T16 Universal Carrier

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A brief history of the T-16 Carrier

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 Copyright 1999-2015
H.L. Spoelstra
All Rights Reserved

Page created: 12-Aug-2002
Last revision: 01-Oct-2015
 

THE T-16 CARRIER in use with the Canadian Army

Originally published in 2004

In February 1944 the reorganization of the divisional support battalions resulted in a decrease in the total number of heavy mortars held. The new machine gun battalion in the infantry division had one mortar company of sixteen 4.2-in mortars; the independent machine gun company with an infantry brigade of an armoured division had one mortar platoon of four 4.2-in
mortars. Previously there had been 24 mortars in an infantry division and 8 in an infantry brigade of an armoured division.
In Italy the Canadian forces tended to use a rather higher establishment. There was an ample supply of these weapons for the Canadian forces.
At the beginning of the year, the problem of transport for the 4.2-in mortar had not been entirely settled. The intention was to use the new T16 - Carrier as a tower for the mortar which would be carried on a 10-cwt trailer. These carriers were not yet available. In February trials were started at the Canadian Training School for stowing the mortar. Towards the end of that month authority was granted to modify the Carrier T16 for stowing the mortar directly on the carrier. This method proved successful and in April the policy was adopted of mounting the mortar on the carriers, of which a sufficient number suitably modified were now available. This method was in use in North-West Europe with the Canadian forces only. In Italy the mortar was carried on a trailer towed by the Loyd Carrier.

The 6-pdr was towed by the new T16 Carrier in reconnaissance regiments, motor battalions, and infantry battalions in North-West Europe. The Portee used in Italy was not found satisfactory; by October this was being replaced by Half-Track vehicles. In anti-tank regiments the gun was towed by the Field Artillery Tractor.

The Universal carrier remained the standard vehicle in the Canadian Army. At the beginning of 1944 the number of British-made vehicles with Canadian units had decreased still further, only 72 being held as compared with 3888 Ford carriers at the end of February. The 3-in mortar carriers numbering 942 were all Canadian-made, as were 149 carriers fitted for Ronson Flame Throwers. Although in September the Ford factory began the model change to the new Windsor carrier, by the end of the year a total of 8901 Carriers Universal had been produced against Canadian orders and of these 6985 had been produced against Canadian orders and of these 6985 had been shipped overseas. In addition to this 18650 were produced and disposed of through the Ministry of Supply and Mutual Aid. As a very large number of the carriers received from Canada were Carriers Universal Mk I
and establishment called for use of the Carrier Universal Mk II (Welsh Guards Stowage) a programme was undertaken by Q.(A.E.) in which 1891 carriers were converted to the Mk II pattern in the United Kingdom before issue to units.
Supplies of Universal and 3-in mortar carriers were adequate throughout the year, and expected deliveries covered estimated wastage up to the end of 1945. Special uses of the Universal carrier were to mount the Wasp Flame Thrower, to mount the Vickers Machine Gun, and as an Armoured O.P. The carriers adapted for the Medium Machine Gun were a new requirement in 1944 and were obtained from British sources. 

Personnel in a Universal Carrier of an anti-tank regiment of the Royal Canadian Artillery (R.C.A.) en route to Groningen, Netherlands, 13 April 1945

(L-R): Lieutenant D. Heaps and Gunner Ralph Bayne, who hold tulips; Bombardier M.K. Oliver.

Credit: Lieut. Dan Guravich (Copy negative) PA-130931

Besides the standard Universal carrier the Canadian Army used the American Carrier Universal T16, also a Ford vehicle. This is a later type of the Universal carrier with increased stowage space and load carrying capacity. It was adopted originally by the Canadian Army in October 1943 as a tower for the 6-pr gun in reconnaissance regiments, infantry battalions, and motor battalions, and also as a tower for the 4.2-in mortars. At the beginning of 1944 it was still undecided whether the T16 or the Loyd Carrier would be used to tow the 6-pr. Supplies of both were slow in being delivered. By the middle of February 229 T16 Carriers had been received out of a total requirement of 484. By April supplies were practically complete. 3 Cdn Inf Div were issued with Universal Carriers as 6-pr towers for the assault landing and continued to be equipped mainly with these. The T16 carrier was adapted to carry the 4.2-in mortar instead of towing it on a trailer as originally intended. 100 suitably modified carriers were available for issue by the end of April 1944. This use of the T16 Carrier was peculiar to the Canadian Army in North-West Europe and had some disadvantages. The bomb carrying capacity was limited and there was a lack of stowage space. 4 Cdn Armd Div recommended the use of M14 Half-Tracks as 4.2-in mortar carriers to remedy this and also give greater manoeuvrability. Due to the short supply of M14 Half-Tracks, it was decided that the T16 carrier would continue in use, but with fresh modification to overcome the faults outlined.

During the year trials were made with new types of carrier. The Canadian Windsor Carrier was submitted for trial in February 1944. This is similar in appearance to the T16 Carrier but is actually a lengthened version of the Canadian Carrier Universal Mk II, and has greater stowage capacity than either the T16 or Universal. By April it had been decided to adopt it as well as the T16 as a tower for the 6-pr gun, and the British Ministry of Supply had placed an order for 5000 in Canada which would replace the Loyd Carrier in this role; the Windsor would not replace the Universal Carrier. The Canadian Army decided to follow the British in this policy. Production of Windsor carriers was due to start in September. The British intention was eventually to replace all existing types with the C.T.20 which was being developed.
 

EQUIPMENT STATE, CANADIAN UNITS IN FIRST CDN ARMY JUNE 1944
The following shows the state of equipment of the Canadian Forces at the start of operations in Normandy in June 1944. Figures for weapons are taken from C.M.H.Q. file 13/Equip State/1/7: Equipment State, Cdn Army in U.K. as at 31 May 44. Vehicle totals are extracted from "Monthly Vehicle Position Report No. 3, as at 31 May 44, complied by 21 Army Group," in Historical Section file.

Type

Establishment

Held

Deficiencies

Carriers Universal 

725

1017

Surplus

Universal (T16) 

300 

155 

145 (e)

M.M.G.

84 

216

Surplus

Mortar 

237 

281

Surplus

(e) Other types of carrier held in lieu.

EQUIPMENT STATE, CANADIAN ARMY IN NORTH-WEST EUROPE DECEMBER 1944
Figures for weapons are taken from C.M.H.Q. file 13/Equip State/2/5: Equipment State of the Canadian Units in First Cdn Army 21 Army Group as at 31 Dec 44. Vehicle totals are extracted from "Cdn Units 21 Army Group "A" and "B" Vehicle Position State as at 31 Dec 44", in Historical Section file.

Type

Establishment

Held

Deficiencies

Carriers Universal 

716

812

Surplus

Universal T 16

348

266

82

Mortar 3-in and 4.2-in

237

276

Surplus

M.M.G. 

100

139

Surplus

A.O.P.

80

Nil

80

Source: Canadian Military Headquarters (CMHQ) Report No. 141: Situation of the Canadian Military Forces Overseas. Progress in Equipment Jan-Dec 44 (http://www.dnd.ca/hr/dhh/Downloads/cmhq/CMHQ141.PDF)