Units & Formations 1930 - 1956:
Brigades – Infantry
An infantry brigade was a formation which was placed in the hierarchy of command to command three battalions, with three brigades forming a division. A brigade was the smallest formation in the British Army, as battalions and regiments were classed as units. A formation was seen as capable of independent deployment and had an all Arms capability, with the brigade the basic combat organisation. Having said that, most brigades were under command of a division and usually had a predominant role, such as infantry, armoured or tank.
An infantry brigade was the standard and most numerous formation of the British Army. The establishment of a brigade was for one-hundred and twenty officers and two-thousand, eight-hundred other ranks. The actual numbers did vary during the years and in different theatres of operations.
The commanding officer of a brigade held the rank of Brigadier, about which there has been some confusion and frequent errors. The title of Brigadier-General existed as an appointment until 1 January 1921, when it was abolished. An appointment of Colonel-Commandant existed from 1922 until 1928. From 1 June 1928 onwards, Colonels who were assumed senior staff officer roles or command of a Regular Army brigade were appointed to the rank of Temporary Brigadier. This was not a formal rank with associated pay and allowances, but an appointment that reflected extra responsibility and enhanced Colonel’s pay.
With the commencement of the Second World War and the amendment of terms of employment, officers assuming command of a brigade were promoted to the rank of Acting Brigadier. If they held that rank successfully for a consecutive period of six months, they were promoted to the rank of Temporary Brigadier. If they left the role of brigade commander (unless they moved to a staff role in the same rank), they lost the rank of Temporary Brigadier and reverted to their substantive or war substantive rank.
The rank of Brigadier in its own right was not introduced until early 1948, with the first forty-nine Colonels to be promoted Brigadier being listed in the London Gazette of 23 March 1948, with their promotions taking effect from 1 November 1947.
The Brigadier had two key staff officers, the Brigade Major and Staff Captain. The Brigade Major was the senior staff officer and functioned as chief of staff of the brigade headquarters. Under him, he had the:
Brigade Intelligence Officer (Captain);
Brigade Signal Officer (Captain, Royal Corps of Signals);
Brigade Defence Platoon (Captain);
Three Liaison Officers (one Captain and two Subalterns).
The Staff Captain was responsible for the Adjutant and Quarter-Master functions of the brigade, so had the:
Brigade Transport Officer (Captain);
Brigade R.A.S.C. Officer (Captain R.A.S.C.);
Ordnance Mechanical Engineer (or post 1943 – Electrical and Mechanical Engineer) (Captain R.A.O.C. then Captain R.E.M.E.)