Infantry battalion

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This page defines Infantry battalion, which can be used as a value of the "specific_type" parameter in {{infobox military unit}} like this:

| type = Infantry
| specific_type = Infantry battalion
| size_at_full_strength = 1,000

An infantry battalion was the basic unit of infantry in most countries. It included about 1,000 soldiers.

  • a battalion was split into companies
  • a company was split into platoons
  • a platoon was split into sections or squads

Chris Baker, The Long, Long Trail: What was an infantry battalion of the British Army of 1914-1918? gives more details of the composition of British battalions.

British Empire

The same tactical organisation was used throughout the British Empire: three or four battalions were grouped into an infantry brigade, and three brigades were grouped into an infantry division.

The administrative organisation of infantry varied from country to country.

For infantry battalions from countries of the British Empire not listed below, see Category:British colonial infantry battalions and British units in World War I#Colonial units.

United Kingdom

Before the First World War, British Army battalions had eight small companies. The Regular Army merged these into four large companies of about 250 men each before the outbreak of war. The Territorial Force still had the old eight-company system in August 1914 but switched to the four-company system by early 1915. See Army Order number 54 (1915) for war establishment of a Territorial battalion in 1915.

Reserve battalions

Reserve battalions of British infantry regiments had a different structure from combat battalions. See Chris Baker, The Long, Long Trail: What was a Reserve Battalion of Infantry?

The British Army grouped infantry battalions into regiments for administrative purposes. The battalions of a regiment didn't all operate together: they could be in different brigades, divisions and theatres of war. Some battalions of each regiment stayed at home to train new recruits, who were sent out to other battalions when they were ready. Several regiments were grouped together under each record office, which kept their personnel files.

For more about the difference between administrative and tactical relationships, see British Army Hierarchies.

Most British infantry battalions belonged to the British Army, but some were part of the Royal Marines or Royal Navy.


The infantry of the Australian Imperial Force were not grouped into regiments. Most battalions had a number from 1st to 62nd, although there was a different sequence of numbers for training battalions. All units were under one record office that kept personnel files for the whole AIF.

The infantry of the Citizen Military Force, also known as the militia were organised into single-battalion regiments.




The infantry of the Indian Army were organised in regiments which had names and numbers. Some regiments had only a single battalion but other regiments had several battalions. Regiments were grouped together for administrative purposes but we don't yet have enough information about the Indian administrative system.

New Zealand


South Africa


Continental system

The continental system, used by the US, French and German armies among others, was very different from the organisation of British Empire forces, although battalions were similar in all countries. The administrative and tactical hierarchies were unified in the continental system, and the division was the main unit of both. Three battalions were grouped together in a regiment. These regiments were administrative and tactical, and their battalions usually operated together. An infantry division typically had either two brigades of two regiments each, or one brigade of three regiments.