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Post Info TOPIC: WW1 British Vehicle Numbering
Bosun Al

WW1 British Vehicle Numbering

Can anyone provide me with the format used by the British for identifying the area in which a vehicle is assigned?  For example, LC stood for Egypt or the Middle East, so a Model-T Ford might have the number LC^1234 where the "^" designates the government broad arrow.  Am also looking for a source for 1:32 or 1:35 broad arrow decals or rub ons in white.

Bosun Al




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I don't know why this was stuck in the spam filter



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Beginning about 1915 the M^ prefix was used in France for wheeled British motor vehicles while the LC^ prefix was used in Egypt, Palestine, Mesopotamia and Greece.  The A^ was used for ambulances.  This system lingered on for several years after the war. 

Note:  Some vehicles carried L^ prefixes instead of LC^, but this seems to be an inconsistency in use rather than an official distinction.


The WWI system should not be confused with the later interwar system that used letter prefixes to indicate the type of vehicle. 

Mark V



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I've been doing a little research on my own while I waited for your replies to pop up.  Here's what I found:



Source: Tim Gosling British Military Trucks of World War One

Census Number Prefix:

          By vehicle type:

                      A: ambulance                 

                       HL: heavy lorry

                       LL: light lorry

             M: motorcar

S: steam

T: wheeled tractor

V: motor van

          By region:

                       BL: Italy                                             LC: Near East*

*Not listed in Gosling


The above prefixes were to be followed by the broad arrow, of which there were several variations and sizes.   Regional prefixes were not used for Western Europe. (The broad arrow could be shown over the registration number as well, but apparently this was seldom done according to photos.) This was followed by a sequential number, which was assigned as the vehicle left the dock for overseas service.  The registration numbers were applied to each side of the bonnet (hood) and on the tailboard with the numbers being 6 inches high and 5/8 inch wide, normally in white although some early vehicles had black numbering.  (Tailboard numbers often appeared to be smaller, perhaps four inches high.)


Special purpose vehicles had additional marks: a green club marking for food or fodder or a shell for ammunition.  Commonwealth nations also had specific markings: a fern for New Zealand, a maple leaf for Canada, and a rising sun or outline of the country for Australia.  These were normally painted on the cab or vehicle body.  Unit designation


In addition, restrictions such as maximum capacity (e.g., 30 cwt) might be painted on the truck bed.



Source: Dick Taylor Warpaint: Colours and Markings of British Army Vehicles 1903-2003

Prior to WW1 vehicles might be marked OHMS (On His Majesties Service), and if assigned to the Army Service Corps, have “A.S.C.” followed by a serial number in white or black. As each type of vehicle (lorry, wagon, steam traction engine) had its own series of serial numbers, thus the same serial number could appear on two different types of vehicles.


The OHMS scheme was replaced by War Department (WD) serial numbers by the beginning of WW1.  The broad arrow or crows foot separating a W and D normally appeared in front of the serial numbers, but may be above the numbers early in the war.  Early W^D symbols varied in size and shape early on.  In 1916 the size of the lettering was standardized as 4 inches tall for autos and 6 inches high for lorries.


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