British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Discussions on the economic history of the nations taking part in WW2, from the recovery after the depression until the economy at war.
Politician01
Member
Posts: 431
Joined: 02 Sep 2011 06:56

Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Politician01 » 22 Mar 2020 22:55

Ружичасти Слон wrote:
22 Mar 2020 22:37
Politician01 wrote:
22 Mar 2020 22:06
Ружичасти Слон wrote:
22 Mar 2020 22:01
Do you not understand that evidence of shortage of workers is England is not evidence of not untapped manpower in Empire?
Do you have Sources that prove:

1. That there was untapped Manpower in the Empire?
2. That this untapped Manpower could have been used in Europe en mass?
3. That this untapped Manpower would have been willing to be used in Europe, en mass?
Do you have Sources that prove:
1. That Manpower in the Empire was complete tapped?
2. That this Manpower could not have been used in Europe en mass?
3. That this Manpower would not have been willing to be used in Europe, en mass?
No I dont have - that is exactly the reason why I created this thread. Now you claim that all of the points above apply - then it is up to you to prove it - produce.

Ружичасти Слон
Member
Posts: 356
Joined: 24 Jan 2020 16:31
Location: Изгубљени

Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Ружичасти Слон » 22 Mar 2020 23:27

Politician01 wrote:
22 Mar 2020 22:55


No I dont have - that is exactly the reason why I created this thread. Now you claim that all of the points above apply - then it is up to you to prove it - produce.
I not have to prove nothing.

You can to research for to yourself total populations of Empire countrys and how many was tapped and how many was not tapped.

* Comment removed by this moderator.


When not understand subject most best way to understand subject is do research for to yourself. Very easy on internet and google.

When you not have evidences for complete tapped and not have evidences for untapped then best solution is to find datas for to yourself.

Bad idea to decide answer with no evidences and then to order to other peoples to prove your decision wrong.


*Ружичасти Слон - Please do not call others names as that can lead to flame wars. Stick to the topic please.

Terry Duncan

Politician01
Member
Posts: 431
Joined: 02 Sep 2011 06:56

Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Politician01 » 23 Mar 2020 10:08

Ружичасти Слон wrote:
22 Mar 2020 23:27
Politician01 wrote:
22 Mar 2020 22:55


No I dont have - that is exactly the reason why I created this thread. Now you claim that all of the points above apply - then it is up to you to prove it - produce.
I not have to prove nothing.

You can to research for to yourself total populations of Empire countrys and how many was tapped and how many was not tapped.

I was write earlier do you be troll or not understand subject. Troll want to annoy other people and make do work for nothing. Do that be you?

When not understand subject most best way to understand subject is do research for to yourself. Very easy on internet and google.

When you not have evidences for complete tapped and not have evidences for untapped then best solution is to find datas for to yourself.

Bad idea to decide answer with no evidences and then to order to other peoples to prove your decision wrong.
A Forum is there so people can share their knowledge, thats why people in forums ask questions so that they dont have to do all the work by themselves. You dont have any Information on that topic - thats ok. But in that case dont clog the thread with your balderdash.

Good Day Sir.

Gooner1
Member
Posts: 1936
Joined: 06 Jan 2006 12:24
Location: London

Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Gooner1 » 23 Mar 2020 15:13

Andy H wrote:
21 Mar 2020 18:26

Hi

Ellis (The World War II Data Book) Pg277, lists UK AFV/SP production as:-

1939=969
1940=1399
1941=4841
1942=8611
1943=7476
1944=4600

As Richard states,this was mainly down to the standardisation around US AFV's plus the cessation of older and outdated British models.

Regards

Andy H
The British OH series on British War Production gives an index of monthly production in certain categories for the Army compared with a September - December monthly output averaged at a 100. For Armoured Fighting Vehicles the index is:
May 1942 - 1,847
May 1943 - 1,984
May 1944 - 1,317

https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/UK/ ... ion-6.html

So overall production didn't quite decline as precipitately as the raw tank figures might suggest. Also roughly proportionate to the decline in the numbers employed on orders for the army.

Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 9274
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Sid Guttridge » 23 Mar 2020 16:46

Hi Ружичасти Слон,

You say there were "500,000 unskilled workers in Southern Rhodesia have no job and nothing to do."

If you are simply counting bodies, then that is true. But they were all illiterate subsistence farmers who were working hard just to feed themselves. They were not available in any real sense except in very small numbers (i.e. the single battalion of the Rhodesian African Rifles) and ill suited to modern technological warfare without enormous investment in education, training and battle inoculation.

Leadership cadres (essentially European officers) were not available because much of Rhodesia's white male population was being used to help officer the far larger Royal West African Frontier Force and the Kings African Rifles raised in West and East Africa respectively.

In extremis, the USSR found it necessary to send millions of under trained, under equipped men to the front and suffered appalling casualties as a result. However, the UK was never in that position of extremis and so didn't ever have to treat even its most ill regarded colonial subjects as cannon fodder in the same way. Where African divisions were later used (i.e. Burma in 1944-45) it was as fully trained, fully equipped, structured formations.

Cheers,

Sid.

Ружичасти Слон
Member
Posts: 356
Joined: 24 Jan 2020 16:31
Location: Изгубљени

Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Ружичасти Слон » 23 Mar 2020 17:04


*Ружичасти Слон - Please do not call others names as that can lead to flame wars. Stick to the topic please.

Terry Duncan[/b]
I not call names. I was ask if he was a t***l because it seems to me he was act like one. What word can i to use on forum to decribe person what he do?

In forum rules write
Questions, Claims and Proof

1. Questions

In the research sections of the forum, we ask the posters to be reasonably well-prepared, and not ask others for information which they could easily get for themselves. The purpose of these sections of the forum is to provide a place where historical matters can be intelligently discussed. It is not a research service.

Noncomplying posts are subject to deletion after warning.
Politician1 ask for source of understanding about untapped manpower resources of British empire. I gave correct answer. Source is on analyses of datas about Empire total populations and datas on how many was employed on war effort and how many not used on war effort.

Datas can be found very easy on the internet. Maybe datas from most quick research is not much detail. But very quick reasonably intelligent person can to understand Empire has very very big manpower and reletively small numbers was used on war effort.

You Terry duncan was start topic when you was write
2. There are rather more people available to the UK and US, so invading the UK is simply not going to work, ...
You was not write source for this. You was not write explains why is correct. Why? Because you know it is something that is obvious. And even when somebody not know datas it can to be found very easy on internet.

But politician1 was decide to make question. Was politian1 follow forum rules? Was politician1 "reasonably well prepared". Was politician1 "ask others for information which they could easily get for themselves."? Was politician1 ask for intelligent discussion or research service?

Politician1 already has answer he want in his head and want poeples to prove him wrong. Is that intelligent discussion?

To support his answer he give datas for something else. He want datas on unused manpower in Empire but give datas on afv production, manpower allocations in UK and evidences of field army rationializationing of infantry because not enough trained infantry immediatly available. Datas have nothing about Empire manpower resources. It was deception and mislead. Is that intelligent discussion?

What word can to describe somebody who write such things?

Ружичасти Слон
Member
Posts: 356
Joined: 24 Jan 2020 16:31
Location: Изгубљени

Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Ружичасти Слон » 23 Mar 2020 17:30

Sid Guttridge wrote:
23 Mar 2020 16:46
Hi Ружичасти Слон,

You say there were "500,000 unskilled workers in Southern Rhodesia have no job and nothing to do."

If you are simply counting bodies, then that is true. But they were all illiterate subsistence farmers who were working hard just to feed themselves. They were not available in any real sense except in very small numbers (i.e. the single battalion of the Rhodesian African Rifles) and ill suited to modern technological warfare without enormous investment in education, training and battle inoculation.

Leadership cadres (essentially European officers) were not available because much of Rhodesia's white male population was being used to help officer the far larger Royal West African Frontier Force and the Kings African Rifles raised in West and East Africa respectively.

In extremis, the USSR found it necessary to send millions of under trained, under equipped men to the front and suffered appalling casualties as a result. However, the UK was never in that position of extremis and so didn't ever have to treat even its most ill regarded colonial subjects as cannon fodder in the same way. Where African divisions were later used (i.e. Burma in 1944-45) it was as fully trained, fully equipped, structured formations.

Cheers,

Sid.
I was make random place and random numbers to show shortage workers in UK factory is not evidence of complete and maximum use of Empire manpower resources.

But some datas. In all war 1939-45 Southern Rhodesia was have total 26,121 peoples in military. That was about 2% of total populations. 8,390 was go overseas to fight. Less 1% of total populations. Very small contribution.

Compare to how French government was on history use Empire manpower.

Compare to how themarksplan imagine Nazi Germany to use manpower resources in his imaginary stories.

It was choice of UK goverment not to use manpower resources of Empire so much. Evidence of choice is not evidence for resources not existing. In imaginary stories when one side to use maximum manpower resources to maximum then other side can to.

Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 9274
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Sid Guttridge » 03 Apr 2020 12:12

Hi Ружичасти Слон,

The total European (essentially British) population of Southern Rhodesia at the time was only about 60,000. Southern Rhodesia's white male population was only about 30,000 and was the most highly mobilized of any British colony. As I explained above, they were mostly either officering African troops from East or West Africa or in the RAF (Southern Rhodesia had a large role in the Commonwealth Air Traininmg Scheme).

As also explained above, the African population of Southern Rhodesia were then overwhelmingly illiterate subsistence farmers fully engaged in just trying to feed themsleves and so few were available for, or useful to, military mobilization without much preparation.

The French situation was different from Britain's. France had a border with Germany but only about half the population. It could therefore not match Germany man-for-man purely from metroplitan resources. Therefore, from long before either world war, it planned to to raise North African and West African colonial divisions for service in France. Britain, protected by the Royal Navy, did not have to do so.

It is no use mobilizing manpower if you cannot equip it. At the time of the Munich Crisis in 1938, Britain could send only two fully equipped divisions to the continent. Britain couldn't even equip all the metropolitan troops it sent to France in 1939-40 and some of the territorial divisions were still under equipped when the Germans struck in May 1940.

If you look at the British campaigns against Japan, "only" about 30,000 metroplitan Britons died. This was because the UK's war against Japan was largely carried by the Indian Army (and three African divisions) in Burma and the Australians (and a New Zealand division) in the South Pacific.

Against Germany and Italy, East Africa was almost entirely over run by Indian and African divisions. The Indian Army largely occupied Iraq, Syria and Iran. The North African Campaign was half carried by South African, Australian, New Zealand and Indian divisions. The Italian campaign included South African, Canadian, New Zealand and Indian divisions and a Jewish Brigade. (The UK also equipped exiled Polish, Greek, Yugoslav, Free French, Norwegian, Belgian and Dutch divisions and brigades.) Where colonial formations could be raised, equipped and trained to modern standards, tghis was done.

Of course, the British could have sent human waves of millions of under trained, under equipped, under led colonial manpower into action, but to what effect? The war was won without any need to do so.

Cheers,

Sid.

daveshoup2MD
Member
Posts: 805
Joined: 01 Feb 2020 18:10
Location: Coral and brass

Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by daveshoup2MD » 18 Apr 2021 06:27

Politician01 wrote:
19 Mar 2020 15:09
I came here from the "What If" section where some posters claim that Great Britain had untapped Manpower reserves, enough to increase the size of their armed Forces and their labor force even in 1944. Does anyone have Sources supporting this claim? Considered that British AFV production collapsed from 8500 to 4500 between 1942 and 1944 because there were not enough Workers, and considered the following Information presented below, how wrong is this claim?


Indeed, in the summer of 1943 it became apparent that Great Britain had reached the limits of mobilisation; during the rest of the year recruitment from the non-industrial population would not be sufficient to offset the normal wastage from industry. Before long the labour force would decline. In any case, supplies of labour in the last nine months of 1943 would be less than had been expected.

The demands of the Services and industry for the last nine months of 1943 added up to 912,000 men and women; the prospective supply was 429,000. once more ruthless cuts would have to be imposed. The Service demands could not possibly be met in full;

As previously forecast, wastage from the country's labour force was bound to exceed new intake. Even without battle casualties, the total occupied population of the United Kingdom would fall by about 150,000 in 1944. The manpower was no longer one of closing a gap between demand and supply by subtracting at the demand end and adding at the supply end. Nothing was left to add. The country was fully mobilised and all that remained was to change the distribution of manpower as the strategy of war demanded

www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/UK/UK-Civil ... on-15.html

In 1944, the United Kingdom was facing severe manpower shortages. By May 1944, it was estimated that the British Army's strength in December 1944 would be 100,000, less than it was at the end of 1943. Although casualties in the Normandy Campaign, the main effort of the British Army in 1944, were actually lower than anticipated, losses from all causes were still higher than could be replaced. Two infantry divisions and a brigade (59th and 50th divisions and 70th Brigade) were disbanded to provide replacements for other British divisions in the 21st Army Group and all men being called up to the Army were trained as infantrymen. Furthermore, 35,000 men from the RAF Regiment and the Royal Artillery were transferred to the infantry and were retrained as rifle infantrymen, where the majority of combat casualties fell.[18][19] In addition, in the Eighth Army fighting in the Italian Campaign of the Mediterranean theatre several units, mainly infantry, were also disbanded to provide replacements, including the 1st Armoured Division and several other smaller units, such as the 168th Brigade, had to be reduced to cadre, and several other units had to be amalgamated. For example, the 2nd and 6th battalions of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers were merged in August 1944. At the same time, most infantry battalions in Italy had to be reduced from four to three rifle companies

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_A ... _World_War
One obvious decision that would have freed up additional UK manpower for the British Army in 1944-45 would have been to NOT send physically fit young Britons who had been conscripted for the armed forces into the coal mines; they were chosen by lot as ten percent of all male conscripts aged 18–25, plus some volunteering as an alternative to military conscription, and totaled some 48,000 men - which would have been more than enough to keep the combat units disbanded in 1944-45 in the order of battle.

Could the men sent into the coal industry been replaced? Undoubtedly. Some options:

Conscription for labor service in Northern Ireland;
more extensive recruiting (for labor service) in Eire (given the Irish government spent a significant amount of resources and manpower to develop Ireland's peat industry in the 1930s and war years, presumably a willingness to formally recruit mine labor in Ireland in return for coal supplies would have been a rational trade-off);
asking the Canadian government for NRMA conscripts to perform labor service in the UK, if they weren't willing to volunteer to fight;
recruiting mine labor in Canada, Newfoundland, or the British West Indies (the BWI raised something like 15 infantry battalions for active service overseas in 1914-18; they raised one for WW II);
recruiting miners in European (Portugal, Turkey) or Latin American allies or (at the time) neutral states, especially where the British had significant economic connections (Argentina and Chile);
recruiting mine labor from (former) Italian POWs in 1943-45, after Cassabile;
recruiting labor service personnel in the British-liberated European nations (Belgium, presumably) in 1944-45;
recruiting labor service personnel in British West Africa or (pretty close to untapped) the British high commission territories in southern Africa; recruiting labor service personnel for the UK in Cyprus, Palestine, or other British "imperial" territories...

Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 9274
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Sid Guttridge » 18 Apr 2021 14:33

Hi daveshoup2MD,

Conscription was not an option in northern Ireland because of communal problems.

Eire, Portugal and Turkey were neutral so the UK had no hold over them. Argentina was also resolutely neutral.

Canada had self rule and its own communal tensions.

The West Indies had no miners and was far more heavily committed to the war effort than you imply. (We have been over that).

Latin American countries did not speak English, even if they had wanted to contribute. This would have restricted useful recruitment within the Empire outside the Old Dominions as well.

POWs could only be recruited if willing. Most were on the land.

It would be a bit late to recruit miners in Belgium (which actually had its own coal mines to run) in late 1944.

London couldn't randomly move numbers of men around the world at will without any real appreciation of the political, logistical, aptitude, willingness, linguistic or other practical considerations. The Empire wasn't monolithic and the conditions of the British presence in each self-governing Dominion, Commonwealth, self-governing or dependent Colony, Protectorate, Federated State, Unfederated State, Mandate, leased territory, associated territory, Princely State, co-dominion, etc., etc., was different.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, apparently only 16,000 Bevin Boys had been conscripted by November 1944, which was far too few to save more than one of the formations disbanded, even assuming they were all suitable. 16,000 amounted to only about 0.5% of the British Army at the time.

The real problem seems to have been imperial overstretch and mistaken long term planning for better distribution of manpower within the existing armed forces.

Cheers,

Sid.

daveshoup2MD
Member
Posts: 805
Joined: 01 Feb 2020 18:10
Location: Coral and brass

Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by daveshoup2MD » 18 Apr 2021 21:28

Sid Guttridge wrote:
18 Apr 2021 14:33
Hi daveshoup2MD,

Conscription was not an option in northern Ireland because of communal problems.

Eire, Portugal and Turkey were neutral so the UK had no hold over them. Argentina was also resolutely neutral.

Canada had self rule and its own communal tensions.

The West Indies had no miners and was far more heavily committed to the war effort than you imply. (We have been over that).

Latin American countries did not speak English, even if they had wanted to contribute. This would have restricted useful recruitment within the Empire outside the Old Dominions as well.

POWs could only be recruited if willing. Most were on the land.

It would be a bit late to recruit miners in Belgium (which actually had its own coal mines to run) in late 1944.

London couldn't randomly move numbers of men around the world at will without any real appreciation of the political, logistical, aptitude, willingness, linguistic or other practical considerations. The Empire wasn't monolithic and the conditions of the British presence in each self-governing Dominion, Commonwealth, self-governing or dependent Colony, Protectorate, Federated State, Unfederated State, Mandate, leased territory, associated territory, Princely State, co-dominion, etc., etc., was different.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, apparently only 16,000 Bevin Boys had been conscripted by November 1944, which was far too few to save more than one of the formations disbanded, even assuming they were all suitable. 16,000 amounted to only about 0.5% of the British Army at the time.

The real problem seems to have been imperial overstretch and mistaken long term planning for better distribution of manpower within the existing armed forces.

Cheers,

Sid.
Conscription in northern Ireland for military service, perhaps; for labor service? Assumes facts not in evidence. In addition, tens of thousands of British subjects who lived in NI worked in the UK during WW II; this is simply a focused extension of this reality.

Neutral European states - no hold, but again, not conscription in those cases; labor recruitment. Tens of thousands of Irish citizens worked in the UK during WW II; this is simply an extension of that reality, with targeted recruiting. Given the effort the Irish government put into the peat industry at the time, a trade-off for coal is obvious. Portugal welcomed Allied bases in Portuguese territory, had an actual alliance with the UK, and had a substantial mining industry. Recruiting manpower is an obvious next step. Same for Turkey, although the distances are less attractive. The Latin American states - both Allied and neutral - had substantial manpower, including skilled miners, and including substantial "Anglo" communities. The option was there.

Canada bowed to the realities of total mobilization and started sending NRMA soldiers to the ETO in 1944, despite the "communal tensions" - sending men from the same manpower pool to the UK for labor service would have been entirely possible.

The British labor service conscripts were not miners, either, so the realities of whether BWI manpower were trained miners or not is moot. They were warm bodies, which is all the British labor service conscripts were, and would have been available at exactly the same time. Again, a dozen battalions of the WIR and BWIR in 1914-18, vis one battalion of the Caribbean Regiment in 1944-45. Night and day, despite any attempt to pretend otherwise.

How many non-English speaking German and Italian POWs were put to work in the UK in 1940-45? Go ahead, we''ll wait.

Belgium LMP in 1944 was available exactly when the British started sending healthy Britons into the mines, and - in fact - no less than five brigades of Belgian LMP were training in the UK for service in 1945; send them into the mines instead. Voila.

16,000 Bevin Boys had been conscripted by November 1944? More than enough to fill 24 infantry battalions, which is where the shortfall that supposedly doomed 1st Armoured, 50th, and 59th divisions was - it as not in the artillery, obviously. And if a 19 to 25-year-old British man was physically fit enough to work in a coal mine, how are they not physically fit to serve as infantry replacements? Please, explain.
Last edited by daveshoup2MD on 19 Apr 2021 05:33, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Sheldrake
Member
Posts: 3041
Joined: 28 Apr 2013 17:14
Location: London

Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Sheldrake » 18 Apr 2021 23:58

Politician01 wrote:
22 Mar 2020 21:30
The very first post of mine has two sources that show Britain was sraping the barrel. If you have sources that show that Britain had many untapped manpower reserves and just didnt use them, I would like to see them - that was the purpouse of this thread.
Jonathan Fennell in Fighting the Peoples War goes into some depth about the mobilization of each of the dominions and points out the difficulties that e.g New Zealand and South Africa in maintaining their forces, l;argely because people did not want to serve. There is evidence in there of manpower unused.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07MHXD6D2/ ... TF8&btkr=1

User avatar
Sheldrake
Member
Posts: 3041
Joined: 28 Apr 2013 17:14
Location: London

Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Sheldrake » 19 Apr 2021 00:11

Sid Guttridge wrote:
03 Apr 2020 12:12
Against Germany and Italy, East Africa was almost entirely over run by Indian and African divisions. The Indian Army largely occupied Iraq, Syria and Iran. The North African Campaign was half carried by South African, Australian, New Zealand and Indian divisions. The Italian campaign included South African, Canadian, New Zealand and Indian divisions and a Jewish Brigade. (The UK also equipped exiled Polish, Greek, Yugoslav, Free French, Norwegian, Belgian and Dutch divisions and brigades.) Where colonial formations could be raised, equipped and trained to modern standards, tghis was done.

Of course, the British could have sent human waves of millions of under trained, under equipped, under led colonial manpower into action, but to what effect? The war was won without any need to do so.
A couple of observations. The British did deploy under trained, under equipped and under led colonial forces into Malaya - which ended in disaster,

British "Indian" Divisions typically included three British infantry battalions, one per brigade. There were a lot more British troops than in British divisions.

The key shortage in 1944 was infantrymen. 50th and 59th Divisions were not broken up because of heavy losses among the RASC companies. 59th Division's artillery group continued in action as 59th AGRA for several months.

One solution might have been to add three, four or even five Indian or African battalions to each British Division. Again this would have required political will. One problem with using African and Asian troops in their own formations was the lack of technical skills to maintain and operate the equipment used. This is less of a problem if the man is recruited as a WW2 infantryman. Whether enough European officers could have been trained to lead them or a decision taken early enough to train African and Indian officers. This happened late in the war. George Macdonald Fraser wrote of his experience as an officer cadet among Indian and African cadets. Of course that would mean training the officer corps of potentially independent countries, but with a crystal ball that was inevitable.

Perhaps resources could have been taken from what is in retrospect one of the most pointless campaigns - the reconquest of Burma

daveshoup2MD
Member
Posts: 805
Joined: 01 Feb 2020 18:10
Location: Coral and brass

Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by daveshoup2MD » 19 Apr 2021 05:46

Sheldrake wrote:
19 Apr 2021 00:11
Sid Guttridge wrote:
03 Apr 2020 12:12
Against Germany and Italy, East Africa was almost entirely over run by Indian and African divisions. The Indian Army largely occupied Iraq, Syria and Iran. The North African Campaign was half carried by South African, Australian, New Zealand and Indian divisions. The Italian campaign included South African, Canadian, New Zealand and Indian divisions and a Jewish Brigade. (The UK also equipped exiled Polish, Greek, Yugoslav, Free French, Norwegian, Belgian and Dutch divisions and brigades.) Where colonial formations could be raised, equipped and trained to modern standards, tghis was done.

Of course, the British could have sent human waves of millions of under trained, under equipped, under led colonial manpower into action, but to what effect? The war was won without any need to do so.
A couple of observations. The British did deploy under trained, under equipped and under led colonial forces into Malaya - which ended in disaster,

British "Indian" Divisions typically included three British infantry battalions, one per brigade. There were a lot more British troops than in British divisions.

The key shortage in 1944 was infantrymen. 50th and 59th Divisions were not broken up because of heavy losses among the RASC companies. 59th Division's artillery group continued in action as 59th AGRA for several months.

One solution might have been to add three, four or even five Indian or African battalions to each British Division. Again this would have required political will. One problem with using African and Asian troops in their own formations was the lack of technical skills to maintain and operate the equipment used. This is less of a problem if the man is recruited as a WW2 infantryman. Whether enough European officers could have been trained to lead them or a decision taken early enough to train African and Indian officers. This happened late in the war. George Macdonald Fraser wrote of his experience as an officer cadet among Indian and African cadets. Of course that would mean training the officer corps of potentially independent countries, but with a crystal ball that was inevitable.

Perhaps resources could have been taken from what is in retrospect one of the most pointless campaigns - the reconquest of Burma
Did the 9th and 11th Indian divisions do significantly "worse" against the IJA in Malaya and Singapore than the British 18th and Australian 8th divisions did in the same campaign, however? Or are you counting the Australians and British as "under trained, under equipped and under led colonial forces," as well?

Or, for that matter, did the two Indian battalions in Hong Kong do significantly "worse" against the IJA than the two British and two Canadian battalions did?

Did the Indian and Burmese battalions in Burma in 1942 do "significantly" worse than the British?

As far as "Indianisation" goes, the British had done that in WW I, when (I think) four BEF divisions were built on the Indian establishments of three Indian and one British battalion per brigade; I believe they were the 10th, 53rd, 60th, and 75th divisions. Given that experience, presumably the decision was made not to follow the precedent in WW II.

Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 9274
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Sid Guttridge » 19 Apr 2021 07:36

daveshoup2MD,

The communal problem for some in Northern Ireland was not about military service, but any service. Conscription for the mines was still conscription.

You post, "In addition, tens of thousands of British subjects who lived in NI worked in the UK during WW II." Yup, but they were all there voluntarily. You are not comparing like with like.

You post, "Tens of thousands of Irish citizens worked in the UK during WW II; this is simply an extension of that reality, with targeted recruiting." Yes, there were around half a million, tens of thousands in the armed forces. But again, they were all voluntary. Doubtless some did end in the mines anyway.

For neutral countries to allow recruitment of their citizens by a combatant power puts that neutrality into question. The Latin American miners were already working in mines supplying the Allies and only the Allies. The British communities in Latin America were fully tapped by the armed forces for volunteers.

You post, "Canada bowed to the realities of total mobilization and started sending NRMA soldiers to the ETO in 1944, despite the "communal tensions". If you look carefully you will find that to soothe communal tensions, Canada counted Newfoundland as an overseas posting and from 1943 it was largely garrisoned by Quebecois units. And you are still forgetting that Canada had self government. It was not at the beck and call of London. For example, it refused to garrison the Falkland Islands.

You continue to distort the facts about the British West Indies, even though they have been given to you. Their contribution to the war effort in uniform in WWII was as large in WWII as in WWI and of higher technical quality, it just either wasn't all in khaki, or was at home (doing duties British servicemen would otherwise have had to do - see the Falkland Islands). What is more, they were entirely volunteers.

The British had already recruited British Honduran loggers for service in the UK doing their existing jobs in the forests and it was not a happy experience due to the climate and conditions. The unit therefore couldn't recruit up to strength and was disbanded at the end of 1943. You want to repeat this unhappy experience in worse and more alien working conditions on a scale ten times as large?

You ask, "How many non-English speaking German and Italian POWs were put to work in the UK in 1940-45?" I don't know. You are proposing them as a solution, so how many? I know the Italians were widely used, particularly after September 1943, but they couldn't be made to do jobs they didn't want to.

London couldn't just "send" Belgians down British mines. They had their own government and own mines to worry about.

You ask, "16,000 Bevin Boys had been conscripted by November 1944?" Yup.

You ask, "And if a 19 to 25-year-old British man was physically fit enough to work in a coal mine, how are they not physically fit to serve as infantry replacements? Please, explain." Who said they weren't fit enough? I don't have to justify what I haven't posted.

You seem to take absolutely no account of the constitutional complexities and limitations the British were working under. The British Empire was not a monolith with interchangeable and equally available manpower.

Cheers,

Sid.
Last edited by Sid Guttridge on 19 Apr 2021 10:39, edited 5 times in total.

Return to “Economy”