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  #1  
Old August 24th, 2016, 07:31 AM

IronDuke99 IronDuke99 is offline
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Default British Paratroops in WWII

British Parachute Battalion 1942-43:

Battalion HQ: 5 officers and 22 other ranks (includes medical officer)

HQ Company: 5 officers 164 other ranks -includes 1 office and 10 men intelligence section, protective section (rifles and two Bren guns) signals platoon (including bikes) admin platoon, Battalion mortar section (2 x 3in mortars) and anti tank platoon (originally with Boys anti tank rifles later replaced by PIAT's)

Three Rifle Coys, each 5 officers and 134 other ranks - Company HQ section, three rifle platoons, Company mortar section (2 x 3in mortars)and one anti tank section with a Smith Gun https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smith_Gun


British Parachute Battalion 1944-45:

Battalion HQ: 5 officers and 22 other ranks (including medical officer).

HQ Company: 9 officers 226 other ranks -includes Company HQ section, intelligence section (issued with 8 x sniper rifles, giving a parachute battalion a considerable sniper force) signals platoon (including airborne motorbikes) two mortar platoons (8 x 3in mortar and 4 x Vickers MMG) Anti Tank Platoon (10 PIAT teams plus two Bren guns that could also be used as AAMG's).

3 Rifle Coys each of 5 officers and 112 other ranks. -Each company included a Company HQ and three rifle platoons. Parachute platoons generally included a 2 inch mortar, PIAT and a Sniper rifle (in addition to those held at battalion HQ and with the battalion intelligence section)

British Parachute battalions generally had more weapons issued than normal 'leg' infantry in WWII. So each section had two '45 colt pistols,and each Platoon an extra Bren gun. Each parachute battalion also had up to 300 sten SMG's available to be issued at Battalion Commanders orders.

In addition Parachute Battalion sections, of ten men, were often commanded by Sgts, rather than the Cpls much more common in leg infantry.

A Parachute Brigade was three battalions. A Parachute division, two Parachute Brigades and a Glider Air Landing Brigade, supported by a Light Artillery Regiment (mostly 75mm Airborne Howitzers, but sometimes including light Airborne 25pders) 2 Anti Tank batteries (mostly 6pder AT guns, but could include 17pder AT guns) A AA battery with 40mm AA guns, Airborne Recce (with MG armed jeeps) Engineers, etc. Light Airborne tanks were also available.

Hope this proves useful...
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  #2  
Old September 1st, 2016, 06:17 AM

Kiwikkiwik Kiwikkiwik is offline
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Default Re: British Paratroops in WWII

The para two inch motor was a cut down version and had a maximum range of 350 m not 500.
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Old September 1st, 2016, 07:34 AM
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Default Re: British Paratroops in WWII

From the National Army Museum, Study collection..........

Mk VII two inch mortar used by airborne forces during World War Two, 1945 (c).



The two inch mortar, introduced into service in 1938, was a light weapon designed for close support fire for infantry. Originally equipped with a base-plate and sights, it was modified during the war to a very simplified form. This model, produced in 1944 for use by airborne troops, is simply a metal tube with the sighting reduced to a white line on the barrel. A high explosive or smoke bomb was dropped down the barrel and fired by a simple lever. The maximum range was 430 metres (500 yards).


no OOB change......
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Old September 5th, 2016, 01:23 AM

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Default Re: British Paratroops in WWII

Sorry for any confusion I have caused, my book mortars and rockets Chamberlain and gander says there is a mark vii and a mark vii* the first is for the universal carrier, the second * version is for paras, is lighter shorter etc. Wikipedia agrees
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Old September 6th, 2016, 03:26 PM

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Default Re: British Paratroops in WWII

I remember seeing a 2 inch mortar in the British Army c. 1980, as I recall (never did use one, I think it was an Armoury NCO showing it to me) it was pretty much just a tube and did indeed have a white line painted on it.
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Old September 6th, 2016, 04:19 PM

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Default Re: British Paratroops in WWII

As an aside I seem to remember seeing a documentary film saying that a British Para officer won a Victoria Cross at Arnhem partly for knocking out a German tank while firing a 2 inch mortar from the hip at it. Think he may have disabled the tanks running gear?
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Old September 6th, 2016, 06:10 PM
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Default Re: British Paratroops in WWII

We had 2in mortars in the 70s. A simple tube with a white line painted down the side, and a trigger mechanism. Only meant to throw smoke in the textbook platoon attack, or illumination at night. In WW2, HE was apparently available to those units who made a special request for it, it was definitely not general issue.

"Sights" were the aforementioned white line. Aiming was by eye using Kentucky windage.

However, it did manage to kill a Tiger 2 in Normandy - it either fell down the open turret hatch, or more likely set off the munition carrier that was "bombing up" the beast at the time. Some units loved the thing and asked for (and used) HE, apparently.

But they were not at all popular in our battalion. So the things lived in the armoury and only came out for the annual recruit induction course where a few rounds were shot off in front of a batch of them. That concluded all the training anyone in our unit ever had on the weapon.

Unlike the Charlie G, which actually was occasionally taken out on exercise and humped around the boonies even though there was no such thing as a blank round for them, the 2in never was. It was considered by us to be a complete waste of time, certainly not worth using up 2 valuable bodies in the platoon HQ. Those riflemen could then do something more useful instead.
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Old September 6th, 2016, 06:27 PM
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Default Re: British Paratroops in WWII

I've attached the MoD training pamphlet if anyone's interested...



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File Type: zip 1939-2-inch-Mortar.zip (373.2 KB, 79 views)
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Old September 7th, 2016, 05:08 AM

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Default Re: British Paratroops in WWII

Somebody in the British Army must have been fond of the humble 2 in mortar, considering that it was kept in use for quite a while.

A lot of militaries adopted various "mini-mortars" in 45 to 52 mm calibres in the inter-war era: German 50 mm, Soviet 50 mm, Polish 46 mm, Italian 45 mm (Brixia) and the Japanese 46 mm. Even the French intended to introduce 50 mm platoon mortar in 1940, but this plan got aborted by the German invasion.

Other than the 2 in mortar, few of these saw deployment after the end of WWII. Common issue with these designs seems to have been limited range and limited power of HE round - apparently larger mortars like various 81 mm designs were found to provide better use of resources.

Maybe the British emphasis on using it primarily for smoke and illumination missions helped to keep it in use for longer?
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Old September 7th, 2016, 12:05 PM
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Default Re: British Paratroops in WWII

Smoke and illumination was why ot was introduced, and why it probably hung on. Range was not great - 500m.

Early in WW2, a light mortar at the platoon HQ was a good idea with no platoon radio to call Bn mortars and the 3in mortar did not have great range, so coverage was low. Only cured with the post-war 81mm. Late war, platoons had radio and could call Bn mortars or arty so 2in less useful by then, but still handy.

The only task of the 2in mortar apart from night illum was to fire a smoke screen in the final assault phase of the standard textbook platoon attack. Most bns seem to have offloaded the thing to the pl Sgt, or reduced crew to one man, or even given it to whichever section was going to provide the platoon base of fire as an extra item to hump along with the extra ammo the reserve section had to carry. Finding a buckshee BREN and utilising the freed-up 2 riflemen in platoon HQ as a boost to the platoon's base of fire element (usually HQ + the reserve section) appears to be quite common.

But it was hardly ever used as an HE chucker, though on rare occasions it did find some use as such. Given that it had no ranging sights, just a white line for directional pointing, thus would need circa 3-5 rounds expended merely for ranging before any sort of fire for effect, that is understandable. The white line was fine for smoke use though since near enough is good enough for that.

So the 2in may have hung on to the 80s, but more as a curiosity that permanently lived in the armoury (like the brass Very pistols also did, the Shermuly flare discharger replaced them both for illum) than as any sort of useful piece of kit.
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