Military history


ADGB Air Defence of Great Britain

ANVIL Codename for the Allied invasion of southern France, later designated DRAGOON

AOC Air Officer Commanding

AVRE Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers – Churchill tank mounted with Petard short-range heavy mortar, and various devices for bridging and ditching

BAR Browning Automatic Rifle – American squad light machine-gun

Battalion Basic infantry unit of 600–1,000 men in all armies in Normandy, sub-divided into four rifle companies and a support company of 100-plus men each, with organic anti-tank guns, heavy machine-guns and mortars. Companies were divided into platoons of three or four rifle squads, each commanded by a corporal – or an NCO in the German army.

Bazooka American infantry anti-tank rocket-projector

BEF British Expeditionary Force

BGS Brigadier General Staff

Bren .303 British squad light machine-gun

Brigade British nomenclature for a formation normally composed of three infantry or tank battalions – roughly equivalent in strength to a German or American regiment

CC Combat Command

CIGS Chief of the Imperial General Staff

COBRA American breakout operation, 25–29 July

Corps A group of divisions assembled under the command of a lieutenant-general, their number and identity varying constantly according to the task for which the corps is being employed.

COSSAC Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander

CP Command post

CSM Company Sergeant-Major

DCLI Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

DD Duplex-Drive amphibious Sherman tank

DF Defensive fire

Division The basic formation through which all armies are controlled, commanded by a major-general and comprising 12–18,000 men. A British armoured division in Normandy normally comprised two tank brigades, one infantry. The Americans preferred to divide the armoured division into two ‘Combat Commands’ (CC), A and B, each in the hands of a brigadier-general.

DUKW Duplex-Drive amphibious truck

EPSOM 2nd Army’s attacks to the Orne and beyond, 26 June to 1 July

Flail Tank mounted with chains on a revolving drum for minesweeping

FORTITUDE Allied deception plan for OVERLORD

FUSAG First US Army Group – the fictitious army commanded by Patton, whose supposed threat to the Pas de Calais was central to FORTITUDE

GOODWOOD British attack on the Bourge´bus ridge, 18–21 July

GSO General Staff Officer (grades I, II or III)

HE High Explosive

Kangaroo Canadian infantry armoured personnel carrier improvised from self-propelled gun mountings

KOSB King’s Own Scottish Borderers

KRRC King’s Royal Rifle Corps

KSLI King’s Own Shropshire Light Infantry

LCA Landing Craft Assault

LCI Landing Craft Infantry

LCT Landing Craft Tank

LCVP Landing Craft Vehicle and Personnel

LST Landing Ship Tank

ML Motor launch

NCO Non-commissioned officer

NEPTUNE Naval assault phase of OVERLORD

ODs American army combat clothing

OKW Oberkommando der Wehrmacht – high command of the German armed forces

OP Observation post

OSS Office of Strategic Services, the American wartime foreign intelligence service

Panzerfaust German hand-held infantry anti-tank weapon

Petard Short-range tank-mounted heavy mortar

PIAT Projector Infantry Anti-Tank – British hand-held platoon anti-tank weapon

POINTBLANK Pre-OVERLORD strategic bombing of Germany

Priest British self-propelled mounting for 25-pounder

PT Patrol Torpedo boat

RAC Royal Armoured Corps

RAOC Royal Army Ordnance Corps

Regiment American or German equivalent of a British brigade, normally composed of three battalions, commanded by an American brigadier-general or German colonel

REME Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

ROUNDUP Plan for an Allied invasion of Europe in 1943, superseded by OVERLORD

RTR Royal Tank Regiment

SAS Special Air Service

SHAEF Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force

SOE Special Operations Executive

Spandau Allied shorthand for German MG 34 or MG 42 machine-guns

TOT Time On Target concentrated artillery, a speciality of American gunners, although practised by all armies

TOTALIZE Canadian army attack towards Falaise, 8–11 August

TRACTABLE Canadian attack towards Falaise, 14–16 August

Vickers British .303 water-cooled heavy machine-gun – the infantry battalion support weapon

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