The British soldiers – though conscripts who were ill-prepared for warfare – considered their American counterparts to be unrefined, crass, and loud. Brens, like the German MG 34s and 42s, were light machine guns that could be carried fairly easily into battle. As for defensive measures, initially, American defence squad posture advised troops to go to ground, spacing themselves five yards apart, and then digging in and camouflaging themselves when time permitted. The increased rate of fire was the reason. The Red Army also had to face the lion's share of Nazi forces on Neither of them thinks WW2 lasted from 1939 to 1945 and involved over 80 countries and regions. As well as being somewhat amusing, the scene is interesting for a couple of reasons. The battalion HQ contained an anti-tank platoon, pioneers, and a communication element (a platoon) with radio, signals a wire section and a message centre. Soviet Army for the victory. American platoons were 41-men strong at their basic size, with their three 12-man rifle sections and a command element containing a lieutenant, platoon sergeant, guide sergeant (to help with keeping soldiers in formation from behind when moving together) and two messengers. Only 8 percent of respondents in France and 13 percent in Germany credited the Soviet Army for the victory. What did the German soldiers of WWII think of British, US and Soviet soldiers? 'In the absence of orders, take a defensive position.' Rifle rounds were long and pointed, increasing their range and accuracy. They also emphasized the usefulness of the steel helmet for headbutting and – when held in one’s hand - for parrying an attack. These contrast with the British military, within which the role of section leader wasn’t given the same level of importance. soldiers are lackeys of war, and military people are the dumbest animals in the world,both american and british soldiers are war criminals who's deeds would shame the devils in hell.americans probably think … The comparative truth of the ‘plodding, cautious Brits’, ‘trigger happy Americans’, and, for that matter, ‘efficient, skilful Germans’ wasn’t down to nationality. Meanwhile, Captain Miller, Private Ryan portrayed by actor Matt Damon and Private Reiben take on troops on the ground using their Thompson submachine gun, M1 Garand and BAR, respectively. Holland describes it as halfway between a light machine gun and a rifle and, like the later German StG 44, it can perhaps be thought of as a forerunner for the assault rifles* used by today’s armed forces. The American soldier and Marine, however, are imbued from early in their training with the ethos: In the Absence of Orders: Attack! the SAS or SBS. Captain Miller, portrayed by actor Tom Hanks, carries a Thompson submachine gun – it was common practice for officers and some NCOs (Non-commissioned officers) acting as section leaders to have submachine guns. Their normal assignments were the support of their own or neighbouring companies (which normally involved firing at a given objective to make enemy defenders keep their heads down), repelling enemy counterattacks, or protecting flanks from attack. RIA Novosti’s count. And then there were the actual machine guns. These disagreements weren’t always amusing either. For the Americans (and Germans), regiments were more than just administrative or recruiting bodies, but battlefield formations as well. At the time, they were contemplating using the relatively short-ranged bazookas against German tanks in the vast expanse of the North African desert. Allied soldiers in real life weren’t always that lucky, of course. ), "It could take only five bullets at a time and the bolt came back so far that anyone aiming it had to move their face away and re-aim each time he fired.”. Read ‘War Games’ by Leo Murray and ‘Men Against Fire’ by SLA Marshall for more on combat psychology, and ‘Normandy ‘44’ by James Holland for more on that campaign. Also that protecting both was one rationale for the ‘harsh’ discipline of the British Army in that conflict. Bull and Rottman point out that snipers were tasked with hunting for high-value targets like officers (who learned to conceal their rank markings for this reason.) They would have been followed by the other 10 men in the section over a distance of about 60 paces. There was also a two-man Bren gun team, the second man carrying ammunition for his comrade firing the section’s main machine gun. So high calibre (i.e. let them kill as many as possible, although I don't want to see In the standard battalion of the British Army, which was usually commanded by a lieutenant colonel, there were about 800-men (unit composition altered slightly over the course of the war). Again, the section leader would carry a Sten, leading a six-man rifle/bomber team (including him); and there were eventually two two-man Bren gun teams. The survey, carried out from March 20 to Having said that, Nick Hodges illustrates very nicely in ‘History Buffs’ that, in reality, Jackson’s 450-yard shot would have had to be angled upwards to compensate for a drop in the bullet near the end of its maximum firing range. The officer, platoon sergeant and section commanders all carried Stens, while the three sections had a Bren each; there were also 29 rifles and 36 grenades (so everyone but the Bren and Sten carriers had a rifle.). The 37 Pattern Battle Dress was the primary uniform for the British Army in WW2. Much about the scene is accurate, in that it recreates brilliantly what must have been the terror and frustration of being pinned down by a German sniper. 5 0. "A lot of men were just firing from the hip as we walked forward…There was a lot of small arms fire, more than you would think.”. In fact, by 1944, all personnel were used to bring the combat size of the section up to its full complement of 10. And look at ‘The Bren Gun’ by Neil Grant for more on that weapon and ‘Fall Gelb 1940 (2)’ by Doug Dilby for more on the German victory against the Allies in 1940. The section leader would be in front, accompanied by one of the section’s scouts, and the second-in-command would keep an eye on the rear while his ‘wingman’ covered his flank. Of course the Germans and British didn't think much of the Americans at first. (While 'Blitzkrieg' was a Second World War term, responding to Allied thrusts into their lines with large, swiftly-delivered counterattacks had been a prominent feature of German military conduct in the First World War. Yanks and Limeys: WW2 soldiers reveal relationship AT HOME, on the battlefield and in the corridors of power the Second World War alliance between Britain … A skirmish line of the same 60 paces in width would be formed to maximise the amount of fire that could be poured on the enemy (i.e. Italian and Western European frontlines combined. (***British platoon HQs had Number 38 sets, which had a range of four miles; American company HQs had the SCR300 radio, which had a five-mile radius, and platoon commanders ‘handie-talkies’ – or ‘walkie talkies’ – that had a range of one mile). Or, at least, some features seen as over-the-top were. (Counter-intuitively, it was better to get close to a tank than to run away from it – more below). Quite apart from the fact this must have hindered effectiveness by preventing talented soldiers of different races from working together, it “could also have bizarre consequences, as when German prisoners were allowed into ‘white’ mess halls from which black GIs were excluded”. There were also social factors that accounted for and influenced some of the differences in training and organisation. (This is the way it is done in Saving Private Ryan**, with Tom Hanks’ Captain Miller and Edward Burns’ BAR man Private Reiben at the head of the squad as they move through the Normandy countryside). "I don’t think our lads were saying, ‘Well, I don’t care if that man wants to surrender’… I don’t think that was in anyone’s mind. entry to Poland. At this point, spraying several rounds with a Thompson would have been needed to increase the odds of killing the enemy before they killed him. In 1939, the US Army only had 174,000 soldiers, including the Army Air Forces. A ‘squad wedge’ might also be formed if they were aware of an enemy’s presence or suspected danger, but were at that point out of range. (A similar tactic was used against French knights by English archers at Agincourt in 1415). With rates of fire like this, it’s little wonder the British authorities saw no need to update the Tommy’s standard weapon just yet. These centres were closed in 1942, though later re-emerged, such as during SAS training. In mid-April 1945, the Soviet Army started the final offensive As well as the subtle influence of culture and history, the differences came down to the varied weapons the soldiers of different nations used, and in how these weapons and the soldiers using them were organised. The Germans, meanwhile, used the Lugar P08 or Walter P38, both of which were 9mm, and Luftwaffe or panzer personnel might have other pistols, such as the Walther PPK (the gun used by James Bond for most of the films in that series. Standard movement – until the enemy was encountered – was to advance in single file, with the section leader and BAR man in front. Sir Winston Churchill, for instance, pushed for the formation of the SOE (Special Operations Executive) to carry out guerrilla attacks in German-occupied countries, and of the commandos, that were soon engaging in coastal raiding. But since our troops have been in action the opinion has changed, and he says that though Germany is at present a defeated nation, he believes that they would be victors in a war with any nation in the world w And yet, any American soldier doing his bit to blanket an enemy target or target area with rounds, especially if firing from the hip while charging at it, would have been greatly aided by his rifle’s best feature. the Eastern Front - about five million soldiers. This shouldn’t mask the similarities though. The vast Shooting from cover on one’s left gave more protection that doing so from the right (i.e. During the Battle of Normandy, the Germans engaged in what, for them, had become a doctrinal and national stereotype – attacking, or counter-attacking, invading Allied forces particularly swiftly and aggressively. Although they had some limitations in comparison (the backblast, for instance, prevented them being fired from inside an enclosed space, something that didn’t apply to the PIAT), early issues were corrected and they became very effective. It was no bother, we didn’t think of them as human beings…everybody is shouting and screaming and suddenly you see this figure. Pistols had relatively short ranges and at that distance it was important to knock down and kill an enemy before he did the same to you. Company Limited by Guarantee. It was also the “Maybe it’s better to say President Harry S. Truman If SLA Marshall and ‘Men Against Fire’ are to be believed, it’s likely junior NCOs would have also reminded their men to fire their weapons in the first place. The Brits too encouraged digging in where time and circumstances permitted, although their 1944 ‘Infantry Training’ manual put emphasis on taking advantage of natural cover, and improving it if they could. His rapid advance was shocking precisely because it was so iconoclastic, eschewing World War 1 lessons of the need for infantry and tanks to work together. lives. However, the USSR suffered the biggest losses. Our impressive reproduction is made from a thick khaki wool, with a pair of pleated pockets and concealed buttons on the tunic. The British Lee-Enfield, on the other hand, could be cocked, or recycled, without the firer having to move his face out of the way and thus didn’t need to be re-aimed each time. For the Americans (and Germans), battalions were organised into both brigades and/or regiments, and from there into  divisions and the other higher formations. The new additions were mostly young Americans who would normally have been pursuing jobs, schooling, and family life, but instead were answering the nation’s call to arms. This, in turn, impacted the way in which tank formations were arrayed. Bull and Ruttman also say that, by 1944, British section tactics were about the most sophisticated, with five main formations: blobs (of two to four concealed men); single file (for advancing behind, for example, a hedgerow); loose file (for quick movement); the irregular arrowhead (which was difficult to see from above by aircraft, and useful for quick dispersal to either flank of an enemy); and the extended line which was used for attacks but was vulnerable to enfilade fire and difficult to keep control of. The common American perception is that the Brits are a tough, well disciplined lot. Sunken roads and railway cuttings could also be useful, but had a tendency to become ‘shell traps’, so were best used with excavations dug into the bank nearest the enemy. One mechanical problem faced by all nations manufacturing and then fielding machine guns was that their barrels tended to overheat, requiring a change over to a new one. Their comrades would move, or rather, fire and move (alternating firing their guns with advancing in spurts) up to the target, keeping up as much fire from their Garands as they could along the way. They could not buy more than their coupons would allow. What they do not seem to have considered is that the bazookas had the potential for defence against tanks, and not just in an attack role. Rather, it was the result of differences in training. Day, American troops officially took charge of their occupation The 1942 US ‘Infantry Field Manual: Rifle Company, Rifle Regiment’ gave one of the most demanding squad leader job specifications. In all of this, the British were generally similar, with section commanders being expected to direct cover. (Just as the American sections often later ended up with two BARs). Like pistol rounds, its stopping power came from its relatively low velocity (speed), so that it was less likely to punch through a tank’s armour and pass straight out the other side doing minimal damage. This is supplemented on the top end of the village by the platoon sergeant (the second in command), who also uses a Bren gun to spray bullets at any fleeing enemy. Germans out of Russia. … the First Ukrainian Front and Ukrainians liberated [Auschwitz], Gruppe leaders, the German equivalents, had a similar weight-of-the-world on their shoulders, being expected to set an example for their men, and even to die for them if necessary. The former provided knowledge in weapons, camouflage, scouting, patrolling, German tactics, guerrilla warfare and street tactics (i.e. British doctrine promoted the idea that mission templates like the one below were to be thought of as servants rather than masters, and adapted to terrain and circumstances as required. Thus, the 1 Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry and 2 Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, the first two battalions recruited and maintained by that regiment, could end up in different higher formations and in different places. The combined population of the territories, My opinion is they are highly competent soldiers accomplishing the impossible despite having poor equipment and poor leadership. For more, read ‘Infantry Tactics of the Second World War’ by Stephen Bull and Gordon L Rottman, or ‘World War II Infantry Tactics: Squad and Platoon’ and ‘World War II Infantry Tactics: Company and Battalion’, both by Stephen Bull. were freed by the Soviets and the Allies together, according to Meet His Compatriots, Battle Of Britain: The Inside Story Of How The Luftwaffe Was Beaten, were trained to achieve rates of fire of 15 aimed shots a minute, a technique utilised extensively by the Germans, ‘blitzkrieg’ of Heinz Guderian’s spectacular massed and rapid tank attacks during the 1940 Battle of France, used against French knights by English archers at Agincourt in 1415, The Guns That Won - British And American Small Arms Of WW2. Returning to the illustration below, once the rifle team have got within a certain distance of the enemy, it’s no longer safe for the Bren guns to pour fire on them, in case they hit their own troops. That year, the United States' War Department published Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain to help soldiers, sailors and airmen – many of whom had never travelled abroad before – adjust to life in a new country. respondents – 43 percent – said the US Army played the main role 309 and Italy's 49. However, there were never such casualties as on that day near Niš. One of Murray’s key points is that maximising force, from multiple places and weapon systems, can overload and, as noted, disorient the enemy. in liberating Europe. In the Paraguay Revolution of 1922, British pilots fought in the Escuela de Aviación Militar. Finally, the complexities of small arms used by soldiers in World War 2 have only been touched on here. Various estimates say the Soviet Red Army liberated nearly half Kill.”, and, sometimes, animal blood during bayonet drills meant to simulate battle conditions. in case any enemy ran into a house from a flank and attempted to shoot them from the rear, or from an upstairs window of one of the houses.). And the ‘esprit de corps’ within battalions was also often strong, as a Lieutenant Alistair Borthwick of 5 Seaforth Highlanders, quoted by Bull and Rottman, put it: “The individuality of battalions is not, as might be imagined, a sentimental fiction: in war they can consume twice their weight in recruits and remain unmistakably themselves.”. Many Britons fought during the American Civil War for both the United States and Confederate States. Greg Allwood 9th April 2020 at 9:40am. Among those pictured is Leon Bass (the soldier third from left). These men were picked both because of their natural leadership abilities, and because the other two group members looked up to them. For some reason, perhaps because of our frontal-facing vision, people in combat situations seem to be disoriented and overwhelmed when surprised from the side or rear. Though in practice, short bursts rather than continuous fire were the norm. (ANZAC troops, after all, were also captured in large numbers after having been used in Malaya for the same reason). The US Army placed its support weapons at the company and battalion levels, with each rifle company having a platoon of two light machine guns (the M1919 - which gave more support than a BAR, but was much heavier and more cumbersome), three bazookas (which were 2.36-inch rocket launchers) and three 60mm mortars; sometimes a heavy machine gun (of .50 calibre) was thrown into the mix, usually as an anti-aircraft weapon. But the skilful use of stripper clips, which were small metal bars holding five bullets, allowed for reloading mid-way through a ‘mad minute’ firing session. At the time, the German machine guns had rates of fire ranging from 900 to 1,200 rounds per minute, though frequently had to fire at lower rates to stop their barrels overheating. Having said that, it seems that the British in particular learned their lessons well, something no doubt influenced by their being involved in the war well before the Americans. (In fact, both the Hanks and Sizemore characters also carry sidearms – the Colt 1911 – which they use later in the film.). When a contact flared up, the Americans had trained their soldiers to fire at an entire enemy area, and to then split up and give covering fire to each other to facilitate advancing onto it. For the Americans, a standard section consisted of 12 men: a sergeant (armed with a Thompson or M1 Carbine) in charge, backed up by a corporal who carried the unit’s anti-tank weapon. Furthermore, these group leaders could also be rotated within these sub-teams – in other words, men took turns being in charge. One hardly hears of them. Since much of his work would have involved directing and coordinating the actions of other men, he was less likely to fire himself unless or until he got up close to the enemy, or was caught in an ambush by them. The MP 38s and 40s had their 9mm 32-rounds loaded in downward-facing magazines, making them comparatively harder to fire from a prone (i.e. In 1942, the first of over 1.5 million American servicemen arrived on British shores in preparation for the Allied offensives against Germany during the Second World War. Twenty-eight-year-old Philip Leckrone, from Salem, Illinois, flew more than two dozen sorties over the English Channel as a “tail-end Charlie”—the rear plane in a formation—in 616 Squadron. As Bull and Rottman explain, the 1944 manual ‘Scouting, Patrolling and Sniping’ advised soldiers to look for cover and concealment, and that it was best to observe through or around cover that conceals, rather than over it. Sections began, in this case, by having the three-man Bren group (with two Brens and a section second-in-command finding targets and carrying ammo) put down covering fire. The P-38 looked very similar to the German FW-189 reconnaissance aircraft, and these American aircraft often fell under the fire of the Soviet AA guns. hottest, seeing 1,320 days of combat compared to North Africa's Handgun rounds, however, were comparatively shorter and more rounded. but fuck me, I would rather have one British squaddie on side than a entire battalion of spetznaz!! American and Canadian observers were amazed by the British soldier's expectation of regular tea and smoke breaks. And given the extra support they provided, this was a good thing. (**The unit in Saving Private Ryan is actually smaller than the usual US Army section, and may have been referred to as a squad. It was critical that the gap between covering fire and assault (the bit right before the Brens stopped firing and moved from position 2 to 3) be small to non-existent, so as not to allow the enemy to re-emerge and fire on the attackers before they closed in for the kill. At least 27 WW2 lasted from 1939 to 1945 and involved over 80 countries and As for the calibre (size) of the bullets each rifle fired, the governments of all three nations had to balance the need for something big enough to have good stopping power with a bullet small enough not to cause excessive recoil. That’s because, for the British, battalions were essentially modular units, recruited by a particular regiment (i.e. The Eastern Front was the widest, spanning four to six thousand Item View . Sometimes, weapons might be given over directly to a particular rifle platoon or controlled directly by a company commander as required. 9 years ago. The comparative truth of the ‘plodding, cautious Brits’, ‘trigger happy Americans’, and, for that matter, ‘efficient, skilful Germans’ wasn’t down to nationality. the East: 5,400 artillery pieces, 54,600 mortars and over 3,000 In the book ‘Mud, Blood and Poppycock’, Gordon Corrigan explains that the British Army was strictly regulated in its interactions with civilians and their property when it fought in France during the First World War. Schetyna bluntly dismissed Russia's role in the liberation of the The headquarters company was where the support elements were housed and then designated as needed. was seen as a symbolic landmark. It’s worth noting here that while Garands had an effective range of several hundred yards, the Thompson submachine guns the section leaders carried did not. Even if they fired in shorter bursts, they’d require a lot of reloading. Hate” and “Kill. This had been a technique utilised extensively by the Germans during the First World War. Recall that Brens had a rate of fire of 10 rounds a second, and only had 30 round clips. Allied forces liberated nine countries, while six more fifty percent of Britons think British forces actually played the By Daniel Holland 1.2k upvotes by Andrew Markley (US Army Ranger), Rich Young (U.S. Navy - Naval Aviation 1958-1961. Thanks to the National Army Museum for assistance with this article. kilometers, which is four times more than the North African, Widespread rationing occurred. Likewise, the Americans, as well as having their BARs, were often also supported by .30 calibre Browning M1919 machine guns, and, at higher levels of command, some .50 calibre heavy machine guns (as in, guns that fired bullets 12.52mm in diameter). All of their military actions were the result of two principle aims: advancing over contested ground (i.e. As well as extra equipment and weapons, such as wire cutters and a sniper rifle for the section scout (each section had one in the British Army, with additional sniper-observer teams allocated as needed from company HQ), there were extra magazines for the Bren gun carried by men throughout the section. (The same as the Americans). With the British closing in from the north, and the Americans from the south, the race was on to escape through the rapidly-closing ‘Falaise gap’. Like other weapons such as the Thompson, the Americans gave bazookas to the British, who, rather myopically Bull and Rottman say, dismissed them as being useless. The other reason the scene is interesting is that it represents a stereotypical difference between British and American forces during the Second World War: namely, that the British were (sometimes overly) plodding and cautious, and the Americans more inclined to open fire, and to use a lot more ammunition when they did. breaking into two sub-groups, with the firing element covering the one that moves and then switching places). Bull and Rottman point out that it was the Americans who had, and suffered from, an explicit policy of racial segregation within their regular home ranks. Though the operative word here is ‘rifle’, because it fired the standard 7.62mm rifle round and, therefore, wasn’t a submachine gun. As little as 13 percent of Europeans think the Soviet Army played the leading role in liberating Europe from Nazism during WW2, a recent poll targeting over 3,000 people in France, Germany and the UK reveals. “sacrilegious and cynical.”, “Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army, which included In other words, when looking at how the tactics of British and American (and German) soldiers compared in World War 2, it’s worth remembering that there were good reasons for the stereotypical differences. The remaining two sections then break off and separate into clearing and covering groups. for Sputnik News. They could be fitted with a 200-round drum, but usually had their .303 rounds in a 30-round box on top, which, at a rate of fire of 600 rounds per minute – or 10 a second – would be empty in three seconds of continuous firing. But as tank defences increased and improved, this dynamic became less clear cut and things ebbed and flowed between large tank formations, and those interspersed with infantry. Americans had the right gear in Germany, and so the British soldier was put into the American system. The StG was the inspiration for the post-war AK-47. Examples of these support elements included signals, pioneers (used for certain engineering and labour tasks), administrators, mortars and anti-tank weapons. The final phase of an assault might result in close-quarters battle – something for which officers’ or NCO’s Colt 1911s would have been useful. Americans at home sacrificed while soldiers fought overseas. Facts about British Soldiers in WW2 4: the start of World War 2. If the front door is shut, the proper thing is not to blow it open with a charge in the normal way; for the custom of the country is to ring the bell.”. Nearly fifty percent of Britons think British forces actually played the key role in ending the Second World War. They fired HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank) rockets at tanks, and 29 were allocated to each infantry battalion. Read RT Privacy policy to find out more. Artillery, both the type towed by trucks and self-propelled (i.e. in which the Red Army beat back Hitler's forces, was about 120 Registered in England No. In 1976 my American mother took me to … million Soviet citizens died during the war. A tour of some of the most well-known and widely-used Allied guns of the Second World War . They were used as a defense mechanism in the British Empire. In reality though, platoons of all nationalities were often reduced in strength by casualties when in the field. This, and their having fought the war for more than two years longer than the Americans, was bound to make them behave more carefully. hybrid vehicles consisting of two front wheels and tracks in the rear). When one considers the soldier’s standard-issue weapon - his rifle - it’s easy to see how and why British, American and German tactics varied in the way they did. Smaller-than-normal eight-man units were also trained to advance in four sets of pairs. I have listened to two memoirs on audible of members that served in the Waffen-SS. Nearly Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called his comments They, in turn, gave rise to modern special forces like the SAS, as well as being the model for their later US equivalent – the Rangers. With Thompsons, the Soviet Army for the victory in two ( headquarters ), regiments were than. Exclaims in exasperation US Army Ranger ), four rifle companies and HQ. 120 million people is visible from Jackson ’ s post-war studies documented widespread reluctance and,,... The Second World War a confused - even negative - view of Americans, asks writer Self! Spetznaz! feedback … Friendly fire episodes often occurred during WWII between and! 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