British Order of Battle for imminent invasion – September 1940

by Author | September 9th, 2010

Some readers have asked to know a little more about the British Order of Battle in September 1940. Here is a basic laydown of where the major formations were and what they were up to, running from North to South:

X Corps (46 and 54 Inf Divs, 2nd MG Brigade, 24th Tank Brigade) – Scottish borders, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear.

I Corps (1, 2, 44 and 59 Inf Divs) – Yorkshire and Lincolnshire

II Corps (18 and 52 Inf Divs, 37 Inf Brigade) – East Anglia (Camridgeshire/Norfolk)

III Corps (2 London Div, 36 Inf Brigade, 23 Tank Brigade) – (Wales and West Midlands)

IV Corps (2 Armoured Div, 43 Inf Div and 21 Inf Brigade) (Bedfordshire/Middlesex)

VII Corps (1st Armoured Div, 1st Canadian and elements of 2nd Canadian Div, elements of New Zealand Inf Div) (Strategic Reserve centred on Surrey and North Hampshire)

XII Corps (1st London Div, 45 Inf Div, 29 Inf Brigade, 1st Tank Brigade) – Kent and West Sussex

V Corps (4 and 42 Inf Divs, 21st Armoured Brigade) – (Hampshire, Sussex, Dorset)

VIII Corps 48,50 and 3 Inf Divs, 70 Inf Brigade, 1 x Brigade from 2nd Armoured Div attached) – West Country

Obviously, during the summer and autumn of 1940 British Home Forces were going through a frantic rearmement, training and reorganisation programme following the earlier disasters on the continent. Therefore, individual units, brigades and even full divisions were being routinely moved between formations as this reorganisation took place and the imminent invasion threat developed. In addition, troops and armour were being despatched to the Middle East throughout the latter part of the year, thus causing even more reorganisation to take place.

In general, the infantry divisions were used to provide a ‘thin crust’ of coastal defence, whilst the bulk of armoured divisions and independent tank brigades were held in strategic reserve, along with the more mobile infantry divisions that had not abandoned all their equipment and transport at Dunkirk, such as the Canadians. Supplementary to all of this too, were the hundreds of thousand volunteers from the Home Guard.

Finally, if you take a read through Alan Brooke’s war diaries, you will see that at this time, he was busy making sweeping changes to the British Army’s training, organisation and more importantly, its commanders, ruthlessly sacking those unsuitable, whenever he was able to. Even so, Brooke himself admits that often he could not sack individual commanders as there was simply no one to replace them. He blamed much of this on the attrition of the First World War which had claimed the lives of many promising officers.

In the not too distant future, I will upload a copy of the German order of battle and plan for Seelowe Nord (in other words, the work of fiction I dreamed up to allow Seelowe Nord to be writtten!) I have based that order of battle loosely on the German original. The plan of course, is entirely my own fantasy!

Finally, a timely reminder that some of the profits from this novel are being donated to British military charities to help provide care for those maimed on active service and to  provide help and support for the families of those killed in action. So, if you are stuck for a Christmas present for the men in your family, get them a copy of Seelowe Nord and help a good cause – they’ll also enjoy the non-stop battle action – good ‘Boys Own’ stuff! Tell your friends too… Many thanks; keep watching…

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Seelöwe Nord is the online home of Andy Johnson, a war fiction novelist. Seelöwe Nord is a war novel that tells the alternative history of Operation Sealion, the proposed German invasion of Britain in 1940. Followed by Thunder in May, and the recently released Crucible of Fate, the trilogy of War Fiction remains a popular read within the genre.

Andy has also started to publish small Leadership and Management Booklets drawing from his extensive experience across many sectors and industries, both military and civilian, the first of which is entitled Captains of the Gate and is now available for download on eReaders directly from Amazon.