Home Forums WWII Merging Units for morale purposes

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    Les Hammond

    Is there any real life precedent for this, as in merging two badly knocked about units to somehow make one good one out of the survivors which, in game terms, could be replicated by a slightly improvement on individual unit morale scores but obviously a reduction in the number of units?

    My feeling is that the men from originally different units would not gel as a team as well as if they had trained, slept & eaten together (ie bonded I suppose) so it shouldn’t be used as a game mechanic but then what about, for instance, the Normandy landings where units got split up & cobbled together and probably happened countless other times.

    Just thinking out loud really.

    6mm France 1940


    Not Connard Sage

    I would have thought that if a unit had been so mauled as to be unfit for combat it would have been pulled out of the line until it received a new draft.

    Not saying that ad hoc ‘units’ weren’t created from battered remnants in extremis though, especially on the Eastern Front. But then you have other ‘morale’ considerations to contend with – shortages of weapons, ammunition, food, junior officers…it would be a long list, and get rather complicated.


    Then there are situations like Arnhem…

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    John D Salt

    I quite liked the rule in the old WRG “Infantry Action 1925-1975” rules:

    “If a group splits, all the former members remember casualties.
    When groups amalgamate, they remember total casualties.”

    Of course a lot depends on what you mean by “morale”. If you think the main component of morale is group cohesion, then probably amalgamating units would decrease rather than increase morale. If you think that things like rest, tea and hot food are important (as the British Army does, which is why “administration and morale” were coupled together) then the amalgamation would improve morale insofar as it allowed opportunities for those, but not otherwise.

    All the best,



    I’ve always allowed the merging of units, perhaps it was that WRG rule, but I always insist on the lesser unit morale value, or on the roll of a die, proportionate to the unit strengths…….roughly of course, 2/3 of unit and a 1/3 of another, equates to 1-4 or 5-6 on a d6 for the ‘take on’ of new morale values.

    German units, especially on the Eastern Front,  seemed to be able tie rag tag units together, but considering the alternative, a lamppost trial or Soviet POW camp, it was very much a fight for survival, perhaps this could be reflected by allowing ‘normal’ defence values but weaker attack ones……..

    Google the British Army mutiny in Italy in 1944 to see how crucial rest and unit integrity is/was to troops behaviour……….

    "Even dry tree bark is not bitter to the hungry squirrel"

    Les Hammond

    So for example say there are two tank troops that are both down to one tank, one being a troop command tank and the other having a ‘normal crew’. With morale ratings of 33/100 (loss of 66% of elements in the unit) & 13/100 (loss of 66% of elements in the unit plus 20% penalty for one being troop CO).

    Thanks to some fortuitous rolls they are both ‘carrying on’.

    Depending on their orders, if their paths cross I can picture the troop commander of the two saying to the other “right, stick to me”. He would be more confidant having a backup and the other would be happier that someone is around to take charge.

    So I am thinking he could gain one replacement (33% +33% =66%) and the grunt crew could gain a replacement who is also a CO (13% +33% +20% =66%) making them the exact equivalent of a troop that has only lost one tank.

    I am thinking they should be penalised a bit and shouldn’t end up with scores as if ‘nothing had ever happened’.

    Any thoughts on this?

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by Les Hammond.

    6mm France 1940



    It was quite common to reorganise non-viable subunits into viable subunits (so a platoon with only 12 men left in its rifle sections might reorg into two sections of six), similarly companies would be amalgamated to provide viable units but the battalion might drop a company, or two. The Russians had official TO&Es for reduced scale units.

    This sort of stuff was usually carried out when the shooting had stopped however. It is less a question of ‘raising morale’ then having enough chaps/tanks to be be to operate tactically using fire and movement.

    During combat, some ‘tagging along’ might happen, but unit boundaries would normally preclude a lot of things like that. More senior officers grabbing fresh tanks from subordinates was not unusual at all. Assuming said officer wasn’t trapped in a burning steel box at the time, but had instead broken his Tiger by unwisely driving it into a built up area full of anti-tank guns, and had to go back and get anew one (like Wittman at Vilers Bocage).

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    Les Hammond

    This sort of stuff was usually carried out when the shooting had stopped however. It is less a question of ‘raising morale’ then having enough chaps/tanks to be be to operate tactically using fire and movement. During combat, some ‘tagging along’ might happen

    That’s what I suspected, thanks Martin

    6mm France 1940


    Jemima Fawr

    Yes, there is plenty of historical precedent for this.  Taking the British Army as an example, armoured regiments in North Africa were frequently amalgamated as losses were suffered, then split up again as replacements were incorporated.  The 3rd & 4th County of London Yeomanry for example, were amalgamated to be known as the 3rd/4th County of London Yeomanry in North Africa and again in Normandy.

    In Normandy, another example that springs to mind is the 2nd Battalion of the Essex Regiment, which suffered heavy casualties in three of its four rifle companies during an attack on Lingevres, south of Bayeux.  The three mauled companies were then amalgamated into one large company for a few days, until replacements arrived and allowed the battalion to resume its organisation of four rifle companies.  Interestingly, the 2nd Essex seems to have performed better in action AFTER incorporating the replacements… That does seem counter-intuitive.

    Sidney Jary, in ’18 Platoon’ discusses the platoon-level amalgamations that went on within companies at some length.  His platoon spent most of the campaign fighting as two sections, rather than the usual three, with the third Bren kept at platoon HQ, to form a base of fire along with the 2-inch mortar.  The company as a whole frequently had only six sections instead of the usual nine.

    Taking the other side: German units got smaller and smaller as the Normandy Campaign wore on.  They had a deliberate policy of amalgamation until they reached a point where a division was no longer combat-worthy (that point was alarmingly small – many divisions fought on at mere regimental strength).  Taking 9th & 10th SS as examples; both divisions suffered heavy casualties in one of the two panzergrenadier regiments in early July 1944 and then amalgamated those regiments into battalion-sized battlegroups.  As the bulk of casualties were on the infantrymen, these battlegroups were stuffed with a regiment’s-worth of heavy weapons.

    My wargames blog: http://www.jemimafawr.co.uk/

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