Where to find TO&E's?

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Don Juan, Feb 3, 2014.

  1. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    Hello all,

    Does anyone know where I can obtain TO&E's for 9th Armoured Division, 11th Armoured Division, Guards Armoured Division and 1st Polish Armoured Division for the period May 1943 to May 1944?

    This is the unglamorous pre-D-Day period, so I doubt that they've been dug up before.

    Thanks in advance to anyone who can help.
  2. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    The attached came from here:


    They are known to contain errors but if you have nothing else, it's a start. T/O&E is generally considered US terminology, not sure what the British equivalent is, Authorised Tables?.

    As is, I can't tell whether you want the composition of sub-units (ORBAT?) or the general organization and equipment?

    This document uses this title so that might help you search more effectively, if you want the general organization and type of equipment.

    "April 1943 - Organization No. VI"

    Attached Files:

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  3. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    Thanks Earthican, that's a good start. What I need to find now is what equipment types each AD was using i.e. Shermans, Centaurs etc.
  4. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    I believe H. F. Joslen's Order of Battle series (from which many online sources are drawn) will give you organization down to unit level (division, brigade, battalion/regiment).
  5. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    British term is 'Establishment'. Often provided in tabular form hence 'Establishment tables'.

  6. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    Thanks TTH, I'll have a search for this one.
  7. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Maybe this is of help: Outline of organisation British Armoured and Infantry Division
    Outline Organisation British AD and ID.jpg
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  8. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    If you're talking about detailed unit organisation tables you need the War Establishment tables (which are equivalent to the US Table of Organization element). For the Armd Div circa 1943 you're looking at around fifty separate WEs off the top of my head, issued at various points from 1941 through to 1943. These though won't tell you what Regts had what tanks supplied to them, there's a specific note in WEs for Armd Regts stating this, for that you need either RAC AFV returns or war diaries.

    Order of Battle is different and is covered by Joslen in terms of fighting units within Divs and Bdes, but doesn't identify which particular RASC, RAMC, REME, etc, units were with which Div. Joslen's info is largely available on the web these days if you google it.

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  9. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the info Stolpi.

    Gary - would you happen to know where the RAC AFV returns might be available? Could they be in the National Archives in a WO file?
  10. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    The only ones I have for Home Forces are from WO165/135, which covers the period Jan-Jun44 and includes the figures for tanks and armd cars as of 30/06/44 (though generally considered to be for just prior to Normandy rather than three weeks in). They are titled RAC progress reports.

    I've seen figures quoted from WO165/136, for Jul-Dec44, but wasn't able to get copies of any returns from them. Working back, you probably want -

    WO165/133, Jan-Jun43
    WO165/134, Jul-Dec43

    I've not seen the actual NA pieces myself, and suspect they include wodges of papers, some of which are the reports. The one from WO165/135 lists AFVs held by RAC units, so all cruiser, infantry and light tanks, plus recovery vehicles, and likewise armd and scout cars, but not light recce cars, halftracks or universal carriers. Also no details for AVREs. If, and it's a big if, the 1943 records are similarly structured you should be able to see what tanks each of the Home based Armd Divs had that year, but they won't be broken down by Regt. So for example if might say Guards Armd Div, 123 Mk 'xyz' cruisers, but will not detail lower than that. The 1944 record has Unit Entitlements as well, so you can figure out using the War Establishment tables what each unit should have had, but the overall strength returns won't really tell you. There may well be other stuff in the file that does though!

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  11. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    Thanks a lot for that info Gary - I need to get the RAC reports anyway, so hopefully the 1943 ones will have the info I'm looking for.

    That said, I have a horrible feeling that I'm going to see "Mark VIII Cruiser" or "A27 Cruiser" with no differentiation between Centaur and Cromwell.
  12. mapshooter

    mapshooter Senior Member

    Yes, TO&E are a quaint US practice, in UK just called 'Establishment', in peacetime the document showed the differences between the War and Peace Establishment, the wartime ones were obviously War only. They were divided into:
    (i) Personnel (by rank)
    (ii) Distribution of Tradesmen and Rank and File Non-Tradesmen
    (iii) Transport
    (iv) Weapons
    (v) Organisation

    Note that weapons were the crew served not individual and the Org was 'intended merely as a guide to officers commanding units, and may be varied, within the numbers of ranks, tradesmen and vehicles allowed'. The org also stated the number of wireless sets in vehicles but not the type. Details of individual weapons, wireless sets and all the other stores held by a unit were detailed in Army Form G 1098.

    Note that these are unit (of any size) Establishments. Formations are not Units and did not have an Establishment, although the formation HQ type had an Establishment. Basically formations had an Order of Battle, my understanding is that standard Orders of Battle for formations were the result of War Office policy decisions handled by the Staff Duties Branch of the War Office, not sure on the approval process but it may have been by the Army Council. Obviously local commanders could modify the Order of Battle for a particular operation.

    WW2 Establishments are in TNA at WO 24/950 & 951 IIRC, but they are not indexed as far as I know, many unit Establishments went through several editions during the course of the war. Don't know where to find AFG 1098s (which were prepared by Staff Quartermasters of the arm/corps the unit type belonged to and approved by the War Office). Arms and corps also drafted the Establishments. From mid-war there was a lot of standardisation of establishments to ensure the common functions were done with the same resources.

    Joslen will enable you to build the ORBAT of named units in a bde or div at any particular date. However, these are only the units under command. The big problem with Joslen is that he does not deal with bon-divisional units.
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  13. mapshooter

    mapshooter Senior Member

    Joslen Vol 1 gives a potted history of armd div orgs from May 39 to May 45. However, he only refers to Lt cruiser, Hy cruiser, CS cruiser, cruiser, OP tk, AA tk, Lt tk and Sherman,
  14. Aixman

    Aixman WE addict Patron

    @ Mapshooter

    I agree with most of your explanations. But I would have been lucky, if the information about the WW II war establishments could be found in only two volumes ...

    @ Don Juan

    What I could find out until now about the British system:
    Concerning the TNA files, the relevant establishments concerning WW II must be seen as a whole - as far as I unterstand it by now - because there seems to be no overall system. They belong to the 1931 system, in the beginning named as such (II/1931/10A/1), later omitting the "1931". It starts somewhere before WO 24/934 (1932 to 1936) end ends (concerning WW II) somewhere after WO 24/955 (beginning of 1945), althought single unit establishments may not have been published before 1947, having been effective several years earlier (e.g.: Field Ambulance). Each of these volumes typically covers three months, but there are exceptions.

    The British system is very (very!) detailed, war establishment tables given for two and even for one single soldier can be found, the largest being normally battalion size (rarely) and brigade size (one, if I remember correctly). Normally no direct connection between the tables.

    That is roughly what we are talking about: (see attached photo)
    I own by now more than 25,000 photos from these files and I am in a progressed state of putting the information into a catalogue, seeing what (still) exists and what isn't there. Sadly there seems to be a certain amount lacking. Due to security reasons, volume VIII establishments were not printed, you will only find snippets here and there in other sources. (The establishments are organized in WE Volumes from I to XVI). For more security, the establishments are not numbered consequently, so you can never tell whether you are complete with your research. The WO 24 volumes (934 and so on) are indexed, but in two different ways, never both ways in one volume. So you can't compare. In the end, the paper wasn't the best, in varying quality and size, not our modern standard, and the information fades a bit here and there, single pages are missing, and so do (dozens of) copy numbers as a whole (each table ist represented by a copy number, consecutively numbered within the TNA volume system). There were several attempts made earlier by the staff of the archive(s) (e.g.: WO 24-942 and others) to put the information into a system, but the ones I found end in a very early stage. I have planned a stay at Kew in September to finish my efforts on this item and hope to be up to date with the catalogue towards the end of this year.

    The system can only be understood truly by digging deep into the establishments. The do not tell you (normally), how many units of each type are in an Armoured Division or Brigade. Some provide explanations in various depths, others don't. At least two members in here have done stalwart work on explaining the system: Mike "Trux", who not only runs a very fine forum "21 Army Group" in here with all the war establisments concerned, but who also showed me the way to the TNA and its WO 24 system especially several years ago. And Gary Kennedy with his nine volume book about the divisional establishments in 21 Army Group, also with far more information than in the WEs contained - Gary, I like your details about airborne troops most!

    Member DRyan (co-author of the 15 volumes book "The British Armies in World War Two") is always a good adress for the concrete units and OOBs to put them into relation with the normally abstract information givens in the WEs.

    War establishments - as so often: More questions than answers.

    But don't hesitate to ask. I sit on a heap of estimated more than 10,000 tables, and I will put my little knowledge in as time allows ...

    ... and I would be glad for any information added, any additional source or any correction given.

    TNA WO 24-934 to 955.JPG
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  15. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Gunner Tours

    I have to ask - why?

    The T&OE is a piece of paper that says that the Army has agreed that a unit "should" have a certain number of people and amount of equipment. This is something typed in triplicate rather than chiselled in stone.

    The establishments are subject to lobbying by the overworked and ambitious or on the basis of conflicting operational experience. They change.

    The equipment issued may not bear any direct resemblance to that listed on the establishment table. A Chitty in Lieu, a piece of paper explaining a deficiency is one of the most common items in any store, as evidenced by the quotes in the Goon Show -and a part of a key scene in Catch 22. Other ubiquitous items of equipment are "Buckshees" These are equipment held by the unit in excess of establishment tables. They include equipment that ought to have been returned, incorrectly written off as destroyed, looted from the enemy and donated by or stolen from friends and allies. These are not trivial. Several paragraphs in the monthly Army Training memoranda in 1943 pointed out the cost in shipping space of the extra undeclared equipment held by the units of the 8th army and drew attention to the way that an unattended vehicle outside Tobruk was stripped of any usable parts within an hour or so.

    I hope this clarifies matters and alleviates your worries about not having access to the tomes of War establishments and Equipment tables ;)
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  16. Aixman

    Aixman WE addict Patron

    Thank you, Sheldrake, for alleviating.

    Once I was interested in everything similar (T & OE, StAN, whatever) of literally every nation involved in WW II. As I realized I would not live long enough to gather all information existent I decided to concentrate on one nation. The British seemed to be the most interesting (to me) as it seems to be most complicated. I might be one of those who seek difficult things, perhaps because of the greater fun when things are resolved.

    So probably all hope ist lost ...
  17. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    Yes, this is the whole point really, isn't it? Besides, if we're going to get philosophical about it, all history is pretty much fiction, if truth be told.

    Thanks to mapshooter, Aixman and Sheldrake for info.
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  18. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    I had a long post typed up, but timed out, and can't get to paste back in as I'd copied it to word!

    Anyway, short comments; WEs, T/Os, KStN or Shtat are valuable in that they show what the relevant army assumed they could furnish units with. There is no question there were shortfalls between authorised and actual, but if you don't know the former how can you quantify the deficit?

    One nice detailed description can easily become propagated as 'the norm', when in fact it was unique.

    My own research on the subject has taken a long time as I went for the acquisition of particular tables, mostly by paper, and never went down the digital harvesting route now available. At some point I do intend to gather the info into a readable format and posted online; maybe this year, eh? :)
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  19. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    You can sometimes be really lucky and find info in War Diaries etc, that give "actual" rather than theoretical Establishments, those these are of course just "snapshots".

    Some German Kstn list "soll" & "Ist" which differentiate between the two.

    Just be grateful that you are not dealing with Tabelle Organiche (Italian) They are a nightmare!
  20. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    This site gives some good coverage of British infantry battalion organization, including motor battalions of armored divisions: http://www.bayonetstrength.150m.com/

    I strongly recommend Trux' 21st Army Group pages on this forum, which show the WE's for all types of units as of D-Day and cover the most signifcant changes thereafter.

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