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"US Airborne with BARs and Thompsons" Topic


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The Gonk Inactive Member03 Aug 2011 3:31 p.m. PST

I've seen a little discussion on here about how Airborne shouldn't have BARs, and wondering how common Thompsons were. I'm currently reading Four Stars of Valor on the 505th PIR, and saw a couple of interesting passages about Biazza Ridge:

"Many of the [Infantry] men who ran had abandoned crew-served weapons, and these all had to be redistributed. The parachutists had picked up six Browning Automatic Rifles and were happy to have them."

…Company H, used the brief respite to do a weapons and ammunition check. "We had a .30-caliber machine gun with ammo, [but] no tripod, a bazooka with no ammo, several carbines, some twenty grenades and .30-caliber rifels, one .45-caliber Tommy gun, plus German machine guns with ammo taken from the prisoners."

So, at Biazza Ridge, the Airborne may well have had more Brownings than Thompsons!

Pizzagrenadier03 Aug 2011 3:56 p.m. PST

It was my understanding that Thompsons were only issued in large number to US Airborne troops prior to Overlord. BARs were still not seen (unless scrounged) until much later, perhaps not even until after the Bulge.

So that makes sense you would see few Thompsons and only scrounged BARs in Sicily.

Dropship Horizon Inactive Member03 Aug 2011 3:56 p.m. PST

Bayonet strength has a good discussion on it:

link

And there's more on the official structure and weapons distribution here:

link

Though flexibility to allow weapon allocation to be tailored to meet mission requirements and in some cases personal preference needs to be stressed.

Cheers
Mark

Korvessa03 Aug 2011 4:22 p.m. PST

My dad (507th/82 in Normandy) had a .30 carbine that someone in the outfit had modified to be full-auto.
wonder how many others did the same thing?

preferable to a Thompson?

aecurtis Fezian Inactive Member03 Aug 2011 4:28 p.m. PST

Didn't we just… last week… oh, never mind. Nobody ever wants to hear that.

Allen

Toshach Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member03 Aug 2011 8:47 p.m. PST

Some years back I did some research. I examined nearly 100 photographs of U.S. Paratroopers that I could reasonably determine were taken the day before or in the days after D-Day. I inventoried their personal weapons. What I found was that about 50% carried Garands, 25% carried Thompsons, and about 25% carried carbines. I did not see a single BAR in any of the photos.

This was consistant with what I had read about the US Airborne TO&E at D-Day.

After Carentan, the paras were sent back to England for refitting and reorganization, and were structured more along the lines of standard army rifle squads. The 1911s were replaced by the BAR as the SAW. I believe that two 1911s were attached to the Platoon.

The Gonk Inactive Member04 Aug 2011 1:51 a.m. PST

All I know is the 505th memoirs quoted in Four Stars of Valor have BARs in Sicily, Italy and Turnbull's action at Ste. Mere-Eglise (as far as I've gotten so far).

To be clear, I'm not claiming anything about BARs being issued to them, just that they do appear to have definitely had some. No mention of anybody jumping with one. Only Sicily mentions the the origin, which I quoted above.

Griefbringer04 Aug 2011 4:39 a.m. PST

The 1911s were replaced by the BAR as the SAW. I believe that two 1911s were attached to the Platoon.

I presume that you are here referring to the M1919 machine gun, and not to the M1911 automatic pistol?

RockyRusso Inactive Member04 Aug 2011 10:23 a.m. PST

Hi

There was an available full auto version of the M1 CARBINE. No field mod necessary.

My uncle was 82nd…and was no fan of the BAR in any case. When I was a growing teen, he warned me not to get too big or I would be ASSIGNED the BAR!

While I like the weapon, the paras were smaller than average, and the weight didn't really feel justified. Anecdotally , the difference in the firepower of Garands and the BAR did not justify the weight to them.

Rocky

Griefbringer04 Aug 2011 12:33 p.m. PST

There was an available full auto version of the M1 CARBINE.

Known as M2 carbine, if I am not mistaken. And a rather late war design, if I have understood correctly. How many of those did actually see front line service before WWII was over?

Toshach Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member04 Aug 2011 9:07 p.m. PST

I presume that you are here referring to the M1919 machine gun, and not to the M1911 automatic pistol?

Yup. Thx. I must have been having one of my spells again.

Note: I believe the glider troops were equipped with BARs at Normandy.

Skarper04 Aug 2011 10:51 p.m. PST

I've read in many places that US paratroops didn't jump with BARs prior to 1945. It's probable that some were used in the Battle of the Bulge.

However, I also read that a Paratrooper in Cauquigny had a BAR on June 6th, even before the Glider troops arrived.

Paratroopers were well known for bending the rules and could perhaps have dropped a few BARs in their weapons loads.

Dropship Horizon Inactive Member05 Aug 2011 2:36 a.m. PST

The question will doubtlessly remain open to debate. Mark Bando, airborne historian says NO but it's clear from the 82nd Airborne Airborne's Operation Neptune Debriefing that the 505th at least dropped with some BARs.

Colonel Eckman C.O. 505th said:

"A" Company was delayed in moving out as they couldn't find their bundles immediately. The weapons section we had contained machine guns in the squad, we jumped with some BAR'S, but would like to replace the machine guns with BAR'S, because looking for the machine guns holds us back at first."

link

All this does is tell us that the 505th positively dropped with some BARs and cannot be used to substantiate use of BARS within other elements of 82nd or 101st.

We can assume that there may have been some official leeway given to regimental commanders in how to arm their troops for the mission at hand. In the 82nd this was recognised practice and is specifically mentioned on page 5 of the 82nd's Report on Operation "Market" made on 3rd Dec 1944. Where it states that this was common practice for a year and a half and that BARs were obtained during the fighting in Holland and that NOW each PIR squad had "one BAR above it's normal establishment of weapons"

Inn Normandy, some BARs would have been salvaged from downed gliders or from the beaches. I've definiely read personal accounts from US units where soldiers were sent to OMAHA Beach to get additional BARs from the battle salvage dumps.


Cheers
Mark

kevanG05 Aug 2011 3:20 a.m. PST

One point on the debriefing is that no one says they didnt use Bars and that they did or didnt find that an issue, yet there is other discussion on other items which some units had and some didnt….and the discussion highlights differing views.

Having read that debreifing a long time ago, It was obvious that the interviewees were discussing concensus points. It doesnt say that Bars were used beyond the regiment, but neither does it say that the lack of bars was a problem in the other regiments, when clearly it was a jump problem to assembly the lmg's….and hit the ground with some fire power to fight and locate them.

evbates05 Aug 2011 4:55 a.m. PST

I've been to the National Archives in Washington DC and read after action reports for the 505th of the 82nd and they talk about the use of Bars in the equads. So I would think that they dropped with them.

The Gonk Inactive Member05 Aug 2011 6:50 a.m. PST

Reading Four Stars, they have quotes of veterans with BARs on June 6, before they made contact with beach troops.

28mm Fanatik Inactive Member05 Aug 2011 11:00 p.m. PST

All my paratroopers are equipped with BAR's. Just kidding.

Andy P07 Aug 2011 2:52 a.m. PST

If you speak to Evan Allen with regards to BAR issue it seems that the 82nd had them where as the 101 did not. SMG issue was goverend but as all things airborne they didnt usually follow the guidelines and begged borrowed and stole what ever they required, and issued stocks and they saw fit.

By the Ardennes and beyond you saw the issue of 57mm Recoiless rifles.

donlowry07 Aug 2011 10:33 a.m. PST

Note: I believe the glider troops were equipped with BARs at Normandy.

I believe glider troops were organized and equipped the same as "leg" infantry.

Griefbringer07 Aug 2011 12:18 p.m. PST

I believe glider troops were organized and equipped the same as "leg" infantry.

Actually, there were some slight differences:

link

LORDGHEE07 Aug 2011 1:18 p.m. PST

I heard from a Paratrooper of the 101st that they had choice with what they drop with, he dropped with a thomson Smg, anyone who jumped with anything else lost it due to over loading. This is seen in Band of Brothers.
A friend father jump in D-Day with the 82, he jump with a rifle did not lose it (so maybe the 101st loss of weapons was a Battalion of regiment prpblem), he would hear a fight and move to it and find bodies and quickly that night pick up a bar off a body and used that the rest of the war. He never found a fight that night! During refit he was told give it up and he stated "fine over your dead body", he was a bar gunner the rest of the war and love it. "Powerful, powerful weapon, blew the top of a tree of with a burst had a sniper in it which blew his leg off. decided that to many trees had tops, killed two more sinpers."

Lord Ghee

Skarper08 Aug 2011 1:38 a.m. PST

I thought I'd seize the chance to add to the controversy and ask what the platoon organisation of the PIR was in June 1944?

Was it 2x12 man rifle squads and a 6 man mortar squad or 3x12 man rifle squads and a 4 man mortar squad – or something else?

Of course, in the confusion of the fighting it was surely whoever there was with whatever they had…but what TOE were they trying for?

Gary Kennedy Inactive Member08 Aug 2011 5:47 a.m. PST

I did find, but subsequently lost, a link to a report by a certain Lt Spiers (yes, that Spiers, or was it Speirs?) about his experience of the Neptune drop.

He included a diagram for his Pl, which matched exactly with the Feb 1944 T/O; that is two Rifle Squads, one 60-mm Mortar Squad and Pl HQ, total 37 men. He also noted that he had around one third of those personnel with him after the drop…

It was over on the Fort Benning website, which tends to set IE screaming about security certificates. They did have a very long list of similar reports, but seem to have had a rejig of their site. Perhaps someone with a bit more nouse can have a search for them over there.

I was also pointed to another report on the same site from a PIR during Market, just three months later. They were using three nine man Squads, with all their 60-mm mortars centralised at Coy HQ. They indicated they were slightly over the official T/O strength of 127 all ranks for a Coy, but did say they couldn't confirm if they were typical or if other Coys used other formats.

Gary

Skarper08 Aug 2011 7:23 a.m. PST

I think as wargamers we want everything to fit nicely onto our chosen basing system, so hard facts that jar with our favourite rules systems are somewhat annoying…

I was looking at the TOE and comparing it with various snippets of information that crop up here and there. I've got a figure for A/505th on D-Day morning of 134 all ranks with 2 men missing.

This is very close to the 125 men and 5 officers they should have, but could be 3 x 40 man platoons too.

The FOW site had a paragraph saying all the PIR regiments were brought up to a strength of 3 x rifle squads (presumaby plus mtr squads) for D-Day but Battlefront say a lot of things…

I guess we're back to the old saying – if you have a watch you know what time it is – 2 watches and you're never sure.

ScoutJock08 Aug 2011 8:27 a.m. PST

Zaloga's Osprey book on US Airborne in the ETO shows that US airborne platoons had two 12 man rifle squads each with two M1919 LMGs, and a 60mm Mortar Squad in the Feb 42 TO&E. In Dec of 1944, the TO&E was changed by adding a third rifle squad but one of the M1919s was replaced by a BAR in each squad. The company TO&E chart shows 6 x .45 cal SMG, but does not say who was authorized to carry them, but they appear to be part of the company HQ. Interestingly enough, no pistols were authorized but it seems like every trooper had one.

Gary Kennedy Inactive Member08 Aug 2011 8:49 a.m. PST

I must admit the things that come to mind about bringing all pls up to three Squads are one, that's a helluva lot of blokes to find (effectively increasing your requirement for riflemen by 50%), and two, you're now talking about an major increase in the number of aircraft required to transport them.

I appreciate, especially as someone who has put a lot of sometime into researching the 'paper organisations' that they were of course not immutable. However, they existed for a reason, and one of those reasons was for planning how many vessels or aircraft would be required to lift a particular type of unit or formation.

The US Army was very particular in this regard, especially as they had to transport everything across either the Atlantic or the Pacific. Shipping space was at a premium and they did their best to trim units down without rendering them ineffective.

I vaguely recall a senior Airborne commander had gone back to Washington in late 1944 to argue for a major increase in the strength and firepower of the Abn Div. That resulted in the Dec 1944 'T' series of tables (Tentative I think), which did allow for three Squads per Pl (each with a BAR).

That wasn't the only change by any means, Arty got beefed up seriously as well, but would they need to send a senior officer off if they were already operating with much increased rifle strengths without authorisation and finding the warm bodies from somewhere?

by the time you've factoered in all the various Coy and pl HQ personnel, I doubt they could field 9 x 12-man squads from less than 140 personnel, unless they went with no messengers and only a skeleton staff. also coys tended to have medics and a few other bods attached from elsewhere in the Regt, so those 140 may not all be Coy troops.

This is a road I've been down before with no resolution!

Gary

Skarper08 Aug 2011 9:56 a.m. PST

I've always tended to give most credence to the bayonetstrength site – based as it is on TOEs – than to the FOW documents or the triggertime site which asserts emphatically but doesn't refer to any evidence.

I can see logic for both TOEs.

In addition to finding extra riflemen, an extra rifle squad needs a qualified squad leader and assistant squad leader maybe there were qualified NCOs in the Company HQ?

It's possible all the company HQ personnel and so on were allocated to form these 3rd rifle squads, and 2 men pulled from the mortar group to form a nucleus.

All the jump qualified paratroops were likely to be well trained in basic infantry duties, unlike the numerous extras in the British or regular US army who might not have any aptitude for combat.

Did the paratroops allocate a number of 'basics' to the company HQ? These would already be infantrymen.

But then again – if they started with 2x12 man rifle squads they must have done so for a reason – aircraft loading perhaps?

I am going round in circles and there doesn't seem to be any definitive answer.

Gary Kennedy Inactive Member08 Aug 2011 11:05 a.m. PST

Circles it is, I'm afraid.

The Feb 1944 T/O for the US Paras was based around eighteen Rifle (12 men each) and nine Mortar (6 men each) Squads. That obviously looks askew next to the more straightforward three Squads per Pl, three Coys per Bn, three…and so on found in the US Inf Div.

The US reckoned on needing 117 C-47 transports to carry the jump element of an early PIR, based on 9 for Regt troops and 36 for each Bn. The latter required nine (9) per Rifle Coy and another nine for Bn HQ and attached. I've tried to track down a loading chart for a real op, but come up empty handed.

The Dec 1944 reorg saw an Aug 1945 requirement for 144 C-47s to transport the larger PIR, still nine ships for Regt HQ and each Bn HQ, but now twelve (12) for each Rifle Coy. (all aircraft requirements taken from JJ Hays' books).

There is a list of aircraft allocations on this very nice site –

link

Under the 82d Abn Div, where individual Bns are noted, they all have 36 aircraft allocated. Same for the 101st. Those PIR entries with 45 aircraft or more look to include either Regt HQ or other Div elements. I don't know precisely how they tended to load a Rifle Coy into the nine aircraft (wish I did), so I can't says for sure.

My guess is they based on something like one Rifle Squad and one Mortar Squad per aircraft to provide concentration, then spread the Pl and Coy HQ personnel over the same nine aircraft to prevent a single hit wiping out an entire command group.

I have less clear cut figures for Market, which show most US Para Inf Bns with 45 aircraft allocated. That might suggest 'ah, 45 aircraft meant bigger Bns, so more squads, case solved', but I don't think it is. There's no mention of the allocations for Regt HQs, Arty, Engineers or Medical support. A guess again, but I'd reckon that some of those 45 aircraft allocated seemingly per Bn were carrying other troops and equipment.

I don't have figures for allocations to 17th Abn Div for Varsity, which should show any increase in the number of aircraft required to transport a Bn.

I can't quite buy the idea that the Abn Divs got a whole bunch of guys drafted to them, significantly above their authorised strengths, at a time when shipping space was tight, and once Inf Divs entered combat en masse in the West, riflemen were at a premium. If they wanted to magic up a third squad per Pl, my instinct says they'd have to shift around what men they had, probably drop squad size as the 504th PIR did in Holland, and use their basics to fill some of the spaces.

The Glider Inf did something similar, having three Squads per Pl, but officially only two Pls per Coy. They also only had two Bns per Regt. They partly addressed their strength issue with the addition of a third Bn to each GIR. I don't know if the same debate is to be had about Glider units forming a third Pl by some means; they seem to get rather less attention than their jump brothers!

Gary

Griefbringer08 Aug 2011 11:50 a.m. PST

Glider units… seem to get rather less attention than their jump brothers!

Isn't that what the glider troops themselves were complaining about back in the day?

In one book that I read (Glider Gang?) there is a mention about how the glider troops were denied the hazardous duty extra pay allocated to the paras. That is, until one of the higher ups actually tried how it felt to do a landing in the glider and got thoroughly scared by the experience!

Skarper09 Aug 2011 2:40 a.m. PST

Scratching my head and trying to figure out what the 3x12man rifle squads could be coming from.

I agree that an increase of 30%+ in manpower cannot be credible across the board in 1944 prior to D-Day.

Either – we are dealing with 3 squads of 8-10 men and a tiny mortar group of 3 guys.

Or – they are combining 3 x 2 squad platoons into 2 x 3 squad platoons – or maybe even one after losses and scatter on landing.

Losses in officers and NCOs must have been very heavy, so perhaps the PIR finished their Normandy stint working with 3 larger squads per platoon and only one platoon per company. This might be why some veterens recollections are of 3 squads (if indeed that is the Trigger time sites source).

Thanks for the input Gary – this clarifies and amplifies what I'd already gleaned from your bayonetstrength site.

kevanG09 Aug 2011 4:23 a.m. PST

"I can't quite buy the idea that the Abn Divs got a whole bunch of guys drafted to them, significantly above their authorised strengths,"

Isnt that the reason that the 17th Airborne took so long to get into the field? They kept having trained battalians broken up as replacements for 82nd and 101

Gary Kennedy Inactive Member09 Aug 2011 4:31 a.m. PST

Replacements though would be different to extras. Now going from memory, but I think the 17th Abn left the US a few months after D-Day, and I have a vague (but unsupported) theory they were organised on the T/Os issued in August 1944. These were largely the same, but reduced the number of officers overall by having one per Rifle Pl.

17th Abn did see action before the end of 1944, was it before the Ardennes though? I was reading up on them a little while ago, but it's gone out of my head now.

13th Abn was the formation that didn't see action, and again you find comments about them being regularly stripped of personnel to sustain the other Divs.

Gary

ScoutJock09 Aug 2011 9:49 a.m. PST

A couple of points:

Airborne divisons did not get draftees or have basics assigned; everybody had to be a volunteer. They had little trouble attracting soldiers primarily due to jump pay but also the allure of being part of an elite unit.

Airborne duty was hard on officers. If you look at the org charts as amended in Dec 44, infantry platoons had an additional officer authorized per platoon under the assumption the one wouldn't rendezvous with the platoon to conduct the mission.

The airborne company of Feb/Aug 44 had an authorized strength of 5 officers and 119 EM so 6 x 12 man rifle squads and 3 x 6 man mortar squads is about all they could field. The December change that brought in the additional LT and the third rifle squad to each platoon upped the company strength to 8 officers and 168 EM so 9 x 12 man rifle squads and 3 x 6 man mortar squads is not a problem.

Gary Kennedy Inactive Member09 Aug 2011 10:09 a.m. PST

Well technically the Rifle Pls had two officers assigned with the Feb 1942 T/O, amended heavily in Feb 1944, but still keeping the overall numbers of officers and enlisted men (8/119).

The Aug 1944 T/O deleted the second officer per Rifle Pl, and allowed for an allocation of 11 Basics to Coy HQ, which increased the Coy strength a touch (5/125). There were some other changes to exactly who did what, but the unit remained as a Coy HQ, three Pl HQs, three Mortar Squads and six Rifle Squads.

Just had chance to check re 17th Abn Div, they left the US in late Aug 1944, but didn't enter combat until Dec 1944.

Gary

Skarper09 Aug 2011 11:31 p.m. PST

How many fully loaded paratroops fitted in one C-47?

I keep finding a figure of 28 troops but I wonder if given all the eqt carried they could get that many paratroops inside?

From the information above, if it took 9 aircraft for a rifle company of 130-140 men – that means an average of 15 men per aircraft.

Gary Kennedy Inactive Member10 Aug 2011 5:57 a.m. PST

I can't check at the moment, but I'm sure British Paras loaded no more than twenty men per C47. I did find this link with the following excerpt –

"Varsity also introduced a new aircraft, the C-46 Commando, for deploying airborne troops. The C-46 could carry twice as many paratroopers as the C-47 Dakota (thirty-six, an entire platoon, versus eighteen)."

link

I think 28 personnel may refer to regular, seated troops rather than paratroop carrying capacity. Also given the variations in what troops were carrying they couldn't have anything approaching a standard load, just a maximum one.

An average of 15 per sounds quite reasonable for a C-47, though I'm sure they managed to crowbar a few extra bods in when pushed.

Gary

Gary Kennedy Inactive Member10 Aug 2011 10:28 a.m. PST

Memory worked for once, I have two loading tables for British Paras and in both the maximum carried in a Dakota is 20. The Battalions had 33 or 34 aircraft, and with attached personnel jumped just over 610 men each. British practice was roughly six aircraft per Rifle Coy, though it could stretch to seven with attached personnel (Para Field Amb).

This is the excerpt from the report of a CO of H Coy, 504th PIR, on his unit's actions during Market. Entries in brackets are my own, until the second paragraph –

"Each serial of forty-five aircraft was to carry one infantry battalion and one-third of Regimental Headquarters Company. SOP loading procedures were nine aircraft for Regimental or Battalion Headquarters Company, and eleven for each rifle company. At this time our Battalions were composed of a Headquarters Company and three Rifle Companies. Each Rifle Company of a weapons section, headquarters section, three platoons (each) of three nine-man rifle squads and a platoon headquarters. This organization of the rifle company, while not official, was very satisfactory, preserved tactical unity in airborne operations, and was flexible and ideally suited for ground combat. The eleven aircraft for each rifle company were distributed as follows: Numbers 1 and 11, commanded by the Company Commander and the Executive officer (respectively), contained the headquarters and weapons sections, tactically loaded to have skeleton crews if either were lost. Aircraft 2, 3 and 4 were assigned to the 1st Platoon, each carrying one rifle squad and a portion of Platoon Headquarters, and commanded by the Platoon Leader, Assistant Platoon Leader and the Platoon Sergeant in that order. Aircraft 5, 6 and 7 carried the 2nd Platoon, with 8, 9 and 10 carrying the 3rd Platoon, all arranged as the 1st Platoon. This procedure varied somewhat within the Division and loading as listed above is that for Company H (504th Para Inf Regt), the unit with which we are concerned."

"All units were slightly over strength. Assuming H Company to be typical, the strength was eight officers and one hundred twenty-four men. (TO strength: eight officers and one hundred nineteen men). About fifteen percent were original members of the Company, two time unit citation winners, seventy-five percent were combat experienced, and about ten percent replacements, but with some combat experience during the latter days of Anzio."

I found the seemingly current home for the Fort Benning documents I referred to above, however the one I know I saw for Lt Speirs isn't in there –
link

Full copy of the 504th report –

PDF link

I'm finding myself increasingly convinced that the only way units could create a third Squad per Pl was by reducing Squad size and taking some of the 60-mm mortar crewmen. So as the H Co/504th did, having 81 men in nine Squads rather than 72 men in six. Just because one unit did it don't make it universal, I know, but at least it fits in with the overall unit strength and aircraft capacity. Also removing the 60-mm mortars from the Pls and grouping them into a 'weapons section' at Coy HQ crops up in other accounts.

Gary

Skarper10 Aug 2011 10:38 p.m. PST

Thanks for that site Gary. Really interesting stuff in there.

Skarper11 Aug 2011 1:40 a.m. PST

This is pretty clear. (from the above link)

From The operation of 1st battalion 506th PIR (101st AB) in the vicinity of Carentan 6-8 June 1944.

"The rifle companies consisted of a headquarters and three rifle platoons of two rifle squads and a 60mm mortar squad each. Total strength of each rifle company was 128men and 8 officers."

ScoutJock15 Aug 2011 8:37 a.m. PST

The third rifle squad added by the Dec 44 TO&E was not created by reducing the existing squads. The Army brought in additional soldiers and equipment to create the third rifle squad in each platoon. Company Commanders would certainly cross level experienced leaders within the platoons but there was no taking 3 guys each from the first and second rifle squads and adding three guys from the mortar squad to create a third rifle squad. At least not without having enough replacements to bring the original squads back to full strength.

Gary Kennedy Inactive Member15 Aug 2011 11:09 a.m. PST

It's the earlier period that we've been kicking about in the last half dozen or so posts though, June to December 1944, when the authorised Pl strength was still two Squads of 12, plus Mortar and HQ.

The reduction of Squad size to help form a third Squad while only slightly increasing Coy strength was effected by H Co, 504th PIR, for operations in September 1944, as in the report quoted in my 10th Aug post above.

Gary

kevanG15 Aug 2011 11:30 a.m. PST

Of all I have read on US Airborne operations, it is fairly obvious that the official TOE's had a habit of reflecting unofficial operating Toe's of the previous six to nine months. The debriefings seem to show that and also that there was an awful lot of cross fertilisation of ideas, even including the British airbournes experiences….and when you think about it, it seems obvious that is how they would behave.

ScoutJock15 Aug 2011 1:00 p.m. PST

Sounds like somebody is looking for ways to justify additional airborne squads on the table that ordinarily would not be there.

grin

Skarper15 Aug 2011 8:21 p.m. PST

I can see the Dec 1944 TOE being an attempt to formulise an existing practice. At least some of the US PIR companies had reorganised as 3 rifle squads and put all the mortars together under the CHQ for Market Garden.

But I don't think enough extra men could have been available to make all three squads 12 men until Dec 1944 – if even then.

So – I think before Dec 1944 we have 2 basic types of PIR platoon. The official TOE and an alternative with 3 x 9 man squads.

Steve Wilcox29 Jul 2012 3:26 p.m. PST

I did find, but subsequently lost, a link to a report by a certain Lt Spiers (yes, that Spiers, or was it Speirs?) about his experience of the Neptune drop.

He included a diagram for his Pl, which matched exactly with the Feb 1944 T/O; that is two Rifle Squads, one 60-mm Mortar Squad and Pl HQ, total 37 men. He also noted that he had around one third of those personnel with him after the drop…

I found the seemingly current home for the Fort Benning documents I referred to above, however the one I know I saw for Lt Speirs isn't in there

Hey Gary, it's back up:
PDF link

Pages 12-13 of the pdf, pages 11-12 of the text.

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