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Explanation of terms
| Army data
| Orders of battle
Orders of appearance
| Units in theater
Units under HQ
Units at location
Working with huge amounts of order of battle information in a database imposes certain requirements of standardization and consistency. Much effort has gone into devising schemes for that regularization of data so it can be presented in a variety of easily comprehensible formats without squeezing it into a dead, dry pulp. The following sections explain the terminology used in unit identifications, theaters, headquarters, unit status, and locations.
1. Unit Identifications
Despite a somewhat stilted sound, unit identifications have been standardized in the format "nationality - number or name - organizational type - size" as in "Indian 4th Infantry Division" as opposed to the more familiar "4th Indian Division." Given the wide range of nationalities and official nomenclature (such as "5th Canadian (Armored) Division"), this seemed the easiest way to avoid confusion.
Organizational type usually conforms to the unitÕs actual title and/or national convention as in "Indian 43rd Gurkha Lorried Infantry Brigade" as opposed to the more prosaic "Indian 43rd Motorized Brigade." In some cases it has seemed necessary to bend the rule a little in the interest of greater clarity as in "New Zealand 2nd Armored-Infantry Division" as opposed to the official (but rather generic) "2nd New Zealand Division."
Most unit IDs are in English although some foreign terms remain, such as the French "Corps de Montagne" composite unit and the Italian "C.I.L." ("Corpo Italiano di Liberazione") unit.
Standard military shorthand is used for unit size:
XX = division
X = brigade
III = regiment
II = battalion
Every effort has been made to point out those formations which use the British-style regimental system of recruiting and lineage, but when mentioning and/or abbreviating battalion-sized units in various annotations the OB errs on the side of clarity.
The term "theater" is used loosely and does not always precisely match the historical boundaries of a particular command at a particular time period during the war. The following "theaters" are used in this volume of the OB.
East Africa (EA): Originally East Africa was part of the Middle East theater. From 15 September 1941 it becomes an independent theater encompassing Abyssinia, the Somalilands, Kenya, etc.
Iceland (IC): Technically not an independent theater, Iceland is represented here as such to facilitate the presentation of information.
Madagascar (MA): Something of a geographical anomaly, Madagascar is treated separately until its July 1942 transfer into the East Africa theater.
Mediterranean (MD): With the Allied landings in French North Africa at the end of 1942, the new Mediterranean theater comes into existence and gradually squeezes the Middle East into the background.
Middle East (ME): Originally encompassing North Africa, East Africa, Western Asia, and the Balkans, the Middle East gradually shrinks in size and importance during the war.
Norway (NO): Operations in Norway are considered separate from Northwest Europe.
Northwest Europe (NW): The primary Allied theater of operations from mid-1944, this theater includes the west European mainland. Note that southern France remains under the Mediterranean theater until transferred to NW Europe on 15 September 1944.
Persia and Iraq (PI): Historically, the states of Persia and Iraq served at times under control of the Indian theater and at times under the Middle East. For simplicity, this OB shows Persia and Iraq as an independent theater for the duration of the war.
South Africa (SA): The territory of the Union of South Africa is considered to be a separate theater.
United Kingdom (UK): Great Britain and Northern Ireland are together considered to be a theater separate from Northwest Europe.
West Africa (WA): The West Africa theater encompasses French West Africa (including Dakar), French Equatorial Africa, the Belgian Congo, and British possessions such as Nigeria and the Gold Coast.
Western Hemisphere (WH): Allied forces in North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean are considered in the Western Hemisphere, with the exception of Alaska, the Aleutian Islands, and the Hawaiian Islands.
Formations tracked in this OB are usually at division, brigade, or regiment level and their controlling headquarters is normally shown as an army HQ. Units are occasionally controlled directly by an army group, theater, or special force. HQs explained here are those which commanded units covered in this volume of the OB.
6th Army Group: General Jacob DeversÕ US HQ in Northwest Europe, 1944-1945.
12th Army Group: General Omar BradleyÕs US HQ in Northwest Europe, 1944-1945.
15th Army Group: Historically, the controlling HQ of Allied forces in Italy underwent several redesignations. For simplicity and clarity, it is always referred to in this OB as 15th Army Group.
21st Army Group: General Bernard MontgomeryÕs British HQ in Northwest Europe, 1944-1945.
1st Allied Airborne Army: Headquarters in the UK and Northwest Europe, 1944-1945.
Armee de lÕAFN: The French Army of Northwest Africa controlling units forming, reorganizing, garrisoning and not otherwise engaged under Allied command from late 1942 to 1945.
Armee de lÕAOF: The same, for the French Army of West Africa.
Armee de lÕAtlq: The French Army of the Atlantic, formed to control forces besieging German-held ports on the Atlantic coast. Historically not formed until 1945.
Armee des Alpes: The French army detachment controlling units on the Franco-Italian border. Historically not formed until 1945.
Armee du Levant: The French Army in Syria and Lebanon, 1939-1940. Used in this OB for Polish units which later moved to Palestine under British control.
BEF: The British Expeditionary Force in France and Belgium, 1939-1940.
British 1st Army: Headquarters in French North Africa, 1942-1943. Due to the complex and unstable nature of the Allied chain of command in French North Africa, certain units are listed under British 1st Army control even though this was not technically the case.
British 2nd Army: Headquarters in the UK and Northwest Europe, 1944-1945.
British 8th Army: Officially formed 27 September 1941 from Western Desert Force (with Tobruk garrison coming under command slightly later).
British 9th Army: Officially formed 1 November 1941 from HQ Palestine and Transjordan.
Canadian 1st Army: Headquarters in the UK and Northwest Europe, 1942-1945.
Can Act Srv For: The Canadian Active Service Force HQ is used in this OB to represent the controlling headquarters of Canadian forces in the Western Hemisphere.
Creforce: Controlling HQ for British, Australian, New Zealand, and Greek forces on Crete in 1941.
East Africa For: Prior to its reorganization into an independent theater, East Africa Force HQ controlled Allied units in East Africa under Middle East theater, including Kenya-based operations against Italian East Africa.
Force 121: British headquarters for Madagascar invasion.
Force 140: British headquarters for "garrison" forces in Greece, 1944-1945.
Force M: Technically the name of the Royal Navy task force, Force M is used in this OB to designate the controlling HQ for the abortive assault on Dakar.
Force Publique: Headquarters for Belgian forces in the Congo.
French 2nd Army Group: Headquarters in France, 1939-1940.
French 1st Army: Created from French Army "B" 25 September 1944 and controlling Allied forces in Northwest Europe, 1944-1945.
French 3rd Army: Headquarters in France, 1939-1940.
French 4th Army: Headquarters in France, 1939-1940.
French 7th Army: Headquarters in France, 1939-1940.
French 8th Army: Headquarters in France, 1939-1940.
French Army "B": Constituted in 1944 to control French forces designated for Operation Anvil-Dragoon and operations in France. The army was redesignated French 1st Army on 25 September 1944.
French GQG: This headquarters represents the French High Command in 1939-1940 and again in 1944-1945.
GHQ East Africa: Controlling headquarters in the East Africa theater after that theaterÕs creation.
GHQ Middle East: Used in this OB for units directly under command of the Middle East theater and for units controlled by HQ British Troops in Egypt.
GHQ West Africa: Controlling headquarters for the West Africa theater.
HQ Palestine & Transj: Prior to conversion to British 9th Army in 1941, this headquarters controlled Allied forces in that region under Middle East theater.
HQ Sudan: Subordinate to Middle East theater, this headquarters controlled Sudan-based operations against Italian East Africa.
Home Forces: This HQ is used as a catchall HQ for Allied units in the British Isles and Iceland.
NW Expeditionary Force: The Northwest Expeditionary Force HQ controlled Allied operations in Norway in 1940.
PAIForce: Historically, the chain of command for Allied forces in Persia and Iraq was altered several times. For simplicity and clarity, this OB always refers to the controlling HQ in that area as PAIForce (and British 10th Army is not used). Note also that PAIForce is also always considered to be directly under control of the Persia and Iraq theater, rather than subordinated to the Middle East or India as was sometimes the actual circumstance.
SHAEF: Certain units are directly controlled by Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force in the period 1944-1945.
US 1st Army: Headquarters in the UK and Northwest Europe, 1944-1945.
US 3rd Army: Headquarters in the UK and Northwest Europe, 1944-1945.
US 5th Army: Headquarters in North Africa and Italy, 1943-1945.
US 7th Army: Headquarters in North Africa, Sicily, and Northwest Europe, 1943-1945.
Union Def Force: The Union Defense Force is used in this OB as controlling HQ for Allied forces in South Africa.
W Force: HQ for British, Australian, and New Zealand forces in Greece, 1941.
War Ministry: Headquarters for Brazilian forces in Brazil.
West Desert For: Until redesignated British 8th Army, Western Desert Force is used as headquarters for units in the Western Desert, 1939-1941.
The status of a unit describes its activities for a specific period. Units were obviously performing more than one activity at a time, but the OB attempts to characterize the most important activity of a unit and/or the activity of the largest portion of the unit. When a unit is performing more than one important activity, the OB normally makes note of that.
Every attempt has been made to standardize the terminology of status descriptions and minimize the overall number of descriptions while simultaneously allowing for the widest range of activities with every appropriate connotation. Even so, it will be possible to endlessly debate the aptness of the descriptions assigned to many situations.
Some of the more important status descriptions are explained below.
Advancing: Unit is moving forward through enemy territory. If combat is occurring, it is at a low intensity in comparison to the size of the unit and the standards of the theater. See also "attacking" and "in transit."
Advancing from or Advancing toward: Depending on where the unit actually is, where it is going to end up, and what geographical landmarks are available in the vicinity, either description can be used.
Arrives or Arriving: Generally allows more than one day for a unit to move into a location and deploy or assemble. Initial date given for arrival normally pertains to lead elements of the unit. See also "captures" and "entering."
Attacking: Unit is attempting to move forward against enemy opposition and is probably suffering and inflicting casualties, and may or may not be making progress. See also "advancing" and "engaged."
Captures: Unit seizes objective as result of attack. See also "entering."
Disbanded: Unit no longer exists and no longer tracked in this OB.
Engaged: Unit is involved in attacking and defending during the span of time, or in attacking or defending combined with periods of lower intensity combat.
Enters or Entering: Unit seizes objective as result of relatively bloodless advance. See also "captures" and "arriving."
Evacuating: Generally reserved for naval evacuation such as Dunkirk, Greece, and Crete.
Facing: In contact with enemy forces which are holding the specified location, but any combat is at a low level of intensity. Often means the unit has the initiative.
Formed or Forming: Usually used just to indicate the date on which the formation first appears. Depending on circumstances, this could be when the unit is authorized, when its components are mobilized, when its headquarters is formed, etc.
Forming/Train: Depending on the individual unit, the process of forming its various components may continue for a long period of time.
Garrison: Unit is stationed in an area where there is little or no chance of immediate contact with the enemy. See also "reserve."
Holding: Unit is in contact with the enemy or in an area where contact with the enemy is likely. Unit may be under attack, but at a low intensity in comparison to the size of the unit and the standards of the theater. See also "under attack."
In action: Assorted combat and maneuver in close proximity to the enemy.
In transit: Unit is moving by air, land, or sea through friendly territory. Usually used for relatively long moves. Note that, depending on geographic landmarks available, the destination specified in the OB may actually be in enemy hands. See also "advancing."
Redesignated: When a unitÕs identification is changed, this indicates the old identification.
Redesignation: When a unitÕs identification is changed, indicates the new identification.
Reserve: Unit is out of contact with the enemy but on call. See also "garrison."
Retreating: Unit moves as a result of an enemy attack against it. See also "withdrawing."
Training: Generally used to indicate that a newly formed unit is not yet ready for combat, or is preparing for specialized operations.
Under attack: Enemy is attempting to destroy or dislodge the unit, and casualties are inflicted or incurred at a fairly high intensity. See also "holding."
Withdrawing: Unit moves as a result of enemy maneuver or threats, or as a result of a previous engagement. See also "retreating."
Withdrawing to or Withdrawing from or Withdrawing toward: Depending on where the unit actually is, where it is going to end up, and what geographical landmarks are available in the vicinity, either description can be used.
Several hundred geographic locations are used to pinpoint the positions of units during the war. In some cases, a dearth of geographical landmarks in a region has necessitated the use of names which are less than ideal. In other cases, units have been spread over areas to an extent which makes it difficult to select a single representative landmark to indicate its position. Whenever possible, however, locations have been selected because they are easily recognizable and readily found on most maps as well as most accurately reflecting dispositions.
In cases where the status and location is less than illuminating of a unitÕs exact position (such as "Facing the Rhine"), the entry is usually annotated (such as "Marckolsheim sector").
Finally, no effort has been made to regularize foreign place names beyond preferring commonly accepted American usage and ensuring a consistent spelling for each locale.
Dates and times are local to each geographical region. When abbreviated, dates are shown in the format "MM/DD/YY."
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