2 I/C

Second-in-Command

 

Army

The name given to a collection of two or more Corps, acting together under the overall command of a General.

 

Army Group

A group of two or more armies, united under the command of a Field Marshal.

 

Bailey Bridge

Of British design, the Bailey Bridge is a temporary structure that, in only a matter of hours, can be erected to span a river and be strong enough to support the immense weight of a tank. The bridge can be broken down into assorted parts and carried in transport vehicles.

 

Battalion

An infantry unit containing between 500-800 men, and commanded by a Lieutenant-Colonel.

 

Bomb Happy

See Shell Shock.

 

Bren Carrier

See Bren gun and Universal Carrier.

 

Bren gun

A Light Machine Gun, an essential support weapon carried by every British and Canadian platoon.

 

Brigade

A formation of two or more Battalions acting together under the overall command of a Brigadier.

 

Brigade Group

A Brigade with attached support units; e.g. medical staff, engineers, and anti-tank gunners.

 

BSM

Battery Sergeant Major.

 

C-47 Skytrain

See Dakota.

 

CG-4A Waco

The standard glider of the US Army. It was cheap and the design was easy to mass produce, however it was not as robust as the British Horsa and was prone to structural failure.

 

CIGS

Chief of the Imperial General Staff.

 

CMP

Corps of Military Police.

 

CO

Commanding Officer.

 

CP

Command Post.

 

Company

A subdivision of a Battalion, commanded by a Major and consisting of approximately 120 men. Parachute Battalions consisted of three rifle companies (normally designated A, B, and C) and an HQ and Support Company - the latter consisting of specialist groups such as Machine Gun and Mortar Platoons. Airlanding companies, as with all other mainstream infantry, had an extra rifle company within their ranks. Also, whereas parachute companies had three platoons within these companies, other infantry units carried four.

 

Corps

A formation of two or more Divisions acting together as a self-contained unit under the overall command of a Lieutenant-General. An Airborne Corps would consist of a number of Airborne Divisions, coupled with assigned Air Force Groups dedicated to their transport and resupply. Whereas a standard ground-based Corps would consist of a Division or more of tanks and other armoured vehicles, numerous infantry Divisions, additional transport vehicles, and supporting artillery.

 

Coup de main

French. Literally translated as 'stroke of hand', but in a military context it refers to a sudden surprise attack, or in the case of the bridges at Bénouville and Ranville, the seizure of an objective by a small group of lightly armed men who will hold it until the main force arrives on foot.

 

CSM

Company Sergeant-Major. The leading Sergeant in a Company.

 

Dakota

A common transport aircraft used by the Allies for towing gliders, and dropping parachutists or supplies. Designed by the USA, under the name of the C-47 Skytrain, it was sold to the British under the name of the Dakota. It was the most superior method of deploying parachutists that was available to the British, its competitors being converted bombers which were not ideally suited to the task. A Dakota could also be used to tow a light glider, such as a Horsa or Waco, but not the large Hamilcar.

 

D-Day

The term "D-Day" has come to be accepted as the name of the Normandy landings through its constant association. However every single military operation has a D-Day, defined as the date upon which the operation is to take place. For Operation Overlord, D-Day was the 6th June. The "D" stands for "Day". The second day of the operation would be referred to as D+1, i.e. Day plus one day, the next day D+2, and so on.

 

DD Tank

Duplex Drive Tank. An amphibious tank which, in Normandy, was used to swim ashore, under its own propulsion, with the first wave of infantry.

 

Division

A formation of two or more Brigades and assorted supporting units (e.g. artillery, engineers) acting together as one force under the command of a Major-General. Typically a Division would consist of 10,000 men.

 

Drop Zone

An area of land designated for the dropping of parachutists.

 

DUKW

An American designed 2.5 ton amphibious truck, used by the Allies.

 

Hamilcar

The largest of the British gliders, often used to carry the heaviest equipment (e.g. 17-pounder Anti-Tank guns, Universal Carriers, or the light Tetrarch tanks as used by the 6th Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment).

 

Horsa

The standard British glider, capable of carrying 28 men, or heavy equipment such as Jeeps and 6-pounder Anti-Tank guns.

 

Landing Craft

There were several different types of Landing Craft used by the Allies in Normandy, each performing different functions. The Assault infantry travelled in an LCA (Landing Craft: Assault), these were armoured against small arms fire and carried four crew and thirty-five men, fewer than the larger but vulnerable, wooden-constructed LCI's (Landing Craft: Infantry), used as second-wave craft. Other variants of Landing Craft were LCT's (Landing Craft: Tank) and LCF's (Landing Craft: Flak).

 

Landing Ships

Landing Ships were much larger than the Landing Craft which carried out the assault, and they brought in large amounts of infantry and heavy equipment. Variants were LSI (Landing Ship: Infantry) and LST (Landing Ship: Tank).

 

Landing Zone

An area designated for the landing of gliders.

 

Lee-Enfield MkIV

Standard British infantry rifle.

 

LMG

Light Machine Gun, such as the Bren gun.

 

Mallard

The codename given to the airlift operation to bring the Second Lift of the 6th Airborne to Normandy on the evening of the 6th June.

 

MO

Medical Officer.

 

NCO

Non-Commissioned Officer. Such as sergeants or corporals.

 

Nebelwerfer

Also known as "Moaning Minnies". A fearsome German multi-barrelled mortar which fired a succession of incendiary rockets.

 

O-Group

Order Group. A commander may order an O-Group to assemble all of his subalterns to give them their orders.

 

OP

Observation Post.

 

Overlord

The codename given to the invasion of Normandy on the 6th June 1944 by the 21st Army Group.

 

PIAT

Projector Infantry Anti Tank. A hand-held gun that fires an armour piercing projectile, most adept at dealing with lightly armoured vehicles.

 

Platoon

Three platoons existed within a Parachute Company, four in an Airlanding or normal infantry battalion, and each was commanded by a Lieutenant. Platoons could consist of as many as 60 soldiers, though the glider-borne units were designed so that they could be transported in a single Horsa glider, and therefore consisted of 26 men. Parachute platoons were somewhat larger.

 

RA

Royal Artillery.

 

RAC

Royal Armoured Corps.

 

RAF

Royal Air Force.

 

RAMC

Royal Army Medical Corps.

 

RAOC

Royal Army Ordnance Corps.

 

RAP

Regimental Aid Post.

 

RASC

Royal Army Service Corps.

 

RE

Royal Engineers.

 

REME

Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

 

Roman Candle

A term used to describe a parachute that has failed to fully open. This condition would normally arise from a poorly packed chute which, though a highly unlikely eventuality, would cause the parachutist to plummet to his death.

 

RSM

Regimental Sergeant-Major. The most senior sergeant in a battalion.

 

Sapper

The ordinary infantryman (Private) of the Royal Engineers.

 

Self-Propelled (SP) Gun

A large artillery gun, mounted on its own vehicle like a tank unlike the static artillery guns that were towed behind Jeeps.

 

SHAEF

Supreme HQ Allied Expeditionary Force - the Headquarters of General Eisenhower, the Allied Supreme Commander.

 

Shell Shock

Otherwise known as bomb-happy, shell shock is a condition that arises from the fear and ceaseless noise of prolonged artillery barrages. Rendering such cases seemingly child-like or stricken into numbness, the condition can take many years to recover from, if at all.

 

Slit trench

The name given to a one-man trench that infantrymen dig with the shovels they carry. Providing the ground is soft, a trench can be quickly dug so that a single man can place his body as much beneath the level of earth as possible. Not only does this make the man a harder target during gunfights, but it greatly reduces the chance of injury from artillery bombardment.

 

SS

Schutz Staffeln, literally translated as Protection Detachments. The SS were separate to the Wehrmacht and were under the overall control of Himmler. The Waffen-SS were the elite of this Nazi corps.

 

Sten

Sub-machine gun, usually carried by British officers and NCO's.

 

Stick

The collective term used to describe a group of parachutists in a single aircraft, as in "a stick of paratroopers".

 

Tonga

The codename given to the airlift on first night of the 6th Airborne Division's landing.

 

Universal Carrier

A tracked and lightly armoured vehicle used by the British for, as its name implies, a number of duties from transport of men and supplies, to a weapons platform for mortars or, more commonly, the Bren Carrier, mounting a Bren light machine gun.

 

USAAF

United States Army Air Force. Unlike the RAF, the American air forces during the war were not an independent service, but instead either fell under the jurisdiction of the navy or army.

 

Very light

Flare pistol.

 

Wehrmacht

German army forces, not including the SS.