14th Army Battalion – Order of Battle in Crossfire

I’ve got both a Welsh and a Gurkha battalion planned for the Burma Campaign. So I thought I should get a clear idea of their order of battle for Crossfire. Information is scarce, particularly for the Gurkhas. George Forty, in his “The British Army Handbook, 1939-1945”, lumps all British and Commonwealth battalions, in all theatres, together under a single order of battle. This corresponds well with the Crossfire rules themselves, which have a single organisation for a “Great Britain: Leg Infantry Battalion (1939-’45)”. However, I have found the British and Commonwealth formations in Burma were similar to, but not identical to, units in other theatres.


Order of Battle

As I see it the order of battle, whether British, Indian, Gurkha, African, or Burmese, is:

British and Commonwealth Leg Infantry Battalion in Burma (1942-45)

  • 1 x Battalion HQ
    • 1 x BC (+1)
    • 1 x SMG Squad
    • 1 x Sniper Section: 0-3 x Sniper13
  • 1 x Battalion Support Company
    • 1 x FO for off-table 3″ Mortar
    • 0 or 1 x 6 Pounder ATG with optional Tow1
    • 1 x Pioneer Platoon deployed as one of:
      • 1 x Pioneer Platoon: PC (+1); 3 x Engineer Rifle Squads2
      • 1 x “Assault Platoon”: PC (+1); 3 x Assault Engineer Rifle Squads3
      • 1 x Assault Pioneer Platoon: PC (+1); 1 x Engineer Rifle Squad; 2 x Assault Engineer Rifle Squads4
      • 1 x Pioneer Assault Platoon: PC (+1); 2 x Engineer Rifle Squads; 1 x Assault Engineer Rifle Squad5
    • 1 x Carrier Platoon 6 deployed as one of:
      • 1 x Carrier Platoon: PC (+1); 4 x Rifle Squads14; 4-5 x Carriers7
      • 1 x Jeep Platoon: PC (+1); 4 x Rifle Squads; 0-5 x Jeeps8
      • 1 x “Fire Support Platoon”: PC (+1); 3 x Rifle Squads; 1 x HMG10
      • 1 x Recon Platoon: PC (+1); 4 x Recon Rifle Squads9
    • 0-1 x “Commando Platoon”: PC (+1); 3 x Rifle Squads15
  • 4 x Infantry Companies [A,B,C,D]
    • 1 x CC (+1)
    • 1 x HMG 11
    • 1 x On-table 2″ Mortar
    • 3-4 x Rifle Platoons: PC (+1); 3 x Rifle Squads16
    • 0-4 PIAT assigned to Rifle Squads12
  • Command & Control: Okay/British or Commonwealth
  • Morale: Regular

Notes:

(1) For one reason or another many battalions did not have a anti-tank platoon. Gurkha battalions never had an anti-tank platoon (Bevis, 1999). It was also common for British and Indian battalions to convert their anti-tank platoon to a transport function (Jemina Fawr, 2020); transport units are not represented in Crossfire.

(2) This option for the pioneer platoon assumes the men are “engineers” rather than “assault engineers”, regardless of equipment.

(3) Some battalions formed “Assault Platoons” (Jemina Fawr, 2020) and I assume these were the engineer platoon with additional flame throwers, explosives, and attitude.

(4) Forty (1998) says two engineer sections were “assault” and one “pioneer”. This option assumes “assault” means assault engineer in Crossfire, and “pioneer” means engineer. Nikolas Lloyd (on Crossfire WWII forum) shared:

Yes, assault engineers were the chaps with bangalores, satchel charges, flame-throwers, and all the various tools for getting up close and dealing with fortifications. Pioneers were men with spades and picks who did a lot of digging and a bit of building. They were often men considered unsuited for front line duty.

(5) Bevis (1994) says one flame thrower was issued to each Engineer platoon. So this option allows only one section the assault engineer classification under Crossfire, with associated +1 in close combat.

(6) Bevis (1999) says the Gurkha battalions did not have a carrier platoon, however, Grant (1993) mentioned instances were Gurkha battalion of 17 Indian Division did have them. Battalions can choose how their carrier platoon is deployed in Crossfire.

(7) You can deploy the carrier platoon with carriers, one carrier per squad and an optional carrier for the PC. This is my house rule for carriers. The official Crossfire rules say one carrier for the entire platoon.

(8) The carrier platoon can replace the carriers with jeeps (Jemina Fawr, 2020). The jeeps are optional as Crossfire doesn’t really support soft skin vehicles.

(9) Apparently some carrier platoons reformed as a reconnaissance platoon (Jemina Fawr, 2020). My Crossfire house rules give Recon squads a bonus on RBF.

(10) The carrier platoons could also be used as a dismounted fire support platoon (Jemina Fawr, 2020). I simulate 12 bren guns as as three rifle squads with an HMG, in a similar way that early war Germans get a bonus HMG stand for their good quality LMG.

(11) Unlike other nations the official British organisation had no integral machine guns (Forty, 1998). However, some battalions added an integrated machine gun platoon of four weapons (Bevis, 1999). They could also have some machine guns assigned from the divisional machine gun battalion (Crossfire; Jemina Fawr, 2020). In fact first person British accounts of Burma often mention machine guns attached from division, which makes the machine gunners a different ethnicity to the riflemen (e.g. English riflemen with Indian machine gunners). I allow one HMG per company to align with the organisation given in the Crossfire rule book.

(12) There is much debate about whether PIATs were carried in the field in Burma. Some units battalions did not have PIAT but could get them issued from stores on request. Other battalions carried them as a matter of course (e.g. in 17 Indian Division on the Tiddim Road) (Grant, 1993)

(13) Yes, a “Sniper Section”. It probably has more than three men but Crossfire seems to have up to three snipers on a side in a game. I would only deploy them on the defensive.

(14) The organisation in Crossfire lists only three sections in a carrier platoon but there were four (Forty, 1998).

(15) Some battalions had a “Commando Platoon”. Initially I thought these were repurposed carrier platoons, but Grant (1993) makes it clear that the commando platoons were separate. The commando platoons in 17 Indian Division were formed from men seconded from the rifle companies. In that division the commando platoons seemed to pre-exist conversion to a light division but were disbanded when the division reverted to a normal order of battle after Imphal.

(16) The normal order of battle had three platoons in the rifle companies (Forty, 1998). However, when 17 Indian Division converted to a light division, it shrunk the squads to allow an extra platoon per rifle company, making four platoons per company in total (Grant, 1993).


Brigade, Division, and Corps Support

Some support elements from brigade, division and corps (Bevis, 1999; Davies, n.d.; Forty, 1998; Wikipedia: 7th Armoured Brigade (United Kingdom); Wikipedia: 254th Indian Tank Brigade; Wikipedia: 255th Indian Tank Brigade)

Support elements

  • Artillery Support
    • up to 6 x FO for off-table 25pdr (12 FM)
    • up to 3 x FO for off-table 3.7″ Mountain howitzers (12 FM)
    • up to 3 x FO for off-table 3″ Mortars (12 FM)
    • up to 4 x FO for off-table 5.5″ Heavy Artillery (4 FM)
    • up to 4 x FO for off-table 6″ Heavy Artillery (4 FM)
    • up to 1 x FO for off-table 7.2″ Heavy Artillery (4 FM) [1945 only]
  • Anti-tank Support
    • up to 12 x Anti-tank troops: 2 x 2pdr or 6pdr with optional Tow
  • Armoured Support
    • Recce Troops: 3 x Daimler II armoured cars
    • Recce Troops: 3 x Humber IV armoured cars
    • Tank Troops: 3-4 x M3 Stuart (Stuart I) tanks [1942 Only]
    • Tank Troops: 3-4 x M3A1 Stuart (Stuart III) tanks [1943-45]
    • Tank Troops: 3-4 x M3 Lee Tank 1
    • Tank Troops: 3-4 x M3 Grant Tank 2
    • Tank Troops: 3-4 x M4A4 Sherman (Sherman V)
  • Engineering Support
    • up to 2 x Engineer Companies
      • 1 x CC (+1)
      • 3 x Pioneer Platoons: PC (+1); 4 x Engineer Rifle Squads

Notes:

(1) The American style M3 Lee tank was used by the British in Burma. It was much more common than the British style Grant (Davies, n.d.; Wikipedia: 254th Indian Tank Brigade; Wikipedia: 255th Indian Tank Brigade).

(2) Ten Grants served with ‘A’ Sqn, 146th RAC (9th Duke of Wellington’s Regt [West Riding]), 50th Indian Tank Brigade, XV Corps (Davies, n.d.).


References

Bevis, M. (1999). List B37 BRITISH INFANTRY DIVISION, INDIAN INFANTRY DIVISION 1944-1945 Burma B, CT3, AT2 if Ghurka. MicroMark.

Davies, R. M. (n.d.). British & Indian Armoured Units Of the Burma Campaign: A Painting Guide V1.8. www.Fireandfury.com.

Grant, I. L. (1993). Burma The Turning Point: The seven battles on the Tiddim Road which turned the tide of the Burma war. Zampi Press.

Jemina Fawr. (2020, 27 March). The Forgotten Wargames Army: XIVth Army in Burma (Part 1). Jemima Fawr’s Miniature Wargames Blog.

Jemina Fawr (a pseudonym of a Welsh bloke) has painted a marvellous Sikh army in 15mm and shared lots of interesting details about 14th Army organisation

Forty, G. (1998). The British Army Handbook, 1939-1945. The History Press Ltd.

Wikipedia: 254th Indian Tank Brigade

Wikipedia: 255th Indian Tank Brigade

Wikipedia: 7th Armoured Brigade (United Kingdom)

Wikipedia: M3 Stuart

2 comments to 14th Army Battalion – Order of Battle in Crossfire

  • Lack of anti tank platoons and piats may reflect the scarcity of Japanese armour. A number of changes in org. charts in the SEAC theatre may have also reflected the paucity of equipment in this region, as it was notoriously under supplied.

    • Steven Thomas

      Chris, the battalions in Burma had Piats available. But their issue was probably contextual, i.e. when the units expected to face Japanese armour they carried Piats. I’ve now read a few accounts where battalions had and used Piats against Japanese tanks (and a Japanese steamer). Otherwise Piats seem to have been left in store.

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