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The Reconnaissance Corps
Active 1941-1946
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg Army
Role Reconnaissance
Nickname(s) The Reccies
Motto(s) "Only The Enemy In Front"

The Reconnaissance Corps, or simply Recce Corps, was a Second World War corps of the British Army whose units provided the mobile spearhead of infantry divisions. It was formed from Infantry Brigade Reconnaissance Groups on 14 January 1941.

All the Brigade reconnaissance groups of each infantry Corps were formed into reconnaissance battalions, each usually bearing the number of its relevant Division. For example, the 43rd Battalion, Reconnaissance Corps (based on the 5th Battalion, the Gloucestershire Regiment) was the divisional reconnaissance battalion of the 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division.[1]

Initially, coming from infantry units, reconnaissance units used the infantry designations of battalions, companies and platoons. However, from 6 June 1942, the Corps changed to the cavalry descriptions of regiments, squadrons and troops.[2]

It became part of the Royal Armoured Corps in 1944, still maintaining its own cap badge with two lightning strikes supporting an upright spear. With the end of the war, this number of reconnaissance units was not needed and the Corps was disbanded in August 1946. Reconnaissance duties reverted to Regular armoured units of the Royal Armoured Corps.

Organisation and equipment[]

File:Recce unit sign 41.png

Unit sign used to identify all reconnaissance vehicles

The Reconnaissance Corps was charged with gathering vital tactical information in battle for infantry divisions, probing ahead and screening the flanks of main advances. The Training Centre was established at Winchester in February 1941, until the home of the Corps moved to Catterick in Yorkshire. Although the Corps was raised from various regular army units, it did not follow that all men would be retained, as potential reconnoiterers were required to take an IQ test and other tests before being accepted. Many failed and were sent to normal infantry battalions, but those who succeeded enjoyed the kudos of belonging to an elite unit and were determined to prove their own worth. Before beginning training with his unit, each man undertook a five week course with technical units, which determined his role as a driver, wireless operator or mechanic. Most recce men became efficient in two of these roles e.g. Driver/Operator. During training with a reconnaissance unit, emphasis was placed on both aggressiveness and initiative, as these were the characteristics expected of the men selected for such units, and, as a result, a proud offensive spirit was created, similar to other newly founded units such as The Parachute Regiment. Reconnaissance Regiments were organised into a headquarters squadron (including anti-tank, signals and mortar troops) and three reconnaissance (or "recce") squadrons. Each recce squadron comprised three scout troops and an assault troop. Scout troops were equipped with Light Reconnaissance Cars (LRCs) such as the Humber Light Reconnaissance Car and with Bren Gun Carriers. The assault troop comprised lorried infantry and were called up when enemy resistance needed to be overcome. Later in the war more efficient and well-armed armoured cars such as the Humber Armoured Car, Daimler Armoured Car, Staghound and Greyhound augmented the LRCs in scout troops.[3]

Units[]

The following units served in Recce Corps:

Independent Reconnaissance Squadrons (this list is probably incomplete)

  • 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron[43][47][48]
  • 15th Independent Reconnaissance Squadron transferred in February 1943 to the 15th (Scottish) Reconnaissance Regiment.[29]
  • 24th (Guards) Independent Reconnaissance Squadron transferred to the 49th (West Riding) Reconnaissance Regiment.[23]
  • 29th Independent Reconnaissance Squadron transferred in September 1942 from the 78th Division to the 49th (West Riding) Reconnaissance Regiment.[23]
  • 38th Independent Reconnaissance Squadron transferred to the 38th (Welsh) Reconnaissance Regiment in October 1943[15]
  • 45th Independent Reconnaissance Squadron formed November 1941 from the 54th Reconnaissance Regiment; transferred in February 1943 to the 15th (Scottish) Reconnaissance Regiment.[29]
  • 47th Independent Reconnaissance Squadron transferred to the 38th (Welsh) Reconnaissance Regiment in October 1943[15]
  • 48th Independent Reconnaissance Squadron formed January 1942 in the 48th (South Midland) Division after the original 48th Bn transferred to the 43rd (Wessex) Division; transferred to the 80th (Holding and Training) Reconnaissance Regiment in January 1943[36][49]
  • 54th Independent Reconnaissance Squadron formed November 1941 from the 54th Reconnaissance Regiment; transferred in February 1943 to the 15th (Scottish) Reconnaissance Regiment.[29]
  • 55th Independent Reconnaissance Squadron transferred to the 38th (Welsh) Reconnaissance Regiment in October 1943[15]
  • 76th Independent Reconnaissance Squadron formed November 1941 from the 54th Reconnaissance Regiment; transferred to the 80th (Holding and Training) Reconnaissance Regiment in January 1943.[29][36]
  • 77th Independent Reconnaissance Squadron transferred to the 80th (Holding and Training) Reconnaissance Regiment in January 1943[36]
  • 148th Independent Reconnaissance Squadron formed January 1941 in the 148th Independent Brigade Group; transferred in September 1942 to the 49th (West Riding) Reconnaissance Regiment.[23][50]

Notes[]

  1. Mills, T.F. Land Forces of Britain, the Empire and Commonwealth[dead link] 5th Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment page. Retrieved 26 November 2007.
  2. "Reconnaissance Corps (UK)". web.archive.org. 2013. http://web.archive.org/web/20051226121606/http://regiments.org/regiments/uk/cav/recce.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  3. A British Soldier Remembers The Logistics of a Recce Regiment (organisation and vehicles pages).
  4. "1st Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/1st.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  5. Joslen p. 39.
  6. "2nd Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/2nd.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  7. "3rd (RNF) Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/3rd.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "4th Bn, Royal Northumberland Fusiliers: war services". web.archive.org. 2013. http://web.archive.org/web/20051227003035/http://regiments.org/deploy/uk/vol-inf/nd-4w.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  9. "4th Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/4th.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  10. "5th Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/5th.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 11.8 11.9 "Reconnaissance Regiments RAC 1939-1945". web.archive.org. 2013. http://web.archive.org/web/20050905114000/http://houterman.htmlplanet.com/Recce.html. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  12. Joslen, p. 121.
  13. "15th (Scottish) Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/15th.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  14. "18th Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/18th.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 "38th (Welsh) Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/38th.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  16. "43rd (Wessex) Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/43rd.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 "161st (Green Howards) Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/161st.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  18. "5th Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment". web.archive.org. 2013. http://web.archive.org/web/20060117223651/http://www.regiments.org/regiments/uk/volmil-england/vinf-so/gc-5.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 Ellis Vol I, p. 275.
  20. "44th Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/44th.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  21. "45th Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/45th.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  22. "46th Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/46th.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 "49th (WR) Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/49th.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  24. Joslen, p. 81.
  25. "50th Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/50th.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  26. "51st (H) Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/51st.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  27. "52nd (Lowland) Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/52nd.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  28. "53rd (Welsh) Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/53rd.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 29.3 29.4 "54th Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/54th.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  30. "56th Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/56th.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  31. "59th Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/59th.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  32. Ellis Vol I, pp. 453 & 530.
  33. "61st Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/61st.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  34. "The Reconnaissance Training Centre". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/trng.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  35. Joslen, p. 103.
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 36.3 "80th Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/80th.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  37. "81st (WA) Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/81st.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  38. "82nd (WA) Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/82nd.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  39. Joslen, p. 90.
  40. Joslen, p. 73.
  41. "2nd Derbyshire Yeomanry". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/2dy.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  42. "The Derbyshire Yeomanry (UK)". web.archive.org. 2013. http://web.archive.org/web/20060109234444/http://www.regiments.org/regiments/uk/volmil-england/vcav/derby.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  43. 43.0 43.1 "Reconnaissance Corps: Service of Airborne Units". web.archive.org. 2013. http://web.archive.org/web/20060519123224/http://www.regiments.org/deploy/uk/wf-cav/recce-ab.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  44. Ellis Vol I, p. 527.
  45. "The G.H.Q. Liason Regiment "Phantom"". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. http://www.recce.adsl24.co.uk/regts/phantom.htm. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  46. Ellis Vol I, p. 523.
  47. Ryan pp. 16 & 124.
  48. Ellis Vol II, pp. 35, 46.
  49. Joslen p. 77.
  50. Joslen, p. 333.

References[]

  • Doherty, Richard (1994). Only The Enemy in Front ... Every Other Beggar Behind. London: Tom Donovan. ISBN 1-87108518-7. 
  • Doherty, Richard & Chapman, Rob (2007). The British Reconnaissance Corps in World War II. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84603-122-2. 
  • Ellis, L.F. (1962). The Battle of Normandy. History of the Second World War. Victory in the West, Vol.I. London: HM Stationery Office. ISBN 1-845740-58-0. 
  • Ellis, L.F. (1968). The Defeat of Germany. History of the Second World War. Victory in the West, Vol.II. London: HM Stationery Office. ISBN 1-845740-59-9. 
  • Howard, Roy (2004). Beaten Paths are Safest: From D-Day to the Ardennes. Memories of the 61st Reconnaissance Regiment. Studley: Brewin Books. ISBN 1-85858-256-3. 
  • Joslen, Lt-Col H.F. (2003) [1st pub. HMSO:1960]. Orders of Battle: Second World War, 1939–1945. Uckfield: Naval and Military Press. ISBN 978-1-84342-474-1. 
  • Parlour, Andy; Parlour, Sue (2004). Phantom at War. Bristol: Cerberus Publishing Ltd.. ISBN 1-84145-118-5. 
  • Ryan, Cornelius (1974). A Bridge Too Far. London: Hamish Hamilton. ISBN 0-340-19941-5. 
  • Taylor, Jeremy L. (1947). This Band of Brothers: a history of the Reconnaissance Corps of the British Army. Bristol: White Swan Press. 
  • Tee, Ronald Arthur (2001). A British soldier remembers. Belleville, Ontario: Epic Press. 

External links[]

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