Anti-Aircraft and Gun Platoon British Indian Army

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by TTH, Apr 13, 2019.

  1. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Here is a poser. I was reading through the appendices to one of Woodburn-Kirby's volumes (III, I think, maybe II) when I found a reference to post-42 infantry battalions in SEAC having something called an "anti-aircraft and gun platoon." Does anyone know what this was or have any details of organization and equipment? Was it a combination of the AA and anti-tank platoons, or AA with infantry guns (3.7"), or what? Thanks to anyone who can find anything.
  2. idler

    idler GeneralList

    I recall a mention somewhere of a pair of 3.7-in howitzers being attached to battalions, but don't ask me where.
    I did go through a phase of picking organisational snippets out of regimental histories. I don't think it was there but will check if I can dig out the spreadsheet.
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    JITTER PARTY Well-Known Member

    From ‘A History of the 4th Prince of Wales’s Own Gurkha Rifles Volume III 1938-1948 by JN MacKay’

    During 1942 4/4 GR was being organized and;

    “…and we fell heir to the 1st Battalion’s 3.7-inch gun section which, under Subadar Matbar Sing Gurung, was being trained at Saugor when its parent battalion was ordered to Burma.”

    I can find no later reference to them, and by the time they went to Burma only Pioneer, Defence and Mortar Platoons are mentioned.

    Appendix 6 of The War Against Japan, Vol. III does indeed mention the abolition of the “gun platoon” in the Indian and British Infantry Battalions of the new Indian Light Divisions, but then adds the footnote 'These Changes were not carried out'.
    It is also noted that In the Div Support Bn, the Gun Pl was to be replacemed by a MMG Pl, without any additional note.
    No mention of Gun Platoons in the 'normal' Infantry Battalions of the standard Divisions.
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  4. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Thanks, guys. Keep the info coming, anybody.
  5. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Aha! According to The Sikh Regiment in the Second World War (and this is almost certainly paraphrased):

    Around March 1942, 7/11 Sikhs No.4 Pl divided into proposed Carrier Pl and Inf Gun Secs. AA and Pnr Pls formed.

    The caveat here is that the standard 'Empire' inf bn ought to have had the latter subunits by that stage of the game, so the battalion may have been changing role from something more India-y. You see suggestions of different establishments for the NW Frontier and internal security roles, that sort of thing.

    I should add, I haven't exhausted the Indian histories yet, and haven't started on those of British bns in Indian formations; I'd hope the latter might have been more 'interested' in departures from the norm.

    Edit: They were at Razmak on the Frontier. The Bn had received the first of its two(?) 3-in mortars of their new 'peace scale' in Oct 41 and twelve VBs in Jan 42; it's implied the latter are new and, if that was a full issue, is only one per rifle pl (4 coys of 3 pls). They were clearly on a simple establishment and there's a fair bit of comment on the loss to the rifle coys of the experienced NCOs needed to kick-start the specialist pls over and above the usual 'milking'.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019
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  6. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    The only official outline for a Infantry Battalion on the Indian Army establishment is from the India printing of "Infantry Training 1944" (which I picked up as a reprint).

    There's a little footnote on page 1 that says - "In India anti-tank guns are not included among the weapons of the normal infantry battalion. These are however, part of the armament of Motor and Lorried infantry battalions. The 20mm AA Gun is an artillery weapon". This is in reference to a paragraph listing the weapons of the British infantry units on Home establishments. There are then some less than clear 'wire diagrams' of the four main types of Battalion in India; one with Animal and Motor Transport (A & MT)and one with Motor Transport (MT) only. There's a version of each for British and Indian units. All four follow the below format;

    Battalion HQ
    HQ Company
    Signal Platoon
    Mortar Platoon
    Carrier Platoon
    Pioneer Platoon
    Admin Company;
    QM Platoon
    Medical Platoon
    Transport Platoon
    Four Rifle Companies, each;
    Company HQ
    Three Rifle Platoons

    I've never gotten anywhere near an actual Indian Army WE table. Likewise I don't know how close the above was to what units operated in the field.

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  7. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Infantry Section Leading (India), 1941 has a wire diagram that corresponds to the contemporary British battalion. Unfortunately, no-one bothered to complete the table...

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  8. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  9. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Pondering the anti-aircraft side, these were a feature of the early-war British battalion but they only amounted to, I think, four truck-borne single or twin Brens. This may not have been easy to replicate with Vickers-Berthiers which didn't have a drum mag or suitable mountings. The 12 VBs allocated to 7/11 Sikh wouldn't cover an AA Pl.

    20mm AA guns in the inf bn in the Western theatres is a twisted-enough tale in itself. In the East, there seems to have been a general shuffling of support weapons like 3-in mortars over to the RA. They seem to have become an encumbrance to the infantry - I believe this was even true of the 2-in mortar and Boys.

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