THE INFANTRY (RIFLE) BATTALION
MILTARY TRAINING PAHPHLET
Part I – ORGANIZATION AND CHATACTERISTICS,
THE CARRIER PLATOON
CHAPTER 1 – ORGANIZATION
1. The battalion
1. The battalion consists of headquarters, headquarters company, and 4 companies each of 3 platoons each of 3 sections.
2. Included in battalion headquarters is the intelligence section of 1 officer 1 serjeant and 6 men.
3. On the strength of headquarters company there are: -
No. 1 (signal) platoon
No. 2 platoon – 4 L.M.Gs. for A.A. and ground defence.
No. 3 platoon – two 3-in. mortars.
No. 4 (carrier) platoon – 10 Bren carriers organized as headquarters and 3 sections each of 3 carriers.
Weapons – 1 Bren per carrier and 1 anti-tank rifle per section of 3 carriers.
No. 5. (Pioneer) platoon.
No. 6. (Administrative) platoon.
Each company has four 15cwt. trucks, one for each platoon and one for company headquarters. In addition there is one 8 cwt. truck for company headquarters. Weapons comprise on rifle and bayonet per man, 1 Bren per section, one 2-in. Mortar and 1 anti-tank rifle per platoon. In each platoon headquarters there are two men for the carriage of the mortar and its ammunition.
4. The number of platoons has been decreased from 4 to 3, to give the company commander greater control. For a similar reason there are now only 3 sections in the platoon.
2 The signal platoon
1. The signal platoon provides the means of intercommunication from battalion headquarters to:-
i. Headquarters of companies and the mortar platoon.
ii. Supporting machine guns and artillery.
iii. Battalion on left.
iv. Special detachments within the battalion, i.e.,battalion intelligence O.P. if required.
v. Brigade headquarters. This is limited to the provision of a signaller and instrument at the battalion headquarters end of the brigade line, and motor cyclist orderlies.
2. Intercommunication within companies is provided by company runners.
3. The equipment of the signal platoon includes 8 miles of cable, field telephones (including fuller phones), visual signalling equipment and R/T sets, which can be carried on man-pack. The personnel comprise a signalling officer and 27 other ranks, including 5 orderlies.
4. The signal platoon had the following transport:- Eight bicycles –5 for signalers, 3 for orderlies. Three motor cylces-1 for serjeant, 2 for orderlies, One 8-cwt. GS truck-signalling officer and 2 signalers one 15-cwt. GS truck-signalling equipment.
5. Signal Training (All Arms) 1938, sec. 147, deals with the tactical employment of infantry (rifle) battalion signalers.
3. The anti-aircraft platoon
The A.A. platoon consists of 4 Bren L.M.Gs., each carried complete with its detachment in a 15-cwt. truck. The trucks are fitted with central “Motley” A.A> mounting and carry also an anti-tank rifle.
The platoon commander, and one other rank for intercommunication within the platoon, ride motor cycles.
The platoon is intended for the air or ground defence of battalion headquarters or generally as a mobile reserve.
4. The mortar platoon
1. The mortar platoon is a reserve in the hands of the commanding officer for allotment where additional fire power is required. The two mortars can operate separately.
In attack, mortars may be placed under the orders of forward companies or retained to support action by the battalion reserve. Their role will be to work well forward and engage targets beyond the range of the 2-in. mortar, or which require greater weight of shell, in conditions where rapid and accurate artillery support is impossible. In defence its main role is to support counter-attacks of all sorts. It may be used for harassing fire, if sited well forward and with alternative positions; or for denying some particular piece of ground which cannot be covered by the fire of other weapons.
5. The carrier platoon
1. The characteristics of the carrier are as follows:-
i. It is bullet proof against rifle fire on the same level, but the crew is vulnerable to fire from above, or when the carrier is on a forward slope. It is, therefore, a partially protected vehicle only.
ii. It can move fast across good country, but will be stopped by trenches, by any obstacle which is a tank obstacle, and by many which are not. There will be occasions, therefore, when it will be unable to follow tanks forward. Good ground scouting will always be necessary.
iii. The L.M.G. detachment, consisting of two men, cannot be expected to do more than keep the gun in action, either in the vehicle or on the ground. Once in action the detachment has little or no power to protect itself by observation, and is, therefore, very vulnerable to a quick attack by one or two determined infantrymen. If an isolated position has to be held for any length of time the three detachments in a section must be sited to provide mutual support. Carriers cannot carry out mopping-up operations.
iv. the period of dismounting from the carrier and getting into action is one of considerable danger to personnel and vehicle. Dismounting must be carried out under cover and very quickly. The carrier, once the L.M.G. is dismounted, is entirely vulnerable, and must either withdraw to the cover of other troops or must be concealed close to the L.M.G. and under cover.
v. The fire power of the carrier platoon is considerable, and the platoon should for short periods be able to hold a front varying from 500 yards to 1,000 yards according to the depth in which it is disposed. But as shown above, gun detachments are very vulnerable unless protected from flank and rear.
i. The L.M.G. can give as effective fire from 400 yards as from closer up. There is no need to move close in to a target to gain fire effect.
vii. From these characteristics the tactical employment of the carrier may be deduced. It must be remembered that the carrier is not a light tank; it is an armoured machine designed to convey the L.M.G. from place to place and from which the L.M.G. can be fired if necessary.
6. The pioneer platoon
1. The pioneer platoon will be specially trained in the following duties:-
i. Anti-gas duties including-
Anti-gas reconnaissance and marking. The fencing off of small contaminated areas. The laying of an improved surface of timber, brush-wood, etc. on contaminated tracks within the battalion area. Gas proofing of rooms. Constructing and operating a field gas-cleansing centre, when necessary. N.B. – Decontamination of vehicles is the responsibility of drivers.
ii. Field defences. – Work requiring some degree of trade skill or handiness with tools, such as –
Loopholes for sentries and snipers.
Improving buildings for defence
Simple splinter-proof and weather proof shelters
Construction of concertinas and knife-rests
Gas-proofing of dug-outs, fixing gas curtains
Repair and sharpening of tools
iii. Obstacles –
Removal of obstacles.
The construction of A.F.V. obstacles of a solid nature, requiring the use tools,
either alone or with assistance from rifle companies.
Conversion of partial into complete obstacles.
The handling of ground bombs.
iv. Camp services – Temporary sanitary arrangements, covers for cooking (for protection against spray), etc.
v. Anti-tank mines
Personnel of pioneer platoons will be so trained that they are able to supervise the arming, fusing and laying of anti-tank mines by the remaining personnel of their battalions.
7. The administrative platoon
The administrative platoon consists of the quartermaster, transport officer, armourers, fitters, storemen and personnel for officers’ mess and water and sanitary duties. All are carried in M.T. Stores carried include: reserve ammunition, clothing and anti-gas capes, petrol and miscellaneous technical stores.
8. The rifle company
(This section must be read in conjunction with those chapters of Infantry Training 1937, which deal with the rifle company in the various type of operation.)
1. The platoon is the unit on which infantry tactics are based. If infantry are to be able to fight their way forward, largely with their own fire power, this will demand of the troops skill in the use of ground and correct appreciation of how to apply all the available fire power to penetrate between the localities held by the enemy and so force him to surrender. During the advance, sections must be equally prepared to assist each other or to use their fire power to assist their own advance. Sections must not become split up and so out of their commander’s control.
It must be very clearly understood that the task of the section is to get on to its own objective, and that although it may have to take up a fire position, such position is only a temporary one taken up until the opportunity to advance occurs or until the fire of the light machine gun is no longer required in the task it is performing.
The 2-in. mortar is immediately available under the hand of every platoon commander and replaces the rifle grenade. Its range is up to 500 yards, and it throws a 2-lb bomb. The H.E. effect is double that of the Mills grenade and the smoke bomb produces an extremely efficient local smoke screen.
2. In defence immediate and co-ordinated arrangements must be made for the sitting of L.M.G.s so that mutual support of defended localities is ensured and the position made ready to repel a sudden enemy attack. Consolidation after an attack is also merely a form of defence, and the above principles equally apply.
3. L.M.G.s in forward positions will never be on fixed lines, but will be given arcs of fire covering the main approaches to their position. This must be done immediately when the position is occupied. At night, or in conditions of bad visibility where the main approach is narrow, it may be possible to employ these forward guns most suitably by firing from the tripod and covering the approach by sweeping through the arc of fire provided by the mounting. In this connection it must be remembered that the use of smoke by the enemy is always probable and therefore, arrangements should be made for using the gun from the tripod as soon as possible.
4. Guns which are defiladed and protected from the front will be given arcs of fire and fixed lines, so arranged that should one gun go out of action there is another covering the same or almost the same ground from a different position, so as to provide mutual support between localities. This, again, is the first task which should be undertaken in a defensive position, and it is the duty of company commanders to coordinate these arcs and fixed lines within the company. Within battalions, and with units on the flanks, this coordination is the responsibility of the battalion commander.
5. The defensive wire in front of every forward post must be covered by the fixed line or arc of a neighbouring post. All fire directed on wire obstacles so as to prevent the enemy cutting or penetrating them, will be aimed at the bottom of the wire. Light machine guns on flanking tasks must be protected from the front. the riflemen of their own sections not required for magazine filling will be responsible for this protection.
6. The platoon commander must site his section posts so as to fulfill the requirements of his company commander’s orders; he must be prepared in order to obtain enfilade and defilade to site his sections fairly far apart, but he must ensure that he can keep control, i.e. that he can reach his sections during battle without undue exposure.
7. The anti-tank rifle will be sited in each platoon to cover the most likely approach to the platoon area. In exceptional circumstances the three rifles may be grouped under the company commander for special task.
9. Deployment of the battalion
1. An infantry battalion moving within effective range of the enemy’s artillery will be forced to deploy to avoid casualties. A drill which will enable a battalion to deploy into suitably open formations, and still remain under control is given in Appendix A.
2. A battalion must continue to advance deployed for as long as possible and resort to the use of its own weapons to get it forward only when further progress is impossible.
10. Weapon training
1. The light machine gun is the principle infantry weapon and all men must be trained to a high standard in its use.
2. The must not lead to neglect of the rifle, which should not be regarded as solely for the personal protection of the individual. training in the use of the rifle is the basis of other weapon training, and the men in a really well trained section should be as proficient with the rifle as they are with the light machine gun.
3. The battalion snipers are under the intelligence officer. Primarily they must be expert shots and scouts, but they should also be trained as observers to supplement the work of the intelligence section.
CHAPTER II. THE CARRIER PLATOON (signals and drill for use by carrier platoons are given in Appendix B.)
11. The carrier platoon in the attack
1. The more important tasks which nay be allotted to carriers in the attack are:-
i. Close co-operation with infantry alone.
ii. Close co-operation with infantry and infantry tanks.
iii. Protection of flanks.
2. Close co-operation with infantry alone
When a carrier section is placed under command of a rifle company, the section
commander in his carrier will usually advance by bounds and on an axis laid down by the company commander.
The remaining carriers may advance at the same time or may be left farther to the rear. The decision will depend on the cover available on each bound and the role in which the carriers are likely to be used. Should they be required to move to a flank, the move too far forward on the axis of the company advance may prejudice the best line of advance to flanking positions.
If the section commander advances without his remaining carriers, they must remain within visual communications with him.
Throughout this period. reconnaissance and appreciation of the ground by both the company commander and the carrier section commander must be constant. Points to be looked for are likely carrier positions, line of advance and obstacles to movement.
During the advance, the company commander may realize that one or more of his leading platoons are held up by fire from an enemy centre of resistance. If only one platoon is checked, he may decide to move forward his carriers in the wake of the other platoon to positions from which they can bring fire to bear on the enemy from the flank or rear and so enable the advance of the whole company to continue.
On other occasions the carrier section may be sent wide to a flank to a position from which flanking fire against enemy resistance may be employed. Carriers may also be sent for a similar purpose in advance of the company, provided there is good reason to believe that no enemy are holding the area to e occupied. To reach such positions may involve crossing bullet-swept areas which could only be crossed by infantry on foot with heavy casualties.
3. Close co-operation with infantry and infantry tanks.
i. Outline of attack
In an action in which infantry tanks are to be used, it follows that the enemy defences will usually be strong. There will be trenches and wire, and an organized system of anti-tank defence, including tank-proof localities containing anti-tank weapons.
In its advance, therefore the tank has to pick its way through the obstacles, deal with machine guns where it can get at them, and neutralize tank-proof localities by fire as far as it an in the face of superiority of the stationary gun over the moving tank.
Even though tanks succeed in penetrating into the enemy’s position, tank-proof localities will still remain holding out, and these, until they can be dealt with in detail, must be neutralized by other arms, either by bullets or by smoke,
Unless additional covering fire is readily available to assist the tanks in neutralizing these localities, the thank advance may be very difficult.
An attack of this type will often be limited to a depth of about 1,000 yards and infantry tanks will move in more than one echelon, the leading echelon going straight through to the objective.
ii. Employment of the carrier
In this type of attack the characteristics of the carriers will not allow them to follow tanks closely. There will, i fact, be many occasions when the obstacles will prevent carriers moving forward at all. Carriers cannot race up behind tanks, nor can they operate in an area unprotected by tanks or other troops in circumstances in which enemy localities which are still holding out can engage them on the move or while in the vulnerable dismounting period. But once in action the dismounted portion can look after themselves for short periods provided sections work as a team.
The most suitable method of employment in a tank attack, therefore, is to move the carriers well forward in the second echelon of tanks to fire positions, previously selected if possible, from which they can cover the area being traversed by the leading echelon of tanks, thereafter to move from fire position to fire position protected by the tanks of the second echelon. This may imply support at ranges up to 500 yards or more, and it may mean that in an attack to a depth of 1,000 yards the leading echelon of tanks will be unsupported. As the gap between the two echelons closes, the carriers can move forward in the same way under cover of the neutralizing effect of the first echelon.
As regards the move on to the final objective, the carrier platoon cannot relieve the tanks on the objective; they cannot “take over” since they cannot be expected to keep an area subdued in the same way as the tanks. Their task on the final objective will be to protect the tanks against fire from localities still holding out, and from beyond the objective.
The selection of the position to be occupied, dismounting places and rallying points for carriers must be carefully pre-arranged and cannot be left to chance.
In an attack in which infantry tanks are co-operating, therefore, the role of the carrier platoon, provided the ground permits of it moving forward, is to advance from fire position to fire position in order to give close support to tanks moving ahead of the infantry. This implies in the first instance close support against anti-tank weapons disclosing themselves within the area of attack and on the flank of the attack, and subsequently support against weapons located beyond the objective. In an attack in which the leading echelon of tanks moves direct to the final objective, the carrier platoon cannot be expected to accompany this echelon, but must move protected by the tanks of the second echelon. As the infantry with the second echelon of tanks approach the final objective, carriers may go forward to the objective to engage anti-tank weapons located beyond it. Plans will vary in accordance with circumstances, and no stereo-typed method can be contemplated.
4. Flank Protection
Flank protection consists not only in stopping enemy counter attacks, but also the neutralization of enemy fire coming from the flank. Efficient performance of this task depends mainly on good observation.
This task will therefore as a rule be carried out by ground action, the carriers later moving from bound to bound or direct to prearranged areas.
Carrier platoons and sections employed on this task may be placed under command of forward file companies, or given an independent task direct under battalion control.
The closest co-operation with forward fire companies should be maintained, and carrier platoon and section commanders should make full use of their carriers for keeping contact.
On reaching an objective there will, as a rule, be some measure of disorganization, and it is then that the attacking troops are most vulnerable to immediate counter attack. The actual objective reached may not be the best ground on which to consolidate. The process of consolidations will therefore include the reconnaissance and organization of the position for defence, re-organization of troops, replenishment of ammunition, etc. Carriers will often be most valuable to cover consolidating troops during this most difficult period.
If the ground is not suitable for carrier action they may be used to bring forward ammunition, mortars, and entrenching tools for consolidation.
12. The carrier platoon in defence
1. The tasks which may be allotted to carriers in defence are :-
i. With the outposts
ii. To provide a mobile reserve of fire power.
iii. To support counter-attack.
iv. To five depth to the defensive fire of the battalion.
2. Carriers are suitable for employment with outposts troops as by day, they can be established forward of the outpost line and so give early warning of the enemy’s approach. They should be withdrawn by night.
3. A mobile reserve of fire power will enable the battalion commander to support hard pressed localities, stop gaps, and obtain surprise by fire from unexpected directions. Careful prior reconnaissance by all ranks of the carrier platoon will be necessary, to ensure an intimate knowledge of the battalion area.
4. In support of local counter-attacks, carriers may be employed to provide supporting fire from previously reconnoitered positions or used as described in Sec. 11, para. 2. Again previous reconnaissance and intimate knowledge of the ground by all ranks of the carrier platoon is necessary.
5. The carrier platoon should rarely be employed in the static role of increasing the depth of the position, unless guns so allotted can also be available as a mobile reserve. At night, or in fog or mist the L.M.Gs. of the carrier platoon can by means of the tripod, be laid on fixed lines. If the carriers themselves can be concealed close at hand, then it may be possible for the two roles-the provision of depth and a mobile reserve-to be linked.
1. The carrier platoon may be used to take over and hold tank obstacles already gained by other mobile troops. It can also provide detachments for use with road blocks and for A.A. defence.
2. In a withdrawal, the carrier platoon forms a most suitable sub-unit for the holding of an intermediate position through which rear parties finally withdraw, whether the action takes place by day or night.
By day, carriers can by utilized best with rear parties. Their armour and mobility enable them to remain in position to the last moment and then slip away.
DRILL FOR DEPLOYING A BATTALION
1. Deployment will be carried out at the double unless otherwise ordered. Orders to deploy may be given either by voice or by signal, as show in Infantry Training, 1937, Sec. 30.
2.Battalion deploying from column of route The battalion commander gives the signal “deploy.” On this companies will move out in column of route to form a square the side of which are approximately 400 yards; battalion headquarters taking up a position in the centre.
The leading company will move forward and out to the right until it is approximately 400 yards ahead of the third while the second company moves forward and out to the left, until it is roughly on the same alignment and at 400 yards interval form the first company.
Meanwhile the third and fourth rifle companies will move straight out at right angles to right and left respectively, until they are at 400 yards interval from each other.
3. Company (or platoon) deploying from column of route The commander gives the order by voice or signal “Deploy.” On this command platoons (sections) move out to form a triangle. Company (platoon) headquarters will take up a position in the centre. The leading platoon (section) moves forward, the second out to the right and the third out to the left. The sides of the triangle will be roughly 200 yards and 50 yards between platoons and sections respectively.
Once a company platoon is deployed, platoon (section) commanders become responsible for the formation and movements of their sub-units.
4. Closing of column of route On the “Close” signal being given, the battalion, or subunits, will resume the formation in which they were moving before receiving the order to deploy.