No geographic restrictions on Commonwealth military manpower?

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daveshoup2MD
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No geographic restrictions on Commonwealth military manpower?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 18 Apr 2021 06:05

Historically during WW II, the "white dominion" nations (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa; include Newfoundland, as well) generally had two types of mobilized personnel, volunteers for overseas expeditionary service and conscripts for "home" defense service. This was not an absolute and policies changed over the course of the conflict, but presumably if the dominions had subjected their conscripts to the same sorts of "go where you're sent" policy as the UK and the US (and the French, for that matter) had done so from the initial mobilizations in 1939-40 (so, no NRMA in Canada, no AIF/AMF divide in Australia, no "Africa Oath" in South Africa, etc.).

Understandably, politics in all three of the above countries would have been strained, to put it mildly, but the Americans, British, and French all managed it, after all.

At their height, the home forces in Canada amounted to three infantry divisions (6th, 7th, and 8th, of which one brigade group actually served in an operational role outside of Canada) and (arguably) the equivalent of a third separate tank brigade (the 3rd Tank Brigade was organized for a period in the UK, as a training and holding formation); the Australians raised (roughly) eight (mostly) AMF infantry divisions, and two AMF armoured divisions (along with the 1st Armoured, which was mostly an AIF formation), or which about three infantry divisions and an armored brigade served in the Southwest Pacific, outside of Australia; the New Zealanders (at the height) had the equivalent of two mixed divisions in NZ proper, along with a two brigade infantry division that saw active operations in the South Pacific before being disbanded in 1944; while the South Africans put together a third infantry division (of which one brigade saw active service outside of South Africa) and a cavalry division (more or less).

Now, even with unrestricted deployment policies, many of these formations would have been needed for home defense, and others would have been stripped for replacements (as they were historically) but presumably at least those elements that did go overseas historically might have been available under a more general mobilization. However, the needs for cadre and equipment would have limited these extra formations as well, along with combat losses, and probably none would be available for deployment until 1942.

So with the above in mind, perhaps one "additional" division each from Australia and Canada, and one "additional" brigade each from South Africa and New Zealand ... so perhaps the following?

Australian 1st Armoured Division is available for overseas service in 1942 (and some equivalent of two or three "historical AMF" divisions are available for unrestricted , AIF-level, service in the Pacific at roughly the same time)
Canadian "6th Armoured Division" is available for overseas service in 1942
"New Zealand 2nd Armoured Division" (converted from the 2nd NZ Division for service in the ETO) is available for overseas service in 1942, and a reinforced 3rd NZ Division is available in the Pacific in 1942)
"South African 1st Armoured Division" (converted from the 3rd SA Division) is available for for overseas service in 1942 (and the SA 1st Infantry Division remains active as such after the Axis surrender in North Africa)

The above would (essentially) give the British four additional armored divisions and an infantry division for service in the MTO/ETO from (presumably) the end of 1942 onwards, and the Allies (at least) four additional full-strength infantry divisions in the Pacific from roughly the same time.

This is not an insignificant force; five additional Commonwealth divisions (for example) are very helpful in either 21st AG or 8th Army in 1943-45, and 1-4 additional ANZAC divisions (depending on how one considers the AMF divisions that were deployed in the Southwest Pacific, historically) means the Allies have (at the very least) an "extra" corps equivalent for service in Pacific (or possibly SEAC) in the same period.

Obviously, there were domestic political reasons in all four dominions why this did not happen historically, BUT - this is simply a policy change regarding manpower that, historically actually was mobilized ... it's not unobtanium, so to speak.

So with that caveat, what "could" this have meant for British/Commonwealth/Imperial/Allied strategy in 1943-45?

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