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Vc's And Shooting To Kill


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#1 Adam_S

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 0242 AM

While whiling away a pleasant Saturday afternoon wading through videos on the superlative Lindybeige youtube channel, I came across a video he did about shooting to kill in which he discusses the oft quoted statistic that in WW2 only about 2% of the soldiers engaged in combat were actually actively trying to kill the enemy. Here's the video in case anybody wants to watch it.

 

 

Anyway, something he mentioned, which I'd not heard before, is that around 75% of VC winners apparently are oldest siblings in large families and, so the theory goes, when they join the army, their unit in some way replaces their family and that they win their VC's through some outrageous act of gallantry fighting to protect the members of their unit in much the same that somebody would fight to protect their family.

 

Now I may have mentioned on here before that I actually have an ancestor who won a VC, one private John William Fielding, also known as John Williams. He was in B company, 2nd battalion of the 24th foot and I suspect by now that some of you have figured out that that means he was at the battle of Rorke's Drift. He won his VC for rescuing patients from a burning hospital which was surrounded by Zulus. A brief summary of his exploits can be found here.

 

Now the bit that I found interesting was that he wasn't actually the oldest sibling in his family, he was in fact the second oldest. He did though have 8 younger brothers and sisters, which I guess still kind of counts.



#2 RETAC21

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 0412 AM

I thought this statistic had been demolished some time ago. On the other hand, he's comparing apples to oranges throughout the video.



#3 NickM

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 1249 PM

I think it had been said that (at least in WW2,against the Germans) the average US rifleman didn't like to fire because a single shot rifle was 'overawed' by the firepower of the MG34/42 & that automatic weapon users like 1919 MGs or BARs were much more likely to fire back. Same in Korea. When Vietnam rolled around 'everybody' had a select fire rifle so they were more likely to blaze away--which also might explain why 2 million rounds were fired for every enemy combatant killed.



#4 RETAC21

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 1310 PM

And current footage of militias don't show a reluctance in firing at someone, but do show the lack of training in hitting someone:

 

https://youtu.be/7HVG09NZhvQ?t=184



#5 a77

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Posted 10 June 2017 - 0849 AM

And current footage of militias don't show a reluctance in firing at someone, but do show the lack of training in hitting someone:

 

The militias are not shooting to kill a individual person, they shooting at the area, something entirely different then aim and shoot a individual person.


Edited by a77, 10 June 2017 - 0851 AM.


#6 RETAC21

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Posted 10 June 2017 - 1040 AM

I beg to differ, tell me how reluctant the militias are in this video



#7 Brian Kennedy

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Posted 11 June 2017 - 1643 PM

Might be a bit off topic, but King Sargent liked to point out how all the theories about how nobody has engaged in hand to hand combat since the Civil War or whatever were ridiculous, since they were based on reports from people who were injured by a bayonet/katana/whatever who survived. If it got to that point, you tended to either not have been cut or to be dead.

#8 Chris Werb

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 0635 AM

I beg to differ, tell me how reluctant the militias are in this video

 

They're certainly eager, but some marksmanship and fire discipline training wouldn't go amiss :) Squint at 1:50 and you'll see a Humber Pig :)

 

HumberPig_RUC_FV1609elliott10.JPG



#9 Andres Vera

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 1642 PM

This guy is a little nutty, sometimes on point but in this video he is wrong, like this one regarding the Bren and the Mg-34/42

 



#10 bojan

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 1758 PM

MG42 if you could schlep enough ammo, no contest.

ZBs/Bren were OK, but MG42 was whole new level.



#11 Andres Vera

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 1812 PM

MG42 if you could schlep enough ammo, no contest.

ZBs/Bren were OK, but MG42 was whole new level.

He goes to great lengths to explain why the Bren was better on offense and the MG-42 on defense... Because reasons.



#12 bojan

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 2038 PM

Thing is that with mags, especially WW2 mags you have way more dead weight to haul than with belts. MG42 may not have been w/o faults (RoF is way too high, you don't need more than 700-800 RPM), but it was best WW2 LMG and GPMG, no contest. As noted, Bren was good, but it got outclassed. Just like SMGs gave way to assault rifles - PPS, Suomi and few other might have been good, but StG44 was better, period, mag fed full power round LMGs went way of dodo due the availability of the reasonably light belt fed MGs. They might still have (or not) niche role, just like SMGs do, but they were rendered obsolete, and MG34/42 were what fired first bullets.

 

On topic of British, why was British Plt/Co org was so light on support and automatic weapons? 1944 plt had 3 x LMG, 4 x SMG , 1 x 2" mortar (usually only with smoke) and 28 rifles among 35 men... Co had only 3 plts and HQ, nothing else. Compared to US infantry company that had organic usefull (60mm) mortars, MGs, AT weapons,  it is really poor. Even Soviets who kept their infantry companies relatively light had MG plt in infantry company and had way more SMGs.



#13 Rick

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 0021 AM

Thing is that with mags, especially WW2 mags you have way more dead weight to haul than with belts. MG42 may not have been w/o faults (RoF is way too high, you don't need more than 700-800 RPM), but it was best WW2 LMG and GPMG, no contest. As noted, Bren was good, but it got outclassed. Just like SMGs gave way to assault rifles - PPS, Suomi and few other might have been good, but StG44 was better, period, mag fed full power round LMGs went way of dodo due the availability of the reasonably light belt fed MGs. They might still have (or not) niche role, just like SMGs do, but they were rendered obsolete, and MG34/42 were what fired first bullets.

 

On topic of British, why was British Plt/Co org was so light on support and automatic weapons? 1944 plt had 3 x LMG, 4 x SMG , 1 x 2" mortar (usually only with smoke) and 28 rifles among 35 men... Co had only 3 plts and HQ, nothing else. Compared to US infantry company that had organic usefull (60mm) mortars, MGs, AT weapons,  it is really poor. Even Soviets who kept their infantry companies relatively light had MG plt in infantry company and had way more SMGs.

From George Forty's "British Army Handbook" there are a dozen BREN carriers in the Infantry battalion; and a machine gun battalion in the division of 16 4.2" mortars and 36 Vickers. There were also 72 25lbers in the division and 125 20mm/40mm aa guns. I wonder if the British parceled out these divisional assets to lower echelons?


Edited by Rick, 17 June 2017 - 0531 AM.


#14 bojan

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 0828 AM

From George Forty's "British Army Handbook" there are a dozen BREN carriers in the Infantry battalion; and a machine gun battalion in the division of 16 4.2" mortars and 36 Vickers. There were also 72 25lbers in the division and 125 20mm/40mm aa guns. I wonder if the British parceled out these divisional assets to lower echelons?

 

Yes, in theory, but a lesson everyone (except Brits) took from WW2 is that if asset is not organic it might not be available, hence "fattening" of the infantry company post-WW2 where almost everyone followed US* model that gave company own mortars, MGs and AT weapons.

 

British were only ones who did not chance company organization 1939-1945 except for introduction of a single SMG per squad.


Edited by bojan, 17 June 2017 - 0830 AM.


#15 Colin

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Posted 18 June 2017 - 0120 AM

The UK had a better fire control setup for artillery, a Forward Artillery Observer could call for massed fires without going through as many steps as the US and I think the USSR.



#16 RETAC21

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Posted 18 June 2017 - 0233 AM

Or the Germans. I don't know if British troops scrounged additional firepower but the place where it would be needed was Burma.



#17 BillB

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Posted 18 June 2017 - 1522 PM

Thing is that with mags, especially WW2 mags you have way more dead weight to haul than with belts. MG42 may not have been w/o faults (RoF is way too high, you don't need more than 700-800 RPM), but it was best WW2 LMG and GPMG, no contest. As noted, Bren was good, but it got outclassed. Just like SMGs gave way to assault rifles - PPS, Suomi and few other might have been good, but StG44 was better, period, mag fed full power round LMGs went way of dodo due the availability of the reasonably light belt fed MGs. They might still have (or not) niche role, just like SMGs do, but they were rendered obsolete, and MG34/42 were what fired first bullets.

 

On topic of British, why was British Plt/Co org was so light on support and automatic weapons? 1944 plt had 3 x LMG, 4 x SMG , 1 x 2" mortar (usually only with smoke) and 28 rifles among 35 men... Co had only 3 plts and HQ, nothing else. Compared to US infantry company that had organic usefull (60mm) mortars, MGs, AT weapons,  it is really poor. Even Soviets who kept their infantry companies relatively light had MG plt in infantry company and had way more SMGs.

Because the support stuff was held at battalion level in a dedicated Support Company, elements of which were parcelled out to Rifle Companies for specific tasks. Also, the scale of weapons you cite wasn't universal, IIRC there were different scales for different types of unit - Airborne infantry units had more SMGs because they were intended to function as assault troops, for example. As it was, the weapon scale was configured to fit the section and platoon tactics the Infantry were trained in.  

 

In addition, if the British weapon provision were as poor as you suggest then it's bit surprising how they managed to outfight all those Heer and Waffen SS types across France, Belgium & Holland and into Germany in 1944-45, and one would've thought they wouldn't have kept that configuration until the 1980s...  :)

 

BillB



#18 bojan

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Posted 18 June 2017 - 2209 PM

Because the support stuff was held at battalion level in a dedicated Support Company, elements of which were parcelled out to Rifle Companies for specific tasks.

 

 

That is clear to me, my question is why did they (and Soviets) decide to do it that way, while rest of world decided to add mortars/AT weapons/MGs to a company?

 

 

 

Also, the scale of weapons you cite wasn't universal, IIRC there were different scales for different types of unit - Airborne infantry units had more SMGs because they were intended to function as assault troops, for example.

Airborn are whole different story, their company is much more heavily armed, including spare weapons at Co HQ etc. Interesting our paras first org, used until about 1954-5 was based on British org (since they were initially trained by British, even if they never saw action in WW2).

 

 

 

 

...
In addition, if the British weapon provision were as poor as you suggest then it's bit surprising how they managed to outfight all those Heer and Waffen SS types across France, Belgium & Holland and into Germany in 1944-45, and one would've thought they wouldn't have kept that configuration until the 1980s...  :)

That it worked, well, it did, kinda like British WW2 tanks worked, even if they could have been better, but I am wondering if it would have worked better if they had more organic weapons*. :) Since old Murphy's story is "what is not organic will not be available".



#19 Chris Werb

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 0428 AM

Bojan, I can only speak from experience wargaming, but I do find that the ability to put the support weapons within a battalion where I want them in a given situation rather than their having to go with (and encumber) the infantry companies/platoons/sections is really valuable. When they are needed at company level i simply devolve them down.



#20 Colin

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 0920 AM

This guy is a little nutty, sometimes on point but in this video he is wrong, like this one regarding the Bren and the Mg-34/42

 

Canada replaced the Bren with the FNC2 which reduced the firepower of the squad quite a bit, the FN could not do sustained fire and the barrel was not replaceable, granted we also went from Enfields to FN, which helped






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