Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Detailed and Annotated Order of Battle and Table of Basic Allowances of the British 1st Airborne Division Circa 1944

Having written the previous article on the arms and equipment of a World War II British Airborne Division, this author reviewed the orders of battle for those divisions available on the Internet. There are some very good ones, and I have listed one of the best in the Links section of this blog, however it seemed as though all of them lacked certain elements of information.

Early in my evolving interest in the British 1st Airborne Division at the battle of Arnhem I compiled an expanded and annotated Order of Battle (OOB)/Table of Basic Allowances (T B/A) of the Division. Given my then very limited knowledge of the battle, I submitted my preliminary efforts to the staff of the Airborne Forces Museum, which was co-located with their Headquarters and Depot, Aldershot, Hampshire. It's reasonably comprehensive, and although far from perfect, it does incorporate some features not found elsewhere. Where there are identified errors or incompleteness, hopefully they have been identified.

It was 1974 and the epic film adaptation of Cornelius Ryan’s book “A Bridge Too Far” was yet to be produced, however the book had become a best seller. Maj Geoff G. Norton, the then curator of the museum, was gracious enough to personally respond to my request to review and correct my efforts to that point in time. I think that because the query was coming from a “colonial”, and a reserve naval intelligence officer of senior rank, must have captured his interest and attention. At the time he was a busy man, also serving as Second-in-Command of the Depot of the Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces. In addition, he himself had already authored a book in the “Famous Regiments” series, “The Red Devils”, in 1971. See; Norton, G.G., The Red  Devils (The Story of British Airborne Forces), Leo Cooper Ltd, London, 1971, ISBN 0 85052 045 2.  Given his detailed knowledge and encouragement, I continued to expand and refine my efforts.

As already pointed out in the immediately previous blog article,, there is a disparity with regard to quantities of items in allowance as given in Lt Col H.F. Joslen’s book, Orders of Battle, Second World War,1939 -1945, Her Majesty’s Stationary Office, 1960. When compiling the list of arms and equipment I was not aware of Lt Col Joslen’s book. Nor do I know whether Maj Norton had access to the book. In his correspondence Maj Norton cites as his source British Army Staff Tables (1944) for an Airborne Division’s weapons. Two of the principal differences in the two lists is in the increase of anti-tank weapons (6 pdrs and PIATs) and jeeps. Given the significantly improved capabilities of German armor late in the war, combined with the combat established need to improve ground mobility for the paratroops, the author would give more credence to the higher numbers. The author personally concludes that the higher numbers are more likely to be correct. An attempt to reconcile all the discrepancies has been attempted, and is included in addition to the original analysis developed in 1974.

Keen eyes will also discern the author’s limited knowledge at the time, such as the
erroneous inclusion of the Inglis Browning 9mm pistol and Wireless Set, No. 38 in
the equipment list, the omission of the Morris artillery tractors for the 17 pdr anti-tank
guns, and the lack of personnel numbers for the 6080 and 6341 Light Warning Units of
the RAF (at least I was aware of their existence). Suffices the author has learned quite a
bit since those early efforts, and hopefully that knowledge has been conveyed in this and
other articles contained in this blog.                                                                                             

To the best of my knowledge all the other names and numbers are correct to the extent of known official archives. Having diligently attempted to edit the tables for alignment of the columns, if there are any remaining ambiguities, please advise the author in the Comments.

Editorial note: Although previously unknown to the author the following piece of equipment which should be added, and was flown in by Horsa glider and employed by the Royal Engineers in Operation Market Garden was an American Machine and Metals, Inc., Tractor, Crawler, Gasoline, Clark CA-1 bulldozer. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Detailed List of the Arms and Equipment of a British Airborne Division Circa 1944

TO&E (Table of Organization and Equipment) is a term used in the United States Armed Forces, specifically the Army and Marine Corps. The British Army uses the term Order of Battle (OOB) and Table of Basic Allowances (TB/A). It includes authorized personnel strength as well as equipment. In as much as there are numerous and detailed Order of Battles available on the Internet of the WWII Airborne Forces of the British Army, this article is confined to their equipment. The detailed allocation and assignment of armament and equipment to lower echelons is not included at this time.

The following tables attempt to detail the weapons and transport of both the British 1st and 6th Airborne Divisions at Operation Market Garden (Arnhem) and Operation Overlord (Normandy) respectively. Where possible the standard complete nomenclature of the armament or transport has been given. These are nominal quantities, and as the reader will readily understand, subject to variance given time, circumstances, and individual unit mission requirements for the two operations. The first list is as published in Lt Col H.F. Joslen’s book, Orders of Battle, Second World War, 1939 -1945, Her Majesty’s Stationary Office, 1960, with additions and modified only to provide more detailed nomenclature, specifically identifying arms and equipment. The quantity of a given item, if known, is indicated in parentheses.

The reader is cautioned that while every attempt for completeness and accuracy has been made, the author accepts full responsibility for any errors or omissions. The spectrum of specific mortar bombs, and demolitions has not been included at this time. Any corrections or additions will be gratefully accepted, acknowledged and incorporated in the revision of this article. Photographs and more details of the vast majority of the items listed can be found in following articles within this blog:

Pack Howitzer 75mm M1A1 Carriage M8

75mm Pack Howitzer in action Oosterbeek/Arnhem 1944

Same 75mm Howitzer in action Oosterbeek/Arnhem 1944

(Divisional Standard Table of Basic Allowances)
Pistol, Colt, .45cal Self-loading M1911A1, Enfield, .380cal No.2 Mk I* or Inglis Browning, 9mm, No.2 MkI* (Inglis only after Fall 1944) (2,942)
Rifle, Enfield .303cal, No.4 Mk I or MkI* (limited No.4 Mk I (T) Sniper) (7,171)
Machine Carbine, Sten, 9mm, MkII, MkIII, (but predominately) MkV, (6,504)
Light Machine Gun, Bren, 303cal Mk II (966) **
Medium Machine Gun, Vickers, .303cal, Mk I (46) *
Medium Machine Gun, Vickers, 'K', .303cal (22)
Grenade, Hand, Anti-tank, Gammon, No.82 (unk)
Grenade, Hand, Anti-tank, Hawkins, No.75 (unk)
Grenade, Hand, WP Smoke, No.77 (unk)
Grenade, Hand, Mills, No.36M Mk I (unk)
Grenade, Hand, Offensive, No.69 (unk)
Camouflet Set, Light (Cratering charge) (unk)
Mortar, 2in M.L. Mk VII* or VIII (474) **
Mortar, 3in M.L. Mk II (56) *
Mortar, 4.2in M.L. Mk II mortars (5)
Projector, Infantry Anti-Tank (PIAT) Mk I (535) **
Gun, Anti-aircraft, Polsten, 20mm No.2 MKII (airborne) guns Mounting, Airborne, 20mm Gun No.2 Mk2 or Hispano, Oerlkon license (23)
Flamethrower, Ack Pack (Marsden Portable) (38)
Howitzer, Pack 75mm M1A1 Carriage M8 (27) **
Ordnance, Q.F.,6pdr Anti-tank Gun Mk IV (L/50) Carriage Mk III (Airborne) (84) **
Ordnance, Q.F.,17pdr Anti-tank Gun Mk II Carriage Mk II (16)
Wireless Set, No.68P (man-pack) (15+spares)
Wireless Set, No.22 (vehicle borne) (13+spares)
Wireless Set, No.19HP (unk)
Wireless Set, No.65 (unk)
Wireless Set, No.76 (5+spares)
Wireless Set, SCR-536 BC-611 (TRX) (unk)
Wireless Beacon, Eureka/Rebecca, Mk 2 (unk)
Light Warning Set (Radar), AMES, Type 2 (2)
Parachute, Personnel, GQ,  X-Type Statichute (unk, but in the thousands)
Stretcher, Airborne (unk)  
Bicycle, BSA Standard, Mk V (1,907) ** 
Bicycle, Airborne, Folding (1,362) **
Motorcycle, Lightweight, Royal Enfield WD RE light ("Flying Flea") or Matchless G3L  (529) *
Motorcycle, Solo, Triumph, Model 3 SW, James ML or Ariel, Model W NG (704) **
Motorbike, Lightweight, Welbike (unk)
Jeep, 5 cwt (various configurations including (22) armed units of the 1st AB Recce Sqn) (904) **
Miscellaneous Cars (115)
Scout Car, Daimler “Dingo" (25)
Carrier, Universal, Mk III (Airborne) (25) **
Ambulance, Heavy, 4x2, Bedford MI (24)
Truck, 15 cwt, General Service, 4x2 (129)
Lorry, 3 ton, 4x4, Troop Carrier or Lorry, 3 ton, 4x2, Bedford OYD (438)
Truck, Humber FWD, 4x4, Heavy Utility (unk)
Tractor, Artillery, 30cwt, Morris C.8/AT Mk III (26) 
Cruiser Tank, Cromwell, Mk IV, V, VII (6th AARR) (11)
Light Tank, Mk VII Tetrarch and Locust M22 (11)
Trailers (935)
Trolleys (Handcarts) Fixed wheel and collapsible (450) **
Tractor, Light, Bulldozer, International or Caterpillar, 5 ton,  (3)
Tractor, Crawler, Gasoline, Light, Airborne, Bulldozer, Clark CA-1

The above list should be considered the best, most comprehensive, and most accurate. It takes precedence over all other lists of arms and equipment contained in the entirety of this blog, regardless of date of issue. As it does not apply, it does not take precedence over lists of personnel.  In the event of any further additions or corrections, they will be reflected in modifications to this list. 

Double asterisks (**) reflect an increase from other or previously cited documentation.
Single asterisks (*) reflect a decrease from other or previously cited documentation.  

At some limited variance to the above list, is a published British Army Staff Table (dated 1944) of an Airborne Division, which was personally transcribed handwritten, and provided to me by Maj Geoff G. Norton, very early in my then developing interest in Operation Market Garden. Unusual then, even more so this day in age. At the time (1974), Maj Norton was a serving officer of the Parachute Regiment, and Curator of the Airborne Forces Museum, then located at Aldershot, Hampshire.

Readers can probably understand that differences in the numbers can be attributed to both the delay cycle in wartime publication (security and priorities) and the evolving requirements of the Airborne Forces gained from combat experience. The first list, while citing 1944, obviously reflects much later historical research. Here is Maj Norton's list as conveyed (It did not include any quantities on rifles, Sten guns or pistols);

Bicycles                                 1806
Bicycles (folding)                  1162
M/C Solo                                 601
M/C Lightweight                     587
M/C Combination                      41
Cars 5 cwt (jeeps)                    693
Handcarts                                   15
Carriers, Universal                       9
LMG (Bren)                             701 (+ 60 Pool Reserve)
Mortars 3”                                  88
Mortars 2”                                451
MMGs (Vickers)                        48
PIAT’s                                      258
6 pdr ATk guns                           56
75mm guns                                 24
17 pdr ATk guns                         16

The following photographs are of some of the more specialized and unique equipments used by the airborne divisions:

Light Tank, Tetrarch Mk VII

Cruiser Tank, Cromwell Mk VII

Morris C.8/AT Mk III (Airborne configuratiomn)
used to tow 17 pdr Anti-tank Gun
Tractor, Crawler, Gasoline, Bulldozer, Clark CA-1
The following photograph, with acknowledgement to The Daily Telegraph, presents the annotated kit of a representative lance corporal of the 1st Parachute Brigade, 1st Airborne Division, at the Battle of Arnhem 1944.

1.        Parachute, Personnel, GQ X-Type Statichute and Harness
2.         Denison Smock and over (jump) smock
3.         Toggle rope
4.         Battledress blouse, Pattern 37, with wrist watch and dog tags placed on sleeves
5.         Individual Soldier's Service/Pay Book
6.         Braces, trousers, pair
7.         Gators, web, pair
8.         Socks, pair
9.         Ammunition Boots, pair
10.      Gloves, wool, pair
11.      Wallet, leather
12.      Shield (Veil), face, camouflaged (scarf)
13.      Battledress trousers, Pattern 37 (Airborne modified), colorless shirt, undervest, underpants 
14.      Haversack, Pattern 37, with mess tin, mug, water bottle, two 24 hour ration kits
15.      Kitbag, Parachutist, Mk II, with handling line and sleeve
16.      Shovel (in kitbag)
17.      Cutlery, “Housewife”, spare boot laces, wash towel
18.      Entrenching tool head
19.      Haft (handle) for entrenching tool
20.      Ammunition pouches, Universal, Pattern 37, pair
21.     Web belt and braces,  Pattern 37
22.      9mm Machine Carbine, Sten MkV and cleaning kit (below)
23.      Bayonet, No.4 Mk II, with scabbard (and Frog, web, airborne)
24.      Pocket loading tool for Sten
25.      Magazine, Sten, 32 rounds of 9mm ammunition (28 rds usually loaded)
26.      Bandoleer, web, with 7 magazines for Sten
27.      Cigarettes, matches, playing cards
28.      Haversack, Respirator, Lightweight, Mk II  
29.      Grenades, Hand, No. 36M Mk I and No. 69
30.      Fighting knife, Fairbairn-Sykes, with scabbard
31.      Cape, gas, in roll
32.      Respirator (gas mask), Lightweight No.5 Mk I
33.      Ointment, anti-gas
34.      Hood, anti-gas
35.      Eye shield, anti-gas
36.      Ground cloth, with sewing kit/thimble from “Housewife” on top
37.      Beret, maroon (“Red”), Airborne Forces, with Parachute Regiment cap badge
38.      Torch (flashlight)
39.      First field dressing
40.      Helmet, Steel, Airborne, Troops (HSAT) Mk I, leather harness/chin cup, camouflaged netting

Norton, Maj G.G. (personal correspondence), Airborne Forces Museum, Altershot, Hants., 6 April 1974

Joslen, Lt. Col. H.F., Orders of Battle, Second World War,1939 -1945, Her Majesty’s Stationary Office, 1960