The British rifle section in Normandy

Posted: September 16, 2019 in 1/56, Bolt Action, British, Wargaming, WW2
Tags: , , , ,

The rifle section was the core building block of the British army organization of WW2 and was the chief instrument in Normandy in closing with the enemy and destroying him.
In 1944 the British rifle section consisted of ten men. The section was commanded by a Corporal who would normally divide his team into six riflemen, which he led and a bren gun team of two with a Lance corporal commanding (so two groups of 7 and 3 men).

The standard infantry man was equipped with a Lee Enfield number 4 .303 rifle and could fire at targets up to 550yds away. This bolt action rifle was reliable and accurate.

The section leader carried a 9mm Sten gun which even though was an inaccurate and somewhat unreliable weapon was favoured for its effectiveness in close quarter battles, especially as it was able to fire 500 rounds a minute.
Each section was issued one Bren gun and the two-man team that operated it was known as the “gun group”. The team consisted of a No1 who carried and operated the Bren and a No 2 who loaded and spotted targets. The No2 also carried spare ammunition and barrels. Additional ammunition for the Bren was also carried my all members of the rifle section. The Bren usefully also fired 303 rounds and had an effective range of 600 yards. It fired 500 rounds a minute

Individual riflemen were also equipped with grenades, the No 36 grenade and White Phosphorous grenade (Phosphorous grenades were used to produce smoke).

In combat the section centred on the Bren gun with its considerable flexibility and reliability. As the 1937 training manual,” Application of Fire” stated the lmg was main fire producing weapon and led to tactics revolving around this weapon.

In attack the British section would split into two. The Bren gun team of 3 men would move to the flank and provide suppressing fire on the target while the other group of riflemen(team of 7) would close with the enemy. Ideally the Bren gun would get to 90 degrees of the target allowing a cross fire between the two groups.
The rifle team would close with the enemy using grenades and bayonets to finish the job off.

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Comments
  1. Interesting! Cheers for posting, alot of military history is noticeably light on these sorts of details 👍

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