Excues my ignorance , I am more at home with old aeroplanes. Whats bugging me is how many soldiers make up a platoon ?. How many of these are in a company, or a batallion ,regiment,brigade or Army. Or even whats a Corps ?
Do gunners and tankers have a different set of rules ?
And does the British system differ from the US Army as occurs in the Air Forces.
This is one of those 'how long is a piece of string' questions and the variations in numbers are huge. An infantry platoon normally has 30 soldiers (three sections of 10) and a company has 3 or 4 or 5 platoons. A battalion would have 3 or 4 or 5 companies ( 3 infantry, a support weapons one, hq unit etc) and so it goes on up the scale. A division is normally about 12,000 soldiers but the NZ division in North Africa got to about 26,000 at its best I think. A Corps would have up to 5 divisions to make it up. Tank and artillery units have lesser numbers of men. The make up really depends upon what the military leaders see as the most beneficial structure and size for the mission facing them and yes the numbers vary from country to country. The British system has generally served as the basic structure that everyone starts with ( they started with the 30 man platoon, 120 man company etc).
Post by Dave Homewood on Feb 26, 2014 22:59:39 GMT 12
In WWII the 2nd New Zealand Division in Italy got up to around 32,000 mean. The Division had eleven infantry battalions originally but between the Desert and Italian campaigns, No's 18, 19 and 20 Infantry Battalions were converted into Armoured Regiments, leaving 21 through to 28 Battalions as infantry (although No. 27 Battalion specialised as a machine-gun battalion. As well as infantry they also had units of armour, mortars, divisional cavalry, medical units such as field hospitals and field ambulance, engineers, army service corps, and B Echelon members who did all the paperwork, supply and other duties behind the lines.
The division broke down into three brigades, in this case the 4th Armoured Brigade (encompassing the three Armoured Battalions), the 5th Brigade and the 6th Brigade (these latter two splitting the infantry and other units between them).
Each battalion had four companies, A, B, C and D. I think A Company was usually the Headquarters Company. Usually in battle only two companies of any battalion at the most would be pushed into the front line, with the HQ battalion and the other battalion as reserve, and they rotated in and out to relive the front line troops.
Each battalion had 18 platoons at that time I think, split between the A, B, C and D Companies.
Each platoon had around 30 men plus a junior officer. As Chasper says, a platoon was three sections of 10 men generally. In that section there would be a bren gunner, riflemen and a couple of NCO's with tommy-guns.
In a platoon there was usually several privates, a few lance corporals, a couple of corporals, and a couple of lance sergeants (a rank no longer used) who were usually section leaders, plus a platoon sergeant who was responsible for all three sections and 2 i/c of the platoon under the officer who was a 2nd Lieutenant.
The three or four platoons in a company would come under a captain, or in some cases a major. And the battalion was run by a colonel.
The 2nd New Zealand Division was actually the largest Division in the Allied Armed Forces, because it had 10 battalions like a normal British Division but the added extra 28 (Maori) Battalion which bumped its numbers considerably over the usual quota.
Not many people realise either that when the 2nd New Zealand Division moved from the Sangro-Orsogna region on the Adriatic under the British Eighth Army control over to the other side of Italy to join the Fifth Army in 1944, it was merged with the 4th Indian Division and some British armoured and artillery units, to become the New Zealand Corps. The 2nd Div commander General Bernard Freyberg was promoted to become the New Zealand Corps Commander, and Colonel Howard Kippenberger was made a general and became commander of the 2nd Division (till he sadly had his feet blown off by a shu mine).
This is the only time that the New Zealand Army had a Corps strength. It only lasted a couple of months before they Corps was dissolved and the 2nd Div went back to the Eighth Army, having failed to fully take Cassino.