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 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 (unk)
Grenade, Hand, Offensive, No.69 (unk)
Camouflet Set, Light (Cratering charge) (unk)
Mortar, 2in M.L. Mk VII** (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)  
Bicycle, BSA Standard, Mk V (1,907)  
Bicycle, Airborne, Folding (1,362)
Motorcycle, Lightweight, Royal Enfield WD RE light  (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)

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. As conveyed;

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 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

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

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