British Airborne Division

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The British 1st Airborne Division is a British playable unit in Post Scriptum.

The British 1st Airborne Division traces its roots back to late 1941 when it was created in response to British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill's, call for a British airborne fighting force. In September 1944 the British 1st airborne division along with the attached 1st polish parachute brigade took part in Operation Market Garden. They landed roughly 97 kilometers behind enemy lines with the objective to capture the river crossings on the River Rhine leading into Germany located near Arnhem. Eventually the division was surrounded, with mounting causalities and dwindling supplies the division would finally make its retreat, later returning to England having failed to capture the bridge head and surrounding area. The division never fully recovered from the losses sustained during the battle in Arnhem for the remainder of the war, however they would eventually participate in Operation Doomsday in may 1945. They were disbanded in November 1945.

Being airborne troops, the 1st airborne division lacked the large amount of armor, artillery, and supplies other units like the 9th and 10th SS Panzer divisions (Waffen SS) had at their disposal and would come into contact with in Arnhem. And though the British XXX Corps, under command of lieutenant General Brian Horrocks, was tasked with supporting the paratroops they were not able to give enough support to maintain control of the bridge. The out numbered and lightly equiped British paratroopers occupying the area around the bridge were eventually neutralized and/or captured. this would eventually lead to the failure of the operation for the British forces.



Here is a list of equipment used by the 1st british airborne divison compiled by Arnhemjim

[https://arnhemjim.blogspot.com/2017/07/detailed-list-of-arms-and-equipment-of.html?showComment=1534141750515#c6675137439859185495 Detailed List of the Arms and Equipment of a British Airborne Division Circa 1944 ]


BRITISH AIRBORNE DIVISION CIRCA 1944

(Divisional Standard Table of Basic Allowances)


Pistol, Colt, .45cal Self-loading M1911A1, Enfield, .380cal No.2 Mk I* or Inglis Browning, 9mm, No.2 MkI* (Inglis only after Fall 1944) (2,942)

Rifle, Lee-Enfield .303cal, No.4 Mk I or MkI* (limited No.4 Mk I (T) Sniper) (7,171)

Machine Carbine, Sten Mk V, 9mm, MkII, MkIII, (but predominately) MkV, (6,504)

Light Machine Gun, Bren Mk III, .303cal (966) **

Medium Machine Gun, Vickers, .303cal, Mk I ( Vickers machine gun )(46) *

Medium Machine Gun, Vickers, 'K', .303cal ( Vickers machine gun )(22)

Grenade, Hand, Anti-tank, Gammon Bomb, No.82 (unk)

Grenade, Hand, Anti-tank, Hawkins, No.75 (unk)

Grenade, Hand, WP Smoke, No.77 (unk)

Grenade, Hand, Mills Bomb, No.36M Mk I (unk)

Grenade, Hand, Offensive, No.69 (unk)

Camouflet Set, Light (Cratering charge) (unk)

Mortar, 2in M.L. Mk VII* or VIII ( 2 inch mortar )(474) **

Mortar, 3in M.L. Mk II ( 3 inch mortar ) (56) *

Mortar, 4.2in M.L. Mk II mortars ( 4 inch mortar ) (5)

Projector, Infantry Anti-Tank ( PIAT ) Mk I (535) **

Gun, Anti-aircraft, Polsten, 20mm No.2 MKII (airborne) guns Mounting, Airborne, 20mm Gun No.2 Mk2 or Hispano, Oerlkon license (23)

Flamethrower, Ack Pack (Marsden Portable) (38)

Howitzer, Pack 75mm M1A1 Carriage M8 (27) **

Ordnance, QF 6-pounder Anti-tank Gun Mk IV (L/50) Carriage Mk III (Airborne) (84) **

Ordnance, Q.F.,17pdr Anti-tank Gun Mk II Carriage Mk II (16)

Wireless Set, No.68P (man-pack) (15+spares)

Wireless Set, No.22 (vehicle borne) (13+spares)

Wireless Set, No.19HP (unk)

Wireless Set, No.65 (unk)

Wireless Set, No.76 (5+spares)

Wireless Set, SCR-536 BC-611 (TRX) (unk)

Wireless Beacon, Eureka/Rebecca, Mk 2 (unk)

Light Warning Set (Radar), AMES, Type 2 (2)

Parachute, Personnel, GQ, X-Type Statichute (unk, but in the thousands)

Stretcher, Airborne (unk)

Bicycle, BSA Standard, Mk V (1,907) **

Bicycle, Airborne, Folding (1,362) **

Motorcycle, Lightweight, Royal Enfield WD RE light ("Flying Flea") or Matchless G3L (529) *

Motorcycle, Solo, Triumph, Model 3 SW, James ML or Ariel, Model W NG (704) **

Motorbike, Lightweight, Welbike (unk)

Jeep (Jeep Willys), 5 cwt (various configurations including (22) armed units of the 1st AB Recce Sqn) (904) **

Miscellaneous Cars (115)

Scout Car, Daimler “Dingo" (25)

Carrier, Universal, Mk III (Airborne) (Bren Carrier) (25) **

Ambulance, Heavy, 4x2, Bedford MI (24)

Truck, 15 cwt, General Service, 4x2 (129)

Lorry, 3 ton, 4x4, Troop Carrier or Lorry, 3 ton, 4x2, Bedford OYD (438)

Truck, Humber FWD, 4x4, Heavy Utility (unk)

Tractor, Artillery, 30cwt, Morris C.8/AT Mk III (26)

Cruiser Tank, Cromwell, Mk IV, V, VII (6th AARR) (11)

Light Tank, Mk VII Tetrarch and Locust M22 (11)

Trailers (935)

Trolleys (Handcarts) Fixed wheel and collapsible (450) **

Tractor, Light, Bulldozer, International or Caterpillar, 5 ton, (3)

Tractor, Crawler, Gasoline, Light, Airborne, Bulldozer, Clark CA-1


The above list should be considered the best, most comprehensive, and most accurate. It takes precedence over all other lists of arms and equipment contained in the entirety of this blog, regardless of date of issue. As it does not apply, it does not take precedence over lists of personnel. In the event of any further additions or corrections, they will be reflected in modifications to this list.


Footnotes:

Double asterisks (**) reflect an increase from other or previously cited documentation. Single asterisks (*) reflect a decrease from other or previously cited documentation.


At some limited variance to the above list, is a published British Army Staff Table (dated 1944) of an Airborne Division, which was personally transcribed handwritten, and provided to me by Maj Geoff G. Norton, very early in my then developing interest in Operation Market Garden. Unusual then, even more so this day in age. At the time (1974), Maj Norton was a serving officer of the Parachute Regiment, and Curator of the Airborne Forces Museum, then located at Aldershot, Hampshire.


Readers can probably understand that differences in the numbers can be attributed to both the delay cycle in wartime publication (security and priorities) and the evolving requirements of the Airborne Forces gained from combat experience. The first list, while citing 1944, obviously reflects much later historical research.

Here is Maj Norton's list as conveyed (It did not include any quantities on rifles, Sten guns or pistols);

Bicycles 1806

Bicycles (folding) 1162

M/C Solo 601

M/C Lightweight 587

M/C Combination 41

Cars 5 cwt (jeeps) 693

Handcarts 15

Carriers, Universal 9

LMG (Bren) 701 (+ 60 Pool Reserve)

Mortars 3” 88

Mortars 2” 451

MMGs (Vickers) 48

PIAT’s 258

6 pdr ATk guns 56

75mm guns 24

17 pdr ATk guns 16


The following photographs are of some of the more specialized and unique equipments used by the airborne divisions:



Light Tank, Tetrarch Mk VII


Tetrarch - Light Tank Mark VII.jpg



Cruiser Tank, Cromwell Mk VII


Cromwell mk 7.jpg



Morris C.8/AT Mk III (Airborne configuratiomn) used to tow 17 pdr Anti-tank Gun


Morris C8 AT Mk III Airborne.jpg



Tractor, Crawler, Gasoline, Bulldozer, Clark CA-1


Bulldozer 1 clark CA 1.jpg



The following photograph, with acknowledgement to The Daily Telegraph, presents the annotated kit of a representative lance corporal of the 1st Parachute Brigade, 1st Airborne Division, at the Battle of Arnhem 1944.


Military kit through the ages (Mod) copy.jpg



1.Parachute, Personnel, GQ X-Type Statichute and Harness

2. Denison Smock and over (jump) smock

3. Toggle rope

4. Battledress blouse, Pattern 37, with wrist watch and dog tags placed on sleeves

5. Individual Soldier's Service/Pay Book

6. Braces, trousers, pair

7. Gators, web, pair

8. Socks, pair

9. Ammunition Boots, pair

10. Gloves, wool, pair

11. Wallet, leather

12. Shield (Veil), face, camouflaged (scarf)

13. Battledress trousers, Pattern 37 (Airborne modified), colorless shirt, undervest, underpants

14. Haversack, Pattern 37, with mess tin, mug, water bottle, two 24 hour ration kits

15. Kitbag, Parachutist, Mk II, with handling line and sleeve

16. Shovel (in kitbag)

17. Cutlery, “Housewife”, spare boot laces, wash towel

18. Entrenching tool head

19. Haft (handle) for entrenching tool

20. Ammunition pouches, Universal, Pattern 37, pair

21. Web belt and braces, Pattern 37

22. 9mm Machine Carbine, Sten MkV and cleaning kit (below)

23. Bayonet, No.4 Mk II, with scabbard (and Frog, web, airborne)

24. Pocket loading tool for Sten

25. Magazine, Sten, 32 rounds of 9mm ammunition (28 rds usually loaded)

26. Bandoleer, web, with 7 magazines for Sten

27. Cigarettes, matches, playing cards

28. Haversack, Respirator, Lightweight, Mk II

29. Grenades, Hand, No. 36M Mk I and No. 69

30. Fighting knife, Fairbairn-Sykes, with scabbard

31. Cape, gas, in roll

32. Respirator (gas mask), Lightweight No.5 Mk I

33. Ointment, anti-gas

34. Hood, anti-gas

35. Eye shield, anti-gas

36. Ground cloth, with sewing kit/thimble from “Housewife” on top

37. Beret, maroon (“Red”), Airborne Forces, with Parachute Regiment cap badge

38. Torch (flashlight)

39. First field dressing

40. Helmet, Steel, Airborne, Troops (HSAT) Mk I, leather harness/chin cup, camouflaged netting


References:

Norton, Maj G.G. (personal correspondence), Airborne Forces Museum, Altershot, Hants., 6 April 1974

Joslen, Lt. Col. H.F., Orders of Battle, Second World War,1939 -1945, Her Majesty’s Stationary Office, 1960

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