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LarryH57

RAF Airfield Follow Me Vehicles in WW2 ?

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Its a fact that the USAAF based in the UK used a variety of Jeeps and Dodges, as Airfield Follow Me vehicles in WW2, and yet there is not much evidence of such vehicles being used by the RAF in the UK. I can only guess the idea was a unique solution 'invented' by the USAAF so thats why you will not find an RAF vehicle dressed for such a role in the 1939-42 period of operations against the Axis in NW Europe.

Over the years I have had contact with serveral USAAF P-47D pilots operating from Advance Landing Grounds and they have explained that when they had a maximum effort of three Squadrons in the Group plus spares and those acting as radio comms links, that when circa fifty P-47Ds came back to the strip it made sense to have a Follow Me Jeep so as the Sqns were not mixed up on dispersal. Units flying the B-17, B-24 etc also seem to have used them.

Therefore why is it that the RAF didn't use such vehicles to any great extent?  Could it be all RAF pilots had a set drill to follow on landing that negated their use?

Any photos of RAF Follow Me vehicles would be greatly appreciated.

Edited by LarryH57

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Strangely the attached WW2 'health and safety' poster for the RAF spotted on eBay shows a yellow follow me Jeep, so someone must know if the RAF had any such vehicles in WW2?

Obviously the creator didn't know much about RAF camo and markings at the time!

Could it by chance be a postwar poster?

RAF WW2 - Heath and Safety Poster.jpg

Edited by LarryH57

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17 hours ago, MatchFuzee said:

Not real proof but.

Scale model "Follow Me" Jeeps:-

http://www.militarydiecast.com/viewmodel.php?id=4713

http://www.sagerssoldiers.com/raf32-02-raf-jeep-follow-me-by-ready4action/

 

A post war one:-

 

 

index.php?app=core&module=attach&section

 

 

The Fighter Collection Jeep (Last photo on row 4):-

https://hiveminer.com/Tags/generalpurpose%2Cjeep

 

Interesting markings postwar Reg 69 AV 48 with a bridging classification of 3 over 2 when Appendix D RAF Vehicles gives this type of vehicle as Ford-Willys (covering all the options)  Type MB 4 X 4   5-cwt "Blitz Buggy" with a bridging classification as 1 - certainly stand out I'm sure theres a photo somewhere of one in service painted just like it

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Someone find a photo of a real RAF 'Follow Me' vehicle in WW2, as I don't believe they existed

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1 hour ago, LarryH57 said:

Someone find a photo of a real RAF 'Follow Me' vehicle in WW2, as I don't believe they existed

In the book, 'Wheels of the RAF', there is a photo of the RAF airfield at Khartoum, which it says was taken in late 40's, it is noted and clearly visible in the photo of a jeep with a large board on the rear stating 'STOP' and 'FOLLOW ME'. It is an Air Ministry photo, no. R1316.

OK, not wartime, but very close.

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I have a theory;  The fact that the USAAF used Follow Me vehicles, and the RAF didn't  is down to the different ways the US had in dealing with situations compared to a more reserved ways of us British. Being the arsenal of democracy the USA had an almost endless supply of vehicles, so I image the CO of any USAAF base would just say "Get one of these Jeeps marked up and in use right away" and seeing as every unit was invariably equipped with Jeeps, Dodges and GMCs it didn't really matter to take one for this role.

Whereas the RAF having to make do with all manner of vehicle types, none of which would make an ideal Follow Me vehicle. Obviously the specialist refueller trucks, crash tenders, ambulances, cranes, and bomb tractors would be out of the question for such a Follow Me role, and that would leave just GS vehicles in 8cwt, 15cwt, 30cwt and 3 ton capacity. But the fact is that in WW2 the RAF could not afford to take one of these vehicles and use it for just one purpose only.

Also I'd image the RAF CO saying you can't mark up that Tilly as a Follow Me vehicle as I need it to visit Group HQ (and the pub & girlfriend etc.)

Edited by LarryH57

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If you read personal accounts of RAF bomber crew members in WW2, there appears to have been a very well organised system of allotted parking up places for each plane, use of taxi ways and take-off and landing slots that did not need use of Follow-Me trucks.  Don't forget that most movements for RAF bombers would have been undertaken at dusk or in darkness and with the visibility from the lofty perch of a Lancaster or Halifax being limited for the pilot, you could imagine that ground vehicles running about would pose more risk than help.

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I'm pretty sure I've seen a Morris LRC painted yellow and used as a Follow Me vehicle, by the RAF, during the War. I was collating references for the LRC a few years back so I may have saved the photo, let me have a spin through my NAS and see if I can turn it up.

 

EDIT: Just had a spin through the NAS and can't turn it up. Have found a few pics of the LRC in use by the RAF but not that specific photo...beginning to doubt myself now! If I turn it up I'll post it.

 

 

Edited by Old Git

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47 minutes ago, Old Git said:

9BHM0pA.jpg

 

Found it, but now questioning the date. Maybe post-war?

The yellow blob certainly looks like a  Morris Mk I or Mk II the trailer possibly a 2-wheel 8-berth Personnel modified for use as a flying control van for a gliding school but I'm guessing. I remember Bedford MW's painted yellow at Martlesham Heath along with a trailer similar to the one shown besides one possibly two open top Standard Beveretts used for retrieving wayward Gliders and cable pulling duties early fifties as I watched my older brother gain his wings, sorry no photos.

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I knew I saw it somewhere and whilst I thought it looked like a still I had no idea of where ti came from until now, so thanks for that. The Documentary is on Youtube...

 

 

 

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Personally, I think the yellow Morris AC was used as an armoured crash rescue vehicle or perhaps a suitably painted vehicle to tow the wheeled watchhut, and nothing to do with Follow Me!

I reckon that Ferg in his post above is spot on.

Edited by LarryH57

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Well I can't say either way. What I do know is that when the RAC finally got a good look at the Morris LRC they were not too impressed with it for the Armoured Recce role and, following some recommendations for some slight uparmouring in the floor area (for mines), they passed the entire fleet over to both the RAF and the RE. From my own research into the RE it seems that they liked it a lot and did use it for site recce work. Whenever you see them in the NW Europe photo record they are almost exclusively in the use of RE. The RAF seems to have utilised them as armoured cars for perimeter patrols at airfields, this 'Stlll' is the only one I've ever seen of a Yellow Morris in the RAF role and it's possible that it was used as you say, but I always thought the Crash Tenders were a different colour and only Follow-me vehicles were Yellow, but then the RAF is not my area. I suppose somewhere in TNA there is a file with all the answers! 

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Larry , posibly you just need to restrict your research to the few RAF manned dedicated ELG's , where strangers kites were expected to drop-in without a dispersal.  However  - probably they just had WRAF on bicycles trained to steer clear of rotating props.

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LarryH57,

Have you thought of contacting The Fighter Collection for details on their Follow Me Jeep e.g. is it based on WW2 or later evidence or just their idea for an interesting vehicle?

http://fighter-collection.com/cft/

Another potential source:-

https://www.raf.mod.uk/our-organisation/units/air-historical-branch/

Archaeologist have a saying that could be true for your search "lack of proof isn't proof of lack"

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Old Git & Matchfuze,

Thanks so much for those links all very useful and not too far from home for a visit either!

Edited by LarryH57

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The thought of a Morris Armoured Car being used as a crash tender is an interesting one given the driving position its limited internal and external stowage a lack of get-up-and-go not to mention lack of an effective shock absorbers they wallow in a quite interesting way reminiscent of being at sea in a swell just what’s required while going after an aviator in billy-do – mind you I like them fun to drive and interesting to work on

Morris A-Car Mk 1 02-03-86.jpg

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I have the impression from somewhere that the the turretless Morris AC was used by asbestos wearing fire crew to dash to an aircraft crash site and provide immediate assistance in extracting the flight crew even before the RAF Crash Tender put out the fire.

Edited by LarryH57

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With the top removed the internal space for an asbestos suited fire person to stand as there is insufficient space for one of the period to sit plus equipment would be minimal - I have an issue with the word dash appertaining to a Morris Armoured Car  as they are not in the same league as either Daimler offering or a Humbber af far as acceleration, top speed or cross country performance - but you could be right

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2 hours ago, LarryH57 said:

I have the impression from somewhere that the the turretless Morris AC was used by asbestos wearing fire crew to dash to an aircraft crash site and provide immediate assistance in extracting the flight crew even before the RAF Crash Tender put out the fire.

The old Fordson WOT1 or Crossley crash tender would likely beat the Morris to the crash scene!

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I've known a Petty Officer in the FAA that witnessed the entire crew of a Commer Q crash tender obliterated by an unexploded bomb that suddenly detonated as they reached the crash site of a P-47D. Perhaps the thought of a bit of armour gave some comfort.

If the Morris AC was more or less redundant in the Army (apart from REs)  and in the RAF for defence and not used to rescue anyone, then I guess it was used to tow the watchhut as it appears to be doing in the Night Bombers Film. So apart from being yellow it's a red herring when looking for Follow Me vehicles.

Edited by LarryH57

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