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Remembered Today:

SBAC units


Modelmaker
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Another cry from the heart.

Can anybody point me in the direction to find out which ASC units became SBAC.

I have M Young's book plus I have been given access to the RLC museum's collection of drawings.

As you may be aware, I have posted before on a similar subject, however I have run up against a brick wall.

Young's book does list some ASC units with their SBAC number about 15 in all, but there are loads more.

Is this a forlorn hope, or am I missing something ??

I have been able to match approximately 80% of the listing in annex P of Young's book with the drawings.

plus I have re-drawn and coloured those in the collection where just the basic outline was included.

Any and all help (as usual) is most welcome.

Thanks.

George.

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George,

To my knowledge the SBACs were part of the siege battery they were numbered to. When that siege battery was attached to a corps to support a specific offensive then the SBAC would be attached to the Corps Siege Park Motor Transport Company of that Corps for the purpose of carrying shells from the dumps to their battery; and possibly, in convoy with other SBACs, to other batteries.

As such I doubt Young mentions them in detail - I'm sure all the Siege Park Coys are on his lists though.

I know Ron Clifton on the forum is the guru on all things organisational; I'm sure he will know more.

Kind regards

Colin

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Colin

I'm afraid I don't! I have already replied to a PM from Modelmaker giving him essentially the same information as in your post.

The whole area of SBACs, Siege Parks and "Companies ASC attached Heavy Artillery" is a field where very little concrete information has survived in the records. It doesn't help, either, that there seem to be no authorised War Establishments for these units, though the WEs for each type of Siege Battery do specify a certain size of detachment ASC MT attached. I have always assumed that these were the SBACs, but that administratively they formed part of the Siege Park for whichever Corps or Army the battery was attached to at the time.

Ron

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Thanks Colin,

It is me "modelmaker", I was asking the same question, but in a different way (I think) !

I would like to be able to contact Mr Young, to see if can shed any light, again this would be doubtful.

I appreciate the fluidity of these units within Corps etc.....so it was too much to hope that it would be "easy", or that records existed.

In the circumstances, all I can do is list those I do have information on. Others will have to be listed, "as is", in the hope that more information might be forthcoming.

Thanks for taking the time to reply, (I'll revisit the earlier thread) and read the responses thoroughly this time !

George.

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I've also been struggling with this, in the vain hope of trying to find an MM citation in a war diary for my g-gf who was in 99SBAC. The various Corps Siege Park ASC MT Companies kept diaries, and generally recorded which SBs were attached to them from time to time. But they don't seem to record much of the activities of the SBACs, even though (if I undestand it correctly) the SBACs were officially attached (in what sense: pay and rations? command and control?) to the Siege Park for the time in which the SB was receiving its ammo from it.

WO95/5494 contains the order of battle for the RA and ASC, and seems to be where Young got his raw material from for the lists in his book. But that file doesn't add much more to the info which Young has. Some MT Coys are recorded as serving as SBACs, but the majority of SBs do not seem to have a named, dedicated MT Coy performing this role. But the personnel in an SBAC do seem to stick with it (my g-gf was in the 99SBAC for over 2 years).

Happy to be corrected on any of this. It's all very frustrating!

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Thanks for that,

Another useful reply which confirms that trying to match the ASC numbers to respective SBAC units is really a dead end, due to a lack of records.

The RLC drawings show a variety of units, my problem as outlined above is that the drawings give the ASC co number, these tie in with those listed in annex P in Young's book. Similarly the MT Coys. It's just SBAC differ.

Oh well, I will continue with what I have so far.

George.

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Yes, this is something I've struggled with also.

As mentioned above, the ASC companies which were Corps Siege Parks are pretty well documented, with War Diaries of their own, and also a diary in the same box by the Senior Mechanical Transport Officer for that company.

I've often found that for pure data, locations, movements of batteries in and out of Corps, that the SMTO's diaries are more useful than the diary written by the Company CO.

I'm not sure that each SB would have had their own specific ASC MT Coy attached exclusively to it.

My thinking is as follows:

Each Corps had one specific ASC MT Coy as a Siege Park.

A "Siege Park" is the administrative unit for organising the transport requirement for that Corps, not necessary the location where the lorries, guns, ammunition, rations etc etc were stored.

Siege batteries would require mostly- Caterpillar tractors to move the guns, a SBAC to supply the ammo (usually lorries, but sometimes lorries), rations (lorries) & water (tankers).

I would have thought the likeliest arrangement was that these were all seconded as required from the "Siege Park" pool as and when the SBs required supplies.

If you think how many SB's there were in each Corps, and multiply by how many corps there were across the entire British Armies, then it seems unlikely to me that there would have been ASC Companies exclusively attached to a single battery.

I would imagine that one ASC Company would be attached to many batteries, or a whole Brigade/HAG.

It's possible however that drivers and lorries may have found themselves working with the same battery most of the time.

My evidence for the last point is that my grandfather's 18 or 19 movements through about 12 different ASC MT Coys from February 1917 to 31/12/1917 exactly mirror the movements of 264SB, and from 1/1/1918 to 11/11/1918 exactly mirror the movements of 118 SB.

In fact during May 1918, whilst attached to 272 MT Coy (Australian Corps) his record states "with 118SBAC".

So to conclude,- as one ASC MT Coy would be formally attached to one Corps, then that company would supply many SBs. rather than just one.

My conclusions only.

It is complicated, and remaining documentation is scant.

I would suggest that a trip to Kew to inspect the war diary of one of the ASC Companies listed by Young as SBACs might throw some light on the problem.

Annoyingly, I note that 272 MT Co is one of those, listed as SBAC for 12 SB.(Possibly early on in the war)

I saw that diary last year, but was only interested in Spring 1917 and Spring 1918, so I regret I can't provide that information!

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Hello Dai Bach

I think you are right, although the number of ASC MT personnel attached to a Siege Battery was around the hundred mark for the larger calibres, and not far short of that for the six-inch hows. It is conceivable that SBACs could be designated as separate numbered companies ASC in some cases, and it might be instructive to look at those SBs which had a SBAC in Mike Young's list, to see what calibres they used.

Ron

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Hello Dai Bach

I think you are right, although the number of ASC MT personnel attached to a Siege Battery was around the hundred mark for the larger calibres, and not far short of that for the six-inch hows. It is conceivable that SBACs could be designated as separate numbered companies ASC in some cases, and it might be instructive to look at those SBs which had a SBAC in Mike Young's list, to see what calibres they used.

Ron

Thanks Ron.

Going off on a tangent- What would the Brigade Ammunition Columns do, that the SBAC didn't do? Presumably supplied ammunition to non-siege batteries RGA. THe BAC's are more easily identified as ASC MT Coys. eg:

256 - 1 Brigade (?Early in war, later SP 1st Army)

272 -5 Bde (?Early in war, later SP I ANZAC, then Australian Corps)

282 - 15 Brigade (?Early in war, later SP I Corps),

283 -(were also VII Corps Siege Park),

335,376 and several more.

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Young gives 2 anecdotes about ASC soldiers who were awarded the MM, on page 112.

He refers to one driver as Lance Corporal F Oxford "of the 227th Siege Battery" and "Sgt. O D Bicknell of 122nd Siege Battery".

And seeing that the book is "Army Service Corps 1902-1918", the men mentioned clearly were in the ASC and not RGA members of the Siege Batteries.

The wording suggests to me a fairly formal arrangement. What do others think?

If they were merely in eg.604 MT Coy, I'm sure their medal citations would have said just that.

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Young gives 2 anecdotes about ASC soldiers who were awarded the MM, on page 112.

He refers to one driver as ....... "Sgt. O D Bicknell of 122nd Siege Battery".

Oscar Dunford Bicknell M2/020316

http://search.ancestry.co.uk/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&db=BritishArmyService&gss=angs-d&new=1&rank=1&gsln=Bicknell&_F0007CF4=Army+Service+Corps&MSAV=0&uidh=ekf&pcat=39&fh=49&h=119024&recoff=&ml_rpos=50

His record has an entry stating: " ASC 122 S/Btty with 611MT Coy", with an entry signed by "OC, Amm. Col. 122 S/Btty RGA"

611 MT Coy is listed by Young as XVII Corps SP, with no mention of SBAC duties.

I would think therefore that as 611 were the SP for XVII Corps, that they couldn't simultaneously be an exclusive SBAC for just 122 SB alone.

It would suggest I think that men from 611 (and other MT Coys) would be attached to a particular SB on a formal/semi-formal basis, and that the company itself served several such batteries, maybe a whole brigade of 4 or 6 batteries

Just my guess.

But isn't it amazing that a whole level of organisation of the British Army has so little remaining evidence of its past existence?

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Going off on a tangent- What would the Brigade Ammunition Columns do, that the SBAC didn't do? Presumably supplied ammunition to non-siege batteries RGA. THe BAC's are more easily identified as ASC MT Coys. eg:

256 - 1 Brigade (?Early in war, later SP 1st Army)

272 -5 Bde (?Early in war, later SP I ANZAC, then Australian Corps)

282 - 15 Brigade (?Early in war, later SP I Corps),

283 -(were also VII Corps Siege Park),

335,376 and several more.

They would have served Heavy and Siege Brigades RGA in their original form, i.e. before the formation of Heavy Artillery Groups, with variable compositions, in mid-1916. Brigades RGA were re-introduced in Feb 1918 by redesignating the HAGs and leaving their compositions more or less fixed thereafter. As your examples indicate, most of the Brigade ACs became Siege Parks, and your example of 611 Co ASC does tend to bear out the argument that SBACs were detachments from the relevant Siege Park.

Ron

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The history of the Corps does illustrate these various changes adopted as the army grew. Tasks conducted by the artillery were now undertaken by the ASC.

The more I see it becomes clear the less I know, and how complicated this matter is going to be.

As you point out a lot of changes took place as the war progressed, re-organisation to reduce the allocation of vehicles and manpower.

1915, ASC columns were renamed "trains".

Ammunition was supplied by the Divisional Artillery Column, which was an artillery organisation. This was handed over to the ASC MT.

1916, brigade columns were extravagant in personnel and vehicles, re-organised to have the whole corps artillery transport under an OC ASC attached to corps HQ HA,

1917, the designation HQ Co ASC attached to corps HA altered to Corps Siege Park.

To confuse further,7th GHQ Amm Park (92 co ASC) and 4th GHQ Amm park (92 and 339 co's ASC) were reformed as 51st Aux Bus co. The Omnibus Park was 7 coy's with 650 vehicles.

This paraphrased from Young's book.....so a lot of to-ing and fro-ing was evident. This makes research even more difficult.

Page 105 lists how the transport was re-organised yet again.

It is easy to see how and why these changes took place....however my brain is really hurting now!

George.

.

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The history of the Corps does illustrate these various changes adopted as the army grew. Tasks conducted by the artillery were now undertaken by the ASC.

The more I see it becomes clear the less I know, and how complicated this matter is going to be.

As you point out a lot of changes took place as the war progressed, re-organisation to reduce the allocation of vehicles and manpower.

1915, ASC columns were renamed "trains".

Ammunition was supplied by the Divisional Artillery Column, which was an artillery organisation. This was handed over to the ASC MT.

1916, brigade columns were extravagant in personnel and vehicles, re-organised to have the whole corps artillery transport under an OC ASC attached to corps HQ HA,

George.

.

I'm not surprised that your brain is hurting!

There is a distinction between Divisional Trains, which were ASC Horse Transport Companies and remained under divisional control throughout the war, and Divisional Supply Columns, which were ASC MT Companies, originally under the Lines of Communication but later placed under Corps control.

Likewise, Divisional Ammunition Columns were RFA units and remained horsed and under divisional control, and Divisional Ammunition Parks, which were also ASC MT Companies, originally under the Lines of Communication but later placed under Corps control, and were combined with Div Supply Columns in 1918 to form Div MT Cos.

In 1916 Brigade Ammunition Columns RFA were consolidated with Div Ammunition Columns but remained RFA units and did not come under ASC or Corps control. In January 1917 Brigade ACs were re-created for those Field Artillery Brigades which were taken away from divisions to form a reserve of Army Field Artillery.

It's a confusing area but it is easiest to note that all transport and ammunition supply with divisions remained horsed throughout the war, whereas supply and ammunition which was motorised remained at Corps level or higher. The chain of supply ran thus: rail from the base ports as far as the rail network permitted, then by lorries as far as suitable roads for MT existed, where the aupplies were handed over to the divisions' horse-drawn wagons. Ammunition followed a separate chain from ordinary supplies as the latter could be more accurately predicted in advance and followed daily timetables.

Ammunition supply for the RGA, all of which was outside divisions from Feb 1915, was mostly conducted by the ASC MT detachments attached to Siege Batteries. Heavy Batteries (60-pounders), and some Siege Batteries equipped with 6-inch howitzers, remained horse-drawn, and their drivers were RGA personnel.

Ron

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Thanks again,

in view of all this I need to table (?) the info I have re the drawings ex RLC of the unit markings.

I have separated the pages into the different types (listed below).

As mentioned in Young's book, they were recognised in 1916, and officially sanctioned later that year.

Not all vehicles carried them, either HT or MT.

I have been going through as many photos on the web and and in books to see evidence of markings, there are a few, possibly those that would have been on permanent attachment.

The drawings cover the following (but not all units and companies):

GHQ

Armies.

Corps

Div (DSC and ASP)

Cavalry

Commonwealth

Aux Bus coys

Pontoon coys

MAC (ambulance)

MT coys

Water supply coy

RFC

SBAC being the largest collection.

In all 73 pages.

A lot is missing and incomplete, but at first thought, collating the SBAC unit to a specific ASC coy was going to be fairly easy.....how wrong I was !!!!

I believe (I can never say for sure), a spade (card suit) indicated general supplies, an outline or depiction of a shell indicated ammunition, as such was given priority.......but later on (I think), mixed loads were carried. Reserve transport (MT) would display the capital letter R within the sign.

All I can do really is put down everything I have and supply details to those that are known.......and it all started as a good idea.

George.

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Keep at it, George!

As an MP once said of his work, "It's an indoor job with no heavy lifting."

Best of luck!

Ron

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All I can do really is put down everything I have and supply details to those that are known.......and it all started as a good idea.

George.

It still is a good idea.

Just because it's difficult doesn't make it less important, or less worthwhile. In fact quite the opposite.

Carry on!

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Thanks for all the encouragement chaps..

I will have to revise my original ideas, but I intend to include all the drawings plus the others I have re-done from the original notes.

It was intended primarily for modellers and researchers to interpret the signs from black and white photo's.

This is still my intention, I have also got all the Osprey books that give potted histories of British and Commonwealth units. They are helpful, though brief, less detailed they do help as a quick reference.

My copy of Young's book, apart from a lot of passages highlighted is beginning to fall apart.

I am not going to give up, it will be taking longer, hopefully it might promote a bit more interest to this long forgotten "cinderella" of the armed services of WW1.

George.

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