The Infantry Battalions basic orbat was very stable although there was a fairly high degree of variation between units around a few areas of capability. The battalion sub units were:
- HQ Company
- 3 Rifle Companies
- Support Weapons Company
When deployed to fight the components of these would be mixed to produce task organised company groups and recce groups these might also include capability provided from other arms and services attached to the Battle Group.
HQ Company contained the Bn HQ, Supply, Motor Transport, Maintenance, Signals, Provost, Medical and Welfare functions as well as the Drums Platoon and Band. The Drums Platoon could provide 3 GPMG SF sections each consisting of 2 Guns. In addition up to 3 Snipper pairs and an Assault pioneer unit of up to 1 section could be held in the HQ company or in rifle companies or not exist depending on unit manning and the interests of key leaders.
The 3 Rifle Companies each contained a Company HQ and 3 Rifle Platoons.
- A Tactical HQ of 1 FV432 with the Company Commander and CSM.
- A Control HQ of 1 FV432 with the Company 2IC, 1 FV432 Ambulance which doubled as the company Aid Post and Company MT vehicle.
- A CQMS' Party with the Bedford and Land Rovers this provided the core resupply function, 1 of the landrovers was allocated to the Company Commander for Liaison and might also be used by the Company Seargent Major CSM.
The Rifle Platoons were transported by 4 FV432 all or none of the 432s could have the Peak L37 turret or some mix in between I think the scaling was 50%. The rifle platoon was organised as follows:
- The Platoon HQ included a 51mm light Mortar firing Smoke, HE and Illum. A Signaller, Runner, driver, Platoon Sergeant and Platoon Commander. There was spare capacity in the Platoon HQ vehicle, which might be used to transport attached SF GPMG sections or Snipers.
- There were 3 rifle sections of 9 men, including the driver, they were armed with 1 84mm MAW, a GPMG and SLRs with upto 6 M72 66mm LAW AT Rocket and a number of smoke Grenades and fragmentation grenades. MAWs may be left in the vehicle dependant on the situation, I tended to dismount 1 with the reserve but not with the assaulting sections.
Suport Company contained a Company HQ and 3 Support Weapons Platoons, Anti-Tank, Recce and Mortars, these were made up as follows:
The Milan Platoon contained a Pl HQ, 4 Milan sections and a Milan Mobile Section.
The Milan Section was transported in 3 FV432 and included:
- 2 Milan Detachments of 2 Firing Posts with the MIRA thermal imaging sight from 1985?
- The Section Commanders vehicle with 1 Firing Post, this was frequently treated as a spare and not deployed.
81mm Morters mounted in FV432, 3 MFCs in CVR(T) and Platoon Commander and Platoon warrant officer also in CVR(T).
The mortar line generally worked as 2 half platoon units each of 4 tubes which would provide a capability for always having at least 4 available for action. The limited range of the mortars 4000 - 5000m meant they had to work hard to stay in range, particularly during the advance. As the infantry companies and anti-tank platoon transitioned to Warrior this became very difficult.
The Recce Platoon of 8 CVR(T) Scimeter is covered in detail in an earlier post which you can find here.
On becoming a battle group and deploying on operations the Batttalion would re group forming sub unit groups. The likely composition of the battle group in terms of sub units is covered in earlier posts here and here. In general an Infantry battalion would form 3 Company groups although companies and or company groups could be detached to other units, a company group being a company and attached elements that are not part of its normal structure.
Company Groups. In general for mechanised and armoured infantry battle groups these consisted of the Rifle Company, and routinely a Milan Section an SF Section and a REME Recovery section containing an FV434 Repair and an FV434 Recovery (Warrior in Warrior units). In addition a Sniper pair might be grouped with the Company and an MFC or FOO. SF and Snipers might travel with Platoon HQs or with Milan Section Commanders. Milan could also be held centrally and SF and Snipers routinely deployed with Milan and Recce.
Task organisation would vary with Mission, a general grouping as described above would deploy the following assets:
- Coy Commander Group 1 FV432 Company Commander and CSM, 1 CVR(T) MFC, 1FV432 Forward Observation Officer.
- Coy 2IC Group, 1 FV432 Company 2IC, 1 FV432 Ambulance Company Aid Post
- 3 Rifle Platoons each 4 FV 432 and 3 Sections
- 1 Milan Section, 3 FV432 5 Milan firing posts, with GPMG SF section of 2 Guns and a Sniper pair
- 1 REME detachment 1FV434 Repair, 1 FV434 Recovery
- CQMS's Group 1 Land Rover, 1 Bedford + Water Bowser , in addition for resupply they would have grouped with them 1 Stalwart UBRE and 1 Bedford 8 Tonne Ammo truck. Fuel could also come packed (in Jerry cans) they would all return to the battle group echelon (supply group) once resupply was complete. The Company Commanders Rover would loiter somewhere, I was never quiet sure where.
so that gives us a total of 20 FV432, 2 Landrovers and 3 Trucks, 5 Milan, 9 Lt Role GPMG, 9 MAW, 54 66mm LAW, 3 Lt Morter, 2 GPMG SF, and 1 Sniper pair.
I intend to represent this with:
- 1FV432 with L37 Peak turret, deploying 8 Figures, including 1 MAW, 1 GPMG and some representation of 66mm
- 1 FV432 with 2 Milan, 1 SF Gun (only 2 in the unit) 1 Sniper (only 2 in the unit)
- 1 MFC or FOO wagon.
Additional Capability would be added to the Company's grouping under particular circumstances and the following equipments and organisations could also be found grouped with armoured infantry or mechanised companies. I will outline likely groupings in the advance, attack, reserve demolition guard and defence
- Royal Engineers; AVLB, AVRE, Field Section, CET,
- Armoured Corps; Armoured Squadron, Armoured Troop, ARRV
- Infantry: Recce Section
- RMP detachment,
- Royal Artillery Javaln Detachment
- Army Air Corps: AOP
Engineer assets such as AVLB, AVRE and CET might be attached in the advance to provide mobility support by creating and improving routes through laying bridges and breaching obsticals. The critical nature of the engineer assets together with there vulnerability and there relatively low speeds made protecting them and controlling there movement an important task, this could be covered by Infantry or Armour.
It was highly likely that the company would be grouped with a complete armoured squadron for the advance. The formation of a company squadron group would mean that the two organisations worked closely together and the command elements would move together along with the indirect fire controllers, who would lead would depend on circumstances and terrain. Troops and platoons could be cross attached but this was less frequent in the late 1980s and the 1990s.
In the Attack the Company was likely to be supported in detail by a troop of tanks whilst the rest of the Squadron provided fire support and sealed the objective from interference. This troop would provide Intimate support to the infantry as they fought through an objective, taking out and suppressing armour and strong points as they moved through an objective. This support could either be provided from in front, behind or to the flanks of the assaulting infantry.
Reserve Demolition Guards
For Reserve demolition guards the company might see a Javelin Section, RMP detachment, an ARRV and an RE Field section. The Engineers would rig the bridge and check the integrity of the firing circuits put the demolition in the correct state, safe and armed and of course blow it up when required. Javalin provided point defence of the target. The RMP would deal with civilians and traffic control and the ARRV would drag any breakdowns on the bridge off it.
In defence an RE Field Section, a CET, an additional Milan section. and Squadrons manoeuvring around the position could all be expected. The Engineers would help create obsticals and field defences these included:
- Minefields, both nuisance and tactical. These would be used to chanel and slow the enemy and would enhance natural obsticles such as rivers and embankments
- Route Denial, including cratering
- Creation of anti tank ditches
- Digging in of key assets, generally there were never enginers so they largely worked on the big jobs and were supported by the infantry in the more local tasks.
Often the purpose of the Infantry position was to provide a strongpoint from where Milan could take on the armour and around which the Squadrons could Manouvre.
I hope that has given you a feel for task organisation within the Battle Group, the principal equipment variations have been previously discussed and pretty much just replaced the fielded equipment but the impact on the war-games unit is as follows:
- Early 80s Battle Group will be as described with either Challenger or Cheiftain, Artillery will be Abbot, with Chieftain AVLB Centurion AVRE and CET. Infantry will be armed with SLR, GPMG and MAW.
- Late 80s Battle Group will replace the Battle Group HQ FV432 with Warrior along with the Rifle Companies FV432 L37 Peak Turret, Artillery will be M109, Tanks will be Challenger or Cheiftain Still brew, with Chieftain AVLB Chieftain AVRE and CET. Infantry will be either the same as the 80s or the same as the 90s battle group.
- Early 90s Battle Group will be Up Armoured Warrior for BG HQ, Rifle Coy, Milan and FOO, up armoured Challengers for the Armour and for Artillery I'll probably move to AS90 but could deploy M109 AS90 or Abbot, with Chieftain AVLB Chieftain AVRE and CET. Infantry will be SA80, LSW and 94mm LAW.
In addition I am aiming to be able to deploy the same figures in the UK home defence role, The BAOR reinforcement role, the Airmobile role and the Light role. The Orbats and major equipments vary but the core components remain the same.
ORBAT 1980s British Battle Group, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6
Encyclopaedia of the Modern British Army
BAOR in Reforger: Vehicles of The British Army of The Rhine in The Reforger Exercises 1975-91, Tankograd
Rats' Tales: Staffordshire Regiment at War in the Gulf,N Benson