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NZ/Fiji TOE Question

 
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NZ/Fiji TOE Question - 2/15/2014 4:07:37 PM   
Symon


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I’ve pored over a lot of FDF stuff, but it is very skimpy in places. Got the initial 1st Fiji organized as a ‘short’ Lt Inf Bn. It was soon reorganized to contemporary ‘regular’ NZ standards, but that's also kind of vague. The 3rd Fiji was established as a ‘regular’ unit, while the 2nd was a ‘Territorial’ unit.

In certain unit histories, members of the 3rd Bn recall how D-company was reorganized from the ‘battalion support company’ into a fourth infantry company. This was during the Bougainville campaign in 1943.

In general terms, this conforms to the ‘short/Lt’ establishment, particularly with regard to the actual manpower count of the deployed battalions. We know (from photos expressly showing them) that the Fijis had 3” mortars and Vickers MMGs, but it’s not clear if these were in support platoons under HQ company, as in a classical Brit organization, or in a ‘quasi support’ D company.

Any Kiwis out there that want to take a crack at this one? It would be very helpful, in many different ways. I would be most appreciative. Thanks. JWE


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RE: NZ/Fiji TOE Question - 2/16/2014 12:19:54 PM   
dwg

 

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All my notes seem to correspond to the Commandos (Western, Eastern and Southern Commandos, plus the deployed 1st Commando, Fiji Guerillas), rather than the regulars. I think they're possibly sourced from www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-WH2IP-Comm.html , but that seems to be down at the moment so I can't confirm.

What I do have says Western Commando was mostly mounted Kiwis, Eastern and Southern Commandos were Fijian manned with NZ officers and NCOs, with Southern Commando under Major C W H Tripp having c50NZ, c200 Fijians. When 1st Commando was formed it was under Major Tripp and hed "thirty-nine New Zealand officers and NCOs, and one hundred and thirty-five Fijians. The total unit of one hundred and seventy-four men was grouped as follows: Headquarters, one officer and twenty-two other ranks; two companies each of seventy-five men with a lieutenant in charge."

A general note says "Even with reinforcements the Force was not large enough to maintain defensive positions at all points of the Fiji Group, so it was divided and troops stationed at each end of Viti Levu, the main island of the Group. These troops were to defend the important strategical points of Suva Harbour and Naurosi Airfield in the east, and Lautoka Harbour and Nandi Airfield in the west. The rest of the island was covered by mechanised patrols; but as there was only one road winding for three hundred miles around the island, and as visibility was restricted because of the dense bush on all sides, the position was not entirely satisfactory. The Third New Zealand Division therefore decided to set up commando units at all the most inaccessible spots between the fixed defence positions. The commandos were to oppose, with delaying action, enemy landings from sea or air, and to deny the enemy the use of the road until the main Allied forces could be brought into position. The island was divided into three sectors — Western, Eastern, and Southern—and in April, 1942, commando companies were formed in each of these sectors. The name "commando" was used in its older sense and applied to these units because they were independent companies," I suspect all the quoted text is verbatim from wherever I found it in the first place.

In trying to retrace the origin of my notes I came across the Google books scan of 'Fortress Fiji' http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=uf5Pi77k1GMC&pg=PT102&lpg=PT102&dq=First+Commando+Fiji+Guerrillas&source=bl&ots=21EQAhVGsS&sig=X7Ww6EuniLy-NTSjJzzDNlKKBzc&hl=en&sa=X&ei=-a4AU6CqB6707Abo1YCgDg&ved=0CEgQ6AEwBDgU#v=onepage&q=First%20Commando%20Fiji%20Guerrillas&f=false Nothing on detailed infantry organisation, but a few mentions of other units: 2 battalions and 2 docks companies of the Fiji Labour Force, a hint there might have been a 2nd Commando (though literally just a mention of the name), and a table with the coast defences under 1st Heavy Rgt, Fiji Artillery. It doesn't give marks, but I'd suspect 'supercharged 6"' are 6" Mk VII* or Mk XXIV, while 6" without that annotation will probably be the normal 6" Mk VII

< Message edited by dwg -- 2/16/2014 1:29:57 PM >

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RE: NZ/Fiji TOE Question - 2/16/2014 5:00:37 PM   
Symon


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I’ve seen that. Good reference. Thanks.

So far as the Fiji Bns go (and to some extent, the Home Inf Bns) I am moved to consider, too, the structure and evolution of the Mtd//LAFV regiments. Yes, NZ followed the Brit model, but I must conclude it was at the squadron/company level and not necessarily at the battalion/regiment level; not for 2NZEF (2 Div), but at least for Home/Territorial units.

The MR regiments all mechanized into Lt Recce (LAFV) units between Nov and Dec ’41. Notably, these units had TO&Es that established 3 “fighting” squadrons (A, B, and C) and a “support” squadron (D). The support troops were not held by HQ squadron.

The similarity to apocryphal infantry references is too close to ignore. Support weapons, nominally held by Bn HQ Co may have been held by “D” (support) Co. When more Fiji volunteers came available, those support platoons may well have been moved into HQ Co and D Co reorganized as the 4th infantry unit.

Guess what I’m suggesting is a base 3 Inf and 1 Sup Co organization, early war, for the territorials and the FDF. Not much of a reach when one considers that NZ had a total national population smaller than many US or European cities. It might be logical to assume that they understood the value of infantry support weapons, but just didn’t have the manpower to build those monster battalions/regiments, and so took a different (smarter IHMO) path.

Of course, when ’43 rolls around and NZ is no longer in danger of invasion, everything changes. 9 LAFV regiments become 3 armored regiments; brigades are not disbanded, but rather put in “care and maintenance” mode with 28 officers and 400 enlisted, and the armored regiments are disbanded by Nov ’44.

Woof !! JWE


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RE: NZ/Fiji TOE Question - 2/16/2014 9:14:44 PM   
Kereguelen


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As far as I can tell, NZTF and NMR infantry battalions still used the British pre 1938 War Establishment (TOE) with 3 rifle coys and 1 MMG coy in 1941/42, while 2nd NZEF units adopted the British 1938 War Establishment with 4 rifle coys. Propably the same with Fijian units.

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RE: NZ/Fiji TOE Question - 2/16/2014 9:28:40 PM   
dwg

 

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quote:

The similarity to apocryphal infantry references is too close to ignore. Support weapons, nominally held by Bn HQ Co may have been held by “D” (support) Co. When more Fiji volunteers came available, those support platoons may well have been moved into HQ Co and D Co reorganized as the 4th infantry unit.

Guess what I’m suggesting is a base 3 Inf and 1 Sup Co organization, early war, for the territorials and the FDF. Not much of a reach when one considers that NZ had a total national population smaller than many US or European cities.


Something just struck me, could they have been on the Garrison Bn TOE? That was 3 infantry companies and an MG company. There's an outline in this CW TOE article for the Battlefront rules: http://www.fireandfury.com/orbats/pacburmacorps.pdf The move to an operational stance from the garrison establishment would then see the TOE shift you're describing.

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RE: NZ/Fiji TOE Question - 2/16/2014 9:55:19 PM   
Symon


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@Kereguelen and @dwg. Mr K seems to have a handle on just about everything obscure in the Allied OOB. I trust him implicitly. His take seems to comport just with mine. I wish I knew where he gets his stuff, but it's obviously from deeper research than mine. Hootz Gazottiez !!

Okey, dokey, then. So that's how we will proceed. Thanks K. As always, your input is very informative. Ciao. John

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