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Hans Molier

British Army during the Battle of the Somme

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I'm trying to find more information about the strenght of the British Army during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. If the queston/anwser have been placed earlier on this forum, I'm very sorry. But the more I've read about this subject, the more different information I've found.

1. How many British divisions were available (stand-by) at the beginning of the Battle of the Somme on 1 july 1916 ?

2. How many British divisions really took part in the fighting at the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916 ?

3. What was the strenght of a British (infantry)division during the Battle of the Somme ?

4. A British division consisted of 4 Brigades, and a Brigade consisted of 4 battalions ?

5. What was the actual strenght of a Brigade ?

6. The strengh of a battalion was about 1000 soldiers, but only about 800 of them went into action ?

7. Is it correct that 10% of a battalion didn't take part in the real fighting ?

8. Is the stenght of a British division, brigade and battalion still the same as in 1916 ?

Hope someone can help me. Many thanks !

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Hello Hans

Have you tried the LLT

http://www.1914-1918.net/bat15.htm

I hope this helps

regards

Ian

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I'm trying to find more information about the strenght of the British Army during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. If the queston/anwser have been placed earlier on this forum, I'm very sorry. But the more I've read about this subject, the more different information I've found.

1. How many British divisions were available (stand-by) at the beginning of the Battle of the Somme on 1 july 1916 ?

2. How many British divisions really took part in the fighting at the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916 ?

3. What was the strenght of a British (infantry)division during the Battle of the Somme ?

4. A British division consisted of 4 Brigades, and a Brigade consisted of 4 battalions ?

5. What was the actual strenght of a Brigade ?

6. The strengh of a battalion was about 1000 soldiers, but only about 800 of them went into action ?

7. Is it correct that 10% of a battalion didn't take part in the real fighting ?

8. Is the stenght of a British division, brigade and battalion still the same as in 1916 ?

Hope someone can help me. Many thanks !

4. No, a British (Infantry) Div consisted of three infantry brigades of four battalions. (There were exceptions to this, with more battalions occasionally in a brigade, particularly earlier in the war (but it could happen later as well), but occasionally later; the NZ Division had, for some time, four brigades. In early 1918 the divisional strength was in most cases reduced to three battalions in a brigade (a process which the Germans had started with their brigade equivalent, the regiment, in 1915).

8. Simply put, no. Life has got far more complicated ! Even within the war, the composition and strength of divisions changed considerably.

7. It was customary by the Somme to leave a proportion of the rifle strength of a battalion out of an attack.

7. A battalion was hardly ever at full strength - illness, wounds, leave, courses etc etc all would have reduced effective numbers.

6. Strengths of a battalion in an attack could vary - for example, the 1st Newfoundland Battalion had attached troops from other units for 1st July - therefore it is impossible to be dogmatic about this.

In short, some generalisations can be made but there are plenty of caveats! There was (and usually always has been) a world of difference between the established strength of units and formations and the reality.

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Hans

Send me a PM and I will send you the Order of Battle for 1 July 1916, and for the whole of the battle July to November.

Regards

John

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Ian, Nigel and John,thank you very much for your information.

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A battalion consisted of approximately 1,000 soldiers. So a brigade (4 battalions) consisted of approximately 4,000 soldiers.

So a division (3 brigades) consisted of approximately 12,000 soldiers and 1,000 soldiers from divisional pioneers is a total of approximately 13,000 soldiers in a division ?

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A battalion consisted of approximately 1,000 soldiers. So a brigade (4 battalions) consisted of approximately 4,000 soldiers.

So a division (3 brigades) consisted of approximately 12,000 soldiers and 1,000 soldiers from divisional pioneers is a total of approximately 13,000 soldiers in a division ?

Hans you are counting only the infantry soldiers. To that number you must add artillery, service corps (logistics) and medical staff (field ambulance) at Brigade level, and then at Divisional and Corps level there are additional administrative elements to facilitate infrastructure and lines of communication (supplies, HQ staff and medical evacuation etc).

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And engineering and signalling, all functions of the Royal Engineers in WWI, and all trained to fight as infantry if necessary

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