British Infantry Division
|Div HQ||Comd (in staff car with Comd RA & Comd RE)(s3), Signals Veh(s3), 1 Rifle Stand (s3) (can be in carrier)|
|Div Cav Regt||3 Recce stands (s1-3), (1light Tk,2 Carriers) (total strength 3)|
|Inf Bde HQ x 3||Comd (s3), Rifle stand (s3) (defence Platoon)|
|Inf Bn x 6-9||Comd (s3), 3-4 Rifle Stands (s3), VickersMMG (s3), 3″Mortar (s3), ATkRifle (s3) (Boyes or later PIAT)|
|Arty Fd Regt x 3-4||FOO (s1), 18pdr (s3) + limber (s3) (or 4.5″howitzer, or 25pdr)|
|Anti-tank Regt||1-4 2pdr Gun (s3) + Limber (s3) (later 6pdr)|
|Engineer Bn||2-4 Engineer Stands (s3), 1-2 Trucks (s3) +optional Br Trailer (s3)|
|RASC Bn||1 Ammo Truck (s3), 1 POL Truck (s3),1 Supply Truck (s3), 3 RMP (s1)|
|RAMC Fd Ambulance||1 Ambulance Vehicle (s3)|
British Armoured Division
Commander in Staff Car or Tank (s3) [Tac HQ]. Morris Signals Van (s3), 0-1 Defence Company (s3) [Main HQ].
Divisional Reconnaisance Regiment
1-2 Armoured cars (s3)
Brigade HQ x 2-3
Commander in Staff Car or Tank (s3)
Armoured Regiment x 4-6
1-2 Tanks (s3) (See notes below)
From right to left above: An A11, A13 and Crusader, all 2Pdrs.
A Matilda II (Left) and Valentine Infantry Tank (Right). Both 2 Pdrs.
Motor Rifle Battalion (North Africa)
Comd (s3), MMG (s3), 2Rifle (s3) may have AT Rifle capability, 2pdr Atk (s3), 3″ Mortar (s3), 1-4 Trucks or Carriers (s3) (1-2 big trucks or 2-4 little ones)
Artillery Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (RHA)
FOO (s1), 18pdr (s3) + limber (s3) (or 4.5″ Howitzer, later 25pdr), Bofors 40mm AA (s3) + limber (s3), 2pdr (s3) +Limber (s3) (may be portee) (later 6pdr)
The Morris with the cut-down cab is a 20mm model pretending to be a larger 15mm truck, and the Bofors has been borrowed by an American crew this week.
A 6 Pdr Anti Tank Gun (introduced April 1942 to North Africa) Battery, towed by a Universal Carrier
Engineer Regiment Royal Engineers (RE)
2-4 Engineer Stands (s3), 1 Truck (s3) + optional Bridge Trailer (s3)
Logistics Companies: Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) and Royal Corps of Transport (RCT)
1 Ammo Truck (s3), 1 POL Truck (s3), 1 Supply Truck (s3), 3 RMP (s1)
Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) Field Ambulance
1 Ambulance Vehicle (s3)
In the Western Desert, the terrain was ideal for armoured operations. In early 1940 A9s to A13s were to be seen, together with MkVIs, Valentines and Matilda IIs.
Three Squadrons of Mk VIs with a company of Motorised Infantry racing off to annoy the Italians!The British suffered early on in North Africa from not mixing enough supporting infantry in with their armour. A 1940 Armoured Division comprised 2 Armoured Brigades with no organic infantry, and only two Motor Battalions grouped into a Support group with a Royal Horse Artillery (RHA) Regiment.
Crusaders, Honeys, Grants, Shermans and Churchills were introduced as they became available. Failure to learn that Axis anti tank guns were the main tank killer cost the British dearly, early on, but they compensated by having excellent artillery and ground to air coordination as the war progressed. In Europe the mix of infantry increased to one Brigade to two Armoured Brigades with sufficient artillery engineer and logistic support.
I have not specified what sort of tank should be used in the Orbat as this changed as the war progressed. I use a mix of whatever tanks that I have.
The terrain in Asia did not lend itself to large armoured operations, but tanks provided excellent service supporting infantry, and where they met Japanese armour, they proved themselves superior. The Plains of Burma during the capture and seige of MEIKTILA (1) probably saw the largest concerted use of British armour, with 255 Tank Brigade (see Below). Stuarts and Grants were the mainstay in Burma. In Asia, armour tended to be spread out as infantry support, as the opposing Japanese armour posed relatively little threat. The information below is quoted verbatim from Units in Burma (2)
Armoured Brigades [In Burma]
150th Regiment, Royal armoured Corps (raised from 10th battalion York and Lancaster Regiment)
- 7th Armoured (Spring 1942)
- 50th Indian Tank
- 254th Indian tank
- 255th Indian tank
- 254 Tank Brigade had two Regiments of Lee/Grants + one Regiment of Stuarts.
- 255 Tank Brigade was composed of two Indian Cavalry Regiments, Probyn’s Horse and Royal Deccan Horse. Indian Troops
- Probyn’s Horse 1 squadron each of Punjah Mussulmen, Sikhs and Dogras.
- Royal Deccan Horse 1 squadron each of Punjah Mussulmen, Sikhs and Jats.Armoured Indian Regiments that fought in Burma
- 5th King Edward VII’s Own Lancers (Probyn’s Horse)
- 7th Light Cavalry
- 9th Cavalry (Royal Deccan Horse)
- 11th Light Cavalry (Prince Albert Victor’s Own) Frontier Force(PAVO)
- 16th Light Cavalry
- 19th King George V’s Own Lancers
- 45th Cavalry Armoured British Regiments that fought in Burma
- 3rd Carabiniers
- 7th Queen’s Own Hussars(Spring 1942)
- 2nd Royal Tank Regiment(Spring 1942)
- 25th Dragoons (raised from 3rd Carabiniers)
- 116th Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps (raised from Gordon Highlanders)
- 146th Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps (raised from Duke of Wellington’s Regiment)
- 149th Regiment, (raised from a battalion King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry)
(1) Allen L. (1984) Burma. The longest war 1941-45. London: Phoenix Press.
(2) Webb A. (1996) Units in Burma. Available at: http://www.wolftree.freeserve.co.uk/Burma/Burma.html [Accessed on 7th May 2012]