British Order of Battle

Discussions on all aspects of the The United Kingdom & its Empire and Commonwealth during the Inter-War era and Second World War. Hosted by Andy H
Ружичасти Слон
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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by Ружичасти Слон » 19 Feb 2022 13:38

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
18 Feb 2022 23:11
The Army must have had some system for rating the combat worthiness of a formation.
Yes
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
18 Feb 2022 23:11
Does Joslen cover that?
No
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
18 Feb 2022 23:11
Or another source
Archives on London have mostest documents
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
18 Feb 2022 23:11
I am guessing that at the least there were reports identifying the capability of each division.
Yes
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
18 Feb 2022 23:11
The opinions of the British Marshals might be pertinent at this point.
Who was be British Marshals ?

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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by daveshoup2MD » 19 Feb 2022 18:37

Richard Anderson wrote:
19 Feb 2022 01:00
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?

"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. :lol:

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? :lol:
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.
"British light division" as a shorthand reference to the divisional headquarters. division troops, artillery, and two (as opposed to three) infantry brigade organization, which they (and the Indian/Commonwealth/British-sustained Allies used repeatedly in various forms in 1939-45, from iterations that included the "motor division" to some of the "county" divisions to various "jungle" divisions to the two Polish infantry divisions when they went into action with two brigades each and the Italian "combat groups" which basically followed a similar TO&E.

Given the (more or less) US equivalent, the "square brigade" of two regiments+ had officially gone by the wayside (for the most part) by 1942, but in fact re-surfaced in various iterations in the US Army and USMC in 1943-45 (the MTF/5332nd Bde, the 1st ABTF, the 1st Marine Bde (1944 version), the 316th CB, etc.) which were all significantly more akin to a division than a British/Commonwealth/Empire/Allied brigade or brigade group, seems reasonable to equate such - in operational terms - with a light division, since such were substantially larger and "heavier" than the the B/C/I/A "brigades" commonly used as equivalent to a US regiment/RCT/Combat Command etc, and vice-versa. YMMV, but hey, that's the internet. :D

"Shorthand" is the operative term here, in reference to a request by a fellow board member who asked for it, because I have Joslen and some other odds and ends like Stacey, etc., none of which are available on-line, as far as I know; if not, posting a link so anyone who wishes can dive down various rabbit holes would be welcomed by the board, I'm sure.

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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by daveshoup2MD » 19 Feb 2022 18:42

Richard Anderson wrote:
19 Feb 2022 02:05
daveshoup2MD wrote:
18 Feb 2022 20:24
During WW II, the US Army and Marine Corps attached separate tank battalions to the divisions in the ETO and PTO, sometimes for short periods, sometimes for (practically) the duration, based on availability and circumstances. In the ETO, the armored group headquarters were the closest US Army equivalent to the British/Commonwealth separate tank/armoured brigades; these were (sometimes) attached, 1-to-1, to corps headquarters, to provide an administrative armored section for the separate tank battalions operating with a given corps' divisions. In other cases, the US armored group headquarters were used as operational/tactical headquarters with multiple maneuver battalions attached, or were attached to beef up the third combat command headquarters in the US Army's 1943 TO&E armored divisions. The above had both positive and negative effects, as can be expected.
Some additional specific details may be of interest, from my manuscript For Purpose of Service Test:

"Ten armored groups were eventually assigned to the ETOUSA, originally intended as one per corps, to function as task forces with separate tank battalions attached as needed. At least theoretically, that meant two or three tank battalions per corps and armored group. However, standard operating practice in the theater quickly became attachment of one separate tank battalion per infantry division, to the limit of availability of the separate tank battalions, regardless of corps organization. Furthermore, the armored groups were not always in the chain of command or administration of the separate tank battalions, so often had no actual authority over them. Thus, the armored groups quickly became organizations without a purpose. Initially, most took on the role of armor section on the corps special staff. Some did occasionally take on task force missions, notably the 3d Armored Group with V Corps attacking the Westwall fortifications 17-30 September 1944. Otherwise, they performed missions as varied as operating Corps Rest Centers, organizing corps rear area defenses, acting as military government, and training or supervising armor special equipment schools, especially flame throwers and mine exploders.

The final decision by the ETOUSA on how to employ the armored groups was made in the fall of 1944. It was decided to continue the attachment of the armored groups to the corps and formalizing the group’s position as the Corps Armored Section. However, some of the group assets were also used to augment the Reserve Command of certain armored divisions, which expressed a requirement for three rather than two tactical commands.

The first so employed was the 3d Armored Group, which split to form the V Corps Armored Section and also augmented CCR, 5th Armored Division on 28 October 1944. The second was the 12th Armored Group, which was attached to the 9th Armored Division on 4 December 1944. Next was the 9th Armored Group, which was relieved of its CDL duties c. 12 November 1944 when it landed in France. It was first attached to the XVIII Corps as the Corps Armored Section from 23 December 1944 to 15 February 1945 and then to III Corps from 19 February 1945. On 10 January 1945, it provided an augmentation of 6 officers, 1 warrant officer, and 61 enlisted men augmenting CCR, 7th Armored Division. The 10th Armored Group was the last used to augment the armored divisions, after it also was relieved of CDL duties c. 29 August 1944. It augmented CCR, 8th Armored Division 10 February 1945. The other armored divisions organized under the September 1943 T/O&E, the 1st, 4th, 6th, 10th-14th, 16th, and 20th all retained the original organization and doctrinal employment of CCR."

More important than the pluses or minuses of the Armored Group system was the US Army's failure to field enough separate tank battalions for the number of infantry divisions raised, which was linked to its failure to develop a doctrine and establishing training for the infantry division with tanks.
In the PTO, the US Army armored group headquarters were used both for administrative support and - at times - as operational/tactical headquarters with multiple maneuver battalions attached. FWIW, the US equipped six tank battalions in the CBI for the Chinese army; these had a mix of US and Chinese officers/NCOs, but most of the enlisted personnel were Chinese. There was also a provisional armored group headquarters, organized along similar lines. Not all of the Chinese-American units saw action in 1944-45, but they existed, and the resources passed (absent the US Army personnel) to the ROC postwar.
Although nominally of six battalions, only the 1st and 2d Battalion of the 1st Provisional Chinese American Tank Group were committed to combat, the 3d-6th only ever had a training function. The 1st and 2d were equipped with M3A3 Light Tanks until 12 Medium Tanks M4A4 arrived on 19 April 1944. It is unclear exactly what the 3d-6th Battalions had, but they appear to have been a mix of Medium Tanks M3 and Light Tanks M3 of various types and in various degrees of operation. At the end of the war they were transferred to KMT control and became the 1st-3d KMT Tank Battalions.
The US group system was, by definition, very flexible, which had positives and negatives. The groups were (generally) suppressed after WW II, and the infantry division TO&E included an attached tank battalion and three additional tank companies that were organic to the infantry regiments/RCTs. That was postwar, but before the Pentomic structure, which was course-corrected back to ROAD after that...
In theory it was very flexible, which indeed had positive and negative results. It tended to work very well for field artillery, combat support, and combat service-support organizations, but not so well for the Infantry and Armor.
Thanks for the details. It seems we're in violent agreement.

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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by Sheldrake » 19 Feb 2022 22:12

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
18 Feb 2022 23:11
The Army must have had some system for rating the combat worthiness of a formation. Does Joslen cover that? Or another source I am guessing that at the least there were reports identifying the capability of each division. The opinions of the British Marshals might be pertinent at this point.
It would have been very helpful if there were....

The British were loathe to make simplistic comparisons between formations in either world war. This may have been because of a view that capability is a fickle mixture of the physical, conceptual and morale components of fighting power. There were reports written about performance and some nuanced conclusions drawn about formations, their component units and commanders. Comparing military units isn't like comparing a fantasy football IX.

The British Army's Empire wide responsibilities meant that there was not a single level set of criteria against which divisions could be compared - assuming that divisions were an appropriate basis for comparison. The terrain, climate and enemy might all be very varied. The US tended the treat the ETO and PTO as completely different.

Or it might have been simply un-British. A ranking system might not go down well in the collegiate atmosphere of the British Officer Corps. What purpose would it serve to tell someone that they serve in or command a second rate formation.

There was also the man at the top. Prime Minister Winston Churchill was impatient with military men coming up with objections to his bright ideas. WSC did not accept that soldiers needed acclimatizing or training and equipment needed to be tested and maintained before use. A document listing the lack of readiness of troops would have looked like another set of excuses to the man at the top...

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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 20 Feb 2022 04:35

daveshoup2MD wrote:
19 Feb 2022 18:42
...

Thanks for the details. It seems we're in violent agreement.
Isn't that what sex is? Get a room guys.

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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by Richard Anderson » 20 Feb 2022 04:58

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
20 Feb 2022 04:35
daveshoup2MD wrote:
19 Feb 2022 18:42
...

Thanks for the details. It seems we're in violent agreement.
Its that what sex its? Get a room guys.
Damn dude, your mind is really in the gutter, isn't it? :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by daveshoup2MD » 20 Feb 2022 05:10

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
20 Feb 2022 04:35
daveshoup2MD wrote:
19 Feb 2022 18:42
...

Thanks for the details. It seems we're in violent agreement.
Its that what sex its? Get a room guys.
I feel sorry for Ms. Schwamberger. :D

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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by daveshoup2MD » 20 Feb 2022 05:11

Richard Anderson wrote:
20 Feb 2022 04:58
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
20 Feb 2022 04:35
daveshoup2MD wrote:
19 Feb 2022 18:42
...

Thanks for the details. It seems we're in violent agreement.
Its that what sex its? Get a room guys.
Damn dude, your mind is really in the gutter, isn't it? :lol: :lol: :lol:
He was an artilleryman. And a Marine. Two strikes... ;)

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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by daveshoup2MD » 21 Feb 2022 00:21

Okay, to try and get back on track and in response to a request by Mr. Schwamberger, here's the 1943 version:

Here's a look at the British/Imperial/etc. "army" in 1943 based on Joslen and a couple of other sources, in the following regions, and at the divisional level:

North America (Canada)
Canadian 6th Division (activated 1942 for home service; one brigade group for COTTAGE in 1943; reduced strength 1944); Canadian 7th Division (1942/HS; reduced strength 1944); Canadian 8th Division (1942/HS; disbanded 1943);

UK:
British Guards Armoured (formed 1941); 9th Armoured (formed 1940; disbanded 1944); 11th Armoured (formed 1941); 42nd (converted from infantry in 1941; disbanded 1943); 79th Armoured (formed 1942; reorganized as non-standard TO&E in 1943); Canadian 4th Armoured Division (arrived UK in 1942); Canadian 5th Armoured Division (arrived UK 1941 as 1st Armoured; redesig and to MTO in 1943; to NW Europe, 1945); Polish 1st Armoured (formed 1942)

British 1st Infantry (to MTO, 1943), 3rd, 4th (to MTO, 1943), 15th, 38th (LE, disbanded 1944), 43rd, 45th (LE, disbanded 1944), 46th (to MTO, 1943), 47th (LE, disbanded 1944), 48th (LE, reduced 1943), 49th, 52nd (Mountain, 1942), 53rd, 54th (LE, disbanded 1943), 55th (LE, 1942), 59th (disbanded NW Europe, 1944), 61st, 76th (LE, disbanded 1944), 77th (LE, disbanded 1944); 80th (LE, formed 1943, disbanded 1944); 1st Airborne (formed 1941, to MTO 1943, to NW Europe 1943); 6th Airborne (formed 1943); Royal Marines Division (LE, 1942; disbanded 1943); Canadian 1st Division (to MTO, 1943, to NW Europe, 1945); Canadian 2nd Division; Canadian 3rd Division (arrived UK 1941),

MENA - i.e. North Africa/Balkans/SW Asia (Italy to Iran, basically)
British 1st Armoured (to Italy, 1943, disbanded, 1945); British 6th Armoured (to Italy, 1943); British 7th Armoured (to Italy, 1943; to NW Europe, 1944);10th Armoured (disbanded, 1944); British 1st Infantry (to Italy, 1943), British 4th Infantry (to Italy, 1944; to Greece, 1944), British 5th Infantry (arrived from India, 1942; to Italy, 1943; to NW Europe, 1945); British 46th Infantry (to Italy, 1944; to Greece, 1945); British 50th Infantry (to Italy, 1943; to NW Europe, 1943; disbanded, 1944); British 56th Infantry (to Italy, 1943; to NW Europe, 1944); British 56th Infantry (to Italy, 1943); British 78th Infantry (to Italy, 1943); 4th Indian (to Italy, 1944; to Greece, 1944); 6th Indian (LE, disbanded 1944); 8th Indian (to Italy, 1943); 10th Indian (to Italy, 1944); 1st South African (to SA, 1943); 6th SA Armoured (formed 1943; to Italy, 1944); Australian 9th (to SWPA, 1943); New Zealand 2nd (to Italy, 1943); Polish 3rd Division (-) (to Italy, 1944); Polish 5th Division (-) (to Italy, 1944)

East Africa
11th (formed 1943, to SEAC, 1943); 12th, (disbanded 1943);

West Africa
81st (formed 1943, to SEAC 1943); 82nd (formed 1943, to SEAC 1944)

South Africa
South African 3rd (formed 1940; one brigade served in Madagascar in 1942-43; division disbanded 1943);

SEAC (India to Malaya)
British 2nd Infantry (arrived from UK, 1942); British 5th Infantry (arrived from UK, 1942; to MENA, 1942); British 70th Infantry (from MENA, 1942; converted to Chindit structure, 1943, disbanded as such 1943); British 36th (redesignated from 36th Indian, 1944)
Indian 32nd Armoured (formed 1941; reorganized as 44th Armoured in 1943; disbanded, 1944); Indian 43rd Armoured Division (formed 1942; disbanded, 1944); 5th Indian (from MENA, 1943); 7th Indian (formed 1940); 14th Indian (formed 1941; destroyed (essentially) 1st Arakan, 1942-43; then LE/training); 17th Indian (formed 1941); 19th Indian (formed 1941); 20th Indian (formed 1942); 23rd Indian (formed 1942); 25th Indian (formed 1942); 26th Indian (formed 1942); 34th Indian (1942, Ceylon garrison/fortress, disbanded, 1945); 36th Indian, LE (formed 1942, redesignated British 36th, 1944); 39th Indian (LE, training); 44th Indian Airborne (formed 1944);

Southwest and South Pacific (Australia/Fiji/New Zealand)
Australian 1st Armoured (formed 1941, disbanded 1943); 2nd Armoured Division (converted, 1942; disbanded, 1943); 3rd Armoured Division (converted, 1942; disbanded, 1943); 1st Division (1941, disbanded, 1945); 2nd Division (1941, disbanded, 1944); 3rd Division (1941, to NG, 1943); 4th Division (1941, disbanded, 1944); 5th Division (1942, to NG, 1943); 10th Division (formed/disbanded, 1942); 11th Division (formed 1942, to NG, 1942-43); 12th Division (formed 1942); New Zealand: 1st NZ Division (LE, 1942; disbanded, 1943-44); 3rd NZ Division (LE, two brigades, Fiji; disbanded, 1944); 4th NZ Division (LE, 1942; disbanded, 1943-44); 5th NZ Division (LE, 1942; disbanded, 1943-44);

So, in terms of "deployable" divisions that were raised in 1942 or earlier, in 1943, it looks like in the MTO/ETO, there were 21 British (Gds, 1st, 6th, 7th, 11th armoured, 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 15th, 43rd, 46th, 49th, 50th, 51st, 52nd, 53rd, 56th, 59th, 78th infantry; 1st Airborne); 5 Canadian (two armoured - 4th, 5th - and three infantry - 1st, 2nd, 3rd); 3 Indian (all infantry, 4th, 8th, 10th); and one NZ (infantry; 2nd). The British 6th Airborne and South African 6th Armoured were in training for 1944, as were the three Polish divisions, but three British divisions (one armoured and two infantry) were broken up in 1944 in Europe for replacements.

In SEAC, there were (more or less) two British (2nd and 70th/36th), eight Indian (5th, 7th, 17th, 19th, 20th, 23rd, 25th, 26th), with three African divisions in training. In the Pacific, there were three AIF divisions, plus the various "local" Australian and New Zealand formations, but these could not have been deployed outside of the SWPA and SPA.

Call it ~39 or 40, more or less, from the UK to India, and including British, Indian, Canadian, and New Zealand divisions; the British, South Africans, African "Colonial," and Poles were on track to add 5-8 more in 1944, but with some significant caveats, including that not all of these formations can really be regarded as equivalents, or "available" outside of the two main theaters, Italy/UK/NW Europe (MTO/ETO) on the one and India/Burma (i.e. SEAC) on the other.

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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 26 Feb 2022 13:48

Dave, thanks for this effort. I'll be digesting this for a while.

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