MMG in Indian Infantry BN/Div

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by Laochra Beag, Oct 23, 2020.

  1. Laochra Beag

    Laochra Beag Active Member

    Hi all, first question time. Please be gentle.

    So I am trying to establish how the Vickers MMG fitted into operations within the Indian Army.

    So far, I believe that the MMG BN only became standard to Indian Divs in 14th Army after GHQ conference of 26-27 May 1944.

    Is that correct?

    How were MMG distributed prior to this. Did the Infantry BN have an MMG Pl?

    Finally when these MMG BN were deployed did they have a 4.2"mortar element or just 3 x Coy (@w/12 weapons)?

    Anything I haven't asked about?


  2. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Early '44 is as good as I have, but I don't know whether that applies to 14th Army.

    4th Indian Div were certainly fielding one by that time in Italy. There may be answers to some of your other questions at the link above.

    dryan67 providing some superb material as ever.
  3. Laochra Beag

    Laochra Beag Active Member

    Thanks, will have a look.
  4. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    The MG Battalion 6th Rajputana Rifles served with 4th Indian Div as early as Alamein. See 6th Rajputana Rifles
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  5. Temujin

    Temujin Member

  6. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    British Indian Army formed a Machine Gun Battalion in addition to their numbered battalions; however, it is known that a regular battalion was converted. The MG Battalions formed are listed below and more information can be found on their specific pages:

    Source: India (including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh)
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  7. Laochra Beag

    Laochra Beag Active Member

    Have found a great thread on Machine Gun Bns which is very informative and indeed dryan67 seemed to be providing super detail. It seems the 20th's Bn (9th Jats) had four companies. However I'm wondering if there were any 4.2" mortars or if all four Companies were 12 gun MG.

    Thanks John
  8. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Trying to find this for you Laochra, I’m more of a Canadian researcher and Canadian MG Battalion’s DID have 3 Company’s of MG’s and One Company of Mortar’s......but the only thing I found on Organization in the Indian Army ONLY mention’s MG’ far

    In a division with a standard MT (Mechanical Transport) establishment, the divisional units were a reconnaissance unit provided by a mechanised cavalry regiment, and a heavy machine gun battalion armed with thirty-six Vickers machine guns. (Each regiment of the Indian Army raised a machine gun battalion in addition to its infantry battalions.)
    Source: Indian Army during World War II
  9. Laochra Beag

    Laochra Beag Active Member

    Thanks Temujin

    It seems there's a Machine Gun BN thread from earlier. This shows various Regt's MG BN had different organisations. Some four , some three and some with three larger companies. Early war British organisation showed four 12 gun Companies which dropped to three with fourth re-equipping as Mortar. However I too can find no indication that 4.2"mortars were issued to units in Burma. Therefore MG BN have 36-48 barrels.
  10. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Roger, good luck in your research
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  11. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Regarding 4.2" mortars in Indian Machine-Gun Battalions:

    3/2nd Punjab Regiment
    was a machine-gun battalion for only a short period during 1942-43. The regimental history provides no details on equipment during this time, but, since it was early in the war, there were probably no mortars included. Mortars were usually added sometime in 1944 depending on the theatre.

    Similarly, the regimental history of the Madras Regiment provides no details on equipment since the 2/3rd (ex-3/3rd) Madras Regiment's time as a machine-gun battalion was in southern India not in a combat zone.

    The 5/5th Mahrattas converted a company of mortars in 1944 leaving three companies with MMGs. Here is some more detail:

    "On February 1st, 1944, the 8th Indian Division came under the command of I Canadian Corps and took over the area between Lanciano and Castel Frentano. ‘A’ Company converted to a 4.2-inch mortar company in mid-February leaving 'B', 'C' and 'D' Companies with MMGs. During April 1944, the Battalion was located in the divisional rest area on the Adriatic coast training for the spring offensive."

    The Machine-Gun Battalion 6th Rajputana Rifles probably converted to include a 4.2" mortar company before it arrived in Italy with the 4th Indian Division since the machine-gun battalions of the 8th and 10th Indian Divisions (the 5/5th MLI and the 1st Royal Northumberland Fusiliers) had a 4.2" mortar company. It was 'D' Company with the 1st RNF.

    The Machine-Gun Battalion 7th Rajput Regiment and the Machine-Gun Battalion 10th Baluch Regiment were short-lived from 1 April to 1 August 1942 and only in a formative stage when they were converted to 52nd and 53rd Regiment, Indian Armoured Corps. The regimental history does not provide equipment details.

    The Machine-Gun Battalion 9th Jat Regiment has a regimental history but I have not seen it. Around June 1943, when the battalion returned to Bareilly, the four companies named 'W', 'X', 'Y' and 'Z' were formed into three larger companies named 'X', 'Y' and 'Z' before returning to support IV Corps as corps troops. Based on other histories, I would assume that this is when it converted to mixed machine-gun/mortar companies. When it joined 20th Indian division at the start of December 1944, 'W' Company was reformed.

    Just before the 7th Indian Division completed training, it was decided to introduce the 4.2" mortar on a 50% basis into a machine-gun battalion and withdraw its tracked vehicles. This applied to the Machine-Gun Battalion 11th Sikh Regiment meaning that it was left behind in Chindwara when the 7th Division moved to Ranchi. This was short-lived and it returned to a machine-gun battalion role when it joined the 19th Indian Division in July 1944. It served as a machine-gun battalion with the division in Burma.

    The Machine-Gun Battalion 12th Frontier Force Regiment was withdrawn from the Arakan in October 1943 and converted to a 50% mortar and 50% machine-gun basis with three companies. I assume the companies were mixed mortars and machine-guns. Operations listed imply this. At some point 'D' Company was reformed.

    The Machine-Gun Battalion 13th Frontier Force Rifles entered operational service as a Support Battalion with each company containing two platoons of machine-guns and two of 4.2" mortars. Again, 'D' Company was later raised at the end of 1944.

    The 9/13th Frontier Force Rifles was converted to a machine-gun battalion at Quetta in May 1944. The regimental history is unclear if it was all machine-guns or mixed machine-gun/mortars. One secondary source implies all machine-guns.

    The Machine-Gun Battalion 14th Punjab Regiment was short-lived from 1 July to 1 August 1942 and probably never received any equipment during this period.

    The Machine-Gun Battalion 15th Punjab Regiment and the Machine-Gun Battalion 16th Punjab Regiment were short-lived from 1 July to 1 August 1942 before being reformed as the 15th and 16th Punjab Anti-Tank Regiments.

    The Machine-Gun Battalion 17th Dogra Regiment's regimental history is vague on equipment. It first served in Paiforce as a fully mechanized unit with 130 vehicles starting in June 1942. I would assume this would be fully machine-guns at that point. It returned to India in October 1944 and moved to Burma in December 1944 with the 5th Indian Infantry Division. I am not sure if it converted to a support battalion from October to December or remained a pure machine-gun battalion.

    The Machine-Gun Battalion 19th Hyderabad Regiment only existed from 15 April to 1 August 1942 before becoming a regular battalion as the 9/19th Hyderabad Regiment.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2020
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  12. Laochra Beag

    Laochra Beag Active Member

    That's pretty much what I am looking for. Could I ask

    You seem to suggest that it is likely the 9th Jat's (unit I am looking at) could have 50/50 mix of MG and 4.2" Pls. Given that X Coy seems to have been held back with BN HQ for majority of operations (your earlier thread on MG Bns) could that have been a 4.2" Coy do you think?

    Thanks for your time

  13. idler

    idler GeneralList

    While digging into the use of the American M9A1 rifle grenade in Burma, there were comments that mortars in general were not considered much use in the jungle because of the trees.

    Also, looking at the dates, might the 50/50 MMG/mortar units have been 3-in mortars? Any indications that the rifle bns gave them up?
  14. Laochra Beag

    Laochra Beag Active Member

    Or Idler that there were surplus 3" from the re-forming of Jungle Artillery Regts back to Field?

  15. idler

    idler GeneralList

    I had forgotten those, but they must've been what put 3-in mortar units in my mind.

    Like the mixed A/Tk / LAA regiments, there seems to have been a lot of experimentation going on to find something that worked.
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  16. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    I just found confirming information that the Machine-Gun Battalion 9th Jat Regiment was a mixed machine-gun,mortar battalion from February 1944 to December 1944 while under IV Corps. The source is:

    Grant, Ian Lyall. Burma: The Turning Point. Chichester, West Sussex: Zampi Press, 1993.

    Actually, I just noticed that I have a signed copy!

    I have attached the page from the text. 9th Jats.jpg
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  17. Laochra Beag

    Laochra Beag Active Member

    That's solid. Great.

    This seems to be on the road to Kohima (I'm reading Sakawng as Sakwang). So assume it's when they were a IV Corps asset prior to it's joining 20th Ind Inf Div, which is supported by Battalion being in a three company format. And supports 100% your case for mixed companies. I guess the fourth company would have been mixed too. Giving a total of 32 MG and 32 4.2"mortars for 45/46 period.

    Thank you for your time and I'm intrigued you have a signed copy - did you meet the author?

    Cheers John
  18. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Yes. It was while the battalion served under IV Corps. The author's subtitle is Burma: The Turning Point: The seven battles on the Tiddim Road which turned the tide of the Burma War. The Battle of Sakawng was fought from 20-25 March 1944 mainly by 17th Indian Division's 48th Indian Brigade.

    No. I ordered it online back in 1998 and realized after it was a signed copy.
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  19. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    That's rather interesting, since the Australians in New Guinea disagreed to the extent of putting eight 3" mortars in their standard infantry battalion. If memory serves, the antitank regt of 9th Australian Division (3rd, I think) also employed some 4.2" mortars in 1945 (Operation OBOE).
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  20. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    I have been reviewing the war diary for the Machine-Gun Battalion 6th Rajputana Rifles in Italy and have found the following details:

    Equipment listed for 31 January 1944:
    36 MMGs Vickers, 8 x 4.2" mortars (Note: B Company w/ 2 troops 4 mortars and A,C,D Coys w/ 12 MMGs each
    Note: B Company ofter referred to as B Battery
    Equipment Listed for 18-24 March 1944:
    36 MMGs (For B, C, D Companies). A Company listed separately w/o equipment notes.
    Note : 21 March 1944. Turned over all 4.2" mortars to 149th Anti-Tank Regiment, RA. Reverted to all MMGs
    Equipment listed for 1 May 1944:
    48 MMGs
    Notes for June 1944:
    It appears that the mortar company was added when the battalion moved to conc. area by 8 June 1944
    19 June 1944 - Mule pack scales to be considered for MG Coys and Heavy 4.2" Mortar Company
    20 June 1944 - Question of raising WE of the officers in the Mortar Coy from 7 to 10
    Equipment listed for 1 July 1944:
    36 MMGs; 8 x 4.2" mortars (B Company - Mortars)
    Equipment listed for 1 August 1944:
    36 MMGs; 8 x 4.2" mortars (B Company - Mortars)
    Equipment listed for 12 September 1944:
    36 MMGs; 8 x 4.2" mortars (B Company - Mortars)
    Equipment listed for 17 September 1944:
    36 MMGs; 12 x 4.2" mortars (B Company - Mortars)
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