Military Organization > United States > ​​U.S. Army Armored Infantry Rifle Company (1943-45)

U.S. Army Armored Infantry Rifle Company (1943-45)

By Alex Valsamidis (Contributing Writer) and Brendan Matsuyama (Editor)

The following was the organization of the Rifle Company of a U.S. Army Armored Infantry Battalion of the U.S. Army from September 1943 through to the end of World War II. These were half-track-mounted mechanized infantry units intended to work in concert with armored units, in contrast to the standard Rifle Companies that were not mounted in half-tracks.

The next level up was the Armored Infantry Battalion, which consisted of 1 HQ & HQ Company, 3 Rifle Companies (this), 1 Service Company and 1 Medical Detachment.

 

Each U.S. Army Armored Division had 3 Armored Infantry Battalions in addition to 3 Tank Battalions, 3 Artillery Battalions and 1 Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron as their combat arms elements.

Contents:

  1. Organization

  2. Discussion

  3. Seating Diagram​​

  4. Sources

Like our content? Consider supporting us on Patreon!

armored infantry rifle company-01.png
 

Organization

  • Type: Mechanized Infantry Company

  • Origin: U.S. Army (United States)

  • Time Frame: Late World War II (1943-1945)

  • Personnel: 6 Officers and 245 Enlisted + 2-4 Attached (2 in Aug 44, 4 in Sep 43)

 

1× Company Headquarters (2 Officer and 48 Enlisted)

 

1x Headquarters Section (1 Officer and 8 Enlisted)

→ M3A1 Half-Track, armed with 1 M2 .50 cal MG*

  • 1× Company Commander, Captain (OF-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Half-track Driver, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M3 Submachine Gun

  • 1× Machine Gunner, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Bugler, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 3× Riflemen, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Rifle each

* One M9 Bazooka and one M8 grenade launcher on board. One SCR-528 (SCR-508 after November 1944) radio on board. One SCR-536 and one SCR-300 were added in August and November 1944 respectively.

→ ¼ ton Truck (Jeep)*

  • 1× Communication Chief, Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Carbine*

  • 1× Messenger (Driver), Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M3 Submachine Gun

* The Company Commander rides in the truck in the march and sometimes in combat. One SCR-510 radio on board.

1x Administrative, Mess and Supply Section (34 Enlisted)

→ 2 ½ ton Truck*

  • 1× First Sergeant, First Sergeant (OR-8), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Supply Sergeant, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Company Clerk, Corporal (OR-4), armed with 1 M1 Carbine**

  • 1× Light Truck Driver, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M3 Submachine Gun

  • 12× Basic Duty, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Rifle each

* Tows 1-ton trailer. One M9 Bazooka and one M8 grenade launcher on board.

** Works with the Battalion Personnel Section in the march.

 

→ 2 ½ ton Truck*

  • 1× Mess Sergeant, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 2× Cooks, Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Carbine each

  • 3× Cooks, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M1 Carbine each

  • 1× Cook's Helper, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Light Truck Driver, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M3 Submachine Gun

  • 10× Basic Duty, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Rifle each

* Tows 1-ton trailer. One M8 grenade launcher on board.

1x Maintenance Section (1 Officer and 6 Enlisted)

→ ¼ ton Truck*

  • 1× Motor Officer, Second/First Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Automobile Mechanic (Driver), Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M3 Submachine Gun

* One SCR-510 radio on board after August 1944.

→ M3A1 Half-Track, armed with 1 M2 .50 cal MG*

  • 1× Motor Sergeant, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 2× Armorers, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M1 Carbine each

  • 1× Automobile Mechanic, Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Automobile Mechanic (Driver), Technician 4th Grade (OR-5), armed with 1 M3 Submachine Gun

* One M9 Bazooka and one M8 grenade launcher on board.

1x Attached Medical (2-4 Enlisted [2 in Aug '44, 4 in Sep '43])

→ ¼ ton Truck (After August '44)*

  • 1× Surgical Technician, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4)

  • 1× Surgical Technician (Driver), Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2)

→ M3 Half-Track Ambulance (Before August '44)*

  • 1× Surgical Technician, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4)

  • 1× Surgical Technician, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2)

  • 1× Half-track Driver, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4)

  • 1× Litter Bearer, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2)

3× Rifle Platoons  (1 Officer and 55 Enlisted each)

 

1x Platoon Headquarters (1 Officer and 11 Enlisted)

→ M3A1 Half-track, armed with 1 M2 .50 cal MG*

  • 1× Platoon Commander, Second/First Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Platoon Sergeant, Technical Sergeant (OR-7), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Rifleman (Sniper), Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1903A4 Sniper Rifle

  • 1× Squad Leader, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 1× Half-track Driver, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M3 Submachine Gun

  • 7× Riflemen, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Rifle each

* One M9 Bazooka and two M7 grenade launchers on board. One SCR-510 radio on board. One SCR-536 added in August 1944.

2x Rifle Squads (12 Enlisted each)

→ M3A1 Half-track, armed with 1 M1917A1 .30 cal MG*

  • 1× Squad Leader, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 1× Assistant Squad Leader, Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Rifle

  • 1× Half-track Driver, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M3 Submachine Gun

  • 9× Riflemen, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Rifle each

* One M9 Bazooka and two M7 grenade launchers on board.

1x Mortar Squad (8 Enlisted)

→ M3A1 Half-track, armed with 1 M1917A1 .30 cal MG*

  • 1× Squad Leader, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Half-track Driver, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M3 Submachine Gun

  • 2× Mortar Gunners, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine each

  • 2× Ammunition Handlers, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine each

  • 2× Riflemen, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Rifle each

* One M9 Bazooka and M2 60mm mortar on board.

1x Light Machine Squad (12 Enlisted)

→ M3A1 Half-track, with 1 M2 .50 cal MG (front) and 2 M1919 .30 cal MGs (sides)*

  • 1× Squad Leader, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Assistant Squad Leader, Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Half-track Driver, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M3 Submachine Gun

  • 2× Machine Gunners, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine each

  • 2× Ammunition Handlers, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine each

  • 5× Riflemen, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Rifle each

* One M9 Bazooka on board.

1× Anti-Tank Platoon (1 Officer and 32 Enlisted)

 

1x Platoon Headquarters (1 Officer and 2 Enlisted)

→ ¼ ton Truck*

  • 1× Platoon Commander, Second/First Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Platoon Sergeant, Technical Sergeant (OR-7), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Messenger (Driver), Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M3 Submachine Gun

* One M8 grenade launcher on board. One SCR-510 radio on board. One SCR-536 added in August 1944.

3x Anti-Tank Squads (10 Enlisted each)

→ M3A1 Half-track, with winch, tows M1 57mm Gun, armed with 1 M2 .50 cal MG (2 Half-tracks) or 1 M1917A1 .30 cal MG (1 Half-track)

  • 1× Squad Leader, Staff Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Anti-Tank Gunner, Corporal (OR-4), armed with 1 M1 Carbine

  • 1× Half-track Driver, Technician 5th Grade (OR-4), armed with 1 M3 Submachine Gun

  • 4× Cannoneers, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Carbine each

  • 3× Ammunition Handlers, Private (OR-1) to Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1 Rifle each

 
 
 
 

Discussion

The Rifle Company was the main maneuver unit of the Armored Infantry Battalion and the typical mechanized infantry company in the U.S. Army during World War II, equivalent to the German Panzergrenadiers (although most Panzergrenadier units were mounted in trucks rather than half-tracks). The company was made up of the Company Headquarters, 1 Antitank Platoon, 3 Rifle Platoons and an attached medical vehicle. It was commanded by a Captain and consisted of a total of 251 soldiers.

 

The main small arms used by the company were the M1 Rifle, the M1 Carbine and the M3 Submachine Gun (issued exclusively to vehicle drivers). The company was assigned 20 M3A1 half-tracks, three ¼ ton Trucks and two 2 ½ ton Trucks.

 

The Company operated as a unit with its usual mission being to reinforce tank units or perform assaults with the assistance of tanks. The Rifle Platoons sometimes rode on tanks, with 1-2 Platoons riding on one Tank Company. Each M4 Sherman tank could carry up to 6 soldiers.

Company Headquarters

The Company HQ housed the company's command, administrative and replacement personnel. It was split into 1 Headquarters Section, 1 Administration, Mess and Supply Section and 1 Maintenance Section. Most of the soldiers were armed with M1 Carbines, except for drivers—who were armed with submachine guns—and the Basic Duty Privates and Riflemen, who carried rifles. Basic Duty soldiers were basically extra bodies for mess duty. The HQ contained 2 Officers and 48 Enlisted men.

 

The Headquarters Section was mounted on a half-track and a ¼ ton truck (jeep). The half-track was armed with an M2 .50 Cal Machine Gun and carried an M9 Bazooka and an M8 Rifle Grenade Launcher (for M1 Carbines, presumably for signals). The half-track initially carried a SCR-528 radio, which was replaced by an SCR-508 on December 1944. One SCR-536 and 1 SCR-300 were added in August and November 1944 respectively. This half-track carried the Company Commander, a Bugler, a Driver, a Machine Gunner and 3 Riflemen. The jeep was driven by the Messenger and carried the Communication Chief. It carried an SCR-510 radio. In the march and sometimes in combat, the Company Commander rode in the jeep.

 

The Maintenance Section performed second echelon maintenance on weapons and vehicles. The section had 2 vehicles. A ¼ ton jeep was driven by an Automobile Mechanic and carried the Motor Officer, who also acted as Executive Officer for the Company. There was one SCR-510 radio on board after August 1944. A half-track transported a Motor Sergeant, 2 Armorers and 2 Automobile Mechanics, one of which also acted as a driver. Before June 1944, there was also a Basic Duty Private. The half-track was armed with an M2 .50 Cal Machine Gun and carried an M9 Bazooka and M8 Grenade Launcher.

 

The Administrative, Mess and Supply Section provided food and supplies to the company. It was mounted on two 2 ½ ton trucks, both of which towed a 1-ton trailer and carried an M8 Grenade Launcher. One truck carried the First Sergeant, a Supply Sergeant, the Company Clerk, a Driver and 12 Basic Duty Privates. The other truck carried the Mess Sergeant, 5 Cooks, a Cook’s Helper, a Driver and 10 Basic Duty Privates. The First Sergeant’s truck also carried an M9 Bazooka.

 

The Medical Detachment provided one vehicle to the company, to provide medical care and bring wounded soldiers to the Battalion Aid Station. Until August Companies received an Ambulance half-track, which was crewed by 2 Surgical Technicians, a Litter Bearer and a Driver. Only 2 Companies received an ambulance. The Detachment had a third one, but it was held in reserve. After August 1944, all companies received a ¼ ton Truck, which carried 2 Surgical Technicians, one of which also acted as a driver. The Detachment had a fourth truck, which was held in reserve.

Rifle Platoons

The company's 3 Rifle Platoons were its main close combat, maneuver elements. Each platoon was commanded by a Second or First Lieutenant and was made up of the Platoon Headquarters and Rifle Squad, 2 Rifle Squads, a 60-mm Mortar Squad and a Light Machine Gun Squad. The Platoon contained 1 Officer and 55 Enlisted men.

 

The Platoon Headquarters and Rifle Squad was comprised of the Platoon Commander, the Platoon Sergeant, a Driver, a Squad Leader and 8 Riflemen, one of which operated as a Sniper. It was mounted on a half-track armed with an M2 .50 Cal MG and carried an M9 Bazooka. As with the other rifle squads, two riflemen were designated as the rocketeers for the Bazooka with 1 gunner and 1 loader. There was an SCR-510 radio on board with an SCR-536 being added in August 1944. The Driver was armed with an SMG, the Commander and Sergeant with a carbine, the sniper with an M1903 Sniper Rifle and the rest with rifles. There were 2 M7 Rifle Grenade Launchers (for M1 Rifles) available to the squad. The squad acted as the command element of the Platoon.

 

Each Rifle Squad consisted of a Squad Leader, an Assistant Squad Leader, a Driver and 9 Riflemen. It was mounted on a half-track, which was armed with an M1917A1 .30 Cal MG and carried an M9 Bazooka. The Driver was armed with an SMG and the dismounts were armed with rifles. Unlike a standard rifle squad, there were no M1918A2 BAR gunners, although rifle platoons would acquire BARs throughout the war unofficially to bolster dismounted firepower. Like the standard infantry, whose rifle squads would acquire a second BAR whenever possible, additional automatic firepower was welcome for an official TO&E that lacked it for its dismounted elements at least. Perhaps the machine guns mounted on half-tracks mitigated this concern for those who designed the TO&E as they could be dismounted, but all of these machine guns were tripod mounted and crew-served and thus not viable as squad automatic weapons. Additionally, there were 2 M7 Rifle Grenade Launchers available to the squad for use with M1 Rifles. The rifle squads were the main maneuver elements of the Platoon.

 

The 60-mm Mortar Squad provided indirect fire in support of the Platoon. It was made up of a Squad Leader, a Driver, 2 Mortar Gunners, 2 Ammunition Bearers and 2 Riflemen. The squad was mounted on a half-track that was armed with an M1917A1 .30 Cal MG and carried an M2 60-mm Mortar and an M9 Bazooka. The driver was armed with an submachine gun—typically an M3 Grease Gun or M1A1 Thompson—the riflemen with M1 Rifles and the rest with carbines. The mortar was used to be used dismounted against enemy weapon emplacements, enemy positions blocking the advance, or to prevent the enemy from advancing. The half-track was not a mortar carrier and was no equipped to mount a mortar. Because the squad did not carry smoke shells, the 81-mm Mortar Platoon from the Battalion Headquarters and Headquarters Company was used to provide smoke if needed. The M2 mortar was developed from the M1 81-mm mortar, and due to its design, had a fast rate of fire and longer range than most contemporary mortars.

 

The Light Machine Gun Squad provided a base of fire for the Platoon. It consisted of a Squad Leader, an Assistant Squad Leader, a Driver, 2 Machine Gunners, 2 Ammunition Handlers and 5 Riflemen.  It was mounted on a half-track, which was armed with an M2 .50 Cal MG and carried an M9 Bazooka. The half-track also carried 2 M1919A4 or M1919A6 .30 Cal MGs. Initially A6s were intended to be issued, but likely never were as the TO&E change that called for them came out right when the A6 was entering service. After January 1944, the A4 was called for with the LMGs being mounted on the sides of the half-track.

 

The Driver was armed with an SMG, the Riflemen with rifles and the rest with carbines. When the squad dismounted, the Gunners paired up with the Handlers and operated the machine guns while the Riflemen provided security. The A6s were equipped with a bipod and the A4s were used on tripods.

 

The Platoon normally operated as a unit together with other units in the company. When on the offensive, the Rifle Squads led the unit, with the Mortar and LMG Squads providing support. The platoon remained mounted until it came under enemy fire. The LMG Squad could be broken up to support the Rifle Squads while the mortar was used to destroy concentrated enemy positions and cover the troops if a base of fire had not been established. The Platoon could operate on its own for a limited period of time, however it had to rely on the company for food and supplies as the amount that could be stored on the half-tacks was limited.

 

When a squad was mounted the Squad Leaders manned the half-tracks' machine guns. After the squad dismounted, the driver moved the half-track to a predetermined location and manned the MG. All vehicles carried tripods for the mounted machine guns so they could be dismounted and used in a mobile role. In such an occasion, some pre-selected members were in charge of carrying and using them. In such a case, the vehicle was left unarmed, so the driver parked it, retrieved his SMG and joined the squad, carrying additional ammunition, parts and a spare barrel for the MG. If he had to stay in the vehicle, another squad member carried the ammo and equipment. The M2 could provide fire at longer ranges and was effective against light skinned vehicles, while the M1917A1, which was water-cooled, could provide sustained fire for much longer. The .30 Cal ammo was also lighter, so more could be carried.

 

For an anti-tank defense, each vehicle carried an M9 Bazooka. In each squad, all riflemen were trained to operate the launcher, however two of them designated as the rocket operators. If the Squad leader ordered the use of the M9, the Gunner left his rifle in the vehicle and carried the launcher, while the Loader kept his rifle and carried 2 ammunition bags carrying 3 rockets each. The rockets could also be used against soft targets and weapon emplacements, provided there was no enemy armor present and there was enough ammo. The M9 could also be fired out of the vehicle. The Squad Leader would order the half-track to stop, and the rocket team would fire the M9, with the rear end of the launcher outside of the half track. This is done to prevent injuries from the backblast. The 3 Rifle Squads also carried 2 M7 Rifle Grenade Launchers each, which could fire HEAT anti-tank grenades.

 

For anti-air defense, the platoon used the mounted machine guns. The M2s were the most effective, because of their longer range and more powerful rounds, but the M1917A1s could also be used. However, the effectiveness of AA fire was limited and the vehicles were lightly armored, so the most common method of protection was dispersal and concealment.

Anti-Tank Platoons

The Antitank Platoon was the Company’s main anti-tank unit and could also be used against buildings and for limited infantry support. It consisted of the Platoon Headquarters and 3 Antitank Squads. Most personnel were armed with M1 Carbines, except for the Ammunition Handlers and the Drivers, who carried rifles and SMGs respectively. The Platoon contained 1 Officer and 32 Enlisted men.

 

The Platoon Headquarters was responsible for leading the Platoon, coordinating fires between the Squads and communicating with the rest of the Company. It consisted of the Platoon Commander, a First Lieutenant, who led the Headquarters and the whole Platoon, the Platoon Sergeant, and a Messenger, who also acts as a driver for the ¼ ton truck. The truck carried all 3 personnel and has an SCR-510 radio. An SCR-536 was added in August 1944. There was also an M8 Rifle Grenade Launcher that could be used by the Platoon Commander or Platoon Sergeant on their carbines.

 

Each Anti-tank Squad was mounted on a half-track, each of which towed an M1 57mm Gun. Two half-tracks were armed with an M2 .50 Cal MG while the third was armed with a M1917A1 .30 Cal MG. Each Squad consisted of a Squad Leader, a Gunner, a Driver, 4 Cannoneers and 3 Ammunition Handlers. The Squad Leader performed fire control for the Gun and coordinated with the rest of the Platoon. The Gunner aimed and fired the Gun while the Cannoneers deployed and loaded it. The Ammunition Handlers transferred shells from their storage to the Gun and also provided local security.

 

The Platoon could operate in both offensive and defensive roles. The Guns were usually employed from dug-in positions that were camouflaged and provided overlapping fires. When in the offensive, it would follow behind the Rifle Platoons and set up in positions to support the advance and repel armored counterattacks. In the defensive, it was used to provide flanking fires on armor and were placed in such a way that they could provide mutual support.

 

The M1 57mm Gun was the US version of the British Ordnance QF 6-pounder. It replaced the American M3 37mm Gun after the North African Campaign as it was decided that a more powerful gun was needed to combat German tanks. While the gun was effective against most medium tanks, it had issues engaging the Panther, which could not be penetrated from the front. There was also an issue with the ammunition. Because of the sudden adoption, the US initially produced only armor-piercing rounds. High explosive went into production after the Normandy Campaign and Canister was provided at the start of 1945. This limited the Gun’s anti-infantry use. While HE and canister ammunition was sometimes provided by the British, it was in limited numbers.

 

During the war, some Divisions converted their Anti-tank Platoons into Rifle Platoons or left their anti-tank guns in the rear while folding Anti-Tank Squads into existing Rifle Platoons as reinforcement or reserve squads. This was done by some to preserve manpower, (21st AIB, 11th AD) and by others because they were engaged in battles where the use of AT guns was not needed (47th AIB, 5th AD).

Seating Diagram

 
armored infantry rifle platoon seating d

Sources

 

"The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious."

      - Marcus Aurelius

Social

© 2019 Battle Order