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British Regiments

Discussion in 'Military Training, Doctrine, and Planning' started by yan taylor, Feb 2, 2011.

  1. scipio

    scipio Member

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    SORRY ABOUT THAT JUST REALISED THAT MY POST IS UNREADABLE - and editing it didn't work, So here it is again - hopefully it makes a bit more sense

    Hi - just realised that the South Lancashire Regiment is a prefect example of Infantry Battalion numbering system:


    In 1914/18 it was increased from

    1[SUP]st[/SUP] and 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] Battalions who were all regular (full time) soldiers
    to which a Training batallion – 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] Battalion was added

    Then came the Territorial Army Battalions (composed of TA ie part timers such as the National Guard but increasingly conscripts as the War progressed)

    1/4[SUP]th[/SUP] Battalion, 2/4[SUP]th[/SUP] Battalion, 3/4[SUP]th[/SUP]Battalion

    1/5[SUP]th[/SUP] Battalion, 2/5[SUP]th[/SUP] Battalion, 3/5[SUP]th[/SUP]Battalion

    6[SUP]th[/SUP] Battalion and all the way to 18[SUP]th[/SUP]Battalion

    Of course the British Army in WW1 was the vastly larger than in WW2 and most of these Battalions disappeared but would retain for example the 1/4[SUP]th[/SUP]Battalion number even if all the other 4[SUP]th[/SUP] Battalions had disappeared.

    By the way, I see that these were grouped at various stages into no less than 9 different Divisions.


    THE POINT is that for the Infantry you should look for theBattalion not the Regiment.


    Cavalry
    You live and learn – I should have given the full title to the Dragoon Guards which is 4[SUP]th[/SUP]/7[SUP]th[/SUP] Royal Dragoon Guards.So the clue to their amalgamation is the (th) in both numbers.

    Artillery
    The numbering system is a bit more logical in the RoyalArtillery.

    For AA (and these would be massive guns) a typical Brigade eg at Dunkirk

    1[SUP]st[/SUP] Anti-Aircraft Brigade Royal Artillery was composed of:
    1[SUP]st[/SUP] Anti-Aircraft Regiment
    6[SUP]th [/SUP]Anti-Aircraft Regiment
    85[SUP]th[/SUP] Anti-Aircraft Regiment

    Infantry Battalions would sometimes have an AA Platoon but this would only be a truck loaded with a couple of Bren guns.

    Your father
    So getting back to your father – I would have thought that as a WOII in the RA, he would be unlikely to be in the South Lancs, an Infantry Regiment. Also it is very unlikely that following the severe reduction in Army units after WW2, he served in the same Regiment throughout the period.

    You need his Army number if you can get it and you need his Service Record.

    It is still possible to obtain both by downloading forms from the MoD on line

    http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/AboutDefence/WhatWeDo/Personnel/ServiceRecords/MakingARequestForInformationHeldOnThePersonnelRecordsOfDeceasedServicePersonnel.htm

    Its free to wives\partners but as his child you will probably need to pay £30 and be very patient – its taking them about 9 months to processreplies.
     
    yan taylor likes this.
  2. yan taylor

    yan taylor Member

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    Thanks Scipio, I dont know is army number, he was in the Territorial Army befor the war (1936) and served in the 114th AA Regt in WW2, he was actually with the Canadians on Juno beach in 1944.
    Regards Ian.
     
  3. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Is he still alive? Much of 114 LAA landed on D Day itself and two of its soldfiers were awarded the George Medal for rescuing men from a burning LCVP and a Rhino Ferry..
     
  4. Sgnixon

    Sgnixon New Member

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    In keeping with this topic hopefully you can help. I am writing a novel which involves the Higland Light Infantry 2nd battalion. I have a Sergeant in a platoon so I am assuming it would be

    First platoon 2 HLI, but how would I attach the company component?

    Secondly the HLI had two battalions, how many companies, platoons would there be per battalion?

    Lastly did the British attach numbers or letters to squads?

    I have a platoon
    Led by a Lt. with one Sgt. 3 squads and 3 Corporals. About 45 men.

    Sorry so long winded
     
  5. sonofacameron

    sonofacameron Member

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    There were usually 4 companies to a battalion, Usually A.B.C & D. Platoons were numbered 1 upwards. Towards the end of the war rifle companies were usually fighting at less than the original designated numbers of men. Due to casualties in Normandy, my Fathers regiment, had companies fighting with about 60 men, so your 45 men in a Platoon is probably too high. A Platoon could number between 16 and 35 men. More usually platoon strength was around the 20 mark.
     
  6. sonofacameron

    sonofacameron Member

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    Further to add confusion, platoons were then split down into 'SECTIONS', with about 8 infantry men!!!
     
  7. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The British Army is frightfully tribal and adopts in house conventions to confuse and exclude.

    The "fraction" named battalions in the British Infantry were a WW1 convention.

    The territorial army was originally part time troops to be mobilised to defend the British Isles, and the soldiers were not obliged to serve overseas. In 1914 soldiers from the TA were asked if they would volunteer to serve overseas, Battalions were then split into two, a first line unit for overseas service and a second line unit that only served in the UK. At the start of the Great War Those men from the 4th Battalion the Essex Regiment who volunteered for service overseas joined the 1/4 Essex and sailed for Gallipoli. Those that did not joined the 2/4th and stayed in the UK. During the war they changed the rules and anyone could be drafted for overseas service and second line divisions appeared in France formed from the units of men who had not volunteered for overseas service.

    Just before the start of WW2 the British government decided they would double the size of the TA by telling each unit to form a duplicate unit. The 4th battalion the Essex Regiment raised its duplicates as the 1/4 and 2/4 Essex, but without any difference in terms of service. Not every regiment numbered its duplicates this way. The duplicates of the 8th (1st City of London) and 9th(2nd City of London) battalions of the Royal Fusiliers were known as the 11th and 12th battalions RF .

    The Australians also had "fractional " units in WW2. These are units like 2/2 Field artillery or 2/18th infantry. In this case the "2" means that there had been a 2nd Field artillery and 18th infantry battlaion in 1914-18 and this was the second time this unit had been formed. i.d. for the 2nd World War,

    The "Vulgar fraction" cavalry Regiments 4/7 Dragoon Guards, 9/12 lancers,13/18 Hussars, 16/5 and 17/21 Lancers are the result of amalgamations. (It is 16/5L and not 5/16L because the 5th disgraced themselves and lost seniority)

    British artillery regiments didn't have fractions - but batteries did for the first few years of WW2. In 1938 the army decided to stretch its pool of artillery officers as far as it could by merging two six gun batteries to form a 12 gun field battery,(or 8 gun RHA or Medium battery) saving a major and technical specialists that could be used to build another unit. So 51 and 54 batteries merged to become 51/54 battery and A and E Battery became A/E Battery. At this time the gunners did remove one one cause of confusion, by renaming the Lieutenant Colonel's command, known up to that point as a "brigade" of artillery batteries as a "regiment" which was consistent with the rest of the army. (1)

    Artillery batteries would have their own number or letter, but troops across a Regiment would be lettered alphabetically by seniority. So 147 (Essex Yeomanry) Fd Regt was made up of 413,(A & B Troops) 431 (C &D Troops), 511 (E & F Troops) Though sometimes there were inconsistencies when Batteries were reorganised from three troops to two some gaps might appear.

    There was some possible confusion for the unwary as some lettered RHA batteries were also known by an honorific name as a "troop" - i.e. A Battery Chestnut Troop, N Battery (The Eagle Troop) and O Battery the Rocket Troop.At least post war, and possibly during the war, lettered batteries tended to call their troops by something other than a simple letter, possibly the battery founder "Leslies" in N Battery or a hero. L battery's troops post war were "Bradbury" and "Dorrell" after two VC winners. During 1940, L/N Battery RHA were a combined battery with L and N Troops - which might also have been technically C and D troops of 2 RHA. (2)


    On top of this the Regimental system could be turned on its head and infantrymen could be converted into the armoured corps and cavalrymen could become gunners and the gunners become infantry...

    For example, the 7th Battalion the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment was Light AA Gunners becoming 92nd (7th bn Loyals) LAA Regt RA landing on D day and defending Pegasus bridge. The Essex Yeomanry, the old volunteer horse from Essex were converted to artillery in the 1920s and landed on D Day as SP Gunners 147 Essex Yeomanry RA. This was the duplicate of 104 (Essex Yeomanry) RHA which styled itself Horse artillery and fought in North Africa.

    The 10th (3rd City of London) battalion Royal Fusiliers was converted to a searchlight unit in 1938 becoming 69 searchlight Regiment Royal Engineers (Royal Fusiliers) TA in 1938 and then in Aug 1940 to 69 Searchlight Regiment RA (RF) TA as responsibility for searchlights was transferred to the gunners. However, the 4th City of London battalion the London Regiment which had been converted to AA artillery in 1935 was the 60th (City of London ) AA Brigade RA until 1939 when it became 60th (City of London ) AA Regiment RA. 141 Regiment R.A.C. (The Buffs) was formed from 7th Battalion the Buffs and retained their own dragon cap badge, but in RAC silver. This unit crewed crocodile flame throwers supporting British Canadian and US units in NW Europe.

    Some of these units retained their old cap badge or badges, flashes. Others did not. Some infantry battalions units had lettered sub-units from A-D for all their battalions, while some might have different letters, say WXYZ, or consecutively letter their companies or even platoons across their regular battalions. Thus D Company of 2nd Battalion the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light infantry, which captured Pegasus bridge had platoons numbered in the high twenties.

    Simple really...

    Notes

    1. As long as you accept "consistent " within the British army where companies, battalions, regiments, brigades and corps might have some historic meaning...

    2. Still agree with this statement?


     
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  8. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WWII Veteran

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    To confuse matters even further, as the war progressed it was found necessary to disband certain units as the need for certain Regiments were no longer of the same importance as when they were created.

    For example, wHen I was called up in October 1942 there was a need for Anti-Aircraft units and I served as a wireless operator in one such unit until December 1944.

    At that time, in Italy, the German Luftwaffe were no longer such a menace and my Regiment, along with many others, was disbanded and I found myself in an ex cavalry regiment, still a wireless operator, but now serving in a tank unit :)

    Ron
     
  9. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Ron,

    The returning of all the AA units to ground role is another saga. Consider the 62 AA Brigade in support of the US Fifth Army against the German 1945 attacks towards Lucca and Pisa.

    It had three HAA Regiments, equipped with the dual purpose 3.7" HAA gun which acted as medium field artillery for IV US Corps.

    71st (Forth) Regt HAA TA, The word Forth means Firth of Forth and is not a misprint for Fourth. It was originally formed from cadres from Scottish TA Medium and heavy units and was one of the first units to engage the Germans in action in WW2 opening fire on raiders in September 1939.
    76th (Gloucestershire) Regt HAA TA (incorporating the South Berkshire Yeomanry)
    and the 80th (Berkshire ) HAA TA (formerly the Berkshire Royal Horse Artillery)

    It had three LAA Regiments.
    Two of these acted as infantry. 39 LAA Regt (TA) RA and 47 LAA Regt (TA) RA both formed as a Light AA Unit in 1939 /40. Neither originally raised as anything else.
    The 56 (East Lancashire) Light AA Regiment RA(TA) served in the anti-tank (TD) role as a self propelled anti tank gun unit equipped with M10 tank destroyers

    Versatile or what ...
     
  10. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Yay, I'm glad you cleared all this up for us. Hope that there's no test later.
     
  11. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Don't know what it did to the enemy, but it still confuses the hell out of me...
     
  12. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    They all probably thought that there were many more British troops in the area than there really was.
     
  13. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Why had you chosen 2 HLI?

    If you want to get your character right you need to read into the background.

    Try the Regimental Museum http://rhf.org.uk/rhf/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=24:museum&Itemid=37

    Get hold of a memoir or talk or some veterans. This forum's a companion site is the better bet to find someone who can answer your questions. http://ww2talk.com/forums/forum/35-allied-units-general/ There may be someone there who can tell you who was the platoon sergeant of the senior company in 2HLI.
     

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