World War 2
US in WW2

How many men in a squad in World War 2?

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2014-05-21 15:38:32

I will start off this answer. I'm familiar with the larger units

in the World War 2 infantry but I forgot the organization at the

smallest levels.

I always heard that a Sqad was 8 to 10 men. The size will vary

with the type of Squad. For example, you can have an infantry squad

or a mortar squad or a machine gun squad.

For the real answer, I quote from the WW2 Soldier's


"In the Infantry and Cavalry the Squad is the largest unit that

can be effectively controlled by the voice and signals of its

leader---the corporal or sergeant. In size it will vary from

4 to 16 members, depending upon the kind of squad

it is. It takes its name from the principal weapon within the

squad. For example, in a "rifle-squad" the members are armed with

the rifle....."

"The squad is small enough so that the leader can directly

control all of its members."

"In the Field Artillery and Coast Artillery Corps, the section

is the smallest fighting unit. In these arms, squads are sometimes

used for purposes of drill or administration. For combat, however,

the members of the section are usually close enough to the gun they

serve so that their leader, the sergeant, can control them."

Remember that a squad, platoon, company, etc. will vary in size

for an infantry division than for an Parachute Infantry Division or

Armored Division. Also, these organizations will be different for

armies of other countries in WW2 and for the modern US Army.

For a Platoon:

"A Platoon includes several squads, or two sections, and has a

strength of 40 or 50 soldiers."


Troop(Cavalry) or


"It usually consists of 3 or 4 platoons and is commanded by a


Reference: FM 21-100 Basic Field Manual: Soldier's


I think it depends on the branch of service. While the Army's

typical infantry squad was about 11-12 soldiers, The Marines

usually put 2 fire teams together as a squad - 2 riflemen, 1 BAR

(Browning Automatic Rifle), and 1 Thompson submachine gunner.

A few corrections concerning WWII Squads (TO&E


US Army Infantry Squad - 12 men: Squad leader (Thompson

submachine gun 'SMG', M1 carbine, or M1 Garand rifle), 10 rifleman

(M1 Garand rifle), 1 automatic rifleman (BAR). Organized as: Able

Team (2 scouts); Baker Team (5 rifleman), Charlie Team (3 rifleman

+ BAR). One rifleman per platoon would generally carry a bazooka in

addition to his personal weapon. There were 3 rifle squads per

platoon in a rifle company.

US Airborne Infantry Squad - 12 men: same as infantry squad

except that the BAR is replaced by a M1919A1 light machine gun

(LMG). Same organization as the regular infantry squad. In practice

the organization was flexible to the mission with one or more

rifles often replaced by submachine guns and one man in the squad

carrying a bazooka (generally one per platoon).

USMC Rifle Squad - 13 men (1944): The marine squad evolved

throughout the war, adding additional firepower with each increment

until settling on the 13-man configuration in mid 1944. Organized

with a squad leader (Thompson SMG), and 3 x 4-man fire teams (3

rifles + 1 BAR each). In addition to the assigned personal weapons,

the company commander could allocate 1 demolition pack and 1 flame

thrower per squad as well as 1 bazooka per platoon, depending on

mission requirements. These weapons would be carried by one of the

squad's rifleman in addition to a personal weapon (often an M1

carbine to lighten the load). Since marines were often engaged in

close-in fighting, they would frequently scrounge Thompson SMG's to

replace rifles when available.

British & Commonwealth Infantry Squad (Section) - 10 men:

Section leader (Sten SMG), Assistant Section Leader (rifle), 6

riflemen (rifle), Bren Number 1 (Bren LMG), Bren Number 2 (rifle).

British and Commonwealth forces carried the .303 Enfield rifle

(bolt action) throughout the war. The basic squad structure

remained constant throught different battalion types (e.g.,

infantry, motorized, parachute), while the Para's were able to add

additional Sten guns based on mission requirements. PIAT anti-tank

weapons were allocated to squads from the company level as in the

US forces.

Germany - 10 men(-): The basic German squad centered around an

MG34 or MG42 general purpose machinegun (GPMG); personal weapons

for the gunner and assistant gunner were pistols (generally), squad

leader (MP40 SMG), 7 riflemen (Karabiner 98K 'Mauser' bolt action

rifle). As the war progressed and manpower losses mounted the

Germans were forced to reduce squad size to 9 men (dropping a

rifleman). Panzergrenadier squads (halftrack mounted) had 8

dismounts with 2 GPMGs; Fallschirmjager (paratroop) squads were

authorized 11 men, also with 2 GPMGs. In 1944 and 1945 many squads

were below authorized strength even after replacements.

USSR - 10 men(-): The basic infantry squad included a squad

leader (SMG), assistant leader (rifle), 5 rifleman (rifle),

machinegunner (DP light machinegun), assistant gunner (rifle). Like

the Germans, the Soviet forces suffered under terrible casualties

and were frequently forced to reduce squad size. They also formed

SMG squads of 9 or 10 men all armed with the PPsh 41 submachinegun

for close-in assault. In some configurations, the SMG squad would

be supplemented with an LMG.

Japan - 13 men: The squad consisted of an NCO squad leader, a

machinegunner (Type 96 LMG), and 11 riflemen. All carried bolt

action rifles (Arisaka) except the machinegunner. The Japanese did

not employ submachineguns in any significant numbers.

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