The origin of the
stonk is clouded in mystery. The Royal Artillery Journal of July
1952 and July 1953 discusses the origin of the "Stonk", claiming
that it dated back to the Winter of 1939 when the artillery was
struggling with the slowness caused by the new regimental
organisation. An indoor exercise was set up by the General Staff
involving the support of an immediate counter attack to restore a
break in the line, the guns being already in position and fully
surveyed. At that time the "Quick Barrage" had not been invented.
Times were noted to establish how long it took from the receipt of
orders until the gun programmes were complete.
The resultant time
was so great that as support for an immediate counter attack the
plan was unacceptable. A fire plan with a series of concentrations
instead of the barrage was then tried but the response time was
little better. The outcome was to devise a standard regimental
concentration or more precisely a standard distribution of fire with
reference to a given point. Such a concentration could be ordered by
a single map reference from which each gun would have a clear range
distribution. No trace need be issued, no action required at
regimental or battery headquarters. It was given the name "Stonk" as
a portmanteau word for standard concentration.
The RA Journal
described the original 1940-1941 version of the Stonk as being a
square of 300yards by 300yards, each battery covering a linear
frontage of 300 yards, with the batteries echeloned plus and minus
100 yards from the centre point. 56 London Division adopted the
Stonk and took the procedure to the Middle East.
The New Zealand
version of the origin of the Stonk is somewhat different. 'Legend'
has it that during their discussions on the adoption of the New
Zealand proposals for the application of artillery fire in 1942,
Brigadier Weir and Brigadier Stanford, the Commander of 13 Corps
Artillery were searching for a short name for the Regimental Linear
target. Weir suggested a play on the name Stanford and came up with
'STAN-K" which was quickly and circumspectly modified.
The probability is
that the Stonk, as used in the latter part of the war post Alamein
was devised by Brigadier Weir. With its dimension of a 600 yards
linear regimental target based on a centre point and bearing of the
axis it was substantially different from the original version. It
would be fair to attribute the other innovations of Murder and
Rumpus to Brigadier Weir On balance however the credible explanation
of how the name came to pass must lie in its origin as a
"portmanteau" word for "Standard Concentration".
The technique was
used post Alamein for the definition of Defensive Fire Tasks in
support of the infantry in static positions. They were also used in
depth on some occasions ahead of the line of the barrage. There were
no set rounds to be fired as the number of rounds was nominated each
time the stonk was called for. Each stonk was given a codename or
number. Stonks were generally pre planned in the sense that they
were nominated and recorded and it was unusual for them to be
initiated on the spot. In the post Senio period they were
occasionally used by the medium guns as a means of covering an area
where German tanks had been seen.
OPs could initiate
Stonks but there is no record of the technique ever being used as
part of an observed fire programme. There were no specific reports
made after the Stonk, as it was just a routine fire control
procedure. The Stonk was used extensively in Korea with a number of
other variations including an anti aircraft weapon suppression
programme. It could be said that the introduction of the stonk
procedures ie Grid Reference and Bearing was the forerunner of
Target Grid procedure introduced post war as a means of controlling