State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

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Leros87
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Leros87 » 30 Dec 2016 21:02

Knouterer wrote:Picture of the area (about 10 km to the SW of Maidstone) from GoogleEarth - these old aerial pics seem to be (mostly) from 1944 or later, and regrettably are badly spliced together here, but I believe I can see the pillbox:
I live near this place. Just down stream is Twyford Bridge, near Yalding and another key crossing place on the River Medway. This is covered by anti tank pillboxes and infantry pillboxes, with other defensive structures, much of which is still in place.

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

Post by Leros87 » 30 Dec 2016 21:48

Knouterer wrote:To my surprise I see that Lofting lists the HC Training Regiment under "Southern Command Troops", on page 219:

"RAC: Household Cavalry Training Regt (Windsor) (26+492)..."

This Training Regiment was clearly not part of the Royal Armoured Corps and neither Windsor nor Hyde Park were in Southern Command.

The problem with Lofting's book is that he gives no specific sources or dates and while the suggestion is that his data refer to the end of September, in fact they often refer to the situation several months earlier or later.

As one example of many, with regard to the Support Group of the 2nd Armoured Division he states (p. 228) that the 2nd Royal Horse Artillery had only four 4.5" howitzers and four 18-pdrs; that may have been the case in June, but by the end of Sept. this regiment was fully equipped with sixteen 25-pdrs. Also, the 1st Derbyshire Yeomanry is listed as part of this Support Group, but in fact it had been assigned to the 1st Infantry Division as of 19 June, as related on page 16 of this thread.

On several occasions, Lofting directly contradicts himself, for example on page 215 he claims that by 7 Sept. the 4th Infantry Division had 40% of its A/T guns, yet on the same page he writes about the division's AT Regt (the 14th): "Regt concentrated at Romsey with 6x2-pdr, rest as infantry". That would be 12.5% of a full complement of 48 guns, not 40%.
Of course the Household Cavalry was not part of the RAC, I felt it was better placed there than on its own. What it had as equipment I do not know. I put it under Southern Command as that was where it was placed in the monthly location statement, however, I admit fault in that I didn't realise at the time of print that the Grenadier Guards Training Bn, also located in Windsor, is listed under Aldershot Command.
2 RHA records very little as its war diaries only cover June then restarts in October. The only equipment state I could find was in the Divisional papers for 6 June. If you have confirmation of being at full strength in September I would be grateful for it. A big problem with all war diaries are that they either tell you a lot or very little, frustratingly!
1st Div relieved 2nd Armd Div in Lincolnshire in June and moved to Cambridgeshire so it would have made sense to attach the Derby Yeo to the infantry division but it was not transferred. It left 2nd Armd to join the new 6th Armd on 10 Nov.
The contradiction with the A/T lies with a table used by Churchill in his History of the Second World War, presumably produced by the War Office, whereas the equipment state is based on war diaries of the unit or parent. It could be that 14th A/T Regt did have more guns than its diary contained? I do know that a number of field regiments deployed some of their guns in anti tank roles and that these could have been counted as such.
Again, I have to remind readers that I did not start my research nearly 20 years ago with the intent to produce a book and so did not record the exact official references I used. However, all my information came from official documents of the time. I join your frustration in not being able to clarify all of the sources. Despite its flaws I still maintain that my work is of use to fellow historians.

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

Post by Leros87 » 30 Dec 2016 21:58

Knouterer wrote:I don't want to be overly critical, but I do believe I have noted a number of discrepancies, errors and omissions there. For example, on page 328 the strength of the Household Cavalry is listed as 105 officers and 3,276 other ranks. The General Return of the Strength of the British Army as of 30.9.1940 lists the strength of the HC as 105 Off 1,559 OR of whom about half were at home and the rest in Palestine.

The number 105 + 3,276 is at the bottom of the page, but does not refer to the HC, but to the other (horsed) cavalry units at home, all training and remount units.

In that same list, Lofting omits to list the Foot Guards, who numbered over 30,000 at home as of 30 Sept. according to the General Return (two battalions were in Egypt). Most of them in the London Area, but some elsewhere, for ex. the garrison of Dover included a training battalion of the Irish Guards.
Yup. Another error on my part. On P 328 it should have read cavalry including Household Cav. As regards the Foot Guards, these numbers are included within the infantry.

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

Post by Leros87 » 30 Dec 2016 22:00

Leros87 wrote:
Knouterer wrote:
sitalkes wrote:
Knouterer wrote:
Paul_G_Baker wrote: BTW, ran across this while searching the web (hoping for a photo of that blockship in its duty position - but no luck);
Image

Seabrook Promenade. No idea exactly when it was taken (and there's work still going on) but the defences seem rather sparse!
The picture is IWM H2178 and was (allegedly) taken in July. See also here: http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=4126.0
I assume the brick blocks in the road behind the seawall are anti-tank blocks, but they look like they have embrasures in them. Is that just a bit of black paint used to make them look like that? They look too small to fit a person + usable weapon inside them, but they are spaced a long way apart, which seems to limit their use against tanks crossing the road (even if they stop tanks running along the road).
A couple of pictures taken from that same location. I looked for any traces of the wartime defences, but no luck. There were a few triangular-shaped slabs of concrete at the base of the seawall, but too small to have been the base of a pillbox. From this angle, the skyline of Hythe is practically unchanged compared to 1940.
This photo is one held by the IWM and forms a montage of fixed defences in the Folkestone to Hythe sector. The building is actually a disguised pill box and the blocks are indeed anti tank blocks. I can't confirm why there are black slots on the side but they are definitely not embrasures.
The vertical poles on top are, of course, anti glider or plane obstructions.

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

Post by Knouterer » 31 Dec 2016 15:57

Leros87 wrote: 2 RHA records very little as its war diaries only cover June then restarts in October. The only equipment state I could find was in the Divisional papers for 6 June. If you have confirmation of being at full strength in September I would be grateful for it. A big problem with all war diaries are that they either tell you a lot or very little, frustratingly!
According to Newbold (p. 250), on 14th July Ironside visited Lieutenant-General Nosworthy's IV Corps in G.H.Q.Reserve. "Nosworthy has his Corps in fine order and is an efficient leader, full of enthusiasm and confidence," he wrote that evening. The 2nd Armoured Division, under Major General J. C. Tilly, he found had now been re-armed and was "in good condition". Its Support Group included two R.H.A. batteries with brand-new 25 pdr. field guns, while its two Yeomanry Regiments were now commanded by Regular Cavalry officers and had "a high state of efficiency"."I felt much more happy after seeing such a good show," he wrote afterwards.

Royal Horse Artillery Regiments at the time had two batteries with 8 guns each, while Field Regiments R.A. had two batteries with 12 guns each (in three troops). From late 1940 on, both types of unit were reorganized in three batteries with 8 guns (two troops).

The "brand-new" 25pdrs may have been 18/25pdr conversions, as was the case in the 1st Armoured Division. The designated counterattack forces had priority regarding the distribution of new artillery weapons, this applied in particular to the 29th (commanded by Brigadier Oliver Leese) and the 31st Independent Brigade Group (commanded by Brigadier H. E. F. Smyth). The infantry units of these brigades were regular battalions recently recalled from India, the artillery units had been to France and were newly equipped with 25pdrs. The attached A/Tk batteries likewise received a full complement of 12 2pdr A/Tk guns.
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 01 Jan 2017 11:07

Leros87 wrote: 1st Div relieved 2nd Armd Div in Lincolnshire in June and moved to Cambridgeshire so it would have made sense to attach the Derby Yeo to the infantry division but it was not transferred. It left 2nd Armd to join the new 6th Armd on 10 Nov.
.
I'm sorry but I have to maintain that it was transferred to the 1st Inf Div, as of 19 June as stated, because the unit's own WD (WO 166/1383) says so. It is also so listed by Philson in his Order of Battle as of 30 Sept. 1940:
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 01 Jan 2017 11:16

As regards the Support Group of the 2nd Armoured Division, it consisted of two motor battalions (1st Rangers, 1st Tower Hamlets Rifles), 2nd RHA (28 Off 480 OR), and the 102nd LAA/AT Regiment (33/722).

This latter unit had been the Northumberland Hussars until the beginning of 1940 when they – like about half a dozen other Yeomanry regiments – were converted to artillery and gave up their horses. A LAA/AT Regt should have had 24 2pdr guns and 24 Bofors (two batteries of each), but the 102nd never even came close until the unit left England for the Middle East in October. As far as can be made out from the unit WD (WO 166/1703) they had at various times lorry-mounted 4in guns, 12 pdrs and 3pdrs (partially manned by naval ratings) but by the middle of August these were gone again and C and D batteries had six 2pdr AT guns each (16 in total by the end of Sept. ?), towed by Bedford 15cwt trucks. The regiment never received any Bofors before leaving England it seems, A and B batteries had only Brens as AA weapons, and a large number of men were organized as infantry apparently. However, the division WD for 15.9.1940 states that 6 Bofors of 158 bty 53 LAA Regt were posted to the division, apparently with the main task of protecting the Div HQ.

Like other units at that time the 102nd was considerably over strength, by mid-August the four batteries plus R.H.Q. numbered 36 officers and 748 men, but in addition there was a ”balance” of no fewer than 14 officers and 350 men, “kept at rear HQ under command of Major T. Eustace Smith for training”.
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Leros87 » 06 Jan 2017 13:10

Knouterer wrote:
Leros87 wrote: 1st Div relieved 2nd Armd Div in Lincolnshire in June and moved to Cambridgeshire so it would have made sense to attach the Derby Yeo to the infantry division but it was not transferred. It left 2nd Armd to join the new 6th Armd on 10 Nov.
.
I'm sorry but I have to maintain that it was transferred to the 1st Inf Div, as of 19 June as stated, because the unit's own WD (WO 166/1383) says so. It is also so listed by Philson in his Order of Battle as of 30 Sept. 1940:

Interesting. Then why would 2nd Armd Div record it leaving for the 6th if it was not on its strength? A conundrum indeed but happy to accept your information.

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

Post by Leros87 » 06 Jan 2017 13:20

Knouterer wrote:
Leros87 wrote: 2 RHA records very little as its war diaries only cover June then restarts in October. The only equipment state I could find was in the Divisional papers for 6 June. If you have confirmation of being at full strength in September I would be grateful for it. A big problem with all war diaries are that they either tell you a lot or very little, frustratingly!
According to Newbold (p. 250), on 14th July Ironside visited Lieutenant-General Nosworthy's IV Corps in G.H.Q.Reserve. "Nosworthy has his Corps in fine order and is an efficient leader, full of enthusiasm and confidence," he wrote that evening. The 2nd Armoured Division, under Major General J. C. Tilly, he found had now been re-armed and was "in good condition". Its Support Group included two R.H.A. batteries with brand-new 25 pdr. field guns, while its two Yeomanry Regiments were now commanded by Regular Cavalry officers and had "a high state of efficiency"."I felt much more happy after seeing such a good show," he wrote afterwards.

Royal Horse Artillery Regiments at the time had two batteries with 8 guns each, while Field Regiments R.A. had two batteries with 12 guns each (in three troops). From late 1940 on, both types of unit were reorganized in three batteries with 8 guns (two troops).

The "brand-new" 25pdrs may have been 18/25pdr conversions, as was the case in the 1st Armoured Division. The designated counterattack forces had priority regarding the distribution of new artillery weapons, this applied in particular to the 29th (commanded by Brigadier Oliver Leese) and the 31st Independent Brigade Group (commanded by Brigadier H. E. F. Smyth). The infantry units of these brigades were regular battalions recently recalled from India, the artillery units had been to France and were newly equipped with 25pdrs. The attached A/Tk batteries likewise received a full complement of 12 2pdr A/Tk guns.
Thanks for this. It was interesting that "Tiny" Ironside felt that the Division had been rearmed and was in good condition when only one of its regiments had cruisers, the rest relying on the obsolete light tank.

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

Post by Knouterer » 06 Jan 2017 14:48

Leros87 wrote: A big problem with all war diaries are that they either tell you a lot or very little, frustratingly!
That's certainly true for 1940. There are a few honourable exceptions, such as the WD of the 2nd/5th Queens (WO 166/4496), which contains much factual information, for example the exact strength of the unit at the end of each month, broken down by rank, and also a number of neatly drawn and very detailed maps. Many other WDs devote a lot of space to bombs falling and planes crashing nearby, and other such dramatic events, but say very little about what exactly the unit was doing to prepare for invasion.

Later in the war, more detailed instructions were issued as to what should be recorded in a WD:
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Leros87 » 09 Jan 2017 21:46

Knouterer wrote:
Leros87 wrote: A big problem with all war diaries are that they either tell you a lot or very little, frustratingly!
That's certainly true for 1940. There are a few honourable exceptions, such as the WD of the 2nd/5th Queens (WO 166/4496), which contains much factual information, for example the exact strength of the unit at the end of each month, broken down by rank, and also a number of neatly drawn and very detailed maps. Many other WDs devote a lot of space to bombs falling and planes crashing nearby, and other such dramatic events, but say very little about what exactly the unit was doing to prepare for invasion.

Later in the war, more detailed instructions were issued as to what should be recorded in a WD:
The most fascinating war diary I have had the privilege of reading was one of the East Lancs battalions on Gallipoli in 1915. It listed all casualties, including non battle, and replacements and leavers for each day and a full description of what occurred. You can imagine the conditions it was hand written in.

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

Post by sitalkes » 09 Feb 2017 03:06

"World at War" issue 52 is out, with a 25 page article about Sealion. It's quite a balanced article, well worth a read as it doesn't heavily support one side or the other, though it reaches the usual conclusions. There are some obvious gaps in the author's knowledge. He says that both the Heer and the Luftwaffe developed plans for invading England in November and December 1939, I'd not heard of them. The article accompanies the fabulous new Sealion game, which is also now available. The game includes the most detailed map yet as well as many features not included in other games. Disappointing that they didn't publish my article but gave it as a reference and even then the author seems to have ignored it.

http://shop.strategyandtacticspress.com ... tCode=WW52
Sealion World at War Game map.JPG
Sealion World at War game counters.JPG
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 01 Jul 2017 12:59

Some authors (Forczyk is a recent example) have pointed out that in the early years of the war the German army proved itself to be tactically superior to the British, which is undoubtedly true, but then jump to the conclusion that any and all British attempts to counterattack against German landings were therefore doomed to fail, almost by definition, which is a fairly big leap IMHO.

The 35th Infanteriedivision, which would land between Greatstone and Dymchurch, had been given a bloody nose by the British in May, according to a history of the division (Dörfler, Die 35. Infanteriedivision 1939-45, p. 19, my translation):

“The following engagements to force a crossing of the Scheldt (Escaut) were the heaviest and the costliest of the campaign in the West. The crossing began in the afternoon of the 20th. Infantry Regiments 109 at Antoing and 111 at Peronnes wrested bridgeheads from English elite troops. Very heavy artillery fire and counterattacks with tanks caused these lodgings to be largely lost again. Only IR 109 managed to retain a foothold. IR 34 too had to repel fierce attacks. The division was unable to advance on the 21st and the 22nd. On the morning of the 23rd it was found that the British had withdrawn towards the Channel coast.”

The reference to “englische Elitetruppen” sounds like a typical excuse for a (temporary) setback. In fact the Germans were facing the 48th Infantry Division, with one regular and two territorial battalions in each of its three brigades. According to Philson, IR 111 was (mainly) pushed back by the 4th Ox & Bucks and IR 109 tangled with the 8th Royal Warwickshire, both territorial units.
The tanks mentioned in this account were presumably Mk VI light tanks of Brigadier C. W. Norman's 1st Light Armoured Reconnaissance Brigade, which had come under command of the 48th Division.
The commander of the 48th Division was Major-General A.F.A.N. Thorne, who in September (as a Lieutenant General) would command XII Corps holding the invasion zone. So it can be said that he already had some experience in throwing German attackers back across water obstacles.
Last edited by Knouterer on 01 Jul 2017 17:02, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 01 Jul 2017 15:37

In the same vein, many Sealion scenarios assume that all the various traning units and supporting services in the invasion zone would just melt away as soon as the first German soldier came into view, but I doubt it.

For an historical example of a second- or third-rate unit putting up strong resistance: on the morning of 10 May 1940, a company of Fallschirmjäger (3./FJR1) dropped near the town of Dordrecht to seize bridges there. In the town was the barracks of the Depot Maritime Engineers (Depot Pontonniers en Torpedisten), hardly an elite infantry unit as the name suggests. In addition, they had only just learned that they were at war. Nevertheless, they launched a spirited counterattack, killed 18 of the enemy and took 82 prisoners. Only a handful managed to get away and dig in.

Some Dutch reenactors reenacting this action:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJOLDhoOg6o
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Re: State of British Ground Forces, September 1940, Sealion

Post by Knouterer » 08 Jul 2017 08:02

Knouterer wrote:
Leros87 wrote: 2 RHA records very little as its war diaries only cover June then restarts in October. The only equipment state I could find was in the Divisional papers for 6 June. If you have confirmation of being at full strength in September I would be grateful for it. A big problem with all war diaries are that they either tell you a lot or very little, frustratingly!
According to Newbold (p. 250), on 14th July Ironside visited Lieutenant-General Nosworthy's IV Corps in G.H.Q.Reserve. "Nosworthy has his Corps in fine order and is an efficient leader, full of enthusiasm and confidence," he wrote that evening. The 2nd Armoured Division, under Major General J. C. Tilly, he found had now been re-armed and was "in good condition". Its Support Group included two R.H.A. batteries with brand-new 25 pdr. field guns, while its two Yeomanry Regiments were now commanded by Regular Cavalry officers and had "a high state of efficiency"."I felt much more happy after seeing such a good show," he wrote afterwards.

Royal Horse Artillery Regiments at the time had two batteries with 8 guns each, while Field Regiments R.A. had two batteries with 12 guns each (in three troops). From late 1940 on, both types of unit were reorganized in three batteries with 8 guns (two troops).

The "brand-new" 25pdrs may have been 18/25pdr conversions, as was the case in the 1st Armoured Division. The designated counterattack forces had priority regarding the distribution of new artillery weapons, this applied in particular to the 29th (commanded by Brigadier Oliver Leese) and the 31st Independent Brigade Group (commanded by Brigadier H. E. F. Smyth). The infantry units of these brigades were regular battalions recently recalled from India, the artillery units had been to France and were newly equipped with 25pdrs. The attached A/Tk batteries likewise received a full complement of 12 2pdr A/Tk guns.
On this point, Farnham, The Years of Defeat 1939-41 (semi-official history of the Royal Artillery), p. 103: “2nd Regiment RHA assembled at Downton near Salisbury (after returning from France – K) and new 25-pounders (Mk II) began to arrive direct from Vickers at the end of the month. In July it moved to Rushton in Northamptonshire as part of 2nd Armoured Division.”
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