Reconnaissance Corps

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The Reconnaissance Corps
Recce Corps.jpg
Cap badge of the Reconnaissance Corps, 1941
Active 1941–1946
Country  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Role Reconnaissance
Nickname(s) The Reccies
The Recce Corps
Motto(s) "Only The Enemy In Front"

The Reconnaissance Corps, or simply Recce Corps, was a corps of the British Army, formed during the Second World War 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, Gloucestershire Regiment) was the divisional reconnaissance battalion of the 43rd (Wessex) 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]

The Corps became part of the Royal Armoured Corps (RAC) 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 Reconnaissance Corps was disbanded in August 1946. Reconnaissance duties reverted to regular armoured units of the RAC.

Organisation and equipment[edit]

A Universal Carrier of the 52nd Reconnaissance Regiment of the 52nd (Lowland) Infantry Division, Scotland, 10 November 1942.

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 and 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 Bren Gun Carriers and light reconnaissance cars, such as the Humber Light Reconnaissance Car. The assault troops were composed of 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 light reconnaissance cars in scout troops.[3]

Units[edit]

Unit sign used to identify all reconnaissance vehicles.

The following units served in the Recce Corps:

Men of the 1st Reconnaissance Regiment, part of the 1st Infantry Division, pose with a captured German swastika flag in Littoria, Italy, 25 May 1944. They are, from left to right: Corporal H. Seddon, Trooper R. Carslake and Trooper J. Callaghan.
Men of the 52nd Reconnaissance Regiment of the 52nd (Lowland) Infantry Division wading through a stream during training in Scotland, 5 September 1942.
Troopers of the 78th Infantry Division's 56th Reconnaissance Regiment use a radio at an observation post overlooking the river Sangro, Italy, 7-8 November 1943.

Independent reconnaissance squadrons (this list is probably incomplete)

The tactical recognition flash of the 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards is identical to the badge of the Reconnaissance Corps, except for the absence of the ribbon bearing the Corps' name

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Mills, T.F. Land Forces of Britain, the Empire and Commonwealth 5th Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment page. Retrieved 26 November 2007. Archived November 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "Reconnaissance Corps (UK)". web.archive.org. 2013. Archived from the original on December 26, 2005. 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. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  5. ^ Joslen p. 39.
  6. ^ Doherty, British Reconnaissance Corps, pp. 51–4.
  7. ^ "3rd (RNF) Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "4th Bn, Royal Northumberland Fusiliers: war services". web.archive.org. 2013. Archived from the original on December 27, 2005. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  9. ^ "4th Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  10. ^ "5th Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Reconnaissance Regiments RAC 1939-1945". web.archive.org. 2013. Archived from the original on April 15, 2007. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  12. ^ Joslen, p. 121.
  13. ^ "15th (Scottish) Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  14. ^ Doherty, British Reconnaissance Corps, pp. 9, 51.
  15. ^ a b c d "38th (Welsh) Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  16. ^ "43rd (Wessex) Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  17. ^ a b "161st (Green Howards) Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  18. ^ "5th Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment". web.archive.org. 2013. Archived from the original on January 17, 2006. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  19. ^ a b Ellis Vol I, p. 275.
  20. ^ "44th Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  21. ^ Bellis 1994, p. 33
  22. ^ "45th Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  23. ^ "46th Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  24. ^ a b c d "49th (WR) Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  25. ^ Joslen, p. 81.
  26. ^ "50th Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  27. ^ "51st (H) Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  28. ^ "52nd (Lowland) Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  29. ^ "53rd (Welsh) Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  30. ^ a b c d e "54th Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  31. ^ "56th Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  32. ^ "59th Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  33. ^ Ellis Vol I, pp. 453 & 530.
  34. ^ "61st Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  35. ^ "The Reconnaissance Training Centre". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  36. ^ Joslen, p. 103.
  37. ^ a b c d "80th Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  38. ^ "81st (WA) Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  39. ^ "82nd (WA) Reconnaissance Regiment". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  40. ^ Joslen, p. 90.
  41. ^ Joslen, p. 73.
  42. ^ "2nd Derbyshire Yeomanry". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  43. ^ "The Derbyshire Yeomanry (UK)". web.archive.org. 2013. Archived from the original on December 19, 2007. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  44. ^ a b "Reconnaissance Corps: Service of Airborne Units". web.archive.org. 2013. Archived from the original on May 19, 2006. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  45. ^ Ellis Vol I, p. 527.
  46. ^ "The G.H.Q. Liaison Regiment "Phantom"". recce.adsl24.co.uk. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  47. ^ Ellis Vol I, p. 523.
  48. ^ Ryan pp. 16 & 124.
  49. ^ Ellis Vol II, pp. 35, 46.
  50. ^ Joslen p. 77.
  51. ^ Joslen, p. 333.

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