Commonwealth TOE's vs British ones?

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Dili
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Commonwealth TOE's vs British ones?

Post by Dili » 08 Mar 2018 18:41

In relation to Mediterranean theater was there any specificity in units of South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, India, Canada that differentiated them from British ones?
For example a South African infantry division was different from a British one?

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Re: Commonwealth TOE's vs British ones?

Post by Gary Kennedy » 08 Mar 2018 19:37

Well since you ask...

The Canadian Army made a conscious decision to follow British WEs (War Establishments, which is the Br/CW term for T/O&Es) as closely as possible. They were not absolutely identical, but very largely the same. That extended through to the structure of Cdn Bdes and Divs. 2NZEF did initially just use British WEs almost without amendment but by the time they moved to Italy they were issuing their own. Many years back someone sent me a clutch of NZ WEs as I've never been able to get hold of any from NZ archives and they were using very different Inf and Mot Bn and Recce WEs by 1944. SA I've never been able to get hold of; I suspect they followed the same lines as 2NZEF but don't know. Likewise Indian Army WEs have eluded me. There were no Australian formations in Italy.

In general terms 2 NZ Div mirrored a Br Inf Div in the desert campaign, then converted one Inf Bde to an Armd Bde. In early 1945 the decision was taken to form a third Inf Bde again, done by taking the Div Recce and MG Bns and the Armd Bde's Mot Bn and turning them into Inf Bns. 6 SA Armd Div added a second Inf Bde by similar means (the Armd Recce Regt and Mot Bn being converted, not sure whether the third Inf Bn was already existing). Also Br 6 Armd Div and Cdn 5 Armd Div each added a second Inf Bde to their orbats by conversion; from memory the Cdns took the Recce Regt from 1st Cdn Inf Div, the Armd Bde's Mot Bn and an LAA Regt, while the British reorganised Mot Bns from a number of Bdes.

Gary

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Sheldrake
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Re: Commonwealth TOE's vs British ones?

Post by Sheldrake » 08 Mar 2018 23:56

Dili wrote:In relation to Mediterranean theater was there any specificity in units of South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, India, Canada that differentiated them from British ones?
For example a South African infantry division was different from a British one?
By and large the dominion forces followed British establishments to avoid confusion in matters of supply and administration. The experience of Canadians with Ross rifles in WW1 was to be avoided. As in WW1 there were differences dictated by manpower shortages and political expediency. E.g.The South African infantry divisions were restructured into a smaller armoured division after the fighting moved out of Africa. The New Zealand division became something like the allied equivalent of an SS Panzer Division, with two infantry and one armoured Brigade. At least in part this was to ensure they did not need to rely on British Armour that the kiwis thought had let them down in the desert.

There were some differences between Dominion and British forces. For a start South African establishments listed four different classes of soldier: officers, enlisted ranks, natives and cape coloureds". Only men of European descent were armed.

Indian Army formations had different establishments, as did the formations raised in Africa.

However there were also variations between theoretical establishments and the actual establishments. At the end of a long supply chain there were sometimes lots of "chitties in lieu." The 4th Indian Division fought in Tunisia with only two brigades, the one Brigade lost in Tobruck was not replaced until after the end in Africa

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Re: Commonwealth TOE's vs British ones?

Post by antwony » 09 Mar 2018 10:20

Australian infantry divisions, in the Med, had both a MG battalion (which was capbadge Inf) and a Pioneer bat (ginger beers???) which I think was unique. They also had a Cavalry Regt as a divisional recon asset (which I'm 95% sure wasn't unique) who had, at least for a while, some Italian and French light tanks. Aren't sure if any other divisions had tanks, or even if the Oz tanks were officially "there" i.e. existed on paper.

Did any of the British Div's in the Med have Reconnaissance Corps units assigned to their Brigades? That Corps didn't exist in Oz and would be surprised if any other nation replicated it

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Re: Commonwealth TOE's vs British ones?

Post by Dili » 09 Mar 2018 15:39

Thanks you everyone sorry to not be specific but was trying to know at lower level since Divisions are comparatively easier to research. So the Regiments/Battalions were also similar?


Indian Army formations had different establishments, as did the formations raised in Africa.
By formation you mean divisions?
So the Indian Divisions and SADF in Med were different from British ones?

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Re: Commonwealth TOE's vs British ones?

Post by Gary Kennedy » 09 Mar 2018 21:30

When you say the Med are you thinking of the North African campaign, or the Sicilian/Italian campaign, or a combination? It's just to me the Med means Sicily and Italy and later Greece, so I assumed you were thinking of July 1943 onwards. If you're asking about the Battalion (Inf) and Regimental (Armd and Arty) level than it's possible to be a bit more specific.

The authorised strengths of Canadian Inf Bns in Sicily and later Italy were practically the same as those of the British equivalents. Canadian WE refs II/233/2 through to II/233/4 for an Inf Bn were based on the British II/233/2 and later II/233/3. Canadian Inf Bns added a Paymaster with a Sgt and batman, and latterly a 'Scout Pl' officer and batman, but aside from a few differences in vehicles and 'cap badges' the two nations used practically the same WE.

NZEF Inf Bns used the same WEs in North Africa as their British counterparts and carried these over to Italy. As a result of experience they started to diverge and drafted their own WEs. There was an issue of the Inf Bn WE in Sep44 but unfortunately I don't have a copy of that. The NZEF Feb45 Inf Bn is different from the Br/Cdn WEs of that period.

I've never been able to track down SA or Indian Army WEs to compare against. I've seen a summary for an Indian Div and it's very lightweight compared to a British one.

In British terminology something of the order of an Inf Bn or an Armd or Arty Regt is a Unit, while a Formation is a Brigade or higher. There are numerous exceptions for what counts as a unit, example a Divisional Postal Unit of 25 all ranks.

Re the other query on Recce Corps, Recce Regts had a chequered history in 8th Army in North Africa but were certainly present in the Inf Divs in Italy, counted as Div Tps.

Gary

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Re: Commonwealth TOE's vs British ones?

Post by Sheldrake » 10 Mar 2018 01:54

Dili wrote:Thanks you everyone sorry to not be specific but was trying to know at lower level since Divisions are comparatively easier to research. So the Regiments/Battalions were also similar?


Indian Army formations had different establishments, as did the formations raised in Africa.
By formation you mean divisions?
So the Indian Divisions and SADF in Med were different from British ones?
Well, formations = brigades and divisions.

The Indian army had its own structure optimised for imperial policing, especially on the North West frontier with Afghanistan. The formations sent to fight in the Middle east and Africa mirrored British organisations where equipment allowed. Equipment shortages were a significant factor for the early years of the North African Campaign. I am not an expert on the Indian army but the is an explanation here.
https://www.britishmilitaryhistory.co.u ... 1-1945.pdf

The example Baluchi battalion is 12 officers and C.100 men short of a British infantry battalion establishment.

At a unit level Indian battalions had a different rank structure, which probably altered the unit establishments. As with the South Africans British Indian Army was racially:
British Officers, (CO, Company commanders, Adjutant and some platoon commanders & a a few others
Viceroy Commission Officers - Indian officers - The "Gurkha Major/ Baluchi major i.e. the senior indian officer + company 2ICs & most platoon commanders )
Other Ranks - which included warrent officers& sergeants -indians

(I should point out that there was a big difference between the racial segregation. The Indian and African "Native" formations were structured to create the maximum fighting power from subject peoples under European command. The South Africans wanted to avoid arming black africans.)

The Indian army was also supported by a train of private contractors carriers and servants some of which were formalised with military ranks. I don't know how much was taken to the Middle east and Italy, but charwallahs and chogiwallahs were as much an integral part of the Indian army as the Naafi canteen or officers mess.

Someone who has the Indian army battalion establishments might enlighten us/ This thread does rather shine a shameful light on the lact of study and resources devoted to the British Indian Army. This is a serious absence as the Indian Army was the largest volunteer army in the history of the world, fought in almost every theatre of operations and, because of its structure, is a radical comparison with other fighting forces. You can find more about the structure of the Indians in the SS than in 8th Army.
Last edited by Sheldrake on 10 Mar 2018 11:06, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Commonwealth TOE's vs British ones?

Post by Urmel » 10 Mar 2018 10:25

My understanding was that at least 1 South African Division was fully motorised. I would guess that affected its structure? I also believe they had a substantial contingent of non-fighting Cape Coloured personnel?
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Commonwealth TOE's vs British ones?

Post by Dili » 10 Mar 2018 22:35

I don't know where i got but i usually call formations to corps and armies. But it is good to know the British definitions.


@Gary the whole Med theater from N.Africa/Levant to Italy.

I have some Indian motorized brigades in my TOE research : 3 Indian Mot.Brigade then 3rd Indian Motor Brigade Group. With this terminology i suppose they are mostly based on respective British TOE's.

I have that in South African Army the artillery is called Brigades(until late 1941) instead of Regiments - from a light research it seems it was just a a naming difference but a confirmation would be better - i know there were a lot of material, human shortages - . 1st Field Brigade fought in Crusader as part of 2nd SADF Division.

Also i am curious about the South African Car Recon Bn. If they would be modeled on British ones or have they're own TOE?

Regarding the infantry battalions/regiment(brit.) any differences?

And Cavalry(horse) squadrons would they be similar?

Regarding NZ. I have the the 4th Infantry Brigade is motorized in late 1941 and armored with Shermans in 1943 - with 22 Motor Bn would quantities be modeled from the British or as said above New Zealand being unhappy with British they went their own way?

@Urmel i don't have 1st SA division motorized. I have notes that there were a lot of problems between the British and South African authorities. With the later protesting that the units were employed in guard duties and construction instead of combat training. Lack of manpower was also big issue.
I don't have any SA Brigade motorized. But my research i wouldn't call it complete.


P.S: as an explanation the emphasis, my interest it is related to the combat unit capability -, how many squads, how many machine guns, how many engineering squads, how many engineering assault squads, vehicles and so on, and the differences of that in Commonwealth and British units.

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Re: Commonwealth TOE's vs British ones?

Post by Urmel » 10 Mar 2018 23:23

I think the SA Armoured Cars had more vehicles than a British regiment.

David Katz definitely states the SA 1st Div was fully motorised, and I think so does Agar-Hamilton & Turner.

I'm not aware that 4 NZ Brigade was motorised or organised in a different way than the other Brigades during CRUSADER.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Commonwealth TOE's vs British ones?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 11 Mar 2018 00:23

Hi Guys,

I have seen 2nd New Zealand Division described as the nation in arms. While basically following British norms, it seems to have had several add-on extras that made it more like a corps by the end of the war in Italy.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Commonwealth TOE's vs British ones?

Post by Sheldrake » 11 Mar 2018 10:14

Sid Guttridge wrote:Hi Guys,

I have seen 2nd New Zealand Division described as the nation in arms. While basically following British norms, it seems to have had several add-on extras that made it more like a corps by the end of the war in Italy.

Cheers,

Sid.
Sid,

The 2nd NZ Division did have a unique organisation but as a division not a corps.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2nd_New_Zealand_Division

In North Africa in 1941 it turned up with an extra infantry battalion the 28th Maori Battalion

In From El Alemein it was reduced to two brigades as the 4th infantry was reformed as the 4th Armoured Birgade.

In Italy it was organised into two infantry and one armoured brigades, with an armoured car based cavalry regiment. It had more infantry battalions (7:4) than a British armoured division, but fewer armoured regiments, with fewer tanks (3:4) It also had its own integral survey battery until late 1944. It is better compared to a Panzer Grenadier Division.

On a couple of occasions the NZ Division improvised a Corps HQ from their own resources and Freyburg commanded a second division as the NZ Corps -most famously at Cassino. This says more about Freyburg, and New Zealand willingness to give it a go. It was still a division in size and resources.

It did not have -
The HQ staff of an Army Corps with dedicated arm and services cells such as artillery or engineers. It lacked the depth of staff expertise available to an army corps
Dedicated corps level signals
Its own AOP Squadron
Corps Anti tank, Light AA, Army Services Corps and Engineer Regiments.
Some of these were attached, buyt the New Zealand component was never more than a Division

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Re: Commonwealth TOE's vs British ones?

Post by David W » 11 Mar 2018 12:25

Hi. I have some information to offer.....

This was courtesy of William Marshall.

The presence of 6Pdrs would suggest 1942 not 1941.

MEN. SUB M/G. BREN. VICKERS .5". A.T.R. BREN CARRIER. CARRIER- 3"MORTAR. 2" MORTAR. 3" MORTAR. 2 Pdr. 6 Pdr.


SOUTH AFRICAN RIFLE Battalion. 960. 70. 37. 17. 0. 0. 0. 0. 9. 16. 16.

If these figures were achieved in reality, or just on paper, I'm not sure.

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Re: Commonwealth TOE's vs British ones?

Post by Gary Kennedy » 11 Mar 2018 13:35

Dili,

If you are looking for the broad figures for the British Inf Bn compared to the NZ Inf Bn and Cdn Inf Bn I can certainly give you the official figures. I was sent some for Aus Inf Bns but I've never been sure if this included those relevant to North Africa. As mentioned I've not seen anything for Indian or South African Inf units.

Tony Chadwick has posted examples of the South African Armd Recce Bn and Armd Car Regt, again not sure if these were the formats used in the desert.

http://www.warestablishments.net/SAReconnaissance.html

David, I'm struggling to marry up those figures for the SA Inf Bn; does it mean 70 SMG, 37 LMG and 17 Vickers MMG? Also nine 3-inch mortars and sixteen each of 2-pr and 6-pr atk guns? The atk guns is in line with Motor Bn levels, but only based on sixteen of one or the other calibre, as opposed to sixteen of each.

Gary

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Re: Commonwealth TOE's vs British ones?

Post by David W » 11 Mar 2018 14:03

Hi Gary.

Yes you are right regarding the figures.
Including what was my mistake (and not William's) over the anti tank guns. It is indeed supposed to be either 2 Pdrs or 6 Pdrs and not both.

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