Infantry - Contents

Discussion in 'Infantry' started by Trux, Aug 29, 2010.

  1. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron


    ‘The Queen of the Battlefield’. It is difficult to imagine any form of battle without infantry.
    Armour, Artillery and Engineers may play a vital role but ultimately the infantryman must go
    forward and occupy the ground.


    HQ Infantry Brigade in an Infantry Division. War Establishment II/141/2. January 1944.
    HQ Infantry Brigade in an Armoured Division. War Establishment II/141/2. January 1944.
    Infantry Brigade Headquarters Defence Platoon. War Establishment II/148/1. November 1943
    Infantry Brigade Headquarters Defence Platoon. War Establishment II/148/2. April 1945

    Infantry Battalion. War Establishment II/233/2. April 1943.
    Infantry Battalion. War Establishment II/233/3. November 1944
    Lorried Infantry Battalion. War Establishment II/233/2. April 1943.
    Lorried Infantry Battalion. War Establishment II/233/3. November 1944

    Line of Communication Battalion. War Establishment XIV/1110/1. October 1944.
    Infantry Battalion Type B (any arm). War Establishment XIV/1111/1. February 1945.
    Infantry Battalion Type C. War Establishment XIV/1112/1. April 1945.
    Garrison Battalion Overseas (any arm). War Establishment III/ 32F/2. October 1944.

    Machine Gun Battalion. War Establishment II/240/1. February 1944
    Machine Gun Company. War Establishment II/239/1. January 1944

    Motor Battalion. War Establishment II/231/3. January 1944

    From Military Training Pamphlet No 23 Part 1.
    Infantry is the most adaptable of all arms. It may operate on its own, supported as necessary by one or more of the supporting arms, it may be the predominant partner in co operation with tank units, or it may take part in an operation in which armoured units are predominant.

    Infantry is capable of operating over almost any ground, either by day or night, and it can find or make cover for itself more readily than other arms.

    Infantry is particularly suited to attacking an organised defensive position, fighting by night or in country unsuitable for armoured vehicles, holding ground gained and occupying a defensive position.

    Although infantry transport is mechanised, the movement of an infantry battalion is slow since the men march. Infantry which can be carried to the battlefield in mechanical transport will secure a great advantage in freshness and vigour besides an increase in range.

    The mobility of infantry in battle is dependent on adequate arrangements for keeping its load light.

    Infantry is strong in defence against unarmoured troops. The infantryman must be well trained in camouflage and concealment, in the use of ground and entrenching seats, and in the erection of obstacles. However infantry is vulnerable to attack by armoured vehicles. It must make full use of anti tank weapons and mines to transform its position into anti tank localities.

    The effects of air attack must be minimized by dispersion, by concealment and camouflage and by the avoidance of small isolated areas of cover which are likely to be attacked.

    In attack against an organised defensive position infantry depends on tanks and assault parties to make passages through obstacles, on air support and artillery to neutralise the fire power and reduce the morale of the defenders. However when faced with an enemy whose morale is low or whose defence is not organised, infantry should not hesitate to advance under cover of it’s own weapons.

    The above remained true throughout the campaign but increasingly assaults were made by all arm groups centred on equal numbers of infantry and armour.

    Machine gun battalions were also infantry. They were fully motorised and one battalion is included in each infantry division or one company in each armoured division. This gives one company per infantry brigade.

    The medium machine gun is essentially a weapon of defence. It can maintain accurate and sustained fire and can maintain it in poor visibility or at night if adequate preparations have been made. In an advance its functions are flank protection and consolidation of captured positions. The mobility of the medium machine guns enables them to be sent forward to hold important tactical features ahead of a division.

    Motor battalions are included in armoured divisions. They are organised and equipped to permit maximum mobility and flexibility. Each company is administratively self contained and contains its own reconnaissance element.

    The main role of the motor battalion is to restore mobility to armoured units held up by anti tank defences. Other tasks include mopping up, holding ground seized and protecting the armoured units at night.

    Infantry also includes parachute and airborne battalions which are dealt with separately.

    The small tracked Universal and Loyd Carriers and their derivatives were a distinct British type of vehicle. Other countries had no real equivalent, using either wheeled vehicles in the 15cwt class or larger halftracks for the roles carried out by the Carrier. They were much criticised and probably obsolete but they were built and used in tens of thousands.

    The basic version of the Universal carrier was a rationalisation of the earlier Bren carrier and Scout carrier. It was realised that one standard version, the Universal, could fill both roles and many others. Eventually there were versions for the Medium Machine Gun, 3” mortar, Observation Post and Wasp flame thrower. There were many other experimental models, trials models and field modifications.

    Although the Loyd Carrier looked much like the Universal Carrier, and it used some of the same mechanical and suspension components, it was a very different vehicle. The Loyd was envisaged as a tracked lorry and used a Ford 2 ton truck chassis. This was modified and reversed so that the engine was at the rear and the driven front axle was at the front. Steering was by brake as on tanks and not by bending the track as on Universals. The Carrier, Tracked, Towing was used for anti tank guns and the 4.2” mortar. Some 15,000 were built.

    Carrier Universal.
    There were several versions which varied mainly in the engine that was fitted. In 21 Army Group there were still some earlier versions in service but they had been brought as near possible to MkII standard

    Carrier Universal MkII was the major type and was welded to give a waterproof hull. .
    Carrier Universal No1 MkII. Ford V8 engine giving 65bhp
    Carrier Universal No2 MkII. US Ford V8 GAE engine giving 85bhp
    Carrier Universal No2A MkII. US Ford V8 GAEA engine giving 85bhp
    Carrier Universal No3 MkII*. Canadian built. 90bhp engine

    A later version, MkIII, had a modified air inlet and engine cover. It came in the same versions as the MkII.

    The official view was that the carrier was not a fighting vehicle but was a means of carrying firepower rapidly to where it was needed. This was the old Bren carrier role. Although the Bren gun could be fired from the front of the carrier it was intended that the Bren gun crew of two men should dismount and the carrier withdraw to cover.

    The following were true of all the battalion’s Universal Carriers.
    - The driver sat on the right hand side of the front compartment. He was always a driver mechanic. Steering was by a steering wheel which acted on the front idler wheels to bend the track. The drivers seat could be elevated to give a clear view over the front armour, otherwise his view was limited.
    - The left hand seat was for the bren gunner. The bren gun fitted into an embrasure in the front armour. In practice the vehicle commander usually sat here.
    - According to role there could be seats in any of the four corners of the rear compartment.
    - Wireless sets and/or batteries could be installed in the front right hand corner and/or the rear left hand corner. The main set, if there was one, was carried in the front right hand corner with the operator in the rear right hand corner.
    - Rifles were stowed on the engine cover.
    - A canvas stowage bag was fitted to the outside of the rear plate.

    The Carrier Platoon had a Carrier, Universal for the Captain commanding it. The Captain’s batman and a driver mechanic completed the crew A Wireless set No18 and a Wireless set No 38 were carried. Each of the three sections consisted of three carries. The section serjeant’s carrier carried a Wireless set No 38, a PIAT and a Bren gun. The other two carriers did not carry wireless sets. Both were commanded by corporals and carrier 2 carried a 2” mortar.

    The tasks which were officially laid down for the Carrier Platoon included:
    - A mobile reserve of firepower. In attack they could rapidly bring firepower to bear on an enemy position from the front, side or rear as required. In defence Carriers could be rushed to hard pressed parts of the line and stop gaps.
    - Reconnaissance. In an advance the carriers could go ahead and find gaps or weak spots. Carriers could carry out close reconnaissance to the front and flanks of the advancing battalion. They would often take over positions already gained by reconnaissance troops.
    - Flank guards. Carriers could give protection to the flanks of an advancing column either by patrolling or taking up fixed positions. They could also set up road blocks on side roads which might pose a threat.
    - Consolidation of positions taken. Until the infantry companies could organise a defence against counter attack the carriers could provide cover. They were also useful in mounting a counter attack.
    - Outposts. Carriers could be positioned forward of the infantry outposts to give early warning.
    - Contact. Contact between forward companies was often difficult and carriers could be employed in this work
    - Supply. If the ground or the tactical situation were not suited to the employment of carriers they could be used to carry ammunition, mines, wire and tools for consolidation of positions.
    To which might be added:
    - Casualty evacuation. Carriers could be fitted with stretcher racks but could evacuate casualties without any special equipment.

    Elsewhere within an infantry battalion carriers were employed as command vehicles for:
    - Battalion Commanding Officer.
    - Rifle Company commanders
    - Anti Tank platoon commander
    - Mortar platoon commander

    Carrier 3” Mortar
    The 3” Mortar Carrier was used in the infantry battalion to carry the 3” mortar and crew. It was rather crowded since it carried a crew of five, 66 rounds of mortar ammunition and a Wireless set No 38 in addition to the mortar itself. The mortar tube, baseplate and bipod were carried on the rear of the carrier. Ammunition was carried on both sponsons, including in the front compartment. Two crew members including the driver mechanic sat in the front compartment, two crew members sat in the right hand side and one in the left hand side. The Wireless No 38 set was carried in the left hand side of the front compartment. No bren gun was carried.

    Carrier 3” Mortar No1 MkII. Ford V8 engine giving 65bhp
    Carrier 3” Mortar No2 MkII. US Ford V8 GAE engine giving 85bhp
    Carrier 3” Mortar No2A MkII. US Ford V8 GAEA engine giving 85bhp
    Carrier 3” Mortar No3 MkII*. Canadian built. 90bhp engine

    6pdr anti tank gun tractors
    The Loyd Carrier, Tracked, Towing.
    This was not originally designed for the artillery tractor role, although large numbers were used to tow 6pdr guns It lacked power, reliability and space. The lack of space was made up for by providing extra limber vehicles to carry ammunition and one gun number. However some 14,000 were built for this role and the majority of 6pdr guns in 21 Army Group were towed by them.

    Carrier Tracked Towing No1 MkII. Ford V8 engine giving 65bhp
    Carrier Tracked Towing No2 MkII. US Ford V8 EGAE engine giving 90bhp
    Carrier Tracked Towing No2A MkII. US Ford V8 EGAEA engine giving 90bhp
    Carrier Tracked Towing No3 MkII*. Canadian built. 90bhp engine

    The tractor version had a driver’s position at front centre, with a crew seat on either side and one behind. Four boxes of 6pdr ammunition were stowed on the sides, giving 24 rounds. Gun equipment and crews kit filled the rest of the space. A spare gun wheel was carried on the front plate and a 2” mortar for use with smoke rounds was carried on the engine cover. The ammunition carrier was similar but carried five boxes of ammunition and could carry gun extension shields, although these were not used in NW Europe. It also carried a Bren gun and the section cooker. No spare gun wheel was carried. The ammunition carrier could tow the gun if necessary. A tilt frame and canvas tilt was fitted as standard.

    The Universal Carrier
    This was also never designed as an artillery tractor but was also used for towing 6pdr anti tank guns. It had some advantages but was if anything even more lacking in space than the Loyd. It had better traction, was more stable, had better protection and was generally more reliable. A special Stacey tow bar was designed and fitted to certain carriers. Carriers without this attachment could not tow 6pdr guns. Stowage was as for the Loyd. No tilt was fitted.

    Universal Carrier T16
    The Carrier T16 was built in the USA by Ford more or less to British Universal Carrier specifications. It differed in several ways, most of which were improvements. The T16 was longer and had an extra wheel which gave a longer length of track in contact with the ground. These changes made the carrier roomier, more stable and less prone to overloading. The T16 was also welded and had a larger engine, a Mercury GAU V8 engine delivering 100hp. Instead of the Universal Carriers steering system which curved the track and was operated via a steering wheel the T16 used steering brakes operating on the differential. This system wore badly and caused problems. It seems that 20,000 T16 were ordered but probably only a third were delivered. Very few saw service and all seem to have been used as 6 pdr tractors replacing Loyd and Universal Carriers.

    Carrier, Windsor.
    Ford Canada built a large number of Universal Carriers and in 1943 began producing the improved Windsor version. Like the T16 it was longer than the Universal and had an extra wheel each side. It was riveted and had a steering wheel. Engine was a Ford V8 95hp. The Windsor was intended as a replacement for Loyd Carriers as 6pdr tractors and 4.2 mortars. Mechanical problems delayed its entrance into service and few were in service by the end of the war, all as 6pdr tractors in infantry units.

    Scout Carrier.
    This was the Universal Carrier MkII with minor modifications for the scout role in motor battalions. There was a fitting for a 4” smoke discharger in the front compartment. A 2” mortar could be fitted on this mounting as an alternative. There were mountings and aerials for a wireless set No19 and Chore horse charging set in the front offside and rear nearside corners of the rear compartment. Not all vehicles carried a wireless set, normally only the section leader, but the sets were readily movable and could be rapidly installed in either position in any vehicle. The No 19 set required two driver operators so that the section leader’s vehicle had a crew of four while the others had only three.

    The role of the carrier section in a motor battalion was mainly reconnaissance for the infantry sections, who were in halftracks.

    Mortar Carriers, Machine Gun Carriers and Anti Tank tractors were also used in the motor battalion.

    Carrier Medium machine Gun.
    The Carrier Medium machine Gun was a Carrier Universal with a strengthened engine cover and a pintle mount for the gun. There was a bracket attached to the mounting to hold an ammunition box. Models used included
    Carrier Medium Machine Gun No1 Mk1 Ford V8 65bhp engine
    Carrier Medium Machine Gun No2 Mk1 US Ford V8 85 bhp GAE engine
    Carrier Medium Machine Gun No2A Mk1 US Ford V8 85bhp GAEA engine
    Carrier Medium Machine Gun No3 Mk1* Canadian built
    Carrier Medium Machine Gun No1 Mk1I As No1 Mk1 but welded
    Carrier Medium Machine Gun No2 Mk1I As No2 Mk1 but welded
    Carrier Medium Machine Gun No2A MkI1* As No2A Mk1 but welded
    Carrier Medium Machine Gun No3 Mk1I As No3 Mk1 but welded

    4.2” Mortar Carrier.
    In the Heavy Mortar Platoon the Loyd suffered form a lack of space. The mortar was carried in a 10cwt trailer with fittings for the various components. The carrier carried a crew of five plus twelve mortar bombs. Twelve more bombs were carried in the trailer. When the extended base plate was introduced this was carried on the front plate of the carrier. All the other carriers in the platoon carried ammunition and towed an ammunition trailer.

    Flame Thrower Carriers.
    Although not shown on the War Establishment the Wasp flame thrower was on the strength of Medium Machine Gun Companies, and eventually many infantry battalions as well. The Wasp MkII had a flame projector in the front compartment. All the other equipment was stowed in the rear compartment. This included two fuel tanks, 40 gallons and 60 gallons, pressure bottles and piping. Thus the Wasp had all of its equipment protected by the Carriers armour and the vehicle looked like an ordinary carrier. Range was 80 to 100 yards. These Carriers were available from late July 1944.

    The Canadian Army developed a very similar vehicle, the Wasp MkIIC. This was available from August 1944 and differed in having one 75 gallon fuel container carried at the rear, outside the armoured body. This left most of the Carriers space available for other things, including a Bren gun and gunner for self defence. When production of the Wasp MkII was complete the British began producing the Canadian version as well and this became the standard type by early 1945. Some earlier MkII were rebuilt to MkIIC standard by using the 60 gallon fuel tank. Plastic armour was added to the carrier front.

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