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An Australian Army 2 pounder portee during an exercise in 1942

A portee is a truck that carries a gun on its bed, such that the gun is not affixed permanently to the vehicle, can be quickly unloaded, and can be fired from the truck.

While the term portee can be used to denote any truck carrying a gun on its bed, it is most often used to describe portees used by British/Commonwealth forces in the North African Campaign of World War II. A modern similar term for such a vehicle is a technical.

Types[]

Two-pounder (40mm) anti-tank gun portee 
A 2 pounder anti-tank gun mounted on a Morris 15 cwt truck, Chevrolet WA or WB 30cwt truck[1] CMP Ford F30 or Chevrolet C30 trucks.
Six-pounder (57mm) anti-tank gun portee 
A 6 pounder anti-tank gun mounted on a Bedford QLT 3-ton lorry or Austin K5 3 ton lorry. Both of which had a special frame only body carrying the gun, crew, ammunition and the rarely used side shields. A F60 or C60 with cut down number 13 cab was similarly used.
20 mm anti-aircraft portee 
A 20 mm anti-aircraft gun mounted on a Morris 15 cwt truck
25 mm anti-tank gun portee 
a 25 mm Hotchkiss anti-tank gun mounted on a Morris 15 cwt truck[2]
37 mm anti-aircraft portee 
A 37mm anti-tank gun mounted on a Bedford MW or Morris CS8 15cwt[3] used by 106 RHA during Operation Compass at Beda Fomm.

The AEC Mk I Gun Carrier (known as Deacon) introduced in 1942 in the Desert War was a more sophisticated successor to the portee. The 6 pdr gun was mounted in an armoured shield on a turntable on the back of an armoured AEC Matador chassis.

Operational history[]

Sidi Rezegh[]

On 21 November 1941 at Sidi Rezegh, Libya, Second Lieutenant George Ward-Gunn destroyed two German tanks while fighting from a burning two-pounder portee. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his valour in this action.

The battle has been cited by modern historians as an epic example of leadership and courage under fire. Ward-Gunn was, however, led by Major Bernard Pinney MC RHA, who fought with Ward-Gunn's troop until it had only one remaining gun in action. Pinney ordered Ward-Gunn to remove the dead crew on a serviceable gun and get it back into action. In a short space of time the gun caught fire so Pinney, exposed to enemy fire, got up to put out the fire, then when Ward-Gunn was killed, Pinney pushed his body out of the way to continue the action single handedly until it was eventually put out of action by direct enemy fire. Despite the inadequacy of the 2-pounder portee guns that only had effect at short range, the battle halted a divisional advance. Unfortunately, Pinney was killed by a stray shell the following day and wasn't acknowledged for his part in the battle until witnesses from the supporting rifle company told their story.

References[]

  1. (Ian Allen publishing)
  2. Bishop, Chris (2002). The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II. United States: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. p. 190. ISBN 9781586637620. 
  3. Moreman, Tim (2010). Long Range Desert Group Patrolman: The Western Desert 1940-43. United Kingdom: Osprey Publishing. p. 26. ISBN 184603924X. 

Further reading[]

  • "the Rifle Brigade" Sidi Rezegh - The Forgotten Battle

External links[]


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