Thanks for the URL permitting me access to Raymond Surlemont's article on the Lanchester armoured car in Armored Car
, Vol. 10. I'm gratified to learn my instinct was right: 'Blair Castle', license tag W[arrow] 465, and with numero 8 on the right mudguard, are one and the same vehicle, which means all of the photos I attached to my first posting in this thread are part of the same sequence, taken at the same time, and that's nicely convenient for more than one reason.
Thanks, too, for the info on the Indian troop carriers, various marks. Wow! 4655 made! The only other photo of these 4-wheeled carriers I've seen shows a pair patrolling the Northwest Frontier, along with an old armored car, sometime during the war.
> I personally do not believe that the 100th Light Tank Squadron was equipped with Carden-Loyd tankettes. >
Your privilege of course, but keep reading.
> First, Universal carriers were available at Singapore. The Universal carrier did what the Carden-Loyd could do and more. Why equip a unit with junk when better equipment was available? >
Several things come to mind. The later version of the Carden-Loyd Mark VI tankette/MG carrier approached the wartime Universal carrier in appearance. Carden-Loyd vehicles did see early wartime service, so given that reality and the exigencies of war, a unit got what it got. Keep in mind, too, that 100th Independent Light Tank Squadron was a pretty late arrival, and likely had to settle for what remained in the larder. Just maybe all of the newer carriers had been issued, or enough issued beforehand that getting the light tank squadron the same newer vehicles
---requiring the same spare parts, always important---had become impossible. With regard to the junk part, that may be tougher to explain, but certainly whispers of the squadron not being able to field many vehicles, due to their lack of previous maintenance and current state of disrepair, are pervasive and lead one to believe that the junk part...and the long voyage from the Middle East...does have credence. I know you're acutely aware that this entire sector of the war would soon be cut off from the Allies, and everybody, including the Yankee Doodles in the Philippines, would soon be forced to use old and obsolete "junk".
> Second, the British had light tanks available that were much better than the Carden-Loyd. At this time, American tanks had arrived in the Middle East and largely replaced the Mark VI light tank by this time. The earlier Models had been removed from front-line duty way before this. These were true light tanks and not machine gun carriers. >
Yes, but all Stuart light tanks were being issued to units fighting in the Western Desert and to 7th Armoured Brigade (7th Hussars and 2nd Royal Tank Regt), which ended up in Burma. Remember that B Squadron, 3rd King's Own Hussars, having been ordered to Singapore but diverted to Sumatra and then Java, still had 20-some light tanks, Marks VIB and VIC. Which is to write that U.S. M3 light tanks were hardly flooding the Middle and Far East at that point in time, and out of necessity, the old stuff was still in service. Whether that old stuff included a double-handful of 1930s Carden-Loyd AFVs originating in the Middle East is simply unconfirmed scuttlebutt, not to mention that whatever would possess the British Army to send these repair-needy vehicles on to Singapore is perplexing, on that understatement we certainly agree. As late as August 1942, the American marines went ashore at Guadalcanal equipped with a combination of M3 and M2A4 light tanks, the only instance of the latter AFV seeing combat (the tank-needy British refused to use theirs in action, and instead relegated them, along with their own Covenanter cruiser tanks, Mark V, strictly to training).
> Third, The official British history says that the unit had 16 obsolescent light tanks. The Carden-Loyd was never called a light tank. It was called a machine gun carrier. Some may have called it a tankette. I don't think that the British history would call it a light tank. >
This is the point where I begin to furrow my brow and cast dubious glances in your direction. Finally I ask, "Pat, don't you think you're being too literal in your definition of a tank? Aren't you asking what is and long has been pretty hazy information about a unit that has had little solid data forthcoming---for starters, how large was it and who was its C.O.?---to be a great deal more definitive than it actually is? Aren't you putting waaaay too much faith in a history that in some instances, such as this particular one, was created from secondhand and even thirdhand information?
Treat the last two questions as necessarily rhetorical, but indeed, what IS a tank? Is it one of those weapons which we know it when we see it? Or is it simply what we wish it to be? Three examples:
1. Was the German Pzkw I a tank? Sure, it ran on caterpillar tracks, though it mounted only a pair of 7.92mm machine guns. But ask the Polish cavalry officer in 1939 if the Pzkw I is a tank, and he would respond, "Tak!" Ask the French cavalry officer a year later the same question, and you'd get "Oui, bien sur!" (and his being French, likely a good deal more). But....
2. Ask the American cavalry officer of the mid-1930s if the M1 combat car, similarly armed with only machine guns, is a tank and he would say, "Ah, no, senator, the combat car is decidedly NOT a tank. The U.S. cavalry is not permitted by law to have tanks, as you know, so what the cavalry is equipped with presently is NOT a tank." [If the American cavalry wished to retain its armor, it had best call whatever it was that it had anything BUT a tank.]
So, to recap examples 1 and 2:
This is a tank.
This is not
Everybody got it so far?
3. Finally, we're in Malaya and it's January 1942. A lance corporal has taken command of his surviving section, now reduced to five men including himself. They've been on the run, harried from pillar to post by Japanese infantry and armor. They've had nothing to eat in two days, and what they had to drink four hours ago, to quote Kipling, "was crawlin', and it stunk", and since then their collective bellies have been giving them fits. But all of that pales in comparison with the awful fatigue that each of them is suffering: a physical exhaustion so terrible it has become mind-numbing. Finally, they find themselves on a rude track through the dense Malayan forest, and they cross a narrow timber bridge spanning a swampy stream.
"At least the Japs ain't goin'ter get tanks across this bridge, Corp," says Pte. Atkins. [All of them are unhappily familiar with the Japanese Type 95 Ha-go light tank.]
"Doesn't look like it," the lance corporal responds. "But still, I'd like to take a Mills bomb to it."
"We're long out of 36 grenades, Corp," sighs Atkins.
The section makes it several hundred yards down the track, when the l/c spots a grove of trees surrounded by a bit of open ground.
"You lads get over there and get yourselves some kip," he orders, pointing to the trees. "I'll stay 'ere near the road and stand watch. And keep a wary eye out for snakes!"
Although there are offers to take the watch, they're mostly insincere and the men gladly disappear into the grove. The l/c sits in a clump of concealing vegetation, but despite his best efforts, his head begins to jerk up and down in the first throes of a losing battle. Before he knows it, he's asleep. Much later, something brings him to a drowsy half-awake state. He has no notion of how long he's been under, or what it was that brought him out of it. He raises his head and listens intently....and then he hears it: the noise of internal combustion engines, and more terror-striking yet, that all-too-familiar sound of metal tracks going round. The lance corporal becomes fully alert, then crawls forward to the verge of the road and peers back in the direction they came, and bloody Christ! he can see at least two enemy tankettes---either Type 94 or Type 97, it don't matter which---clanking in his direction, accompanied by infantry. He slithers furiously back through the vegetation until it's safe to stand, and then races over to the grove where the rest of the section is asleep. Does he announce, "Wakey wakey, lads. The Nippos have managed to get at least two little tankettes across that wee bridge after all."?
No bleedin' way! Instead, he hisses, "Wake up, you lot! There are @#$%^& tanks on the road! Gather your gear and get up. We need to do a runner...NOW!"
Indeed, is a tank merely in the eyes of the beholder??
When yer quartered safe out 'ere, you may concern yerself about the differences among a tank, a tankette, a machine gun carrier, and a bloomin' 15cwt lorry marked 'tank' for the 1938 manoeuvres on Salisbury Plain. When yer on the run, if it's got caterpillar tracks and it's shootin' at you, it's a bloody tank!
> Fourth, The term obsolescent light tank fits the Mark VI and earlier Marks. Limited quantities of these were available to send to Singapore. I believe that the light tanks sent to Singapore were true light tanks of the Mark IV to VI types. >
The conventional wisdom of what the light tank squadron was equipped with back in India is indeed the Marks IV and VI, Indian pattern. But then this contrary information is imparted in the following websites:
(a) The squadron putatively had light tanks, Marks II and IV, Indian pattern. IF so, we're talkin' really OLD stuff. Why, a chap might just as well bring in Carden-Loyd vehicles as use those old croakers! See
(b) Or the squadron is alleged to have had light tanks, Marks III and VI, Indian pattern. And this is one of the sites that stipulates the squadron was actually issued Carden-Loyd AFVs once it had arrived at Singapore. See
> However, I can't find any proof either way. >
Nor can anyone else. Which is why I cannot concur yet with your belief that British tanks, fully satisfying the definition that all
will find acceptable, arrived at Singapore. I remain muy uncomfortable that no one on the British side thought to photo these first ever British tanks on the scene there---after all, someone had the presence of mind to snap the high silhouette Indian Army wheeled carrier---or that the victorious Japanese failed to photo these steel trophies first encountered on the island, when none had made its appearance where such vehicles would have done more good, viz., on the Malayan mainland. No one had a camera handy wherever these tanks were lurking? Or lots of photos of these light tanks were snapped but none survived the war Out There? Right now, my belief extends to no
British tanks on the island. I really dunno about them Carden-Loyd AFVs, as that possibility seems equally far-fetched. And I did pen, Right now. Other than that belief pro or con, I guess we're not far apart on the rest of it.