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How come British infantry sections don't have binoculars?


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To add context JonS's observations - I was a TA infantryman in the mid-1980s in a NATO-roled battalion before joining the Regular Army and I don't recall anyone having issued binos. They were certainly controlled stores/attractive items which meant that they almost certainly wouldn't be issued below Pl Comd level ... and this was the 1980s not the 1940s.

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On ‎7‎/‎05‎/‎2016 at 0:11 AM, Trooper117 said:

I was a regular soldier from the early 1970's onwards till the 90's... I can assure you, even in the 1970's, all section commanders (corporals) carried bino's... It was mandatory to sign out a set before deployment, and that's training exercises as well as operational...

In which case I stand corrected - thanks for the info.

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  • 2 weeks later...
4 hours ago, noob said:

There's an English superstition that goes all the way back to medieval times, that binoculars brought bad luck.

They had binoculars in medieval times? Telescopes weren't invented until early in the 17th. century, well after the medieval period. So how did an earlier superstition originate?

Michael

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16 minutes ago, Michael Emrys said:

They had binoculars in medieval times? Telescopes weren't invented until early in the 17th. century, well after the medieval period. So how did an earlier superstition originate?

Michael

I was being silly :)

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4 hours ago, Michael Emrys said:

They had binoculars in medieval times? Telescopes weren't invented until early in the 17th. century, well after the medieval period. So how did an earlier superstition originate?

Michael

Forward-thinking chaps in those days :)

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9 hours ago, noob said:

There's an English superstition that goes all the way back to medieval times, that binoculars brought bad luck. It still persists today.

Well that makes sense. Just like with magic mushrooms, they make you see clearly, but there is no guarantee that you will like what you see.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Eureka! I have now found an exact, specific account showing binoculars in the hands of a corporal. The account was  given by the Canadian Charlie Kipp of the Lincoln & Wellands, who, tired of being shot at and being unable to hit back, became an impromptu Bren gunner and, with the help of a binocular equipped corporal who told him where to shoot, KOed a German LMG defending Tilly. It's on page 139 of Ken Tout's The Bloody Battle of Tilly.

Regards,

John Kettler

Edited by John Kettler
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I guess BF has researched the TO&E correctly. They usually do and if not - the (WWII-)British Army is in CMx2 games ever since CMBN-Commonwealth so the error would have been most likely corrected by now.

Just theorizing here:

British wartime industry was at it's limits just as was their funding - maybe they just didn't have the rescources? I suspect their prime concern was their Navy as it was "Mission critical" to not loosing through starvation and even though the U-Boat-thread had been all but anihilated by 1944, maybe they still got most of the rescources allocated?

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2 hours ago, DasMorbo said:

I suspect their prime concern was their Navy as it was "Mission critical" to not loosing through starvation and even though the U-Boat-thread had been all but anihilated by 1944, maybe they still got most of the rescources allocated?

Naval binoculars tended to be on the bulky and heavy side, not what a grunt would find congenial to lug around. You might notice that the ever popular Wehrmacht models were compact and light weight.

Michael

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I suppose it's quite possible that they were low on binoculars at this point in the war, much like with men, equipment and food, and so decided to prioritize manufacturing binoculars for other branches. But what I think is strange is that the only Commonwealth units that are issued binoculars ATM at the squad/section level, bar airborne units, are the engineers. Not even scouts get them.

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6 hours ago, Anthony P. said:

I suppose it's quite possible that they were low on binoculars at this point in the war, much like with men, equipment and food, and so decided to prioritize manufacturing binoculars for other branches. But what I think is strange is that the only Commonwealth units that are issued binoculars ATM at the squad/section level, bar airborne units, are the engineers. Not even scouts get them.

Where did you get the idea the UK was low on any of the above? Food was rationed at a very healthy level, and the armed forces got more anyway. Lend lease and British industry meant that the forces were very comfortable (maybe not to US standards but well above German and Russians). As for men, this is a myth. The Armed service strength was only just peaking. The perceived manpower shortages were relative to continued expansion whilst still generating replacements and running war production and expansion, and without affecting reserved occupations and post war plans. The worst shortages were replacement infantry (much as the US also did a few months later), and were purely a priority choice. Did you know the government report that defined the NHS/welfare state was published in 1942. Secondary education was significantly reformed in 1944. Not exactly the sane options for a country with equipment shortages and no manpower...

As ever, distribution of equipment was uneven, but I have never heard of binos being an issue. 

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Well, it is on topic because the suggestion was made that the British army was short of food, equipment and men and this might be an explanation of why CMBN didn't give them many binos. I am challenging that assertion. 

The army in later stages of Normandy amalgamated divisions (not just regiments) because it had over expanded relative to be available manpower, not because there was a shortage.  There was not a significant change in call up rules in UK as there was progressively in say Germany, even late war. The Home Guard was disbanded before the end of the war without drafting any of its members into the regular Army.

Did the US army have a manpower shortage when it remustered many USAAF recruits into the infantry later in the same year?

ok, undeniably back on topic: is this WAD for a start (bino numbers) and has BF said why? I suspect it might be an error, or we are missing something.

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On 6/9/2016 at 10:01 AM, Trooper117 said:

We were talking about the chaps experience in the TA in the 1980's...

I just meant that perhaps the level of binoculars and who got them had gone dwn to section leaders or whatever by the 70s and 80s but wasnt the case in ww2. Idk either way 

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4 hours ago, Sailor Malan2 said:

ok, undeniably back on topic: is this WAD for a start (bino numbers) and has BF said why? I suspect it might be an error, or we are missing something.

It's certainly WAD (as in, "it's not a code bug"). Whether it's historically accurate has yet to be determined, as in no one has provided any evidence that section leaders in the WW2 British Army in the ETO carried binos; until that evidence appears. That they have them in FI is suggestive that there's a discontinuity somewhere. Do they have them in older versions of BN? The demo?

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