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.
Tom from Cornwall
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 25 Apr 2021 17:33

daveshoup2MD wrote:
24 Apr 2021 23:58
The six Marine infantry battalions were organized by taking RM personnel assigned to naval duties and organizing them as infantry; 116th and 117th brigades were the result, and they served in 21st AG (source is Joslyn) in 1945
Hi Dave,

Weren't these RM landing craft crew and turret crew from battleships which were no longer required after D-day and the decommissioning of some of the older British battleships?

Regards

Tom

daveshoup2MD
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by daveshoup2MD » 25 Apr 2021 22:38

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
25 Apr 2021 17:33
daveshoup2MD wrote:
24 Apr 2021 23:58
The six Marine infantry battalions were organized by taking RM personnel assigned to naval duties and organizing them as infantry; 116th and 117th brigades were the result, and they served in 21st AG (source is Joslyn) in 1945
Hi Dave,

Weren't these RM landing craft crew and turret crew from battleships which were no longer required after D-day and the decommissioning of some of the older British battleships?

Regards

Tom
That's my understanding, but given they were operational in 1945, it seems reasonable clear they were well-trained and capable light infantry. There's an open question of whether using RMs as landing craft crew was a reasonable decision; given the scale of the RN and the number of impressive yet elderly warships still in commission in 1943-44, seems clear sailors could have been found for the same duties.

As it was, the Royal Marines were, to be blunt, used questionably by the British high command in WW 2. In a war that was defined, in large part, by amphibious warfare, the RM spent most of the war years in their traditional shipboard roles of gunners/etc. (a capital ship generally had 100 to 200 RMs aboard), security/garrison needs in the UK and other established naval bases, or their interwar-developed role of a combined arms defense force for overseas naval bases (the "Mobile Naval Base Defense Organization," or MNBDO), which were - essentially - brigade-sized mixes of infantry, coast artillery, AA artillery, etc. who were "mobile" the sense they could be deployed to build-up a functioning naval base in an otherwise austere location, but were "static" once they arrived.

In WW 2, the RM increased from some 13,000 officers and men (regulars and reserves) in 1938 to 82,000 in 1943, and along with providing detachments for the larger ships of the RN, security and garrison duties, and the manpower sufficient for two MNBDOs, designated (creatively) MNBDO I (established prewar, and designated as such in 1939) and MNBDO II (established in 1941). Through a complex series of deployments and detachments, much of MNBDO I ended up serving in the Indian Ocean and much of MNBDO II in the Med, although elements of I also served in the Med and elements of II also served in northwest Europe. These two formations gave rise to the 1st, 2nd, and 5th RM AA brigades, of which the 5th was (basically) a conglomeration of the 1st and 2nd for service in NW Europe in 1944.

By the end of 1943, RM manpower broke (roughly) down as follows:
14,000 - landing craft crew;
11,000 - headquarters and depots;
8,000 - Fleet duties (shipboard detachments);
7,000 - Special service (commandos);
42,000 - RN base duties, FAA, training units, RM engineers, Allied/joint/combined staffs, etc.

It is worth noting that in a conflict defined by amphibious assaults, only about 7,000 RM were assigned to what amounted to light infantry units trained and equipped for amphibious assaults...

It is also worth noting that the majority of those 7,000 RMs were late arrivals to the "commando" role; before 1943, only two commandos (basically, an understrength infantry battalion) had been made up of RM personnel; most of the commandos were made up of soldiers before 1943. The first RM unit was originally formed as "The RM Commando" in February, 1942, and then redesignated as 40 RM Commando; the second was formed in October, 1942, as 41 RM Commando, largely by redesignating the existing 8th RM Battalion (infantry).

In mid-1943, the majority of the RM's land warfare capabilities were found in an understrength light infantry division designated as "The Royal Marine Division," formed as such in August, 1940. On paper, its organization was (more or less) as follows:

RM Division headquarters - CG: MG Sir Robert Grice Sturges

Division Troops: 15 RM Battalion (MG); 18 RM Battalion (Mobile/Recce); RM Division Engineers (Battalion); RM Division Signals; etc.

Formation headquarters
101 RM Brigade (hq); 102 RM Brigade (hq); RM Division Artillery

Infantry:
1st RM Battalion; 2nd RM Battalion; 3rd RM Battalion; 5th RM Battalion; 10th RM Battalion;

Artillery:
RM Field Artillery Regiment (Battalion)
RM Anti-tank Regiment (Battalion)

Amphibious Engineers:
RM 1st Beach Group
RM 2nd Beach Group

Two more RM infantry battalions existed; the 7th was in the Med as an independent battalion, and had absorbed the 9th RM Battalion in May, 1942, while the 11th RM Battalion was in the Indian Ocean.

Now, historically, the division sketched above was converted in 1943 to either a) commando units (the historical 42-48 RM Commandos), or b) landing craft crews (the 14,000 men mentioned above). The division headquarters was converted from an operational hq to an administrative one, becoming headquarters of the Special Service Group in the UK in August, 1943, while the brigade headquarters provided personnel for elements of what became the four Special Service/Commando brigades of 1944-45.

Then, of course, in 1945, two more brigade headquarters - 116 and 117 RM Brigades - were formed, using a mixed group of personnel, to provide additional light infantry for NW Europe.

There were a fair number of reasons - doctrine, the British conscript manpower crisis of 1944-45, inter-service rivalries, etc. - as to why all of the above occurred, but it certainly raises the issue of whether the mass conversion of seven RM infantry battalions to seven RM commando battalions, and the provision of 14,000 landing craft crew, was really the best use of trained light infantry like the RMs.

14,000 landing craft crew is essentially the equivalent of the crews of the four elderly Revenge class battleships, the surviving WW I-era cruisers, and some - not even all - of the US-built destroyers and escort sloops transferred to the RN in 1940-41. Laying up some or all of these vessels in 1943-44 would have provided ore than enough sailors to replace the RMs used as landing craft crews, historically.

Again, the RMs and converted AA battalions were not ideal solutions for the British Army's manpower shortage in 1944, but they were a resource that presumably could have been available earlier; same for the Bevin Boys' conscripts for the coal industry, the RAF Regiment, the infantry assigned to motor battalions in non-divisional armoured brigade groups, the infantry converted to airborne roles, the infantry assigned to British Army beach groups, and manpower sources in the UK and elsewhere that were not (historically) tapped to the levels that Britain's major Western Allies chose to do so...

Sid Guttridge
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Sid Guttridge » 26 Apr 2021 07:23

Hi daveshoup,

All that you say about the Royal Marines is fine, so long as the naval jobs you want to take them from were unnecessary, or otherwise the same amount of manpower would be needed to take their places. I don't think most large warships would regard their X-turret as unnecessary and I am sure landing craft crews would still have to be found from somewhere.

As you point out, two brigades of Marines were sent to North-West Europe anyway, so they were not lost to the the Allied order of battle. They just weren't in an army division.

You post, "The point about trying to rebuild 1st Airborne in 1944-45 is that it was unnecessary, given the existence of 6th Airborne and the 2nd Parachute Brigade, much less al the other paratroopers in the Allied order of battle."

Surely one could equally argue, "The point about trying to retain 1st Armoured, 50th Infantry, and 59th Infantry divisions in 1944-45 is that it was unnecessary, given the existence of 7th Armoured, 43rd Infantry and 53rd Infantry Divisions, much less all the other tankers and infantry in the Allied order of battle"?

You post, "manpower sources in the UK and elsewhere that were not (historically) tapped to the levels that Britain's major Western Allies chose to do so". Well, the US wasn't much different from the UK. It was using brigades of anti-aircraft gunners as infantry in Italy and the Alps 1944-45. Continental countries had to have conscription to guard against each other. The UK didn't because it could hide behind them and its own navy. It may be macho to do all your own fighting, but it is costly, as the UK found out in WWI.

Cheers,

Sid.

EwenS
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by EwenS » 26 Apr 2021 09:40

daveshoup2MD wrote:
25 Apr 2021 22:38
Tom from Cornwall wrote:
25 Apr 2021 17:33
daveshoup2MD wrote:
24 Apr 2021 23:58
The six Marine infantry battalions were organized by taking RM personnel assigned to naval duties and organizing them as infantry; 116th and 117th brigades were the result, and they served in 21st AG (source is Joslyn) in 1945
Hi Dave,

Weren't these RM landing craft crew and turret crew from battleships which were no longer required after D-day and the decommissioning of some of the older British battleships?

Regards

Tom
That's my understanding, but given they were operational in 1945, it seems reasonable clear they were well-trained and capable light infantry. There's an open question of whether using RMs as landing craft crew was a reasonable decision; given the scale of the RN and the number of impressive yet elderly warships still in commission in 1943-44, seems clear sailors could have been found for the same duties.

As it was, the Royal Marines were, to be blunt, used questionably by the British high command in WW 2. In a war that was defined, in large part, by amphibious warfare, the RM spent most of the war years in their traditional shipboard roles of gunners/etc. (a capital ship generally had 100 to 200 RMs aboard), security/garrison needs in the UK and other established naval bases, or their interwar-developed role of a combined arms defense force for overseas naval bases (the "Mobile Naval Base Defense Organization," or MNBDO), which were - essentially - brigade-sized mixes of infantry, coast artillery, AA artillery, etc. who were "mobile" the sense they could be deployed to build-up a functioning naval base in an otherwise austere location, but were "static" once they arrived.

In WW 2, the RM increased from some 13,000 officers and men (regulars and reserves) in 1938 to 82,000 in 1943, and along with providing detachments for the larger ships of the RN, security and garrison duties, and the manpower sufficient for two MNBDOs, designated (creatively) MNBDO I (established prewar, and designated as such in 1939) and MNBDO II (established in 1941). Through a complex series of deployments and detachments, much of MNBDO I ended up serving in the Indian Ocean and much of MNBDO II in the Med, although elements of I also served in the Med and elements of II also served in northwest Europe. These two formations gave rise to the 1st, 2nd, and 5th RM AA brigades, of which the 5th was (basically) a conglomeration of the 1st and 2nd for service in NW Europe in 1944.

By the end of 1943, RM manpower broke (roughly) down as follows:
14,000 - landing craft crew;
11,000 - headquarters and depots;
8,000 - Fleet duties (shipboard detachments);
7,000 - Special service (commandos);
42,000 - RN base duties, FAA, training units, RM engineers, Allied/joint/combined staffs, etc.

It is worth noting that in a conflict defined by amphibious assaults, only about 7,000 RM were assigned to what amounted to light infantry units trained and equipped for amphibious assaults...

It is also worth noting that the majority of those 7,000 RMs were late arrivals to the "commando" role; before 1943, only two commandos (basically, an understrength infantry battalion) had been made up of RM personnel; most of the commandos were made up of soldiers before 1943. The first RM unit was originally formed as "The RM Commando" in February, 1942, and then redesignated as 40 RM Commando; the second was formed in October, 1942, as 41 RM Commando, largely by redesignating the existing 8th RM Battalion (infantry).

In mid-1943, the majority of the RM's land warfare capabilities were found in an understrength light infantry division designated as "The Royal Marine Division," formed as such in August, 1940. On paper, its organization was (more or less) as follows:

RM Division headquarters - CG: MG Sir Robert Grice Sturges

Division Troops: 15 RM Battalion (MG); 18 RM Battalion (Mobile/Recce); RM Division Engineers (Battalion); RM Division Signals; etc.

Formation headquarters
101 RM Brigade (hq); 102 RM Brigade (hq); RM Division Artillery

Infantry:
1st RM Battalion; 2nd RM Battalion; 3rd RM Battalion; 5th RM Battalion; 10th RM Battalion;

Artillery:
RM Field Artillery Regiment (Battalion)
RM Anti-tank Regiment (Battalion)

Amphibious Engineers:
RM 1st Beach Group
RM 2nd Beach Group

Two more RM infantry battalions existed; the 7th was in the Med as an independent battalion, and had absorbed the 9th RM Battalion in May, 1942, while the 11th RM Battalion was in the Indian Ocean.

Now, historically, the division sketched above was converted in 1943 to either a) commando units (the historical 42-48 RM Commandos), or b) landing craft crews (the 14,000 men mentioned above). The division headquarters was converted from an operational hq to an administrative one, becoming headquarters of the Special Service Group in the UK in August, 1943, while the brigade headquarters provided personnel for elements of what became the four Special Service/Commando brigades of 1944-45.

Then, of course, in 1945, two more brigade headquarters - 116 and 117 RM Brigades - were formed, using a mixed group of personnel, to provide additional light infantry for NW Europe.

There were a fair number of reasons - doctrine, the British conscript manpower crisis of 1944-45, inter-service rivalries, etc. - as to why all of the above occurred, but it certainly raises the issue of whether the mass conversion of seven RM infantry battalions to seven RM commando battalions, and the provision of 14,000 landing craft crew, was really the best use of trained light infantry like the RMs.

14,000 landing craft crew is essentially the equivalent of the crews of the four elderly Revenge class battleships, the surviving WW I-era cruisers, and some - not even all - of the US-built destroyers and escort sloops transferred to the RN in 1940-41. Laying up some or all of these vessels in 1943-44 would have provided ore than enough sailors to replace the RMs used as landing craft crews, historically.

Again, the RMs and converted AA battalions were not ideal solutions for the British Army's manpower shortage in 1944, but they were a resource that presumably could have been available earlier; same for the Bevin Boys' conscripts for the coal industry, the RAF Regiment, the infantry assigned to motor battalions in non-divisional armoured brigade groups, the infantry converted to airborne roles, the infantry assigned to British Army beach groups, and manpower sources in the UK and elsewhere that were not (historically) tapped to the levels that Britain's major Western Allies chose to do so...
I think your first para fails to appreciate what was happening to those older ships from late 1943.

Battleships. 3 R class to reserve by Feb 1944. Royal Sov to USSR in May. The other pair became a static stokers training establishment in mid 1944. Only Ramillies remained in commission with a reduced crew as a bombardment ship for Op Neptune and Dragoon.

Malaya was in reserve from Aug 1943 except for a period around D-Day when she was held as a spare bombardment ship.

Argus laid up at the end of 1943 as escort carriers took over her FAA training role.

Furious was an operational carrier striking Norwegian targets until Sept 1944 before being withdrawn.

Albatross having been in reserve in late 1943 was converted to a repair ship in time for D-Day, a task she then carried out to the end of the war.

C & D class cruisers. Delhi, Colombo & Caledon all in Med being modernised AA cruisers. Carlisle, irreparably damaged, in use as an accommodation ship at Alexandria. Caradoc became an accommodation ship at Colombo in April 1944. Cardiff had been a gunnery training ship since 1940.

Diomede & Dauntless became a training ships in mid 1943.

Ceres, Capetown and Despatch all returned from overseas in late 1943 and would have been laid up but for a decision to strip them of their main armament, boost their light AA and use them off Normandy as HQ ships for various naval officers. That over about Aug they went to reserve.

Durban laid up late 1943 before being expended as a blockship off Normandy.

Only Dragon and Danae were operational cruisers after 1943, with the latter replacing the former as Polish manned when the former was torpedoed off Normandy.

Frobisher & Hawkins, After bombardment work off Normandy, were sent to refit to replace Diomede & Dauntless, plans which never came fully to fruition by the end of the war.

After Normandy bombardment work, Emerald & Enterprise in late 1944 went to reserve. Enterprise was partially remanned in 1945 for use as a troopship.

Adventure was converted for use as a repair ship in late 1943, a duty she fulfilled to the end of the war.

The old destroyer survivors, WW1 classes and A to I classes, were largely in use as escorts in the North Atlantic until enough newer ships became available. The Town class were either laid up from late 1943 or used in secondary roles such as air target ships with 9 going to the USSR in mid 1944. Only about 3 remained as escorts on the East Coast into 1945.

Even with all of that the RN still couldn’t man the modern cruiser Liverpool when she completed her repairs and modernisation in mid 1944, and struggled to find manpower for the last of the Captain class frigates entering service in early 1944.

Lay up more of these older ships earlier and you have to find something else to replace them with for many of the front line roles they were carrying out in 1944/45.

Edit:- And in addition to the old ships there were also newer ones taken out of front line service. Escort carriers Archer & Biter for example. Former laid up late 1943 and used as stores and accommodation ship due to completely unreliable machinery. Biter laid up Aug 1944 again due to her machinery problems.
Last edited by EwenS on 26 Apr 2021 14:11, edited 1 time in total.

Gooner1
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Gooner1 » 26 Apr 2021 12:42

daveshoup2MD wrote:
24 Apr 2021 23:58
The six Marine infantry battalions were organized by taking RM personnel assigned to naval duties and organizing them as infantry; 116th and 117th brigades were the result, and they served in 21st AG (source is Joslyn) in 1945;
As mentioned, mainly the guys who were manning the landing craft and ships earlier in the campaign so not really available as infantry replacements in 1944. In August 1944 6,200 Royal Navy and 5,000 RAF personnel were discharged and then immediately conscripted into the army. Most of these went into the infantry.

the 21 AA battalion re-organized for infantry duties formed 301st and 303rd-308th brigades and deployed to the continent, again in 1945 (also Joslyn).
These were all or mostly gunners from AA Command in the UK whose role had become redundant as the Luftwaffe and the V-1 threat receded. Ironically many of the regiments from which they had come were originally infantry regiments that had been converted to Anti-Aircraft & Searchlight regiments previously. Again not really available until well into '45 and probably many of the A1 physical types had already been transferred.
Most of the surplus anti-aircraft gunners on the Continent were sent back to UK training establishments for retraining. By end of September '44 there were 26,494 men undergoing retraining in the UK and most would end up in the infantry.
Given that the British had enough separate tank and armored brigades to match - 1 to 1 - their remaining infantry divisions, as well as three armoured divisions in 21st AG and one in 8th Army, suggests that keeping 2nd, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 23rd armoured brigades as brigade groups, complete with a motor battalion, was also questionable,
I don't get the point of de-motorising the motor battalions? It was thought useful that the armour have infantry that could keep pace with them, which ordinary rifle battalions could not. I believe the number of motor battalions actually increased during the campaign as the tank brigades were converted into armoured brigades.
Likewise, diverting 10,000 or more physically fit British conscripts from the replacement pool to the coal sector, when ample numbers of men were available for non-combat labor service, was equally mistaken.
The importance of the 1st Armoured, 50th Infantry, and 59th Infantry divisions is that disbanding combat divisions in close contact with the enemy, while ample manpower was available to sustain them, was stupid and weakened the Allied field forces.

That's the "magic."
I don't think there were ample numbers of men available anywhere in the UK in 1944. Everybody was doing something, including the PoWs.
Whether the UK could have handled its manpower problems better I think there's no doubt. From 1942 too few recruits were going into the army and within the army too few were going into the infantry.

daveshoup2MD
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by daveshoup2MD » 27 Apr 2021 05:37

Sid Guttridge wrote:
26 Apr 2021 07:23
Hi daveshoup,

All that you say about the Royal Marines is fine, so long as the naval jobs you want to take them from were unnecessary, or otherwise the same amount of manpower would be needed to take their places. I don't think most large warships would regard their X-turret as unnecessary and I am sure landing craft crews would still have to be found from somewhere.

As you point out, two brigades of Marines were sent to North-West Europe anyway, so they were not lost to the the Allied order of battle. They just weren't in an army division.

You post, "The point about trying to rebuild 1st Airborne in 1944-45 is that it was unnecessary, given the existence of 6th Airborne and the 2nd Parachute Brigade, much less al the other paratroopers in the Allied order of battle."

Surely one could equally argue, "The point about trying to retain 1st Armoured, 50th Infantry, and 59th Infantry divisions in 1944-45 is that it was unnecessary, given the existence of 7th Armoured, 43rd Infantry and 53rd Infantry Divisions, much less all the other tankers and infantry in the Allied order of battle"?

You post, "manpower sources in the UK and elsewhere that were not (historically) tapped to the levels that Britain's major Western Allies chose to do so". Well, the US wasn't much different from the UK. It was using brigades of anti-aircraft gunners as infantry in Italy and the Alps 1944-45. Continental countries had to have conscription to guard against each other. The UK didn't because it could hide behind them and its own navy. It may be macho to do all your own fighting, but it is costly, as the UK found out in WWI.

Cheers,

Sid.
Yes, landing craft crews could have been found by decommissioning RN surface warships. The Italians surrendered and Scharnhorst was sunk in 1943, reducing the number of Axis capital ships in European waters to precisely one, which was essentially a floating target at the same time; the USN handled the IJN, obviously. The RN maintained a force of 4-6 large carriers (anything more than a CVE) during this period, and was commissioning two new fleet carriers and twice as many new light carriers in the same period, as well as maintaining 10-12 capital ships. Add in the remaining elderly cruisers and there are obvious sources of trained sailors to be drawn upon.

As far as the armored and infantry divisions that were in existence in 1944, as opposed to a) keeping an unneeded airborne division in reserve, or b) rebuilding the same airborne division after it had been practically destroyed?

The point is that every armored and infantry division the British had in the Allied order of battle was a resource that made a difference on the battlefield in terms of defeating the Germans; the two airborne divisions, other than perhaps one in Normandy, were a solution looking for a problem - as MARKET-GARDEN and the deployment of the 1st Airborne makes undeniably clear.

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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by daveshoup2MD » 27 Apr 2021 05:46

EwenS wrote:
26 Apr 2021 09:40

Even with all of that the RN still couldn’t man the modern cruiser Liverpool when she completed her repairs and modernisation in mid 1944, and struggled to find manpower for the last of the Captain class frigates entering service in early 1944.

Lay up more of these older ships earlier and you have to find something else to replace them with for many of the front line roles they were carrying out in 1944/45.

Edit:- And in addition to the old ships there were also newer ones taken out of front line service. Escort carriers Archer & Biter for example. Former laid up late 1943 and used as stores and accommodation ship due to completely unreliable machinery. Biter laid up Aug 1944 again due to her machinery problems.
After the end of 1943, the naval surface threat from Axis capital ships adjacent to British-controlled waters was what, exactly? One battered German battleship in Norway? Maybe ... and for that, the British maintained a half dozen or more large carriers and 10-12 capital ships?

Plenty of sailors to man landing craft in the first six months or so of 1944, and then go back to the fleet in time to work up for the Pacific.

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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by daveshoup2MD » 27 Apr 2021 05:53

Gooner1 wrote:
26 Apr 2021 12:42
daveshoup2MD wrote:
24 Apr 2021 23:58
The six Marine infantry battalions were organized by taking RM personnel assigned to naval duties and organizing them as infantry; 116th and 117th brigades were the result, and they served in 21st AG (source is Joslyn) in 1945;
As mentioned, mainly the guys who were manning the landing craft and ships earlier in the campaign so not really available as infantry replacements in 1944. In August 1944 6,200 Royal Navy and 5,000 RAF personnel were discharged and then immediately conscripted into the army. Most of these went into the infantry.

the 21 AA battalion re-organized for infantry duties formed 301st and 303rd-308th brigades and deployed to the continent, again in 1945 (also Joslyn).
These were all or mostly gunners from AA Command in the UK whose role had become redundant as the Luftwaffe and the V-1 threat receded. Ironically many of the regiments from which they had come were originally infantry regiments that had been converted to Anti-Aircraft & Searchlight regiments previously. Again not really available until well into '45 and probably many of the A1 physical types had already been transferred.
Most of the surplus anti-aircraft gunners on the Continent were sent back to UK training establishments for retraining. By end of September '44 there were 26,494 men undergoing retraining in the UK and most would end up in the infantry.
Given that the British had enough separate tank and armored brigades to match - 1 to 1 - their remaining infantry divisions, as well as three armoured divisions in 21st AG and one in 8th Army, suggests that keeping 2nd, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 23rd armoured brigades as brigade groups, complete with a motor battalion, was also questionable,
I don't get the point of de-motorising the motor battalions? It was thought useful that the armour have infantry that could keep pace with them, which ordinary rifle battalions could not. I believe the number of motor battalions actually increased during the campaign as the tank brigades were converted into armoured brigades.
Likewise, diverting 10,000 or more physically fit British conscripts from the replacement pool to the coal sector, when ample numbers of men were available for non-combat labor service, was equally mistaken.
The importance of the 1st Armoured, 50th Infantry, and 59th Infantry divisions is that disbanding combat divisions in close contact with the enemy, while ample manpower was available to sustain them, was stupid and weakened the Allied field forces.

That's the "magic."
I don't think there were ample numbers of men available anywhere in the UK in 1944. Everybody was doing something, including the PoWs.
Whether the UK could have handled its manpower problems better I think there's no doubt. From 1942 too few recruits were going into the army and within the army too few were going into the infantry.
Given the threat in European waters from the single Axis capital ship remaining in commission after December, 1943, presumably some of the crews from the 4-6 large carriers and 10-12 capital ships in commission could have been called upon.

Given the realities of the ERTO in 1943-45, separate (non-divisional) armoured brigade groups, complete with a motorized infantry battalion, seems rather a niche capability. Attach an armoured/tank brigade to each infantry division, and keeping the five armoured divisions the British had in their order of battle when the year began, would have made more sense.

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 27 Apr 2021 21:33

daveshoup2MD wrote:
27 Apr 2021 05:53
Given the threat in European waters from the single Axis capital ship remaining in commission after December, 1943, presumably some of the crews from the 4-6 large carriers and 10-12 capital ships in commission could have been called upon.
Or they could be sent out with their ships to reinforce the Royal Navy’s Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean and begin to strike at Japanese forces in what is now Indonesia. :idea:

Regards

Tom

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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by daveshoup2MD » 28 Apr 2021 04:54

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
27 Apr 2021 21:33
daveshoup2MD wrote:
27 Apr 2021 05:53
Given the threat in European waters from the single Axis capital ship remaining in commission after December, 1943, presumably some of the crews from the 4-6 large carriers and 10-12 capital ships in commission could have been called upon.
Or they could be sent out with their ships to reinforce the Royal Navy’s Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean and begin to strike at Japanese forces in what is now Indonesia. :idea:

Regards

Tom
Which - given the reality of Germany First and the fact the Germans killed 9,000 and wounded or injured another 26,000 Britons in the UK with weapons launched from France, Belgium, and points east in 1944-45 - seems rather questionable, doesn't it?
Last edited by daveshoup2MD on 28 Apr 2021 23:00, edited 1 time in total.

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 28 Apr 2021 07:48

daveshoup2MD wrote:
28 Apr 2021 04:54
Which seems - given the reality of Germany First and the fact the Germans killed 9,000 and wounded or injured another 26,000 Britons in the UK with weapons launched from France, Belgium, and points east in 1944-45 - seems rather questionable, doesn't it?
Perhaps, but it was a positive decision rather than the passive decision you suggested in this comment:
daveshoup2MD wrote:
27 Apr 2021 05:46
After the end of 1943, the naval surface threat from Axis capital ships adjacent to British-controlled waters was what, exactly? One battered German battleship in Norway? Maybe ... and for that, the British maintained a half dozen or more large carriers and 10-12 capital ships?
I was just pointing out that British didn’t maintain all those carriers and all those capital ships to guard against German sorties.

You might want to look into the numbers of aircrew in training as well - there was a very large excess of those by the end of 1944 IIRC and some were invited to convert to rather less glamorous services. :D

Regards

Tom

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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Gooner1 » 28 Apr 2021 11:19

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
28 Apr 2021 07:48
You might want to look into the numbers of aircrew in training as well - there was a very large excess of those by the end of 1944 IIRC and some were invited to convert to rather less glamorous services. :D
Tom
Apparently in June 1944 there were 35,000 men on the RAF deferred list i.e. men on the waiting list for aircrew training, for whom there could be little realistic expectation of their graduating training before wars predicted end.
6,000 of these men were released to the army in August 1944 and a further 8,000 through to June 1945.
Unsurprisingly (from Peaty) "They were assessed to be of excellent quality. They were fit, intelligent, well-educated and had officer potential."

The other compulsory transfers from the RN and RAF were, equally unsurprisingly, "assessed to be of mediocre quality"

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Sheldrake
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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by Sheldrake » 28 Apr 2021 16:11

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
28 Apr 2021 07:48
You might want to look into the numbers of aircrew in training as well - there was a very large excess of those by the end of 1944 IIRC and some were invited to convert to rather less glamorous services. :D

Regards

Tom
WW2 pilot Jack Currie about his operational tour flying Lancaster bombers in Lancaster Target. In the sequel "Mosquito Victory" he write about how he was invited to ally to transfer to Transport Command as a less risky activity than a second tour in Bomber Command. Failing to read the small print he found himself in khaki playing soldiers as a trainee member of the Glider Pilot Regiment...

If you want to find out how he escaped, read Mosquito Victory.

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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by daveshoup2MD » 28 Apr 2021 23:08

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
28 Apr 2021 07:48
daveshoup2MD wrote:
28 Apr 2021 04:54
Which seems - given the reality of Germany First and the fact the Germans killed 9,000 and wounded or injured another 26,000 Britons in the UK with weapons launched from France, Belgium, and points east in 1944-45 - seems rather questionable, doesn't it?
Perhaps, but it was a positive decision rather than the passive decision you suggested in this comment:
daveshoup2MD wrote:
27 Apr 2021 05:46
After the end of 1943, the naval surface threat from Axis capital ships adjacent to British-controlled waters was what, exactly? One battered German battleship in Norway? Maybe ... and for that, the British maintained a half dozen or more large carriers and 10-12 capital ships?
I was just pointing out that British didn’t maintain all those carriers and all those capital ships to guard against German sorties.

You might want to look into the numbers of aircrew in training as well - there was a very large excess of those by the end of 1944 IIRC and some were invited to convert to rather less glamorous services. :D

Regards

Tom
Okay, but given the realities of which Axis power was dropping high explosive on the UK, it hardly seems remarkable to suggest that:

a) RM light infantry should be used as light infantry, not landing craft crew;
b) RN sailors should be used as landing craft crew for the period in which they were needed in the ETO - 1944 - and then transferred to the fleet for the Pacific Campaign in 1945.

After - at the latest - mid-to-late 1942, there was no IJN threat to the Indian Ocean. QED, the RN's focus for the counteroffensives of late 1942 onwards aimed at the defeat of Germany should have been the priority; that would have - along with ASW - meant amphibious warfare.

Organizing and training combat divisions for a continental campaign, and then disbanding them to provide replacements, while excellent infantry are assigned as sailors and excellent sailors are assigned to guard against an enemy that wasn't a threat at sea was a self-inflicted wound.

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Re: British Manpower shortages by the end of WW2

Post by daveshoup2MD » 28 Apr 2021 23:11

Gooner1 wrote:
28 Apr 2021 11:19
Tom from Cornwall wrote:
28 Apr 2021 07:48
You might want to look into the numbers of aircrew in training as well - there was a very large excess of those by the end of 1944 IIRC and some were invited to convert to rather less glamorous services. :D
Tom
Apparently in June 1944 there were 35,000 men on the RAF deferred list i.e. men on the waiting list for aircrew training, for whom there could be little realistic expectation of their graduating training before wars predicted end.
6,000 of these men were released to the army in August 1944 and a further 8,000 through to June 1945.
Unsurprisingly (from Peaty) "They were assessed to be of excellent quality. They were fit, intelligent, well-educated and had officer potential."

The other compulsory transfers from the RN and RAF were, equally unsurprisingly, "assessed to be of mediocre quality"
Which sort of raises the question of using RMs as landing craft crew when there were, apparently, RN sailors available.

Had the impression the former RAF Regiment troops transferred to the Army were well-regarded; recall some mention that a significant proportion were slotted into the replacement pool for the Guards.

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