||British Commonwealth units were equipped and trained according to a common philosophy and wore very similar uniforms, rank badges etc. In times of peace, each Dominion maintained a very small separate army, navy and air force which when deployed to theatres of war came under British command. However, the senior commander of each Dominion contingent retained (and frequently used) the right of appeal to their own government over the heads of the Theatre Commander. All the Dominions tried hard to prevent their contingents from being split up and attached piecemeal to other British formations, although this did happen from time to time.
||All British Commonwealth Armies were organised on the Regimental system. Unlike the Continental Armies and the US Army, British Commonwealth Armies were organised so that Battalions were grouped together administratively into "Regiments" which could contain any number of Battalions. The British term for a tactical grouping of 3 Battalions was a "Brigade". In British parlance, the term "Regiment" (confusingly) was frequently used to describe a unit of Battalion size such as a Cavalry Regiment or a Field Artillery Regiment. A Regiment was also sometimes known formally as a "Corps" as in the "The Corps of Royal Artillery" or the "Royal Army Service Corps".
||In terms of nomenclature, the Infantry used the terms "Battalion", "Company" and "Platoon" while the Armoured, Cavalry, Engineer and Signal arms used "Regiment", "Squadron" and "Troop". Artillery units used the terms "Regiment", "Battery" and "Troop"(?).
||In the database, virtually all British Commonwealth units of Battalion and Company size are associated with a Corps (ie the Welsh Guards or the Green Howards for example).
||British Commonwealth units are also categorised by membership of a "Force"; this is used to identify the origin of a unit. British units are usually either "Regular", "Territorial", "Yeomanry" or "War-Formed". Units sometimes moved from one Force to another. View the Unit Forces page to see which Force a unit is associated with. A unit can be associated with more than one Force over time. For a full description of the different Forces, please see the Forces page.
||While Dominion units were officered and organised by their own Dominion governments; Indian and Colonial units were organised and officered by the British and mostly consisted of "native" troops with British officers and (sometimes) NCOs. The Indian Army was officered by a mixture of British career officers commissioned into the Indian Army with King's Commissions, and Indian officers (known as Viceroy Commissioned Officers) who had been commissionand by the Viceroy of India. The Indian Army was controlled by the Government of India. There were some Indian officers in some units with King's Commissions as a result of the policy of "Indianisation". In general, a third of every Indian Division was British. Colonial units were usually officered by British officers on loan from their Regiments.
||Many Dominion officers had been born in the United Kingdom and had emigrated. Some had served in more than one Army in their careers (for example, Sir Bernard Freyburg VC had been born in the United Kingdom and had been a senior British officer until his retirement from the British Army in 1937. He came out of retirement to command the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in 1939 and was senior to many of his British superior officers in North Africa). Many British officers had been born outside Britain in different parts of the Empire and Dominions. A significant part of the British Officer Corps were from Ireland.
||Regular Cavalry and Yeomanry Regiments are listed as Cavalry for the whole war unless their title changed in which case they are listed according to their new title after that date (for example many Canadian Cavalry Regiments officially changed their titles in 1941 to be numbered as Armoured Regiments). British Cavalry and Yeomanry regiments did not change their titles when they converted to Armour between 1938 and 1941 and are therefore listed under Cavalry. This has been done to avoid confusion where Units with the same name have different Unit Types and to provide a seamless history.
||British and Commonwealth Armoured and Armoured Car Regiments are classified in the Database as "Armoured", "Tank" or "Cavalry" depending on their origin. In general, units are listed under the same Unit Type for the whole war unless their title was changed in such a way that indicated the type of role played. Unlike most other armies where the unit type is clearly identifiable from the title, British armoured units generally did not change their title if their role changed.
||The Royal Armoured Corps was formed in April 1939 and grouped together the formerly independent Cavalry Regiments of the Regular Army and the Yeomanry (listed under Cavalry) and the Tank Battalions of the Royal Tank Corps (listed under Tank). In addition, later in the war many Infantry Battalions were converted to Regiments of the RAC and are listed under Amoured. Finally, units of the Reconnaissance Corps were transfered to the RAC in January 1944 and are shown as part of that Corps in the database. Changes in unit titles are noted where appropriate in the Unit History.
||British Tank Battalions were part of the Royal Tank Corps from 1922 to 1939 when it was renamed the Royal Tank Regiment and became part of the Royal Armoured Corps. In 1945, all the Battalions in the Regiment were renamed Regiments. All the Regular Tank Battalions of the Royal Tank Regiment could trace their lineage back to the original Tank Battalions formed in 1916-1917. They are listed as "Tank" units.
||Yeomanry Regiments are the cavalry equivalent of the Territorial Army and are classified in this database as 1st Line Yeomanry or 2nd Line Yeomanry. Many Yeomanry Regiments were converted to Artillery in 1922-23 which is why some Artillery regiments are classified in the database as Yeomanry. Some Yeomanry regiments survived to be converted to armour in 1940-41.
||The Canadian Armoured Corps was granted Royal status in 1945 when it became the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps
||All Regimental Infantry Battalions which at some point were organised as Machine Gun, Motor-Cycle or Motor Battalions are classed as Infantry and the change in organisation is noted in the Unit History.
||In general, all British regiments followed the same pattern; 1 and 2 Battalions were "Regular" and one would usually be based at home in the United Kingdom while the other was based in the colonies or India; 3 and/or 4 Battalions were Militia Battalions (previously Special Reserve) Battalions which had a long history, and were embodied in the First World War, but not in the Second World War; Higher numbered Battalions were "Volunteer" Battalions and are classified as either 1st or 2nd Line Territorial Army and were composed of part-time soldiers with a small core of regular soldiers. In 1939, the Territorial Army was doubled in size and the 1st Line Battalions threw off a "duplicate" battalion which became 2nd Line Territorial Army battalions; Later on, "War-Formed", "Home Defence" and "Young Soldier" battalions were formed.
||In 1939, when the Territorial Army was expanded, new Battalions were numbered in different ways and there was no set pattern; in some regiments, the new 2nd Line Battalions were numbered "2/" while the original 1st Line Battalions were numbered "1/"; in other regiments however, the opportunity was taken to reuse the numbers of battalions which had been converted to other arms such as Artillery.
||Guards Regiments did not have any "Volunteer" or "Militia" battalions. They only had "Regular" and "War Formed" battalions.
||A few Regiments did not exist independently but were part of another Regiment while retaining a separate name (for example "The London Scottish" became part of the corps of "The Gordon Highlanders" in 1916). The battalions in these regiments are listed underneath their parent regiment and were all Territorial.
||Between 1920 and 1939, many 1st Line Territorial Battalions were converted to Tank, Field Artillery, Medium Artillery, Light Anti-Aircraft, Anti-Tank, Heavy Anti-Aircraft and Searchlight Regiments. The database tracks the history of all of these battalions as well.
||Canadian, South African and Colonial Regiments followed the British pattern and were named. They usually only had 1 or 2 battalions in each Regiment and (in the case of Canada), the 2nd Battalion was not usually activated and remained a depot unit at home.
||Australian and New Zealand infantry battalions were numbered in the Second World War. Australian militia battalions had names associated with them and were the descendents of the Battalions of the 1st Australian Imperial Force formed in World War I. In 1939, the Australian Government did not mobilise the Militia battalions, but instead created a new army for overseas operations called the 2nd Australian Imperial Force. Battalions in this Force were numbered from 1 and were called "2/1", "2/40" etc. The original Militia battalions were not mobilised until the entry of Japan into the War in 1941. Also see Note 33.
||In 1939, there were 19 Indian Regiments and each Regiment was numbered and named; each Regiment had many Battalions which were named "1/1 Punjab" or "5/7 Rajput" where the first number is the Battalion number and the second number is the Regiment number. Until 1937, The Burma Rifles were designated 20 The Burma Rifles as the junior regiment of the Indian Army. The 10th Battalion of every Regiment was the Training Battalion, each company of which supplied recruits to a regular battalion of the regiment.
||In a few cases, the style "3/5" was used to indicate a temporary or permanent amalgamation between two battalions, for example 3/5 Battalion Royal Tank Regiment.
||British and Commonwealth Engineer units were Company size in general. Depending on the Division they are attached to, they are either named Squadrons or Companies. They came under the authority at a Divisional level of the "Commander Royal Engineers".
||British and Commonwealth Artillery units are either "Light","Field","Medium","Heavy" or "Coast" depending on their title. They were traditionally organised in Batteries. Batteries were grouped together into Brigades which were renamed Regiments after 1938-39. Anti-Aircraft units were also part of the Royal Artillery as were Anti-Tank, Searchlight and Survey Regiments. At a Divisional level, Artillery units were under the authority of the "Commander Royal Artillery".
||Royal Artillery Regiments were organised as four-battery "Brigades" until 1938-39 when they were reorganised as two-battery regiments until 1941 when they were regorganised into three-battery regiments. Until 1924, the Royal Artillery was divided into the Royal Field Artillery (RFA) and the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA).
||Where known, Battle Honours are displayed for British and Commonwealth Infantry and Armoured Battalions. Battle Honours for Brigades and Divisions are those awarded to their constituent Battalions at the time. Artillery units are not granted individual Battle Honours - they have only one Battle Honour ("Ubique" - "Everywhere").
||With regard to HQs and Static Formations, I have made some assumptions based upon the size of the subordinate units placed under command or the rank of the Commander (where known). Commands are assumed to be of Army status and Districts of Corps status.
||In general, General HQs and National HQs such as the War Office (in London) and National Defence HQ (in Ottawa) are treated as Army Group-sized static HQs. Home Commands in the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada are treated as Army-sized HQs, Districts are treated as Corps-sized HQs, while Area and Sub-Area HQs and Lines of Communication are treated as Division-sized HQs.
||Units created on an ad-hoc basis use the Unit Type of "Alarm".
||The Dominions ran their own military affairs independent of the War Office in the United Kingdom and each had a General Staff. However, there were close links at the highest levels both military and governmental between the various Dominions and the United Kingdom. Domininion formations came under UK operational control when away from home but remained under dominion administrative control. This database shows the supreme HQ of the various dominions as being subordinate to the War Office as a way of showing that relationship and allowing users to generate Orders of Battle for the whole Commonwealth. In practise, the Dominions had almost complete autonomy in their military affairs.
||The Australian Imperial Force Battalions raised in 1939-1941 were associated for Battle Honour purposes with the corresponding Militia battalion. Therefore, this database associates them with the Corps of the appropriate Militia Battalion.
||Each Brigade of the 2 New Zealand Expeditionary Force was raised in succession between 1939 and 1942 and one Battalion (in most cases) in each Brigade was raised from the same specific area of New Zealand as its predecessors in the older Brigades and thus several NZEF battalions were associated with the same four or five New Zealand Territorial Force battalions from which they were raised. Therefore, this database has assigned each NZEF Battalion to all the NZTF Regiments from which it was raised.
||In wartime, an officer was often appointed to a Role with a Temporary or Acting Rank. This database makes no distinction between Temporary or Acting Ranks and Substantive Ranks - this is because most sources make no distinction either!! That is why officers sometimes appear to drop a rank from one appointment to another. In some cases, an officer with a substantive rank of Colonel could be an Acting Lieutenant-General.
||During the Second World War, Brigadier was technically an appointment and not a rank even though it had it's own rank insignia. In British Army lists, all Brigadiers are technically Colonels. By contrast, Brigadier is listed as a rank in the Australiand and Canadian Army Lists. In the First World War, the term Brigadier-General was used, but this database uses the term Brigadier for both Wars.
||In 1941, a number of infantry battalions were used to form Regiments of the Royal Armoured Corps in the range 107-116 and 141-163. These Regiments are shown under their parent Corps as well as the Royal Armoured Corps (for historical interest). Their histories are usually listed in the Regimental Histories of their parent Corps.
||Holding Battalions are listed as Training Battalions under their parent Corps. They were always numbered 50 Battalion except in the case of Guards Regiments where they did not have a number.
||British Infantry Regiments were numbered until 1881 when all those Regiments which did not have a second Battalion were merged with the senior Regiment becoming 1 Battalion of the Regiment and the junior Regiment becoming 2 Battalion. Regiments were allocated to counties. In some cases there had been an association with the county since 1782, but that was not universal as the 1782 subtitles were not always valid in terms of recruiting areas. At the same time Militia Regiments joined the new County Regiments as 3 and or 4 Battalions of the Regiment. At the same time, Rifle Volunteer units became associated with the new Regiments and over the next 1-5 years were renamed as Volunteer Battalions of the Regiment. In 1908, most of the Volunteer Battalions were reorganised as part of the new Territorial Force and renumbered in sequence whereby the senior Volunteer Battalion was renumbered as 4 Battalion, the next senior as 5 Battalion and so on. In 1920, the Territorial Force was reformed as the Territorial Army.
||In light of the extremely complicated history of the Volunteer Battalions of Regiments in the London and Middlesex area, I have decided to change the way this database handles Rifle Volunteer Corps units formed in 1859-1860. Instead of merely alluding to their existence in the Notes of their descendent Volunteer Battalions, I have decided to list them as separate Rifle Battalions rather than as Infantry Battalions. The reason for this is that many of them were never formally renamed as Volunteer Battalions of their associated Corps and they remained in existence as Volunteer Rifle Corps until 1908. They were all ranked as Volunteer Battalions in 1881, but these rankings were transient and often did change several times. Many of these units were actually of Company size.
||I am not sure what the acceptable short form of the Volunteer Battalions' names were. Therefore I have used the form Battalion Number + Regiment Name + "Volunteers". This is an assumption. The full name (i.e. Battalion Number + "Volunteer Battalion" + Regiment Name) is correct.
||This database also covers the Regiments of Foot which in 1881 were given territorial titles in places of their numbers. These units are listed with the Unit Type of "Foot". This will allow users to trace the ancestry of the Regular Battalions of the British Army back through The Regiments of the Line. The Regimental Numbers show the precedence of each Regiment and were of great sentimental value with the Regiment and thus are often used in Regimental Histories of the First and Second World Wars. In fact, the 1881 mergers were greeted with horror in many regiments which were very upset at the loss of their ancient regimental numbers which in some cases dated back to 1751.
||The Corps Title used in Unit Page Titles is the title that was current in the Second World War. Some regiments, such as The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, received new titles between 1921 and 1939 and it is the post 1921 titles that are used. The actual corps title at the time of any events prior to 1921 are mentioned in the unit notes or in the event description. This style also applies to those Battalions which only existed prior to the name change (such as the Volunteer Battalions) in order to keep the corps title consistent within a regiment or corps. In most cases, the new "official" corps titles often reflected the corps titles which had been used "unofficially" prior to the name change.
||In 1939, the Canadian Army was divided into two branchs: the Permanent Active Militia and the Non-Permanent Active Militia. In 1939, a new force, the Canadian Active Service Force (CASF) was raised for service overseas. Those Militia and Regular units that were mobilised became part of the new Force. In 1941, the old terms were dropped and all mobilised units were designated Active and all non-mobilised units were designated as Reserve respectively.
||Unlike its counterparts, every British and Dominion HQ was organised with three different staff branchs; General Staff (G), Adjutant-General's Branch (A) and Quartermaster-General's Branch (Q). The system was very confusing as staff officers had different titles at different levels of HQ. In some cases, A and Q functions were combined in a single role.
||Divisional Signal Regiments will henceforth be regarded as part of Divisional HQs and will not be tracked as separate units. The OC of the Divisional or Corps Signal Regiment will be identified by the Role of Commander Royal Signals. This brings Signal Regiments into line with Divisional CRA and Divisional CRE.
||Each Commonwealth Division had a fourth "Brigade HQ" in the form of the Divisional HQ CRA. This HQ commanded the Divisional RA assets, normally three Field Regiments, an Anti-Tank Regiment and a Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment; the equivalent of five battalions! The commander of this HQ known as CRA was a Brigadier and he was assisted by a Brigade Major and a Staff Captain.
||Rifle Volunteer Corps units were formed in the great Invasion Scare of 1859. These units are listed under the Rifle Unit Type and under the Force Type of Volunteer. They were not associated with the Infantry Regiments of the Line until 1881 when they were assigned to Line Regiments and ranked in seniority. Some were then redesignated as Volunteer Battalions of the Line Regiment, while others were redesignated sucessively as Rifle Volunteers and then Volunteer Rifle Corps until they were incorporated into The Territorial Force in 1908. Prior to 1881, they are grouped into pseudo-Corps by County, for example Middlesex Rifle Volunteers or Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers.
||Administrative Battalions were groupings of associated Rifle Volunteer Corps units formed in 1860 and afterwards. Some disappeared rapidly while others survived to be reorganised as Rifle Volunteer Battalions. They are listed separately as Administrative Battalions.
||Pre-1920 Canadian Regiments are listed as Rifle and not Infantry in the same manner as British Volunteer Corps. Canadian Volunteer units were formed after 1860 in a similar manner to British Rifle Volunteer Corps, where previously independent volunteer companies were grouped into "Battalions of Infantry" or "Battalions of Rifles". These units were numbered in a single sequence after 1866 and were redesignated as number Regiments in 1900.
In 1920, the Numbered Regiments (which are classified as Rifle in this database) lost their numbers and were given names only, with 1 Battalion, 2 Battalion etc. as appropriate.
Almost all Canadian Infantry Regiments formed Reserve Battalions, numbered as 2 Battalion. 3 Battalion etc., in 1920.
||The relationship of the Active (1 Battalion) and Reserve (2 Battalion) units of the wartime Canadian Regiments is quite confusing (to say the least).
When a Regiment was mobilised into the CASF or later the Canadian Army (Active), the initial personnel of the unit were from the previously existing NPAM or Canadian Army (Reserve) unit and most histories treat the mobilised Battalion as the same as the previously existing NPAM one.
This database used to take the same approach and treated the 2nd (Reserve) Battalion of 1939-42 as a new creation.
However, reading the Canadian Official Lineages makes the legal situation perfectly clear; it was the mobilised Battalion that was the newly created unit and not the Reserve Battalion!! The Reserve Battalion was later (after early 1940) redesignated 2 (Reserve) Battalion while the Active Battalion was designated 1 Battalion; but 2 Battalion was the peacetime unit while 1 Battalion was a "war-formed" unit. When the various Active Battalions were disbanded, the old Reserve Battalion remained in existence and formed the basis of the postwar Canadian Army.
Modern Canadian Regiments trace their lineage to the Reserve Battalions, and not the Active Battalions.
However, the 2nd Battalion was not always organised immediately upon the embodiment of the Active Battalion (this is especially the case with Battalions of the 1st and 2nd Canadian Infantry Divisions mobilised in 1939. In these cases, the 2nd Battalions were not formed in May-June 1940!
The role of the missing 2nd Battalions was initially played by Regimental Depots. However these Depots were absorbed into District Depots in 1940 and did not convert to the 2nd Battalions.
Therefore this Database has created Battalions of type "Reserve" to represent the legal continuity between the pre-War NPAM Battalions and the 2nd (Reserve) Infantry Battalions of 1940 onwards.
Please note that 2nd (Reserve) Battalions are categorised as "Infantry" while the interim Battalions mentioned above are categorised as "Reserve".
I hope this is clear :)
||The Reserve Battalions of the Canadian Army that were created in 1920 and disbanded in 1936 are designated as Reserve.
||The Territoral Army of the Second World War was called the Territorial Force in the First World War. I have used the term Territorial Army for both Wars.
The Territorial Force was formed in 1908 from the Volunteer Force (created after 1859), and was renamed the Territorial Army in 1920.
||The Canadian Army was massively reorganised in 1936 when some Regiments created in 1920 were disbanded, while others were merged or converted to Artillery or Tank.
||In the First World War, War Formed Battalions of Line Infantry Regiments are called Service Battalions and are assigned to a Force called "Service". They are sometimes referred to as being in K1, K2, K3 or K4, these refer to Field Marshal Lord Kitchener's "New Armies", each one being a "Wave" of five divisions.
Service Battalions were not raised by the War Office and were not initially under War Office control.
||Territoral Force Battalions were embodied in August 1914, but starting in Septmber 1914, Regiments started forming second-line Territorial Battalions numbered 2/N Battalion, i.e. 2/4 Battalion The Buffs. These were initially formed from personnel who did not voolunteer for overseas service or were not allowed to volunteer because of their occupation.
Many of these Second Line Battalions later served abroad.
In March 1915, all the First Line Territorial Battalions were renamed 1/N Battalion, i,e, 1/4 Battalion The Buffs.
Later in 1915, Third Line Battalions were raised numbered as 3/N Battalion, i.e. 3/4 The Buffs. These served at home andf were renamed as Reserve Battalions in 1916.
||In 1915, some Service Battalions raised as part of K4 were converted to 2nd Reserve Battalions to manage recruit training for the Service Battalionms of their Regiment. In 1916, this training was centralised and all 2nd Reserve Battalions became Battalions of the Training Reserve.In 1917, some of these Battalions were restored to their Regiment as Graduated or Young Service Battalions, numbered 51-53 Battalions of their Regiment. Some Battalions were transfered to different Regiments as part of this process.
||In 1908, units of the Terrotorial Force were grouped into Named Divisions and Brigades, In 1914-1915, these formations were numbered, starting at 42, in the order in which they went overseas. Territorial Divisions were also duplicated into First Line and Second Line Divisions. Many Second Line Divisions also served abroad.