State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

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yangtze
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State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by yangtze » 11 May 2014 12:07

Hi all

I'm looking for reliable information on the relative strengths of British divisions in the UK in September 1940. I've read that only 5 divisions were at full strength, but I've never seen those divisions named. Some kind of table with accurate assessments of relative strengths would be great. I don't need too much detail, only the fact that one division might be at 75% strength whilst another only 50%, for example, but with those divisions named.

Anyone any ideas?

pugsville
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by pugsville » 11 May 2014 14:27

best I could so quick look around the net, I'm sure there's a old thread here that could have what you want

http://www.wwiiequipment.com/index.php? ... &Itemid=61

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phylo_roadking
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by phylo_roadking » 11 May 2014 17:16

OP. join the British Library's "EThOS" system...free to join IIRC...

http://ethos.bl.uk/Home.do;jsessionid=C ... 0F593BE0C7

Search under "Newbold"....and you'll find three (3) pages of results; in the very first few you'll find
British planning and preparations to resist invasion on land, September 1939 - September 1940.
Author: Newbold, David John.
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Awarded: 1988
You can download the pdf at no cost.
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Sid Guttridge
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Sid Guttridge » 11 May 2014 18:34

Hi Yangtze,

It rather depends what you mean by "full strength".

Divisions had establishment strengths for men and equipment. If I remember correctly, after the withdrawal from France in June 1940 only the uncommitted 1st Canadian Division was at establishment strength.

Some, largely regular, divisions were quickly brought back up to establishment strength by new productio. However, there were a lot of other, often territorial divisions, not at establishment strength, because, for example, their artillery consisted of obsolescent, lighter, older 75mm guns acquired in the USA, rather than the prescribed 25pdr guns (which I think were of 88mm). While these justifiably appear in orbats as divisions, it is a debateable point whether they were at "full strength" because of the sub-establishment nature of their equipment.

Cheers,

Sid.

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phylo_roadking
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by phylo_roadking » 11 May 2014 19:22

It rather depends what you mean by "full strength".
Exactly; because...
Divisions had establishment strengths for men and equipment. If I remember correctly, after the withdrawal from France in June 1940 only the uncommitted 1st Canadian Division was at establishment strength.
...but zero MT; all that had been left in France!


So it does very much depend on what definition of "full strength", what measurement, is used at any given point.
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pugsville
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by pugsville » 12 May 2014 05:21

It;s hard to give a percentage of divisional strength, as how do you weight the various different equipment, trucks, artillery, carriers, against each other. There were also a lot of non divisional troops,

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sitalkes
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by sitalkes » 12 May 2014 05:41

I also recommend reading Newbold. I Suggest reading these threads http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 4&t=200966
http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/12354-c ... mber-1940/
I would like to see a list of locations of the units in September 1940 and where they were located, rather than the tiny map of Britain that you typically get.

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phylo_roadking
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by phylo_roadking » 12 May 2014 13:58

I would like to see a list of locations of the units in September 1940 and where they were located, rather than the tiny map of Britain that you typically get.
As noted on many previous occasions, it's one of the disadvantages on the "British side" of not having a British-oriented version of Schenk :( There are some smaller-scale ones for limited areas and specific dates scattered about though, just a matter of culling them out of the threads. And not just here, of course...
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Gooner1 » 12 May 2014 14:40

sitalkes wrote: I would like to see a list of locations of the units in September 1940 and where they were located, rather than the tiny map of Britain that you typically get.

Good Map here http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/UK/U ... fUK-34.jpg

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sitalkes
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by sitalkes » 14 May 2014 01:17

Well I'm trying to get a list for a mod and from maps like that and information above I can only guess the following:
Location Troops
London: London Command HQ, GHQ Home Forces, London HG, Churchill, 20th Guards Brigade, 24th Guards Brigade and 3rd London Infantry Brigade
Canterbury: Canterbury HG
Ramsgate: 1st London Div: 1 bde
Deal: Kent HG
Dover: 1st London Div: 1 bde, 6th AA bde
Folkestone: 1st London Div: 1 bde
Dungeness: 45th Div, 1 bde
Ashford: 2nd NZ Division: 5th NZ bde, 7th NZ Bde, XII Corps HQ, 1st Army Tank Bde (5th RTR) (+ Kent Auxiliaries)
Maidstone: XII Corps Engineers,
Rye: 45th Div, 1 bde
Hastings: Hastings HG, 45th Div, 1 bde (artillery)
Eastbourne: Eastbourne HG
Newhaven: 29 Inf Bde
Brighton: Brighton HG
Worthing: Worthing HG
Littlehampton: 1st Motor Machine Gun Bde
Tonbridge: 1st CanadianDiv: 4 bdes, VII Corps HQ, Engineers (+ Sussex Aux.)
Dorking: 1st Armoured Div: 1 infantry brigade, artillery unit, and engineers
Cranleigh-Rudgwick (about 25-30 km north of Worthing): 1st Armoured Div: 20th Armoured Brigade (an armoured reconnaissance brigade equipped with Guy armoured cars and Bren carriers)
near Elstead (further to the west near Guildford:) 1st Armoured: 3rd Armoured Brigade(with three battalions of tanks)
still further to the west at Warminster (between Salisbury and Bath): 2nd Armoured Brigade (with a single tank battalion)
Aldershot: 2nd Canadian Division (2 bdes)
Chichester, Portsmouth, Isle of Wight, Lymington: 4th Divison, 4 bdes
Salisbury: V Corps HQ, Engineers, Artillery
Poole, Bournemouth, Cranbourne, plus a town further west: 50 Division, 4 bdes
Marlborough: AIF - 18 & 25th Australian Brigades, 21st Armoured Bde
Southampton - 6th Chasseurs Alpins battalion (mountain troops) - most of these troops elected to join the Vichy French army after they returned from Norway to Glasgow but some did join the Free French and stay in England.
Polish Independent Rifle Brigade - this fought with the French in Norway, then (after returning to England) was shipped to France to fight in Brittany and seems to have been lost there. However maybe some did find their way back, or other Polish troops were in England in 1940.

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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 08 Jun 2014 14:48

yangtze wrote:Hi all

I'm looking for reliable information on the relative strengths of British divisions in the UK in September 1940. I've read that only 5 divisions were at full strength, but I've never seen those divisions named. Some kind of table with accurate assessments of relative strengths would be great. I don't need too much detail, only the fact that one division might be at 75% strength whilst another only 50%, for example, but with those divisions named.

Anyone any ideas?
Hello Yangtze,

I'm working on it. As far as personnel goes, you can safely assume that (almost) any British unit you find listed was at full strength or even over strength.

Shortly after Dunkirk, the War Office announced: “In view of great pressure the Cabinet has decided to increase the size of the Army for Home Defence, interfering as little as possible with Field Army units. A scheme whereby a very great input will be absorbed by Training, Holding and Home Defence units and sixty more battalions created has been evolved. During June 1940, instead of the normal 70,000 Intake, the figure will be 165,000. In July it will rise to 180,000. The new units will be rather in the form of Kitchener Army units, officers being selected and Regimental Associations, the Corps of Commissionaires, etc., being asked to help.” (as quoted in a history of the Royal West Kent Regiment by H.D. Chaplin).

According to the Statistical Digest, the total intake for 1940 was 1,544,200 men for all armed forces (1,044,600 called up, 461,000 volunteers, 38,600 direct officer intake, excluding men locally enlisted abroad), of which 461,700 in the third quarter (the total outflow for 1940 was 68,900 casualties and other deaths, and 69,100 medical discharges). Army strength at the end of Sept. stood at 1,888,000, of which about 1.3 million at home. To be complete, the number of women serving in the ATS (all volunteers at that time) was still relatively modest at the end of Sept. at 36,100.

So the targets announced by the WO for June and July seem a tad high and may not have been reached, but in any case the numbers involved were huge and the various depots and training establishments, lacking sufficient qualified instructors, equipment and suitable accommodation, were hard put to cope (as also appears clearly from any number of diaries, memoirs, interviews, etc., of men who joined at that time).

For that reason, the so-called "first reinforcements", which would normally be held at regimental depots (renamed Infantry Training Centers or ITCs) were "pushed forward" to battalions. The War Office suggested adding another platoon to each of the four rifle companies in an infantry battalion; some battalions preferred forming a fifth company instead. Motor cycle and "tank hunting" platoons were also formed, although not part of the official establishment. So instead of around 800 men, most inf. battalions were about 950 strong at that time. Same for other arms; I found a medium artillery regiment with over 1,000 men instead of about 600 as would have been normal.

How well trained and equipped all these men were is of course quite another matter.
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phylo_roadking
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by phylo_roadking » 08 Jun 2014 21:19

For that reason, the so-called "first reinforcements", which would normally be held at regimental depots (renamed Infantry Training Centers or ITCs) were "pushed forward" to battalions. The War Office suggested adding another platoon to each of the four rifle companies in an infantry battalion; some battalions preferred forming a fifth company instead. Motor cycle and "tank hunting" platoons were also formed, although not part of the official establishment. So instead of around 800 men, most inf. battalions were about 950 strong at that time. Same for other arms; I found a medium artillery regiment with over 1,000 men instead of about 600 as would have been normal.
However - this would have its uses later as cadres of NCOs and experienced ORs were hived off to form the cores of new battalions.
How well trained and equipped all these men were is of course quite another matter.
Well, there's one very gross problem with that question of training,and where the "extra" mouths were coming from...
State of British ground forces, September 1940, Sealion
Shortly after Dunkirk, the War Office announced: “In view of great pressure the Cabinet has decided to increase the size of the Army for Home Defence, interfering as little as possible with Field Army units. A scheme whereby a very great input will be absorbed by Training, Holding and Home Defence units and sixty more battalions created has been evolved. During June 1940, instead of the normal 70,000 Intake, the figure will be 165,000. In July it will rise to 180,000....
Basic training was still sixteen weeks at that point IIRC, so new trainees leaving Basic between June and September would be recruits/callups that entered Basic before Dunkirk.

Of those extra men in various units...one thing I've never seen any studies on is to what extent they were transfers from the couple of divisions that were badly depleted after Dunkirk E.G. 4th infantry division; it was so depleted that was considered not worth rebuilding, and its numerical slot was never re-used. But there would have been some returned personnel from depleted units to be accomodated elsewhere. Equally - there would be men available in the holding battalions from BEFORE Dunkirk to push forward to units through the summer.

It's an "in at the bottom, out at the top" system; the recuits etc. ENTERING the Training/Holding system after that statement in June would go in at the bottom....some of the extra men we see in units through the summer would be men coming off the top of the system.

Soldiers coming out of Basic wouldn't be fit for much more than the "pioneer" work described in Montefiore's "Dunkirk"; as noted in David Newbold's thesis, newly-formated units may have had their files filled out of Basic but weren't regarded as "finished" without exercising as motorised infantry etc. It's been years since I read "Raising Churchill's Army" but IIRC (and I could stand to be corrected on this) there wasn't any formal "battle school" type training yet, but Newbold DOES note the difference between units that had had this "finishing"...and those that hadn't. One of Gen. Kirke's repeated complaints was that "unfinished" units weren't suitable for his "mobile reserve" - but as soon as a unit or formation WAS "finished" - it was taken off him and sent to France! :lol:

War diaries etc. will give you a particular view of the issue - the numbers present on given dates - but something like "Raising Churchill's Army" by David French will give you the whys and wherefors...and the where froms.
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 09 Jun 2014 21:36

phylo_roadking wrote: War diaries etc. will give you a particular view of the issue - the numbers present on given dates - but something like "Raising Churchill's Army" by David French will give you the whys and wherefors...and the where froms.
I have no idea what, if anything, you mean by that. I have that book and it doesn't add any particular insights to what I wrote.

Chapter six, The Reformation of the Army, Home Forces, 1940-1943:

"Determined not to commit the same mistakes as the Asquith government in 1914-15, and allow the indiscriminate recruitment of soldiers before their equipment was ready, the Chamberlain government decided to recruit no more than 60,000 conscripts per month. (...) But in the summer of 1940 the Churchill government abandoned this rational policy of balancing the needs of industry and the army. Under pressure to do something to demonstrate its determination to continue fighting, it resorted to grand gestures. Between June and August 1940, 324,000 men were enlisted. The decision was taken against the advice of the Adjutant-General, who knew that the training system could not cope with such numbers ..."

In fact the reference to the "Kitchener type units" in that War Office message I quoted in my previous post was rather unfortunate, IMHO, as many people must have remembered how at the end of 1914 those "armies" were recruited, then left to rot in huge tented camps through the winter with nothing to do, for lack of equipment and instructors.
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by phylo_roadking » 09 Jun 2014 22:05

I have no idea what, if anything, you mean by that
Determined not to commit the same mistakes as the Asquith government in 1914-15, and allow the indiscriminate recruitment of soldiers before their equipment was ready, the Chamberlain government decided to recruit no more than 60,000 conscripts per month. (...) But in the summer of 1940 the Churchill government abandoned this rational policy of balancing the needs of industry and the army. Under pressure to do something to demonstrate its determination to continue fighting, it resorted to grand gestures. Between June and August 1940, 324,000 men were enlisted. The decision was taken against the advice of the Adjutant-General, who knew that the training system could not cope with such numbers ..."
War diaries etc. will give you a particular view of the issue - the numbers present on given dates
These men were not and could not have been the exta men we see in units in SEPTEMBER 1940, because noone enlisted in June, July, or August would have completed their 16 weeks' Basic Training by September.

Those men came from elsewhere - they came from units that were closed down rather than being rebuilt, and from those men in Basic Training and the holding battalions BEFORE Dunkirk/June 1940 - the men that if the Allies had held in France would have been sent to France through the summmer. There was no BEF for them to be sent to - so they were sent out of the training/holding system to existing units in the UK.

Remember - the British government had promised the French government that the BEF would double in size between February and Spetember 1940 - from ten to twenty divisions; the men "pushed forward" to the battalions by September were the men still in the training/holding system as of DYNAMO.

Thus -
The decision was taken against the advice of the Adjutant-General, who knew that the training system could not cope with such numbers
...better for the battalions to be oversize for a time rather than the holding battalion part of the training and placement system seize up and create a blockage.

By the way - this...
Shortly after Dunkirk, the War Office announced: “In view of great pressure the Cabinet has decided to increase the size of the Army for Home Defence, interfering as little as possible with Field Army units. A scheme whereby a very great input will be absorbed by Training, Holding and Home Defence units and sixty more battalions created has been evolved. During June 1940, instead of the normal 70,000 Intake, the figure will be 165,000. In July it will rise to 180,000. The new units will be rather in the form of Kitchener Army units, officers being selected and Regimental Associations, the Corps of Commissionaires, etc., being asked to help.” (as quoted in a history of the Royal West Kent Regiment by H.D. Chaplin).

According to the Statistical Digest, the total intake for 1940 was 1,544,200 men for all armed forces (1,044,600 called up, 461,000 volunteers, 38,600 direct officer intake, excluding men locally enlisted abroad), of which 461,700 in the third quarter (the total outflow for 1940 was 68,900 casualties and other deaths, and 69,100 medical discharges). Army strength at the end of Sept. stood at 1,888,000, of which about 1.3 million at home. To be complete, the number of women serving in the ATS (all volunteers at that time) was still relatively modest at the end of Sept. at 36,100.

So the targets announced by the WO for June and July seem a tad high and may not have been reached, but in any case the numbers involved were huge and the various depots and training establishments, lacking sufficient qualified instructors, equipment and suitable accommodation, were hard put to cope...
....all makes it sound like a "new" decision; it wasn't. It was just the iteration of the "fifty-five division" plan that Chamberlain's government had already decided on in its final months as the final expansion-to point of the british Army. What was new about it was the timescale - by one of its earliest decisions Winston's cabinet laid down as the general aim for the War Office and Ministry of Supply the formation of thirty-six divisions by Z + 21 I.E. by 31st May 1941, and of the rest of the fifty-five divisions by Z + 27 I.E. by 30th November 1941. Prior to this Chamberlain's government had only promised the French 36 divisions by 1942.

And it wasn't actually very long at all before the War Ofice pointed out major problems with the publicised plan - that the responsibilities of the Army, however "secondary" to accepted strategic doctrine (to pushing war the war by naval blockade and the air bombing campaign), required a very large establishment - in fact a larger establishment than anything contemplated before Dunkirk, even the fifty-five divisions planned for; its full demands for arms, stores, munitions etc. would overflow the limits of the fifty-five division plan. Ditto for protests raised by the Ministry of Supply; according to the Ministry of Supply forecast, in order to fulfil the requirements of gun ammunition as stated in August 1940, 64 million shells would have to be provided for field guns by June 1941, and a monthly rate of 8 million rounds per month would have to be reached by December 1941. If maintained in 1942 this requirement would have necessitated an output of nearly 100 million shells in a year or about twenty-five percent more than the total British output of gun ammunition for the B.E.F. in 1916, and some thirty-five percent more than in 1918!
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by amcl » 10 Jun 2014 01:48

phylo_roadking wrote:
Of those extra men in various units...one thing I've never seen any studies on is to what extent they were transfers from the couple of divisions that were badly depleted after Dunkirk E.G. 4th infantry division; it was so depleted that was considered not worth rebuilding, and its numerical slot was never re-used.
According to the world and its dog 4th Division fought in Tunisia, and then Italy and Greece. For that reason, I presume this is a typo, but the intended meaning escapes me as I cannot fathom which division(s) you might mean from your description as none appear to match it.

Regards,

Angus

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