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"How much "infantry" did a British armored division have? " Topic


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1,098 hits since 6 May 2018
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Comments or corrections?

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP06 May 2018 4:38 a.m. PST

I understand they did have some infantry. And what veichal did they move about in?

Katzbalger06 May 2018 4:47 a.m. PST

I remember them as having less infantry than normal US armored divisions, and they moved about in trucks, carriers, and halftracks (along with Kangaroos). Ahh, here is a source: PDF link

So, initially (1939), a whopping two battalions of infantry. By 1940, some had 3 battalions. By 1942, 4 battalions. Etc. And most seem to have moved about in trucks.

Rob

King Monkey06 May 2018 5:07 a.m. PST

I'm sure someone will have more detail but basically there was a motorised battalion attached to the Armoured brigade and an infantry brigade of 3 battalions.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP06 May 2018 5:26 a.m. PST

Thanks did eventually find it by Googleing.
I see the guards armored division had the grenadier guards as it's motor battalion, would they have the guards armored division patches?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP06 May 2018 5:44 a.m. PST

If you're looking at the 1944 Guards Armored Division, there were four regiments, each with a tank and an infantry battalion. And they habitually--maybe always--fought together: Scots Guards infantry with Scots Guards tanks, Grenadier Guards infantry with Grenadier Guards tanks and so forth.

But the general question gets a lot more complicated. British armoured divisions went through at least three and I think four major TO&E changes during the war.

Fred Cartwright06 May 2018 6:33 a.m. PST

British armoured division organisations changed more than any of the armoured formations of the other major powers. So it depends on what part of the war you are interested in.
By the time of Normandy they had 4 battalions of infantry. The motor battalion, originally carried in 15cwt trucks, was carried in armoured halftracks, usually the M9. The other 3 battalions were a standard infantry brigade carried in RASC trucks, although for short moves I believe they could ride the tanks, but not in combat, they weren't tank riders. Also unlike German and US half tracks the motor battalion's tracks are predominately shown in photos as unarmed. What happened to the 50 and 30cal MG's I don't know.
By the end of the Normandy campaign the divisions were reorganising into 4 tank/infantry groups, using the recce regiment Cromwells to provide the 4th tank regiment. Often corps level armoured car regiments were attached to replace the recce element.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP06 May 2018 6:41 a.m. PST

Thanks for the info.
Would the motor infantry use the divisional patches? From the pictures I've seen on Google. It doesn't look like infantry used divisional patches in combat.

Fred Cartwright06 May 2018 7:42 a.m. PST

Divisional patches were banned from use on BD at the start of the war. This was changed in September 1940 and divisional signs were worn on BD while on Home service. Units deploying abroad removed them, but this changed in Normandy and divisional signs were allowed to be worn in 21st AG. What units went to Normandy with them or without them I don't know, but motor battalions were just regular infantry that happened to have organic transport, so no reason they would be different to any other units.

Martin Rapier06 May 2018 10:45 a.m. PST

As noted above, by 1944 British Armoured Divisions had four infantry battalions, just the same as the Germans and one more than the Americans (but rather fewer than the Russians!).

Tgunner06 May 2018 11:17 a.m. PST

If you're looking at the 1944 Guards Armored Division, there were four regiments, each with a tank and an infantry battalion. And they habitually--maybe always--fought together: Scots Guards infantry with Scots Guards tanks, Grenadier Guards infantry with Grenadier Guards tanks and so forth.

IIRC that "battlegroup" formation was something that they tried out after, or as, Normandy ended. The division had two brigades with an armored brigade with 3 armored and 1 mech infantry (or is it motor?) battalion and a motorized infantry (lorried?) brigade with 3 battalions. Plus the division had a recce "regiment" (battalion) with cruiser tanks. The battlegroup set-up matched up the tanks with the infantry to form four battlegroups which were similar to US Combat Commands.

It just so happened that the Guards Armoured Division was formed from the Division of Guards so it used the same set of British style "regiments", with each "regiment" providing two battalions. The Brits just hooked up the battalions that belonged to the same regiment. So the Irish Guards formed up a battlegroup that contained the First and Second Battalions of the Irish Guards. One battalion was armoured (with Shermans) while the other was motorized infantry. So you basically had a US style Combat Command when all was said and done.

Fred Cartwright06 May 2018 12:00 p.m. PST

The division had two brigades with an armored brigade with 3 armored and 1 mech infantry (or is it motor?) battalion and a motorized infantry (lorried?) brigade with 3 battalions.

It was still called a motor battalion, despite having armoured half tracks. The infantry brigade was just regular infantry with transport provided by the RASC, unlike US and German armoured divisions where the transport, armoured or trucks, was integral to the unit. The main difference between armoured and infantry divisions was the provision of transport. Armoured divisions could move everything in 1 lift.

Ryan T06 May 2018 2:46 p.m. PST

Just to further confuse the matter, in July 1944 the Commonwealth armoured divisions in Italy (6th AD, 6th South African AD, and 5th Canadian AD) were each reorganized with an addition infantry brigade.

The 6th SA AD simply added a formerly independent British brigade (24th Guards Infantry Brigade) for a subsequent total of six infantry battalions and one motorized infantry battalion. The latter continued to be part of the armoured brigade.

The 6th AD and the 5th Cdn AD reassigned the motorized infantry battalions from the armoured brigades to the newly created second infantry brigades, combining each of them with two other infantry battalions. Thus each armoured division now consisted of one motor battalion and five infantry battalions.

The Canadians, having no other readily available infantry units to draw on, converted a armoured car battalion and a light anti-aircraft regiment into two new infantry battalions.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP06 May 2018 2:56 p.m. PST

The Brits did indeed like to change the organization of their armoured divisions – in fact, during WWII they did it nine times

The original 1939 armoured divisions were very tank-heavy and only had two infantry battalions, which after the Battle of France was increased to when the War Office realized the armoured divisions didn't have enough infantry or support units; in 1942 one tank brigade was replaced with an infantry brigade, giving the division four infantry battalions (three in the infantry brigade and one motor battalion in the Armoured brigade

Martin Rapier06 May 2018 11:50 p.m. PST

The Motor battalions also had quite a different TO&E to the lorried battalions, with the former being designed to be split up between the constituent regiments of the Armoured Brigade.

Griefbringer07 May 2018 1:20 a.m. PST

Besides the infantry battalion, the late war armoured division also had an independent MG company (containing also a platoon of 4.2" mortars) present for support.

spontoon12 May 2018 10:17 a.m. PST

A related question: How many infantry in a battalion's carrier platoon? Say 1940. How many per carrier, and did that include the driver, or the commander/gunner?

Starfury Rider12 May 2018 12:10 p.m. PST

The 1940 Inf Bn Carrier Pl was very slim. Three Secs, each three carriers, each three-men. Pl HQ added a tenth carrier for the officer. Carrier crews were commander, driver and gunner. They weren't to act as APCs for Rifle Secs or Pls, they were to allow the movement of their own LMG team with some degree of protection from enemy fire. 1941 added a fourth Sec to the Pl and gave HQ a few more personnel for admin. 1943 increased the carrier to a four-man crew.

Gary

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