in Spearhead

1939-45 British Infantry Battalion           Morale: Any            BR & CW

Battalion Headquarters, with:
HQ: 1-HQ Stand/Car
AA: 1-AA Platoon Stand/Truck
Recon: 1-Carrier Platoon
4 Rifle Companies, each with:
3-Rifle Stands/Truck(s)*
1 Support Company, with:
1-Pioneer (Engineer Rifle) Stand/Truck**
0 or 1-3" Mortar Stand/Truck***
0 or 1 or 2-Anti-Tank Guns/Trucks****

  • This TO&E replaces the Infantry Battalions in Infantry and Lorried Infantry Brigades (but not Motor Battalions in Armoured Divisions) found in the British Armoured and Infantry Divisions in the Spearhead TO&E book.
  • The Rifle Companies did not include integral trucks (*), these being provided from the Divisional Transport Pool. However British and Commonwealth Divisions in Europe and North Africa normally always included sufficient transport to move themselves as required, unlike other nations Infantry who were often genuine "Foot" troops. The most realistic representation of this transport would be a single truck stand carrying an entire Rifle Company (3 Stands).
  • From 1944 on the Pioneer (Engineer) Platoons of some Battalions in the Lorried Infantry Brigades of Armoured Divisions may have used M3 Scout Cars and M3 Half-Tracks for transport. [I have been unable to find definitive evidence of this being common].
  • Prior to mid-1941 there was a dearth of Mortars in British and Commonwealth units. Most units had only 1 or 2 actual Mortars (instead of the prescribed 6), and others hadn't even formed Mortar (Platoons). Before September 1941; Only 1 in 3 British Battalions should have a 3" Mortar Platoon (***), and 1 in 6 Commonwealth (Australian, New Zealand, Indian) Battalions. From Operation Crusader (North Africa, November 1941) all Battalions will normally have their 3" Mortar Platoon present.
  • No British or Commonwealth Infantry Battalions started the war with Integral Anti-Tank Platoons (****). Units were officially ordered to form them at the end of 1940 when the Brigade Anti-Tank companies were disbanded and absorbed into Divisional Anti-Tank Regiments.

    There was however a shortage of 2pdr Anti-Tank Guns at this time (in North Africa Divisional Anti-Tank Regiments were forced to use Bofors 37mm Anti-Tank Guns as a result). In 1941 British & Australian units formed integral Anti-Tank units with 1-2pdr Portéé Stand. By Mid-1942 New Zealand, South African, and Indian units had also formed these, again with 1-2pdr Portéé Stand. The 2pdr Portéé was used exclusively at this time throughout the British & Commonwealth Armies in all theatres. From August 1942 (after the 1st Battle of El Alamein) some Commonwealth Battalions adopted unofficial TO&Es of 2-2pdr Portéé Stands per battalion (8-10 actual weapons) - This was done in North Africa by Some Australian and South African Battalions (about 1 in 2), and by all New Zealand Battalions. Some South African Battalions also used obsolete 18pdr Field Guns (which had been discarded by the Divisional Anti-Tank Regiments) or very occassionally captured German 50mm PaK38 Anti-Tank Guns. Allow South Africans at 2nd El Alamein to replace 1 in 6 2pdr Portéés in their Infantry Battalions with towed 18pdrs. British and Indian Battalions retained 1-2pdr Portéé and New Zealand Battalions 2-2pdr Portéés until the end of the North African campaign. From mid-1943 on all British & Commonwealth Infantry Battalions are re-equipped with 1-6pdr Anti-Tank Gun/Quad (the towing vehicle was officially a variant of the same Quad as towed the 25pdr). However many units had other types of tractors and some may have still used 6pdr Portéés as had been used in North Africa by Divisional Anti-Tank Regiments. This remained the norm until the end of the war, except that from 1944 on Lloyd and Universal carriers increasingly replaced the Quad/Truck as the towing vehicle. Finally, in Italy from about February 1945 Integral Anti-Tank Platoons were disbanded, as they were of little use and there was a shortage of Riflemen - this was done in most British and Commonwealth units in that theatre.

Author: John Moher

AA Platoon
The AA Platoon is classified as a Crew Served Support Weapon, it does not use Infantry Anti-Tank Fire, but instead conducts AT fire normally. It uses the Infantry/MG/Infantry Gun fire priorities. It may move and fire and it should normally always accompany the BHQ stand.

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