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Remembered Today:

GS Wagons and GS Limbered Wagons


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Does anyone know how many GS Wagons and GS Limbered Wagons were produced during the Great War?

It strikes me that these humble vehicles were pretty important pieces of kit. Curious to know more. We can get data on how many guns/howitzers/rounds/grenades/Stroud and Barr rangerfinders/kilts etc were produced, but I wonder if there is any hard data on Wagons and wagon wheels (not to be confused with the ghastly confectionery from the 1970s no apparently used as bonus payments in North Korea. I digress). I recently saw a war diary that showed that a Brigade had 36 Ammunition Wagons and 67 Carts (all types) for an Infantry Brigade. Just focusing on the ammunition wagons (I assume all Limbered) and assuming three Brigades per Div and 75 divisions, would mean that standing War Establishment would require at least 8,100 GS Limbered wagons beore any were damaged or destroyed. If their survival rate was as poor as the Soldiers we might assume 11% were damaged beyond repair and 60% required fixing. Perhaps somewhere in the region of 10,000 were produced just for Ammunition at Brigade level...and this does not include the ammunition columns... perhaps double the number?

If anyone has any informed thoughts I would be interested to know more. My only reference material is the very excellent Shire Publication on horse-drawn transport of the British Army.

Also. How many are left? My guess is less than 10.

MG

PS. In a previous life I once deep-dived in the Indian Mutiny and always recall reading about a Military Train driver of the Bengal establishment (cousins of the ASC and later the RCT) being awarded the VC for running an ammunition wagon into a besieged fort. The kind of utterly mad bravery that beggars belief; the risks of failure were so high. But he did it. Huzzah. I suspect the British Army has scores of similar acts from the Great War where wagon drivers did extra-ordinary (two words) things but possibly received scant recognition (my speculation). MG

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Hello Martin

Some years ago I constructed tables of the numbers of men horses and vehicles in the original BEF of six divisions, a cavalry division, army and L of C troops, according to War Establishments 1914. They produced the following totals:

107 one-horsed carts (mostly Maltese carts for medical officers)

1,426 two-horsed carts

2,822 two-horsed wagons (including field kitchens)

657 four-horsed wagons

2,304 six-horsed wagons (including RE pontoon and cable wagons, but excluding gun carriages and limbers)

Scaling these figures up for the eventual 60-division BEF will give you ball-park figures for France and Belgium, and even rougher figures for other theatres of war (Salonika made much more use of pack transport).

The wagons figures do not distinguish between GS wagons and GS limbered wagons, nor other types of wagon although the latter seem to be in a relative minority.

Incidentally an infantry brigade had 32 two-horsed carts (SAA carts with battalions), 29 two-horsed wagons and 2 four-horsed wagons, a total of 67 vehicles, so the figures you quote involve a bit of double counting.

Your Indian Mutiny story reminds me of the epic tale of Drivers Luke and Drain rescuing the guns at Le Cateau, for which they too were awarded the VC.

Ron

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Hello Martin

Some years ago I constructed tables of the numbers of men horses and vehicles in the original BEF of six divisions, a cavalry division, army and L of C troops, according to War Establishments 1914. They produced the following totals:

107 one-horsed carts (mostly Maltese carts for medical officers)

1,426 two-horsed carts

2,822 two-horsed wagons (including field kitchens)

657 four-horsed wagons

2,304 six-horsed wagons (including RE pontoon and cable wagons, but excluding gun carriages and limbers)

Scaling these figures up for the eventual 60-division BEF will give you ball-park figures for France and Belgium, and even rougher figures for other theatres of war (Salonika made much more use of pack transport).

The wagons figures do not distinguish between GS wagons and GS limbered wagons, nor other types of wagon although the latter seem to be in a relative minority.

Incidentally an infantry brigade had 32 two-horsed carts (SAA carts with battalions), 29 two-horsed wagons and 2 four-horsed wagons, a total of 67 vehicles, so the figures you quote involve a bit of double counting.

Your Indian Mutiny story reminds me of the epic tale of Drivers Luke and Drain rescuing the guns at Le Cateau, for which they too were awarded the VC.

Ron

Thanks Ron

If you still have the tables it would be fascinating to see.

Here is the data from the diary (numbers double-checked). And yes I should have said 67 carts including 36 ammunition wagons. Note this was part of the 29th Div in the Dardanelles, not the Western Front. Seems they had one more Ammunition Wagon per Battalion.

APPENDIX II - FIELD STATE 86th INF BDE 1st April 1915
.........................Fighting Strength........................................................Ration Strength
...................Personnel......Horses & Mules...Ammo....MGs..Carts.........Pers....Horses &c
....................Off......OR.......Riding...Pack......Wagons............Total........Total.......Total
Estb HQ........5........27.........16.........10.......................................3...............62.........42
Estb Bn.........29....989.........12.........52..............9..........4.......16.........1,021............90
Estb Tot......121..3,983........64........218............36........16.......67.........4,146..........402
Brigade HQ.....5........27.......16........10......................................3...............62............42
1 RF..............26.....996........14.......75..............9............4.......16.........1,037............89
1 LF...............28....970.........14.......51..............9............4.......16.........1,011............89
1 RMF...........26....988.........14........75..............9...........4.......16..........1,030............90
1 RDF............25....987.........11........53.............9...........4.......16..........1,035............91
Totals........110....3,968........69......264............36.........16.......67.........4,175...........401
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Martin

The extra SAA cart per battalion probably reflects the doubling in size of the MG section early in 1915.

I have the figures in a Lotus 123 spreadsheet. Can you open one of these in MS-Excel? If so, PM me with your e-mail address and I will send it.

Ron

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