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"British Units in Malasyia/Singapore" Topic


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Abwehrschlacht17 Jul 2013 9:10 a.m. PST

I am currently getting a British force together for Rapid Fire in Malaysia and Singapore in 1941/2. I was wondering if anyone knew what the size of a British Battalion would be along with the support weapons?

I am guessing three Companies At 8/9 figures and HQ, along with 2 Vickers and a mortar? But I'm not sure how many figures would be in each unit within the Battalion? And what support would three battalions have?

Any suggestions or clarifications would be gratefully appreciated!

kustenjaeger17 Jul 2013 10:22 a.m. PST

Greetings

Working from memory of 1941 War Establishment and Rapid Fire (so I could easily be wrong here):

A British battalion should have had at more or less War Establishment:
Battalion HQ with 2" mortar and AT rifle (possibly 8 figures)
Four rifle companies (8 figures)
Two bren carriers
One 3" mortar (2 crew?) [if lucky]

I've merged the small AA/AT platoon and Pioneer platoons into the Battalion HQ.

Brigade support – theoretically:
(a) 3 Vickers MMG (some Indian Army units will have these in the battalion earlier in 1941 – not sure when/if they changed in Malaya and OBs seem to omit an MG battalion in divisional orbats)

(b) Brigade AT company (theory only as I suspect not present) with 2 x 2pdr guns) – all the references I can remember to AT work are by RA (or Australian) AT Batteries, again with 2 pdr.

Regards

Edward

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Jul 2013 10:22 a.m. PST

Four rifle companies to a British battalion. Also British infantry battalions didn't have an MG platoon at all – they were divisional assets…. Offhand I'd go with:

HQ – CO and 5 ORs, 2" mortar, Boys AT rifle.
4 Coys – 8 figures each.
Support coy – Bren carrier and 3 crew, 3" mortar and 3 crew.

There were also AA and pioneer platoons, but these were only 20-odd men each (barely more than one figure in RF) and the AA platoon was usually missing anyway, due to a dire shortage of Bren guns, which were its main armament. The Carrier platoon may well be missing too….

MGs were divisional assets, in companies of 12 Vickers and crews – for a three battalion brigade, a company attached (2 or 3 models and crew) is reasonable. Similarly an AT battery of 2 or 3 2-pounders (12 gun battery in real life) is reasonable. Artillery support could easily be a regiment of 25-pounders (6 models in Rapid Fire terms.) Armour support was extremely thin on the ground, but a squadron (3 models in Rapid Fire) of M3 Stuarts from 7th armoured brigade is a possibility.

Abwehrschlacht17 Jul 2013 11:05 a.m. PST

OK guys thanks for that, that's a load of good information. I have found something in the original Rapid Fire rules which has the Brits at three platoons, but I think this was more to do with keeping the units at 40 figs rather than realism…

fred12df17 Jul 2013 1:38 p.m. PST

Why is the 2" mortar at Bttn HQ? This is a platoon level weapon.

It actually seems that RF has taken a platoon and called it a battalion?

I've always struggled a bit with RF orbats when I've tried translating them to other rules – this perhaps explains why.

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Jul 2013 1:45 p.m. PST

RF orbats are 1:15 for infantry and light weapons (1:5 for armour and heavy weapons) so things like light mortars and AT rifles end up as one model for the battalion, and usually get dumped in the HQ as they have to go somewhere…. As a practical matter units do tend to resemble a 1:1 platoon with a few support weapons chucked in.

Archeopteryx17 Jul 2013 2:49 p.m. PST

Dom,

Didn't 7th amoured go to Rangoon? – I think the only armour that arrived at Singapore was some Mk VI Lt tanks, can't remember the unit – my memory might fail me though!

James

Archeopteryx17 Jul 2013 2:56 p.m. PST

Actually interwebbing has told me that even the Mk VIs didn't make it and ended up being landed in the Dutch East Indies – a squadron of 3rd Hussars.

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Jul 2013 4:45 a.m. PST

You're right of course that's what I get for typing from memory when my brain's borderline functional…. ;-) The Indian third cavalry's Marmon Herrington armoured cars are about the lot for armour in Singapore, with a couple of Carden Loyd tankette models if you're feeling really adventurous. (The latter never fired a shot in real life.)

Jemima Fawr18 Jul 2013 6:18 a.m. PST

Rumours also abound of a mythical 100th Independent Squadron RAC (iirc?) at Singapore, with mixed Mk IV and Mk VI Lights. Never seen any actual evidence for it, however.

Yes, 'B' Sqn 3rd Hussars ended up being diverted to Java and ending up under ABDA Command, while 7th Armoured Brigade was sent to Rangoon.

The Indian 3rd Cavalry Regt ended up being largely used as motorised infantry and most of the Marmon-Herringtons were captured by the Japanese still in storage.

I don't remember what 18th Recce Regt had or even if they managed to unload.

Some infantry battalions certainly had Carrier Platoons, though many clearly didn't. The Indian Carrier Platoons present were either equipped with tracked or wheeled Carriers. Some of the wheeled Carriers went to the Australians.

The Malay Armoured Car Squadron had Lanchesters. One of the British battalions (whose identity presently escapes me – they were well-known for their effective jungle training) also acquired some Lanchesters.

On the subject of battalion orgs – some of the pre-war Singapore garrison battalions were still apparently organised with an integral MG COMPANY! Of the rest, MG Platoons were quite common – particularly in Indian Battalions. There were no MG Battalions in Burma either (circa 1942), but Vickers MGs are recorded as being used extensively in Battalion MG Platoons.

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Jul 2013 7:04 a.m. PST

RMD, found this elsewhere:

"100th Indian Light Tank Squadron

Raised
January 1942?
Disbanded
15 February 1942

This squadron was formed from the 44th Cavalry, which had been formed from the Jat Squadron of 8th Light Cavalry. It was equipped with Vickers MkIII and MkVI tanks. There was a total of 18 plus 5 in reserve. The Indian Government had purchased the tanks in the late 1930's. The tanks had seen previous service in the desert. It embarked at Bombay on January 16th, 1942 and arrived in Singapore on January 29th. On arrival, it was attached to the 11th Indian Division. It was in Singapore during the battle of February 8th-15th, 1942, but never got within firing range of the Japanese before going into captivity.

Here is a bit more from the history of the 3rd Cavalry:

After it arrived it Singapore, the regiment was still under the command of the 11th Indian Division. The regiment (less B' Squadron) was located near Sembawang airfield with the 100th Indian Independent Light Tank Squadron under command and B' Squadron was detached to the 18th British Infantry Division at Sleter airfield. The 100th Tank Squadron joined B' Squadron on February 4th. A' and C' Squadrons amalgamated into one squadron with one troop having eight armoured cars. B' Squadron had only 30 men and 3 carriers. An additional eight wheeled carriers were added to the regiment for the armoured car troops. The 100th Independent Light Tank Squadron had nine Carden Lloyd Tankettes. B' Squadron moved from Sleter airfield to MacRitchie Reservoir on February 13th and joined the 53rd British Brigade and on the 14th moved to Wireless Hill. The regiment moved to Paga Leben airfield on February 14th and fought its last action there before it surrendered on February 15th, 1942. It was not reformed during the war."

Presumably the 3rd's history is available somewhere may try and track it down some time….

PS It was the Argylls that had some Lanchesters.

picture

Abwehrschlacht18 Jul 2013 7:09 a.m. PST

OK, so this means I shouldn't have any British armour?…

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Jul 2013 7:10 a.m. PST

Pretty much – you can justify the odd Lanchester or Marmon Herrington still, but not a lot….

Jemima Fawr18 Jul 2013 7:16 a.m. PST

Cheers Dom! I'd always seen it listed as RAC rather than IAC, which would explain why I couldn't find any more information. I'll have a look in my Indian sources when I get home.

Martin Rapier18 Jul 2013 7:55 a.m. PST

Great photo, that looks suspiciously like a bipod mounted Vickers. Is that a very practical arrangement without the tripod to absorb the recoil?

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Jul 2013 7:55 a.m. PST

No worries if you draw a blank shout out, as I'm due a trip down to the big smoke fairly shortly, so might have a nosy at St Pancras to see if I can find anything there….

PS Yes, I was rather intrigued by that too Martin I guess with the jacket filled it's heavy enough to ease the recoil up, but I fancy it's still suppressive fire only…. Still, a creative solution to the Bren shortage in theatre I guess…. ;-)

Abwehrschlacht18 Jul 2013 8:29 a.m. PST

Dom, is there anything that you don't know about?

This is great information, BTW, many, many thanks!

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Jul 2013 9:04 a.m. PST

More a case of Google-fu than knowledge, often as not…. ;-) Sadly I'm not as smart as I used to be, but I am at least pretty good at knowing where to look….

Abwehrschlacht18 Jul 2013 9:10 a.m. PST

Ha ha! I now hardly dare ask about my Japanese Battalions and if I've got them correct. I found the following list on the net a long time ago:

HQ= CO + 3 Figs
3 X Rifle Battalions @ 11 men including 1 knee mortar
2 X MMG
1 X 70mm Gun

It looked about right compared with the lists provided with the Original Rapid Fire rules in the Hong Kong scenario. Any opinions on this?

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Jul 2013 9:17 a.m. PST

Right ballpark. I'd go with:

CO + 3
4 x Rifle company, each 12 figures including 1 with knee mortar. (Nb. it is 4 companies, not 3.)
1x 70mm and crew.
2x MMG and crew. (MMGs were actually 3 platoons of 4, so the usual "2 models or 3?" dilemma for Rapid Fire organisations. Given that the infantry gun platoon was only 2 weapons, it seems reasonable to be harsh on the MMGs, as the gun model is generous.)

This is much stronger than the usual maximum unit size (48 figures) for Rapid Fire though; if you want to stick to 48 maximum, cut one man from the HQ and 3 from each rifle company.

Jemima Fawr18 Jul 2013 9:32 a.m. PST

I'm in full agreement with Dom there the allocation of a model battalion gun is generous, but it's a shame to leave them out, so it seems fair to reduce the MG Company to two MGs to compensate for the over-representation of battalion guns. Alternatively, attach a single battalion gun model to one of the three battalions in each regiment and add a third MMG to each battalion MG Company.

I would however, be tempted to have two knee-mortars per company (there were 9 actual weapons per company).

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Jul 2013 9:51 a.m. PST

That's one of the areas where RF's odd mixed ratios come to light light mortars (as well as infantry anti-tank weapons like AT rifles, bazookas etc.) seem to be doled out on a 1:15 basis rather than 1:5.

(Normally a real life battalion had 9 or 12 of each, as they were typically "one per platoon" in most armies, yet RF battalions invariably have one, not 2 or 3. Given that fact, I always think one knee mortar per company is a reasonable fudge for the Japanese, reflecting the fact that their companies had as many 50mm mortars as most people's battalions did.)

Abwehrschlacht18 Jul 2013 10:20 a.m. PST

Sorry, noticed my own typo: Companies, not battalions, but I figured you realised that… OK, I have already finished one battalion at the strength I have already said, I can add another company. But due to my basing, I will keep them at 11 figures, that can account for losses as the Campaign goes on. I know the Japanese were at their tit end for their supply lines when the Brits surrendered, so that can account for that…

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