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"WW2 British Vehicle squadron markings 1944 to 1945" Topic

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ultimatewargamer23 Oct 2022 6:51 p.m. PST

WW2 British Vehicle Platoon/squadron markings on Halftracks Bren gun carriers and trucks from 1944 France to end of war. I was looking for info on the Platoon/squadron marking on halftracks Bren gun carriers and trucks. Where were they on the vehicles the square, triangle, circle, markings did they use them and where were they put on the vehicles, doors sides, other? Thanks Barry

Personal logo Dal Gavan Supporting Member of TMP23 Oct 2022 7:12 p.m. PST

This set of plates should answer your questions, mate:


ultimatewargamer23 Oct 2022 7:22 p.m. PST

I have that info, and they do not show if they used them or where they were on the Halftracks Bren gun carriers and trucks "Platoon/squadron markings"

Personal logo Dal Gavan Supporting Member of TMP23 Oct 2022 7:59 p.m. PST

It varied between units, mate, and also possibly time. The only real reference is photos of vehicles from the units you want to model.

mkenny23 Oct 2022 8:26 p.m. PST

Some units did not bother with markings and the amount of repairs going in and out of depots means a unit could get a replacement that was marked for another Regiment.

VonBlucher23 Oct 2022 8:41 p.m. PST

I check for Guards Armor, and I know the Half-Tracks didn't have any Platoon/Squadron markings visible on the images I found. I have only found them on the armor vehicles, and some units on the armor Cars, also.

Martin Rapier23 Oct 2022 11:35 p.m. PST

You generally only found the squadron marking symbols in armoured or tank regiments. I can't say I've ever seen photos of infantry vehicles marked up that way, although with it being the British Army, no doubt someone will turn up a unit which did.

The infantry might also object to their companies being referred to as 'squadrons'.

Col Piron24 Oct 2022 1:40 a.m. PST

The Motor battalion in an Armoured Brigade , had green coy markigs ( the same shapes as in armoured regiment ) , which may make them hard to see in pictures .

British Armoured Division Markings (1944)


Starfury Rider24 Oct 2022 11:00 a.m. PST

Only a subject I've barely dipped into. It seems to be a very specialised subject, with knowledge built up by those able and willing to search the available sources.

"Vehicle Marking 1943" of that October specified the following;

Formation signs (as in Brigade, Division or Corps)
Unit signs (the well known series of digits on coloured backgrounds)
Tactical signs
Bridge classifications
Staff signs (particular to higher HQs)
Speed sign limits

Tactical signs were 'at the discretion of regimental, etc commanders' subject to theatre orders. They were recommended to be on the side of vehicles, excepting armoured formations. In those, the direction for tactical signs was to be painted on front, sides and rear of turrets on AFVs, also on the front sides and rear of A vehicles with no turret, and of B vehicles.

The tac signs familiar to most had been standardised back in 1940, with a diamond for Regt/Bn HQ, triangle, square and circle for A-C Sqn/Coy, and a vertical bar for D Coy. When Inf Bns added Support Coy they had a horizontal bar.

A Motor Battalion pamphlet compiled sometime in the mid-war period had a list of vehicle numbers, O1 to O16 for various HQ vehs, Q1 to Q10 for various admin vehs and T for tech stores and so on. The Motor Platoons were shown as having the Platoon number inside the Company sign (bit hard for D Coy). There are no numbers against the Scout Platoon's carriers.

Make of that what you will…


Martin Rapier24 Oct 2022 11:47 p.m. PST

Hodges and Taylor also notes that the markings were at the discretion of unit Co's, but is then contradictory as to whether green was reserved for the motor Bn or the fourth tank regiment (if present).

In the listing for the 1944 divisional tactical numbers etc it does specifically note green to used for the motor Bn, with any fourth tank regiment using using red/yellow (split). It also notes that Battalion HQ vehicles don't have tac markings.

As I said before, I've never seen a single photo of a motor Bn vehicle marked up with tac symbols. It may be that the green doesn't show up, or maybe they just didn't bother. There were only three British motor battalions in the entire 21st Army Group. The Poles and Canadians may have done something different.

An esoteric subject indeed!

Griefbringer25 Oct 2022 2:34 a.m. PST

The infantry might also object to their companies being referred to as 'squadrons'.

However, it is worth taking into account that halftracks, trucks and Bren carriers could actually be found in squadrons as part of the 1944 infantry division recce regiment. However, being good troopers, they would not be split into platoons.

That said, I do not have particular idea about vehicle markings in recce regiments.

Personal logo Dal Gavan Supporting Member of TMP25 Oct 2022 5:10 a.m. PST

I've never seen a single photo of a motor Bn vehicle marked up with tac symbols

Here you go, Martin:


A trio of carriers A Company, 1 Motor Battalion, Grenadier Guards (5th Guards Armoured BDE, GAD) either just before or just after Normandy. Though these may be the exceptions to normal practice.

Starfury Rider25 Oct 2022 10:29 a.m. PST

The Guards doing something different…not like them at all…

Col Piron25 Oct 2022 10:47 a.m. PST

There were only three British motor battalions in the entire 21st Army Group.

Besides the 3 armoured divs , there was also :

4 Armoured Brigade , 2nd Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps

8 Armoured Brigade , 12th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps

Martin Rapier26 Oct 2022 12:08 a.m. PST

Well blow me down. Nice photo. Looks like the centre of the triangle is filled in with a darker colour too.

Personal logo Dal Gavan Supporting Member of TMP26 Oct 2022 2:27 a.m. PST

Looks like the centre of the triangle is filled in with a darker colour too.

It's in the IWM collection and comes up if you search for Guards Armoured Division images, mate- a few to flick through before you find it. The dark background's probably black- to make the number* stand out better? Notice they've put mud over the tac sign on the side as well.

*It looks like it could be the platoon number, if the carrier scout platoon was numbered senior to the motor platoons in the company.

Starfury Rider26 Oct 2022 4:26 a.m. PST

From memory the Scout Platoon followed after the Motor Platoons in numbering order, however there was a good deal of variation. Not all units converted D Company to Support Company, and I seem to remember one unit had a bit of renumbering its platoons as a result. I've not seen anything detailed on the Grenadier Guards in the Motor role on the subject, might be something on WW2talk as there are multiple Guards threads on there.


Personal logo Dal Gavan Supporting Member of TMP26 Oct 2022 5:11 a.m. PST

Thanks, Gary. It's an extremely confusing topic to research- in the end I went with a troop of tanks and a motor company for which I could find photos that showed the markings.

Starfury Rider26 Oct 2022 10:33 a.m. PST

I had a quick scan through "G" Company (Noel Bell) of 8 Rifle Brigade, and the appended diary of "H" Company. 7RB and 8RB had previously been 1 London RB and 2 London RB respectively, being re-designated during 1941. 7RB had A to D Coys and 8RB E to H Coys, and I have to assume the former 1LRB and 2LRB each lettered their four Coys consecutively. In 8RB, E Coy was chosen to become the Support Coy, on the new WE introduced in 1943 and subsequently used by all the Motor Bns.

The histories for G and H Coys, 8RB, indicate 9 Pl of G was the Scout Pl, with 10 to 12 Pls as Motor, then 13 Pl of H was Scout, with 14 to 16 Pls as Motor. That should have F Coy with 5 Pl Scout and 6 to 8 Pls as Motor. E Coy actually had five Pls, three Atk and two MMG and I 'think' I saw reference to a 17 Pl in 8RB. If so they look to have kept the Platoon numbering through the four Coys (excluding HQ Coy with the Sig and Admin Pls), and added a platoon number to accommodate E Coy increasing to five platoons.

What's complicated about that?


Starfury Rider26 Oct 2022 10:56 a.m. PST

I noticed that an IWM image of an 8RB halftrack crops up in a thread on ww2talk.



Personal logo Dal Gavan Supporting Member of TMP26 Oct 2022 1:30 p.m. PST

What's complicated about that?

Nothing. Translated it means "Units followed their own traditions and practices, ignoring orders or instructions as required. So look at photos and don't try to reason it out."

Did I translate correctly? :-)

I saw them last night, as well as a couple of threads on platoon numbering:

link for Airborne forces

link for infantry battalions

link Guards battalions

So thanks for the reminder about WW2talk, Gary. I don't know why I didn't think of that myself.

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