Companion to the British Army 1939-45
Seven more were raised during the war. There were twenty regular Indian regiments of infantry including the Burma Rifles and ten Gurkha regiments. Before the war, all the Indian regiments had at least two battalions, and most had more. The Gurkha regiments had two battalions each. During the war, the Gurkha regiments raised a further two battalions each, while the Indian regiments raised up to fifteen each. Two further regiments the Assam Regiment and the Burma Regiment were created during the war. In May , agreement was reached between the British and Indian governments over the formation of another five infantry and one armoured divisions, which became the 6th , 7th , 8th , 9th , 10th infantry and the 31st Indian Armoured Divisions.
In March , the Indian government revised the defence plan for India. Concerned with what the Japanese were planning and the requirement to replace the divisions sent overseas, seven new armoured regiments and 50 new infantry battalions were needed for five new infantry divisions that were formed: With the fall of Singapore in , about 40, Indian soldiers were captured. They were given a choice; 30, joined the Indian National Army.
With the previously formed divisions mostly committed overseas in , the army formed another four infantry divisions 23rd , 25th , 28th, 36th and the 43rd Indian Armoured Division. The 36th Division uniquely, was created as a British Indian Army formation, but was formed from British brigades that had reached India from the Madagascar campaign and from Britain. The final division formed in was the 26th Indian Infantry Division , which was hastily formed from the various units in training or stationed near Calcutta.
After the perceived poor performance in battles in Malaya and Burma in , it was decided that the existing infantry divisions were over—mechanised. To counter this, the 17th and 39th divisions were selected to become light divisions, of only two brigades which would rely more on animal and four-wheel-drive transport. By December , agreement was reached that India should become the base for offensive operations. Support should be in place for 34 divisions, which would include two British, one West African, one East African and eleven Indian divisions, and what was left of the Burma Army.
The plans for included the formation of another infantry division, an airborne division and a heavy armoured brigade. Only the 44th Indian Armoured Division was formed, by amalgamating the 32nd and 43rd Armoured divisions. A committee was set up in to report on the readiness of the army and suggest improvements. To assist in the jungle training of the infantry from July , the 14th and 39th divisions were converted to training divisions. An infantry battalion would spend from four to six months with the brigade, before being sent to the front to replace a tired battalion in one of the fighting divisions.
The planned 44th Indian Airborne Division was finally formed from the 44th Armoured Division, leaving the 31st Armoured as the only armoured division in the army. The success of the th Brigade in training for jungle warfare was recognised. From May , th Brigade trained units destined for the Fourteenth Army and th Brigade , which was converted from the Risalpur Training Brigade, trained units destined for the Southern Army.
Infantry divisions consisted of three infantry brigades, of three infantry battalions. Usually, one battalion in each brigade was British and two were Indian or Gurkha. Four brigades were raised consisting entirely of Gurkha battalions. Later in the war, as British infantry reinforcements became more scarce, particularly in the South East Asian Theatre, British battalions in brigades fighting in Burma were replaced by Indian units. In a division with a standard MT Mechanical Transport establishment, the divisional units were a reconnaissance unit provided by a mechanised cavalry regiment, and a heavy machine gun battalion armed with thirty-six Vickers machine guns.
Indian Army during World War II - Wikipedia
Each regiment of the Indian Army raised a machine gun battalion in addition to its infantry battalions. The divisional artillery consisted of three field artillery regiments with twenty-four pounder guns each, one anti-tank regiment with forty-eight anti-tank guns and one light anti-aircraft regiment with up to fifty-four light anti-aircraft guns.
There were three engineer field companies and one engineer field park company, plus signals, medical and transport units. There were variations on the infantry formation, depending on role. The light divisions 14th, 17th and 39th as formed in had only two brigades and lacked much heavy equipment. Transport was provided by six mule and four Jeep companies. This type of division was later dropped. The anti-tank and light anti-aircraft regiments were replaced by a single regiment, with two batteries each of anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns. The divisional reconnaissance unit was replaced by a lightly equipped infantry battalion.
Another standard infantry battalion provided the HQ Defence unit.
It was intended to form an armoured division in the plans for , and However, the Indian armoured formations suffered from a lack of equipment. The shortage of tanks in was reflected in the organisation of 31st Armoured Division, which first had one armoured and two motor brigades. At the end of , this was changed to two armoured and one motor brigade. In June , the division's establishment was fixed as one armoured and one infantry brigade.
The surplus armoured brigades 50th , th , th and the th became independent brigades and served in the Burma campaign. The 50th Independent Indian Parachute Brigade was formed on 29 October , with the British st Parachute Battalion , nd Indian Parachute Battalion and rd Gurkha Parachute Battalion, a medium machine gun company and a medium mortar detachment.
The st Battalion was later renumbered as the th Battalion and returned to Britain and another Gurkha battalion th was formed, but had not joined the brigade when it was heavily involved in the Battle of Sangshak in March The headquarters of the 44th Indian Armoured Division was converted in April , to 9th Indian Airborne Division , which was renamed the 44th Airborne Division a few weeks later. It absorbed the 50th Parachute Brigade, and later two brigades from the disbanding Chindit force  The division now consisted of the 50th, 77th Parachute Brigades and 14th Airlanding Brigade , two field artillery regiments, two anti-aircraft regiments and a joint anti-aircraft and anti-tank regiment.
The Royal Artillery still provided some of the artillery required for Indian Army formations, but the Indian Regiment of Artillery had been formed in , initially consisting of four horse—drawn batteries. Three anti—aircraft brigades were formed from the four heavy anti—aircraft artillery regiments and five light anti—aircraft artillery regiments created. The Indian Engineers were a part of every division in the army.
The engineers corps started the war with two army troops companies, 11 Field Companies and one field park company.
Indian Army during World War II
Expansion during the war took the totals of engineers to; five army troops companies, 67 Field companies, six independent field squadrons, 20 field park companies and two independent field park squadrons. The Women's Auxiliary Corps was formed in May ; recruits had to be a minimum age of 18 years and their duties were clerical or domestic. In December , the minimum age was reduced to 17 years and 11, women had enlisted by the end of the war.
Those on General service could be sent to serve anywhere in India. Indian women at the time did not mix socially or at work with men and a large part of the corps was formed from the Anglo—Asian community.
The Indian States or Princely states provided , men during the war. The Chindits named after a mythical beast, statues of which guarded Burmese temples were the brainchild of Brigadier Orde Wingate , who intended that long-range penetration raids behind enemy lines would become the main effort against the Japanese in Burma.
In , they staged a much larger operation which involved disbanding the 70th British Infantry Division , Its three brigades together with three more brigades were grouped as Special Force and referred to for cover purposes as 3rd Indian Infantry Division. Chindits were in fact ordinary infantry units arbitrarily selected for the mission on the basis of their availability.
There was no commando, airborne or other selection procedure,  although there was some "weeding out" of less fit personnel during training for operations. The Chindits were disbanded in February It controlled British and Commonwealth land forces stationed in the eastern Mediterranean. The Fourteenth Army was a multinational force comprising units from Commonwealth countries, many of its units were from the Indian Army as well as British units and there were also significant contributions from 81st , 82nd and 11th African divisions.
It was often referred to as the "Forgotten Army" because its operations in the Burma Campaign were overlooked by the contemporary press, and remained more obscure than those of the corresponding formations in Europe for long after the war. The Fourteenth Army was the largest Commonwealth Army during the war, with nearly a million men by late At various times, four corps were assigned to the army: Mostly a British formation used on internal security and for units out of the front line. The 19th Indian Infantry Division was one of its units from to Just before the declaration of war, one Indian infantry brigade was sent to reinforce the British garrison in Egypt.
In October , a second brigade was sent; they were grouped together as the 4th Indian Infantry Division. It resulted in British and Commonwealth forces pushing across a great stretch of Libya and capturing almost all of Cyrenaica, , Italian soldiers, hundreds of tanks and artillery pieces and more than 1, aircraft with very few casualties of their own. Operation Battleaxe 4th Indian and 7th Armoured in June had the goal of clearing eastern Cyrenaica of German and Italian forces; one of the main benefits of this would be the lifting of the Siege of Tobruk.
The operation did not succeed losing over half of their tanks on the first day and only achieved victory at one out of three thrusts. On the second day, they achieved mixed results, being pushed back on their western flank but repelled a significant German counter-attack in their centre. On the third day, the British narrowly avoided outright disaster by successfully withdrawing just prior to a German encircling movement which would have cut them off from retreat. The initial plan was to destroy the Axis armoured force before advancing its infantry.
Rommel's subsequent advance of his armoured divisions to the Axis fortress positions on the Egyptian border failed to find the main body of the Allied infantry, which had bypassed the fortresses and headed for Tobruk, so Rommel had to withdraw his armoured units to support the fighting at Tobruk. Despite achieving some tactical successes at Tobruk, the need to preserve his remaining forces prompted Rommel to withdraw his army to the defensive line at Gazala, west of Tobruk, and then all the way back to El Agheila.
By May , their 11th Brigade had returned attached to the 5th Indian fighting south of Tobruk. Pugilist itself was indecisive and failed to make a decisive breakthrough. It did, however, establish an alternative route of attack and thus laid the ground for Supercharge II, an outflanking manoeuvre via the Tebaga Gap. By 19 August, the British and Indian battalions were evacuated to Aden.
British ground losses were 38 killed, wounded, and missing, compared to Italian casualties of killed, 1, wounded, and 34 missing. From February to April , the Indian 4th and 5th Infantry Divisions took part in the Battle of Keren ,  By the end of the campaign, the Italian forces had been cleared from Eritrea and Abyssinia , of them becoming prisoners of war.
In , forces were required to participate in the Anglo-Iraqi War, to safeguard the overland supply route to the Soviet Union. In August , the Indian 8th and 10th Infantry Divisions invaded southern Persia to secure the oil installations. From the south, two battalions from 8th Divisions 24th Indian Brigade making an amphibious crossing of the Shatt al-Arab , captured the petroleum installations at Abadan. The Pai Tak position was taken on 27 August after the defenders had withdrawn in the night; the planned assault on Kermanshah on 29 August was aborted when the defenders called a truce to negotiate surrender terms.
After hostilities had ended, the 2nd Indian Infantry Division , 6th Indian Infantry Division and 12th Indian Infantry Division all remained in the region on internal security duties. The garrison held out for 18 days before being forced to surrender.
As in Egypt, the Indian Army dispatched one infantry brigade to Malaya just before the start of the war. The 45th Brigade fought the Battle of Muar 14—22 January, of the 4, men in the brigade only survived the battle. The Battle of Singapore 31 January — 15 February ended with the capture of 9th and 11th Indian Divisions and the 12th, 44th and 45th brigades and 55, Indian servicemen were made prisoners of war.
The battalion, which numbered about 1, men, was commanded by British Lieutenant Colonel C. Some men of the battalion were killed or captured in the defence of the airfield before the fall of the city to the Japanese on 24 December The men continued to resist the Japanese in the dense jungle of southern Borneo until 1 April, when they finally surrendered.
Arthur Percival , GOC Malaya, later called their resistance "a feat of endurance which assuredly will rank high in the annals of warfare. It says much for the morale of this fine battalion that it remained a formed and disciplined body to the end. At the same time, the 9th Division was sent to reinforce Malaya, in the spring of , an infantry brigade was sent to reinforce Burma followed by a second brigade later in the year.
The 17th Division held the Japanese at the Bilin River for two days of close-quarters jungle fighting. The Japanese tactics were to outflank, and eventually with encirclement imminent, they were given permission to fall back. The Japanese suffered heavy casualties during the battle, but the Allied forces were too weak to hold the oil fields and had to retreat to the north. The fighting retreat to India, was successfully completed in May just before the monsoons would have cut them off.
The Arakan Campaign , which began in December , conducted by what at the time was an improvised formation 14th Indian Infantry Division was a failure. The average British and Indian soldier was not properly trained for fighting in jungle, which together with repeated defeats adversely affected morale. Panzer IV vs Sherman. The Tank Commander Pocket Manual. Airborne Assault Vol 2. M3 Infantry Half-Track — German Infantryman 1 — Allied Special Forces Insignia Omaha and Utah Vol 3. We March Against England. US Army Infantry Divisions — The British Army —45 1.
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Chi ama i libri sceglie Kobo e inMondadori. Companion to the British Army —45 by George Forty.
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