Writing unit numbers with Arabic and Roman numerals

Discussion in 'Historiography' started by Chris C, Jul 3, 2019.

  1. According to the Pamphlet "24th Lancers" is the correct full title to use, but "24L" is not the authorized abbreviation. "24 L" is ;)
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  2. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    Just thought this might be interesting to some here. Following twitter chat on whether corps should be referred to with Roman numerals, the fellow behind the Crusader Project blog wrote about it with reference to primary material:

    Editorial Note – Numbering/Naming Corps and Units
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  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Cheers for that.
    Missed it before.
    I always thought it was arabic numerals for a Division , Roman numerals for a Corps , the number as a word for an Army.
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  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I think my idea in the post above comes from when I was reading alot more books on The Great War, here's an extract from The Guards Div history.
    Units denoted as I mentioned above.
    First Army in words
    XI Corps in Roman numerals.
    3rd Cavalry Division in arabic numerals.

    Attached Files:

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  5. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    I'd kind of made up my mind to just use simple numerals everywhere but I got some reader feedback very much in favour of suffixes. Fortunately thanks to good search features in Scrivener revising this has not been as bad as I feared.

    (On the other hand, having looked through more books, the simple date format of "23 June" looks to be very widely used now. I admit though, that when I looked at Barrie Pitt's western desert books, I actually like "June 23rd".)

    Now that I'm writing 21st Army Group that is starting to feel more natural. 8th Army seems kind of weird and now that I'm seeing how folks here suggested writing the word out, I think I'm more comfortable with changing to that to Eighth Army. :)

    Where I'm feeling a bit stuck is with Corps. I guess because of the practice of using Roman numerals like VIII Corps, I'm used to saying "eight corps" to myself in my head. So writing "8th Corps" seems a bit weird. On the other hand, it seems wildly inconsistent to be writing 21st Army Group and 43rd Division but 8 Corps. Does "8th Corps" read well? When you see "8 Corps" or "VIII Corps" on the page, what do you think?
  6. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    As noted in the article on my blog, I am using 13 or 30 Corps, and it feels very natural because that is what I see in all reports and communications from the time. I managed to get away with that in my article here: A reassessment of the tank battle between 4th Armoured Brigade and Panzerregiment 5 during Operation Crusader in North Africa on 19 November 1941 | Scientia Militaria - South African Journal of Military Studies although the (excellent) editor made me use 8th Army and 4th Armoured Brigade throughout. Not my preference but improves readability for the brigades and regiments in particular.

    Ultimately, a point many people just didn't get, you need to do what your editor/publisher/PhD supervisor insists you do. That's the right way for your publication.

    It's just important to be aware that the use of Roman numerals for Empire force Corps in WW2 is mostly anachronistic. The predominant and indeed official use was of Arabic numerals, silly claims by popular historians notwithstanding.

    All the best

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  7. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    Hi Andreas,

    Yes, I got convinced by all the discussion to at least not to use Roman numerals despite the number of "cough cough* popular historians still doing so.

  8. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    Well at least I can note that having a Twitter spat in which a 'popular' historian quote-tweeted me for a pile-on got me the highest number of hits on the blog until the day I left Twitter.


    All the best

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