US Half Tracks in British use

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Sheldrake
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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by Sheldrake » 27 Oct 2019 12:15

What have the last dozen posts in this thread got to do with the topic title ? Why not start another thread or re-open yet another about Montgomery's Generalship?

yantaylor
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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by yantaylor » 27 Oct 2019 14:14

Did the British man the M5 halftrack with a full crew, according to some of the sites I have visited, the American halftracks had a crew of three in a commander, driver and assistant driver, if these men were organic to that vehicles, then we have only ten places left for a basic infantry squad, but the US Army squads were twelve men strong, making them two seats short. So, were all thirteen a part of the squad?

Looking at the charts regarding the British, their armoured trucks would have a single driver with a NCO commanding a section of six men, If they used halftracks, would they add another driver/.50 cal gunner.
They do look rather undermanned when compared with the US counter parts, what if the driver got hit, who would man the .50 cal?

Yan

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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by Michael Kenny » 27 Oct 2019 16:00

Sheldrake wrote:
27 Oct 2019 12:15
What have the last dozen posts in this thread got to do with the topic title ?
Why not start another thread or re-open yet another about Montgomery's Generalship?
I will never allow ill-informed opinion on this matter to pass without comment. Lies and invention should always be corrected no matter where they appear.

Gary Kennedy
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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by Gary Kennedy » 27 Oct 2019 17:16

Sheldrake wrote:
27 Oct 2019 12:15
What have the last dozen posts in this thread got to do with the topic title ? Why not start another thread or re-open yet another about Montgomery's Generalship?
I would agree absolutely, though Yan I think you've actually derailed your own thread by bringing in the mysterious US Colonel :wink: . Perhaps the moderators could unpick the simple equipment queries and answers from the unrelated correspondence, either for a new thread or to tack onto to one of the untold legion of similar debates?

Gary

Michael Kenny
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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by Michael Kenny » 27 Oct 2019 17:40

Gary Kennedy wrote:
27 Oct 2019 17:16
...........though Yan I think you've actually derailed your own thread by bringing in the mysterious US Colonel......................

I noticed that but was too polite to bring it up.

yantaylor
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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by yantaylor » 27 Oct 2019 20:36

Yes I did ruin things a little, I thought that the thread had run its course, but I was wrong, I thought too that I had already taken it off course when I started adding questions concerning cruiser tank squadrons.
Sorry!
Yan

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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by Michael Kenny » 27 Oct 2019 20:44


yantaylor
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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by yantaylor » 27 Oct 2019 21:31

Nice shot of a White Michael.
Thanks
Yan

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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by Michael Kenny » 28 Oct 2019 05:20


Gary Kennedy
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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by Gary Kennedy » 28 Oct 2019 13:26

yantaylor wrote:
27 Oct 2019 14:14
Did the British man the M5 halftrack with a full crew, according to some of the sites I have visited, the American halftracks had a crew of three in a commander, driver and assistant driver, if these men were organic to that vehicles, then we have only ten places left for a basic infantry squad, but the US Army squads were twelve men strong, making them two seats short. So, were all thirteen a part of the squad?

Looking at the charts regarding the British, their armoured trucks would have a single driver with a NCO commanding a section of six men, If they used halftracks, would they add another driver/.50 cal gunner.
They do look rather undermanned when compared with the US counter parts, what if the driver got hit, who would man the .50 cal?

Yan
The British Motor Section was eight strong, and there was no augmentation to allow for a dedicated gunner. There is also an entire subtopic on whether British halftracks in Motor Bns even had machine gun armament. I've seen lots of threads on forums over the years on the subject, and in short it was at unit discretion. I started a thread on WW2talk re halftracks and White scout cars in British Motor Bns specifically, and was reminded to have a look back through the history of G Company, 8th Bn, the Rifle Brigade (From the Beaches to the Baltic). The author, Noel Bell, is often quoted as the justification in wargamers putting .50-cals on their British halftracks, but when you read the full paragraph it adds a bit of context;

"It was now June the 23rd, and we had been ten days in France. That day we acquired many .50 Brownings, from the 3rd R.T.R., who found them superfluous on their Shermans. We mounted them on our trucks and carriers and even on our scout car. They certainly improved the visual aggressiveness of our vehicles, though from a tactical point of view their field of fire was small in many cases, being limited owing to the inadequacy, and, in some cases, the bad placing of the gun mountings. They gave us, nevertheless, much confidence in our "ack-ack" defence."

That was written at a time when 8RB was still attached out on a Company basis to the Armd Regts of 29th Armd Bde in 11th Armd Div. I've seem to recall seeing it interpreted as meaning the .50s were distributed across 8RB as a whole, though when you read the original context it doesn't fully suggest it was the case. From what I can recall the author only mentions the Brownings, plus Brens, being used in the AA role, rather than in in the direct fire role. Motor Bns had been equipped with unarmoured trucks right until 1943, when they started to get White Scout cars and latterly halftracks, in Home Forces, ahead of Normandy. Using their main transport in a forward area to provide fairly limited fire support does not seem to have been a regular occurrence.

The small size of the Motor Section did make for a limited dismount strength in a full Motor Bn compared to an Inf Bn proper, even though they were very nearly the same size by 1944 (circa 850 men each). In theory they were a specialised unit and not structured to be used in a standard infantry role, but as Para, Air Landing and later Commando units found out, it didn't always work like that in real world operations.

The US Armd Inf Bn was based on a 12-man Squad from late 1943 onwards. This included two NCOs, the driver and nine riflemen. The Squad leader normally sat in the driver's compartment, on the far right hand side, and he was to man the on board .30-cal M1917 if the halftrack had the ring mount over the compartment; if it was on a pedestal mount back in the passenger compartment one of the rifleman would do so instead. The Asst Squad leader sat in the back along with eight of the rifleman, the ninth sitting up front between the driver and Squad leader. The third Squad doubled as Platoon HQ, so had the commander, Pl Sgt, Sgt Guide, driver and 8 riflemen, with a .50-cal instead of a .30-cal. I've not seen a seating layout for them, so possibly it allowed for the Lt and Pl Sgt to be seated with the driver and the Sgt Guide with eight men in the rear of the vehicle.

Gary

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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by yantaylor » 28 Oct 2019 20:59

Hi Gary, would the scout platoon make up the short fall in infantry for the motor company as a whole?
Maybe if you add the three motor platoons along with the CHQ and 3in mortar detachments plus the scout platoon, you would get around 170 all ranks, which I suppose is not bad for a company.

Yan

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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by OpanaPointer » 28 Oct 2019 22:47

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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by Gary Kennedy » 29 Oct 2019 13:26

yantaylor wrote:
28 Oct 2019 20:59
Hi Gary, would the scout platoon make up the short fall in infantry for the motor company as a whole?
Maybe if you add the three motor platoons along with the CHQ and 3in mortar detachments plus the scout platoon, you would get around 170 all ranks, which I suppose is not bad for a company.

Yan
The Scout Pls could certainly add a few more rifles and a lot more Bren guns when fighting dismounted. Any kind of motorised or mechanised infantry unit tends to have a lot more personnel in non-combat support roles than a standard infantry one (usually far more drivers and signaller types, also more mechanics). They could and would be used in frontline duties if required, but were normally not the first choice for doing so.

Gary

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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by Richard Anderson » 29 Oct 2019 16:07

Sorry to be late to the party, but I somehow missed this thread and this is directly related to some of my research...or at least this tangent in it is. :lol:
yantaylor wrote:
24 Oct 2019 11:32
Wow I just had a discussion with an ex-US Army Colonel who had been a battalion Co, and he wiped the floor with me and the British army, he said that the British never managed to combine infantry and armour and they couldn’t come close to the US Armies use of ‘Combat Commands’.
Yon 'Murican was probably speaking from the cuff and I doubt had any real hard knowledge of the details he was going on about. The U.S. Army doesn't actually do history very well any more. You might have asked him where the "combat commands" went.
I said that I was fully aware of how the US armoured divisions had three battalions of infantry, three of armour and three of artillery, which could split into three groups three. I also said that the British got their act together, somewhat in 1942 and had more infantry per armoured division then the Americans, three US to four Brits. But he dismissed and said we couldn’t combine them. He said that an American army would not send tanks into the attack without infantry and artillery, which is what the British did in 1940-42.
Oh dear, you both reduced a highly complex subject to a reductio ad absurdam. :D

1. Even though the September 1943 revised division TO&E had three battalions each of tank, armored infantry, and armored field artillery, it does not mean they were designed to be used as balanced groups of one each or that that was the way all the divisions employed them on. The division has organized had only two operational combat commands, A and B. Reserve Command most emphatically was not intended for or organized and manned to be an operational combat command. If it was, it would have been designated CCC. Of the four divisions initially available in Normandy, only the 5th and 7th employed non-doctrinal balanced combat commands, the 4th and 6th AD employed two task-organized commands, one typically armor heavy and the other infantry heavy. Later, the practice of attaching an armored group headquarters to the armored division became common as a way to augment the capability of CCR and make it a full operational command, but getting three combat commands into operation required considerable improvisation. Only 5th Armored Division took the balanced team concept to its extreme initially, with one tank company and one armored infantry company "married" as a tactical unit. It was much later before other divisions began following similar patterns. All of this was the result of organizational improvisation in the field, rather than a well thought out doctrine.
2. The British went through a similar period of organizational improvisation, typified by the 11th Armoured Division (the Guards Armoured Division battlegroup appears to have been more a way to keep the cap badges together than a well-thought out organizational improvisation.
3. The March 1942 TO&E American divisions were different still. They had no Reserve Command, but occasionally improvised one based on either the Armored Infantry Regimental HQ or on the headquarters of the attached TD battalion.
4. The American Army could and did frequently send unsupported tanks into the attack without infantry and frequently without coordinated artillery support. Doing so correctly was a matter of careful practice and learning on the battlefield...everyone had problems with that at times, the initial employment of the German Panzer Brigaden is a good example.
5. The British division was simply bigger, by far, than the American 1943-pattern division. It had one more infantry and one more armour battalion (well, armoured reconnaissance, but effectively not much different), but only had two artillery regiments with 12 troops (48 guns) versus the American three battalions and nine batteries (54 howitzers) so that was pretty much a wash.
Now I gave up, because this guy was more up on this stuff, so maybe he was right, but if he was how come we managed to be so successful.
He also dragged Monty through the mud, saying he was a rubbish, slow and out of touch with modern armoured warfare.
Never give up, never surrender. For his Montgomery I raise him a Courtney Hodges or Troy Middleton. :lol:
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

yantaylor
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Re: US Half Tracks in British use

Post by yantaylor » 29 Oct 2019 20:39

Hi Richard I put your points to the Colonel and he agrees with you and also said you can add Bradley to Hodges and Middleton.

Yan

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