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The Reconnaissance Corps

After the fall of France in 1940 the British undertook a serious review of the performance of its various arms. During the fighting it was found that insufficient reconnaissance troops were available for all the needs of all the divisions in the field. The Cavalry Corps (armoured cars) preformed the role for the Armoured Divisions, but the Infantry Divisions need there own recce troops.

A new Infantry Reconnaissance Corps was created, later just simply called the Reconnaissance Corps, in January 1941. These first 12 units were organised along the lines of the infantry into battalions to operate with Army Corps. The battalion were converted from infantry or anti-tank companies. These were to serve with the field armies. The second line divisions were given an independent reconnaissance company for each brigade, which were later formed into larger units to be added to the Reconnaissance Corps establishment.

As the Corps matured the battalions began to adopt many on the practices and traditions of the Cavalry Corps. This was made official in June 1942 when the battalions became regiments with squadrons (former companies) and troops (former platoons). 

The Role of the Reconnaissance Corps

The troops of the Reconniassance Corps’ role was to gather tactical information for the infantry divisions. To achieve this the corps’ regiments needed a high degree of mobility, good communication equipment and operators, and the men of the corps had to be intelligent, enterprising, brave, tough and skilled in the many aspects of reconnaissance warfare. To ensure this junior officers had more responsibility than their infantry counterparts and the corps’ regiments had a higher proportion of NCOs.

During operations the squadrons operated in one of three conditions, codes Green, Amber and Red. When operating under code Green, when the enemy presence was low, the Recce Squadron would move quickly with out searching the surrounding countryside.  

Humber III
When in code Amber, where there was a possibility of encountering enemy troops, they would reduce their speed and search the surrounding terrain for enemy. They would detour off their main route of advance to check side roads and tracks. Code Red was used when the presence of enemy was certain. Speed was reduced and the whole unit was prepared for action at all times.
Humber LRC Equipment

Initially the vehicles of the Reconnaissance Corps were improvised due to short supply. For training they used Beaverette, a lightly armoured 2x4 car, and the 30cwt Bedford lorry that had been lightly armoured. Later they were issued the Humber MkI Light Reconnaissance Car (LRC), then the MkI, and then their first 4x4 LRC the Humber MkIII in 1942. The Universal Carrier was also introduced and became an important part of the Recce Squadrons providing a light all terrain vehicle for the units. By 1944 the Recce Squadrons were armed with LRCs, Armoured Car (mostly Humber IV), and Universal Carriers.

Each Recce Squadron had a variety of support units that included infantry in trucks or half-tracks, mortars and 6pdr anti-tank guns. They could also rely on support from the division and other units attached to it.

In Flames Of War

You can field a Recce Squadron from Overlord, Market Garden and Fortress Italy


Last Updated On Friday, September 12, 2014 by Wayne at Battlefront