Published works and Websites
The number of books devoted to the history of the Second World War is staggering. Comparatively few though analyse formations to the lowest level. The descriptions contained in this site are culled from a variety of sources. I am a keen believer of cross checking between the work of different authors. Sometimes each holds a part of the story and you need to see both works to get the full picture.
This list refers to those books I have actually used. Some may be out of print. There are a host of specialist book merchants, as well as the ubiquitous and mostly wonderful Amazon. If you are looking my advice is shop around, there are plenty of online stores, and please don't forget your local bookshop!
The British Army in World War Two (Brian Davis) - ISBN 1 85367 048 0
This is a reprint of TM 30-410, a technical manual produced by the US Army in 1942 to explain the British Army to its own men. There are a number of inconsistencies, but on the whole it is an excellent work. Not man for man detail, but good stuff on a variety of units all the same.
The British Army Handbook (George Forty) - ISBN 0 75091 403 3
Picks up with the Army around 1943 to 1944 organisation wise. Useful and infuriating by turn. The table for the Infantry Battalion of 1944 has a couple of errors, omitting the entire fourth Rifle Company, and over estimating the Pioneer Platoon. (I have got a copy of the original, so I know I'm right!). Does give descriptions of several Support Company units, but they don't match the figures given in the summary, except the AT Platoon.
The British Soldier 1944 - 45 (Jean Bouchery) - ISBN 2 908 182 742 (Second Volume of two deals with organisation. Volume One, ISBN 782908 182446 covers uniforms and insignia)
This is more like it. A perfectly reproduced description of a Rifle Platoon, plus Company HQ. Nothing on Support elements in detail though. The only flaws concern the weapon and vehicles tables for the Infantry Battalion, both of which have errors. Taken in conjunction with Forty's book, the best details to date, but still incomplete!
Divisions of the British Army (Malcolm Bellis) - ISBN 0 9529693 1 9
Only pays scant attention to low level organisation, but a very useful guide for Divisional formations, Infantry, Armoured, Airborne and Anti Aircraft are all covered. A Cliffe notes version of J F Joslen's massive work.
United States Army
US Army Infantry Divisions 1943 to 1945 (Yves Bellanger) - ISBN 1 874622 957
This is a superb book which is dedicated to the organisation and equipment of the US Infantry Division. It details every combat and support unit on a man for man, weapon for weapon and vehicle for vehicle basis. Rather than simply reproducing the individual tables of organisation and equipment, the author also covers tactical doctrine and communications, putting the formations into context. A must for any devotee of the GI.
US Army Ground Forces Tables of Organization and Equipment WWII (J J Hays)
The Armored Division 1940-1942; Volume 2/I - ISBN 0 85420 262 5; Volume 2/II - ISBN 0 85420 272 2 (Details for softback, also available in hardback)
The Airborne Division 1942-1942; Volume 3/I- ISBN 0 85420 209 9; Volume 3/II - ISBN 0 85420 219 6 (Details for softback, also available in hardback)
Dovetailing perfectly with Yves Bellanger's above volume comes this splendid series from the www.militarypress.co.uk . The author has chronicled all the tables of organisation issued for the Infantry, Armored and Airborne Divisions of the US Army between 1940 and 1945, with the Cavalry and Mountain Divisions currently in preparation. Corps and Army level assets will also be covered in future volumes.
It differs from the previous title in that it does not cover all items issued, such as belts and backpacks, whistles and typewriters, but does list all personnel, vehicles, weapons and communications equipment, as detailed in the original documents. The Infantry Division is covered in three volumes, the Armored and Airborne Divisions in two each. I only have the Armored and Airborne volumes, but they saved me a very expensive order to the MHI, which would still have not covered all the details in these wonderful works.
US Army Handbook (George Forty) - ISBN 07509 2050 5
Tells you a little about a lot, rather than the reverse. Has some wonderful detail hidden away in the various organisation tables, but likewise some are flawed. Needs to be read in conjunction with the other sources noted below.
United States Marine Corps
USMC WWII Divisions, Brigades and Regiments (Gordon Rottman) - No ISBN
An excellent study of the Marine Corps during WW2. Gives details on Rifle Squad organisation and examines the various amendments which affected the Regiments and Divisions. Does not answer every question certainly and on occasion the weapons tables contradict the text but still a valuable resource. Available from the Nafziger collection or www.helion.co.uk in Britain which is where my copy came from.
German Infantry Handbook (Alex Buchner) - ISBN 0 88740 284 4
An extraordinarily detailed account of a German Infantry Division between 1940 and 1942. No proper tables to refer to, and some of the English translation leaves to be desired some (better than my German though). Only gives a few contradictory indications of mid-war reforms, and no Panzer info.
US Army Handbook on German Military Forces (Stephen Ambrose) - ISBN 0 8071 2011 1
This is the equivalent volume for the German Army. Packed with too many organisational tables to count, though most are only summaries of men and vehicles. Covers the Army from 1944 onwards, loads of brilliant and, most importantly, contemporary stuff.
Encyclopaedia of the German Army in the 20th Century (Bruce Quarrie) - ISBN 0 85059 922 9
I have had this book years, so it is probably out of print. No real detail on formations, but the best single volume for German arms, armour and vehicles I have seen.
Japanese Army Handbook (George Forty) - ISBN 0 7509 3196 5
Quite reliant in many respects on the US Army Handbook on Japanese Military Forces, which is available in CD-ROM format from www.merriam-press.com in its original format.
The Red Army
Red Army Handbook (Steven Zaloga & Leland Ness) - ISBN 0 7509 1740 7
This is my Bible for the Red Army. It is unassailable. It is purely about unit organisation for the least chronicled formation of the war. If anyone tells me it is flawed, surpassed or anything else detrimental I will have to get nasty...
WWII: The Directory of Weapons (Chris Bishop) - ISBN 0 86288 198 6
The Infantry Weapons of World War Two section was only meant to be a companion to the organisational pages but somehow evolved into the most time consuming portion of the site. Where I could find no statistics for certain weapons anywhere else in my library I was always rescued by this volume. It is by no means perfect, excluding the Lee Enfield and the Universal Carrier for example, but it is still a superb resource. All the small arms page are lifted from 'Combat Guns' by the same author, and the Enfield is covered in depth there. Covers all major nations as well as those weapons from 'neutral' states.
Modern Small Arms (Major Frederick Myatt) - No ISBN
If you can find a copy of this out of print work you willl answer most of your questions on WW2 firearms. Pistols, Rifles and all types of machine guns covered.
Just a couple of my favourites, there are so many available
World War II Tanks (Eric Grove) - ISBN 0 85613 200 4
A wonderful collection of stats and specs for practically every allied and axis tanks which saw service.
Chronology of World War II (Christopher Argyle) - ISBN 0 85685 864 1
Another ancient possession, gives a day by day account of the war in all theatres. There are several such books available.
World Wide Web resources
An appeal on the message forum of the Arnhem Battle Research Group http://back.to/arnhem saw several recommendations for the 'War Establishments of British Airborne Forces 1943-44' available from the Hartenstein www.airbornemuseum.com in Holland. Proved to be a bargain 10 Euros. The Air Landing Battalion is not covered, but the 1944 Parachute WE table is replicated and was a real eye opener. Strongly recommended for anyone intrigued in airborne units. Covers many Divisional assets as well, but only those tables written or revised from 1943 onwards, which means it excludes elements such as the Parachute Squadron and Field Company (Airborne) for the Royal Engineers.
A full reproduction of the various tables of organisation for a US Infantry Division is contained here. Does not list personal weapons, but does men, vehicles and support weapons.
Some wonderful contemporary items from this re-enactment site.
An excellent overview of the US Army during World War Two.
Nothing to do with organisation at all. A vivid but matter of fact account of a Weapons Platoon Lieutenant in the West. If you want to get an idea of the simple mechanics of small unit combat, please read it.
A site dedicated to the 7th US Armored Division, contains info on the Armored Infantry Battalion and tank units.
US Marine Corps
Want a CD Rom with a full reproduction of the 1944 United States Marine Infantry Regiment? Yes? Click this and have your credit card handy. Perfect complement to the USMC book described above. There is a wealth of other stuff here too.
Site dedicated to various aspects of the Canadian Army during WW2.
A new site by Marco van Bockel looking at the organisation of the Dutch Army in 1940. The layout may look familiar to anyone who has visited my Example TOE pages, but Marco did ask beforehand!
This excellent site reproduces a large number of German organisational tables, largely for the early period of the war at present. One drawback is they are, not unnaturally, in German, but the author has illustrated the pages to identify vehicles and horse drawn transportation. Hopefully it will continue to grow and add later war units.
This superb site is dedicated to the ever changing organisation of the mechanised and motorised Panzer Grenadier formations. Does not attempt to delve into the Squad and Platoon levels which are my fascination, but does chronicle the developments in support weapons and the gradual decline of the units. Also provides some information on the almost mythical Panzer Brigades of 1944. This is where those curious MG151 Panzer Grenadier Companies were intended to serve.
This site was recommended to me a while go but I managed to lose the address! It details the various German Divisions involved in the Battle of Normandy and illustrates perfectly the endless deviations of units from their officially authorised strengths in men and weapons.
Another recommendation from several sources is for the above site, as the title suggests primarily dedicated to German Army antitank weapons, with some very detailed information.
Tony Chadwick's site had amassed a huge amount of information on a wide array of units from the early 1930s to the 1980s. Sadly, and inexplicably, the site vanished from the web sometime ago. A few pages remain accessible via the wayback machine, but only a handful. I have tried to email Tony a few times, but never received an reply. Hopefully he's well, and one day his site will be back for enthusiasts to enjoy again.
After a long absence this huge site is back at a new location, with several updates. A must for anyone interested in Divisional organisations, especially the Panzers.
Now I'm going to spend a bit of time on this, so bear with me. George Nafziger has compiled an overwhelming amount of information of a sweeping array of military eras. These observations are limited strictly to his work on Company level units in World War Two.
There are detailed 'man for man, weapon for weapon, vehicle for vehicle' lists available for the US and German Armies. The US works cover the whole war, the German are confined to 1943 onwards. They should be the Rosetta Stone of their field. But they are not quite. Some lists, by no means all, suffer from 'transcription errors'. If you are as obsessive to the enth degree as I am afraid I am, there are some real heartbreakers in there. You need to check the descriptions against other sources, such as the books listed above, and against the personnel totals reproduced on most sheets. And use your common sense. But they are, currently, the single most accessible and detailed resource available for the period they cover. Done now (sorry George).
Also should mention two books available here, no ISBN numbers to quote.
Soviet Infantry Tactics in WWII (Charles Sharp)
German Squad Tactics in WWII (Matthew Gajkowski)
Slim volumes but packed full with details, both are reproductions of contemporary manuals prepared for the troops involved. There are a few more such works on the books section of the Nafziger site. Also available from www.helion.co.uk in Britain.
As the site has become more established some kind souls have thought well enough to place a link from their pages to mine, so it seems only courteous to return the favour. There is always the possibility that their sites may contain views or statements I would not of necessity agree with, but then again the reverse of course applies.
If anyone knows of a link I have not included here, please drop me a line and I will take a look at the hosting site.
Some of the information presented in this site I cannot attribute to a particular book, as it has been garnered from a deluge of begging letters I have inflicted upon unsuspecting museums. As my research has taken on a more professional appearance (i.e. I have been prepared to pay for stuff), I have finally been able to add copies of actual tables produced by the British, US and German armies.
These organisational tables are now listed on the relevant page for the units they describe, so there is no need to repeat them here. The below is everything else I've used that I can think of, but I'm sure there will be something I've missed...
Infantry Training Part VIII - Fieldcraft, Battle Drill, Section and Platoon Tactics - A photocopy of the original work issued prior to the Normandy landings, it offers a complete guide on how the smallest tactical units of the British Army were trained and organised. Illustrates everything from movement and attacks on pillboxes to the correct application of camouflage. The above books on the British Army include selected pages, but there is no substitute for the real thing.
Also in this series are Part I - The Infantry Battalion, Part IV - The Mortar Platoon, Part V - The Carrier Platoon and Part VI - The Anti-tank Platoon. I got my copies from the IWM, but they are also available from http://www.milweb.net/go/groucho/ which has a host of such publications. Sadly, Part III - The Rifle Company and Part VII - The Pioneer Platoon appear to be lost.
US Marine Corps
US Marine Rifle Company, 1945 - from the USMC museum.
A History of the Marine Rifle Squad from 1895 to 1945 - an eighteen page document which, despite its dry subject matter, I found rivetting
The British Army
The United States Army
The United States Marines
The Red Army
The German Army
Infantry Weapons of World War Two
Infantry Tactics of World War Two