British Order of Battle

Note: The order of battle pages in the Pacific War Online Encyclopedia are still under construction. At present, the initial order of battle is probably accurate for units east of India but not in India itself. Our warship and Army ground unit reinforcement schedules are likely incomplete and inaccurate, and we have almost no information on air reinforcements.

We present here the British order of battle from 7 December 1941 on. Units that deployed as part of a higher echelon (such as regiments assigned to divisions) are not listed separately. Also, units redesignated from other units are not included. The intent is to give a reasonable reinforcement schedule for war games.

Tabulated information

Unit. This is the name of the unit.

Commander. This is the commander of the unit at the time of its activation. For units already active when war broke out, it is the commander of the unit on 7 December 1941. In general, we do not display commanders below flag or general rank. Ships showing a commander are the flagship of that commander.

Start. This gives the date and location of the unit's activation. For units already active when war broke out, only the location is given (at 8:00 AM on 7 December 1941, Hawaii time). If no location is given, a unit should be assumed to be at the same location as its operational headquarters (or administrative headquarters if no operational assignment is given.) Naval headquarters are located on the flagship of their commander unless otherwise specified.

Administrative Assignment. The administrative assignments in this table represent the formal organizational structure. The table is sorted by administrative assignment, such that every unit appears after the unit to which it is administratively assigned.

Operational Assignment. The operational assignment, if one is given, represents temporary attachment to another unit for a single operation. For example, an aircraft carrier might be administratively assigned to a carrier division, but be operationally assigned to a task force for a particular mission.

Notes. Miscellaneous information about a unit, such as its manpower and equipment, where it was raised, what its initial orders were, and how well it performed in battle.

Organization of the tables

The order of battle tables are laid out for maximum readability by software tools while retaining some semblance of human readability. Because the complete orders of battle for the major powers are many megabytes in length, we have broken the tables up into individual sections of less than 400K to avoid difficulties with older Web browsers.

In addition to the displayed text and associated links, each unit has an HTML anchor with a unique identifier based on the unit name. For example, the entry for Pacific Fleet includes the anchor Pacific_Fleet, which appears immediately before the unit name in the table. These anchors are used to cross-reference the tables but may also be of use to software tools scanning the tables.

We are considering offering the complete orders of battle as SQL files or as C++ code. Users of the Encyclopedia who desire these or other formats may write to and make their desires know.

The order of battle

Initial British order of battle



The air and ground replacement schedule is difficult to work out for any power. The replacement model for the influential Pacific War (Victory Games 1985) called for an accumulation of 5 replacement battalions per month through December 1944 and 7 per month thereafter. These replacements could be applied to any land unit of any service. This was obviously a crude model, but it is hard to know how one could do better. However, it is known that the British Indian Army inducted 2,047,430 recruits between September 1939 and August 1945 inclusive.

The Pacific War model for air reinforcements and replacements did not distinguish the two, nor did it distinguish services or aircraft type. It used a single pool of air replacement/reinforcement squadrons for all Allied nations. This is further described in the U.S. order of battle.


Bevis (2003)

Ellis (1993) (accessed 2010-11-27)

Slim (1956)

Victory Games (1985)

Willmott (1982)

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