HC Deb 29 September 1942 vol 383 cc661-2
38. Mr. John Dugdale

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has any statement to make on the reorganisation of Army transport services?

Sir J. Grigg

Since the answer is rather long, I will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

The basic organisation of the Royal Army Service Corps transport services with which the British Expeditionary Force went to France had been developed over a period of years and was based on accepted pre-war doctrines. Many different types of unit existed specially adapted in size and composition to the performance of specific tasks. This benefited training and individual efficiency at the expense of flexibility. The events of May and June, 1940, showed that this system was imperfectly adapted to modem mechanised warfare, but the success of the Royal Army Service Corps transport services in the East African and first Libyan campaigns to some extent discounted the arguments for disturbing an organisation, which had not in itself failed in France and had been successful beyond expectation elsewhere. Early in 1941, however, it became clear that the progress and development of tactical and strategical technique, as well as of new weapons, would in future campaigns call for a vastly more flexible organisation in the road transport services of the Army. The increase in the number and size of weapons then in process of design and development made it apparent that Royal Army Service Corps Transport Echelons must expect a steady increase in their load as the volume of fire power in the hands of Infantry, Artillery and Armoured units grew.

To meet these needs a completely new organisation for the road transport services of the Field Army was developed.

Its principles were—that all road Transport Companies should be identical in internal organisation and be composed of standard sub units: that all transport units should be interchangeable for purely transport tasks: to permit "specialist" functions to be carried out, small sub units of "specialist personnel" appropriate to the tasks required should be added to what would otherwise be General Transport Companies: that no vehicles of any Transport Company should be specifically allotted for the carriage of a particular nature of commodity, or the service of a particular unit, but all vehicles should be operated on a pool basis.

This new organisation was designed, developed and applied throughout the Field Army at home with great rapidity and success and has since been introduced in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Among the effects of this reorganisation have been—

A saving in the number of personnel required to operate and maintain a given number of vehicles.

A saving in the number of load carrying vehicles required to maintain a Major Force, due to the application of the pooling system.

A very great simplification of the machinery for raising, training and equipping new units, or converting units from one task to another.