daveshoup2MD wrote: ↑
18 Feb 2022 19:52
The British rotated divisions out of the line repeatedly in the MTO (56th and 78th divisions, in and out of Italy in 1943-45, 4th, 4th Indian, and 46th divisions from Italy to Greece in 1944, etc.) and in SEAC in 1942-45 (which is far a better comparison to the US in the PTO, given the common enemy and intensity of active operations in these theaters); in the ETO/NW Europe, the British broke up three
combat-experienced divisions for replacements; the US did not break up any
divisions, veteran or green, for replacements. Thanks for agreeing.
Odd, but did you think I was disagreeing that the British broke up three divisions for replacements?
One can argue extenuating circumstances for the British all one wishes, (or, as you do, criticize the US in isolation) but the bottom line is as above.
Who is arguing "extenuating circumstances"? No, I am not criticizing "the US in isolation.
Carl's question was regarding "combat ready divisions"/"operational readiness"/et cetera. The British were doing just that - maintaining operational readiness by their system - by breaking up divisions in order to maintain the strength of selected divisions. The problem was not divisional assets; there was no lack of field artillery, antitank artillery, engineers, ordnance maintenance, quartermaster, and the like in the British Army. There was a lack of infantry and especially riflemen, complicated by the need as perceived by the British Army for around two centuries to maintain regimental integrity. So they consolidated battalions, shuffled them around brigades, and shifted brigades about, in order to keep up the strength of the infantry in a smaller number of divisions.
It was the British solution to their problem and was their way of doing it. Their solution required reducing the number of divisions. Attempts at solving the problem by forcing manpower from one Regiment into another did not work well every time and worked badly sometimes.
The American solution was the American way of doing it. Feeding individual replacements to divisions. Their solution required sacrificing to a degree the combat readiness and operational capability of divisions as hundreds of usually replacements were churned through formations on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. It also meant that at the pointy end infantry battalions and especially rifle companies were chronically short of manpower, which made it difficult for them to achieve their mission. Rifle companies with half or one-third of their required riflemen on hand to not function as well as full strength ones.
The German solution was slightly different still, but also an answer to the same problem - how do you keep units in combat up to strength and operationally capable?
"MTF" is a reference to the Mars Task Force; with two US combat arms regiments, artillery, armor, and engineers to match, it was easily the equivalent of British light division in the same theater in 1944-45, so if the 36th Division counts as a "British" division, then the MTF counts as an "American" division. The 1st ABTF had six US maneuver battalions, artillery, engineers, etc. and replaced the 2nd Parachute Brigade with the 1st SSF in 1944, but event absent that - the US elements were organized as a division-sized equivalent of a British light division.
Thanks, brainfart, I simply couldn't think last night of what "MTF" you meant. Yes, two regiments, but five battalions, and two FA battalions, so about a half strength "division" and a provisional one at that, especially given they could not use the assets of the 1st Chinese Infantry Regiment and the 1st Provisional Chinese-American Tank Group was a bit of a limited asset too.
Anyway, the 36th (Ulster) Division was "British", even of it started life as part of the British Indian Army.
BTW, is "British light division" your construct? Since I don't think they had one other than the 61st, unless you are thinking of Light Bob Craufurd?
FWIW, the point of the thread is what the British (and, by extension, the Imperial/Commonwealth/etc.) were able to deploy in a combat role at home in 1940, and away from "home," year to year from 1941 onwards, using divisions as a convenient shorthand.
Yes, but Carl did clarify that he was looking for operational capability rather than Hitler-like creations of imaginary "divisions" or accounting sleight of hand. Randomly amalgamating non-divisional units together and declaring them "divisions" - like the habit of some of counting every three American "separate" Infantry regiments as a "division" - or declaring provisional task forces "divisions" doesn't do much to clarify the question...it would be about as useful as dividing total personnel by an imaginary "division slice" and declaring that a "division".
As pertinent as criticisms of replacement policies notwithstanding, that's not really what has been posted is about ... but thanks for the details.
Given that my post was not a criticism of replacement policies, but was in partial answer to Carl's questions, you are welcome...