version was the baseline for WW2 but various pamphlets were replaced or amended throughout the war, this pocketbook was first published before WW1. In 1944 it was supplemented by the Field Artillery Liaison Note Book.
A key all-arms series for artillery was Signal Training (All Arms). The 1938 edition, a single hardback book, was replaced in 1942 be a series of pamphlets, Pam 6 being Procedures for transmitting artillery fire orders. This series was replaced in 1945 with a larger series. There were also Working Instructions for all radios.
Most important for artillery was the Artillery Training (AT) series, which expanded to 6 volumes each comprising several pamphlets covering all branches. These were required by FSR, and Volume 1 had to be based on and supplement FSR, the other volumes dealt with the more technical aspects of artillery. An Artillery Index was issued periodically, it listed the current status of artillery publications and provided a subject index that cross-referenced to all artillery publications. It's perhaps noteworthy that these publications were called 'Artillery Training' (AT), they were not 'regulations', although they were issued by Army Council authority. Volumes 1 - 3 and 6 concerned field artillery, Vols 4 and 5 were for AA and Coast artillery. The important field artillery publications were: -
Tactical and doctrinal matters were covered by AT Vol I ‘Tactical Handling’ (later 'Tactical Employment'), as required by FSR. This volume's pamphlet titles were:-
Pam 1, 'Training and Drill', 1938 and 1940.
Pam 2, 'Battle Drill and Manoeuvre for the Reconnaissance and Occupation of Positions and the Deployment of a Survey Company', 1938. Replaced by Pam 8, see below.
Pam 2A, 'Medium Regiments, Battle Drill and Manoevre for the Reconnaissance and Occupation of Positions', 1940
Pam 2B, 'RHA and Field Regiments - Battle Drill and Manoeuvre for the Reconnaissance and Occupation of Positions', 1941. Transferred to Vol II, see below.
Pam 3, 'Application of Fire’, 1938 and 1941.
Pam 4, 'Command and Control in Battle’, 1938 and 1942.
Pam 5, 'Information, Reconnaissance, Local Defence and Ammunition Supply’, 1938 and 1942.
Pam 6, 'Advance, Withdrawal, Attack, Defence and Position Warfare' , 1938.
Pam 7, 'Duties of the Counter-Battery Staff and Recording Information' , 1938. replaced by
Pam 7, ‘Counter Battery Duties (Technical)’, 1942.
Pam 8, ‘Tactical Handling of a Survey Regiment’, 1943.
Pam 9, 'Anti-tank Tactics', 1942 and 1943.
Pam 10, 'Employment and Organisation of the Air O.P.', 1943 and 1944.
Pam 11, 'Air Defence', 1943.
Pam 13, 'Tactical Employment of Anti-Aircraft Artillery', 1942.
AT Vol II, ‘Deployment and Staff Duties’, 1941 series generally concerned unit deployment procedures. The Pam 2 group being re-numbered from Vol I. Some titles were:
Pam 2, ‘Deployment of RHA & Field Regiments’, 1941 (renumbered
from Vol 1, Pam 2B).
Pam 4, ‘Deployment of a Heavy Regiment’, 1944.
Pam 5, 'Deployment of an Anti-Tank Regiment', 1944
Pam 21, ‘Deployment of a Survey Regiment’, 1941 (renumbered from Vol 1, Pam 8).
Pam 23, 'Deployment of the Air O.P. Squadron', 1943 and 1944.
AT Vol II ‘Gunnery’, 1934. This replaced the 1928 version and was the baseline for technical gunnery for the next 13 years, 9 amendments and various supplements were issued as various procedures evolved. It was reprinted in 1939. It was also re-numbered to Vol III Field Gunnery. AT Vol III Organization & Deployment was issued between the wars, it was superceded by AT Vol 2 Tactical Handling. Supplements were issued at the beginning of the war then from 1942 most chapters/sections/supplements were replaced by 'stand-alone’ pamphlets.
AT Vol III ‘Field Gunnery’ -
Supplement No 1, 'Lines of Fire: Command
Post Organization: Fire Control and Programme Shoots', 1940.
Supplement No 2, 'Programme Shoots: Employment of Base Ejection Smoke and Gas Shell: Methods Applicable to Periods of Stabilization: Numbering of Targets', 1940'.
Supplement No 3, 'Co-operation with the RAF', 1940.
Pam 3 Part I, ‘Fire Discipline and Observation of Fire’, 1942.
Pam 2, ‘Preparations for Opening Fire’, 1943. First published as Pam 3 Part II.
Pam 3 Part III, ‘Concentrations of Observed Fire’, 1943. Replaced by Pam 12, 1944.
Pam 4, ‘Predicted Fire’, 1944.
Pam 5, ‘Employment of Base Ejection Smoke and Chemical Shell’, 1943.
Pam 6, ‘Programme Shoots (Barrages and Concentrations)’, 1942.
Pam 7, 'Calibration' , 1943
Pam 8, 'Co-operation with the RAF' , 1942, replaced Supplement No 3 1940 then replaced by 1944 edition.
Pam 9, 'Anti-Tank Gunnery' , 1943.
Pam 10. 'Air Photographs and their Technical Application to Gunnery', 1943.
Pam 11, ‘Counter Battery Duties’, 1944 (replaced Vol 1, Pam 7, above).
Pam 12, 'Concentrations of Observed Fire', 1944.
Pam 13, ‘Engagement of Targets by Observed Fire', 1944.
Pam 14, ‘Regimental Survey', 1944.
Pam 15, 'Upper Register Firing', 1944.
AT Vol VI ‘Survey’ comprised pamphlets on survey, flash spotting and sound ranging.
Pam 1, 'Airburst Ranging', 1941.
Pam 2, 'Short Base Flash Spotting', 1942.
Pam 3, 'Short Base Registration', 1943.
Pam 5, 'General Principles and Practice of Sound Ranging', 1944.
Pam 9, 'Computation', 1944.
Pam 11, 'Estimation of Calibre from Time of Flight', 1944.
In addition there were Gun Drills, Handbooks, Maintenance Manuals, Illustrated
Parts Lists and Range
Tables Part 1 for every gun, see the data
sheets for each type of gun. Specialised Textbooks,
Manuals and Handbooks provided details
about ballistics, ammunition, other equipments and some complex matters, such as sound ranging
and flash spotting, to a
greater level of detail. These included, although for practical purposes some were superceded by wartime publications:
Manual of Artillery Survey Part 1, 1932
Manual of Map and Photo Reading and Field Sketching, 1929
Manual of Flash Spotting, 1937
Manual of Sound Ranging, 1937
Text Book of Ballistics and Gunnery Part 1, 1938 (reprinted with amendments 1942)
A significant specialised all-arms publication was the Text Book of Ammunition 1944, this provided comprehensive technical details on ammunition of all types including artillery natures. The Combined Operations series of pamphlets covered some artillery matters, notably SP Artillery (Pam 7(b)).
Directions for the use of Artillery Instruments (DUAI) provided a description of the device how to deploy it and use it for its various purposes, with operating drills and or associated calculations where appropriate, and how to maintain it including any examination and tests by users:
DUAI 1, 'Airburst Ranging Charts', 1943.
DUAI 2, 'Artillery Boards', 1936.
DUAI 3, 'The Slide Rule', 1937.
DUAI 4, 'Director No 7, Mk 1', 1938, replaced by DUAI 6
DUAI 4. 'Radio Link Sound Ranging, Mk 1', 1943
DUAI 5, 'Plotter DW, No 2', 1939
DUAI 6, 'Directors Nos 6A and 7 to 7B', 1942.
DUAI 7, 'Theodolite Optical Scale 3½ inch No 1', 1943
DUAI 8, 'The Comparator, Sound Ranging', 1943 (dealing with Mks 2-4).
DUAI 9, 'Recorder, Sound Ranging, No 1, Mk 2 - 4', 1944
DUAI 10, 'Flash Spotting Instrument, No 4 Mk 3', 1944
DUAI 11, 'The Twin Marchant Calculating Machine', 1944
DUAI 12. 'Recorder, Sound Ranging, No 2, Mk 1 (4 pen)', 1947
DUAI 13, 'Carrier, Link, Sound Ranging', 1945.
The 'Handbook of Artillery Instruments and Rangefinders Part 1, 1933', this comprised physically separate sections for each device, these were loose bound. Sections were added for each instrument or closely related ones. It replaced the 'Handbook of Artillery Instruments, 1914'. The DUAI series appears to have supplemented or replaced it and there is no mention of it in the 'Artillery Index' that first appeared in 1943 listing all artillery publications. It's possible that some sections were superceded by 'Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Regulations' (EMERS) after REME was formed in 1942 and others by Instructions for the Repair of Optical and Other Instruments, 1941. To date the following field artillery sections have been identified:
Sect 6, 'Telescope, Stereoscopic, No 3 Mks 1 & 1A Inclinscope, and No 1A Mk 1'; 1933.
Sect 30, 'Range-Finders Nos 2, 11, 11A, 13 & 13A'; 1936, 1942, Addendum 1939.
Sect 31, 'Directors, No 6 Mks 1, 1* & 2 and No 6A Mks 1, 2 & 3'; 1937.
Sect 32, 'Telescope, Stereoscopic, No 13 Mk 1 & No 2B Mk 1, Telescope Signaling, Mk 6, Telescope, Scout Regiments, Mk 1, and Telescope Variable Power Mk 3'; 1939.
Sect 33, 'Director, No 7 Mk 3A with notes on other Mks, No 7A, No 7B'; 1938, 1941.
Sect 35, 'Screen, Wind, Sound Ranging, Nos 1 & 2, Container Resonator Mk 1, Resonator Mk 1, and Microphone Grid, Sound Ranging, No 4'; 1940.
Sect 37, 'Test and Transformer Unit, Sound Ranging Recorder Mk 1 and Control Unit , Sound Ranging Recorder Mk 1'; 1933, 1940.
Sect 40, 'Telescope, Stereoscopic, No 3, Mk 2';
Sect 41, 'Plotter, Sound Ranging'; 1933.
Sect 42, 'Recorder, Sound Ranging, No 1'; 1933.
Sect 43, 'Comparator, Sound Ranging, Mk 2'; 1941.
Sect 44, 'Parallelescope, Mks 5A and 5';
Sect 49, 'Sights, Dial, No 10 Mk II';
Another publication that dealt with some devices used by field artillery was the 'Handbook of Electricity'. The 1938 edition was a single hardback book, it was replaced by a collection of loose bound sections. Both included general purpose and artillery specific items. Relevant sections include:
Pam XV, 'Telephone Apparatus'; 1943
Pam XVI, 'Illuminating Apparatus'; 1943
Range Tables Part 2 provided a wealth of information. The 1938 edition was reprinted in 1940 and used until a new edition in 1943. It included detailed technical procedures notably for corrections of the moment and crest clearance, standard headings for deployment and fire orders, various tabulated data and graphs for concentration corrections, quick barrages, angle of sight and other matters, formulae, and various maths and conversion tables.
Army Training Memoranda were issued periodically covering matters relevant to all-arms and focused on particular issues, such as infantry and armour observation of artillery fire (ATM 50). Australia published their own ATM series focusing on the SW Pacific, No 20 dealt with field artillery matters. Overseas commands and formations issued training publications from time to time. Some of these were of the 'lessons learned' type while others covered theatre specific tactics. There were also publications on enemy tactics and equipment. Formations and commands at all levels issued notes, reports and formal letters on operations and particular subjects and in addition to commanders' formal Despatches theatre commands issued regular Newsletters covering tactical and technical developments. The main artillery series were:
Finally fifteen RA Training Memoranda were issued periodically from December 1939. They updated various training publications in advance of amendments, identified widespread weaknesses that had been found in units under training and introduced new methods for units to try out.
Other arms produced their own series of Training Memoranda. In addition to ATM the War Office also produced Army Training Instructions and Notes from Theatres of War (No 1, Feb 1942 - No 21, Jun 1945). The War Office (Directorate of Tactical Investigation) had a programme of questionnaires, these were sent periodically to overseas commands and most officers returning to UK, usually after being wounded, were required to complete one about their experiences. The British Army was a 'learning organisation'.
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