British Machine Gun Bn organisation in North Africa

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gjkennedy
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British Machine Gun Bn organisation in North Africa

Post by gjkennedy » 30 Jul 2011 13:15

Below is a summary of the changes made to the British Machine Gun Battalion organisation (War Establishment) for those units serving in the Middle East (ie North Africa) -

British Machine Gun Bn WE, early 1941

Bn HQ;

HQ Coy –
Sig Pl; 1 Atk rifle
AA Pl; 4 LMGs, 4 Atk rifles
Admin Pl; 1 LMG, 1 Atk rifle

Four Machine Gun Coys, each –

Coy HQ; 2 LMGs
Three MMG Pls, each; 4 MMGs, 1 Atk rifle

Total support weapons; 13 LMGs, 48 MMGs, 18 Atk rifles.

British Mot Bn WE, mid-1942 (Middle East)

Bn HQ (includes Sig and Admin elements); 5 LMGs, 6 Atk rifles

Four Machine Gun Coys, each –

Coy HQ; 1 x 3-in mortar det, 2 LMGs
Two MMG Pls, each; 4 MMGs, 1 Atk rifle
Atk Pl; 4 x 2-pr guns (Portee), 3 LMGs

Total support weapons; 25 LMGs, 32 MMGs, 14 Atk rifles, 16 2-pr Atk guns, 4 x 3-in mortars.

British Mot Machine Gun Bn WE, late 1942 (Middle East)

Bn HQ (includes Sig and Admin elements); 6 LMGs, 7 Atk rifles

Three Machine Gun Coys, each –

Coy HQ; 2 LMGs
Three MMG Pls, each; 4 MMGs, 1 Atk rifle

One Machine Gun Coy -

Coy HQ; 2 LMGs, 2 Universal carriers
Three MMG Pls, each; 4 MMGs, 1 Atk rifle, 7 Universal carriers

Total support weapons; 14 LMGs, 48 MMGs, 19 Atk rifles (also 23 Universal carriers).

* Note, the breakdown of support weapons is not given in the WE. Figures in italics are therefore my suggestions for issue of LMGs and Atk rifles; MMGs are pretty self-explanatory.

Well the memory proved a bit shaky re the number of carriers in the latter establishment, and also about the middle one given above.

Time for a question from me then regarding the mid-1942 (specifically June) WE for a Machine Gun Bn, Middle East. At that date, 50th (Northumbrian) Div was the only British Inf Div in the theatre (44th (Home Counties) joining it during July). 50 Div had a particularly bad time during mid-1942, losing 150 Bde and suffering heavily in the 'box' battles.

I have seen mention of the 'machine guns and anti-tank guns of 2 Cheshires' doing sterling work during this period. Machine Gun Bns didn't normally have anti-tank guns, they were issued atk rifles and later PIATs, but those were purely for self-defence purposes. Likewise, they didn't have 3-in mortars, their job was to provide MMG support to the Inf Bns and Bdes of their parent Div. For a while at least, 2 Cheshire appear to have been given more toys to play with, but these don't continue in the reorganisations that followed.

So, has anyone seen anything relating specifically to 2 Cheshires in mid-1942 that might support the theory they were operating as a single unit, even if only briefly, during this time, rather than being alloted out as MMG Coys to the Inf Bdes? Or alternatively, any suggestions they operated as Coys, but were held back as a 'mobile reserve' to counter Axis breakthroughs of the defensive lines, meaning they needed atk and HE capability, not merely MMG?

Gary

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David W
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Re: British Machine Gun Bn organisation in North Africa

Post by David W » 02 Aug 2011 09:15

Gary.

Thanks for the above.

I can't answer your question I'm afraid.

But I can ask one!.........

Did the Australian, New Zealand, South African & Indian Machine gun battalions follow the same W.E in the Middle East as above?

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Re: British Machine Gun Bn organisation in North Africa

Post by gjkennedy » 02 Aug 2011 13:58

To the best of my knowledge 48 MMGs was the standard format for Br/CW MG Bns until well into 1943/44 (which is why the middle one of the above sticks out so noticeably).

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Re: British Machine Gun Bn organisation in North Africa

Post by David W » 02 Aug 2011 15:13

Thanks.

Would that apply to the support weapons as well?

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Re: British Machine Gun Bn organisation in North Africa

Post by gjkennedy » 02 Aug 2011 15:53

No way of knowing without the relevant WEs; I wouldn't expect issue of atk rifles and LMGs to differ too markedly though. I have a suspicion the MMGs on carriers were only found with British units during 1942 though, other MG Bns retaining wheeled transport.

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Re: British Machine Gun Bn organisation in North Africa

Post by David W » 02 Aug 2011 16:16

Thanks.

Any chance you might find the time to dig out the Middle east W.E for the Recce Regiments?

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Re: British Machine Gun Bn organisation in North Africa

Post by gjkennedy » 02 Aug 2011 16:40

There wasn't one actually, not ME specific at any rate. The Recce Regts didn't prosper in the desert, they were primarily equipped with light reconnaissance cars that proved unsuitable for the conditions. 50th Recce Bn I think was lost outright quite early on, having been detached from 50th Div for long spells anyway, 51st Recce Regt was generally mucked about with prior to second Alamein and subsequently disbanded, and 44th Recce survived 44th Div being disbanded and found a home with 56th Div.

I'm pretty sure we kicked this about on an earlier thread -

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 4&start=15

Gary

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David W
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Re: British Machine Gun Bn organisation in North Africa

Post by David W » 02 Aug 2011 17:25

We did indeed. I was just wondering if their was a W.E.

Many thanks.

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