Arab Order of Battle in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War

I have struggled to find information on the Arab order of battle for the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. This is what I’ve found so far.

Trans-Jordanian Arab Legion 1948

Over 7,000 men under Pasha Glubb, although Brigadier Lash commanded in the field (Lunt, 1999, says 7,000; Collins & Lapierre, 1972, say 7,500). The main force was 4,500 troops in the two mechanised brigades including armoured cars and artillery. The remainder were support troops, including presumably the garrison companies. By the end of the war the Legion had 10,000 soldiers in arms.

Overall organisation

Details from Laffin (1982a), Lunt (1999), Collins & Lapierre (1972).

Trans-Jordanian Arab Legion, Order of Battle, 1948

  • 1 x Divisional Headquarters (under Brigadier Lash)
  • 2 x Mechanized Brigades
    • 1 x Brigade Headquarters
    • 1 x Brigade Signals unit
    • 2 x Mechanized Infantry Regiment1
      • 1 x Regimental Headquarters
      • 1 x Armoured Car Troop
        • 10 – 12 Marmon-Herrington armoured cars Mk IVF (2-pounder gun and a Browning machine gun). I assume these were organised into sub-units of 4 given Lt. Zaal Errhavel commanded 4 on the attack on Notre Dame.
      • 1 x Motorised Support Company
        • 1 x Anti-tank platoon/Troop
          • 4 x 6-pounder anti-tank guns towed by trucks
        • 1 x Mortar platoon/troop
          • 4 x 3-inch mortars (presumably carried in trucks)
        • 1 x Machinegun platoon/troop
        • 1 x Pioneer/Engineer platoon
      • 4 x Motorised Infantry Companies/Squadrons (on Ford trucks)2
        • 3 x Infantry Platoons
  • 2 x Artillery Batteries/troops (under Lt-Col Hearst)
    • 4 x 25-pounders
  • 2 x Independent Regiments (5th & 6th)3
  • 6-pound anti-tank guns (not sure where they were assigned in the TO&E).

(1) The regiments were single battalion units. Battalions 1, 2 and 3 were the old Bedouin regiments from the Arab Mechanised Force. The fourth Infantry was improvised from 4 Garrison Companies that weren’t disbanded, and like all the Garrison Companies was relatively poorly trained and equipped.
(2) Unfortunately Lunt (1999), who should have known, doesn’t mention the number of companies in each regiment. Shamir (2001) says there were four companies, and this coincides with the fact that the 4th Infantry regiment was formed from four Garrison companies, however, when describing the positions of the 4th Battalion at Latrun in 1948 Shamir only mentions three infantry companies plus a support company. Kurzman (1970) mentions only three companies in the 3rd Regiment. Laffin (1982a) says 4 rifle companies each of 3 platoons. Shamir states there were four platoons per company.
(3) The independent regiments were also formed from Garrison companies that were meant to be disbanded. (By Feb 1948 only 7 Garrison companies remained of the original 16.)

The regiments were divided into the Brigades as follows:

Trans-Jordanian Arab Legion, Specific Units, 1948

  • 1st Brigade (Col. Goldie)
    • 1st Regiment (Lt-Col. Blackden)
    • 3rd Regiment (Lt-Col Newman)
  • 3rd Brigade (Col. Ashton)
    • 2nd Regiment (Maj. Slade)
    • 4th Regiment (Lt-Col Habis Majali)
  • 5th Independent Regiment
    • 12th Independent company ???
    • 2 other companies
  • 6th Independent Regiment
    • 1st Independent company (Cap. Abdullah Tell)
    • 8th Independent company

Shamir (2001) mentions the Legion having Piat anti-tank grenade launchers, 2 inch mortars, and Vickers machine guns.

The Jerusalem relief force 18/19 May 1948

The Operational Order of the Arab Legion (cited in Lunt, 1999) gives the relief force the following Orbat.

The Jerusalem relief force 18/19 May 1948

  • Maj. Slade (2-i-C 2 MR)
  • Elements of 2nd Mechanized Regiment
    • 1 x Armoured Car Troop
      • 10 – 12 Marmon-Herrington armoured cars (2-pounder gun and a Browning machine gun)
    • 1 x Anti-tank Troop
      • 4 x 6-pounder anti-tank guns towed by trucks
    • 1 x Mortar troop
      • 4 x 3-inch mortars (presumably carried in trucks)
  • Elements of 5th Infantry Regiment
    • 2 x Infantry Companies (unlikely to have been 12th Company who were in Hebron)
  • Elements of 6th Infantry Regiment
    • 8th Independent Garrison Company
  • 1 x Artillery Battery
    • 4 x 25-pounders
    • Forward Observation Officer in one of the Armoured Cars
  • Total force size = 250 men.

Latrun Defence Force 24 May 1948

Latrun was defended by the 4th Mechanised Regiment (MR) of the Arab Legion, and part of the 2nd MR supported by irregulars under Haroun Ben-Jazzi. The irregulars were organised into adhoc companies (the Lions, Tigers, Wolves, and Falcons) and attached to the regular companies.

Egyptian Expeditionary Force

On 15 May 1948 Major-General Ahmed Ali el Mawawi’s Egyptian invasion force was divided into two brigades (Herzog, 1982; Kurzman, 1970). The larger brigade (5,000 men) was under the capable Brigadier Mohammed Neguib, and was made up of Egyptian regulars with attached tanks and a Saudi Arabian contingent. The smaller brigade (Herzog says 2,000 men but Kurzman and Laffin, 1988a, say 5,000 men) was predominantly of the volunteers from the Moslem Brotherhood, but was commanded by regular cavalry officer – Colonel Ahmed Adb el-Aziz.

Egyptian Expeditionary Force

  • 3rd Division (Major-General Ahmed Ali el Mawawi)
    • 2nd Brigade (Brigadier-General Mohammed Neguib)
      • 1st Infantry Battalion
      • 2nd Infantry Battalion
      • 6th Infantry Battalion
      • 9th Infantry Battalion
      • Another Infantry Battalion
      • Crusader tanks
      • artillery
      • one squadron of bombers
      • reconnaissance aircraft
      • Saudi Arabian contingent
    • (Volunteer) Brigade (Colonel Ahmed Adb el-Aziz)
      • Muslim Brotherhood

Laffin (1982a) says the Egyptian army had a paper strength of 50,000. He also says the initial 10,000 men deployed in Israel grew to 40,000 by the end of 1948, and included volunteers from Sudan, Tunisia and Libya.

Kurzman (1970) says a Sudanese company led each infantry battalion.

Egyptian Equipment

Information generally taken from Zaloga (1981) and the Concord Book.

3 x 15cm sIG33 auf Pz II

298 Bren Carriers for the infantry, later dropping to 139. The heavy weapons platoon of each infantry brigade had 25.

Herzog (1982) mentions Crusader tanks in the initial invasion force. Zaloga (1981) mentions Matildas and Mk VI light tanks at Yad Mordechai on 23 May 1948.

Modest number of armoured cars:

  • Humber Mk III Recce
  • Humber Mk IVs
  • Marmon-Herrington Mk IVF
  • Staghounds

Lloyd tracked carriers towing 6-Pdr ATG

By mid-July 1948 the Egyptians had (Zaloga, 1981):

  • 3 Shermans (of the approximate company they started with)
  • 132 Light tanks in Israel predominantly
    • Light Tank Mk VI
    • M22 Locust airbourne tank
    • Valentines – a few companies
  • 139 bren carriers

Muslim Brotherhood

A extremist Egyptian group that maintained a radical and disorderly group of guerrillas in southern Palestine. They apparently had infantry, tanks, armoured cars, and artillery (Kurzman, 1970).

Syrian Force

Initially one Brigade of 2,000 men (Collins & Lapierre, 1972). This was built up to 8,000 troops in two infantry Brigades with a battalion of French built tanks, at least a battalion of armoured cars (Herzog, 1982; Zaloga, 1981, says several companies), at least one regiment of artillery, and a small air force. Zaloga (1981) says the 45 tanks were divided into companies of 8-12 vehicles, each company being attached to a infantry brigade, however, given Herzog says there were only two such brigades this doesn’t add up.

I believe the Arab Liberation Army, although it was organised on a multi-national basis, was effectively a Syrian auxiliary force as the effective leader, Fauzi el-Kaukji, was himself Syrian.

Syrian Equipment

Information predominantly taken from Zaloga (1981)

1 x Battalion of 45 x R-35 and R-39 French light tanks.

Improved Self-propelled guns including

  • 65 mm mountain gun on Chenillette Lorraine 38L
  • 25 mm anti-tank guns on Bren carriers

Armoured cars

  • Marmon-Herrington
  • French models including the automitrailleuses Dodge of the Bich type.

Bren Carriers

Arab Liberation Army (ALA)

A force created by the foreign Arab states to counter the control of the King of Transjordan. Nominally under General Taha Al Hashimi (Iraq) but really under Fauzi el-Kaukji (Syria) (??). Consisting of about 4,000 men (Kurzman, 1970; Collins & Lapierre, 1972, says 6,000) it included

  • 1st “Yarmuk” Battalion (Mohammed Safa),
  • “Kadisia” Battalion,
  • “Hittin” Battalion (Madlul Abas),
  • a Druze Battalion (Shahib Wahab),
  • armoured cars
  • Artillery including at least 7 x 75 mm guns and 3 x 105 mm guns.

The men were poorly trained and equipped (Collins & Lapierre, 1972). A man who fired a half dozen shots and threw a couple of grenades was considered well trained. They wore army surplus uniforms from Syrian, British, French and American stocks.

Lebanese contingent

Herzog (1982) says 2,000 men in four infantry battalions with artillery and armoured cars. Zaloga (1981) mentions a company of older French tanks and assumes they are FT-17s.

John R. Larson contacted me to say:

The small group of tanks the Lebanese had for the 1948 war were possibly R-35’s. In 1941 French Vichy forces in the area contained 90 Renault R35 tanks (from the dissolved 63 and 68 BCC, attached to 6 and 7 RCA). They were used during the fighting against commonwealth forces in Operation Exporter.

There were only about 10 Ft’s by in the French Levant by that time and they were on their last legs. They were part of regional protection units. The research I’ve done indicates that five Ft’s were stationed in Damour, Lebanon, the Vichy Administrative Capital (30 miles south of Beirut). The other five were at Damascus, Syria.

Morocco sent a detachment of 800 men to Lebanon (Collins & Lapierre, 1972).

Iraqi Expeditionary force

Herzog (1982) says the Iraqi’s committed 10,000 men in four Infantry brigades, an armoured car battalion and supporting troops including artillery and aircraft. Zaloga (1981) adds a battalion of tanks and suggests these were likely to have been British in origin. Sharon and Chanoff (2001) also give 10,000.

The Army of Salvation

Palestinian force under the control of the Mufti of Jerusalem (Herzog, 1982). Both Abd el Kader el-Husseini (also called Abu Musa) and Hassan Salameh commanded about 1,000 men.

Collins and Lapierre (1972) call the Mufti’s men the Jihad Moquades (the Holy War Strugglers), but I assume it is the same organisation.

Faza’a militia

The Faza’a militia was the system where a sheikh could call up the males in his district for attack or defence (Herzog, 1982). Most Palestinian villagers carried weapons.

Najada and Futuwa

Palestinian paramilitary organisations (Herzog, 1982). Provided some urban guerilla training to their members, but probably not as competent as the Haganah.

18 thoughts on “Arab Order of Battle in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War”

  1. Hi Steven

    Thank you for your very informative “Balagan”.

    As regards Iraqui tanks and armoured cars I have managed to find out that in early 1945 Britain supplied them with 20 x Valentine Mark V and 26 x Humber Marks I, II and III Armoured cars. There is also a refernce to Britain supplying 40 x aicraft 38 x scout cars and 298 “Bren guns” to the Egyptians late during World war II. I think that the 298 “Bren guns” should be 298 Bren gun carriers as per your “Balagan” above. That makes more sense than 298 light machine guns.

    As regards the Syrian tanks and armoured car force they also supported the Arab Liberation army as well. If so, and I have a hunch that it is correct, then this would cover the discrepancies.

    As regards M 22 Locusts the Egyptians managed to purcahase 26 M22’s as demilitarised surplus from British and American stocks in Cairo in Jul 1948. Egyptians refurbished them and at least 9 x Locust’s sent into battle in December 1948. All 9 x locusts where captured by Israelis. M22 at Yad Mordechai was a later swop for the Kibbutz’s M13/40 that was knocked out there.

    In your time line of the 1948 war it states that 11 x Matilda tanks were used by the Egyptians.

    Still have not been able to find out how many Vickers Mark VI light tanks Egypt possesed and sent into battle in 1948. Also reference to Valentine tanks used by Egypt cannot be quantified either. Can you perhaps throw some light on the subject.


  2. Hi Steven

    Just been reading Benny Morris’ superb book on 1948 and on page 322 I seem to have found the right answer as regards the amount of VIckers Mk VI light tanks used in PLestine in 1948. He says that the Egyptians had a battalion of 16 x Mk VI’s supporting the main Egyptian forces along coast during the Israeli “Yoav” offensive. This sounds about right as any Mk VI’s used at that time would be old clapped out and not used in vast quantities. I have since determined that the EGyptian’s purchased 26 x M-22 Locust’s from demilitarised war surplus and 9 of these were deployed into Palestine during 1948. You also state in your timeline that the Egyptians also had 11 x Matilda’s deployed in Palestine as well. Slowly but surely the pieces appear to be falling into place. Any information on use of Valentines by the Egyptians would be welcome.

    I hope this info is of use.


  3. Hi Steven

    The information as regards the M22 Locust came from a 1996 book by Amitzur Ilan titled “Origin of the Arab/Israeli arms race”.


  4. Hi Steven

    The GHQ website has under their “free stuff “section some useful orders of battle for 1948.

    1)-Go to the GHQ website in google
    2) -Click on “free stuff”button
    3) – Click on modern micro armour
    4)-Click on country history/TO&E’s
    5)-Click on Egypt, Israel, Jordan or Syria.
    6)-TO&E’s will come up for the 1948 war. Unfortunately it does not give a TO&E for Iraq for 1948.

    I have also found out that the Israeli’s in 1948 had 3 x halftracks mounting 6 pdr A/Tank guns and 2 x halftracks mounting pintle mounted 20 mm Hispano Suiza cannon. Can not rember the source where I saw it but if I locate it again I will let you know.


  5. Hi Steven

    I have just perused the website http://www.gamefaq‘ . I picked up purely by chance.

    Pages 19 and 20 of the website have interesting information as regards order of battles for the Iraqui, Egyptian, Syrian and Trans Jordanian forces. Also includes information on the Arab airforces as well. A real treasure trove of information for the 1948 Arab/Israeli war.

    Hope this is of use.


  6. Hi Steven

    I have come up with the following as regards Egyptian armour deployed during the 1948 war.

    16 x Vickers Mk VIB light tanks(Benny Morris’book “1948” – Pg.322)
    11 x Matilda (as per your timeline for 1948 war)
    20 x M-22 Locust tanks (Benny Morris’ book – “1948”-Pg-368) and Wikipedia – Hill 86-20 x M-22 Locust tanks and 4 x Wasp flamethrowers(23 Dec.1948)and Operation Assaf -6 Dec.1948- Egyptian tank battalions 1st combat lost 5 of 12 attacking M-22 Locusts – It also mentions that tank battalion only arrived in Palestine from Egypt two(2) weeks before – 22 November 1948) – there is a picture of Egyptian M-22 Locusts exercising with the Wasp flamethrowers so I would assume that they were only deployed into Palestine late November 1948 when the Wasps were). Benny Morris’ book tends to support this.In wikepedia Battle of Rafah – 3-9 January 1949 – Egyptian counterattacks on the cemetery position, they lost 1st of all 5 x M-22 Locust tanks of the 9 x M-22 Locust tanks attacking(remenants of Locust battalion that fought in Operation Assaf and Hill 86) – 2nd counterattack the Egyptians lost the remaining 4 x Locust tanks. They therefore now had none left.
    3 x Shermans( 1xM4A2 Sherman(armoured drivers hoods as per Airfix Sherman tank) destroyed at Yad Mordechai-19-24 May 1948 battle. If any one can throw further light on amount of Egyptian Shermans used in 1948 then give us a shout via e-mail via the Balagan.

    In total this gives 50 x tanks deployed by the Egyptians in 1948 that rings a bell as I have read somewhere else that the Egyptians had 50 x tanks during the 1948 war.

    As regards bren gun carriers deployed a lot of the time the Egyptians used them as makeshift tanks and are usually reported as “armoured vehicles” or sometimes as “tanks” by the Israeli’s. There was also one ex-Italian M13/40 knocked out at kibbutz Negba on 12 July 1948.

    For anyone who really wants to understand the 1948 Arab/Israeli war I would thoroughly recomend Benny Morris’ book “1948”. If one reads it then one will get a better understanding as how the Israel’s were able to defeat the Arab armies in 1948. The book, contrary to the “1948 war myths” taken as gospel by suceeding generations of the ill informed is actually to the credit of the Israeli people. The only blots on it are of course Irgun and LEHI the two Jewish terrorist gangs who even though finally disbanded by force(Altena Affair) by the Israelis still managed to disgrace the Israeli uniform by their unsavoury behavior when nobody was looking(IE – using armed force to clear Arab villages of occupants and massacres). Some Israeli commanders where also responsible for this but history quite rightfully speaks against them for their lack of command skills in not putting an end to such nasty and unecessary behaviour. Also the arabs were also guilty of massacres and expulsions themselves when the oppotunities reared their ugly head. He who is without guilt may throw the first stone.

    I hope this is of some help in clarifying the numbers of Egyptian tanks used in the 1948 war.


  7. what about Egyptians artillery numbers of; 6 pdrs. 2 pdrs; 6 inch;3.7 inch;and4.5 inch. Please send info to my e-mail ,thank you. Jim Hart

  8. Iraq , Jordan and Egypt ; each had 12-30 25 pdr’s each. How many anti-tank guns , anti-aircraft guns and second line artillery guns did each nation have ? I am sorry I deleted your first answer . Gun size I want to know are between 20 mm – 6”.

  9. Hi James/Steven

    Sorry that it has taken me so long to get back to you. Trying to find facts and figures for the 1948 Arab/Israeli war is frustrating in the extreme.

    As regards Egyptian artillery I have found the following:-

    As regards 25Pdr’s – Egypt had 3 x batteries of 25 pdr’s. Each battery would have had 8 x 25 Pdr’s divided into 2 x troops. Each troop would have had 2 x sections of 2 x 25 Pdr’s per section. Thus a battery would have 8 x 25 Pdr’s; a troop would have had 4 x 25 Pdr’s and,a section would have 2 x 25 Pdr’s. Mention is also made of the Egyptians having 30 x 25 Pdr’s at start of war. 3 x batteries of 25 Pdr’s would equal 24 x 25 Pdr’s leaving 6 x 25 Pdr’s over as spares. Reference is made also that the Egyptians started the war with 1 x Regiment of artillery. Giving that any other guns held by the Egyptians were old and worn out I would assume that this artillery regiment would follow British organisation and would consist of the 3 x 25 Pdr batteries totalling 24 x 25 Pdrs.

    As regards 3.7″ mountain guns mention is made of the Egyptians having 1 x battery 3.7″ mountain guns(8 x 3.7″guns. This battery would follow British organisation of 2 x troops per battery(4 x 3.7 guns per troop) divided into 2 sections (2 x 3.7″ guns per section).

    As regards 3″ Mortars mention is made of the Egyptians having 1 x seperate 3″ Mortar battery. A mortar battery usually had 16 x 3″mortars per battery. Each battery was divided into 8 x sections each with 2 x 3″ mortars per section.

    As regards 4.2″ mortars mention is made of them but no quantity is given. I would guestimate that it would be 1 x 4.2″ battery of 16 x 4.2″ mortars divided into 4 x platoons(4 x 4.2″ mortars per platoon. The 4.2″ mortar beinga heavy mortar I would assume the Egyptians would only have 1 company of 4.2″ mortars as the infantry battalion support company did not deploy 4.2″ mortars(?)If anyone can throw any light on this please send to Steven’s Balagan 1948 Arab organisation page.

    As regards 2″ mortars each infantry battalion had 12 x 2″ mortars per battalion, 3 x2″ mortars per company and 1 x 2 ” mortar per platoon. Battalion was made up of 4
    x Rifle companies and 1 x support company. Each company had 3 rifle platoons. The support platoon had 1 x 2″ mortar carried in each section of 4 x Bren Carriers. Carrier platoon had 3 x sections of 4 x Bren carriers so that gives total of 3 x 2″ mortars carried by the Bren Gun carrier section of the support company(yes, I know it should be a universal carrier but due to Airfix nostalgia I always refer to it as a Bren Gun Carrier – I grew during the 1970’s ). Therefore total regarding 2″ mortars per battalion should be 15 x 2″ mortars per infantry battalion.

    As regards 3″ mortars in the support company of the infantry battalion the total was 6 x 3″ mortars, each carried in its own Bren carrier. A mortar section was made up of 2 x 3″ mortars. The mortar section was increased to 3 x sections per support company infantry battalion from late 1940.

    As regards 6Pdr anti tank guns mention is made of the Egyptians having 12 x 6Pdr’s in the initial invasion in May 1948. These could be a seperate anti tank battery as an anti tank battery had a full complement of 12 x 6Pdr’s. Each 6Pdr battery was split into 3 x troops; each troop had 4 x 6Pdr’s; each troop was split into 2 x sections(4 x 6Pdrs) ;and each section had 2 x 6Pdr’s per section.

    As regards 6Pdrs held in the support company of each infantry battalion they numbered 4 x 6Pdr’s (in an anti tank platoon – only one(1) per support platoon. Each anti tank platoon(4 x 6Pdr’s) was divided into 2 x sections(Each section had 2 x 6Pdr’s and 2 x towing vehicles. These were usually LLoyd carriers as even though Bren Gun Carriers were fitted with the proper towing hitches to tow the 6Pdr they lacked the power that the the Lloyd carrier did. Bren Gun Carriers were also used to tow 6Pdr’s but only when the Lloyd carriers were unavailable(in emergencies ?). Could they have been towed by trucks like The Arab Legions 6Pdr’s were ?

    Egypt had 9 x regular infantry battalions deployed in total in Palestine(on Eve of Operation Yoav) during the 1948 war(numbered from 1 – 9 consecetivly). That would mean that the totals of support weapons in the support companies would have been 108 x 2″ mortars; 54 x 3″ mortars; 108 x Bren Gun Carriers in the carrier platoons; 54 x Bren Gun Carriers with the mortar platoons(Total – 162 x Bren gun carriers, 36 x 6Pdr’s and 36 x Lloyd carriers(or trucks ?) to tow the 6Pdr’s in the anti tank platoons.

    I have not included vickers MMG’s but will do so another time.

    Mention has been made that in the initial invasion 1 x support battalion was deployed. This would have consisted of 3″ mortars and Vickers MMG’s. Could this have been the ninth(9th) battalion in Palestine on the eve of Operation Yoav (?) I will deal with the support battalion organisation another time.

    Mention has been made of several Egyptian reserve infantry battalions. I have managed to identify the 1st,3rd,4th and 7th reserve infantry battalions. Whether these reserve infantry battalions had their full complement of support weapons is a moot point. I think that they might have had their 2″ mortars. This would give them a full complement of 48 x 2″ mortars in total(12 per battalion). What they did for transport is anyones guess ? Perhaps trucks (?) Bren gun carriers(?)6 Pdr’s (?) 3″ mortars(?) Given that they were raised later during the 1948 war I assume they would have been given the dregs from the Egyptian armouries.

    Mention is made of 1 x Sudanese battalio as well. I would assume that this would have normal British organisation except for the heavy weapons. Mention is also made of 6 x companies of Sudanese. Would these have been grouped in one(1) battalion or split up as assault troops to head each Egyptian attack. I read somewhere(?) that this was the normal practice of the Egyptian army during the 1948 war.

    Mention is made of 24 x older worn artillery pieces(3.7″ mountain guns; 18Pdr’s and 4.5″ howitzers – no breakdown of each gun type given). My guess is as follows:-

    1 x Battery 3.7″ Mountain guns(Mountain gun Battery of 2 x troops- each troop 4 x 3.7″ guns – total 8 x 3.7″ guns). I know that the Egyptians had one(1) battery in the initial invasion.

    1 x Battery 19 Pdr’s(Could these have been early 25 ponder Mk1’s with relined 18Pdr barrels on pneumatic rubber tyres with a gun shield fitted(IE- misidentification of a 25 Pdr Mk 1) ?) or the real Mc Coy. I would postulate that at least 1 x battery would have been deployed (8 x 18 Pdr/25Pdr Mk 1’s. the 25Pdr Mk 1 does look like a later 25Pdr so a misidentification could have been made. This would have had a standard field gun battery breakdown.

    1 x Battery 4.5″ howitzers. I postulate that there would have been 8x 4.5″ per battery broken into 2 troops each of 4 x 4.5″, each troop having 4 x guns. This was standard breakdown of a medium(4.5″) battery.

    Given the total of 24 x old worn guns (3.7″ mountain guns, 18Pd/25pdr Mk1r and 4.5″ howitzer. 3 8 gun batteries will equal 24 x guns in toral. “Elementary my dear Watson” to quote Sherlock Holmes. I would hope so(?)

    As regards the “Light Forces command” of the Egyptian army the only heavy ordnance I have been able to come across is as follows:-

    2 x 4.2″ mortars;
    4 x 3>7″ mountain guns;
    6 x 3″ mortars;
    8 x Anti tank guns (4 x 6Pdr guns – others (?)); and
    6 6″ Howitzers.

    The “light forces command” was made up of Muslim Brotherhood and Palestinian irregulars with part of the 5th regular egyptian infantry battalion and 1st reservere egyptian infantary battalion attached.

    Above mention is made of 4 x 6Pdr anti tank guns. I postulate that these came from the part 5th regular infantry battalion’s anti tank platoon(4 x 6Pdr guns). Once again the 6 x 3″ mortars could have come from the 5th regular battalion(?. As regards the other 4 x anti tank guns mentioned these could have been issued to the 1st reserve infantry battalion’s support company’s anti tank platoon (?) . Where the egyptian reserve infantry battalions issued 2Pdrs instead of 6Pdrs (?) Can any one out there clarify this moot point

    Mention is made of 1 x 40mm light anti aircraft battery. The battery had 12 x 40mm guns per battery: each battery had 4 x troops and each troop had 3 x 40mm guns.

    Mention is also made that 4 anti aicraft batteries were deployed to Palestine during the 1948 war. No mention is made of the breakdown into light or heavy anti aircraft batteries. I know that they had one(1) light Anti aircraft battalion (as mentioned above) but whether the others were 4heavy 4.5″ A/A guns or not I do not know. Can anybody out there advise(?).

    A heavy anti aicraft battery consisted of 8 x 3.7″ guns made up of 2 x troops each troop made up of 4 x 3.7″ A/A guns

    I will now sign off now and continue at a later date as the little white van with padded walls has arrived to take me to the local lunatic assylm(“funny farm”. Frustration is trying to get quantities of Arab and Israeli equipment used during the 1948 war.

    I have not put dwn any references as no single reference gives the entire breakdown. Accept or reject is the perogative of the reader of my missive.


  10. Hi James/Steven

    Just got a small correction to make to the above as regards organisation of 3″ mortars and 4.2″ mortars. Numbers stand as the Egyyptian army definetly used 3″ mortars and 4.2″ mortars.

    There was a definite mention of an(1x ) battery of 3″ mortars seperate from the infantry battalions. The numbers given for 3″ mortars can therefore stand. I thought that the seperate 3″ mortar battery was attached to the support battalion and was operated by artillery gunners as in the British army ORBAT. It is not attached to the support battery but is completely seperate, whether operated by gunners of infantryman I can not say(?).

    The 1 x Egyptian support battalion would have been made up of 3 x machine gun companies(“A”,”B” and “C” companies)and a heavy mortar company(“D” company) of 4.2″ heavy mortars. Breakdown was as follows:-

    3 x machine gun companies (total 36 x Vickers MMG’s; each company 12 x Vickers MMG.s}; made up of 3 x platoons(each platoon 4 x Vickers MMG’s); each platoon divided into 2 x machine gun sections(each section 2 x Vickers MMG’s)

    1 x Heavy mortar company(total 16 .2″ mortars) divided into 4 heavy mortar platoons(each mortar platoon 4 x 4.2″ mortars;each mortar platoon divided into 2 x sections(each section had 2 x 4.2″ mortars).


  11. Hi All

    Back again. Being dowing research on the Syrian army and managed to find the following:-

    I would assume that Syria would have kept the French army organisation as the French had only just departed in 1946.

    Mention is made of Syria having between 4-6 artillery batteries (French MLE 1897 75mm guns and French MLE 1935 105mm Howitzers)

    A French Field Artillery Battalion(75mm Guns)had the following breakdown:- 3 x Batteries each of4 x 75mm guns – tha twould be a total of 12 x 75mm guns per battalion.

    A French Heavy Field Artillery Battalion would have had 3 x Batteries each having 4 x 105mm howizers – that would make a total of 12 x 105mm howitzers per battalion.

    The above would account for the Syrians having 4-6 Batteries of French 75mm and French 105mm Howitzers( 3 x batteries 75mm plus 3 x batteries 105mm howitzersn = 6 x batteries in total).

    As regards Syrian infantry battalions I would assume they would follow the French organisation. Organisation as follows:-

    Battalion HQ – with HQ platoon

    1 x heavy weapons battalion plus (+) 3 x Rifle companies.

    Heavy Weapons platoon would have consisted of 4 x MG platoons- each MG platoon would have had 2 x MG squads each consisting of 2 x Hotchkiss M1914 MG’s. Total for a MG platoon would have been 4 x MG’s and total for the heavy weapons platoon would have been 16 x Hotchkiss M1914 MG’s.

    Also in the heavy weapons platoon would have been a mortar and gun platoon. There were 2 x mortar sections each consisting of 2 x 81mm motars and cart. Total would then be 4 x 81mm mortars and 2 x carts for the mortar and gun platoon. 1 x Anti-Tank section consisting of 2 x 25mm SA-L MLE34 anti tank guns also included in the mortar and gun platoon.

    Totals for the heavy weapons platoon would be 16 x Hotchkiss M1914 MG’s, 4 x 81mm mortars and 2 x 25mm SA-L MLE34 anti tank guns.Woulddraught animals have drawn the heavy weapons MG’s, Mortars and A/tank guns ??? Have no idea as to what happened in Syria in 1948.

    Next the infantry companies. Ech company consisted of the following:-

    Company HQ consisted of 1 x Command Platoon (1 x command section, 1 x supply section, 1 x mortar section(1 x 60mm mortar). I am not sure of what the command section and supply section consisted of).

    There were 4 x Rifle platoons making up the rest of the Rifle companies. Each rifle platoon consisted of:-

    1 x command section – 1 x officer, 1 x senior nco, 1 x corporal(VB grenade launcher), 1 x runner and 1 x observor.

    Under the command section was 1 x rifle section which consisted of 2 x half sections -1 half section was a fusilier half-section consisting of 1 x sergeant(rifle or SMG), 1 x corporal(rifle), 1 x LMG gunner, 1 LMG loader(rifle) and 3 x infantryman (rifles)acting as ammo bearers – the other half section was the Voltigeur half-section consisting of 1 x 1st voltigeur, 3 x Voltigeus(rifles) and 1 x VB rifle grenadier.

    The rifle company would thus have 1x officer(pistol), 1x senior NCO(pistol), 2x corporals(VB rifle grenades, 1 x rifle), 1 x runner(rifle), 1 x observer(rifle), 1 x sergeant(rifle or SMG), 1 x lMG gunner (1 x LMG), 1 x LMG loader(rifle), 3 x ammunition bearers(rifle),1 x 1st voltigeur(rifle), 3 x voltigeurs (rifle)and 1 x voltigeur grenadier withrifle and VB rifle grenades. Remember that there are 3 x rifle companies and 1 x heavy weapons platoon to an infantry battalion.

    It is a moot point whether the Syrian infantry battalions had the full compliment of equipment as detailed above as Syria was in pretty bad shape as regards weapon suply in the 1948 Arab/Israeli war.

    As regards the Syrian armoured battalions I have the following organisation :-

    1 x Company R-35 and R-39 tanks divided into HQ company 1 x command R-35/39, and 4 x armoured platoons – each platoon having 3 x R-35/39. Total of R-35/39 would be 13 x R-35/39. Attached would also be 2 x companies armoured cars –

    armoured car company divided into company HQ, 1x reserve 2 x armoured cars and 4 x armoured car platoons – each platoon consisting of 5 x armoured cars Total armoured cars per company would have been 22 x armoured cars with a total of 44 x armoured cars per battalion. No idea what the armoured cars were. Could have been a mixture of Panhard AMD’s, Marmon Herringtons or whatever.(Can anyone out there throw some light on this) ???

    Zaloga in his Book on Armour of Arab/Israeli wars makes mention of the Syrians having 1 x battalion of 45 x R-35/39 tanks. If one looks at the French Tank battalion organisation one gets the following:-

    HQ company 1 x command R-35/39 – 3 x combat companies and 1 supply column

    The combat company has 1 x command R-35/39 and 4 x platoons R-35/39 – each platoon has 3 x R-35/39 tanks. Total by company would be 13 x R-35/39 per company – 3 x companies would have 39 x R-35/39 plus 1 x R-35/39 at company HQ level plus(+) plus a reserve in the supply company of 5 x R-35/39. Grand total would be 45 x R-35/39 in the single (1x) Syrian tank battalion which would tend to bear the figure of 45 x tanks being quoted in the Zaloga book. No idea what the exact breakdown of the R-35’s and R-39’s that the Syrians deployedin the 1948 war. Perhaps somebody out there can assist ???

    I would assume that the single Syrian tank battalion was then divided into seperatecompanies/platoons to give infantry support to the individualSyrian infantry battalions. They also would have given armoured support to the Arab Liberation army who were operating in the same area as well.

    I am now working on the Iraqi army orbat at the moment and shall revert back to you once I have that in order.

    Happy wargaming.


  12. Hi All

    Just come across another snippet of information as regards Egyptian Armour of the 1948 war.

    According to an article on Google titled “M13/40’s at Negba” there where apparently 3 x M13/40 tanks spotted at siege of Negba.(one of the participants who knew what a M13/40 looked like counted three(3) separate M13/40’s used by Egyptians at Negba). They where rearmed with M22 Locust 37mm guns from scrapped Locusts.

    Hope this is of some use.


  13. The Arab Holy Army likely numbered 4,000 regulars and an unknown amount of irregulars. They could have likely numbered as high as 30,000 according to their own reports and they are likely cited by Benny Morris to have made up the most significant chunk of the local Arab forces (though I forgot which page linked 50,000 local Palestine Arab fighters.
    Eliezer Tauber (2015) The Arab Military Force in Palestine Prior to the Invasion of the Arab Armies, 1945–1948, Middle Eastern Studies, 51:6, page 960, DOI: 10.1080/00263206.2015.1044896

  14. Hello Steven. Very interesting infos. I’d like to know if you have info about small arms used by the various Arab participants. Rifles, SMG, MG, mortars… I suppose they used ATR, maybe flame-throwers… What else?

    • The Army armies have a lot less information available in English.
      Having said that it is a safe bet that
      – Egyptians, Transjordanians, and Iraqis used British kit.
      – Syrians and Lebanese used French kit.

      I don’t, off hand, now about the specialise weapons.


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