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Still loving Commonwealth forces


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There was discussion in the general forum about scenario replayability, including this perspicacious comment from MikeyD...

21 hours ago, MikeyD said:

CM can be used as a 'tactics tutorial'. If played as a learning aid you'd have a different goal than merely 'having fun'. Steve in that podcast interview said that's what the British MoD is using CM for. To wargame-out certain tactics, to test their combat doctrine, to see the effect of a mix of different weapons systems on the battle outcome. "Whats the best way to approach this situation?" The only way to answer the question is to repeat the process several different ways and see which has the best outcome. Then you can learn something from it.

...I find myself doing something similar with QBs - playing the same, similar or related forces again and again, against similar but varied enemies, on different maps, in different weather conditions and so on. I particularly love the British and Commonwealth forces - CMFI has a marvellous range of these, covering a good chunk of the war.

These days, I've found myself playing with variations on the MG Company/MG Battalion/Support Group used in conjunction with Infantry or Motorised Infantry. There are many subtle variations of the Support Group/Support Company, as well as variations of the Motorised Company - and I am getting much better at using the combination of massed Vickers MG (with extra ammo of course), heavy and medium mortars and good old British/Commonwealth infantry.

An MG Platoon (or two) can put out an amazing amount of suppressing fire if concentrated on a single target (they don't get many kills, but they can paralyse most soft targets at up to 1000m). Heavy mortars are inaccurate, but fire comes in quickly. Combined with the ubiquitous infantry smoke mortar, there are all kinds of fun tactical plans to experiment with - plus there are on map mortars, carriers and so on to utilise. I must be up to about my 20th consecutive QB with some combination of these forces from one of the Commonwealth nationalities and I feel like I am still just beginning to come to grips with the use of these two units in combination.

Thanks yet again BF :)

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's hard to tell how those huge MG Battalions were used, and i've heard enough arguments both ways to say that there was no specific manner in which they used. Sometimes the guns and crews would be parceled out among infantry formations, sometimes they'd be used as you use them in "battery" all massed on a specific objective. 

Here's a TOE

Infantry (Machine Gun) Battalion, 06.04.1938 (niehorster.org)

Motorized too, trucks directly attached to the formation, also note large distribution of Boys Rifles for self-protection from armor. 

They seem to have been a holdover of the First World War Machine Gun Corp in which many Armies still used MG formations like artillery groups. The Red Army maintained Machine Gun Companies for the war too, but as I heard they were almost never used en masse but usually parceled out to locations not in the Russian's main path of maneuver in order to prevent or attrition movement as economy-of-force. ie: The Russians using the cheapest reasonable means for an objective such as flank screening. 

The Italian Army also had Machine Gun Companies but I don't have any specific on how they were used. I wouldn't be surprised to find out they were frequently withheld by Division HQ to protect Division HQ while the infantry could just screw off with their awful Breda MGs. 

Edited by SimpleSimon
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37 minutes ago, SimpleSimon said:

they were almost never used en masse but usually parceled out to locations not in the Russian's main path of maneuver in order to prevent or attrition movement as economy-of-force.

Makes sense as en masse MG's are not that useful in (mobile) attack - too vulnerable if together and can't move fast enuff.  They work better in fixed assaults.  But, if the enemy has mortars they are a nice static target.

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14 hours ago, SimpleSimon said:

It's hard to tell how those huge MG Battalions were used.....

I haven't tried using a whole MG battalion - it would be fun on the defence I imagine - but MG companies are very useful, en masse on a smaller scale.

I never had much luck before with Vickers MGs spread around individually, following the infantry into Bren gun range, but used in platoons at longer ranges Vickers are very effective.

  

14 hours ago, Erwin said:

....  But, if the enemy has mortars they are a nice static target.

Actually, one of the advantages of MGs is that you can spread them out, 'swarm' them at long range against targets like AT guns, MG nests, mortars (if you can spot them). It takes a while to degrade MGs that are well spread out, and their excellent suppressing fire works very well along with one's own on-map mortars, which can be vulnerable when taking out those sorts of targets, as mortars take time to find their range.

I've even had platoons of Vickers take out ATGs and MG42s at 750m+ range without needing artillery support. They're a very interesting weapon :)

 

 

Edited by Freyberg
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As with ATR's, MG's don't seem that useful when alone, and one wonders why where they ever used. But when you have a platoon's worth or at least half a dozen focused on a target, only then one sees their effectiveness and value.

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On 10/17/2020 at 9:43 AM, SimpleSimon said:

It's hard to tell how those huge MG Battalions were used, and i've heard enough arguments both ways to say that there was no specific manner in which they used. Sometimes the guns and crews would be parceled out among infantry formations, sometimes they'd be used as you use them in "battery" all massed on a specific objective. 

Here's a TOE

Infantry (Machine Gun) Battalion, 06.04.1938 (niehorster.org)

Motorized too, trucks directly attached to the formation, also note large distribution of Boys Rifles for self-protection from armor. 

They seem to have been a holdover of the First World War Machine Gun Corp in which many Armies still used MG formations like artillery groups. The Red Army maintained Machine Gun Companies for the war too, but as I heard they were almost never used en masse but usually parceled out to locations not in the Russian's main path of maneuver in order to prevent or attrition movement as economy-of-force. ie: The Russians using the cheapest reasonable means for an objective such as flank screening. 

The Italian Army also had Machine Gun Companies but I don't have any specific on how they were used. I wouldn't be surprised to find out they were frequently withheld by Division HQ to protect Division HQ while the infantry could just screw off with their awful Breda MGs. 

From 1943 on sub-units of MGs and mortars were generally parceled out to brigades as “brigade support groups,” e.g.:

Quote

During the summer and autumn of 1942 it appeared as though the medium machine gun was on its way out.  It was termed obsolete in a war-machine equipped with many automatic weapons.  It looked as though the Battalion and its sister battalions would have to find another role.  That role for a time looked as though it might be "BRICK" work or in other words handling the administration of a beach bridge-head for supplies and equipment.  In fact, a period was spent in Combined Operations with that in mind.  However, word came back from North Africa of the excellent and essential performance of the medium machine guns in the desert fighting.  Consequently emphasis was again placed on these weapons.  By the spring of 1943 a reorganization of the Battalion was proposed whereby 4.2" mortars and 20mm anti-aircraft guns would be added.  The Machine Gun Battalion would be changed to a Support Battalion consisting of an enlarged headquarters to administer the Division's Administration Area and three Brigade Support Groups, each under the command of a brigade for operations.  Hectic preparations were made for such a change-over with large numbers of officers and NCO's going on courses on the new weapons.  On 1st May, 1943, the new battalion was authorized as the "1st Canadian Division Support Battalion (Sask L.I.)".  Almost immediately it was mobilized for war and the move to Scotland took place.  During the few weeks in Scotland in the vicinity of Doune and Callender, the unit was brought up to strength and equipped.  Training was very strenuous, extending to sixteen hours a day to master the newly acquired weapons.  By the middle of June the assault units of the Brigade Groups began moving to the coast for embarkation.  By July 1st only rear parties were left and these were concentrated in a Divisional Rear Party area.  Here the A/A companies completed their training in the 20mm Oerlikon gun.

https://www.saskatoonlightinfantry.org/during-the-war.html

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My Granddad was in the R.A.S.C. at the start of the war. He was attached to 2nd Battalion, The Middlesex Regiment i.e. 3rd Infantry Division's Machine Gun Battalion, commanded by some bloke called Jorrocks. I can state as a fact that the MG boys sole job was to defend Paddy's Guinness laden Bedford's.

Or, they were spread out evenly between the various Infantry Brigades. I shall let fellow forumites make up their own minds. 

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9 hours ago, akd said:

From 1943 on sub-units of MGs and mortars were generally parceled out to brigades as “brigade support groups,” e.g.:

https://www.saskatoonlightinfantry.org/during-the-war.html

That's what I'm seeing too akd.

Machine Gun Battalion, Infantry Division, 1944 (niehorster.org)

Updated ToE for 1944. The Battalion was now distinctly organic to the Division it was attached to (I think previously they were an independent formation?) and resembles something more like a reinforced Heavy Weapons Company. A number of the machine guns were traded in for 4.2in heavy mortars, while the usual rearmament trends in the British Army meant things like more Brens, PIATs, and Universal Carriers all around. The way the 1944 formation is organized seems distinctly like a support-group thing to be detached to Rifle Regiments as needed. 

Edited by SimpleSimon
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20 hours ago, Erwin said:

As with ATR's, MG's don't seem that useful when alone, and one wonders why where they ever used. But when you have a platoon's worth or at least half a dozen focused on a target, only then one sees their effectiveness and value.

Isn't that basically just saying that as long as you have a massive force advantage, things generally go well?

I don't think real MGs are only dangerous when you have half a dozen focused on one target...

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