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"British Issue of Lifebouy Flamethrower?" Topic

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andysyk26 Jul 2017 1:56 p.m. PST

Im trying to find the Manpack Flamethrower in WE Tables with no luck apart from Chindit and Commando units. Does anyone know how these were allocated?. I have found reference that Re Field Companys had them but no proof and a comment that 1st Para Engineer Squadron had 6 available, again only proof the use at Arnhem Bridge.


Leadgend26 Jul 2017 10:17 p.m. PST

It's my understanding they were generally only issued on an as needs basis with vehicle mounted FT being preferred. That may explain why it's hard to find info on their allocation.

Starfury Rider27 Jul 2017 9:43 a.m. PST

There is a comment in a Canadian document along those lines on the issue of flamethrowers. Re the Lifebuoy it says "Like the others it was held in ordnance depots for issue as required for operations". The only WE I can recall seeing them mentioned on is the Commando (Light) from June 1945. There may be some reference in G1098 tables, but I've not been able to track these down.


Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP27 Jul 2017 9:45 a.m. PST

If they were "issued on an as needs basis", they must have been in inventory. Militaries don't generally order weapons systems without some plan for where they are going to put them, and factories don't deliver weapons systems directly to battalions or companies on an "as needs basis".

So whose inventory were they in?

(Not meaning to directing my reply, or my closing question, to any individual member. Just highlighting the validity of the OP -- where are these units on the WE Tables? If not specified on TOEs, was there a "general reserve inventory" or some such?)

(aka: Mk 1)

Starfury Rider27 Jul 2017 10:37 a.m. PST

Well going back to the Canadian report (CMHQ141 online as PDF) they say of the carrier mounted Wasp, "The policy in 21 Army Group was for Wasps to be used by infantry carrier platoons as an occasional weapon; stocks held by advanced ordnance depots would be available on 7 days' notice." The scale of issue was eight per Inf Bn, Mot Bn and Recce Regt (all big Universal carrier users).

So they AOD would hold them as stores, not WE items which were owned and used by the AOD itself.

I also seem to recall that US Inf Divs stopped listing flamethrowers as TO&E items during 1943ish. Perhaps the inclusion of flamethrowers in so many Airfix, Esci and Matchbox figure sets has persuaded us they were still very much in demand!


andysyk27 Jul 2017 3:28 p.m. PST

Interesting, so I wonder what else an AOD had available. Found another reference saying 1st Airborne Division had 38 Flamethrowers available but again no indication where they were listed.
I remember reading somewhere that they were still issued to US Infantry Divisions after 43 but I cant remember the scale of issue. They were an Infantry weapon in US use and not an engineer issue.


Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP27 Jul 2017 3:42 p.m. PST

They were an Infantry weapon in US use and not an engineer issue.

Really? Interesting. I was not aware.

Are you suggesting that they were NOT used by engineering units? Or only that they were not EXCLUSIVELY used by engineering units?

(aka: Mk 1)

andysyk27 Jul 2017 4:53 p.m. PST

As far as I can ascertain they were primarily issued as an Infantry device with infantrymen trained to use them. They were not an Engineer issue. I can find no TOE issue in an Engineer unit.

Hornswoggler27 Jul 2017 5:37 p.m. PST

Isn't that mainly due to a language difference? IIRC in US parlance engineers were blokes who built things, not blokes who attacked things.

andysyk27 Jul 2017 5:45 p.m. PST

Sorry, my above statement is partly Bleeped text just found TOE for Engineers having them prior to 43 after 43 apparently they became a Theatre Commanders decision as to use when it appears they became primarily used by the Infantry.

Starfury Rider28 Jul 2017 2:00 a.m. PST

Yves Bellanger's book notes the US Engr Bn had 24 M1A1 flamethrowers on its equipment list, under the Supply Sec of HQ Coy. He says they were to be held by depots for isse, but the allocation was cancelled with the March 1944 Engr Bn T/O&E.

The USMC listed flamethrowers as engineer weapons initially, but shifted them over to the Inf Regts by early 1944.


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