56th Reconnaissance Corps

Discussion in 'Recce' started by Recce_Mitch, Nov 30, 2008.

  1. At Home Dad (Returning)

    At Home Dad (Returning) Well-Known Member

    That is fascinating Tom, I never knew that.

    When I can work out how to post pics, I'll
    stick the couple I have of him up. In particular
    I'd like to get his cap badge recognised from before
    he became Recce.

    Kind regards
  2. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    My dad seems to have done some training At Clochester before going to Barri Camp in Scotland.

    "It took us 3 days to travel to Barri Camp from Colchester. We had staging areas where we stayed overnight. One was at Doncaster. I had an aunt (me Mum’s sister) that lived at Doncaster, so I went to see our Officer for permission to go and visit her. Permission was given…I was told when to be back at the staging area…and I went and surprised me aunt and had a good time visiting with her. Another staging area was at Hadrian’s Camp so named after Hadrian’s Wall." Dads own words


  3. Peter Bowe

    Peter Bowe Junior Member


    I am presently digging into 56th Recce's records - here's something that may well be of interest to you:
    56 Recce - 21

    There obviously is lots more - which will be passed on as I come across it.

    Cheers, Gerry


    Many thanks. I am hoping to visit Tunisia this year to ascertain the exact location of the farm, as details from various research sources differ in relation to its proximity to El Aroussa and Djebel Rihane.

  4. mape2001

    mape2001 Junior Member


    I want to research my Grandfather who was a memeber of thr 56th Recce and died in Italy in 1943, i was wondering where best to start?

    He was Cpl Charles James Warland and was listed as MIA ?/10/1043, The Commonwealth war graves has him listed as died 5/10/1943 but that is the first time i have ever seen that date, even in the Recee journal showing the disbandment of the Regt my Granmother showed me once when she was alive had him listed as no confirmed date of death.

    Any pointers or help anyone can give would be gratefully received, unfortunately i can only do the research on the internet now as when i left the Army I emigrated to the USA 4 years ago and now live on the coast in Mississippi.


    Marc Swatton
  5. militarycross

    militarycross Very Senior Member

    welcome to the Forum, Marc. You will find the folks here most helpful. I am sure those who know how to search UK records will be back at you soon.
  6. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Marc, Don't know if this is helpful but in compiling Roles of Honour for Recce I have found most 56 Recce causulties for Oct occured around Sangro River. I may be wrong. Maybe someone else can clarify.


  7. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hi Peter,

    First open this sketch map:

    then go to reference 34 - 45 by clicking on this map - it is sometimes a slow loader:


    where you will locate Djebel Rahine to the east of El Aroussa.

    Extract from 51st RTR war Diaries:
    "Major Hatfield was then ordered by the Div Commander to advance to the ridge beyond the Farm and dominate the ground beyond it, in order that, if possible, he could meet up with the detachment of 56 Recce Regt. which was working down from the North."
    The diaries do not record if this happened


  8. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Moved 56th Recce Role of Honour to forum

  9. mape2001

    mape2001 Junior Member

    Thankyou for that bit of information Paul, I never knew where they were when he went missing.
    I once was allowed to read a letter from my Grandfathers officer (wish i could remember the name of him) that he sent her explaning what happened that was dated late Oct 1943.
    From what i remember he stated the Regt had just taken a village/town which he was present but when the Germans launched a couter attack they were forced to withdraw (see the british never did retreat) and when they had a role call he was the only one missing and no-one saw what happened to him ? the next day upon retaking the village/town they searched it for him but found no sign and since he was not amoung the dead (as both sides had no time to bury the dead) he assumed he was wounded and hoped treated and taken prisioner (which at the time of the letter he still believed).
    But alas no word was ever heard again of him and my mother had no knowledge of him as she was just one when he was gone.
    Unfortunately the letter never had place names as one would expect during the war and i have never been able to trace that letter since my Granmothers death.
    It is great to of found this site and some others with an interest in the 56th Recce Regt
    Your Servant
  10. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    My dad seems to have done some training At Clochester before going to Barri Camp in Scotland.

    "It took us 3 days to travel to Barri Camp from Colchester. We had staging areas where we stayed overnight. One was at Doncaster. I had an aunt (me Mum’s sister) that lived at Doncaster, so I went to see our Officer for permission to go and visit her. Permission was given…I was told when to be back at the staging area…and I went and surprised me aunt and had a good time visiting with her. Another staging area was at Hadrian’s Camp so named after Hadrian’s Wall." Dads own words



    Recce Mitch

    The Osprey book I have states that the Reconnaissance Training Centre was established at Winchester on 1st February 1941.
    Then with the expansion of the Corps other training centres were established at Lochmaben, Dumfriesshire (No1), and Scarborough, Yorkshire (No2), with a tactical training school at Annan close to No1 Training Centre.
    Eventually the home of the Corps was moved to Catterick in Yorkshire.
    This was in August 1943 when the two training centres were combined and relocated to Catterick in North Yorkshire.

  11. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Just looking in 78th Divisional History for 4th October 1943.
    56 RECCE were advancing along the coast road for 7 miles west from Termoli but were forced to withdraw under pressure.
    56 RECCE were in action against some German Mk IV tanks and there was more infantry about than had been expected.
    The capture of an unsuspecting motor-cyclist gave the answer. They were up against not only the parachute battalion they knew about but also an armoured division.

    Here's some places to get the Div History on abebooks.
    AbeBooks: Search Results - cyril ray and algiers to austria
  12. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Marc, Here is a list of casualties for October. I put Charles Warland at the top. He is the only one remembered at Cassino, 2 are buried at Bari and the rest at Sangro River.

    The Cassino Memorial commemorates over 4,000 Commonwealth servicemen who took part in the Italian campaign whose graves are not known.

    who died on Tuesday 5 October 1943 . Age 21
    Son of Frank and May Warland; husband of Louise Warland, of Andover, Hampshire.
    CASSINO MEMORIAL Italy Panel 12.

    who died on Friday 1 October 1943 . Age 33
    Husband of Johan Black, of Milton of Balgonie, Fife.

    who died on Friday 1 October 1943 . Age 24
    Son of Henry and Alice Crowder; husband of Rose Crowder, of Clifton, Bedfordshire.

    who died on Saturday 2 October 1943 . Age 21
    Son of Frederick Henry and Frances Fischer, of Key Street, Kent.

    who died on Tuesday 5 October 1943 . Age 24
    Son of Alexander James Grant and Lilian Florence Grant, of Castletown, Isle of Man.

    Corporal EDWARD GRAY
    who died on Tuesday 5 October 1943 . Age 26
    Son of Herbert and Ann Gray, of Oxford; husband of Doris Evelyn Gray, of Oxford.

    who died on Sunday 17 October 1943 . Age 29
    Husband of Ethel May Gretton, of Burton-on-Trent.

    who died on Thursday 14 October 1943 . Age 26
    Son of Anne Elizabeth Hartford, of Cleadon, Co. Durham.

    Who died age 36 on 05 October 1943
    Son of Harry and Emily Elizabeth Ives; husband of Kathleen Margaret Ives, of Armagh, Northern Ireland.

    who died on Saturday 16 October 1943 . Age 29
    Son of Reuben and Rosina Mary Lewis; husband of Doris Lewis, of Treorchy, Glamorgan.

    who died on Sunday 17 October 1943 . Age 20
    Son of Jack and Minnie Padgett, of Ossett, Yorkshire.

    Warrant Officer Class II ARTHUR ERNEST PHILLIPS
    who died on Tuesday 5 October 1943 . Age 29
    Husband of Eva I. H. Phillips, of Maidstone, Kent.

    who died on Tuesday 5 October 1943 . Age 20 .
    Son of Arthur and Ethel Robinson, of Hull.

    who died on Wednesday 6 October 1943 . Age 21 .
    Son of John H. and Ann Smithson, of Chapelhall, Lanarkshire.
    BARI WAR CEMETERY Italy VI. B. 17.

    who died on Monday 4 October 1943 . Age 33
    Son of Joseph Francis and Bertha Vanini; foster-son of Elisa Page, of Notting Hill Gate London.


    Lt. Col. K. Chavasse, our new C.O. joined us at Colchester, he was a regular soldier, and the Colonel's comments on joining were "I can never forget the feeling of instant loyalty of so many of the officers, who had never seen me before and must have wondered what this new broom would be like, I felt an almost instant acceptance". from 56 Recce Div History

    I have just got hold of "The Regimental History of the 56th Recce Regt" by Ex.Cpl.E.T. (John) Newton and the piece above is from it.


  13. mape2001

    mape2001 Junior Member

    Thankyou Owen i never knew that book existed i have just ordered a copy. Thankyou again.

    WoW where did you get a copy of the 56th History from?

    I have always wondered why he was the only one on the Cassino momument from the regt ?

    I must Thank all you guys as i never knew knew people still cared about our old and lost soldiers from WWII.

    Your Servant

  14. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    I got the book from Len Smart, it was published by the 56th Recce Comrades Association. As I find time I will transcribe and post it here. It is only 38 pages, so is only a short History.


  15. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member


    Many thanks for the links to the book by Cyril Ray. I have ordered just ordered a 1st Edition.


  16. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    While serving with HQ Squadron 56th Recce Regiment 78th Div 1st Army on 29th November 1942 I was blown up. At the time we were being engaged by enemy patrols. We were making a recce in the Medjez el Bab sector, Tunisia. I was serving as a Driver/Mech and an Anti Tank Gunner and was sitting in the rear of the vehicle which is a Portee specially made for transporting a 2lb Anti Tank Gun and its crew.

    Our CO decided to give the new blokes some experience at driving Portees. We were all on the same gun but instead of me driving I was in the back with the rest of the gun crew. If I were driving I wouldn’t be here as the driver died of his wounds when I got wounded. You’re in a confined bloody space in those vehicles; they were only made for a certain crew. It was made to tow an Anti Tank Gun a Portee was. There was only so much seating. I wasn’t the only driver changed to give the new guys night driving experience. There were 6 of us on the vehicle.

    There were two Portee’s. One in front of us. How did we cop it and yet the one in front didn’t. That was another thing that was a talking point for a bloody long time. I can never understand how we copped it when there was another Portee in front of us doing the same as we were. This was a night-time job and the CO wanted the new blokes to get experience. In night-time convoy driving you were watching a light on the diff in front. The differential was painted white and the light was fixed on it. And that was how you used to follow the vehicle in front.

    The gun plates were between me and the driver…gun plates ½ inch thick…that’s what saved me. They were too cumbersome to use so we used to sling them in the back of the truck behind the driver.

    I remember it was night time and we had received orders to put the guns in position. We were in convoy moving down a track when we received a sudden blast killing 2 of our crew instantly, another died later.

    When I jumped off Portee I was conscious of pain across neck and of a jarring feeling in my spine. I had sore lungs from the blast, I could hardly speak when I got picked up too, stuttering all over the place. Shells were exploding all around the bloody place so I had to lie behind a few rocks trying to avoid the exploding ammunition for an hour or more. I suffered from ringing noises in my ears for about 6 weeks after the explosion. After that I would have ringing noises in my head on and off for some years after the war.

    There’s nothing worse than being blown up. When the American’s picked us up they took us into a farm stable and this bloke had a hurricane lamp and by the light I could see the driver’s burns. When they took his battledress off he had one big blister on his back…poor bugger and his face was burnt off…you could see his teeth...all you could see was his jaw… I think his name was Abraham…he suffered. He was lying along side of me…lying on this straw like I was. It was a terrible sight when they cut his tunic off… big blister on his back… poor bugger died.

    I was admitted to a Casualty Station in an occupied school suffering severe blast affect on the neck and shoulders. I lay on a stretcher attended to mostly by NCO’s of the Medical Corps. At no time did I have an x-ray, very seldom did we see officers in attendance unless seriously wounded, they did their duty to the best of their ability under extremely difficult conditions. I certainly have great admiration for the Royal Medical Corps. Eventually I returned to my unit who were in battle positions 30 kilometres south west of Tunis. In the weeks to follow we suffered an estimated 65% casualties in our Recce unit, and we were long overdue for relief. Most of us being exhausted when relief did eventually arrive and for the second time I was admitted to hospital where I was diagnosed as suffering from anxiety state then was given two weeks at a rest camp. Afterwards I returned to my unit for the invasion of Sicily then onto Italy. A few weeks after arrival I was admitted to the 99th General Hospital under the command of the Royal Marines with pneumonia. When I was considered fit enough to travel I had a 2 week stay in Catania, Sicily. Then went to Algiers for several weeks, then returned to England

    I originally posted this on the BBC Peoples War web site.


    Attached Files:

  17. ropey

    ropey Member

    As Owen says, 56th Recce (less two squadrons), as part of 78th (Battleaxe) Div, was sent across the Biferno River to support Commandos who had taken Termoli after an amphibious landing on 3rd October 1943. They and the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers expanded the bridgehead, but were unexpectedly counter-attacked by the 16th Panzer Div. It would seem that Warland was killed in this counter-attack. (I'm also curious to know why he ended up in the Cassino cemetery.)
  18. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    From Only the Enemy in Front

    After a quiet night B Squadron pushed patrols along the coast road and towards San Giacomo. It was believed that the only Germans in the area were Fallschirmjager with artillery support and limited armour. The main body of B Squadron had a brief battle at a farm just off the coast road and cleared the farm of Germans, taking one prisoner. Thirty minutes later 11 Troop took another prisoner, a German motorcyclist who was captured as he rode along the road from Petacciato. He turned out to be from 16th Panzer Division which Eighth Army Intelligence had believed to be on the west coast. The prisoner revealed that his division had been travelling towards Termoli for the past two nights. His information put a different complexion on affairs at Termoli where the light force had no armour and would have to wait until tank-supporting bridges had been laid across the Biferno. Mark IV tanks had also been spotted by B Squadron patrols on the coast road.

    Before noon the Germans had launched a counter-attack against Termoli at which stage Colonel Chavasse was given command of a force consisting of 3 Commando, an SRS troop, B Squadron and an anti-tank battery with orders to take up position on the high ground overlooking the Simarca river from the sea to the church west of the brickworks, giving right flank and rear protection to 8th Argylls. The Commando was already in position and B Squadron's men, including most of the drivers, were deployed from the main road to the right of the line held by the Argylls. The SRS troop arrived later in the day and was placed between 3 Commando and the sea. At first light next morning an OP was placed in the church west of the brickworks and troops were pulled back from forward slopes.

    Following confused mortar and machine-gun fire, RHQ moved forward to the olive grove occupied by B Squadron's vehicles and 3 Commando; the grove dominated the surrounding countryside, German attacks werebeing made on the perimeter and especially on the Argylls who were forced to pull back. Sappers had been struggling to make a ford across the river in the absence of bridging equipment and six CLY Shermans managed to cross before the ford became so churned up as to be unusable.

    The tanks were sent to help the Argylls: four were lost before the survivors and the infantry were forced to fall back to the brickworks by 11.00am. Attacking panzers managed to turn the Argylls' right flank, and their CO with two men from 56 Recce manned an anti-tank gun in the ensuing battle: recce men had already joined anti-tank guncrews elsewhere and some had died as the guns fell to stalking panzers. Among the dead was Trooper Ives who had singlehandedly manned an anti-tank gun and taken on several tanks before his gun received a direct hit. The brickworks was also under artillery bombardment with shells falling on it from both sides; British artillery was firing from across the river.

    During the afternoon the enemy advance on Termoli continued. Anti-tank gun positions became untenable and the pressure on 3 Commando and the SRS increased as three tanks supported by infantry approached. B Squadron and RHQ were being shelled and Kendal Chavasse ordered the evacuation of all vehicles except the wireless LRCs. On his right flank, the SRS were being overrun by the enemy; a farm south of the main road, overlooking B Squadron's line on the left flank, was also occupied by Germans. The wireless link with B Squadron had been lost when their rear-Iink vehicle was destroyed and they were then out of touch with their RHQ. The Argylls were ordered to fall back from the brickworks where they had suffered over 160 casualties, including Major Anderson, VC who had been killed; their CO also advised Marcus Hartland-Mahon to withdraw B Squadron. As the Germans attempted to encircle his RHQ, Kendal Chavasse advised his men that they now had "an all round shoot." But the line was now held only by 3 Commando:

    It was getting dark and the voices of enemy infantry could be heard through the shelling. The order to withdraw came to me from Division. I remember walking through the olive grove, with bullets whistling, to contact the C.O. of the Commando to tell him to withdraw. Then came the problem of getting our vehicles out. I got on to Division and asked for as much noise as possible so that the enemy would not hear the engines starting up. I remember the gunner saying he had never been
    asked for "noise" before! Anyway, they gave it, and plenty of it too, and we slipped away unnoticed to behind the firmer line that had been established behind us.4

    That firmer line had been established by the Lancashire Fusiliers and the withdrawal was complete by 2.45 on the morning of 6 October by which time the Irish Brigade was landing at Termoli, later that morning an Irish Brigade attack, supported by Canadian armour, pushed the Germans out ofTermoli. Soon afterwards the brigade also clearing the way for a further advance.Chavasse's Light Horse had performed magnificently at Termoli, playing a significant part in denying the town to the Germans who could then have inflicted even heavier casualties on troops advancing across the Biferno. For his actions at Termoli, Kendal Chavasse was awarded a Bar to the DSO. This was the only Bar to the DSO awarded to the Reconnaissance Corps. The regiment continued to play its part in Eighth Army's slow advance, constantly patrolling and probing as river crossing followed river crossing. Casualties were suffered but much valuable information was brought back and squadrons also took part in fighting at Montecilfore and the capture of Montenero. At one stage eight officers from 6th Lancers (Watson's Horse), 8th Indian Division's reconnaissance regiment, were attached to 56 Recce for instruction and experience. After the San Salvo battle at the beginning of November the regiment again led the way with C Squadron recce'ing as far as Vasto where they fought German troops. At the end of the month 78th Division was fighting its way over the Sangro and A and B Squadrons' carriers were allocated to the Commander, RASC of the division to carry supplies over the river. On 30th November C Squadron crossed the Sangro with 4th Armoured Brigade.

    In looking at War Cemeteries there are a lot of Known Unto God headstones so it would seem to be feasible that a person is buried in the place where they fell and also rememembered as Having No Known Grave on a memorial as with Corporal CHARLES JAMES WARLAND on the Cassino Memorial.

  19. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Here's some scans of my fathers medals also his For Loyal Service Badge.

    1939-45 Star
    Africa Star with 1st Army Clasp
    Italy Star
    War Medal 1939-45
    Defence Medal
    Dunkirk Medal
    King Albert F.N.V.R.A. - K.V.V.K.A..Veterans'Medal
    Cross of Europe Medal
    King Albert FRVRA Veterans 25th Anniversary Medal 1948-1973

    The King's Loyal Service Badge

    Awards 1.jpg Awards 2.jpg Dads Medals 1.jpg Dads Medals 2.jpg For Loyal Service.jpg

  20. martinb

    martinb Member


    Ronald Arthur Tee was born in Portsmouth, England on the 1st December 1919 . When he was a boy, the family left Portsmouth and moved to Pinner, a small town in the Greater London area.
    At the age of twenty, he was drafted into the Army. On February 15th, 1940, he was enlisted in Guildford where he served with The West Surrey Regiment. After completing his infantry training in West Surrey, he was transfered to Newcastle. On January 22nd, 1941 he volunteered for the Reconnaissance Corps (which became part of the Royal Armoured Corps later on) and became a member of 56 Reece Battalion (later Regiment). He would stay with his unit until the end of the war. Ron Tee was part of 16 Troop C Squadron under command of Major Jack Forshaw.
    In October 1942, he was posted to North Africa , Algiers. His first encounter with the enemy is in November 1942 near Djebel Abiod in the Tunisian campaign. He served in Tunisia for six months and subsequently took part in the invasion of Sicily.
    After Sicily he was embarked to the eastern coast of Italy in support of the Canadians near the river Sangro. The advance in Italy was slow and on numerous occasions, Sgt Tee and his comrades assume the role of the infantryman to fight and hold positions during the advance along the east coast of Italy. This takes 56Recce from Foggia and Lucera to Termoli .
    From here they were sent further inland, reaching the small mountain village of Vastogirardi on December 31st, 1943, where they were bogged down by a fierce snow storm. At the end of three weeks they were again relieved by American and Canadian troops and advance further inland. In February 1944, Ron Tee was involved in the battle for Monte Cassino where he is in action three times; twice to defend the front line while other units launch an attack, the third time, supporting the 78th Division, he takes part in a frontal attack by the British and the Polish divisions. This time they bypass the monastery and cross the Rapido River. This was a successful but costly move, as far as casualties were concerned When the Poles entered the monastery, the Germans had gone, leaving behind only casualties. The Germans had withdrawn across Highway 6 to Rome. Monte Cassino was ultimately captured.
    In a village south of Rome, Ron Tee was injured in a minor accident . As a result he is forced to stay in hospital for several weeks to recuperate.
    In the fall of 1944, conditions in the mountains deteriorate, slowing them down in the thick mud. In December he was granted a month's leave and returned home to England,where he remained to celebrate Christmas and New Year before rejoining his unit on the frontline
    In early May, after advancing further into northern Italy, into the Italian Alps, When they reach Austria, the war is over.
    On May 8th, 1945, Ronald Arthur Tee was awarded his Italy Star
    On September 11th, 1946, he was discharged from the British Army. In 1953, he emigrated to Canada with his wife and children where he began a new life..............................

    Found this short biography of Sgt Tee on the internet and thought you may like it posting here.

    World War 2 Awards.com - TEE, Ronald A.

    Just heard Yahoo will be shutting down Geocites this summer.
    This will mean we will lose Ron Tees excellent site.
    A British Soldier Remembers - 56th Reconnaissance Regiment

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