Matador in Norwegian Campaign

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by cloudbuster, Oct 20, 2008.

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  1. One for the historians, I think.

    On another forum I frequent, a member has posted a photo taken he believes, at an airfield in Norway in 1940. Linky Of interest is a damaged Hurricane, and some other aircraft flown by the Norgies.

    He's trying to put a date on the picture, but what is puzzling is the presence of a Matador in the background.

    Other research, another linky shows that there were a number of Light and Heavy AA Batteries and a Field Battery involved in the Norwegian Campaign. My question is, given that the Matador started entering service in 1939, would the deployed units have taken Matadors with them?

    Anyone clued-up on the campaign, and the RA involvement help me out here?

  2. Clod mi old mate is a Matador a Gun Tractor ?
  3. Hi, Jon, 'ow's tricks?

    In answer to your question, yes, the AEC Matador was used as a gun tractor, as well as being a GS wagon.
  4. British forces occupied parts of Norway on 8th May 1945, in order to round up the German garrison and provide a framework for the return of Norwegian forces, Monarch and government-in-exile a few days later.

    If the lorry is a Matador, then its likely to be part of the immediate post-war occupation & clean up - clearly the airfields would be among the first locations to be cleared.

    One of the formations involved in securing Denmark and then Norway was 6th Airborne Division; I assume that there were other formations which would have included artillery and other units - Eng, RAOC, REME, etc - that might have Matadors.
  5. Cheers, 4T. The general assumption appears to be just as you have stated.
  6. This might have been taken post war, but might have been taken during the German Occupation.

    The 1940 orbat from the British Official history posted on the other forum has several HAA uinits listed in the 3rd June orbat for the forces in the Narvik area. AEC Matadors were the prime movers for the 3.7" guns used by the HAA regiments in the field army from the start of the War. The 3.7"AA gun couldnlt be moved without a big tractor.
  7. Matadors were used in France with the BEF, so why wouldn't they have been used in the Norwegian campaign too?
  8. Pterandon & TT, thanks. This possibility is what is puzzling. The photo in my first link shows an obviously battle-damaged Hurricane, along with some Norwegian biplanes.

    Now, we know that the Luftwaffe recovered the opposition's equipment for evaluation, so I cannot imagine them leaving a more-or-less intact Hurricane laying about for 5 years.

    Which would date the picture to 1940ish.
  9. Maybe not. One of the main reasons the Norwegian campaign collapsed was because of the start of the blitzkrieg in France. After Dunkirk, the Germans had dozens of Hurricanes and other British aircraft in their possession.
  10. What's the guard on the A/C wearing?
  11. The area around the rear of the aircraft looks like it has just been cleared of small trees - you can see the stumps and fresh wood chips.

    The other engineering equipment appears to be a bulldozer and grader - presumably for levelling a dirt strip.

    One of the guys by the Fokker might be wearing battledress, and might be carrying a slung rifle. Or he might be in civvies and smoking a pipe - the resolution of the photo is too coarse to see detail.

    The Fokkers have clearly visible serial numbers - isn't there a spotter who can trace the aircraft records?

    The undergrowth clearance would lead me to think those aircraft have been standing derelict for years by the time the photo was taken. The Fokkers appear to be on stands with their wheels removed, so they don't look like they were towed there recently.
  12. Higher res might let you date it.

    If it's an austerity pattern BD it's almost certainly not 1940 for instance.
  13. The first production Matadors were delivered in November 1939, so could well have made it to Norway. I doubt very much it was towing a 3.7" gun, as the mobile HAA was all 3" 20cwt at this time. If it was post war, I would expect a star marking on the doors and this is absent, so I think it is 1940. The tracked vehicle to the right also looks like any number of pre-war tracked vehicles. The man by the aircraft looks like he is guarding it and although there are two other men visible, the lack of people is odd. Matadors were equipped as a Forward Air Control version and I wonder if what we can see is an RAF liaison to the Norwegian Air Force?
  14. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer

    I agree with the comments above however I don't think it's a wartime shot
    I think it's a few years after the war looking at the picture I have tried to enlarge it a bit but it's grainy

    The first 200 AEC Matador's were ordered as R A gun tractors and started being delivered to the R A in November 1939 as F_D_J states so it could have got to Norway

    IIRC these were the first 4 x 4 trucks issued to the British Army most of it's pre war Bedfords etc were just militerised versions of civvy trucks
    Over 10,000 were built and alot were running well into the '70s and 80's as recovery trucks and timber wagons

    The British issued the trucks to Free Allied Forces the Danish Army received a post war batch so I am assuming Free Norwegion forces may have received a number

    I don't think the photo is from 1940 for the following reasons
    The Hurricane Squadrons were evacuated onto HMS Glorious which was then sunk

    You would have to reasonably assume that if the ground crew were evacuating they would have set fire to all there equipment they couldn't take including any 'lame ducks'

    Also compare the Matador with pictures of abandoned equipment at Dunkirk when they were wrecked ours looks pretty intact

    That Hurricane looks more to be a case of severe neglect than actual battle damage (although he could have been straffed by the Germans)
    As stated above it and the other aircraft look as though they have been dragged to that spot

    The chap in front appears to be wearing battle dress jacket but no wings and dosen't appear to have either a slung weapon or a holster on and as said earlier looks as though he is smoking a pipe

    Even with a British stiff upper lip there is no sense of urgency it dosen't look like an airfield which is part of a country that is being overrun there is no activity in the background or AA guns pointing skyward

    He appears more of a military tourist having a look round some old abandoned aircraft

    The fact he is wearing a battledress jacket in my view dosn't place him in the war any number of photo's from the '50's show men wearing these as work jackets

    The ground dosn't look like its been used as a grass airfield either it's un cut and appears to be full of stones and rocks

    There is also no indecation that the Germans have captured it as I can see no German equipment or men

    The Matador dosen't asppear to carry either a white star (although the Hurricane tail is blocking this) or any markings on the door nor does it appear to have any camoflage pattern (see the picture below)

    We are assuming it's green although it may be another dark colour

    Looking at the rest of the vehicles and their height compared to the Matador they seem more civillian in appearance

    Like wise I would suggest the earth mover may have come from the states however if it was being operated by the forces it would have the white star and some sort of markings on it

    Also any self respecting squaddie knowing all is lost would have stuffed it into the aircraft

    So what I think you may have a post war late 1940's early 1950's picture of a clearup of an old airfield

    Compare the paintwork an markings to 'our' Matador

  15. Nice Matador. Serious question - is that "cartoon cloud" camouflage scheme authentic? Is that the first use of the black/green combination (most British Army vehicles having been gloss green in the 1930s)?