Reconnaissance

Discussion in 'Armour' started by Trux, Aug 29, 2010.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    RECONNAISSANCE

    ‘ Time spent on reconnaissance is never wasted’. Napoleon.

    This page contains details of
    Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment (for armoured divisions)
    Armoured Car Regiment (for corps)
    Reconnaissance Regiment (for infantry divisions)


    CONTENTS

    Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment. War Establishment II/156/1. November 1943.
    Armoured Car Regiment. War Establishment III/236/2. November 1943.
    Reconnaissance Regiment. War Establishment II/251/2. December 1943.



    ARMOURED RECONNAISSANCE REGIMENT

    Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment. War Establishment II/156/1. November 1943.


    The armoured reconnaissance regiment was introduced for service with armoured divisions. Previously reconnaissance in the armoured division had been carried out by armoured car regiments but it was felt that something heavier was required.

    The War Establishment for the armoured reconnaissance regiment to be used in 21 Army Group was published in November 1943. At this time reconnaissance units were the responsibility of the Reconnaissance Corp. In this establishment the armoured reconnaissance regiment was organised so that each of its three squadrons could operate independently for considerable periods of time. The reconnaissance squadrons would operate in advance of the main body and act both as an advanced reconnaissance unit and a force that could seize and hold key points until the main body arrived. They would also act as a flank guard in rapid advances where the division’s flanks were exposed. Each troop in the reconnaissance squadron had two light tanks which could go forward to reconnoitre while two cruiser tanks gave cover and support.

    Before D Day it was thought that the organisation of the armoured reconnaissance regiments left much to be desired. They changed to a new organisation of two squadrons of cruiser tanks and one squadron of light tanks. This was achieved by re distributing the regiments own resources. This change was probably done under the authority of 21 Army Group and no War Establishment for it has been found. By this time the armoured reconnaissance regiment was part of the Royal Armoured Corps which may partly explain why the organisation became steadily more similar to that of the armoured regiments.

    According to the available evidence the armoured reconnaissance regiments did not go overseas with this new organisation either. It seems that they actually used an organisation with three squadrons of Cromwell cruiser tank plus a reconnaissance troop of light tanks. In some diaries, histories and memoirs the reconnaissance troop of light tanks is referred to as the reconnaissance squadron. This can cause confusion.

    Whatever the organisation in Normandy it seems that the armoured reconnaissance regiment did not perform well. There was little scope for the fast moving Cromwell to show its paces in long range reconnaissance and it was too big for reconnaissance on close country. This led to the armoured car regiments being returned to the armoured division. Gradually the armoured reconnaissance regiment became a fourth armoured regiment in the armoured division, although still differing in the following
    - they were equipped with the fast Cromwell cruiser tank.
    - they were trained in map reading and wireless procedures beyond the skills of normal regiments.
    - they were not part of the armoured brigade but were directly under divisional control
    - they used the Challenger as the heavy tank in each troop instead of the Sherman Firefly.

    Armoured Reconnaissance Regiments were not listed on War Establishments at the end of the war so by that time they were presumably identical to the armoured regiment, except for its Cromwell tanks.

    There never seems to have been any shortage of Cromwell tanks. The Welsh Guards eventually equipping their reconnaissance troop with Cromwells in addition to the three sabre squadrons.


    Total personnel
    Lieutenant colonel
    Major, second in command
    4 X Major
    Captain, adjutant
    Captain, Technical Officer
    Captain Liaison Officer
    7 X Captain
    23 X Subaltern
    Quartermaster

    Regimental Serjeant Major
    Regimental Quartermaster Serjeant
    Quartermaster Serjeant, technical
    Mechanist Quartermaster Serjeant
    4 X Squadron Serjeant Major

    4 X squadron quartermaster serjeant
    3 X serjeant mechanist
    orderly room serjeant clerk
    provost serjeant
    transport serjeant
    serjeant technical storeman
    29 X serjeant
    75 X corporal
    512 X trooper

    Total 677

    Plus
    Medical Officer RAMC
    3 X armourer REME
    4 X officers mess cooks ACC
    16 X cook ACC
    6 X vehicle mechanic REME

    Trades included
    carpenter and joiner
    13 X clerk
    100 X driver mechanics
    122 X driver operator
    5 X electrician
    equipment repairer
    gun fitter
    84 X gunner mechanics
    91 X gunner operator
    6 X storeman (technical)
    31 X vehicle mechanics

    24 X batman
    butchery dutyman
    87 X driver IC
    medical orderly
    4 X motorcycle orderly
    postman
    4 X sanitary dutyman
    5 X storeman
    5 X water dutyman

    Transport
    Early 1944
    6 X motorcycle
    5 X Car 4seater 4 X 4
    7 X car 5cwt 4 X 4 jeep
    5 X 15cwt GS
    3 X 15cwt water
    2 X 15cwt FFW
    9 X 15cwt halftrack
    42 X 3ton 4 X 4 GS
    5 X 3ton 6 X 4 stores
    22 X scout car
    5 X AA tank
    6 X close support tank
    40 X tank
    30 X light tank
    3 X armoured recovery vehicles
    3 X 180 gallon water trailer
    4 X Carrier Starting and Charging.

    The numbers of softskin vehicles probably remained much the same but the numbers of tanks changed with the different organisations.

    This organisation applied to

    2 Welsh Guards Guards Armoured Division
    8 Kings Royal Husars 7 Armoured Division
    2 Northamptonshire Yeomanry 11 Armoured Division until 8.8.1944
    15/19 Hussars 11 Armoured Division from 8.8.1944



    Markings
    The Arm of Service marking for an armoured reconnaissance regiment was a green over blue 9” square with the number 45 in white. This was carried on the right hand side. The divisional sign was carried on the left hand side. The practice of painting the signs on the front mudguards was soon abandoned and the signs were painted on the hull front. The mudguards were easily damaged, and were often removed.

    The squadron markings were in line with other armoured regiments but since the armoured reconnaissance regiment was not a part of an armoured brigade it carried signs in white. These were painted on the turret sides of Cromwell and Stuart tanks and on the vehicle sides or doors for other vehicles.

    Headquarters squadron white diamond
    A squadron white triangle
    B squadron white square
    C squadron white circle

    Tactical numbers were not normally carried.



    Organisation.

    Regimental Headquarters.
    This was the tactical headquarters of the regiment in action. The four tanks were control tanks which had extra wireless sets and less ammunition but were otherwise as for the other tanks in the regiment. Each tank had one Wireless set No19 and one Wireless set No19 High Power. All four tanks were linked on the same net using the 19sets but all had different links on their 19 HP set. Close by there would also be signals vehicles from the attached Royal Signals section.

    Cruiser Tank 1
    Lieutenant Colonel, Adjutant, serjeant, driver mechanic, driver operator.
    Cruiser Tank 2
    Major, Regimental Serjeant Major, operator RS, corporal driver mechanic, driver operator
    Cruiser Tank 3
    Subaltern, serjeant, driver mechanic, gunner operator, driver operator
    Cruiser Tank 4
    Intelligence Officer, intelligence corporal, gunner operator, driver mechanic, driver operator

    The second in command would normally be with the rear echelons in action. The subaltern commands the headquarters tanks.


    Although not shown on the War Establishment table there would almost certainly be a car 4 seater 4 X 4 for the Commanding Officer when he was not in his control tank. There would also be a halftrack from the Royal Signals section which could be used as a command post.

    Headquarters Squadron.
    This provided administrative and supply services for the regiment. It was also responsible for the AA troop, reconnaissance troop and liaison troop although in action these would be dispersed and under the command of regimental headquarters.

    In action the administrative vehicles were divided into echelons. F echelon contained those vehicles likely to be needed in the front line. These would include the medical vehicles, recovery and maintenance vehicles plus some 3ton lorries for ammunition and petrol. All vehicles not needed in the front line were held at B echelon under the control of the second in command. Often the B echelon also contained the vehicles from the squadrons that were not needed by them in the front line. According to circumstances brigade headquarters might hold all or part of the regimental B echelons under its control. Likely dispositions for the administrative vehicles are examined in more detail in the booklet on The Armoured Regiment.

    Squadron headquarters.
    Car 4seater 4 X 4 (Humber FWD)
    Major (squadron commander), batman, driver IC
    Car 4 seater 4 X 4 (Humber FWD)
    Technical Officer, corporal, driver IC
    15cwt FFW
    Captain (squadron second in command), Squadron Serjeant Major, batman,
    driver operator
    Carries a Wireless set No19.

    AA troop
    The AA troop was disbanded after the Normandy fighting since air superiority meant there was little employment for them.
    AA Tank 1
    Subaltern, driver mechanic, gunner operator, driver operator
    AA Tank 2
    serjeant, driver mechanic, gunner operator, driver operator
    AA Tank 3
    corporal driver operator, gunner mechanic, gunner operator, driver mechanic
    AA Tank 4
    corporal driver operator, gunner mechanic, gunner operator, driver mechanic
    AA Tank 5
    corporal driver operator, gunner mechanic, gunner operator, driver mechanic



    Reconnaissance troop
    It seems likely, and logical that this troop would be divided into three sections plus a headquarters. There is no available evidence for this but it was done in armoured regiments.

    Scout Car 1
    Subaltern, driver operator
    Scout Car 2
    Subaltern, driver operator
    Scout Car 3
    serjeant, driver operator
    Scout Car 4
    driver operator, corporal driver IC
    Scout Car 5
    driver operator, corporal driver IC
    Scout car 6
    driver operator, driver IC
    Scout car 7
    driver operator, driver IC
    Scout car 8
    driver operator, driver IC
    Scout car 9
    driver operator, driver IC
    Scout car 10
    driver operator, driver IC
    Scout car 11
    driver operator, driver IC
    Scout car 12
    driver operator, driver IC

    Intercommunication troop
    Scout Car 1
    serjeant, driver operator
    Scout Car 2
    driver operator, corporal driver IC
    Scout Car 3
    driver operator, corporal driver IC
    Scout car 4
    driver operator, driver IC
    Scout car 5
    driver operator, driver IC
    Scout car 6
    corporal driver IC, driver operator
    Scout Car 7
    Subaltern, driver operator

    Administrative troop
    Motorcycle 1
    provost serjeant
    Motorcycle 2
    corporal motorcyclist
    Motorcycle 3
    motorcyclist
    Motorcycle 4
    motorcyclist
    Motorcycle 5
    motorcyclist
    Motorcycle 6
    medical officers batman

    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep) 1
    corporal driver IC
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep) 2
    driver IC
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep) 3
    driver IC
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep) 4
    driver IC
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (Jeep) 5
    driver IC
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep) 6
    driver IC
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep) 7
    driver IC

    15cwt truck GS 1
    Quartermaster, batman, driver IC
    15cwt truck GS 2
    sanitary dutyman, medical officers orderly, driver IC
    15cwt truck GS 3
    Quartermaster Serjeant (technical), serjeant (technical), storeman,
    corporal clerk, driver IC
    15cwt truck GS 4
    equipment repairer, serjeant armourer REME, 2 X armourer REME,
    technical storeman, driver IC
    15cwt Office
    Signal Officer, signal serjeant, serjeant clerk, corporal clerk, driver IC
    15cwt truck water
    water dutyman, driver IC
    15cwt 4 X 4 armoured truck
    driver operator
    15cwt halftrack
    Medical Officer, driver operator
    15cwt halftrack
    mechanist quartermaster, serjeant, 2 X vehicle mechanic, driver operator
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 1
    Regimental Quartermaster Serjeant, corporal clerk, 3 X clerk, driver IC
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 2
    sanitary dutyman, electrician, driver IC
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 3
    2 X batman, clerk, driver IC
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 4
    storeman, 2 X vehicle mechanic, driver IC
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 5
    storeman, vehicle mechanic, driver IC
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 6
    4 X cooks ACC, butchery dutyman, driver IC
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 7
    transport serjeant, cook ACC, 3 X batman, driver IC
    3ton 4 X 4 GS 8
    carpenter and joiner, 3 X driver mechanics (relief), 3 X driver operator (relief),
    3 X gunner operator (relief), 3 X gunner mechanic (relief), driver IC
    3ton 4 X 4 GS
    postman, driver IC
    3ton store
    2 X vehicle mechanic, technical storeman, driver IC
    3ton store
    squadron quartermaster serjeant, technical storeman, driver IC
    Carrier, Starting and Charging
    electrician, driver mechanic.


    The Squadrons.
    Each of the three squadrons was organised identically.

    Squadron headquarters
    This contained the vehicles and personnel essential to the command and control of the squadron in action. All four headquarters tanks were connected on one wireless net via the Wireless set No19 B set while they all had a different net via the Wireless set No19 A set. These connected with regimental headquarters, B echelon and the troops. Originally two of the headquarters tanks were close support, which meant that they were equipped with a howitzer instead of an anti tank gun. The howitzer could be used to lob high explosive onto enemy positions that might hold up an advance. In practise they were usually limited to firing smoke. When most tank guns were capable of firing high explosive the distinction became somewhat meaningless.

    Cruiser Tank 1 Close Support
    Major (squadron commander), serjeant, driver mechanic, gunner operator, driver operator
    Cruiser Tank 2 Close Support
    Captain, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser Tank 3
    Captain, driver mechanic, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver operator
    Cruiser Tank 4
    Squadron Serjeant Major, driver mechanic, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver operator
    Car 4 seater 4 X 4
    squadron quartermaster serjeant, batman, driver IC
    Scout car
    Subaltern, driver operator.

    Armoured Recovery Vehicle MkI
    serjeant vehicle mechanic REME, vehicle mechanic REME, vehicle mechanic, driver mechanic
    15cwt Halftrack
    mechanist serjeant, 4 x vehicle mechanic, driver operator

    15cwt truck GS
    cook ACC, 2 X batman, driver IC
    15cwt halftrack
    driver IC
    3ton 4 X 4 GS
    sanitary dutyman, driver IC
    3ton 4 X 4 GS
    vehicle mechanic, driver IC
    3ton 4 X 4 GS
    vehicle mechanic, driver IC
    3ton 4 X 4 GS
    driver IC
    3ton 4 X 4 GS
    corporal driver IC,
    3ton 4 X 4 GS
    4 X cooks, driver IC
    3ton 4 X 4 store
    corporal technical storeman, vehicle mechanic, driver IC
    Carrier Starting and Charging
    electrician, driver mechanic



    The fighting troop.
    Each troop was identical. Most of the crews were multi skilled and could take over another task in case of casualties.

    Troop 1
    Cruiser tank
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    corporal, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    corporal, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic

    Troop 2
    Cruiser tank
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic,
    driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    corporal, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    corporal, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic

    Troop 3
    Cruiser tank
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    corporal, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    corporal, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic

    Troop 4
    Cruiser tank
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    corporal, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    corporal, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic


    The above organisation of troops was changed to the following although there is no War Establishment detailing this.

    Troop1
    Cruiser tank
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic, driver mechanic

    Troop 2
    Cruiser tank
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic, driver mechanic

    Troop 3
    Cruiser tank
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic, driver mechanic

    Troop 4
    Cruiser tank
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic, driver mechanic

    Troop 5
    Cruiser tank
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic, driver mechanic


    In September Challenger 17pdr tanks became available and were issued one per troop. The number of troops was reduced to four.

    Troop 1
    Cruiser tank
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Challenger tank
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic, driver mechanic

    Troop 2
    Cruiser tank
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Challenger tank
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic, driver mechanic

    Troop 3
    Cruiser tank
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Challenger tank
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic, driver mechanic

    Troop 4
    Cruiser tank
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Challenger tank
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic, driver mechanic

    NOTE:
    When 11th Armoured Division re equipped with Comet tanks the Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment, 15/19 Hussars, received sufficient Comets to equip two squadrons, leaving one squadron and Regimental Headquarters with Cromwells. The two Comet equipped squadrons did not have Challenger tanks and reverted to a squadron of five troops each of three tanks. It is not clear which squadrons were re equipped but it was traditional to give new equipment to the senior squadrons first.



    AN ARMOURED REGIMENT IN 22 ARMOURED BRIGADE.
    The armoured regiments in 22 Armoured Brigade of 7 Armoured Division used Cromwell tanks. The brigade was termed an armoured reconnaissance brigade but they were in fact a normal armoured brigade except for their fast Cromwell tanks.

    It is probable that the last organisation for the armoured reconnaissance regiment was similar to this.

    Troop 1
    Cruiser tank
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Sherman Firefly
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic

    Troop 2
    Cruiser tank
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Sherman Firefly
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic

    Troop 3
    Cruiser tank
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic,
    driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic,
    driver mechanic
    Sherman Firefly
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic

    Troop 4
    Cruiser tank
    Subaltern, corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Cruiser tank
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, 2 X gunner mechanic, driver mechanic
    Sherman Firefly
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic


    RECONNAISSANCE TROOP, INNISKILLING DRAGOON GUARDS.
    The reconnaissance troop of The Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, which was part of 22 Armoured Brigade in 7 Armoured Division, had a non standard organisation as follows. This came about when the regiment was sent to France as a replacement unit. It did not take vehicles with it but had these issued in France. There were probably other non standard organisations in reconnaissance troops of both armoured regiments and armoured reconnaissance regiments.

    Troop headquarters
    15cwt Halftrack
    Subaltern, driver operator
    Scout Car
    Subaltern, driver operator

    Section 1
    Scout car
    serjeant, driver IC
    Carrier
    corporal, gunner, driver operator, driver mechanic
    Light Tank
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic.

    Section 2
    Scout car
    serjeant, driver IC
    Carrier
    corporal, gunner, driver operator, driver mechanic
    Light Tank
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic.

    Section 3
    Scout car
    serjeant, driver IC
    Carrier
    corporal, gunner, driver operator, driver mechanic
    Light Tank
    corporal driver operator, gunner operator, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic.


    This organisation gradually changed.
    - The Carriers soon acquired heavier armament. At least one carrier had three Browning machine guns fitted
    - The Carriers were eventually replaced by sawn off light tanks. These were turretless Stuarts. These gave a better cross country performance and better armoured protection while still allowing easy dismounting for reconnaissance on foot.
    - Later the troop officers also received light tanks. Eventually these were Chaffee.




    ARMOURED CAR REGIMENT.

    War Establishment III/236/2. November 1943.

    Between the wars the armoured car regiments were the first cavalry regiments to be mechanised. Tanks were operated by the Royal Tank Regiment which had different traditions. Being the first cavalry units to lose their horses and be issued with armoured cars was not seen as a privilege and it was the most junior units which were converted. However by 1944 the armoured car regiments in 21 Army Group were provided by cavalry units with prestigious backgrounds.

    - The Household Cavalry, even in wartime, found its officers from the old establishment families. However one must not assume that they were in any way unsuited to modern warfare. The background of good education, confidence and leadership, plus a keen eye for ground and going developed on the hunting field suited them well for long range reconnaissance work.
    - The Inns of Court Regiment were a Yeomanry regiment raised from the barristers, clerks and others who worked around the Law Courts of London. Part time soldiers before the war they became a prime source of officer candidates since many of the troopers were more than qualified for promotion.
    - The 11th Hussars, the Cherry Pickers, were not a senior cavalry regiment but did have a cachet and attracted many officers and men who might have aspired to a more senior regiment. Perhaps it was the full dress uniform’s cherry coloured trousers.
    - The Royal Dragoons were a well established regiment with more than two centuries of service.


    The War Establishment for an armoured car regiment in 21 Army Group was III/236/2 with an effective date of 30 November 1943. This was an establishment introduced for the close country work to be expected in Europe. There were four squadrons each capable of operating independently and each having their own heavy troop, assault troop and echelons.

    Armoured car regiments were flexible and versatile. They could rapidly change their organisation to suit circumstances. Normally they would do this using their own resources but they seemed capable of obtaining what equipment they required.

    It was intended that the armoured car regiment would be corps troops. Infantry divisions had their reconnaissance regiment and armoured divisions had their armoured reconnaissance regiments. It soon became apparent that this arrangement was not practical. Since infantry divisions had their own reconnaissance units the armoured car regiments found themselves duplicating their effort, or even getting in the way. On the other hand it was found that the armoured divisions armoured reconnaissance regiment was not suited to the sort of work required, although it was very useful for the quick dash for which cruiser tanks were originally intended. The armoured car regiments soon found themselves being attached to the armoured divisions and eventually becoming a part of them, as they had been until the 1943 re organisation.


    Total personnel
    Lieutenant Colonel
    Major, second in command
    5 X Major
    Captain, adjutant
    Captain, Liaison Officer
    Captain, Technical Officer
    5 X Captain
    32 X Subaltern
    Intelligence Officer
    Transport Officer
    Quartermaster

    Regimental Serjeant Major
    Regimental Quartermaster Serjeant
    Quartermaster Serjeant, technical
    Mechanist Quartermaster Serjeant
    5 X Squadron Serjeant Major

    5 X squadron quartermaster serjeant
    4 X serjeant mechanist
    orderly room serjeant clerk
    provost serjeant
    signal serjeant
    transport serjeant
    serjeant technical storeman
    32 X serjeant

    180 X corporal
    548 X trooper

    Total 670

    Plus
    Medical Officer RAMC
    4 X armourer REME
    5 X officers mess cooks
    15 X cook ACC

    Trades included
    carpenter and joiner
    16 X clerk
    72 X driver mechanics
    127 X driver operator
    2 X electrician
    equipment repairer
    41 X gunner mechanics
    73 X gunner operator
    7 X storeman (technical)
    24 X vehicle mechanics

    38 X batman
    butchery dutyman
    120 X driver IC
    5 X intelligence duties
    medical orderly
    17 X motorcycle orderly
    postman
    5 X sanitary dutyman
    7 X storeman
    4 X regimental policeman
    5 X water dutyman


    Regimental Headquarters
    Regimental headquarters was a small tactical headquarters containing only those personnel and vehicles required for the tactical control of the regiment and the collecting, collating and forwarding information gathered.

    The heart and brain of the headquarters was the group of three Staghound armoured cars. These were large and roomy vehicles with Wireless sets No19 and operators as well as the key regimental staff. Each Staghound had one wireless set tuned to the headquarters net and one tuned to a separate net. The second in command had a set tuned to the rear link net communicating with the echelons. Indeed the second in commands place in action was with the rear echelons rather than the headquarters. The signals officer had a set tuned to the signals net and he had two Royal Signals signalmen in his vehicle. The Royal Signals vehicles are not shown on the War establishment but the signals section provided communications to squadrons and to whatever headquarters the regiment was working.

    The two Humber 4 X 4 FWD Heavy Utility provided a working and sleeping space as well as transport for the Commanding Officer and staff officers. These vehicles had map tables and interior lights, and the rear could be opened up and enclosed with a penthouse for sleeping.

    The Commanding Officers group
    Staghound Armoured Car
    Commanding officer, corporal gunner mechanic, driver mechanic, gunner operator, driver operator.
    Car 15cwt 4 X 4 (jeep)
    driver IC
    Motorcycle
    commanding officer’s orderly

    The command post group
    Staghound Armoured Car
    Adjutant, Signals Officer, driver mechanic, driver operator
    Motorcycle
    signals serjeant
    Car 4 seater 4 X 4 (Humber FWD).
    Intelligence Officer, Corporal driver IC (intelligence duties), clerk, driver IC
    Car 4 seater 4 X 4 (Humber FWD)
    Regimental Serjeant Major, serjeant, driver IC
    Motorcycle
    orderly
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep)
    driver IC


    At headquarters of the corp or division to which the regiment was assigned.
    Scout car
    Liaison Officer, driver operator

    At rear echelon.
    Staghound Armoured Car
    Major Second in Command, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic, gunner operator, driver operator
    Motorcycle
    major’s orderly
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep)
    driver IC


    Headquarters Squadron
    The headquarters squadron was responsible for the administration, supply and maintenance of the regiment. Since the squadrons operated independently and often widely dispersed they had their own administrative, supply and maintenance vehicles and personnel. The AA troop and Intercommunication troop would not normally be concentrated at headquarters squadron but dispersed as required. Headquarters squadron was also responsible for the administration of the regimental headquarters.

    Car 4seater 4 X 4 (Humber FWD)
    Major, Squadron Serjeant Major, corporal clerk, driver IC
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep)
    Captain, driver IC


    AA troop
    There was little employment for the AA troop. Most units disbanded their AA troops and absorbed the personnel. There is some evidence both written and photographic to suggest that some armoured car regiments at least kept theirs for longer than most. Certainly the firepower would be useful against ground targets and for Headquarters defence.

    Staghound Armoured Car AA
    serjeant, driver mechanic, driver operator, gunner mechanic
    Staghound Armoured Car AA
    serjeant, driver mechanic, driver operator, gunner operator
    Staghound Armoured Car AA
    corporal gunner mechanic, driver mechanic, driver operator, gunner operator
    Staghound Armoured Car AA
    corporal gunner mechanic, driver mechanic, driver operator, gunner operator
    Staghound Armoured Car AA
    corporal gunner mechanic, driver mechanic, driver operator, gunner operator


    Intercommunication troop
    One scout car listed on the War establishment as belonging to this troop was assigned to the Liaison Officer who would be at the headquarters of the unit to which the regiment was working. Other scout cars could be assigned to squadrons to maintain communications.

    Scout car
    corporal driver IC, driver operator
    Scout car
    corporal driver IC, driver operator
    Scout car
    corporal driver IC, driver operator
    Scout car
    driver operator, driver IC,
    Scout car
    driver operator, driver IC,
    Scout car
    driver operator, driver IC,
    Scout car
    driver operator, driver IC,
    Scout car
    driver operator, driver IC,
    Scout car
    driver operator, driver IC,
    Scout car
    driver operator, driver IC,
    Scout car
    driver operator, driver IC,
    Scout car
    sergeant, driver operator,


    Administrative troop
    Motorcycle
    provost serjeant
    Motorcycle
    regimental policeman
    Motorcycle
    regimental policeman
    Motorcycle
    regimental policeman
    Motorcycle
    regimental policeman

    15cwt GS truck
    Quartermaster, corporal clerk, clerk, batman, driver
    15cwt GS truck
    Technical Officer, clerk, driver IC
    15cwt GS truck
    cook, batman, driver
    15cwt office truck
    serjeant clerk, corporal clerk, 2 X clerk, driver IC
    15cwt FFW
    Transport Officer, 2 X driver operator, driver IC

    Motorcycle
    motorcyclist
    Motorcycle
    motorcyclist

    15cwt 4 X 4 armoured
    Medical Officer, medical officer’s orderly, gunner operator, relief, driver IC

    3ton 4 X 4 lorry Machinery I30
    2 X electrician, driver IC
    3ton 4 X 4 lorry GS
    technical serjeant, storeman, technical storeman, driver IC
    Carries petrol
    3ton 4 X 4 lorry GS
    transport serjeant, driver IC
    Carries petrol
    3ton 4 X 4 lorry GS
    technical storeman, vehicle mechanic, postman, driver IC
    Carries ammunition
    3ton 4 X 4 lorry GS
    Regimental Quartermaster Serjeant, equipment repairer, storeman, driver IC
    Carries ammunition
    3ton 4 X 4 lorry GS
    Quartermaster Serjeant (Technical ), corporal storeman (technical), vehicle mechanic, carpenter and joiner, driver IC
    Carries regimental stores
    3ton 4 X 4 lorry GS
    squadron quartermaster serjeant, 2 X storeman, sanitary dutyman, driver IC
    Carried headquarters squadron stores.
    3ton 4 X 4 lorry GS
    serjeant armourer, 3 X armourer, driver IC
    Carried baggage and blankets.
    3ton 4 X 4 lorry GS
    8 X batman, 2 X gunner operator (relief), 3 X gunner mechanic (relief),
    driver IC
    3ton 4 X 4 lorry Kitchen
    corporal cook, 2 X cook, butchery dutyman, driver IC
    Carries cooking sets and rations.
    3ton 4 X 4 stores
    Mechanist Quartermaster Serjeant, 2 X vehicle mechanic, driver IC
    Carried vehicle stores and spare parts plus mechanics tools.



    Squadron
    Each of the four squadrons was organised identically.

    Squadron Headquarters
    Fighting portion.
    This formed the squadron tactical command group, There were four Staghound Armoured cars which were all interconnected via the Wireless set No19 B set. Information received from the forward troop was collected and collated by the two intelligence dutymen using the Humber FWD as an office.

    Staghound Armoured Car
    Major, gunner mechanic, driver mechanic, driver operator,
    Scout car
    driver operator
    Motorcycle
    major’s orderly

    Staghound Armoured Car
    Captain, gunner mechanic, gunner operator, driver operator,
    Motorcycle
    Captain’s orderly
    Staghound Armoured Car
    Subaltern, gunner mechanic, gunner operator, driver operator,
    Staghound Armoured Car
    Squadron Serjeant Major, gunner mechanic, gunner operator, driver operator,
    Car 15cwt 4 X 4 (jeep)
    driver IC
    Motorcycle
    orderly
    Car 4 seater 4 X 4 (Humber FWD).
    2 X driver IC (intelligence duties)


    Administrative portion
    15cwt FFW
    Transport Officer, 2 X driver operator, driver IC
    15cwt 4 X 4
    4 X gunner mechanic (relief), 2 X gunner operator (relief), driver IC
    15cwt water
    water dutyman, driver IC
    3ton lorry 4 X 4 GS
    Squadron Quartermaster Serjeant, 2 X clerks, driver IC
    3ton lorry 4 X 4 GS
    mechanist serjeant, 5 X vehicle mechanic, driver IC
    3ton lorry 4 X 4 GS
    storeman technical, driver IC
    3ton lorry 4 X 4 GS
    7 X batman, driver IC
    3ton lorry 4 X 4 GS
    sanitary dutyman, driver IC
    3ton 4 X 4 Kitchen
    corporal cook, 4 X cook, driver IC
    Carries cooking equipment and rations
    3ton 4 X 4 stores
    storeman, driver IC
    3ton 4 X 4 Machinery I30
    electrician, driver IC
    Battery charging and maintenance.


    Heavy troop Heavy Armoured Car
    Subaltern, driver operator, gunner operator, driver mechanic
    Heavy Armoured Car
    serjeant, driver operator, gunner operator, driver mechanic
    Scout car
    corporal driver operator, driver IC

    Support troop Scout car
    Subaltern, driver operator
    15cwt 4 X 4 armoured truck
    serjeant, 4 X trooper, driver IC
    15cwt 4 X 4 armoured truck
    5 X trooper, driver IC
    15cwt 4 X 4 armoured truck
    5 X trooper, driver IC

    Car troop 1 Scout car
    2 X driver operator
    Scout car
    driver operator, driver IC
    Armoured car
    Subaltern, gunner operator, driver mechanic
    Armoured car
    serjeant, gunner operator, driver mechanic

    Car troop 2 Scout car
    2 X driver operator
    Scout car
    driver operator, driver IC
    Armoured car
    Subaltern, gunner operator, driver mechanic
    Armoured car
    serjeant, gunner operator, driver mechanic

    Car troop 3 Scout car
    2 X driver operator
    Scout car
    driver operator, driver IC
    Armoured car
    Subaltern, gunner operator, driver mechanic
    Armoured car
    serjeant, gunner operator, driver mechanic

    Car troop 4 Scout car
    2 X driver operator
    Scout car
    driver operator, driver IC
    Armoured car
    Subaltern, gunner operator, driver mechanic
    Armoured car
    serjeant, gunner operator, driver mechanic

    Car troop 5 Scout car
    2 X driver operator
    Scout car
    driver operator, driver IC
    Armoured car
    Subaltern, gunner operator, driver mechanic
    Armoured car
    serjeant, gunner operator, driver mechanic


    Variations
    Armoured Car Regiments were flexible and versatile. They could rapidly change their organisation to suit circumstances. The War Diary of the Inns of Court Regiment records that they changed their organisation twice very soon after landing in Normandy.

    One squadron landed on D day but it was not until the end of June that the entire regiment arrived. It was decided that the Normandy bocage was no place for heavy armoured vehicles and what was most needed was the small scout car. The squadrons re organised by

    - sending the heavy troops back to Regimental Headquarters.
    - Forming four light troops each of four Daimler Scout cars
    - Retaining one troop of two Scout cars and two armoured cars.
    - Retaining the support troop of three 15cwt 4 X 4.

    Soon afterwards the organisation was again changed to give
    - six light troops each with only two scout cars
    - three heavy troops each with two armoured cars and one SOD or sawn off Daimler – a car with the turret and front wings removed.
    This organisation remained in use until the end of the campaign.

    Halftracks were used in support troops but the medical vehicles were White 4 X 4.


    The 11th Hussars seem to have been different in equipment and organisation to some extent. This may have been due to the equipment available for issue when they returned from Italy in late 1943. It may have been that they had the combat experience to allow them to modify the organisation and equipment, and persuade higher authority to sanction it.

    The heavy troop in each squadron used US halftracks with 75mm guns mounted on them. These were more light artillery than anti tank weapons. The 11th Hussars seem to have liked them and kept them until late in the campaign when the barrels wore out and could not be replaced since it was a non standard weapon in 21 Army Group, and probably in US forces by that date.

    Armoured car troops had two Daimler armoured cars, one with the turret removed, and one Humber scout car. Again the non standard Humber scout car was well liked. Perhaps this was because it had more room for wireless and maps, both essential for reconnaissance units. Perhaps it was because they offered a slightly better chance of surviving a mine.

    The support troop had 15cwt armoured halftracks instead of 15cwt armoured 4 X 4.


    The Household Cavalry seem to have been organised and equipped by the book. The only non standard feature of the Household Cavalry Regiments was that they were composite units formed with personnel from both the Lifeguards and the Royal Horse Guards and each man wore his own regimental badge. Also of course serjeants were called corporal of horse and serjeant majors were corporal majors.

    The Household Cavalry also seem to have kept the same equipment throughout. They did not use Sawn Off Daimlers or halftracks.


    The Tasks of the Armoured Car Regiment.
    The tasks of the armoured car regiment were much as for the reconnaissance regiment of infantry divisions but it was intended that it should operate much further forward and be capable of moving much faster. The trade off was that it could not include heavy weapons and it was pretty well confined to travelling on roads.

    The late 1943 War establishment was intended to provide a reconnaissance unit for corps commanders. In 21 Army Group it did operate in this way initially but gradually worked more and more with the armoured divisions. Eventually they once more became the integral reconnaissance unit of armoured divisions and the armoured reconnaissance regiment became a normal armoured regiment.

    The armoured car regiment concentrated much more on the information gathering task than the protection task of reconnaissance units. It could put out a line of pickets to warn of the approach of an enemy force but was not well equipped to offer a defence, especially against armoured forces.

    Information Gathering.
    It was intended that the armoured car regiment would operate well in advance of the main force. Thirty miles ahead was no problem and with rear link cars to re transmit messages this could be doubled. The regiment could send a squadron along each of four routes, although it was usual to keep one in reserve. The light cars of the regiment would not only report back information about enemy positions, or lack of them, but about bridges, obstacles, minefields and anything else which would affect the advance of the following armoured units. All the armoured cars and scout cars had wireless and if wireless silence was in force there were the scout cars from the intercommunication troop to carry messages.

    Unfortunately the first contact with the enemy was often when the leading car was hit by an enemy gun in ambush. It was always a difficult decision as to whether the scout cars should lead with the armoured cars covering them, or the armoured cars lead with the scout cars being available to look down side roads and byways. The scout car was able to reverse at considerable speed, if it survived the first enemy shot.

    Exploitation and pursuit.
    This was work at which armoured car units excelled. Once a breach or bridgehead was secured by assault troops the armoured cars could speed along roads in order to find the best routes for following armour and to ‘keep the sword in the enemies back’ and prevent him from regrouping and mounting a defence.

    Phantom Work.
    With their good communications and high mobility the armoured car regiment was often used to report back to headquarters on the position and progress of troops on its own side rather than the enemy.

    Traffic Control
    The armoured car regiment was often used for traffic control. Since the squadrons left small detachments at cross roads during a rapid advance these could direct following units as well as give warning of approaching enemy forces. They had the communications to allow them to report on which units were passing and to receive instructions from formation headquarters.

    Traffic control could also be provided at river crossings where the armoured cars could call forward units and again report on progress to higher headquarters.

    Infantry.
    The armoured car regiments were called upon to serve as infantry, holding sections of the front line in order to relieve the hard pressed divisional infantry battalions. They lacked the heavy weapons to allow them to be fully effective in this role.

    Protection.
    Throughout history cavalry units have suffered from being called on to provide detachments to guard headquarters and key points as well as to provide mobile protection for convoys. The armoured car regiments continued this tradition.

    Observation Posts
    The armoured car regiments expertise in observation, map reading and wireless made them very useful for Observation Post work. Working much as an artillery observer, a vehicle crew would establish a post with line communications back to a vehicle mounted wireless set. They could report on enemy movement, enemy positions, enemy artillery fire and anything else of interest.


    Inns of Court Regiment on D Day.
    C Squadron, Inns of Court Regiment was selected for a special mission. It was to land with the first wave on Juno Beach and penetrate through any gaps in the German lines. It was then to seize and blow up bridges on the Orne and Odon Rivers south of Caen, in order to prevent reinforcements reaching the invasion beaches. They were then to hide and set up observation posts to report any enemy movements until they were relieved.

    For this operation C Squadron was organised into twelve half troops each of one Daimler Armoured Car and one Daimler Scout Car. To each of nine half squadrons was attached a halftrack carrying Royal Engineers sappers and explosives for blowing the bridges. The Regimental Headquarters provided a headquarters group.

    All the vehicles were carried on two landing craft which landed at Graye sur Mer at H+35. One landing craft had its ramp damaged by a mine and here was a six hour delay in landing its vehicles. The half troops that did land on time advanced some five miles to the village of Tierceville where they were joined by the delayed half troops. The whole force then went their separate ways to individual bridges. By evening four half troops reached the Bayeux – Caen railway line some eleven miles from the beach. On the second day the half troops continued to advance but met with increasing opposition. By the third day it was apparent that the bridges could not be reached and on the fourth day the survivors were withdrawn.

    The patrols suffered heavy losses. One half patrol met British armour which misidentified them, destroying the lead car and crew. Two half patrols were attacked and destroyed by USAAF Thunderbolts. Two further half patrols were ambushed. Of the twelve half troop leaders six were killed and one wounded.


    2 Household Cavalry in Normandy.
    Two months later 2 Household Cavalry Regiment did carry out a classic armoured car operation. A troop was on a reconnaissance mission when it found a track through the Foret L’Eveque. It turned out that the track was on the boundary between two German divisions and neither was covering it. The patrol pushed on for five miles and found a bridge that was not blown and was not defended. The information was sent back by wireless and the patrol held the bridge until advanced units of 11 Armoured Division arrived. The patrol then advanced to report on enemy movements. This operation allowed the British to achieve a breakout which had been attempted for many weeks.



    Markings
    The Arm of Service marking for an armoured car regiment was a green over blue 9” square with the number 44 in white. Since armoured car regiments were corp troops they had a white stripe above the square. This sign was carried on the right hand side. The corp sign was carried on the left hand side.

    The squadron markings were in line with other armoured regiments but since the armoured car regiment was not a part of an armoured brigade it carried signs in white. These were painted on the turret sides of armoured cars and on the sides or doors for other vehicles.

    Headquarters squadron white diamond
    A squadron white triangle
    B squadron white square
    C squadron white circle
    D squadron white solid rectangle.

    Tactical numbers were not normally carried.





    ARMOURED CAR SIGNALS SECTION ROYAL SIGNALS

    Since the armoured car regiment often operated far ahead of its parent unit it was necessary to provide a rear link relay so that information could be passed back. This section placed itself between the headquarters of the armoured car regiment and the corps or division headquarters to which the regiment was working. The operational part of the section was two armoured cars fitted with Wireless set No19 High Powered which could receive messages and automatically re transmit them.

    The Humber Armoured Car was used. The main armament was removed to make room for the wireless equipment. A housing for a chore horse charging engine for the batteries was fitted on the turret front. The car retained the normal rod aerials but also carried a wire aerial for greater range. This would normally be strung from any suitable post, tree etc. It was not intended that these vehicles should operate on the move, although they could do so for short periods, and with reduced range.

    serjeant
    lance serjeant signalman
    3 X corporal signalman
    4 X lance corporal signalman
    lance corporal driver
    14 X signalman
    8 X driver
    Total 32

    Trades included
    8 X driver mechanic
    11 X signal electrician
    2 X instrument mechanics
    9 X operator, wireless and line
    driver IC

    Vehicles included
    1 X motor cycle
    1 X 15cwt GS
    1 X 15cwt wireless
    5 X 3ton 4 X 4 GS
    2 X armoured car, wireless.

    Weapons
    11 X rifle .303”
    21 X Sten gun
    2 X Bren gun




    RECONNAISSANCE REGIMENT

    War Establishment II/251/2. December 1943.

    The Reconnaissance Regiment was the 1944 version of the cavalry reconnaissance unit that had been a part of a division sized force for centuries. Originally divisional reconnaissance regiments were horsed cavalry regiments but they were mechanised before WWII and were equipped with light tanks and Scout Carriers. Early in the war all reconnaissance units became a part of the newly formed Reconnaissance Corp but in late1943 all reconnaissance units except the Reconnaissance Regiment (and airborne reconnaissance units) had reverted to the Royal Armoured Corp.

    The War Establishment for a Reconnaissance Regiment in 21 Army Group was WE II/251/2 with an effective date of December 1943. There do not seem to be any later establishments and all the evidence suggests that although individual regiments may have reorganised their resources the reconnaissance regiment was basically unaltered throughout the campaign.

    Total personnel
    Lieutenant colonel
    Major, second in command
    4 X Major
    Captain, adjutant
    Captain, Technical Officer
    6 X Captain
    26 X Subaltern
    Quartermaster

    Regimental Serjeant Major
    Regimental Quartermaster Serjeant
    Mechanist Quartermaster Serjeant
    4 X Squadron Serjeant Major

    4 X squadron quartermaster serjeant
    3 X serjeant mechanist
    orderly room serjeant clerk
    provost serjeant
    signal serjeant
    transport serjeant
    serjeant technical storeman
    61 X serjeant

    107 X corporal
    567 X trooper

    Total 796

    Plus
    Medical Officer RAMC
    shoemaker RAOC
    4 X armourer REME
    15 X cook ACC

    Trades included
    4 X carpenter and joiner
    8 X clerk
    131 X driver mechanics
    95 X driver operator
    2 X electrician
    2 X equipment repairer
    4 X gun fitter
    5 X storeman (technical)
    12 X vehicle mechanics

    14 X batman
    20 X batman driver
    butchery dutyman
    64 X driver IC
    36 X gun number
    6 X intelligence duties
    4 X medical orderly
    30 X mortarmen
    22 X motorcycle orderly
    postman
    4 X sanitary dutyman
    5 X storeman
    3 X transport corporal

    Total vehicles
    55 X motorcycle
    1 X car 4 seater 4 X 4
    10 X car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep)
    12 X 15cwt GS
    4 X 15cwt water
    33 X armoured 15cwt
    22 X 3ton 4 X 4
    12 X Loyd Carrier
    69 X Universal Carrier
    28 X armoured car
    24 X light reconnaissance car


    Organisation.
    The regimental headquarters of a reconnaissance regiment was designed to allow the Commanding Officer to form a small command group which could operate on the move in a fluid situation. It would need to be far enough forward to maintain contact with the reconnaissance squadrons while remaining in contact with divisional headquarters. The heart of the command group was the two armoured 15cwt trucks which might be White 4 X 4 or halftracks. They would normally be accompanied by another armoured 15cwt which was a signal truck and could be used as a command vehicle. Nearby there would also be a Royal Signals armoured 15cwt with a rear link set to Division Headquarters. The Commanding Officer had the Humber 4 X 4 car as his transport for long journeys and for use as an office or sleeping vehicle. When away from the headquarters he could use the jeep or Light Reconnaissance Car as appropriate.

    The office truck, 15cwt GS and regimental police would normally form a separate headquarters group

    Car 4 seater 4 X 4 (Humber FWD).
    Commanding Officer, batman, driver IC
    Light Reconnaissance Car
    driver operator, driver mechanic
    For the Commanding Officers use in action.
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep)
    signaller, driver operator
    From the signal troop for the Commanding Officers use.


    Light Reconnaissance Car
    Technical Officer, driver operator, batman driver
    15cwt 4 X 4 armoured truck
    Major, Captain Adjutant, 2 X driver operator, batman driver
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep)
    signaller, driver operator
    From the signal troop for the second in commands use.
    15cwt 4 X 4 armoured truck
    Regimental Serjeant Major, serjeant orderly room clerk, 2 X clerk, intelligence trooper, driver IC
    Armoured car
    Subaltern, driver operator, driver mechanic

    Motorcycle
    provost serjeant
    Motorcycle
    intelligence serjeant
    Motorcycle
    intelligence trooper
    Motorcycle
    intelligence trooper
    Motorcycle
    intelligence trooper
    Motorcycle
    intelligence trooper
    Motorcycle
    intelligence trooper

    15cwt GS
    serjeant cook, 2 X cook, driver IC
    15cwt 4 X 4 armoured truck
    Medical Officer, medical officers orderly, driver IC



    Headquarters Squadron
    15cwt 4 X 4 armoured truck
    Major, Squadron Serjeant Major, driver operator, clerk, batman driver
    Motorcycle
    majors orderly
    Light Reconnaissance car
    Captain, driver operator, batman driver
    Motorcycle
    captains orderly

    Signal troop
    Motorcycle
    signal serjeant
    Motorcycle
    serjeant
    Motorcycle
    corporal signaller
    Motorcycle
    signaller
    Motorcycle
    signaller
    Motorcycle
    signaller
    Motorcycle
    signaller
    Motorcycle
    signaller
    Motorcycle
    signaller
    Motorcycle
    signaller
    Motorcycle
    signaller
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (Jeep)
    signaller, driver operator
    15cwt GS
    Captain Signal Officer, batman driver
    15cwt 4 X 4 armoured truck
    4 X driver operator, driver IC

    Mortar troop
    Subaltern
    4 X serjeant
    5 X corporal
    32 X private

    platoon headquarters
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep)
    Subaltern, batman driver

    Section1
    Motorcycle
    serjeant
    15cwt
    private, driver
    Carries 72 round of 3” mortar ammunition
    Carrier
    serjeant, 3 X private, driver mechanic
    Carries 3” mortar and 66 round of 3” mortar ammunition
    Carries Wireless set No38
    Carrier
    corporal, 3 X private, driver mechanic
    Carries 3” mortar and 66 round of 3” mortar ammunition
    Carries Wireless set No38

    Section2
    Motorcycle
    serjeant
    15cwt
    private, driver
    Carries 72 round of 3” mortar ammunition
    Carrier
    serjeant, 3 X private, driver mechanic
    Carries 3” mortar and 66 round of 3” mortar ammunition
    Carries Wireless set No38
    Carrier
    corporal, 3 X private, driver mechanic
    Carries 3” mortar and 66 round of 3” mortar ammunition
    Carries Wireless set No38

    Section3
    Motorcycle
    serjeant
    15cwt
    private, driver
    Carries 72 round of 3” mortar ammunition
    Carrier
    serjeant, 3 X private, driver mechanic
    Carries 3” mortar and 66 round of 3” mortar ammunition
    Carries Wireless set No38
    Carrier
    corporal, 3 X private, driver mechanic
    Carries 3” mortar and 66 round of 3” mortar ammunition
    Carries Wireless set No38

    Anti tank battery
    Captain
    Subaltern
    4 X serjeant
    6 X corporal
    41 X private

    Headquarters
    15cwt truck GS
    2 X fitters REME, driver batman
    Carries fitters stores and 6pdr ammunition

    Troop1
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep)
    subaltern, batman driver
    Motorcycle
    orderly
    15cwt truck GS
    platoon serjeant, driver IC
    Carries stores and 6pdr ammunition

    Section 1
    Loyd carrier
    serjeant, 3 X gun numbers, driver mechanic
    Carries 24 rounds of 6pdr ammunition in 4 boxes
    Tows 6pdr Anti tank gun
    Loyd carrier
    corporal, 3 X gun numbers, driver mechanic
    Carries 24 rounds of 6pdr ammunition in 4 boxes
    Tows 6pdr Anti tank gun
    Loyd carrier
    lance corporal, gun number, driver mechanic
    Carries 30 rounds of 6pdr ammunition in boxes and Bren gun

    Section 2
    Loyd carrier
    serjeant, 3 X gun numbers, driver mechanic
    Carries 24 rounds of 6pdr ammunition in 4 boxes
    Tows 6pdr Anti tank gun
    Loyd carrier
    corporal, 3 X gun numbers, driver mechanic
    Carries 24 rounds of 6pdr ammunition in 4 boxes
    Tows 6pdr Anti tank gun
    Loyd carrier
    lance corporal, gun number, driver mechanic
    Carries 30 rounds of 6pdr ammunition in boxes and Bren gun

    Troop2
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep)
    subaltern, batman driver
    Motorcycle
    orderly
    15cwt truck GS
    platoon serjeant, driver IC
    Carries stores and 6pdr ammunition

    Section 1
    Loyd carrier
    serjeant, 3 X gun numbers, driver mechanic
    Carries 24 rounds of 6pdr ammunition in 4 boxes
    Tows 6pdr Anti tank gun
    Loyd carrier
    corporal, 3 X gun numbers, driver mechanic
    Carries 24 rounds of 6pdr ammunition in 4 boxes
    Tows 6pdr Anti tank gun
    Loyd carrier
    lance corporal, gun number, driver mechanic
    Carries 30 rounds of 6pdr ammunition in boxes and Bren gun

    Section 2 Loyd carrier
    serjeant, 3 X gun numbers, driver mechanic
    Carries 24 rounds of 6pdr ammunition in 4 boxes
    Tows 6pdr Anti tank gun
    Loyd carrier
    corporal, 3 X gun numbers, driver mechanic
    Carries 24 rounds of 6pdr ammunition in 4 boxes
    Tows 6pdr Anti tank gun
    Loyd carrier
    lance corporal, gun number, driver mechanic
    Carries 30 rounds of 6pdr ammunition in boxes and Bren gun


    The 6pdr anti tank guns were seldom used. Of course they were essentially defensive and for most of the campaign 21 Army group units were on the offensive. However they were kept in service by units until the end of the campaign. In March 1945 most units replaced their Loyd carriers with Universal Carriers.

    43 Reconnaissance Regiment record that they only fired their 6pdr guns once. This was to shell boats moored on the enemy side of the River Waal when the regiment was holding a stretch of front in November 1944.

    53 Reconnaissance Regiment used their 6pdrs for the first time in December 1944. On this occasion they were used to stiffen an artillery programme firing across the river Maas.


    Administrative troop

    15cwt GS
    Quartermaster, corporal postman, batman driver
    15cwt 4 X 4 armoured truck
    Subaltern, Mechanist Quartermaster Serjeant, serjeant storeman (technical),
    vehicle mechanic, batman driver.
    15cwt GS
    clerk, driver IC
    Motorcycle
    transport serjeant
    Motorcycle
    orderly
    Motorcycle
    armourer
    Motorcycle
    armourer

    3ton lorry 4 X 4 GS
    2 X vehicle mechanic, storeman technical, 2 X electrician, equipment repairer,
    driver IC
    3ton lorry 4 X 4 GS
    storeman technical, gun fitter, 3 X vehicle mechanic, driver IC
    3ton lorry 4 X 4 GS
    serjeant armourer, armourer, sanitary dutyman, driver IC
    3ton lorry 4 X 4 GS
    carpenter and joiner, equipment repairer, corporal shoemaker, storeman,
    driver IC
    3ton lorry 4 X 4 GS
    Regimental Quartermaster Serjeant, driver IC
    3ton lorry 4 X 4 GS
    storeman, driver IC
    3ton lorry 4 X 4 GS
    squadron quartermaster serjeant, serjeant cook, corporal cook, 4 X cook,
    butchery dutyman, driver IC
    15cwt water
    water dutyman, driver IC


    Reconnaissance squadron.
    The squadron was the basic unit and was as self contained as possible. It was intended that squadron headquarters should control the forward scout troops and that each scout troop should advance on a different road. Ideally the squadron headquarters should advance in bounds behind the scout troops.

    The Commanding Officer in his Light Reconnaissance Car could travel forward to visit the forward troops while keeping in touch with squadron headquarters by wireless.

    The second in command in his armoured 15cwt truck formed the squadron command post. He received information from the scout troops, sorted it, evaluated it and then sent it back to regimental headquarters.

    Light Reconnaissance Car
    Major, driver operator, driver mechanic
    15cwt 4 X 4 armoured truck
    Captain, driver operator, driver IC
    Motorcycle
    orderly
    Car 5cwt 4 X 4 (jeep)
    Squadron Serjeant Major, driver IC
    15cwt 4 X 4 armoured truck
    clerk, 2 X driver operator, driver IC

    The squadron had a medical orderly and driver in an armoured 15cwt since the squadron would usually be operating well ahead of other medical services.

    15cwt 4 X 4 armoured truck
    medical officers orderly, batman driver


    The squadron echelon would travel behind the squadron headquarters and be called forward when required.
    15cwt GS
    carpenter and joiner, driver IC
    15cwt water
    water dutyman, driver IC
    15cwt 4 X 4 armoured truck
    mechanist serjeant, 2 X vehicle mechanics, driver IC
    3ton GS
    sanitary dutyman, driver IC
    3ton GS
    transport corporal, driver IC
    3ton GS
    storeman technical, storeman, gun fitter, driver IC
    3ton GS
    4 X driver operator, driver IC
    3ton GS
    squadron, quartermaster serjeant, 2 X cook, driver IC

    Mortars and 6pdr anti tank guns could be added from regimental headquarters. Mortars were very useful for flushing out the enemy and neutralising anti tank guns. The anti tank guns were seldom used.


    The Scout Troops.
    The armoured cars would move forward while the carriers held a firm base. Then the cars would halt and the carriers would catch them up to form another firm base from which the cars could advance further.

    The troop leader was responsible for keeping up a steady flow of information back to squadron headquarters.

    Armoured cars and light reconnaissance cars were road bound and the carriers, whilst capable of cross country movement, had little dismountable manpower. Thus the assault troop in White armoured trucks or halftracks was required to clear opposition such as anti tank guns.

    When required the carriers could travel across country to carry out reconnaissance. The assault troop might be required to go ahead on foot. This would most often be at night, when the presence of infantry was suspected or the view was obscured by hedges, trees etc.

    Scout troop 1
    Armoured Car
    Subaltern, driver operator, driver mechanic
    Carrier Universal
    Subaltern, 2 X driver operator, driver mechanic
    Motorcycle
    serjeant
    Motorcycle
    orderly

    Reconnaissance section
    Armoured car
    serjeant, driver operator, driver mechanic
    Light Reconnaissance car
    corporal, batman, driver mechanic
    Armoured car
    serjeant, driver operator, driver mechanic
    Light Reconnaissance car
    corporal, driver operator, driver mechanic

    Carrier section Carrier Universal
    serjeant, corporal, driver mechanic
    Carrier Universal
    corporal, trooper, driver mechanic
    Carrier Universal
    corporal, trooper, driver mechanic

    Carrier section Carrier Universal
    serjeant, corporal, driver mechanic
    Carrier Universal
    corporal, trooper, driver mechanic
    Carrier Universal
    corporal, trooper, driver mechanic


    Scout troop 2
    Armoured Car
    Subaltern, driver operator, driver mechanic
    Carrier Universal
    Subaltern, 2 X driver operator, driver mechanic
    Motorcycle
    serjeant
    Motorcycle
    orderly

    Reconnaissance section
    Armoured car
    serjeant, driver operator, driver mechanic
    Light Reconnaissance car
    corporal, batman, driver mechanic
    Armoured car
    serjeant, driver operator, driver mechanic
    Light Reconnaissance car
    corporal, driver operator, driver mechanic

    Carrier section Carrier Universal
    serjeant, corporal, driver mechanic
    Carrier Universal
    corporal, trooper, driver mechanic
    Carrier Universal
    corporal, trooper, driver mechanic

    Carrier section Carrier Universal
    serjeant, corporal, driver mechanic
    Carrier Universal
    corporal, trooper, driver mechanic
    Carrier Universal
    corporal, trooper, driver mechanic

    Scout troop 3
    Armoured Car
    Subaltern, driver operator, driver mechanic
    Carrier Universal
    Subaltern, 2 X driver operator, driver mechanic
    Motorcycle
    serjeant
    Motorcycle
    orderly

    Reconnaissance section
    Armoured car
    serjeant, driver operator, driver mechanic
    Light Reconnaissance car
    corporal, batman, driver mechanic
    Armoured car
    serjeant, driver operator, driver mechanic
    Light Reconnaissance car
    corporal, driver operator, driver mechanic

    Carrier section
    Carrier Universal
    serjeant, corporal, driver mechanic
    Carrier Universal
    corporal, trooper, driver mechanic
    Carrier Universal
    corporal, trooper, driver mechanic

    Carrier section
    Carrier Universal
    serjeant, corporal, driver mechanic
    Carrier Universal
    corporal, trooper, driver mechanic
    Carrier Universal
    corporal, trooper, driver mechanic


    Assault troop
    15cwt halftrack
    subaltern, serjeant, driver operator, 2 X mortarman, batman driver
    Motorcycle
    orderly

    Section
    15cwt halftrack
    corporal, lance corporal, 5 X trooper, driver IC

    Section
    15cwt halftrack
    corporal, lance corporal, 5 X trooper, driver IC

    Section
    15cwt halftrack
    corporal, lance corporal, 5 X trooper, driver IC

    Section
    15cwt halftrack
    corporal, lance corporal, 5 X trooper, driver IC


    52 Reconnaissance Regiment.
    52 Reconnaissance Regiment was on a different establishment to that shown above. This regiment was part of the 52 Division, which although subtitled Lowland (Scottish) was trained as a Mountain Division. It was to have formed part of an expedition to Norway but this did not take place.

    52 Reconnaissance regiment had an establishment which included a squadron of tanks, which did not go to 21 Army Group, and two reconnaissance squadrons. The two reconnaissance squadrons were re organised to give three weak squadrons. The reconnaissance vehicles were Daimler Scout Cars. There were no halftracks on the establishment.

    Scout troop (X3)
    Daimler Scout Car
    Subaltern, driver operator
    Carrier Universal
    Subaltern, 2 X driver operator, driver mechanic
    Motorcycle
    serjeant
    Motorcycle
    orderly

    Reconnaissance section
    Daimler Scout Car
    serjeant, driver operator
    Daimler Scout Car
    corporal, batman driver
    Daimler Scout Car
    serjeant, driver operator
    Daimler Scout Car
    corporal, driver operator

    Carrier section 1
    Carrier Universal
    serjeant, corporal, driver mechanic
    Carrier Universal
    corporal, trooper, driver mechanic
    Carrier Universal
    corporal, trooper, driver mechanic

    Carrier section 2
    Carrier Universal
    serjeant, corporal, driver mechanic
    Carrier Universal
    corporal, trooper, driver mechanic
    Carrier Universal
    corporal, trooper, driver mechanic

    Assault troop
    15cwt 4 X 4 Armoured
    subaltern, serjeant, driver operator, 2 X mortarman, batman driver
    Motorcycle
    orderly

    Section
    15cwt 4 X 4 Armoured
    corporal, lance corporal, 5 X trooper, driver IC

    Section
    15cwt 4 X 4 Armoured
    corporal, lance corporal, 5 X trooper, driver IC

    Section
    15cwt 4 X 4 Armoured
    corporal, lance corporal, 5 X trooper, driver IC

    Section
    15cwt 4 X 4 Armoured
    corporal, lance corporal, 5 X trooper, driver IC

    This organisation remained until February 1945 when 61 Reconnaissance Regiment was disbanded and sufficient personnel and vehicles transferred to 52 Reconnaissance regiment to allow three full troops per squadron and a normal vehicle establishment


    Most of the Reconnaissance Regiments were given Daimler Armoured cars in early 1945. The following information is gleaned from Regimental Histories.

    15 Reconnaissance Regiment.
    This regiment received Daimler Armoured Cars in March 1945. There were not enough to replace all the existing armoured cars so that the reconnaissance troops now had.

    Scout troop
    Armoured Car
    Subaltern, driver operator, driver mechanic
    Carrier Universal
    Subaltern, 2 X driver operator, driver mechanic
    Motorcycle
    serjeant
    Motorcycle
    orderly

    Reconnaissance section
    Daimler Armoured Car
    serjeant, driver operator, driver mechanic
    Humber Armoured Car
    corporal, batman, driver mechanic
    Daimler Armoured Car
    serjeant, driver operator, driver mechanic
    Humber Armoured Car
    corporal, driver operator, driver mechanic

    From March 1945 any Humber Armoured Cars that became battle or mechanical casualties were replaced with Daimler Armoured Cars.


    5 Reconnaissance Regiment
    5 Reconnaissance Regiment arrived in the theatre in March, having driven from the South of France. They were equipped with Daimler Armoured cars.

    Reconnaissance section
    Daimler Armoured Car
    serjeant, driver operator, driver mechanic
    Daimler Armoured Car
    corporal, batman, driver mechanic
    Daimler Armoured Car
    serjeant, driver operator, driver mechanic
    Daimler Armoured Car
    corporal, driver operator, driver mechanic

    3 Reconnaissance Regiment began to receive Daimler Armoured Cars as replacements for losses as early as September 1944.

    2nd Derbyshire Yeomanry
    The reconnaissance regiment of 51 Division. This had Daimler armoured cars instead of Humbers from the start of the campaign. They also had Humber Light Reconnaissance Cars and one Staghound which was issued as a replacement for a Daimler. This was used as a troop car.


    For the pursuit after the Rhine Crossing 49 Reconnaissance Regiment were reinforced to enable them to deal with obstacles and pockets of resistance without having to wait for support. They formed a task force of
    2 X reconnaissance squadrons
    1 X armoured squadron RAC
    1 X 25pdr battery RA
    1 X Self Propelled AT battery RA
    1 X infantry company
    1 X field platoon RE




    The tasks of the Reconnaissance Regiment.

    The reconnaissance regiment was a very versatile unit but its main functions were those of the classic reconnaissance regiment which Napoleon would have recognised, information gathering and protection. These two functions cannot in fact be carried out simultaneously since information gathering requires a unit to be spread out on the front and flanks in order to report all enemy movement and to explore all possible routes, obstacles etc. Protection requires that the squadron be concentrated so as to hold or slow down an enemy until the main force can deal with it. Of course a compromise is often reached where an information gathering force can fall back to form a more concentrated unit if required.

    Information Gathering.
    This was the task for which the reconnaissance regiment was particularly equipped. It had fast light vehicles which could probe the front and flanks of a formation to obtain information and report it back to the main body as soon as possible. Information is of no value until it has reached the staff who can act on it. The reconnaissance patrols had a high proportion of officers and NCOs trained to recognise the significance and importance of what they saw. Obviously any information on enemy positions was of importance but in mobile warfare it was also necessary to have information on roads, tracks, bridges, minefields, flooded or soft ground. Anything which might help or hinder the following units. Such work required good navigation and map reading skills, not only to find the way but to be able to give an exact map reference for anything seen.

    Normally the wireless set carried in every reconnaissance vehicle could be used to send information back to troop headquarters, which would send it back to squadron headquarters and then onto to whichever headquarters the squadron is working to. Regimental Headquarters would sift and monitor the information so that it would know where its units are and also to be able to inform flanking units. When wireless silence was in operation the units had motorcycles and light armoured vehicles to carry the information back.

    Protection.
    When a force was operating in open country, typically in an advance or in a pursuit, it was always at risk of being attacked from the flanks. A force which was static, but not in contact with the enemy, was also at risk of a surprise attack from the front. In these circumstances the reconnaissance regiment would typically put two squadrons out to form a screen which would give warning of an attack. Having raised the alarm the reconnaissance regiment would then fall back to form a more secure defence. If possible the individual troops would delay the enemy while falling back. The third squadron would form a concentrated reserve to assist where the threat was greatest. Such defensive action would only allow time for the main force to deploy and could not be maintained for long.

    Seizing Key Points.
    The reconnaissance regiment had sufficient firepower and dismountable troops to take and hold key positions in an advance. A squadron advancing down a road would have the choice of
    - By passing a strong point. It would often be possible to leave a section to watch a strongpoint and then move on. The follow up forces could be left to deal with the enemy.
    - Outflanking a strongpoint. It was often possible for the carrier sections, backed by the motor sections and mortar sections, to move across country and work round an enemy flank thus forcing him to withdraw.
    - Assaulting a strongpoint. The assault troop may be strong enough to take the strongpoint.

    If a key point was taken it was probable that the enemy would try to regain it. In this case the squadron would need to hold it with assault troops, mortars and anti tank guns. When heavier troops arrived the squadron would be released to advance once more.

    A key point may have been a crossroads, perhaps taken without a fight. It would often be necessary to hold the crossroads for the following forces, and to put patrols down each road to guard against surprise.

    Exploitation.
    In some ways similar to seizing key points but squadrons would secure a breach or bridgehead and the routes from it. Squadrons, perhaps supported by other forces, would dash through the breach created by an assault and then fan out to secure as large an area as possible, especially routes that other units could use to exploit further. Armoured Car units or Armoured Reconnaissance units could then pass through to hold more distant points.

    Signals Work.
    Reconnaissance troops were skilled in the use of wireless and of rapidly setting up and maintaining communication nets. In Normandy, and occasionally afterwards, detachments from reconnaissance squadrons provided a communications network until the Royal Signals could establish a more permanent system. For two weeks from D Day 3 Reconnaissance Regiment and 61 Reconnaissance Regiment provided twelve contact detachments. Each detachment had a subaltern and two other ranks with a Wireless set No68. At first they were on foot but later transport was landed for them and a serjeant, trooper and 22 set in a jeep was added to the detachment.

    Traffic Control
    The reconnaissance regiment had several assets which made them ideal for traffic control
    - they were mobile
    - they were accustomed to working in small detachments under NCOs
    - they were accustomed to taking responsibility and showing initiative.
    - they were skilled in the use of wireless and well provided with wireless sets.
    - they were skilled in map reading and route finding.

    Traffic Control was necessary at river crossings and sometimes in breakthroughs in an enemy defensive line. Detachments could be stationed on approaches to act as control points. They would hold units until they were called forward. They might be called forward according to need or as there was capacity on roads, bridges or ferries for them. Often detachments in scout cars, jeeps or motorcycles would guide the unit transport forward. This gave additional control over traffic flow as even after leaving a control point the flow could be regulated via the guides and their wireless sets.

    Pursuit
    After a breakthrough it is desirable to actively pursue a fleeing enemy to prevent him reforming. Fast moving light units with good communications were obviously ideal for this work. They may not have instilled the same fear as the lancer of old but even light armour could spread anxiety and uncertainty.

    Infantry.
    The troops of reconnaissance regiments were often called upon to serve as infantry. They normally held sections of the front line in order to relieve the hard pressed divisional infantry battalions. Particularly in the late autumn of 1944 most regiments had little reconnaissance work to do so they parked their vehicles and acted as infantry. In some cases the actually formed normal infantry companies from squadron personnel and deployed the anti tank guns, mortars and carriers as would a normal infantry unit.

    Headquarters Protection
    Most headquarters had organic protection units but when the frontline was confused and snipers abounded, then the armoured cars and personnel carriers of the reconnaissance regiment could be deployed as additional protection.

    Convoy Protection.
    Reconnaissance regiments were often deployed to protect the flanks of an advance but sometimes, as in the Low Countries, this was not possible. The roads ran along raised banks and the surrounding country was low, wet and crossed by ditches and dykes. In these conditions light armoured units were used to accompany convoys. They were disperses in small groups throughout the convoy and groups were in contact with each other by wireless.

    Observation Posts
    The reconnaissance regiments expertise in observation, map reading and wireless made them very useful for Observation Post work. Working much as an artillery observer, a vehicle crew would establish a post with line communications back to a vehicle mounted wireless set. They could report on enemy activity and even act as artillery observers if required.


    ARMOURED RECONNAISSANCE VEHICLES.

    The Cromwell
    The Cromwell design started at the end of 1940 and its development was long and complex. By the time it emerged as a fully fledged fighting vehicle it was rather out of date. It had also left a trail of production vehicles which were not thought ft to fight. These included Cavalier, Centaur and the first three Cromwell marks.

    It was intended that the Cromwell should use the Meteor engine. This was adapted from the famous Merlin aircraft engine. In fact the tanks were ready before the engine and so the early versions were fitted with the old Liberty engine. None of these were used a fighting tanks although some were used in other roles.

    The maximum armour thickness was originally 76mm. Most tanks in service were reworked and had appliqué armour fitted to bring the thickness up to 101mm. The gun was originally the 6pdr but none of these saw action either. All the Cromwells in 21 Army group had the 75mm gun. The top speed was a remarkable, for the day, 40 miles per hour. In action this was reduced to 32 miles per hour. Heavier armour and armament reduced the speed somewhat but the speed was governed on later production and reworked vehicles.

    The Cromwell versions used in 21my Group included the following
    - Cromwell IV. This was a 75mm armed Centaur III re engined with the Meteor. These were built with the Liberty engine but were designed to take the Meteor when it became available. Not many were in fact re engined and even fewer served in NW Europe in the Mark IV form.
    - Cromwell IVw. This was as for the Cromwell IV but was built with the Meteor engine. It also had a hull with all the major riveted joints reinforced by welding. An appliqué 8mm plate was welded over the 6mm floor armour.
    - Cromwell Vw. This was the definitive Cromwell and was entirely of welded construction. The floor was strengthened to resist mines and the Type D hull was used.
    - Cromwell VII was a Cromwell IV reworked.
    - Cromwell VIII was a Cromwell Vw reworked.

    Most of the Cromwells were reworked before being issued for service and the modifications included
    - appliqué armour was added to the hull front
    - 15 ½ inch tracks were fitted instead of the original 14 inch tracks.
    - The suspension was strengthened to carry the extra 1120lb of armour.
    - The speed was governed to 32 miles per hour.

    Early types had had top opening hatches for the driver and co driver. When the gun was in certain positions it prevented these hatches from being opened. Type D hulls had a side opening escape door for the co driver. Type F hulls also had an escape hatch for the driver.

    Cromwell Command Tank.
    Cromwell tanks were used as command tanks by armoured division and armoured brigade headquarters. They were used because of their speed and availability. The main armament and ammunition stowage was removed to give more space for operators and staff. They were fitted with a Wireless set No19 and a Wireless set No19 HP which generally gave three nets.

    Cromwell Control Tank.
    The control tank was a normal gun tank but fitted with two Wireless set No19 instead of the usual one. Regimental Headquarters used them and although their fighting ability was impaired it could still use all of its armament.

    Cromwell Rear Link.
    Rear Link tanks were normal gun tanks, retaining armament and ammunition, but fitted with a Wireless set No 19 High Powered. These were used as relay stations in Armoured Reconnaissance Regiments when the unit was too far from brigade headquarters for the regimental headquarters sets to be effective. Two Rear Link tanks formed the relay, receiving and transmitting signals on the regimental frequency in one vehicle and automatically re transmitting and receiving on the brigade frequency in the other vehicle. They carried reels of wire aerial which could be used when stationary to provide greater range.

    Cromwell OP Tank.
    The OP tank retained its main armament but had reduced ammunition stowage to make space for two Wireless sets No19 and two demountable Wireless sets No38 plus artillery observation staff and equipment. These were issued to artillery regiments from a pool held at Armoured Brigade Headquarters.

    Cromwell Contact Tank.
    This was a field conversion of a Cromwell used by Air Support Signals Units to control tactical aircraft. It had the main armament and ammunition stowage removed and replaced by two Wireless set No19 and one TR 1143 VHF set plus their operators. It seems that they were fitted with telescopic aerial masts for the VHF set. These were fitted through a hole in the turret roof and it is suggested that the masts were captured German items.


    Cromwell ARV I
    Armoured Recovery Vehicles MkI were issued to squadrons in armoured regiments. They were based on the type of vehicle used in the squadron and were intended primarily for towing damaged armoured vehicles from the battlefield. In N Africa it was found that large numbers of slightly damaged fighting vehicles were left on the battlefield and captured or destroyed by the enemy. Most of these casualties could in fact be rapidly put back into service if they could be towed out of harms way and handed over to a REME LAD or workshop.

    The Cromwell ARV was a normal gun tank with the turret removed, the turret ring plated over and basic recovery gear fitted. Normally ARV I carried drawbars to fit the type of tank with which it operated, wooden blocks and planks, earth anchors and blocks. It did not have a winch. 58 were converted by the end of 1944 and most were MkIV with Type C hulls, the least popular type since there were no escape hatches for driver and co driver. Logically since the Cromwell ARV was a late arrival most of the ARV’s in Cromwell equipped units must have been Centaurs. Cromwell ARV were used also in Comet equipped units.

    Centaur ARV I.
    Visually identical to the Cromwell ARV, and carrying the same equipment. It had a different engine however.


    Centaur AA MkI.
    The Centaur AA MkI used a Centaur tank with the turret and 6pdr ammunition stowage removed and a new AA turret, with 20mm Polsten cannon, was fitted. The hull machine gun was removed and an auxiliary engine fitted in the front gunners space to power the hydraulic traverse. The turret was given a two man crew and the wireless was fitted in the hull. The order for these vehicles was reduced to 100 in October 1944 so presumably fewer than that had been completed by then. Since 20mm AA tanks were withdrawn from armoured units it would seem that few if any Centaur saw action.

    The Centaur Dozer.
    It seems that the Centaur AA tanks that were cancelled were in fact completed as dozers. Only 50 were available by the time of the Rhine Crossing and they were operated by an Assault Squadron RE.
    There are reports that the Cromwell equipped armoured regiments were issued with one dozer per squadron in 1945. It is probable that these were the RE vehicles operating with the armoured formations.


    Challenger
    Challenger was developed to be the main British support tank in 21 Army Group. It was a Cromwell modified to carry the 17pdr anti tank gun. There were many problems and delays in getting Challenger into service, even though it had priority over everything except the Comet tank. When finally produced it had many drawbacks and the Sherman Firefly, which was developed as a back up design, proved to be far more successful. In the event only the original order of 200 Challenger were produced and they were only issued to armoured reconnaissance regiments, on the scale of twelve per regiment.

    In order to carry the extra weight, and provide a larger turret ring, the Cromwell hull was lengthened and an extra road wheel added on each side. This made for a relatively simple hull modification but led to handling difficulties.

    The turret was large, not only to accommodate the larger gun but also an extra crew member. It was felt that the heavier rounds required a second loader and so the turret crew was increased to four. The turret was high and flat sided, and because of the need to keep weight down it was relatively thinly armoured. These are all the opposite of what the perfect turret should be. Even so the extra weight slowed Challenger down considerably, making it difficult to keep up with the fast Cromwells.

    The hull machine gun was removed to make extra ammunition stowage space but Challenger could still only carry 42 rounds of 17pdr ammunition.


    LIGHT RECONNAISSANCE CARS
    The Humber Light Reconnaissance Car.
    This was essentially a Humber Snipe chassis with light armour. The MkIII did however have four wheel drive. The roof was lightly armoured and there was a small turret mounting a Bren gun. The Bren mounting allowed for a high elevation for anti aircraft use but it was very difficult to aim accurately against ground targets, even when stationary. It had a fixed forward facing 4” smoke discharger. The crew was three men.

    In service the Humber Light Reconnaissance Car was thought to be reliable and good at surviving mines. This latter was partly because the engine was at the front and partly because of the design of the armour. It was also fairly fast at 40 miles per hour. However it was thought to be too high, too long and difficult to manoeuvre. The armour was very thin at 10mm and it was difficult to mount and dismount, except for the driver.

    Most cars found in NW Europe were MkIIIa which had pneumatic tyres rather than runflats and thus carried a spare wheel and tyre on the rear. This meant that the rear stowage bin could not be fitted and smaller bins were fitted on each side between the doors and the rear mudguards.

    Some cars in NW Europe had the roof removed. The roof area could be covered with a canvas cover. The open top allowed for easier and quicker dismounting for reconnaissance on foot, or if the vehicle became a casualty. It also allowed a better view and lowered the silhouette. The loss of the Bren turret was not regarded as serious, indeed it was an advantage in most cases.

    Morris Light Reconnaissance Car
    A rarity in 21 Army group but some were used.


    ARMOURED CARS
    The Humber Armoured Car MkIV.
    The Humber Armoured car was actually built by Karrier. The MkIV was the last of the variants and was armed with a US 37mm Anti Tank gun. It was a conventional design with a rear engined chassis fitted with a lightly armoured body. It had a three man crew which was adequate for reconnaissance but not for serious fighting, which it was not expected to do in 21 Army Group. 2000 were built so there was never any shortage. Its advantages and disadvantages were the same in that it was higher and bulkier than the Daimler Armoured Car but it was roomier and easier to get in and out. It was a mainstay of the reconnaissance regiment.

    Daimler Armoured Car
    The Daimler armoured car was very well liked. It was all that a reconnaissance armoured car should be. It was small, low, fast, manoeuvrable and well protected. Unlike many other armoured cars it was not an armoured body fitted onto the existing chassis of a car or lorry but was an armoured hull to which the suspension etc was fitted. It had four wheel drive and independent suspension which allowed high speeds to be maintained on poor surfaces.

    It had been intended to replace the Daimler, and the Humber, with the new Coventry armoured car. In the event it was thought that the Daimler was ideal for use in NW Europe and it was improved in a number of minor ways to produce the MkII version.

    The engine was a reliable Daimler 95bhp six cylinder unit and the transmission was a five speed gearbox which could use all five ratios in reverse as well. This made rapid escapes possible. There was a second driving position at the rear which had a steering wheel, hand throttle and handbrake. Maximum speed was 50mph.

    Armour protection was 14mm for the body and 16mm for the turret. It was of all welded construction.

    Crew was three and the main armament was a 2pdr gun. This could be fitted with a Littlejohn adaptor which squeezed the round and thus doubled its muzzle velocity. This doubled the penetrative ability at short ranges. In some units one car in each troop was fitted with the adaptor. 52 rounds of 2pdr ammunition were carried. A Wireless set No19 was fitted.

    Some units removed the turret from some Daimler armoured cars and thus produced what was in effect a larger Daimler scout car. This was lower and lighter, easier to mount and dismount and was preferred for reconnaissance in close country.


    Staghound.
    The Staghound armoured car was built to British specifications by Chevrolet in the USA. At the time it was ordered there was a need for a heavy, well armoured, powerful armoured car for use in the deserts of N Africa. In effect it was to be a wheeled tank.

    The vehicle that was produced was in many ways typically American. It was built from stock parts as far as possible and since there was not a suitably powerful engine available they used two truck engines. It had four wheel drive, automatic transmission and large section tyres. The basic vehicle had a turret mounting a 37mm gun and a co axial .3 inch machine gun. There was a second machine gun in the hull front.

    Armour protection was a hefty 1 ¾ inches on the turret front and 7/8 of an inch on the hull front. This gave the Staghound a weight of 14 tons but it could still manage 55 miles per hour on roads.

    3,800 were delivered to the British and Commonwealth forces. This included 1000 anti aircraft versions.

    In 21 Army Group the Staghound was issued to Armoured Car Regiments as headquarters cars. Most of these were normal Staghound I cars, sometimes with extra wireless. As the campaign progressed some Staghound I had the main armament removed to give more space. Some Staghound I and Staghound AA had the turret removed for use as command vehicles.

    The Staghound AA was issued to armoured car regiments for use in the AA troop. These cars had a Frazer Nash designed turret mounting two .5inch machine guns. These cars had the bow machine gun and co drivers seat removed. The traverse and elevation was by electrically operated hydraulic control.

    There were plenty of Staghounds to meet all needs and they were also used as signals vehicles, headquarters protection vehicles, armoured transport for VIPs and command vehicles at higher headquarters.

    In service in NW Europe many users thought the Staghound too large but it was not expected to fight and it was very roomy, easy to drive, well protected and powerful.


    AEC Armoured Car MkIII
    The AEC Armoured Car was an armoured body mounted on an AEC 4 X 4 Matador chassis. The AEC 6 cylinder diesel engine was mounted at the rear. The large tyres gave it good cross country ability which was important in the desert but not much needed in NW Europe. The armoured car regiments were pretty well road bound.

    The version used in NW Europe was the MkIII which was fitted with a 75mm gun. This was intended to give some support and protection to the forward squadrons. In the event the AEC cars were not much used, and were often left behind. They were considered too large, certainly too high, for the reconnaissance role.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page