The Guards at War 39-45 
Bn HQ Section LHG

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1939-45 British Army Battalion Headquarters (A Brief Overview)

The Battalion HQ is the administrative and nerve center of the Infantry Battalion, all of the key decisions would be made at the HQ and requests for assistance, support etc. would be made back to the HQ. The various officers at the HQ (see list below) would then respond to the various requests.

A typical field HQ for a Battalion would have 3 ton Lorries for carrying heavy kit and normally a jeep or two, the HQ would set up in a building if lucky or most under canvas but most likely dug in for protection. The HQ would have wireless sets and supporting equipment, field telephones, field telephone exchange, a limited supply of extra ammunition, rations and other equipment depending on the current situation.

The Key Personal in a battalion headquarters would be likely to include:

  • Commanding officer (CO) (invariably a lieutenant colonel)
  • Second-in-command (2i/c) (major)
  • Adjutant (captain)
  • Quartermaster (QM) (major)
  • Quartermaster (technical) (QM(T))
  • Medical officer (MO) (Royal Army Medical Corps captain or major)
  • Administrative officer (Adjutant General's Corps captain or major)
  • Intelligence officer (IO) (captain or lieutenant)
  • Signals officer (lieutenant)
  • Regimental sergeant major (RSM) (warrant officer class 1)
  • Regimental quartermaster sergeant (RQMS) (warrant officer class 2)
  • Regimental quartermaster sergeant (technical) (RQMS(T)) (warrant officer class 2)

Key to the effectiveness of a WWII BN HQ is communication and a signals section would be responsible for Wireless and Telephone communication, a portable field telephone exchange would also be used by the Battalion signal office and line section.

Field telephones are the most effective form of communication in WWII as they are more reliable than Wireless sets, require much smaller batteries to function, do not need tuning in(Netting) very little maintenance and can be used by anyone without specialist training. The main drawback is the need to be connected by telephone wire and this is easy to damage/breaking (most was damaged by vehicles driving over it)

Wireless sets have a longer range and the ability to be re-tuned (Netted) to talk to other wireless sets, but require a trained operator and are very heavy on batteries which need re-charging every couple of hours. They are also affected by terrain; trees, buildings and the need to have large aerials if they need to transmit any distance plus 1940s wireless were quite unreliable

What is a Battalion?

A battalion is the smallest military organization capable of "limited independent operations", in that the battalion is the lowest-level organizational unit containing an organic coordinating, or executive, staff and a support and services unit (headquarters and headquarters company).

1943 British Army Infantry Battalion

Establishment Paper Strength 36 Officers, 809 other ranks

  • Battalion Headquarters: 5 Officers, 45 other ranks
  • Headquarters Company: 4 Officers, 91 other ranks
  • Company Headquarters: 1 Officer, 5 other ranks
  • Signals Platoon: 1 Officer, 35 other ranks
  • Administrative Platoon: 2 Officers, 51 other ranks
  • 4 x Rifle Company‚Äôs (No1. 2.3 and 4) : 5 Officers, 122 other ranks
  • Company Headquarters: 2 Officers, 14 other ranks
  • (3) Rifle Platoons: 1 officer, 36 other ranks
  • Platoon Headquarters: 1 Officer, 3 other ranks
  • (3) Rifle Sections: 30 Other ranks
  • Light Mortar Section: 3 Other ranks
  • Support Company: 7 Officers, 185 other ranks
  • Company Headquarters: 1 Officer, 8 other ranks
  • Mortar Platoon: 1 Officer, 42 other ranks
  • Carrier Platoon: 2 Officers, 61 other ranks
  • Carrier Section Platoon Headquarters: 2 Officers, 1 Bren carrier 2 trucks, 1 motorcycle orderly
  • 4 x Carrier Sections: 3 Bren carriers, 4 other ranks
  • A/T Platoon Headquarters: 2 Officers, 2 x 3 ton trucks , several motorcycles
  • Anti-tank Platoon: 2 Officers, 53 other ranks
  • 3 x Anti-Tank Detachments: 2 x Bren Carriers , 2 x Pdr A/T guns
  • Pioneer Platoon: 1 Officer, 21 other ranks