2 Para - Falklands Line-Up

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by legs-o-lead, May 25, 2010.

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  1. Just reading another account of the Falklands... in the book "Goose Green".

    The table of organisation of 2 Para for the event caught my interest....

    Now, I work for local authority, and I thought we were top-heavy with regard to management structure.... but seeing so many HQ units and staff made me think that it all seems a bit "showy"..... 620 guys in the game, only 120 on the field..... a ratio of 5:1 :eek:

    in comparison, we field 18 operatives, and have 2 Contracts Managers, 3 Supervisors, 1 Setting out Engineer, 3 Quantity surveyors, 2 supply drivers, and 2 plant organisers......... a ratio of 0.8:1 (admittedly the workload we actually achieve is probably 1 millionth of the great Armed Forces)....... :p

    But, my question is ....... how many skins in the Army (all bits of it), versus how many actually go bang ? :twisted:
  2. You are not exactly comparing like for like. On paper a fighting Bn might seem over managed, but when it comes to it all are capable of performing the core function: war fighting or to put it another way, closing in and killing the enemy. Further, the management structure is so designed to allow for losses. Your local authority does not have the potential of personnel within its management structure being killed or injured in the routine execution of their duties.
  3. The infantry Battalionf of the WW2 Wehrmacht were of similar size to those of the Brits (1000 men give-or-take)

    Brit Battalions were commanded by Lt Cols, German ones by Majors

    Brit Battalions had some 30 officers, German ones had 13, of whom a numbeer were non-combatant (Doctor, Dentist, Paymaster and Vet)

    They didn't commonly have a problem continuing to function in the face of officer losses.

    Go figure, as they say.
  4. Was that not more to do with the way their NCOs were trained Stonker? I remember reading an interesting article by a British staff officer which, if memory serves points to good NCO training as the reason the Germans functioned so well with less officers.
  5. I think it was Rommel who said something along the lines of Give me German Officers/NCOs and British Soldiers and I will be unstoppable
  6. German battalions however had a hideously complicated NCO structure and more Unteroffizieren than you could shake a stick at!
  7. How wrong he was! The British toms would have driven their officers and NCOs to distraction with their constant gripping, questioning and demands for tea-breaks. The first summary execution would have been the cue for it all to kick off...

    On the other hand how would the British officers have got on with their stoic, obedient stormtroopers? I can imagine that with a wave of a swagger stick, Captain Harry Stoke-Ratt MC would have despatched thechaps to capture hill 413. He would have returned 2 hours later to find 98 casualties and a lone, immaculately turned out survivor on the hill top. "Gefreiter Schmidt, when you started to receive effective enemy fire, why on earth didn't you adopt an alternative plan man?" "We vere only obeying orders Herr Hauptmann."
  8. Establishment varied widely in both armies from 600 to over 900 depending on the type of unit (and the Germans had a lot). Of course most German battalions by 1944-45 were way below establishment.

    The German battalion commander could often even be a Capt. But promotion in the German army was slower than in the British and they didn't use acting/temporary ranks, so the COs in both armies by the end of the war were probably of approximately the same age and length of service.

    I think there is a lot to be said for the German system of only two officers in a rifle coy, the OC and one platoon commander, the other platoons being led by SNCOs. As for the total number authorised in a battalion it varied greatly too, from 13 to 25 depending on the type of unit. Brit infantry battalions in 1943-45 had an establishment of 36-38 officers. Still a lot more.

    See here:

  9. I haven't checked but I suspect the 120 you quote as doing the fighting were just one Rifle Company. Every Battalion will have 3 Rifle Companies plus a Support Company who could double up as a Rifle Company if needed. That doesn't include Command Company who run the show etc.

    Not all Rifle Companies will be in the same place at once so if you were to write a book about Goose Green, you would probably just be talking about the one Rifle Company who were actually there. Some will be covering other area's and presumably someone would have been in reserve. I would assume that's why it appears to be a top heavy structure.

    I worked in local government for 20 years in several different jobs. Great fun and paid the bill's but, nothing like the Army and, every local authority is different. There are some good one's and some bad one's..
  10. It wa about higher degrees of professional competency at all levels, combined with an absence of the habitual brit Orrsifer class contempt for the abilities of those from "the lower classes".

    I don't think that last constraint necessarily affected 2 Para (officers and troops all do the same P Coy) at Goose Green, but Brit Bn structures are all similar, and therefore are affected by the same assumption - that unless you have an orrsifer commanding it, nothing will happen.

    Asumptions like that are apt to become self-fulfilling prophecies.

    If it had applied to the Paras, Sergeant McKay wouldn't have got himself a posthumous VC, after his Pl Comd (my erstwhile schoolmate, Andy Bickerdike) went down on the start line (shouting, as he told me afterwards, "The bastards have shot me!!" :D ), with an Argie 7.62mm round through his thigh.
  11. Incidentally, if you want the most authoritative analysis of the Goose Green fight, find yourself a copy of Not Mentioned In Dispatches - a very, very interesting read.
  12. Exactly my thoughts. There were a damn sight more than 120 bayonets at Goose Green. Nevertheless, respect for what 2 PARA did.