WW2 commando weapons vs modern special forces

R Hooks

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Does anyone have good information on the weapon, ammo load of WW2 commando small units. I know a little about Vietnam era Seal Teams. When I was a teenager I gave Red Cross swimming lessons, and one of the 10 year olds I taught to swim became the Navy Seal he wanted to become at age 10, I met him again in Vietnam. We spent a few hours with his squad while they were on down time. Seals in Vietnam were armed to the teeth, a normal 7 man squad carried 4 Stoner 63A light machine guns and 2 M-60 machine guns, the leader carried a automatic rifle usually a M-16. Their mission was massive fire at close range, finish off target and evade back to friendly lines. Each carried about 500 rounds, and close to 100 pounds of other equipment, water, virtually no food. For five or ten minutes they could out shoot a rifle company, plant explosives, and withdraw. Six SW lmg is not something ASL allows, but can be a SSR. Did any WW2 units have training to use SW close to this number?
 

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Depends a bit on just how small a unit you're interested in, but battleorder.org has some pretty good insights into equipment issue at the battalion and company level.

Otherwise, TO&Es are out there for groups like Marine Raiders, but you'll find that they're equipped pretty similarly to line infantry-- no where near the level of SWs you're suggesting.
 

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Does anyone have good information on the weapon, ammo load of WW2 commando small units. I know a little about Vietnam era Seal Teams. When I was a teenager I gave Red Cross swimming lessons, and one of the 10 year olds I taught to swim became the Navy Seal he wanted to become at age 10, I met him again in Vietnam. We spent a few hours with his squad while they were on down time. Seals in Vietnam were armed to the teeth, a normal 7 man squad carried 4 Stoner 63A light machine guns and 2 M-60 machine guns, the leader carried a automatic rifle usually a M-16. Their mission was massive fire at close range, finish off target and evade back to friendly lines. Each carried about 500 rounds, and close to 100 pounds of other equipment, water, virtually no food. For five or ten minutes they could out shoot a rifle company, plant explosives, and withdraw. Six SW lmg is not something ASL allows, but can be a SSR. Did any WW2 units have training to use SW close to this number?
The are a couple of Special Forces Scenario packs by HOB or CH I forget which. SAS and Kriegsmarine. One rule they added in there, was the ability of special forces HS to shoot a SW and still retain their Inherent FP. I believe they had a small chapter H as well.
 

Michael Dorosh

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Does anyone have good information on the weapon, ammo load of WW2 commando small units. I know a little about Vietnam era Seal Teams. When I was a teenager I gave Red Cross swimming lessons, and one of the 10 year olds I taught to swim became the Navy Seal he wanted to become at age 10, I met him again in Vietnam. We spent a few hours with his squad while they were on down time. Seals in Vietnam were armed to the teeth, a normal 7 man squad carried 4 Stoner 63A light machine guns and 2 M-60 machine guns, the leader carried a automatic rifle usually a M-16. Their mission was massive fire at close range, finish off target and evade back to friendly lines. Each carried about 500 rounds, and close to 100 pounds of other equipment, water, virtually no food. For five or ten minutes they could out shoot a rifle company, plant explosives, and withdraw. Six SW lmg is not something ASL allows, but can be a SSR. Did any WW2 units have training to use SW close to this number?
I can look up British Commandos if you like, but my own regiment provides an example. In September 1944 the Calgary Highlanders were tasked to send a 10 man patrol over the Albert Canal to see if the 5th Canadian Brigade could establish a bridgehead. The patrol went out under Sergeant Ken Crockett, and reportedly every man on the patrol either had a Bren LMG or a Sten SMG.

Crockett was recommended for the Victoria Cross for the action that followed. It was approved by the battalion commander, the brigade commander, the commander of 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, the commander of II Canadian Corps and finally the commander of 1st Canadian Army. When it went to commander 21st Army Group, the VC was downgraded to a Distinguished Conduct Medal.

From the regimental website:

Suffering from dysentery and not feeling well, Crockett assembled eight men and armed them with automatic weapons; two had Bren guns and the remainder carried Stens. They also carried a full complement of platoon equipment; a PIAT, a 2 inch mortar, and a 38 radio set. They wore canvas shoes instead of combat boots (Canadian combat boots had steel hobnails, toe and heel plates) and took as much ammunition as they could carry. Crockett was going to rely on silence to get them across a damaged lock gate before the Germans could discover them. Crockett briefed his men, telling them that "...if the flare goes up, no matter where we are at, you get as low as you can and don't move....nobody fires until I tell you. There is a possibility that we are going to get caught on the lock gates."

At 0130 on 22 September, Crockett left his company commander at the edge of the canal and moved off. Crockett crossed halfway on his own, reaching a small island in the middle of the canal, then came back to lead the rest of the patrol. The Canal was ninety feet wide. Corporal R.A. Harold followed behind, and the patrol made it to a partially damaged stretch of lock gate; for the last eight feet, only a single six inch pipe was available to cross on. Crockett left the patrol, and edged across the wet pipe, slinging his weapon on his back and using a thin wire that the Germans had erected as a handrail. Reaching the north bank and finding a barrier of barbed wire, he returned to the patrol and brought them over.

Harold and Crockett eased the barrier aside; the rest of "C" Company could only wait in silence and wonder what was happening. Crockett had decided not to radio word of his success so far, for fear the Germans would hear his voice. Nonetheless, a flare suddenly went up, and Crockett heard a challenge in German. Some men were still on the pipe; German machine guns opened up and one was hit. The rest scurried onto the north bank, the two NCOs directing them into tall grass. Then Crockett yelled, in pure Western Canadian, "Give them shit!" and opened fire with his Sten, killing a sentry. He charged a German machinegun position and silenced it, then moved up with Private I.P. MacDonald, who fired two PIAT rounds at a German MG position inside a house. Crockett then directed the fire of the 2 inch mortar until a third German MG was knocked out.

Harold gave first aid to the wounded Highlander as this was going on, and tended to three other men who had also been hit. He and Private Myers led them back over the canal. This left Crockett with only three other men on the north bank, and they were running out of ammunition. Crockett ordered the radio man to send a request for assistance, but the radio man told him he had lost the aerial. Crockett shook the radio operator, impressed on him the importance of finding it, and then crawled on hands and knees with him, under German fire, until they found it in the grass.

The remainder of Crockett's platoon, followed by the rest of "C" Company, then followed over the lock gate and established a bridgehead. By 0420, 5th Brigade headquarters could be informed that an entire company had crossed the Albert Canal.
 
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Michael Dorosh

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As far as World War II commandos, this is what I put in my scenario designer's handbook (below).

12468
The heyday of the Commandos as pure special forces was probably late 1941 to the middle of 1942. By D-Day in Normandy, their role shifted from hit and run raids, to being the leading element of amphibious assaults. D-Day for sure, and Walcheren Island was also a big one. In addition to the website mentioned above, you can look at the Osprey BATTLE ORDERS title "British Commandos 1940-46" which provided the bulk of the source material for my mention in the handbook. I don't have a man-to-man breakdown of the War Establishment, but I believe the equipment changed a bit by the 1944 period to be perhaps a little more "conventional". Like the regular infantry, the ATR was replaced by the PIAT in 1943. Vickers and 3-in mortars were issued on an ad-hoc basis. For D-Day some units used the Vickers K LMG firing on a bipod with a 96-round drum. Apparently there was a Delisle Commando carbine which was noise suppressed and had a range of 400 yards. But the main fire support was always the Bren Gun and possibly the 2-inch MTR.

12469
 

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This is what I have as far as this goes:

----------------------------
Great Britain
----------------------------

Commando Sec
Available from 1/41 to 12/46
Men: 10
Thompson SMG (90 rounds)
.303 Bren LMG (90 rounds)
Mills Bomb (30)
Satchel Charge (4)

Commando Sec
Available from 1/41 to 12/46
Men: 10
.303 Rifle (90 rounds)
.303 Bren LMG (90 rounds)
Mills Bomb (30)
Satchel Charge (4)

Commando Sec
Available from 1/41 to 12/46
Men: 10
.303 Rifle (90 rounds)
.303 Bren LMG (90 rounds)
Mills Bomb (30)
Sniper Rifle (50 rounds)

Commando Sec
Available from 1/41 to 12/43
Men: 6
Thompson SMG (90 rounds)
Boys AT-Rifle (50)
Mills Bomb (18)
Sniper Rifle (50 rounds)

Commando Sec
Available from 1/41 to 12/46
Men: 6
Thompson SMG (90 rounds)
.303 Rifle (90 rounds)
.303 Rifle (50 rounds)
Rifle Grenade (12)

Commando Sec
Available from 1/41 to 12/46
Men: 10
Thompson SMG (90 rounds)
Mills Bomb (30)
Rifle Grenade (16)
.303 Rifle (50 rounds)

Commando Sec
Available from 1/41 to 12/46
Men: 10
.303 Rifle (90 rounds)
.303 Bren LMG (90 rounds)
Thompson SMG (50 rounds)
Mills Bomb (30)

Commando Sec
Available from 1/41 to 12/46
Men: 10
.303 Rifle (90 rounds)
.303 Bren LMG (90 rounds)
Thompson SMG (50 rounds)
Satchel Charge (4)

Commando Sec
Available from 1/41 to 12/46
Men: 10
Thompson SMG (90 rounds)
Mills Bomb (30)
Sniper Rifle (50 rounds)
Satchel Charge (1)

Commando Sec
Available from 7/43 to 12/43
Men: 6
Thompson SMG (90 rounds)
PIAT (9)
Mills Bomb (18)
Satchel Charge (2)

Commando Scouts
Available from 1/41 to 12/46
Men: 4
Thompson SMG (70 rounds)
Mills Bomb (12)
Mills Bomb (12)
.303 Rifle (50 rounds)

Commando Scouts
Available from 1/41 to 12/46
Men: 4
Thompson SMG (70 rounds)
Mills Bomb (12)
Sniper Rifle (30 rounds)
.303 Rifle (50 rounds)

Commando Sniper
Available from 1/41 to 12/46
Men: 1
Sniper Rifle (50 rounds)
Mills Bomb (3)

----------------------------

U.S.M.C.
----------------------------

USMC Raiders
Available from 2/42 to 1/44
Men: 11
Thompson SMG (90 rounds)
Mk. II Grenade (33 rounds)
Satchel Charge (4)
Sniper Rifle (50 rounds)

USMC Raiders
Available from 1/43 to 1/44
Men: 11
Johnson Rifle (90 rounds)
2 BARs (90 rounds)
Sniper Rifle (50 rounds)
Mk. II Grenade (33 rounds)

USMC Raiders
Available from 10/43 to 1/44
Men: 11
Johnson Rifle (90 rounds)
Mk. II Grenade (33 rounds)
Satchel Charge (4)
M1A1 Bazooka (8 rounds)

USMC Raiders
Available from 2/42 to 1/44
Men: 11
Johnson Rifle (90 rounds)
Mk. II Grenade (33 rounds)
Satchel Charge (4)
Sniper Rifle (50 rounds)

USMC Raiders
Available from 2/42 to 1/44
Men: 11
Johnson Rifle (90 rounds)
Mk. II Grenade (33 rounds)
Satchel Charge (4)
Sniper Rifle (50 rounds)

USMC Raiders
Available from 1/43 to 1/44
Men: 11
Johnson Rifle (90 rounds)
BAR (90 rounds)
Mk. II Grenade (33 rounds)
M97 Shotgun (25 rounds)

USMC Raiders
Available from 1/43 to 1/44
Men: 11
Johnson Rifle (90 rounds)
Sniper Rifle (50 rounds)
BAR (90 rounds)
Mk. II Grenade (33 rounds)

USMC Raider LMG
Available from 2/42 to 12/42
Men: 4
Johnson M41 LMG (70 rounds)
Johnson M41 LMG (70 rounds)
Reising .45 SMG (50 rounds)
Mk. II Grenade (12 rounds)

USMC Raider LMG
Available from 1/43 to 1/44
Men: 4
BAR (70 rounds)
BAR (70 rounds)
Thompson SMG (90 rounds)
Mk. II Grenade (12 rounds)

Raider Bazooka
Available from 10/43 to 1/44
Men: 2
M1A1 Bazooka (8 rounds)
Thompson SMG (70 rounds)
Mk. II Grenade (6 rounds)


---------------------------------
Germany
---------------------------------

Brandenburger - Commando Support
Available from 6/39 to 2/42
Men: 12
MP38/40 SMG (90 rounds)
7.9 MG30(t) LMG (90 rounds)
7.9 MG30(t) LMG (90 rounds)
5cm Grw 36 (24 rounds)

Brandenburger - Commando Support
Available from 3/42 to 3/44
Men: 12
MP 760(a) SMG (90 rounds)
7.92mm MG42 LMG (90 rounds)
7.92mm MG42 LMG (90 rounds)
5cm Grw 36 (24 rounds)

Brandenburger - Commando Engineers
Available from 4/44 to 12/44
Men: 12
7.92k Stg 44 (90 rounds)
7.92mm MG42 LMG (90 rounds)
7.92mm MG42 LMG (90 rounds)
5cm Grw 36 (24 rounds)

Brandenburger - Commando Engineers
Available from 6/39 to 2/42
Men: 12
Kar 98k Rifle (90 rounds)
7.92mm MG34 LMG (90 rounds)
7.92mm MG34 LMG (90 rounds)
PzB 39 ATR (40 rounds)

Brandenburger - Commando Engineers
Available from 6/39 to 2/42
Men: 12
Kar 98k Rifle (90 rounds)
7.92mm MG34 LMG (90 rounds)
7.92mm MG34 LMG (90 rounds)
Gewehrgranate (40 rounds)

Brandenburger - Commando Engineers
Available from 6/39 to 2/42
Men: 12
Kar 98k Rifle (90 rounds)
7.92mm MG34 LMG (90 rounds)
7.92mm MG34 LMG (90 rounds)
Sniper Rifle (50 rounds)

Brandenburger - Commando Engineers
Available from 6/39 to 2/42
Men: 12
Kar 98k Rifle (90 rounds)
7.92mm MG34 LMG (90 rounds)
7.92mm MG34 LMG (90 rounds)
Sprengladung (4 HE, 2 AP rounds)

Brandenburger - Commando Engineers
Available from 3/42 to 12/44
Men: 12
Kar 98k Rifle (90 rounds)
7.92mm MG42 LMG (90 rounds)
7.92mm MG42 LMG (90 rounds)
PzGwrGranate 30 (36 AP rounds)

Brandenburger - Commando Engineers
Available from 3/42 to 12/44
Men: 12
Kar 98k Rifle (90 rounds)
7.92mm MG42 LMG (90 rounds)
7.92mm MG42 LMG (90 rounds)
Sniper Rifle (50 rounds)

Brandenburger - Commando Engineers
Available from 3/42 to 12/44
Men: 12
Kar 98k Rifle (90 rounds)
7.92mm MG42 LMG (90 rounds)
7.92mm MG42 LMG (90 rounds)
Sprengladung (4 HE, 2 AP rounds)

Brandenburger - Commando Engineers
Available from 3/42 to 12/44
Men: 12
7.92k StG 44 (90 rounds)
7.92mm MG42 LMG (90 rounds)
7.92mm MG42 LMG (90 rounds)
Handgranate (36 ounds)

Brandenburger - Commando Engineers
Available from 3/43 to 12/44
Men: 12
Kar 98k Rifle (90 rounds)
7.92mm MG42 LMG (90 rounds)
7.92mm MG42 LMG (90 rounds)
PzGwrGranate 40 (36 AP rounds)

Brandenburger - Commando Scouts
Available from 6/39 to 12/46
Men: 5
MP38/40 SMG (70 rounds)
MP38/40 SMG (70 rounds)
Handgranate (15 rounds)
Sprengladung (3 HE rounds)

Brandenburger - Commando Scouts
Available from 6/41 to 12/46
Men: 5
vz.9 SMG (70 rounds)
vz.9 SMG (70 rounds)
Handgranate (15 rounds)
Sprengladung (3 HE rounds)

Brandenburger - Commando Scouts
Available from 6/41 to 12/46
Men: 5
MP 722(f) SMG (70 rounds)
MP 722(f) SMG (70 rounds)
Handgranate (15 rounds)
Sprengladung (3 HE rounds)

Brandenburger - Commando Scouts
Available from 6/42 to 12/46
Men: 5
MP 717(r) SMG (70 rounds)
MP 717(r) SMG (70 rounds)
Handgranate (15 rounds)
Sprengladung (3 HE rounds)

Brandenburger - Commando Scouts
Available from 3/43 to 12/44
Men: 5
MP 717(r) SMG (70 rounds)
MP 717(r) SMG (70 rounds)
Pzhndgranate 41 (10 AP rounds)
Sprengladung (3 HE rounds)
 

BigAl737

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Dang Don. You did your homework. Is that SPWW2 data?
 

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Note: The USMC Sniper rifle could be either the .303 Springfield or a .306 Remington as several "off the shelf" weapons were used by the U.S.. The Alamo Scouts for example had no real MTOE and several guys procured different types of weapons from Stens used by the Aussies to police revolvers (lighter to carry than an M1911). From what I've heard from a dad (Bob Teeples) of a couple of my buddies (Tommy, a LRP in Viet Nam, and Billy, a Ranger) that had been an Alamo Scout, by late in the war they preferred the M3 SMG to the Thompson because of the weight, easier to maintain, ruggedness and size of the weapon. The U.S. Army for one was not enamored of "specialty units" to a very high degree and most of those that did exist [EX: Rangers, 99th "Viking" Ind. Rgt., 442 RCT, 5307th Provisional "Galahad" RCT] were mostly equipped as regular infantry units with minor equipment changes as the situation may dictate. The best bet for a solid MTOE listing would be the Ranger Batts.
 
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von Marwitz

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I have not been in the military, so this is probably why am lacking jugdement:

What strikes me that all commando type units according to this data carried seemingly less than 100 rounds of ammo for their personal weapons - even if this was an LMG, SMG or assault rifle. By gut feeling, this seems to be not very much.

How many rounds does a 'normal' infantry-man / commando carry nowadays?

von Marwitz
 

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You’ll need to scroll down but generally a soldier or marine carried 88 round for a rifle.
 

Michael Dorosh

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I have not been in the military, so this is probably why am lacking jugdement:

What strikes me that all commando type units according to this data carried seemingly less than 100 rounds of ammo for their personal weapons - even if this was an LMG, SMG or assault rifle. By gut feeling, this seems to be not very much.

How many rounds does a 'normal' infantry-man / commando carry nowadays?

von Marwitz
Standard loadout for a British rifleman was 50 rounds (in a cloth bandolier designed to hold that amount), plus four mags for the section Bren (120 rounds total). I don't doubt it was probably different for Commandos, but I get the feeling Don's numbers are based on a game designer's idea of comparative quantities rather than any actual War Establishment or TOE data showing specific number of bullets?

For example the German LMG loadout - ammo came in 50 round non-disintegrating belts. An assault drum could hold one of the 50-round belts. There was also a 75-round drum, usually for vehicle or aircraft mounts. An ammo box carried five x 50 round belts. Ammo boxes were designed with off-setting handles so they could be carried comfortably in pairs. The figure of "90" rounds seems most unusual since I'm not sure how you would even carry that quantity.

British loadout is similarly odd - the Bren Gunner carried four mags (120 rounds) because that's what the pouches were designed to carry. Number 2 carried four extra mags in a special supplementary ammo pouch over and above the regular rifleman's loadout, so 240 rounds.
 
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dlazov

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Here is from the other link:

Across the U.S. Army and Marine Corps, the initial combat load was intended to be carried in the M1923 Cartridge Belt. The belt had 10 pockets. Each pocket could carry 1 en bloc clip with 8 rounds for the M1 Rifle or 2 stripper clips with 5 rounds for the M1903 rifle. This meant a total of 80 rounds for M1 Garand riflemen. A clip was also carried in the weapon ready to fire, so the baseline combat load for a man with an M1 Rifle was 88 rounds. The cartridge belt with a full load weighed about 6.75 lbs (3.1 kg).
 

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Another comparison source:


Today and yesteryear the average carrying capacity is 70-90 rounds per soldier.
 

von Marwitz

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For example the German LMG loadout - ammo came in 50 round non-disintegrating belts. An assault drum could hold one of the 50-round belts. There was also a 75-round drum, usually for vehicle or aircraft mounts. An ammo box carried five x 50 round belts. Ammo boxes were designed with off-setting handles so they could be carried comfortably in pairs. The figure of "90" rounds seems most unusual since I'm not sure how you would even carry that quantity.
These were my thoughts exactly!

Of course, there might be a difference between the 'official' allotment and 'common practice' in the field.

von Marwitz
 

Michael Dorosh

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These were my thoughts exactly!

Of course, there might be a difference between the 'official' allotment and 'common practice' in the field.

von Marwitz
Agreed. My reading suggests common practice would tend to be to carry more ammunition than the official allotment rather than less, though.
 

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As for 70 rounds for an MP-38/40, the magazines held 32, though often only loaded to 30 due to a slight risk of jamming. The standard MP pouch held 3 magazines and I'd be surprised if one was not already in the MP. That gives a total of 4 magazines for 120-128 rounds. 2 such pouches would bring that to 7 magazines for 210-224 rounds, though it's rareish to see 2 MP pouches in photos.
 
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