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What's in a Name Pt 2


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The_Chieftain #1 Posted Jan 26 2013 - 14:50

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Some weeks ago, I put up a few discoveriesabout US tank names which I had found in the National Archives, and let the Operation Think Tankparticipants know about it. It started a brief but lively discussion on names which I want to share here.

The most significant contributor to the discussion was David Fletcher, who ended up posing more questions than answers. Nothing wrong with this per se, so while you may not be educated by reading the below, it should provide some food for thought.

The first question he had related to the M3 and M5 series of light tanks. Commonly known as “Stuarts”, he points out that the M3 and M5 were probably more different than the M3 “Lee” and M3 “Grant” mediums, yet apparently were not deserving of different names. But more to the point, he casts some doubt on the use of the name “Honey” for the tanks. The story goes that the British found them so easy to drive and maintain compare to their domestic designs that they were called ‘honeys.’

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This is well and good for us Americans reading it; it makes perfect sense. The catch, as he points out, is that it makes no sense to the British. To quote him:

However HONEY is not a term used in Britain in that context and probably never was. To us honey is the stuff made by bees which you buy in jars from the health food store.

His theory, and it makes a bit of sense, is that an American instructor used the term, saying “this tank is a honey”, and it sortof stuck as people thought that was the American name for the tank. Bear in mind that at the time the Americans didn’t have an official name for the thing to begin with to tell them and fix the misconception. As an aside, his statement as to why Churchill was adamant that the name of the tanks would not begin with ‘General’ was that he just didn’t want there to be any chance of confusion with any real general officers who happened to have the name “Grant”, “Lee”, “Stuart” etc.

Several weeks after the discussion started, Harry Yeide chimed in with an anecdote he discovered. Content of email as follows:

I am scanning and OCRing a manuscript by written by Col. Charles Hodge, CO of the 117th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, which was assigned to provide security to Churchill when he had pneumonia in Morocco. He offers this annecdote:


When the Prime Minister's party took off on the next morning following the soiree, we arranged a provisional guard of honor lined up on the airstrip, as is customary. Sir Winston "trooped the line" with me and thanked us and was highly complimentary. The last communication I had with him bears repeating and was as follows: About two months prior to our mission to Marrakech, we had received the new six-wheeled armored cars, mounted with greatly-improved armament and vastly improved in mobility and speed. The British had a custom of giving our vehicles a name. For instance, they had given our new light tank the name of the “Honey.”

Carrying out his complimentary inspection, Churchill said to me, upon passing one of the new armored car, "Col. Hodge, that is a new armored vehicle, is it not?"

I replied, “Yes, sir, and we have only had it a month.”

He said, “Oh, yes. That’s the Honey.”

I replied by saying, “I am sorry, sir, but the official ordnance designation of this piece of equipment is the Six Wheeled Armored Car M-8. The new light tank is the one that the British have named the Honey.”

Looking me right in the eye, with a twinkle in his eyes, he said, “Young man, we British are your best customers, and the customer is always right, so it's a Honey. Good luck and keep up the fine work.”


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Now, bearing in mind that it was Churchill who directed the use of “general” names for the British tanks, it would be interesting to see the date that the order was made vs the Morocco visit. I don’t actually have that date

Another question David asked, and this matches with my own current question on the matter, was as follows:

The term Wolverine was probably adopted afterwards, or made up to fill a gap. Has anyone ever heard of an M10 being referred to as a Wolverine in practice?

Nobody was able to answer in the affirmative, and I did try the Canadian War Museum to try to verify my theory of it being a Canadian name, but didn’t get a response. If the lead British expert on the subject had never heard of a use of Wolverine, it adds further cloud to the concept that it was a British name for the vehicle.

The next question which came up was the name of the M7 Howitzer Motor Carriage, known as “Priest”. As he says:

[T]his is often said to be due to the pulpit-like appearance of the .50 calibre mounting on the M7. I wonder about that. The Valentine Bishop had already been named and started the fashion for ecclesiastical names for SP artillery so Priest may be nothing more than that.

There were actually three religious vehicles around at the same time in North Africa: Bishop, Priest and Deacon. In fact, the concept of naming at least parts of tanks on a religious theme goes back even further, a number of inter-war vehicles had was was referred to as “Bishops’ Mitres” cupolas.

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Looking at the chonology, Bishops were built long before the M7 appeared on the scene, Deacons arrived in North Africa only a few weeks after M7, so may well also have been named by the British Army earlier. Bishop also, well, looked like a Bishop’s Mitre from some angles so it’s quite possible that it was indeed named first.

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here is a caveat, however. Dick Taylor’s recent book “Into the Valley” has the following line:

On 4th November [1941] an order was placed for 100 Self Propelled Gun 25-Pounder. (The name ‘Bishop’ followed the christening of the US GMC M7 ‘Priest’ because of its pulpit.)

Unfortunately, he doesn’t cite where he got the information from. Mr Fletcher did say he knew Mr Taylor and would ask, but sadly Mr Fletcher retired before we could get an answer. I’m now trying to hunt down Mr Taylor. (When I get an idea into my head, I don’t often let go of it easily!)

One last Fletcher thing, with regards to the name of Matilda. He pointed out in Operation Think Tank that he had seen a document which pre-dated the construction of the tank which had assigned “Matilda” as a code name. His memory wasn’t failing him, I finally got around to reading “Mechanised Force”, and sure as tea, there is a scan of a pencil drawing of a proposed A11 and a very basic sheet of notes, dated 10th October 1935. In Sir John Carden’s own handwriting is “Code Word ‘Matilda’” at the very top of the page.

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That settles that. Nothing to do with waddling cartoon ducks.

The last two comments are from Ken Estes and Hilary Doyle. Ken theorises that the reason M103 never got a name was that the Marines didn’t much care for the practice, and the Army didn’t much care for the tank, so neither side was particularly motivated to apply one to it. Finally, Hilary just expressed a forlorn hope that maybe one day a document might show up to explain how the Germans came up with their names.

Who knows, maybe there will be a Part 3 one day.

The Chieftain is Wargaming America's resident tank guru. If you'd like to stay abreast of his comings and goings, feel free to "Like" The Chieftain on Facebookand follow The Chieftain on Twitter.

Daigensui #2 Posted Jan 26 2013 - 14:58

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As good an article as usual, The_Chieftain.

Dominatus #3 Posted Jan 26 2013 - 16:00

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Pretty cool stuff. On that note though, any insight on how the US built armoured cars were named?

boppyeric #4 Posted Jan 26 2013 - 20:08

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uhhh i dont get it\

KapKirk #5 Posted Jan 26 2013 - 22:11

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Good read +1 :Smile_blinky:

ox2 #6 Posted Jan 27 2013 - 12:55

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In the 90's I was working on the XM-8 AGS. We were a meeting and the question of the name came up. Since the XM-8 was originally designed for the Airborne Armor Community, we suggested "GAVIN". "No" Gavin was infantry and the M113 is designated the Gavin already. The XM-8 was going to be light, fast, and used in forced vertical insertion type raids behind enemy lines "FORREST"! Denied again because of his Post war association with the KKK. We thought about another Cavalryman, a guy that got there First, he used his Troopers mounted and dismounted like we were expected to do. He fought alone, holding until the rest of the Army could come up and support, saving the good ground for them and averting disaster. We named it the "BUFORD". The whole meeting took about 20 minutes. By the way, the tongue in cheek name for the AGS was Armored General Sullivan because of his passionate support for it.

The_Chieftain #7 Posted Jan 27 2013 - 13:15

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What idiot was saying "M113 was called 'Gavin'" back in the 90s? Sparky surely didn't have traction back then,  did he?

MadRazorback #8 Posted Jan 27 2013 - 18:30

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I recently visited the 1st Armored Division museum at Fort Bliss in El Paso, TX and had an interesting discussion with one of the employees there. He is an armored cavalry vet and really into the history of tanks. If I remember correctly, he told me that during WW2 the American military prefered to call our tanks by their designation, like m4. The practice of naming our tanks after generals was picked up from the British who he said named many of our tanks, like the Chafee, Lee, Grant and others. We made alot of tanks for the British to use in their military and since they prefered to name them after important military figures they used the names of generals from our military and many from our civil war.

CaptainNapalm #9 Posted Jan 27 2013 - 19:53

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as far as the wadling duck name matilda, if you have seen the hideous little Matilda 1 with its exposed tracks and walking pace top speed it would probably explain things. The majority of these were left in france i understand and were remarkable only in having realy thick armor for the day giving the germans thier first warning of the 37mms uselessness. These were left out of the Brit. tech tree, i imagine because they were realy awful. A water cooled .5" vickers MG, 8mph top speed and impenetrable by the majority of tier 1-3 guns. The Matilda in WoT is in fact the Matilda 2.

CaptainNapalm #10 Posted Jan 27 2013 - 19:55

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I may have just restated something already covered in Pt1, i didn't catch it.

Grandpa_1961 #11 Posted Jan 27 2013 - 22:28

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Thank you for another very educational and informative post.  I've been a treadhead all my life, and it's always interesting to find out tidbits about vehicles I didn't know.  My grandfather was retired from the CF and served in Shermans.  He said that when the armour kept them safe any tank you were in was a "honey" and many a trooper would gladly have, and sometimes did kiss their honeys.  A late friend of mine served with the Wehrmacht and said that he could not remember any German vehicles being referred to as anything more than their military nomenclature or generically as mein wagen... my vehicle.  I miss Richard, as he was a great source of informative conversation and provided much in the way of alternative viewpoints to the way Allied history has remembered things.  One thing he did say was that the German's hated the little holes on either side of their helmets, regardless of the service branch, because they whistled like hell when in the slightest breeze...lol.  Please keep up the great work.  I look forward to the next instalment.

Cheers
Gordon "Jiggs" Jennings (ret)

Zinegata #12 Posted Jan 28 2013 - 05:40

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Cool find regarding the origins for the "Honey" nickname. It's yet another example of how history can get blurred in just a few decades unless people do the leg work.

supertsar #13 Posted Jan 28 2013 - 22:31

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Love your research, keep up the good work!

But as far as the Mailda being named after the cartoon - in my mind it is still possible.
The code word may have been inspired by the cartoon. Or was the cartoon character created after the document date (1935)?
Funny how finding answers always just leads to more questions!

Edited by supertsar, Jan 28 2013 - 22:34.


Strykewolf #14 Posted Jan 29 2013 - 20:37

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Good read.

Vollketten #15 Posted Jan 30 2013 - 21:43

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View PostThe_Chieftain, on Jan 26 2013 - 14:50, said:

*snip
here is a caveat, however. Dick Taylor’s recent book “Into the Valley” has the following line:

On 4th November [1941] an order was placed for 100 Self Propelled Gun 25-Pounder. (The name ‘Bishop’ followed the christening of the US GMC M7 ‘Priest’ because of its pulpit.)

Unfortunately, he doesn’t cite where he got the information from. Mr Fletcher did say he knew Mr Taylor and would ask, but sadly Mr Fletcher retired before we could get an answer. I’m now trying to hunt down Mr Taylor. (When I get an idea into my head, I don’t often let go of it easily!)
Well I stumbled upon a US Army Index to Intelligence Publications dated 1st August 1944 which lists documents relating to the British M7 'Priest' as well as the 'General Sherman' and 'General Lee'.

http://usacac.army.m...ec/number23.pdf (just type 'priest' in search box and it will take you to the top left of page 36)

Hope this helps.

Vollketten #16 Posted Feb 06 2013 - 16:16

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"British Nicknames of Tanks"
Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 9, Oct. 8, 1942. (US Army)
BRITISH NICKNAMES OF TANKS
  
Nickname  Official Designation  Characteristics
  
b. American Tanks
  
General Lee Medium M3 with US turret  
  
General Stuart   Light M3
  
General Grant  Medium M3 with British turret
  
Ram I  Canadian-built   Same as U.S. Medium M3 except that 2-pounder replaces 37-mm gun in turret.
  
Ram II  Canadian-built  Same as U.S. Medium M3 except that 6-pounder replaces 37-mm gun in turret.
  
General Sherman  Medium M4


and then weirdly:
"Pantiger, A Redsigned Tiger"
Tactical and Technical Trends, October, 1944.
One of the first intelligence reports on the Tiger II, the new German heavy tank encountered in the fighting in Normandy, The odd name 'PanTiger' did not last long, and the Allies soon referred to the new tank as the Tiger II, King Tiger, or Royal Tiger.
{Image in the report is of an Porsche turretted Tiger II}

Edited by Vollketten, Feb 06 2013 - 16:18.


maxsputer #17 Posted Feb 14 2013 - 09:02

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Chieftain

Here is another source of information that will help with some, and raise again more questions. The publication is " U.S. Army - Navy Journal of RECOGNITION " the one(s) I have are Sept 1943 to Feb 1944, They were publications printed by the military (Army/Navy) for the purpose of identifing allied and Axis equipment. They used the designations that were in use at the time. Meaning that if the vehicle had a name it was listed if not it was not. The M4 Sherman is listed and "M4 General Sherman", The M3 is listed as "M3 General Grant/Lee", the M7 Is listed as "105 GMC M7 Priest", and the M10 well its listed as just plain " 3inch GMC M10".

I have been studying Military history since I was a kid (dad was in the army) and now im 53 with 22 yrs in the Navy. I have an extensive collection of military books and have read many more.

The basic question is the US Army did not as standard practice name vehicle (not news). The naming started when the British and French purchasing commissions came to the US and ordered arms when the President start cash and carry then lend lease. The British since they Name all vehicles, applied names to each vehicle they ordered. They were then refered to by the US supply system under the US desigation at first but since this proved sometimes confusing began to be ordered, built and issued under both designations to reduce confusion.

With this in mind that is why the M4 from the beginning was refered to as "Medium Tank M4/General Sherman Mk I" (A1 was Mk II, A2 was Mk III, A3 was Mk IV, A4 was V). The strange part is all documents and books I have read that are dated from 1941 to 1945 include the word "General" all books wrote after WWII only say "Sherman". So somewhere at the end of the war someone decided to remove the word general.

The M10 is a mystery. Since the british named all vehicle they ordered and they ordered and took delivery of 1648 "3 inch GMC M10" they would have named it. They did not purchase any AFV from us they did not name. The names were assigned at the time of contracting the order. Even on orders cancelled or never built. So they gave it a name. Once modified with the 17pounder they became the "17pdr Self-Propelled Gun Achilles Mk IIC" the "C" designation was for the 17pdr gun. So where did the Mk I go. I suspect (my opinion only) is that the "3 inch GMC M10" was the "3 inch Self-Proplled Gun Achilles Mk I" in British Service and In keeping with the use of "A" names for SP anti tank guns. (Achillies,, Archer...). Wolverine was not a British name it does not match any of their ways of naming vehicle. I suspect it was a name used by Canadian forces since all their vehicles are named after animals. (Ram, Kangaroo,,,,etc.). Granted for proof I have none for this one it just fits the facts and manner of how who named what.

The_Chieftain #18 Posted Feb 14 2013 - 19:49

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View Postmaxsputer, on Feb 14 2013 - 09:02, said:

With this in mind that is why the M4 from the beginning was refered to as "Medium Tank M4/General Sherman Mk I" (A1 was Mk II, A2 was Mk III, A3 was Mk IV, A4 was V). The strange part is all documents and books I have read that are dated from 1941 to 1945 include the word "General" all books wrote after WWII only say "Sherman". So somewhere at the end of the war someone decided to remove the word general.

It may be a matter of who wrote the documents. As mentioned in Part 1, Fletcher was very adamant that the "General" appelation was specifically prohibited, only the name (Sherman/Grant etc) would be used. For example, I have the original manual for the armament of Firefly, the document refers frequently to "Sherman C Tanks", but never "General Sherman". And, of course, the "General" appears occasionally in American documentation: If they ever do use the name "Sherman" (which, granted, was pretty rare), it was preceeded by "General"

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The M10 is a mystery. Since the british named all vehicle they ordered and they ordered and took delivery of 1648 "3 inch GMC M10" they would have named it. They did not purchase any AFV from us they did not name. The names were assigned at the time of contracting the order. Even on orders cancelled or never built. So they gave it a name. Once modified with the 17pounder they became the "17pdr Self-Propelled Gun Achilles Mk IIC" the "C" designation was for the 17pdr gun. So where did the Mk I go. I suspect (my opinion only) is that the "3 inch GMC M10" was the "3 inch Self-Proplled Gun Achilles Mk I" in British Service and In keeping with the use of "A" names for SP anti tank guns. (Achillies,, Archer...). Wolverine was not a British name it does not match any of their ways of naming vehicle. I suspect it was a name used by Canadian forces since all their vehicles are named after animals. (Ram, Kangaroo,,,,etc.). Granted for proof I have none for this one it just fits the facts and manner of how who named what.

This, as I mentioned in Part 1, generally I agree with (though the name "Achilles" was not appended until late in the vehicle's service life). The MkI and MkII M10s were differentiated by the counterweight on the turret rear.

But thanks for the bump, it reminds me that I recently received a response from the Head of the Military History Research Center at the Canadian War Museum.

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Here are some comments from Doug Knight, one of our volunteers who works closely with our Transportation and Artillery collection and has published  a number of books on Canadian military vehicles and artillery.

Both British and Canadians used the M-10 in Italy, and used a converted M-10 with a British 17-pounder gun named the “Achilles” in NWE. However, Canada would not have had an independent name for either one – we used the British terminology and only got to name something that we invented/produced, such as the Ram tank or the Sexton self-propelled gun.

That said, Don Dingwall commented:  
“I too have run across this name issue. It would seem that the name Wolverine was NOT commonly used, if at all during WW2. Seems to have been applied retrospectively post war.”

Also, when I interviewed and quoted Sidney Irwin in my anti-tank trilogy, he referred to the M-10 as M-10 and did not mention the name Wolverine. He commanded a troop of M-10s in 1st Anti-tank Regiment, RCA,  in Italy during WW2.

I think the bottom line in response to the query is that Wolverine may have been a British name, but it was definitely not of Canadian origin.


Doug also noted that the wolverine (the animal) is not unique to Canada but also exists in all the northern countries, including Europe and Russia.

So pretty much every leading authority with access to primary sources from all three countries is saying "We didn't name the thing Wolverine"
Are they right? Don't know, but absent proof to the contrary....

The_Chieftain #19 Posted Mar 12 2013 - 07:01

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View Postlivcyxingfoe, on Mar 12 2013 - 06:51, said:

So pretty much every leading authority with access to primary sources from all three countries is saying "We didn't name the thing Wolverine"
Are they right? Don't know, but absent proof to the contrary

That's what I said...

cwjian90 #20 Posted Mar 12 2013 - 07:08

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View PostThe_Chieftain, on Mar 12 2013 - 07:01, said:

That's what I said...

I think that's a bot.




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