Orbat, Motor Infantry Battalion 1944

Discussion in 'Higher Formations' started by Dan Taylor, May 3, 2022.

  1. Dan Taylor

    Dan Taylor Member

    Good morning All,
    I've read with great interest the posts by Trux and Paul Reed on the organisation of Motor Battalions in Normandy. In trying to draw up an accurate organisational table for 1st Btn Rifle Brigade, I've run into something of a problem at the Company HQ level and was hoping someone might be able to point me towards some definitive evidence.

    The issue surrounds 'scout cars'. In Malcolm Bellis's '21st Army Group Organisation and Markings', he shows the Company HQ having 3 x Carriers, 2 x Scout Cars, 1 x 15-cwt. In various publications there is an apparent anomaly over what is being described. It is also clear that different records use a variety of different terms when describing vehicles used for a similar purpose. 'Scout Car' can mean Humber Scout, Daimler Scout (Dingo), or M3A1 White Scout Car. 15-cwt armoured truck usually implies the M3A1 White, though they are also sometimes just described as 15-cwt truck.

    When I originally drew up a chart for my book on Villers-Bocage, I concluded that the scout cars in CHQ were Humbers. This was based on conversation with Christopher Milner, who had been at the time 2i/c 'A' Company, and he thought they had the type, though he also said that this may have been later in the campaign. He had a picture of himself standing in front of a Humber Scout - in Germany, early 1945. Additionally, I have a photograph of one of the company commanders of 2 KRRC, who would have been similarly composed, also in a Humber Scout taken in about October 1944.

    So why the misgivings? The thread on WW2Talk penned by Trux is clearly working from an official document, although the source is unspecified and the thread dates to 2010. In it he shows 15cwt armoured truck but with the caveat 'organisation assumes the use of 15cwt armoured 4 X 4 trucks (White Scout Cars)'. Ludovic Fortin's book on the British Soldier has an organisational table for a Motor Battalion which also shows the M3A1 Scout at CHQ level The trouble is, this makes a lot of sense as it is visually similar to the main transport - the M9A1 half-track and would appear to fulfill the role better given that the crew loads suggest four bodies - which would be impossible in a Humber.

    To further muddy the waters, I've recently read that 8 RB replaced their White Scout Cars with half-tracks in CHQs during the Spring of 1944. As they performed an identical role as 1 RB it got me wondering whether they might have done the same. Coming back to Villers-Bocage, I have an extensive collection of photographs covering 1 RB's knocked out vehicles, but not a single Scout car (of any type) that could be attributed to them. There are a number of M9A1 half-tracks photographed.

    Any thoughts - particularly if they can be attributed to a source - would be much appreciated.
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  2. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    Everything I've found on the subject should be in the documents here;

    British Infantry Battalion 1938 to 1945

    In simple terms, the WE was never updated to show the issue of halftracks. I've started a few threads on the subject myself and someone kindly verified one of the Motor Bns commenting on the arrival of halftracks. I don't know if the other units did the same in their war diaries.

    The references in the WE to scout cars do indeed mean scout cars proper (two/three seaters) , and by checking the figures for AFVs with formations in 21 Army Group in June 1944 you can work out they would be Humbers, not Daimlers. These vehicles would definitely not be suitable for a Coy HQ group, and indeed the scout cars aren't shown there in the WE.

    Osborne2, CL1, davidbfpo and 2 others like this.
  3. Nick the Noodle

    Nick the Noodle Active Member

    Bookmarked your link :).
  4. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    I see that Dan is too modest to introduce himself. He is a model maker of some renown, his 1:76 scale figures are awesome and his range of decals are meticulously researched.

    The material in the Trux 21 Army Group section have a long history. They were available around 2000 in paper format from Trux. About 2005 they were placed on the Trux website, When the website closed in 2010 this forum kindly offered to host it. It is locked so that it has not been modified since then. The world of research has come a long way in the last two decades.

    Welcome to the forum.

    CL1 likes this.
  5. Dan Taylor

    Dan Taylor Member

    Hello Gary
    Thank you for posting that link - another invaluable resource. It is always my aim to establish simple coherent sets of information - sometimes it is just the case that the British Army doesn't like simple. Much appreciated.
    All the best
  6. Dan Taylor

    Dan Taylor Member

    Thank you Mike. I thought it was a long enough post by itself without turning it into something that might look like marketing! Fortunately I did collect a lot of the Trux information in paper form (still looking to do something useful with the excellent booklets on Bailey Bridging).and have always found it very informative. I've only just come across it on here, so very pleased indeed to rediscover teh bits I missed the first time. As you suggest, it is astonishing how much more information is out there now - though it is more essential than ever to check references as there is some that is quite misleading.

    Your contribution is much appreciated.

    All the best
    Trux likes this.

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