Actually, the often repeated statement that the "US Army also bumped the BAR up from one per squad to two unofficially, doubling the number in the squads and platoons" appears to be as mythical as the idea that the 57mm AT gun was unofficially dropped and the manpower used as infantry. It may in fact be based upon the 15 December 1944 ETOUSA authorized theater modification to the Parachute Infantry Battalion, which authorized it the BAR as an augmentation to the M1919A6.
I had read the "claim" about the additional BAR many times in many different accounts and sources. So, a long time ago I went looking for the answer. I found some hard data, some information that didn't quite make sense, and used my own personal experience/understanding of how the US Army does things, to reconcile what I knew as fact, with what I'd read in accounts. This is the answer as I came to reconcile it in my mind.
This is convoluted, but this is my understanding of the change and why it is sometimes termed "unofficial". In the TOE 7-15 (26 February, 1944) Infantry Battalion the company rated nine BAR's. 1 per squad x 3 squads=3 per platoon x three platoons=9 BAR's per Infantry Company, 27 per Infantry Battalion.
The War Department issued Changes #1 to TOE 7-15 on 30 June 1944. In the changes for line #28 Rifle, Automatic, caliber .30 the total per company was changed from 9 to 15, 45 per battalion.
Look at the TOE Von Poop posted in reply #3. Line 63 shows the 6 additional BAR's carried in the Company Headquarters. Why the Company Headquarters?
The same change bumped the .30 caliber light machine gun M-1919 (line 21) up from two per company,=6 per battalion. To 12 per battalion with the additional six guns attached to the Headquarters Company. I knew why that was. Due to continual personnel reductions to shave manpower to form additional formations, to save on shipping requirements, to concentrate personnel in the offensive portions of units, to cut duplication of effort, etc. General McNair advocated a number of principles. One was "..keep all units lean, because, when extraordinary needs arose, those units could draw upon pools maintained at the next higher level." Also, one of the doctrinal precepts that was developed when transitioning from the square to triangular structure was the employment of elements two forward one back. The battalion would deploy two companies forward with the third as it's reserve, the company would deploy two platoons forward one as a reserve. This didn't always work out in the real world due to combat exigencies, but good commanders always tried to keep some sort of tactical reserve, even if it was of an ad hoc type. They were necessary to blunt counter attacks, restore broken lines, reinforce lines where threatened, exploit opportunities, etc.
So the six extra .30 cal MG's were to be parceled out to the forward deployed companies as needed based upon the operational requirements/situation. I reasoned the same was probably true for the six additional BAR's carried in the company HQ section, the company commander could augment the two forward deployed platoons by one automatic rifle per squad (six guns). Since no additional personnel were authorized the augmentation at the platoon/squad level was not "official" per TOE. However, the TOE 7-15 1 June 1945 did increase the enlisted strength of the infantry company from 187 to 235, and in that TOE the second BAR man became official.
In fact, the BAR was chronically short in supply in the ETOUSA. In August 1944 it was highlighted as a particular shortfall. It was so bad that some divisions, such as the 90th ID, fashioned expedient devices to make ersatz M1919A6's - in the 90th's case it was the "spike mount", which was a simple spike/spade replacing the M1919A4 tripod. Mac MacDonald, famously an Infantry "Company Commander" categorically stated that the 2d ID did not have any excess automatic weapons, least of all BAR, as late as December-January 1944. The same story has been told by other infantry platoon and rifle commanders.
Not enough info to know precisely what they were referring to. Did they lack the nine BAR's from the pre-June TOE? Did they have the nine but lacked the 15 called for in the June increase? Did they have the 15 but desired more? Then all things are relative, at the same time there was a BAR shortage there were severe shortages in other areas as well. In September, 1944 the army was only able to issue one pair of overboots to every four men. In the same report they cited severe shortages of rubber ground sheets, shelter halves, tanks, light armored cars, 60 mm mortars, tires, tubes, gasoline, socks, and BARs.
Edited by USMCPrice, 11 January 2017 - 11:21 PM.