Author Topic: 2bn Support role?  (Read 4614 times)

SlouchHat

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2bn Support role?
« on: August 26, 2012, 01:21:15 AM »
Hello again everyone

I am making slow but steady progress investigating my grand-fathers wartime activities. But as I'm sure you all know tracking the actual whereabouts of even large contingencies of the Manchester Regiment 2nd Bn in WW2 is hard due to their 'support' designation. Anyhow my question is: in the India/Burma campaign would a Manchester company be assigned to one of the 2nd Division Brigades (4th, 5th or 6th) for the duration or would this be a fluid assignment whereby they would chop and change as circumstances arose? I would have thought that as the British Army likes to foster rivalries (positive ones) between Regiments, Divisions even Armies(!) then it would fit that once a Manchester Coy was assigned to a Brigade that's where they stay to train and understand the regiments they were with and ultimately foster that rivalry the British army likes.

What are your thoughts? I'm interested because I know my grandad was in 'B' company, and I know of a couple of occasions where 'B' company were DEFINITELY with 5th Brigade, but would they ALWAYS be with 5th Brigade?

As ever I look forward to your answers/comments   

Offline Pete Th

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Re: 2bn Support role?
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2012, 09:01:39 AM »
Hi slouchhat, the 2nd Bn were the machine gun battalion for the 2nd Division and, as such, I don't believe they were attached to a specific Brigade (although I'm quite happy to be corrected :)). They joined the 2nd Division on 11th November 1941 and remained with it until 31st August 1945.

Hope this helps (or at least generates some debate).

Pete
Remembering

Pte Sidney Lee (36719), 2nd Battalion, Worcestershire Regt - dow 18.02.17
Sgt Charles Roberts (13668), 11th Bn, Manchester Regiment - kia 18.05.18
Bombardier John Hesford (70065), 147th Heavy Battery, RGA dow - 04.09.18
Pte Sidney Lee (4131324), 8th Bn, Cheshire Regiment -  kia 12.03.41

SlouchHat

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Re: 2bn Support role?
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2012, 10:16:33 AM »
Thanks Pete

Maybe I'm missing something because in this forum in the "Short History of the Manchester Regiment" page it says:

"After four months' hard fighting, in which the Companies were, as usual attached to and fought with their respective Infantry Brigades ''B" Company entered Ava on the outskirts of Mandalay. During a month in the volcanic hills to the west of Mandalay and Meiktila, platoons from "D" and "A" Companies assisted the Royal Scots in one of the most skilfully planned and executed ambushes of the campaign. "

Which implies a closer association with a SPECIFIC Brigade, if this is the case my question is would this be permanent or could 'B' company swap with 'D' company as a need arose?   

Offline Robert Bonner

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Re: 2bn Support role?
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2012, 10:44:26 AM »
The 2nd Battalion's movements are detailed in Lieut-Colonel Rex King-Clark's two books:  The Battle for Kohima (Now out of print) and Forward from Kohima (Available from the regimental museum).

By March 1944 the Machine-Gun Companies had been under command of individual brigades for over a year, and it had been accepted that the companies should be brigaded for all operations  and operational training - A to the 4th Brigade, B to the5th and C to the 6th.  The remaining company - D, had already been placed under command of 36 Division and became an independent Machine-Gun Company with that division for the rest of the war.

This arrangement continued and it was only under special circumstances that platoons might be moved, temporarily, to help another brigade.
Robert
Robert

Offline Pete Th

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Re: 2bn Support role?
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2012, 11:19:14 AM »
Thanks Robert

SlouchHat, you have your answer  :)

One of the men I've interviewed recently said the following (Jan 45). He was in B Company:

"We got ambushed that’s, where the hell was that…, once, twice. Once outside Swaybo [?] and that’s where he got done, we were taking this place and we walked in and it was all low shrub like that, about this high you know, we was with the infantry out there, not behind like they used to be. When you stopped you always had to form a box, you’d have infantry and you’d have troops here, we helped on the corners, and you’d be attached to say the company of the Camerons today and perhaps be with them for a week or two, then the next time you’d be with a company of Worcesters, and Dorsets, you see machine gunners just going out with the infantry."

I hadn't realised until Robert's post that the Camerons (1st), Dorsets (2nd) and Worcesters (7th) were all in the 5th Infantry Brigade. It all makes sense now.

Regards
Pete
« Last Edit: August 26, 2012, 11:36:33 AM by Pete Th »
Remembering

Pte Sidney Lee (36719), 2nd Battalion, Worcestershire Regt - dow 18.02.17
Sgt Charles Roberts (13668), 11th Bn, Manchester Regiment - kia 18.05.18
Bombardier John Hesford (70065), 147th Heavy Battery, RGA dow - 04.09.18
Pte Sidney Lee (4131324), 8th Bn, Cheshire Regiment -  kia 12.03.41

SlouchHat

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Re: 2bn Support role?
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2012, 11:42:22 AM »
Many thanks Robert for clarifying that (I am still trying to track down that first book by King-Clark)

and Pete what you say fits in with what I read on the Vickers Machine Gun website, where a MMG company had no reserve in the Battalion, so whilst one of the 3 regiments would be taken off the front line and replaced with a 'fresh' regiment (e.g. Camerons replacing the Dorsets etc) the MMG had to stay constantly on the frontline and it took a great toll on them as you can imagine. Apparently (again according to the Vickers website) there were 2 systems for MMG Support regiments looks like the Manchester Regiment got stuck with the least favoured system - especially when you consider night attacks were the norm, they must have thought they'd never get a rest!

I'd like to know more about the interview, if your interviewee was in 'B' Coy he must have known my grandad. How many men in a MMG company? 30-40?

Thanks to both of you

Cheers
John     

Offline Robert Bonner

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Re: 2bn Support role?
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2012, 12:12:41 PM »
The total strength of the three company battalion in April 1944 at the battle for Kohima was 22 Officers,  6 Warrant-Officers, 584 NCOs & men.
( D Company was elsewhere.  This figure also  includes Bn HQ and technicians)

Each company comprised three platoons, each made up of two sections each of two Vickers machine-guns.

The average strength of a MG company was 5 officers, 1 Warrant-Officer, 163 NCOs & men.

12 Vickers per company.

Robert
Robert

SlouchHat

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Re: 2bn Support role?
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2012, 12:48:25 AM »
Apologies for the late reply, I live in Australia now so if there's a gap in communications it's because I'm asleep!

So with reference to Platoons/Sections etc the photos Barrie (haveacuppatea) uploaded in   
http://themanchesters.org/forum/index.php?topic=3937.0

titled "5th Platoon, B Company" being only 25-30 men, does this imply that this could be a 'section ' only as that fits the numbers Robert listed? Interestingly the second (informal) photo that Barrie uploaded has my grandad in it!!! And the family have the same photo. I've contacted Barrie to see if he has any more photos, but clearly his dad knew my grandad.

Also do you think the museum would have similar photos to that which Barrie uploaded for all 3 platoons (or all 6 sections)?   

Offline Pete Th

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Re: 2bn Support role?
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2012, 07:46:28 AM »

I'd like to know more about the interview, if your interviewee was in 'B' Coy he must have known my grandad. How many men in a MMG company? 30-40?

Thanks to both of you

Cheers
John     

Hi John, unfortunately Tom's not very well and hasn't been for a couple of months so it's difficult to ask. In the interview he only mentions one person by name and that was of a friend of his who was killed during an ambush. If you pm me your grandfather's name I'll ask his grand-daughter to make an enquiry.

Cheers
Pete
Remembering

Pte Sidney Lee (36719), 2nd Battalion, Worcestershire Regt - dow 18.02.17
Sgt Charles Roberts (13668), 11th Bn, Manchester Regiment - kia 18.05.18
Bombardier John Hesford (70065), 147th Heavy Battery, RGA dow - 04.09.18
Pte Sidney Lee (4131324), 8th Bn, Cheshire Regiment -  kia 12.03.41

SlouchHat

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Re: 2bn Support role?
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2012, 08:31:49 AM »
His name was Harry Rowbotham (known as 'Rowie'). No need to disturb the bloke or family as it's too much of a longshot. Amazing anyone's still around as my grandad died in the late 1970's!! It seems like from a different age but I suppose he was 31 when he joined up, so 18 year olds may still be alive.