Previously, we looked at the structure of an Australian infantry battalion and an Australian independent company in the Second World War in order to better understand what such units were capable of. In this post, we will glance – again, very briefly – at the structure of a Royal Australian Regiment infantry battalion of the early post-WWII Australian Regular Army. Specifically, 2 R.A.R. in 1953, the last year of the Korean War.
In late March, 1953, 2 RAR had a War Establishment of 36 Officers and 925 Other Ranks, which included 1 Officer and 52 O.R.s ‘attached,’ meaning they were not a permanent component of the unit, but served with it temporarily. The attached personnel were generally from specialist corps such as the Royal Australian Catering Corps, Army Service Corps, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Army Medical Corps, Army Ordnance Corps, and Army Engineers.
The 36 Officers of the battalion consisted of 1 lieutenant colonel (the Commanding Officer), 7 majors (one of whom was the 2 i/c or second in charge, the remainder each commanding a company), 10 captains (as 2 i/cs of companies or assuming other roles such as signals officer, adjutant, and Quartermaster), and 18 lieutenants (who commanded platoons). The 1 Officer Attached was a Regimental Medical Officer (doctor) from the Australian Army Medical Corps, who held the rank of captain.
2 RAR’s 52 Attached Other Ranks at this time consisted of 1 Warrant Officer Class II from the Australian Army Catering Corps, 12 Sergeants (including two each from the Royal Australian Army Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps), 14 Corporals (including 1 each from the Royal Australian Engineers and the Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps), and 25 Privates (including one from the Royal Australian Army Service Corps).
It might be noted that the battalion at this time was deficient 5 Attached personnel, and also had 5 surplus attached personnel. Their surplus personnel included 1 Warrant Officer II, and 4 Privates; they were deficient 2 Sergeants and 3 Corporals, though the Field Return of Other Ranks (Army Form W.3009 (Adapted) does not identify the corps to which the surplus and deficient personnel belonged.
The non-NCO specialist or trade roles of battalion Other Ranks (not attached personnel) allowed by the War Establishment included 20 Bandsmen, 24 Batmen (servants to officers), 1 Bricklayer, 5 Carpenters and Joiners, 3 General Duties Clerks, 74 Drivers, 13 Drivers/Batmen, 29 Driver/OP*, 1 Equipment Repairer, 30 Gun Numbers, 4 Hygiene Duties personnel, 2 Intelligence Duties men, 12 MMG Numbers (to service the battalion Medium Machine Guns), 56 Mortar Numbers, 1 Medical Officer’s Orderly, 10 Motorcycle Orderlies, 18 General Orderlies, 30 Infantry Pioneers, 3 Range Takers, 3 Regimental Police, 22 Infantry Signalmen, 6 Snipers, 2 Technical Storemen, 10 General Storemen, 72 L.M.G. (Light Machine Gun) Numbers, and 288 Riflemen.
NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) personnel included 1 W.O.I. (Warrant Officer Class I) Regimental Sergeant-Major, 1 W.O.I. Bandmaster, 6 W.O.II. C.S.M.s (Company Sergeant-Majors), 1 W.O.II. Regimental Quartermaster-Sergeant (RQMS), 6 Staff Sergeant (S-Sgt) Company Quartermaster Sergeants (CQMS), 1 General Duties S-Sgt Clerk, 1 Sgt Drum Major, 1 Intelligence Sergeant, 1 Sgt Mess Steward Class I, 25 Regimental Duty Sergeants (platoon sergeants), 1 Regimental Police Sergeant, 1 Infantry Signals Sergeant, 1 Sgt Sniper, 1 Sgt Technical Storeman, 1 Sgt Stretcher Bearer, 1 Sgt Vehicle Mechanic, 4 Corporal Bandsmen, 1 Cpl. Carpenter and Joiner, 6 General Duties Corporal Clerks, 1 Cpl. Typist, 8 Corporal Drivers, 3 Drivers/O.P.,* 6 Cpl. Gun Numbers, 1 Hygiene Duties Cpl., 1 Intelligence Duties Cpl., 6 Cpl. Machine Gun Numbers, 4 Cpl. Mortar Numbers, 1 Cpl. Mess Steward Class II, 3 Infantry Pioneer Cpls., 1 Regimental Police Cpl., 36 Corporal Riflemen (who commanded sections or subsections in the fighting platoons), 2 Infantry Signalmen Cpls., and 1 Cpl. Sniper.
The numbers listed above represent the battalion at full strength. In a war situation, battle and non-battle casualties would have reduced the total, and outside of battle, men still fell sick, went on leave, or left the battalion at the end of their term of service.
[Reference available on request].
* I’m uncertain what the ‘O.P.’ in this case represents. If it was an artillery battalion, the ‘O.P.’ might be an Observation Post Assistant, but in an infantry battalion, I don’t know. Any feedback?