The photograph above shows a section of soldiers from the Recce and Patrols Platoon, Fire Support Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Welch Fusiliers, 1st Mechanised Brigade, 3rd Mechanised Division.
That's quite a mouthful. So what exactly do all these different terms mean?
A company is part of a battalion and usually consists of between 100 and 150 men. They are usually lettered A through to D, and made up of at least two platoons. But sometimes they have names such as ‘Grenadier Company’ or ‘Fire Support Company’. Companies are commanded by a major or a captain.
A battery is an artillery unit equivalent to an infantry company. Sub-units of batteries are called troops. An administrative collection of artillery batteries was called a battalion in the 18th century, a brigade until 1938, and since then a regiment. Tactical artillery regiments all belong to the Royal Regiment of Artillery. Batteries are commanded by a captain or major.
A battalion is a regimental sub-unit of infantry amounting to between 500 and 1,000 soldiers. It normally consists of a headquarters and three or more companies. Traditionally, most British regiments have had more than one battalion. But different battalions of the same regiment have seldom fought together.
A tactical grouping of battalions is called a brigade. Battalions are normally commanded by a lieutenant colonel. At present, the British Army has 47 regular and reserve infantry battalions.
This is a formation consisting of three infantry battalions or three cavalry or armoured regiments. During the world wars a brigade numbered between 3,500 and 4,000 men.
When forming part of a division, a brigade has no internal support. But when operating independently (usually called a brigade group), it includes supporting reconnaissance, artillery, engineers, supply and transport. A brigade is commanded by a major-general or brigadier.
A division is made up of three infantry, cavalry or armoured brigades. Divisions are usually equipped to operate independently in the field, and have a full complement of supporting reconnaissance, artillery, engineers, medical, supply and transport troops.
During the World Wars, the average British division numbered around 16,000 men. Divisions are commanded by a lieutenant-general or major-general. The British Army currently has two deployable divisions.
This is a tactical formation made up of two or three divisions and commanded by a lieutenant-general. Corps are normally identified by Roman numerals. During the First World War the British Army grew to encompass 22 army corps.