Whilst around the camp you can guarantee that the public will engage with you. Normally you'll have the same conversation a 100 times over the course of a weekend. However, every now and then they will throw you a curve-ball and ask something bizarre, of course you'll never know the answer to everything. What is expect is that everyone know what they are and what there individual roles and responsibilities would have been. A trooper having by far the easiest 'get out jail free card' here, your responsibilities are to you fellow troopers and not letting them down and simply to do what ever your told. You'd have no idea of the bigger picture and for most of the time you'd have no idea where you were and it would make not a blind bit of difference if you did! So those new comers to the unit can for the most part not have to explain much unless you have a specific other role such as radioman, runner, part of an LMG team, bazooka or mortar man.
With more rank, comes more responsibilities. You maybe a Cpl in charge of a mortar, a Sgt in charge of a rifle squad, regardless of what ever your role is, you need to know the basics of what that involves. All this will be explained if you don't know and if we don't know we'll all learn together. As I said before, we can't all know everything!
Your role will mainly comprise of two aspects - your rank and any trades/duties/professions you have.
The public love variety, despite an infantry company being made of 99% primarily the same bog-standard-rifleman; this isn't too interesting to look at or engage-with as a member of the public. If a member of the public had a chat with each member of the group, they will get a varied answer from each member with a different rank/role.
Officers Classifications (S & G; 1-4)
Firstly this is as brief as I can make it. For a full understanding of how complicated this system is, please read FM 101-5 STAFF OFFICERS’ FIELD MANUAL - THE STAFF AND COMBAT ORDERS if you get more than a few pages in without falling asleep you did well! Link at the bottom of the page.
To understand the roles of the officers, each officer had a coding system that started with a letter (G or S) to denote if they worked for the General Staff, or Special Staff; and then followed by a number (1-4) which specified what their role was.
1- Personnel 2- Intelligence 3- Operations & Training 4- Supply
General Staff officers would mainly be at HQ while Special Staff would be close to or on the front lines. The following gives an idea of the breakdown, those in bold show the mixture that our unit currently has.
Captain (S-1) Personnel Officer (Battalion)
2nd Lieutenant (S-2) - Intelligence Officer
Junior Warrant Officer - An unusual rank, they were apointed officers by the secretary of war, but being not 'proper' officers they were always addressed as 'Mr' and not 'Sir'. They held roles like Regimental Assistant Communications Officer, Regimental Assistant Maintenance Officer and Regimental Assistant Munitions Officer to name a few.
1st Sergeant - Is the Company 1st Sergeant, who would advise the company commander and also deal with the discpline of the men.
Master Sergeant - Held roles like the following - Regimental Sgt Major, Regimental Motor Sgt, Regimental Communications Chief, Regimental Supply Sgt. Note, that in Airborne units there were Regimental Parachute Maintenance Chiefs.
Technical Sergeant - (not to be confused with Technician 3rd Grade T/3) served as things like Battalion Sergeant Major, Platoon Sergeants, Technical Section Chief, Medical Technical Sergeants and Personnel Sergeants.
Staff Sergeant - (1944 Squad leaders and mortar and lmg section leaders)
Sergeant - Were originall squad leaders, but after late 1943, when the ranks system was altered, Sgts were bumped up to Staff Sgts and it was those that the commanded Rifle Squads. (primarily looks after the men under his immediate control) , so in 1944 Sgts acted as assitant squad leaders and platoon guides.
Corporal - Section leader (was usually in control of smaller sections of men, such as mortar teams, or assists a Sgt in a squad) - However in late 1943 ranks got altered and the these scetions leaders were promoted to Sgt and Sgts were bumped up to Staff Sgts. Cpl's then no longer played an active role in rifle squads.
Technician 3rd Grade - T/3
Technician 4th Grade - T/4 Special trade roles the same as below with a few more advanced, for example Tank Drivers.
Technician 5th Grade - T/5 Special trade roles like; Company Aidman/Surgical Tech,
Light Truck Driver, Armour-Artificer, Radiotelephone operator, Technical Clerks, Mechanics etc
Private First Class
Even Troopers were assigned a variety of different combat roles, such as bazooka-man, mortar-man, mortar crew, BAR gunner, BAR gunners assistant, light machine gunner, LMG crew, radioman, scout, runner and marksman. The tabs below give an idea of what items some of these roles require.
Componants of an Infantry Rifle Squad
A typical Infantry Squad should have 12 men. 1 Leader, 1 Assistant Leader, 3 in the LMG crew and Riflemen; some of those riflemen would be scouts or grenadiers (equiped with rifle grenades).
Componants of the Platoon Headquarters
In charge of 3 Rifle Squads was the Platoon Headquarters, that typically comprised of 5 men. 1 of each of the following and 2 messengers (or runners)
Support Roles assigned from Company HQ
The video above does mention ranks in brief, but also goes on about military courtesy in general, some of which will be useful.
As well as the many combat roles, the American army of WW2 was similar to the modern equivalent to which a soldier can take up almost any profession. Some times these can be in addition to the combat role, others would keep you far behind the front lines. Underneath is a few examples and idea of what other roles can be portrayed; all of which are under the rank of Corporal.
Although the title of the video above make this video sound like its in the wrong section of this website, it talks so indepth about different roles and items of equipment like the SCR 536 and who did actually use them, that it is far better suited under the 'roles' section. It gives some real insight into a soldiers individual role. When watching this though, please remember that we are an airborne unit, so we'll have some differences. In particular the BAR is replaced with the .30 Browning LMG.
Carrying on from the Rifle Platoon the same series of videos looks closely at the rifle squad and how it acts.