BRITISH ARTILLERY IN WORLD WAR 2
A minute or two spent reading this page will help you find your way around this site, please take the time. Use this page to navigate around the site.
Most pages have a contents list to help you find particular topics.
The main account:
Royal Artillery Methods in World War 2 provides the main thread and has 5 main parts: Background, Organisation and Grouping, Operational Methods, Engagement of Targets, and Fire Planning. it concludes with Issues and provides a Review of the essential characteristics of the British artillery system.
The Main Features lists what these were as a quick overview of British artillery methods. Most of the points have links to other pages for more information.
The more detailed accounts:
Organisations - how the men and equipment were organised in regiments and batteries, it has links to detailed organisation tables for various types of regiment and has an outline of divisional organisation and its units. Associated with this page are pages about the evolution of artillery and divisional organisation and the higher organisation of the Army as it affected artillery.
Fire Plans - describes the British way of fire plans, and explains what a 'barrage' really meant.
Command & Control - a critical matter for artillery.
Artillery Communications - indirect fire artillery is totally dependent on effective and efficient communications and field artillery used all the normal facilities plus its own special methods.
Fire Discipline - the language of fire control, you need to speak the language to talk to the guns.
Target Acquisition and Counter Battery - this is where artillery starts to get intelligence systems - sound-ranging, flash-spotting and radars - and the counter battery and counter mortar organisations.
Ammunition - starting with explaining QF, BL and ML, covering propellant, projectiles and fuzes and fuze setting. Comprehensively illustrated.
Sights and Laying - the technology and processes of aiming guns indirectly.
Other Firepower - a summary of firepower from other types of artillery, mortars, naval gunfire and airpower.
Weight of Fire - what happens at the target and how many shells to fire to get the results needed on the ground. There's some real meat here for wargamers to chew on and it will help historians ask intelligent questions. When did you last read a book that analysed the effectiveness of a fire plan?
Mistakes and Errors - do you know the difference? Statisticians love this stuff but don't be put off, particularly if you're a wargamer.
Recruiting and Training - men, you couldn't have a WW2 army without them (apologies to amazons).
Field Artillery Regiments - separate pages listing all the regiments of Australia, Britain Canada, Colonial Territories, India and New Zealand, outlining their origins, where and when they served and the formations they were with.
Anti-tank Artillery - although it's not indirect fire and the methods were very different, anti-tank was the province of field artillery.
These pages are in two groups, first the thread of time over six eras, second, the evolution of five technical underpinnings.
The six eras:
Apart from WW2 matters related to the British Artillery in WW2 section, reading the eras as a story from beginning to end is the recommended approach.
Before World War 1 - the beginnings of indirect fire.
World War 1 - 4 years of incredible change that developed the foundations of modern gunnery.
Between the Wars - consolidation and refinement of the methods developed in World War 1.
World War 2 - after some initial hiccups the system matured. This page is also part of British Artillery in World War 2.
After World War 2 - steady refinement and improvement of manual methods, and the impact of NATO standardisation.
The Computer Age - the world changed when battlefield digital computers appeared.
The technical underpinnings of indirect fire:
These five pages include the relevant aspects of World War 2 methods but do not follow a single chronology.
Maps and Survey - don't leave the gun-park without them.
Meteorology - don't confuse it with weather forecasts.
Calibration - just as important as meteorology.
Ballistics and Data - without them the rest is meaningless.
Laying & Orienting the Guns - how sighting and aiming systems evolved.
Glossary - hyperlinked from the terms used in the other pages. This provides short explanations of many of the terms used and links to more information on this site. Definitions include the modern equivalents.
People - some of the most distinguished artillery generals and the artillery VC winners of World War 2.
Field Artillery System - if you do not have a basic understanding of field artillery then you should start by looking at this short description.
Introduction - gives a brief description of the key aspect of the British artillery system that differentiated it from that used by some other nations, notably the US.
The Basics of Gunnery - the basics of indirect fire - how the guns attack targets they cannot see.
Useful Sources of Further Information - The sources outline the various types of official publications about artillery for the period as well as some other 'good reads'. The sources are mostly concerned with World War 2.
Links - to the main holders of information relevant to this site.
The 105mm Light Gun - its origins and features.
Concentrations of Massed Fire - its origins and evolution.
Artillery Intelligence and Counter-Battery - describes the evolution and features of the counter-battery system that was developed in the BEF in France during World War 1.
Artillery Intelligence and Counter-Battery 1919-1939 - describes the refinements to the counter-battery system and the problems that were developing.
Artillery Intelligence and Counter-Battery 1939-1945 - describes the counter-battery system during World War 2 in greater detail.
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There is a lot of information on this site. However, there are some things you won't find.
This site generally uses the British terminology and spelling of the time and the 'Glossary' provides some translations to US or modern terms. Other conventions are:
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