Unit History: Assault Field Regiment
Airborne divisions comprised 2 parachute brigades and an airlanding brigade, eventually they had an airlanding artillery regiment, but initially their only artillery was an anti-tank battery.
Organisationally, Indian divisions were traditionally 1/3 British infantry battalions and all British artillery. In Burma the number of British battalions steadily decreased and Indian field regiments progressively replaced British field regiments in Indian divisions in both Italy and Burma.
In the Far East the changes were rather greater and a period of variously specialised infantry divisions was followed in late 1944 by an ’all purpose’ divisional organisation. These divisions generally had three different types of 3 battery regiment: a standard 24 ? 25-pdr regiment, a jungle field regiment with 16 ? 25-pdr (jury axle) or 16 ? 3.7-inch hows and 16 ? 3-inch mortars in the third battery, and an Indian mountain regiment with 12 ? 3.7-inch hows. However, in some cases the two 24 gun 25-pdr regiments each had one battery of jury axle guns, and there were other variations at various times. LAA and anti-tank were combined in a single regiment having 2 batteries of each until reverting to a 3 battery anti-tank regiment when the Japanese airforce disappeared from the sky.
2 Infantry Division in Burma, the only full strength British division in the theatre was different, first its three field regiments replaced one battery of 25-pdr with 3.7-inch hows, then they each re-equipped another battery with 105- mm M7 Priest SPs and the regiments were renamed ’Assault Field Regiments’, finally the Priests were replaced by 25-pdr in 1944 before the Kohima battle. 36 Division, a unique mix of British combat troops and mainly Indian services, underwent similar changes in its two field regiments.
In the SW Pacific, the artillery organisation in Australian divisions also underwent changes. In early 1943 the divisional artillery was reduced to one regiment. It grew again later in the war.