British Order of Battle

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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by Ружичасти Слон » 16 Feb 2022 22:20

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
03 Feb 2022 23:59
Thanks for the offer. Summer of 1941 would be my first period. Say 1 April through to 1 August.

Autumn of 1942 might be the second period, and summer 1943 the third. I understand this is a complex and moving target & appreciate your help.
On september 1940.year Chiefs of Staff Committee was publish appreciation . Appreciation was name FUTURE STRATEGY and was have 69 pages . On 26.page was write
Land Forces

85. The present strength of the imperial forces (excluding the army in India, minor garrisons and the forces in the Middle East) totals approximately 3 armoured and 37 other divisions. Many of the forces are only partially equipped and largely lack ancillary units. Any attempt, therefore, to arrive at an exact total of fully trained and equipped formations would only give rise to misleading results

86. The present Army equipment program is intended to equip and maintain the following formations :-

By June 1941
3 Armoured divisions
7 Army tank brigades
33 Division supplemented by :-
(a) The replacement of net losses in the field abroad.
(b) The special requirements of Home Defence.

As soon after June 1941 as possible and not later than the spring of 1942 -
At total of -
5 Armoured divisions.
10 Army tank brigades.
50 Infantry divisions, supplemented as above.

How successful the program can be realised depends on a number of factors which are discussed in paragraph 94 to 99 and 101 to 107 below.
On 6.page was be words
But they general aim which should govern our strategy and determine the scope and rate of development of expansion programmes should be to pass to the general offensive in all spheres and in all theatres with the utmost possible strength in the Spring of 1942.

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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 16 Feb 2022 23:16

That more or less matches the trend I've seen in other less primary sources. I note this was written when Dill was CIGS, correct?

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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by daveshoup2MD » 17 Feb 2022 00:10

So here's a look at the British/Imperial/etc. "army" in 1942 based on Joslen and a couple of other sources, in the following regions, and at the divisional level:

North America (Canada)
4th Division (converted to armor and to UK in 1942); Canadian 6th Division (activated 1942 for home service); Canadian 7th Division (1942/HS); Canadian 8th Division (1942/HS);

UK (note that most British infantry divisions transitioned to the "mixed" TO&E, with two infantry and one armoured brigade, in 1942-43, and then back to the standard three infantry brigades in 1943-44; the "churn" probably did not help overall readiness):

British Guards Armoured (formed 1941); 6th Armoured (formed 1940); 8th Armoured (formed 1940, to MENA 1942); 9th Armoured (formed 1940); 11th Armoured (formed 1941); 42nd (converted from infantry in 1941); 79th Armoured (formed 1942); Canadian 4th Armoured Division (arrived UK in 1942); Canadian 5th Armoured Division (arrived UK 1941 as 1st Armoured); Polish 1st Armoured (formed 1942)
British 1st Infantry, 2nd (to India, 1942), 3rd, 4th, 5th (to India, 1942), 15th, 38th (LE), 43rd, 44th (to MENA, 1942), 45th (LE), 46th, 47th (LE), 48th (LE), 49th (reformed, 1941), 51st (to MENA, 1942), 52nd (Mountain, 1942), 53rd, 54th (LE), 55th (LE, 1942), 56th (to MENA/Iraq, 1942), 59th, 61st, 76th (LE), 77th (LE); 78th (formed, 1942; to MENA/NA, 1942); 1st Airborne (formed 1941); Royal Marines Division (LE, 1942; disbanded 1943); Canadian 1st Division; Canadian 2nd Division; Canadian 3rd Division (arrived UK 1941),

MENA - i.e. North Africa/Balkans/SW Asia (Libya to Iran, basically)
British 7th Armoured; 10th Armoured (converted from 1st Cavalry in 1941); 6th/70th Infantry (formed 1941 as 6th, redesignated 70th in 1941, to India, 1942); 4th Indian; 5th Indian (to India in 1942); 6th Indian (LE); 8th Indian; 10th Indian; South African 1st South African 2nd (destroyed 1942); Australian 6th (to SWPA,1942); Australian 7th (to SWPA, 1942), Australian 9th; New Zealand 2nd; French 1st Division (LE; ~2 brigades); Polish Corps (1942, LE/training)

East Africa
12th African LE, (disbanded 1943);

West Africa
n/a

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

SEAC (India to Malaya)
India
Indian 1st Armoured (formed 1940, 31st in 1941; to MENA 1942); Indian 2nd Armoured (formed 1941, 32nd in 1941); Indian 43rd Armoured Division (formed 1942); 7th Indian (formed 1940); 14th Indian (formed 1941; destroyed (essentially) 1st Arakan, 1942-43); 17th Indian (formed 1941); 19th Indian (formed 1941); 20th Indian (formed 1942); 23rd Indian (formed 1942); 25th Indian (formed 1942); 26th Indian (formed 1942); 34th Indian (1942, Ceylon garrison/fortress);
Burma
1st Burma (formed 1941; destroyed 1942)
Malaya
9th Indian (formed 1940); 11th Indian (formed 1940); Australian 8th (Malaya - 2 brigades; arrived 1941); British 18th Division (arrived 1941-42) all four destroyed in 1942

Southwest and South Pacific (Australia/Fiji/New Zealand)
Australian 1st Armoured (1941); 1st Cavalry Division (formed Dec., 1941, converted to 3rd Armoured, 1942); 2nd Cavalry Division (formed Dec. 1941; converted to 2nd Armoured, 1942); 1st Division (1941); 2nd Division (1941); 3rd Division (1941); 4th Division (1941); 5th Division (1942); 10th Division (formed/disbaned, 1942); 11th Division (formed 1942); 12th Division (formed 19420; New Zealand: 1st NZ Division (LE, 1942); 3rd NZ Division (LE, two brigades, Fiji); 4th NZ Division (LE, 1942); 5th NZ Division (LE, 1942);

So, in terms of "deployable" divisions that were raised in 1941 or earlier, in 1942, it looks like 22-23 British (four armoured, 16-17 infantry, including the 78th, 1 airborne, and 1 RM (LE), of which one armoured and six infantry went east in 1942, dropping the British total to three armoured and 11 infantry at home) and 1 Canadian armoured and three Canadian infantry in the UK; 2 armoured (more or less, rising to three armoured, more or less) and 10-11 infantry (more or less) in MENA; and three British and five Indian in SEAC (after five were destroyed in Malaya and Burma). In the Pacific, there were two AIF divisions, plus the various "local" Australian and New Zealand formations, but the vast majority of these could not have been deployed outside of the SWPA and SPA.

Call it ~48, more or less, from the UK to India, and including British, Indian, Australian, Canadian, South African, and New Zealand divisions; the Poles and Free French "divisions" were in existence, but suited for limited duty/operational training assignments than anything else.
Last edited by daveshoup2MD on 17 Feb 2022 03:34, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by daveshoup2MD » 17 Feb 2022 00:12

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
16 Feb 2022 23:16
That more or less matches the trend I've seen in other less primary sources. I note this was written when Dill was CIGS, correct?
Dill was CIGS from May, 1940, to December, 1941, so yes.

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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 17 Feb 2022 00:20

Thats still close to a 55 division goal.
UK (note that most British infantry divisions transitioned to the "mixed" TO&E, with two infantry and one armoured brigade, in 1942-43, and then back to the standard three infantry brigades in 1943-44; the "churn" probably did not help overall readiness)):
I recall that in discussions back in the 1980s. The Brits using these armored brigades vaguely like the US Army used their independent Armor and Tank Destroyer battalions. Also the problems of the mixed divisions with footprint. We were contemplating the similar problems of a US Marine 'division' in that era, or the US Army Armored and mechanized divisions with their 9-10 maneuver battalions. A lot of combat power, but requiring division & brigade staff at the top of their game.

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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by daveshoup2MD » 17 Feb 2022 04:03

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
17 Feb 2022 00:20
Thats still close to a 55 division goal.
UK (note that most British infantry divisions transitioned to the "mixed" TO&E, with two infantry and one armoured brigade, in 1942-43, and then back to the standard three infantry brigades in 1943-44; the "churn" probably did not help overall readiness)):
I recall that in discussions back in the 1980s. The Brits using these armored brigades vaguely like the US Army used their independent Armor and Tank Destroyer battalions. Also the problems of the mixed divisions with footprint. We were contemplating the similar problems of a US Marine 'division' in that era, or the US Army Armored and mechanized divisions with their 9-10 maneuver battalions. A lot of combat power, but requiring division & brigade staff at the top of their game.
True. re 55 divisions, but looking ahead - some interesting developments in this period. The British were still mobilizing new divisions, rather than sustaining existing ones or rebuilding formations that had suffered losses. One obvious example is the 2nd Armoured Division, which had formed in 1939, trained until the end of 1940, when it was shipped out to MENA with two armoured brigades and a motorized support group, was promptly split up between Libya and Greece, suffered heavy losses in both, and then was essentially broken up in 1941; the same year, the British converted the 1st Cavalry Division to 10th Armoured in MENA, converted the 42nd Infantry to 42nd Armoured in the UK, and organized the Guards and 11th armoured divisions in the UK.

The thing about the "mixed" divisions is the separate tank battalions in the US Army were (generally) attached to the infantry divisions, and the tank/armoured group headquarters, which were the closest American equivalent to a British/Commonwealth type separate armoured/tank brigades, generally functioned as administrative headquarters, often attached as the armor section to a corps headquarters. While US armored group headquarters sometimes functioned in an operational role, that was rare.

The British mixed divisions took away a third of an infantry division's infantry battalions, replaced them with armored battalions, and often - not always, but often - fought the armor and infantry separately. What is really odd about this is a British type armoured division in roughly the same period would be doing well to have one armoured brigade group and an infantry brigade up to strength, so the "mixed" division amounted (in gross terms) to an armoured division equivalent, but with a second infantry brigade. Artillery and engineers were motorized, rather the mechanized, but still; it seems somewhat ad hoc, especially because later in 1943-44, they went back and switched the mixed divisions back to a three infantry brigade organization - but had to extemporize the "new" third brigade, in many cases, because the "original" third brigade in the infantry divisions so treated had been hived off, broken up, used to build new infantry divisions (like the 78th), or what have you.

What's also interesting is if one looks at the various non-divisional armoured/tank brigade equivalents the British sustained to the end of the war, they almost had enough to give each infantry division (of three infantry brigades) an attached armoured/tank brigade per division, anyway.
Last edited by daveshoup2MD on 17 Feb 2022 20:27, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by Ружичасти Слон » 17 Feb 2022 13:34

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
17 Feb 2022 00:20
Thats still close to a 55 division goal.
British government was decide for to have target 55 divisions on September 1939.year. 55 divisions was target for industrys on make equipment . On march 1941.year industry target was be 59 divisions .

On topic manpower Chiefs of Staff Committee appreciation FUTURE STRATEGY on september 1940.year was calculate can for to make 39 divisions on manpower on ages 20-40 or 57 divisions on ages 18-50 . That was be only on mens from island Britain . When include mens from dominions and empire and allys number on divisions was be highest.
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
16 Feb 2022 23:16
That more or less matches the trend I've seen in other less primary sources. I note this was written when Dill was CIGS, correct?
Appreciation was sign Pound and Dill and Peirse .

Context on time when appreciation was be prepare was be
Britain was on middle battle of Britain
Soviet union was be ally on Germany (appreciation was discuss maybe must to fight Soviet union)
Amerika was not on war
Japan was not on war
France was be gone
Italy was be on war but was do nothing

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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by Ружичасти Слон » 17 Feb 2022 13:48

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
17 Feb 2022 00:20
I recall that in discussions back in the 1980s. The Brits using these armored brigades vaguely like the US Army used their independent Armor and Tank Destroyer battalions. Also the problems of the mixed divisions with footprint. We were contemplating the similar problems of a US Marine 'division' in that era, or the US Army Armored and mechanized divisions with their 9-10 maneuver battalions. A lot of combat power, but requiring division & brigade staff at the top of their game.
Britain army was have armored brigades and army tank brigades . They was not be same . They was have different equipment and different role .

Armored brigades was have cruiser tanks and was be on armored division for to fight on division level .

Army tank brigades was have infantry tanks and was be independent formation that was for support infantry division .

On begin 2.world war they was also have plan on 3.type on name armored reconnaisanse brigade . They was make two in France on may 1940.year but they was not be success and was not make again .

Mixed divisions was be experiment on 1942. and 1943.years on training in Britain what was not success and was not be use on operation .

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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 17 Feb 2022 15:23

Accounting for all these separate & independent units in the British and US OB is tricky. The Germans and Italians had no common equivalent. Independent brigade or US regiment sized maneuver groups in the German army were rarer and more accidental in their existence. Most of the independent formations that size in the German OB were specialized assault/artillery formations. ie: Made up of armored assault guns, AT weapons, or other artillery & sometimes infantry/engineer assault groups those were supporting formations & not maneuver units.

Clumping them together in pairs or threes and calculating them as division equivalents is one crude way to estimate their contribution to the combat power of a Allied corps or army. I've fussed around with other more refined methods, but not been satisfied with those either. The other half of this is the occurrences of Brit divisions that were short a brigade. At certain points there were enough of those on any particular army it can distort a simple calculation of combat power by counting division HQ. I'm not expecting to see these considerations apply in 1941-42, but recall our 1980s discussions of this factor in 1943-44.

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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by Gary Kennedy » 17 Feb 2022 15:38

4th Division did go overseas as a Mixed Division in March 1943, with 10th and 12th Infantry Brigades and 21st Tank Brigade, and was converted back to an Infantry Division at the end of 1943. As far as I can recall they were the only Mixed Div to see active service. The War Office announced the intention to abolish the Mixed Division at the beginning of September 1943, on the basis that they were 'unlikely to prove a suitable organisation for operations on the continent of Europe'. It took a while for all the affected Divs to be brought up to the necessary strength.

In 21 Army Group the cruiser equipped Armoured Brigades could be used in the infantry support role as well as the Tank Brigades. There were four Independent Armoured Brigades in 21 Army Group at the start of the campaign, with 27th being disbanded in Jul/Aug 1944, while 33rd found itself being re-equipped for the LVT role under 79th Armoured Division from early 1945. That only left 4th and 8th Brigades, and 4th was used to spell 29th Armoured Brigade in 11th Armoured Division when 29th converted to the Comet. Of the three Tank Brigades in 21 Army Group, 6th Guards and 34th remained as such throughout while 31st went over to 79th Armoured Division and would (eventually) have the three Crocodile equipped units on its Orbat. In early 1945 the Tank Brigades changed title to Armoured Brigades, but still had the same Churchill tanks they had before.

Italy had three Independent Armoured Brigades at various times, with 7th and 9th from May 1944, joined by 2nd when 1st Armoured Division was disbanded during Oct 1944. 23rd had been in theatre until May 1944 but went to Greece (as infantry) in Oct 1944. 21st Tank Brigade remained in the Med when it was removed from 4th Division and joined 25th Tank Brigade in Italy around May 1944. 25th converted to specialised armoured vehicles at the start of 1945.

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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by Ружичасти Слон » 17 Feb 2022 17:31

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
17 Feb 2022 15:23
Accounting for all these separate & independent units in the British and US OB is tricky. The Germans and Italians had no common equivalent. Independent brigade or US regiment sized maneuver groups in the German army were rarer and more accidental in their existence. Most of the independent formations that size in the German OB were specialized assault/artillery formations. ie: Made up of armored assault guns, AT weapons, or other artillery & sometimes infantry/engineer assault groups those were supporting formations & not maneuver units.

Clumping them together in pairs or threes and calculating them as division equivalents is one crude way to estimate their contribution to the combat power of a Allied corps or army. I've fussed around with other more refined methods, but not been satisfied with those either. The other half of this is the occurrences of Brit divisions that were short a brigade. At certain points there were enough of those on any particular army it can distort a simple calculation of combat power by counting division HQ. I'm not expecting to see these considerations apply in 1941-42, but recall our 1980s discussions of this factor in 1943-44.
I not understand what must to be problem for you . What is tricky on accounting ? What is problem on British motorized division on 2 brigades ? They was not exist on 1941.year and after . Ect ect.

Many times you was write on topic discussions on 1980.years . What discussions ? What was be relevence on 1980.years discussions ?

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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by Richard Anderson » 17 Feb 2022 18:15

Gary Kennedy wrote:
17 Feb 2022 15:38
4th Division did go overseas as a Mixed Division in March 1943, with 10th and 12th Infantry Brigades and 21st Tank Brigade, and was converted back to an Infantry Division at the end of 1943. As far as I can recall they were the only Mixed Div to see active service. The War Office announced the intention to abolish the Mixed Division at the beginning of September 1943, on the basis that they were 'unlikely to prove a suitable organisation for operations on the continent of Europe'. It took a while for all the affected Divs to be brought up to the necessary strength.
You beat me to it Gary.

Yes, there is too much attention paid to the Mixed Division. The 1st Division was "mixed" in England for six months, from 8 June to 16 November 1942, the 2d Division never was, the 3d Division was from 22 June 1942 to 4 May 1943, the 4th Division was from 6 June 1942 to 12 December 1943, the 5th Division never was, the 15th (Scottish) was from 4 January to 9 September 1943, the 43d (Wessex) Division was from 1 June to 10 September 1943, the 44th (Home Counties), 46th, 49th (West Riding), and 51st (Highland) Division never were, the 53d (Welsh) Division was from 17 May 1942 to 10 September 1943, the 56th (London) Division was from 8 to 18 May 1943, the 59th (North Midland), 61st (South Midland), and 78th Division were not.

So of those 16 divisions, 7 were organized for some time as Mixed Divisions and 1 served as such in combat.
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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by daveshoup2MD » 17 Feb 2022 20:43

Richard Anderson wrote:
17 Feb 2022 18:15
Gary Kennedy wrote:
17 Feb 2022 15:38
4th Division did go overseas as a Mixed Division in March 1943, with 10th and 12th Infantry Brigades and 21st Tank Brigade, and was converted back to an Infantry Division at the end of 1943. As far as I can recall they were the only Mixed Div to see active service. The War Office announced the intention to abolish the Mixed Division at the beginning of September 1943, on the basis that they were 'unlikely to prove a suitable organisation for operations on the continent of Europe'. It took a while for all the affected Divs to be brought up to the necessary strength.
You beat me to it Gary.

Yes, there is too much attention paid to the Mixed Division. The 1st Division was "mixed" in England for six months, from 8 June to 16 November 1942, the 2d Division never was, the 3d Division was from 22 June 1942 to 4 May 1943, the 4th Division was from 6 June 1942 to 12 December 1943, the 5th Division never was, the 15th (Scottish) was from 4 January to 9 September 1943, the 43d (Wessex) Division was from 1 June to 10 September 1943, the 44th (Home Counties), 46th, 49th (West Riding), and 51st (Highland) Division never were, the 53d (Welsh) Division was from 17 May 1942 to 10 September 1943, the 56th (London) Division was from 8 to 18 May 1943, the 59th (North Midland), 61st (South Midland), and 78th Division were not.

So of those 16 divisions, 7 were organized for some time as Mixed Divisions and 1 served as such in combat.
Think the issue would be if the "mixed" organization, by removing one of these seven division's three infantry brigades (from their 1941-42 organizations, prior to the "mixed" organization) had any impact (positive or negative) in terms of their performance when they went into action in 1943-44. One potential positive: did they do better, worse, or about the same in terms of combined arms than the "standard" divisions, because of the experience with the armor cross-attachment? A potential negative: did the churn overall, and the need to create and then attach a third divisional infantry brigade in 1943 make a difference in their performance compared to the divisions that did not have to deal with that? Or delay their deployment on active service?

Overall, the 1st Division was in action in 1943, and seems to have done well; the 3rd did not go into action until 1944, but that was simply the circumstance of when OVERLORD began; the 4th Division was in action in 1943, and is also well regarded; 15th, 43rd, and 53rd did not see action until 1944, like the 3rd; and the 56th, although overseas, did not see action until 1943.

Given the British themselves saw the "standard" organization as a better choice, overall, it seems a fair inference that the entire exercise was - at best - a mis-step.

The point being, churn is rarely a positive for any organization.

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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 17 Feb 2022 21:20

These are at risk of a digression outside my core "readiness" question.
Richard Anderson wrote:
17 Feb 2022 18:15
Gary Kennedy wrote:
17 Feb 2022 15:38
4th Division did go overseas as a Mixed Division in March 1943, with 10th and 12th Infantry Brigades and 21st Tank Brigade, and was converted back to an Infantry Division at the end of 1943. As far as I can recall they were the only Mixed Div to see active service. The War Office announced the intention to abolish the Mixed Division at the beginning of September 1943, on the basis that they were 'unlikely to prove a suitable organisation for operations on the continent of Europe'. It took a while for all the affected Divs to be brought up to the necessary strength.
You beat me to it Gary.

Yes, there is too much attention paid to the Mixed Division. ...
...So of those 16 divisions, 7 were organized for some time as Mixed Divisions and 1 served as such in combat.
Their existence don't seem to influence much the number or combat readiness of the divisions on hand & I agree at several levels with Richs observation of too much attention.
Ружичасти Слон wrote:
17 Feb 2022 17:31
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
17 Feb 2022 15:23
Accounting for all these separate & independent units in the British and US OB is tricky. The Germans and Italians had no common equivalent. Independent brigade or US regiment sized maneuver groups in the German army were rarer and more accidental in their existence. Most of the independent formations that size in the German OB were specialized assault/artillery formations. ie: Made up of armored assault guns, AT weapons, or other artillery & sometimes infantry/engineer assault groups those were supporting formations & not maneuver units.

Clumping them together in pairs or threes and calculating them as division equivalents is one crude way to estimate their contribution to the combat power of a Allied corps or army. I've fussed around with other more refined methods, but not been satisfied with those either. The other half of this is the occurrences of Brit divisions that were short a brigade. At certain points there were enough of those on any particular army it can distort a simple calculation of combat power by counting division HQ. I'm not expecting to see these considerations apply in 1941-42, but recall our 1980s discussions of this factor in 1943-44.
I not understand what must to be problem for you . What is tricky on accounting ? What is problem on British motorized division on 2 brigades ? They was not exist on 1941.year and after . Ect ect.
My remarks were aimed at understanding or estimating the combat power added to the corps or army of the smaller independent formations. Variable sized divisions connects to that, But both questions are periphrial to my primary inquiry.
Many times you was write on topic discussions on 1980.years . What discussions ? What was be relevence on 1980.years discussions ?
Discussions between myself and other military officers I was serving with. There were two discussion topics. One was on the merits of the US Army and Marine tactical organizations in that era. The other topic was the merits and defects of the British tactical organizations 1942-45. By 'tactical' I mean we were directing our thoughts at the corps as much as the division, or brigade.

Hope that clarifies my remarks

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Re: British Order of Battle

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 17 Feb 2022 21:34

daveshoup2MD wrote:
17 Feb 2022 00:10
So here's a look at the British/Imperial/etc. "army" in 1942

So, in terms of "deployable" divisions that were raised in 1941 or earlier, in 1942, it looks like 22-23 British (four armoured, 16-17 infantry, including the 78th, 1 airborne, and 1 RM (LE), of which one armoured and six infantry went east in 1942, dropping the British total to three armoured and 11 infantry at home) and 1 Canadian armoured and three Canadian infantry in the UK; ...
A increase over 1941, but not a very large one, and thus not a large combat ready force remaining in the UK. In operational terms a robust army size force, but not any more than that. The unready formations in theory represent a fair size pool of combat loss replacements.

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