At the outbreak of the Second World War, the 15-cwt truck was the mainstay of the MG Battalions across the Commonwealth. As is explained below, these were eventually replaced by the Universal Carrier; however, other wheeled transport was used, such as the Dodge Weapons Carrier, and these are also covered by this page.
The 15-cwt Truck
The use of the 15-cwt. truck stemmed from the increased mobilisation of the army in the 1930s. The bulk of the subject material in this page comes from the 1939 version of the Small Arms Training Vol. I, Pamphlet No. 7. The .303-inch Machine Gun. Part II – Training. It is worth noting that by the 1941 publication of the same manual, the detail on the 15-cwt truck had been replaced by the Universal Carrier.
Army Council Instruction 202 – Trucks, 15-cwt., 4-wheeled, Personnel – Scale of Issue – from March 1940 allowed for the use of these trucks instead of the G.S. truck. 94 were allowed for the machine gun battalion.
Kit lay out for Vickers Gun Sub-section 15-cwt truck:
KEY (Bottom Layer):
- 1. Shovels (2). Pick helves (1). Pick heads (1). Pegs, sets (1).
- 2. Truck tow wire (Under seat).
- 3. Umbrella (camouflage). Umbrella Support.
- 4. Aiming post.
- 5. Belts, S.A.A. (8).
- 6. Signal pistol and lights.
- 7. Tripod.
- 8. Gun in chest.
- 9. Rifles in rack (2).
- 10. Capes, MG. Gloves, MG. Bill Hook. Folding Saw. Old Linen.
- 11. Aiming Lamp and torches.
- 12. Dial Sight in Case.
- 13. Truck cover.
- 14. S.A.A. belts (8). (1 box between gun chest and condenser).
- 15. Condenser can and tube.
- 16. Spare Parts Case.
KEY (Top Layer):
- 1. Packs (3).
- 2. Case, cans, oil (1).
- 3. Nets (3).
- 4. Packs (3).
1. — Even sub-section trucks will be packed as shown in Plates 17 and 18 with the following exceptions :–
( i ) Spare Parts box. Spare batteries (4). Tripod pins (4). (In place of aiming lamp, folding saw and torches).
( ii ) No Cases, cans, oil.
2. — If rifle rack fittings do not exist, rifles of personnel inside the trucks can be held in the hands.
3. — On issue of ammunition in factory-filled belts the corresponding amount of ammunition can be carried, but would necessitate an adjustment of loads.
As in the case of the Universal carrier, the 15-cwt equipment layout depended on the actual use of the truck within the MG Platoon. The layout above is the actual MG Sub-section truck as this is the only layout that includes a gun so it is the most suitable for this site, however, the others are worth a mention and you can click on the image thumbnail to see a better picture and listing of the equipment for each type of layout.
Platoon Commander’s Truck
Platoon Sergeant’s Truck
As has already been mentioned, the 15-cwt Truck was replaced within the MG Battalion by the Universal Carrier. This changeover took place sometime around 1942. The original venture for the Universal Carrier was to be used with the Vickers but due to the lack of them at the outbreak of war, the Vickers was still carried on the Truck for a few years. One of the main reasons for this was the terrain in which the British Army was fighting. Apart from Northern France, the only places the Army was fighting were the Tropics in Asia and North Africa. Both these places were extremes when it comes to terrain. The desert was superbly flat so truck use was perfect whereas the tropics were very dense and trucks would be used on the roads but for the actual jungle warfare, the guns were man handled. Carriers were therefore not required in either instance.
Dodge Weapons Carrier
The American WC-51 ¾ ton Weapons Carrier, produced by Dodge, was used in the Far East, during the late war period, to transport the Machine Gun Battalions, for example, the 2nd Bn, Manchester Regiment, Div. MG. Bn, 2nd British Infantry Division, used them during the advances from Kohima.
- King-Clark, 2003
- Small Arms Training, Volume I, Pamphlet No. 7, .303-inch Machine Gun, Part II – Training, 1939
- The National Archives, WO 293/25 Army Council Instructions 1940.