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War Establishment - Canadian infantry battalions in Korea

January 15 2017 at 4:52 PM
Michael Dorosh 

Are there any good sources re: subj establishments (i.e. the three Canadian infantry battalions in Korea 1951-53)? Does anyone have any info they'd like to share?

 
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Dan Martel

Re: War Establishment - Canadian infantry battalions in Korea

January 15 2017, 8:04 PM 

Mike,

What would you like to know? None of the info I have is from published sources, but from documents I've had copied from LAC and DHH.

During 1951, the three battalions in Korea had an establishment of 959 (39-920) broken down into a battalion headquarters, a headquarters company, a support company and 4 rifle companies. Rifle companies had 137 (5-132) divided into a company headquarters of 17 (2-15) and three platoons of 40 (1-39).

By 1954 the battalion establishment in Korea was 946 (39-907) organized as above. The rifle company had one person less in the company headquarters.

There's a breakdown of a British Army infantry battalion in Korea in an appendix in Fortune Favours the Brave by AJ Barker, if you can find a copy. It was re-released by Pen and Sword in 2009.

If you have any specific questions just ask.

Cheers,
Dan.

 
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Michael Dorosh

Great start

January 16 2017, 7:42 AM 

Great info, thank you. I guess I'm wondering what kind of firepower/combat power the battalion
had.

I found the book on amazon and am reading it now with the online Kindle application. Great info in the appendix - is this accurate, then, for Canadian establishments?

I am guessing the infantry platoons did not differ substantially from World War II - three 10-man sections with a Sten, Bren, and 8 Lee Enfields? Did platoon headquarters still have a light mortar and a PIAT? Did the U.S. 60mm and Bazooka replace the older weapons?

I am guessing Vickers guns were on the establishment, in Support Company?

Did the official establishments recognize the adoption (official or unofficial) of U.S. small arms/support weapons? I'm thinking of stuff from the M1/M2 carbine up to the Browning .30 and .50 calibre guns.


    
This message has been edited by dorosh on Jan 16, 2017 7:49 AM


 
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Dan Martel

Leading From the Front by Harry Pope

January 17 2017, 9:08 AM 

Michael,

For a good analysis of the use of rifle company weapons as used by the Canadian infantry in Korea have a look at Leading From the Front by former R 22e R officer Major William Henry 'Harry' Pope, son of Lt Gen Maurice Arthur Pope.

Harry Pope served in Italy in the Second World War and in Korea as an infantry officer. He reserves a part of his book for his analysis of how to properly use rifle company weapons in the defence in Korea. You may find it helpful.

Cheers,
Dan.

 
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Dan Martel

Canadian Army Transition Team

January 22 2017, 11:54 AM 

Michael,

On 19 Feb 1951 the Canadian Army Transition Team (CATT) put forward An Appreciation of the Re-Organization of the Infantry Battalion and Infantry Brigade HQs which essentially was a discussion of whether the Canadian Army should adopt US Army (USA) weaponry and organization on the assumption that USA organization was not suitable for Canadian purposes. (I know that seems contradictory but that's how the opening paragraph reads).

In short, the Appreciation recommended that, with the exception of the Support Company, Canadian Army brigade and battalion organization be retained but with American weaponry in lieu of the current British pattern. The CATT felt that the USA Heavy Weapons Company (with the addition of the Battalion HQ Company's Ammunition and Pioneer Platoon) be implemented to replace the Canadian Army Support Company. This change would replace the 17-pdr anti-tank gun with the 75mm recoilless rifle, replace the 13 Bren guns in the Carrier Platoon with 4 MMGs, and eliminate the carrier from the organization.

On 9 Apr 1951 the CGS (Lieutenant General GG Simonds) issued a letter to the Corps Directors and the DSD directing that "revised establishments will be prepared in accordance with the general principles approved:
a) Units will remain organized as at present and will adhere to present operational doctrine.
b) USA weapons and equipment will be introduced on a one-for-one basis where exact counterparts exist.
e) Where an opportunity is offered, and where it can be done without affecting organization or employment, equipments will be so selected that the Canadian organizations will achieve a degree of numerical conformity with comparable USA Army organizations.
f) Present Canadian principles of administration, maintenance and repair will continue to apply."

On 30 Apr 1951 the CATT put forward the establishments as prepared by the Corps Directors. The proposed infantry battalion establishment (957 (38-919)) retained complete Canadian Army organization (including the Support Company) but was equipped with American weaponry. (The exception was the pistol 9mm which was retained but the Gun Sub Machine cal .45 would be adopted.) In a letter to the CGS the Chairman of the CATT recommended the adoption of the establishments which had been prepared in accordance with his (the CGS's) principles.

Unfortunately the file from which I obtained this information did not contain a copy Simonds order to adopt and implement the Chairman's recommendations, but from what we know of how the Canadian infantry battalions for Korea and NATO were equipped, I think it's safe to assume that the recommendations were adopted.

So as the 25th CIB was arriving in Korea the impetus to adopt American weaponry had already been undertaken by Army Headquarters (AHQ). I think that this order was what allowed Brigadier Rockingham to purchase Sherman tanks to replace the Archers after the Brigade arrived in Korea, and to replace the 17-pdrs with 75mm recoilless rifles. At some point 3.5-inch rocket launchers, 60mm and 81mm mortars replaced the PIATs, 2-inch and 3-inch mortars. Rifle companies also received the .30 cal machine gun, but I don't know if the Vickers was replaced by the M1917A2 .30 cal or not.

Cheers,
Dan.

 
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Michael Dorosh

Very interesting

January 22 2017, 6:31 PM 

Still waiting for my copy of Pope to arrive. Did purchase the British book you mentioned, and am making my way through the official history Strange Battleground. Very hard to find decent detail, so appreciate this.

 
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Dan Martel

Korean War Rifle Platoon

January 22 2017, 3:57 PM 

Michael,

There was no change to the rifle platoon and only one small change to the rifle company headquarters with regard to personnel throughout the war. While I don't have a copy of the actual war establishments used I have been able to determine the numbers through manuals, staff officer training data and other documents I have found.

The Handbook of War Establishments published in Nov 1950 provides the infantry battalion war establishment for E/RCIC/3/2. It shows a total strength of 956 (38-918). The rifle company has a strength of 137 (5-132) divided into a company headquarters of 17 (2-15) and three rifle platoons of 40 (1-39). All the weaponry identified is British pattern (PIATs and 2-inch mortars). It should be remembered however, that this handbook was published only as an aide to those officers studying for staff exams and was not an authority other than for training or examination.

The Weekly Strength Returns for 25 CIB from Jan 1951 to Jan 1952 show that for this period the establishment strength for all three infantry battalions was 959 (39-920) however the war establishment number is not provided. (Without going into details the difference in the strength of the establishment provided in the Handbook (956) and the establishment given here (959) is that battalions in Korea were allotted an officer for welfare duties along with a batman, and that there was now an extra 'other rank' in the administrative platoon.)

The Canadian Army Manual of Training 7-45 Infantry Section Leading and Platoon Tactics 1954 gives the breakdown of the rifle platoon in detail. The platoon headquarters consists of a platoon commander (a subaltern), a platoon sergeant, a 60mm mortar team of three lead by an NCO, an orderly (what the Americans refer to as a runner) and the commander's batman (who is allotted the wireless set No 88). Everyone is equipped with a rifle and bayonet except for the mortar No 1 (carries the mortar and has a pistol) and the batman (machine carbine). Only 28 mortar bombs are carried, 18 smoke, 6 high explosive and 4 III (I believe it's a misprint for Ill short for illumination).

Now the rifle section is interesting, having one more rifleman than the 10 man section of the Second World War. The second paragraph under platoon organization reads "It must be realized that the platoon will seldom fight at a battle strength with sections of more than 1 NCO and 7 privates owing to casualties, left out of battle personnel, etc." In fact the chart in the manual 'Suggested Organization Within the Platoon at Battle Strength' shows it operating with 8 man sections with a section commander, 5 riflemen and a Bren group of 2. The section was not organized to fight with 11 men, but contained that cushion to keep it up to a battle strength of 8. The section commander was armed with a machine carbine, the 7 rifleman with a rifle and bayonet, and the Bren group with a Bren gun and 2 rifles and bayonets. With an 8 man section a total of 19 Bren magazines were carried, 12 high explosive grenades and 4 smoke grenades. (No matter what the 'carry' amount is, in a defensive posture as the Canadians were during the War the numbers of bombs, bullets and grenades available would have been unlimited.)

The company anti-tank weapon was the 3.5-inch rocket launcher of which there were three located in the rifle company headquarters. These weapons were allocated to the individual platoons as needed and it was up to the platoon to provide the two trained riflemen to operate them and carry the rockets. The company headquarters also had a fourth 60mm mortar which could be allocated out or operated at the headquarters, as required. Again, a trained crew would need to be obtained. Harry Pope, in his book, relates how he operated his company's mortars in battery, that is all four were located with, and under the direct control of, the company headquarters.

From photographic evidence of the War the Lee-Enfield and the Bren gun remained the rifle section's weapons throughout the War. However we've all seen the use of carbines in those same photos so I would suspect a lot of American weaponry was used whether official or otherwise. I'm also sure I've read of Canadians using .30 cal machine guns, both water and air cooled versions, but I can't recall where. Definitely American mortars, rocket launchers and recoilless rifles were obtained and became an official part of the war establishment.

Cheers,
Dan.

 
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Michael Dorosh

Extra rifleman

January 22 2017, 6:33 PM 

I am reading that the brigade recruited a couple thousand extra soldiers for reinforcements, and with the exception of a brief shortage of francophone replacements, the brigade never wanted for men.

I presume the LOB system from the world wars was practiced, and seems to be what you're alluding to above?

 
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John Sliz

Engineers in the Brigade Group

January 23 2017, 1:02 PM 

Did this apply to the engineers as well?

 
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Dan Martel

Reinforcements

February 5 2017, 2:41 PM 

Guys,

(First, sorry for the delayed response.)

Correct, 25 CIB never lacked for reinforcements, although it took a lot of effort from the Army to ensure that this was so. All of details on the reinforcement situation can be found in Strange Battleground. Essentially the Army bet on a short war, and lost. Add to this the fact that the Government promised a Division to the NATO Integrated Force with a Brigade to be in Germany, along with a need to maintain an Airborne Brigade in Canada as its part in the Canada-USA defence force.

I can't speak to the 11-man rifle section being designed with LOB in mind, but it would have certainly made keeping a minimum of 8 men per section a lot easier.

As for the Engineers, I don't have anything other than the book referenced above, which deals with the reinforcement situation in general and not by Arms specifically. I do know the Engineer squadrons were big. In 1954 they were 300 (10-290) men strong.

Wish I could help you more.

Cheers,
Dan.

 
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