Jump to content
Bulletpoint

What would a WW2 battalion typically be expected to achieve?

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

I'm looking for info about what a typical WW2 infantry battalion would be expected to achieve in typical combat, and how long it would be expected to take.

If attacking, how large area would it be expected to seize, and how far would it be expected to advance?

How heavy opposition would it realistically be expected to overcome?

If on the defence, how wide a frontage would it be expected to hold, and against what level of attack?

 

I understand the answer will often be "it depends", and that in the real war, the theory manual often went out the window very fast. But can anyone give some ballpark estimates? Thanks a lot.

Edited by Bulletpoint

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the case of the Limeys, you can expect them to be able to make a decent cup of tea.

The Italians are masters of the "Surrender en Masse".

And the Septics will bribe every woman within 50 miles with silk stockings for a bit of how's yer father.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Real answers are highly variable, but:

Battalion frontage in attack is something like 500-1000m. In defence, at least double that.

Battalions have the assets to operate independently - they often have the radios, light artillery, AT guns or other assets (like the British carrier platoons) embedded in at this level. "Independent" means a couple of days, typically, which gives you an idea of how far they could reasonably advance. Obviously absolute values are useless, since that's entirely terrain and enemy dependent (i.e., one day advance through the Desert is a lot more than one day through bocage country).

Opposition is still figured on the 3:1 ratio, so although you might be manouvreing a battalion versus another battalion, you'll be trying to engage the battalion against a single company. Note how much wider the defence frontage is compared to the attack frontage.



 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

So what would typical orders / objectives for a company and battalion be?

Battalion: Take the village on crossroads

Company: Take a bridge/farm/hill to prepare for taking the village on crossroads?

Is this approximately the scope?

Edited by Bulletpoint

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(Again, all very broadly. These all follow from the basic 3:1 ratio. All examples are from the perspective of the attacker)

Platoons will rarely be assigned a decisive objective, independent operations on the CM scale are limited to things like patrols or reconnaissance. Typically, they're doing a job to support a company move (e.g., moving to this unoccupied hill to provide cover for second platoon's movement).

Companies typically have one main objective, using their platoons to support each other in taking it. (Assault this hill)

Battalions therefore typically will have two objectives. This might be "Lead an attack against this hill,  then defend it against expected counterattack", but it might be "Lead an attack against this hill, then continue the attack against this other hill".

Brigades will then typically have three, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Warts 'n' all said:

In the case of the Limeys, you can expect them to be able to make a decent cup of tea.

Exception: None of the tea I've ever had that was brewed by a Limey was even remotely drinkable. That is just a piece of my personal history and I don't mean to suggest any generalization from that since the sample was a small one. But the fact remains that I have yet to get a decent cuppa from a Limey and I have been led to wonder if they prefer it to be horrid/dreadful/an abomination to the tastebuds.

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

War Diaries are always a good place to start. The link below takes you to the 2nd Battalion, Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry's War Diary. Have a look at the account and Annexes of the battle for Manneville La Raoult on 25-26 August 1944.

http://www.pegasusarchive.org/normandy/war_2ndOxBucks.htm

Here is the contemporary 1:100,000 scale map to help you follow it:

790219547_1-100Map.thumb.jpg.5de3a2b595fb8e8e586f05615259b731.jpg

The Easting part of the Grid References are not on the image. To help you, the first Easting you can see is the 60 Easting, then 61 Easting, then 62 Easting, then 63 Easting.

The 13 Northing is shown, so the one below is the 12 Northing

Here is a 1950s Aerial Photograph of the same area:

1045859229_1950AerialPhoto.thumb.jpg.ddda747e0cd507b317bff1df318bae91.jpg

Edited by Combatintman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent example above. It's important to note orders break down from the top to achieve the overall objective. A battalion might be given an order to seize a town, but each company in the battalion will have their objectives to make this happen. In CM if a platoon is ordered to seize bridge on a small map then I assume it's sister platoon is just off map doing their thing and another company just beyond them, somewhere to the rear is a battalion commander wondering what the hold up is and who gets priority for support calls and reinforcements

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Ok, so what I get from this is that a typical mission for a battalion would be taking a small town. Not a village - that would be a task fit for a company. Not a big town; that would be a regiment/division job.

The reason I asked the question is because I was thinking about doing a one-map campaign where you get a full battalion on the map and then a long time to achieve several objectives.

Typically, designers split such missions up into three submissions, where you control one company in each mission. I was thinking about doing one big map, and then use phase lines. Company 1 is expected to reach phase line 1 within the first hour, company 2 will reach phase line 2 within the second hour, etc.

Or alternatively: Each of the three companies has a simultaneous task to begin with, and will then later focus their attack on a final objective. But I find such scenarios get very tiresome to play, as you have to juggle three different companies and their disparate tactical situations each turn.

Currently, this stuff is just at the thinking stage, and I don't know if I'll ever find time to do the scenario. But to start with, at least I would need to know what it would be reasonable to expect a battalion to do - say within a day.

Edited by Bulletpoint

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is where CM shines as an experimental tool. Select a very large map and drop a Battalion on it. Is it too many forces for the map size? Too few? I've opened scenarios and thought "Oh, this map could use another company at least to accomplish the mission!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, MikeyD said:

This is where CM shines as an experimental tool. Select a very large map and drop a Battalion on it. Is it too many forces for the map size? Too few? I've opened scenarios and thought "Oh, this map could use another company at least to accomplish the mission!"

Yep, of course I could do that. Just wanted to ask the experts first. I know there's a lot of WW2 knowledge on this forum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That sounds like a good concept. The map size (given the general consensus of 1k frontage above) might get a bit cramped. Defense will likely be spread out over maybe double to triple that. It's hard to average these things, with so many variables- as it is a "proof of concept", I'd say 1k attack frontage, 2.5k defense. How that is dealt with also becomes a critical point- the 1k frontage could be the map. Or the 2.5k, with something like a "static" attacker side force along on the other side of the 1k phase-line. Lots to consider.

I dealt with this same fundamental question in a different way for the Aachen campaign for FB. Campaigns have a lot of life in them, and stuff we haven't mined, I'm sure. If I remember for Aachen- I ended up splitting the battalion depicted into component companies which fought over differing areas of a single city. The last fight recombined the entirety of the battalion, where the consequence of each battle leading up to the last one would be felt cumulatively. This allowed smaller forces for most of the battles, and also (if the player didn't get too bloodied along the way) allows for a familiarity with the entire force both as separate entities, and as a coherent unit. That's all baked into the original concept- yours sounds like something people would be interested in (I am).

That campaign was for the game's release, and I was trying to be reactive to the "smaller scenario size" crew (I'm one), and as a dry-run for my patience for a Berlin map- you can be free of such constraints, but just be aware that you may lock some people out by going huge-huge.

Combatintman's post is good advice. What else is new?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, benpark said:

I dealt with this same fundamental question in a different way for the Aachen campaign for FB. Campaigns have a lot of life in them, and stuff we haven't mined, I'm sure. If I remember for Aachen- I ended up splitting the battalion depicted into component companies which fought over differing areas of a single city. The last fight recombined the entirety of the battalion, where the consequence of each battle leading up to the last one would be felt cumulatively. This allowed smaller forces for most of the battles, and also (if the player didn't get too bloodied along the way) allows for a familiarity with the entire force both as separate entities, and as a coherent unit. That's all baked into the original concept- yours sounds like something people would be interested in (I am).

That campaign was for the game's release, and I was trying to be reactive to the "smaller scenario size" crew (I'm one)

I played your Aachen campaign, and enjoyed it. When I bought CMFB, I thought it would be only for the Peiper campaign, and the H2H games. But I actually found your US campaign ("Knock 'em all down") very good.

I don't think there's anything wrong with splitting a battalion up into companies and then letting each company have their own mission. I just wondered if it would be interesting to give the player the whole battalion at the start, stake out some basic objectives and time-table and then let the player decide how many forces to commit, and how quickly.

Also, having a large map but focusing on one company at a time could give the player a better situational awareness of the bigger environs the campaign takes place on, rather than to cut it up. Just some ideas/thoughts. I dont know if there's anything new.

Edited by Bulletpoint

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you want to see what a Battalion attack looks like, if you have RT, you could try the 1st mission of the Russian  or  German Campaign, both are battalion size.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, Bulletpoint said:

I just wondered if it would be interesting to give the player the whole battalion at the start, stake out some basic objectives and time-table and then let the player decide how many forces to commit, and how quickly.

Absolutely. If the map is big enough, you could have "reinforcements on map" behind the main assault force. The player decides. Players like to decide. Let them, sometimes if able without breaking the historical continuum.

Some practical reading for modern, CM:BS battalion level fights:

https://www.benning.army.mil/armor/eARMOR/content/issues/2017/Spring/2Fiore17.pdf

Edited by benpark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Sgt Joch said:

If you want to see what a Battalion attack looks like, if you have RT, you could try the 1st mission of the Russian  or  German Campaign, both are battalion size.

I've played this game for many years and tried out many battalion sized attacks in game. I posted this question to learn more about the historical side of things. Being a civilian, and being blessed with living in the current century, I only know what I can google up on wikipedia :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, a battalion of WHAT makes a difference. A battalion of foot infantry in a big map is doable, a battalion of mech infantry becomes increasingly unwieldy due to the excess of vehicles. A battalion of tanks on a map just looks silly ^_^

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, benpark said:

That sounds like a good concept. The map size (given the general consensus of 1k frontage above) might get a bit cramped. Defense will likely be spread out over maybe double to triple that. It's hard to average these things, with so many variables- as it is a "proof of concept", I'd say 1k attack frontage, 2.5k defense. How that is dealt with also becomes a critical point- the 1k frontage could be the map. Or the 2.5k, with something like a "static" attacker side force along on the other side of the 1k phase-line. Lots to consider.

I dealt with this same fundamental question in a different way for the Aachen campaign for FB. Campaigns have a lot of life in them, and stuff we haven't mined, I'm sure. If I remember for Aachen- I ended up splitting the battalion depicted into component companies which fought over differing areas of a single city. The last fight recombined the entirety of the battalion, where the consequence of each battle leading up to the last one would be felt cumulatively. This allowed smaller forces for most of the battles, and also (if the player didn't get too bloodied along the way) allows for a familiarity with the entire force both as separate entities, and as a coherent unit. That's all baked into the original concept- yours sounds like something people would be interested in (I am).

That campaign was for the game's release, and I was trying to be reactive to the "smaller scenario size" crew (I'm one), and as a dry-run for my patience for a Berlin map- you can be free of such constraints, but just be aware that you may lock some people out by going huge-huge.

Combatintman's post is good advice. What else is new?

Yeah … your awesome Aachen campaign is old news - brilliantly executed and your recollection of how you put it together is correct. I really think that the content in that title was absolutely the best ever of the CMX2 series.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

I played your Aachen campaign, and enjoyed it. When I bought CMFB, I thought it would be only for the Peiper campaign, and the H2H games. But I actually found your US campaign ("Knock 'em all down") very good.

I don't think there's anything wrong with splitting a battalion up into companies and then letting each company have their own mission. I just wondered if it would be interesting to give the player the whole battalion at the start, stake out some basic objectives and time-table and then let the player decide how many forces to commit, and how quickly.

Also, having a large map but focusing on one company at a time could give the player a better situational awareness of the bigger environs the campaign takes place on, rather than to cut it up. Just some ideas/thoughts. I dont know if there's anything new.

Bottom line is that you have to do what you want to do, rather than try to please everybody because ultimately it is your time that is being invested in the editor. Some people like hard battles, others (me) like easy battles, some people like big battles, some like small ones etc. If you embark on a project doing anything other than something that you really want to do then you will lose heart and fail to finish it.

FWIW, I would make your initial battles small and then build up to a battalion-sized battle in the way that @benpark did in the Aachen campaign. It is less intimidating for a player to control a company than a battalion in Mission 1. Once the player is past Mission 1 … they are hooked and will see the thing through. The caveat is that Mission 1 needs to be a good one and you need a strong narrative.

Good luck with your endeavours.

 

Edited by Combatintman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
48 minutes ago, Combatintman said:

Bottom line is that you have to do what you want to do, rather than try to please everybody because ultimately it is your time that is being invested in the editor. Some people like hard battles, others (me) like easy battles, some people like big battles, some like small ones etc. If you embark on a project doing anything other than something that you really want to do then you will lose heart and fail to finish it.

FWIW, I would make your initial battles small and then build up to a battalion-sized battle in the way that @benpark did in the Aachen campaign. It is less intimidating for a player to control a company than a battalion in Mission 1. Once the player is past Mission 1 … they are hooked and will see the thing through. The caveat is that Mission 1 needs to be a good one and you need a strong narrative.

Good luck with your endeavours.

That's good advice, but I am not asking because I want to please everybody. I'm asking to learn more, in order to make my own decisions. I think that sometimes, asking a question is seen as a sign of weakness. In this case, it's not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...