1941 Middle East War Establishments

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by Neil W, Jul 18, 2020.

  1. Neil W

    Neil W Member

    Hi everyone,

    I'm looking for the war establishments that were in place at the time of Operation Crusader (Nov 1941), for the following British/Commonwealth unit types:

    Tank Regiment - from my Google research so far I believe the totals may be 46 cruiser tanks and 6 close support tanks.

    Tank Battalion - I believe the establishment was 48 infantry tanks

    Anti-Tank Regiment - I believe the establishment was 48 2 pounder anti-tank guns. What other weapons were in the establishment, e.g. 2 in mortars, Bren guns etc?

    Royal Engineers

    Machinegun battalions

    Armoured car regiments

    Thanks very much,

  2. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    Hi Neil.

    Some of the info requested above.

    Field Park Company/Squadron: 213 Men. 2x Sub M/g. 13x Bren. 4x ATR.

    Field Company/Squadron: 247 Men. 6x Bren. 2x ATR.

    Machine Gun Battalion ; >10/42. 740men. 13x Bren. 48x Vickers. 18x ATR.
  3. Neil W

    Neil W Member

    Thanks very much David. Do you have a lower level of detail for the Machine Gun Battalion, i.e. at company level?

  4. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    Armoured Regiment - WE I/1931/5E/1 of 22 May 1940

    Regimental HQ - 4 cruiser tanks

    HQ Squadron;
    Squadron HQ
    Intercommunication Troop - 10 scout cars
    Administrative Troop

    Three Squadrons, each

    Squadron HQ - 2 cruiser tanks, 2 CS tanks
    Administrative portion
    Four Troops, each - 3 cruiser tanks

    Total 46 cruiser tanks, 6 CS cruiser tanks and 10 scout cars - 580 all ranks

    Army Tank Battalion - WE III/1931/33A/4 7 April 1941

    Battalion HQ - 4 infantry tanks

    HQ Squadron;
    Squadron HQ
    Intercommunication Troop - 9 scout cars
    Administrative Troop

    Three Squadrons, each

    Squadron HQ - 1 infantry tank, 2 CS tanks
    Administrative portion
    Five Troops, each - 3 infantry tanks

    Total 52 infantry tanks, 6 CS infantry tanks and 9 scout cars - 582 all ranks

    Machine Gun Battalion - WE II/1931/12C/4 19 March 1941

    Battalion HQ

    Headquarter Company;
    Company HQ
    Signal Platoon (1 atk rifle)
    AA Platoon (4 LMG, 4 atk rifles)
    Admin Platoon (1 LMG, 1 atk rifle)

    Four MG Companies, each;

    Company HQ (2 LMGs)
    Three MMG Platoons, each (4 MMGs and 1 atk rifle)

    Total 48 MMGs, 13 LMGs and 17 atk rifles - 740 all ranks

  5. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    The above are pretty much the 'easy' ones from your list. RE really does depend on which unit or formation is in question. At this time the Field Company and Field Park Company had different WEs to the Field Squadron and Field Park Squadron, as found in the Armoured Division. They didn't move to a basic WE shared by all until summer of 1943.

    There were multiple WEs for Armoured Car Regiments and it does seem that different ones were in use at the same time in ME, dependent upon whether units had been in the theatre pre-war or come over from Home Forces.

    Anti-tank Regiments, RA can be best described as in a period of flux in terms of organisation. They were nominally on 48 guns as noted above, however a 64 gun Regt was also introduced in late 1941. There were also local WEs for Atk Regts based on 48 or 64 guns. If you can get a decent number of guns for a particular Regt as of the time you're interested in, then you can decide which WE it was most likely to be on. The major difference with the 64 gun Regt was simply the addition of a fourth Troop per Battery, whith the 48 gun Regt based on four Btys, each of three Tps, each of four 2-pdr guns. Each gun detachment had 1 LMG, each Tp HQ 1 LMG and 1 atk rifle and each Bty HQ 2 LMGs and 1 atk rifle under both formats. Likewise RHQ had 2 LMGs and 1 atk rifle for either type of Regt.

  6. Neil W

    Neil W Member

    That's fantastic Gary, thanks!

    C Squadron Kings Dragoon Guards in Tobruk had 29 Marmon-Harrington armoured cars. That sounds like a lot for a squadron, suggesting a regiment would have c.90. Any views?

  7. Neil W

    Neil W Member

    Gary, your bayonet strength website says the AA platoon in infantry battalions at this time had 4 twin Bren guns. I take it that the AA platoon in a Machine Gun Battalion were single, not twin Bren guns?


  8. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    Had a double check and they are shown as single Bren guns, not twin, in the MG Bn, They could have been upgraded to twin guns via an amendment, and there's no superseding table to check against that retained an AA LMG element. The 1942 WEs issued in the ME for MG Bns do show single LMGs for AA use.

    Re the Armd Car Regts, I likewise had a look back to see what my niggle was. In short there were two versions of Armd Car WEs in use over 1940-41.

    The Nov 1940 version (I/1931/5F/1) was based on three Sqns, each with 18 armoured cars, which could be Daimler or Humber types, with three in Sqn HQ and five Tps of three cars each. RHQ had four more cars, and HQ Sqn had an Intercom Tp with 12 scout cars. Total 58 armoured and 12 scout cars.

    Then in Aug 1941 there was a new WE issued (I/44/1) which was based of four Sqns. Each Sqn HQ had four armoured cars and five Tps. Each Tp had two armoured cars and two scout cars, plus two motorcycle combinations and two motorcycles. RHQ had four armoured cars and the Intercom Tp 15 scout cars. Total 60 armoured and 54 scout cars.

    I have done some minor digging into the Armd Car Regts in the ME, and from what I recall as of 1942 the RAC units were based on three Sqns and 58 armoured cars. 1 KDG arrived in the ME with 2nd Armd Div in early 1941, so prior to the four Sqn WE being issued, meaning they were likely on the three Sqn format. Re C Sqn having 29 MHs in Tobruk, that may have been a linked to them being on garrison, it is greatly in excess of what I would expect myself.

    From a post over on Axis History Forum these were the Armd Car Regts I reckoned served in the Middle East.

    Middle East (North Africa)

    11th Hussars (Prince Albert's Own) - mostly as part of 7th Armd Div
    12th Lancers (Prince of Wales's Own) - mostly with 1st Armd Div
    1st Royal Dragoons - mostly non-Div, spells with 1st and 10th Armd Divs
    1st Kings Dragoon Guards - ex 2nd Armd Div, mostly non-Div
    Household Cavalry Regiment - spells with 10th Armd Div, also in Cyprus and Syria
    2nd Derbyshire Yeomanry - mostly with 8th Armd Div

    I don't know if there's a definitive list somewhere that gives them all.

  9. Neil W

    Neil W Member

    Thanks very much again Gary for the time you have graciously spent researching and replying. Cheers,

  10. DavidW

    DavidW Well-Known Member

    I don't know if there's a definitive list somewhere that gives them all.

    Add to that list.....

    4th South African Armoured Car Regiment.

    7th South African Recce Battalion. (Equipped with armoured cars).

    3rd South African Recce Battalion (As above).

    6th South African Armoured Car Regiment.

    2 Sqds of the 13th Duke of Connaughts own Lancers.
  11. Neil W

    Neil W Member

    adding to this thread...

    I'm looking for details of the War Establishments for late 1941 Light and Heavy Anti Aircraft Batteries and Regiments in North Africa - at the time of Crusader (Nov-Dec 1941).

    Any help gratefully received!


  12. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    The Mobile LAA Battery (40-mm) in 1941 under ref II/1931/7B/1 (and also I/1931/6C/1) was organised as;

    Battery HQ - 2 officers, 33 ORs, with 5 solo m/c, 2 cars, 2 15-cwt trucks and 3 3-ton lorries, with 1 LMG and 1 atk rifle
    Three Troops, each - 2 officers, 80 ORs, with 5 solo m/c, 1 15-cwt truck, 5 3-ton lorries, 4 light AA tractors, with 4 40-mm LAA guns (towed), 1 LMG and 1 atk rifle.

    Total 12 40-mm guns per Battery, with 4 LMGs and 4 atk rifles for local defence.

    This was the Battery for use with field units, in the above instance primarily Infantry and Armoured Divisions. I don't have the WEs for Heavy AA until 1943, but I believe they were on the same general format of 8 3.7-in guns in two Troops of four each in 1941. RA AA units encompassed mobile and semi-mobile types, and the above example was the mobile variety.

  13. Neil W

    Neil W Member

    That's great. Thanks very much Gary.


  14. Neil W

    Neil W Member

    further adding to this thread...

    does anyone have information on how many other weapons, e.g. Bren guns, 2 inch mortars etc. a field artillery battery was supposed to have about the time of Operation Crusader?


  15. Aixman

    Aixman War Establishment addict Patron

    War Establishment II/7A/3 A Field Regiment R.A. was effective from 12.03.1941 to 14.09.1942 and valid for divisional field regiments. No special field regiments or batteries could be found for Middle East (volume VI).

    Each Battery Headquarters
    4 Officers
    74 Other Ranks
    10 Pistols
    18 Rifles
    2 A.A. L.M.Gs.
    2 A.-Tk. Rifles

    Each Troop Headquarters
    3 Officers
    25 Other Ranks
    6 Pistols
    18 Rifles
    1 A.A. L.M.G.
    1 A.-Tk. Rifle

    No weapons in the gun sections other than 2 25-pr. guns.
  16. Neil W

    Neil W Member

    That's great! Thanks very much.


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