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56th Reconnaissance Corps

56 Recce Reconnaissance Corps Recce Thomas Heald Mitchell

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#1 Recce_Mitch

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 12:42 AM

Starting a thread on 56 Recce. I am researching it because my father was in 56 Recce from 9.2.1941 til 13.6.1944 when he was invalided out of the army due to war injuries. His name was Thomas Heald Mitchell No. 1873128.

Quotes from my father

"You had to be smart to join the Recce. As soon as I entered the interview room they fired a maths question at me to which I immediately replied with the correct answer."

"In the campaigns of North Africa, Sicily and Italy, the soldiers were always on the move (Reconnaissance Unit) and did not sleep in a bed or under shelter for months. The men of 56 Recce were just as well disciplined and as well turned out as any Guardsman, I should know, I served with both"

This poem traces the activity of the 56th Recce Regt.
Poem by Ex.Cpl.E.T. (John) Newton.

CHAVASSE'S LIGHT HORSE

In the year of 1940 the War Office said you must form
A brand new Regiment so the Recce was born
The "Black Cat" Division was therefore told
"Send men to the Recce fold
Loaded with Rifle and Kit we went to
Cranbrook, High Halden, Bethersden in Kent
We gathered together Cap badges by the score
Later reduced to one - The Recce Corps
Training with Mortars, Radio cars and carriers
we learnt to scout and run like harriers, by
the end of the year we were somewhat skilled
In our job it was to observe not get killed.

Our move in August 1942 was sudden
To a camp in Scotland called Buddon
There we were told the facts
We were to join the Division “Battleaxe”
At that time little did we know
How soon we were to meet the foe
The First Army we were to be
Our job was the 78 Div. Recce


In October 1942 we sailed down the Clyde
Algiers was to be the end of that ride
Later when North Africa came into view
Jack Forshaw set off with his motley crew
For a Recce along those roads and hollows
Seeking the Jerries to “Feel their collars”
Five days later we came to Algiers Docks
Watched by the Arabs in what looked like frocks
Later "B" & HQ moved to the fray
Which was then around Medjez way

Doc Du Bed valley harboured “A” Sqdn.
Always remembered, never forgotten
Names like Mateur, El Arousa and Medjez remain
Longstop, Kasserine, Tally Ho Corner and Goubellat Plain
May 1943 brought peace and we went to the
coast to enjoy the sea
Sousse will be remembered for its heat
Our stay alas too short to enjoy the treat.

Monty then said, “To Sicily you go”
Wonder what he would have done if we had said “NO”
LST's took us to the beaches and we started
to enjoy grapes and peaches
Unlike Africa this fight was a short haul
But names like Centuripe, Bronte, we recall.

Again fate beckoned and we
Commenced a further journey to Italy
Taranto, Bari, Foggia went under the wheels,
Later we moved up and down “them there hills”
Termoli is a name the Regiment well knows
Its here the Division stuck in its toes
"C" Sqdn. crossed the Sangro and had a rough ride
Cassino then cast its horrible spell
To all concerned it was just sheer Hell
The weather improved and the Rapido we crossed
No longer by the Monastery were we bossed.
After a month we came to Trasimeno
And at Cortina we finished and now for a “beano”

Egypt with sun, sand, wind and wogs
Gave us a chance to use our best togs
Also the Sphinx we still recall these things
Groppis, Brown Trams, Pay books on strings
Italy called again and so we went
Along familiar roads where we’d spent
Our time chasing the Tedeschi
Until we came to a town called Assisi,
Florence beckoned but we went past and
those hills we walked at last.

The rains came down and made quagmires
Wish we could have had some fires
Snow followed and those patient mules
Came up to provide us with our meals
Then we moved to the banks of the Senio
Soon we were across and through Lugo
Then on to Portomaggiore and the River Po.

The end of hostilities was then very near
And for us we moved to Austria
The journey we started in 1942
Was now almost through
And instead of surviving in Bivvies
We were soon to be in Civvies.


So let us not forget those men
Whom we would never see again
Troopers, NCO's and Officers too
Who are now memories to me and you
So may I ask you all to stand
And with your glasses in your hand
Toast past and present members of this Happy Band
Gentlemen the “56th Recce Regiment”.

Attached Files


Edited by Recce_Mitch, 13 July 2013 - 06:17 PM.

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#2 Verrieres

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 01:00 AM

Hi,
Heres a Start;-
The Organization of a Reconnaissance Regiment



When the Reconnaissance Corps was first established in 1941 it was organized, (like the infantry), into battalions, companies, platoons and sections. According to a directive issued by the War Office at the time, the normal staffing for a reconnaissance battalion was to be 40 officers and 733 other ranks divided into the following components:

- 1 Headquarters Company composed of:
1 Admin Platoon
1 Anti-Aircraft Platoon
1 Signals Platoon
1 Anti-Tank Platoon
1 Mortar Platoon

- 3 Companies, each consisting of:
3 Scout Platoons, each composed of:
1 Armoured Reconnaissance Car Section (5 LRC's each)
2 Carrier Sections (3 Carriers each)
1 Infantry or Assault Platoon of 4 Sections.

[/list][/LIST]After June 1942, in recognition of the Corps' unique role as the fast moving "eyes and ears" of the army, (a job once done by mounted horsemen), a new ethos was adopted and recce units were henceforth referred to by cavalry designations: Battalion became Regiment; Company became Squadron; and Platoon became Troop.

The 56th Reconnaissance Regiment, which dubbed itself "Chavasse's Light Horse", was structured, like all Recce Corps regiments, along the following lines:

Posted Image
For more information like this please follow the link to an excellent Web site dedicated to 56th Recce
Regards
Verrieres
A British Soldier Remembers - Logistics of 56th Recce Regiment.
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#3 Verrieres

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 01:08 AM

Hi,
Just dug out a Military Cross Citation Details For Lt J K Edwards 56 Recce;
"At Consandolo on the 19th April 1945, Lt John Edwardswas commanding a Scout Troop of 56 Recce Regt R.A.C. At first light he wasordered to seize and hold a road junction Northwest of the Town. On approachingto within 300 yards of the Road Junction the enemy opened up at close range onthe leading armoured car from the flank with spandaus and small arms fire. LtEdwards immediately went forward on foot under fire and personally directed hisarmoured cars into fire positions. Within half an hour casualties had beeninflicted on the enemy and a number of prisoners had been taken. By this timeLt Edwards had discovered that the enemy was holding the Road Junction area inat least 2 Company strength. It was reported to him that approximately 30 enemywere covering the Road Junction from the left flank. Lt Edwards appreciatingthat the enemy were dug in on the reverse slope of a bank, decided to maneuverhis armoured cars around their left flank and engage them from the rear. Thismove was carried out with great skill and determination under fire, resulting infurther casualties on the enemy and the capture of 30 prisoners. During theremainder of the morning, his own armoured car went out on a number ofindividual patrols to clear up isolated pockets of resistance. By the afternoonthe enemy had been driven back to a line about 400 yards beyond the RoadJunction, where he had re-inforced his positions with Infantry and S.P. Guns. Lt. Edwards then ordered his armoured cars into fire positions covering thisRoad Junction. In the course of the afternoon he went out on 8 dismounted Reccepatrols to enemy occupied positions. These patrols brought back valuableinformation regarding enemy dispositions and also accounted for a further 15Prisoners and 2 enemy killed. During the days operations Lt Edwards Troopinflicted many casualties on the enemy and accounted for 60 Prisoners inaddition to a great deal of information. In this action Lt Edwards showed greatdash, determination and leadership. He has been a fine example and inspirationto his troop under fire, and his devotion to duty has been of the highestorder.
Hope this fits into your thread,I am assuming it is all things Recce related?
Regards
Verrieres
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#4 Recce_Mitch

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 01:20 AM

Yes I don't have that information
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#5 Smudger Jnr

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 12:41 PM

Verrieres,

A good post, thanks.

Tom
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Reconnaissance Corps - Only the enemy in front.

#6 Gerry Chester

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 01:27 PM

Authors: Ronald A.Tee & Ken C. Dowsett.
Publisher: Epic Press, Belleville, Ontario, Canada. Copyright: 2001, 199 pp.
Nicely illustrated, these are the reminiscences of Sgt Ron Tee, who served with the 56th Reconnaisance Regiment, 78th (Battleaxe) Division, during WW II. Of interest to the North Irish Horse is the fact that the Regiment was attached to the 78th Division during two important actions - the capture of "Longstop Hill" in Tunisia and the assault on the Gothic Line in Italy. Additionally, as many from the 56th Recce, when it was disbanded in October 1945, were transferred to the NIH, I got to know Ron when we both were members of the Sergeant's Mess.

Cheers, Gerry
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#7 Owen

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 06:37 PM

War Diaries at The National Archives.


WO 166/6411
56 Recce Regt.
1942 Jan.-Oct.

WO 169/8836
78 Infantry Division: 56 Recce. Regt.
1943 July- Dec.

WO 170/506
78 Infantry Division: 56 Recce Regt.
1944 Jan.- June

WO 170/507
78 Infantry Division: 56 Recce Regt.
1944 July - Dec.

WO 175/178
56 Recce. Regt.
1942 Oct.- 1943 June
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#8 Recce_Mitch

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 08:33 PM

Gerry,

I have that book already, Ron was instrumental in helping me obtain a Recce cap badge. Do you know what has happened to his web site. I have also read a lot of your postings on your site.

Cheers Paul

Owen,

Thanks for those links. Wish that I could get back to England so that I could get to Kew. It would be too expensive to get copies via post.

Cheers Paul
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#9 Verrieres

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 09:23 AM

Posted ImageBIOGRAPHY:
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..............................



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

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


Edited by Verrieres, 01 December 2008 - 09:28 AM.
add link

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#10 Verrieres

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 10:10 PM

Hi,
56 Recce related ;-
Posted Image
Remembered at Bab Gargaresh Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery,Tripoli, Libya: 10602202 Trooper L.R. KEMP 56th Regiment Reconnaisance Corps. 25th October 1943 age 21 "Thou will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee"
Regards
Verrieres
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#11 Recce_Mitch

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 12:33 PM

You wouldn't have access to any memorials at Medjez el Bab War Cemetery as 3 of dads comrades who were killed when he was injured are remembered there.

"After our rest our CO decided to give these 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 he 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 and war time at the front experience. There were 6 of us on the vehicle." These are my Dad's words
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#12 martinb

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 02:14 PM

Gerry,

I have that book already, Ron was instrumental in helping me obtain a Recce cap badge. Do you know what has happened to his web site. I have also read a lot of your postings on your site.

Cheers Paul



Latest link for Ron Tees site A Soldier Remembers is: www.geocities.com/Pentagon/9656/56index.htm

Dad (Robert James Biddle) was a proud memeber of the 56th Recce through North Africa and Italy through to Austria. Sadly passed away in 1977
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#13 Verrieres

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 03:12 PM

You wouldn't have access to any memorials at Medjez el Bab War Cemetery as 3 of dads comrades who were killed when he was injured are remembered there.


Hi,
Sorry none relating to Recce lads the only thing I have in relation to Medjez El Bab is a memorial notice which I found some time back whilst searching for unrelated items I have posted it in case this is of interest to yourself and other 56 Recce boys.
In Memoriam
Trooper Frederick Ernest James,. No 6349620.
56th Regiment Recce Corps. Royal Armoured Corps. who died 27 February 1943. Aged 22. The son of Ernest and Alice Lilian James of Boughton Corner, Bilting, Ashford, Kent.
He is commemorated on the Ashford, Kent, Civic War memorial, and on Godmersham, Ashford, Kent, Second World War memorial plaque, located in the parish church of St Lawrence the Martyr.
Buried Medjez El BabWar Cemetery, Tunisia. Grave Ref: 5. H. 3.
Originally enlisted in the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment in 1940.
Frederick had taken part in ‘Operation Torch,’ the amphibious landings in Morocco and Tunisia, North Africa in November 1942, and lost his life as the result of enemy bombing in Tunisia, North Africa. For a year 1933-1934, Frederick had been a pupil at the Ashford North County Modern (Boys) School. His brother Arthur George James who fortunately survived the Second World War served in the Royal Navy on Minesweepers and had also been a pupil at ‘The North’ from 1937 to 1940.

Regards
Verrieres
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#14 Recce_Mitch

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 08:16 PM

The 3 people I am interested in are:

SIDNEY ABRAHAM
Trooper
10601091
"HQ" Sqn
who died on Monday 30 November 1942 . Age 24
MEDJEZ-EL-BAB WAR CEMETERY Tunisia 6. H. 13.

JOHN CHRISTIAN
Lance Corporal
2720969
"HQ" Sqn
who died on Sunday 29 November 1942 . Age 22 .
Son of Walter and Josephine Christian.
MEDJEZ-EL-BAB MEMORIAL Tunisia Face 33.

ALFRED JOPLING
Lance Corporal
5115624
"HQ" Sqn
who died on Sunday 29 November 1942
Son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Jopling, of South Shields, Co. Durham; husband of Christina Jopling, of South Shields.
MEDJEZ-EL-BAB MEMORIAL Tunisia Face 33.

"You never got familiar with them (replacements). Blokes just out from England, never met them in your life before, never had a chance to get to know them. With Christian and Jopling it was different, you came out with them, and you knew them off pat as you’d been with them for a while…they were me mates. But once they’d went and were replaced you weren’t together long enough to get to know them. Faces changing so fast you couldn’t keep up with it…hundreds of bloody soldiers …you only got to know a few of them. A Geordie was Jopling. He used to make us laugh. Geordies always strike me as being funny." My Dad's own words.

That Geocities site is the old one, http://www.britishsoldier.com is the site I don't seem to be able to access.
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#15 Verrieres

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 09:03 PM

Hi,
All three are included on the Find a Grave Site but the photographes included are general views;
Posted Image
Posted Image

Posted Image
Regards
Verrieres
Find A Grave - Millions of Cemetery Records

Edited by Verrieres, 04 December 2008 - 09:16 PM.
add link to site

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#16 Recce_Mitch

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 08:18 PM

Haven't heard of Find a Grave Site. Thanks for posting.
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#17 Smudger Jnr

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 09:34 PM

Hi,
All three are included on the Find a Grave Site but the photographes included are general views;
Posted Image
Posted Image

Posted Image
Regards
Verrieres
Find A Grave - Millions of Cemetery Records


Thanks for the post.
I tried this summer to visit, but would have taken most of the day to get there by bus and after seeing the standard of driving I decided not to hire a car!

The Cemetery looks to extremely well kept, as is the case with CWGC's.

Thanks

Tom
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Reconnaissance Corps - Only the enemy in front.

#18 Verrieres

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 11:46 PM

Hi,
Whilst doing a bit of research on Ancestry recently I came across this listing,

The Cassino Doll
Bridging the generations
By Janet Penn 2007

The Doll

50 years ago my grandmother Alice Bull gave me a doll as a souvenir of her trip to Italy. Not a very surprising event really just a normal everyday occurrence. Alice, aged 73 was a nervous traveller, she had never flown before she was about to visit her son’s grave in a foreign land. This was not an everyday occurrence.
The Grandmother
My grandmother Alice Bull nee Frampton was born at Burton Road, Christchurch, Hampshire in 1883 into a family with strong connections with Highcliffe, Hampshire. Alice’s grandfather James Frampton born in Milton in 1825 was one of the first inhabitants of the new village of Slop Pond later thankfully to be called Highcliffe. Alice’s father Frank b 1851 had a building firm in the village. Her uncle John and his wife Jane started the Highcliffe Methodist Church.
Alice attended the local village school before working as a housemaid in Highcliffe Castle. Following a relationship with a local lad Alice went to London where she found herself aged 19, pregnant and destitute. She was fortunate that a doctor came to her rescue. Her first child was born in 1902 and she later went on to marry and raised another 5 children.
The Airport
As a 10 year old in 1956 a visit to Heathrow airport to see my grandmother and her daughter Lily on their way to Italy was a very exciting thing. The whole family turned out. My Uncle took as many as he could in his car, the rest of us had to go by bus and train but we did not care it was a great adventure as far as we were concerned. We were not really in tune with the real events that were taking place. The great emotion my grandmother must have been going through.
Heathrow was a more open airport in 1956. Heathrow, then known as London Airport, opened in 1946 with old Army Surplus Tents being used as the Terminal. The Queen opened the new permanent terminal in 1955. Today this is still in use as Terminal 2. You were allowed to go on the roof to see the planes take off, there were even swings up there for the children. I remember clearly waving them off from the rooftop before making the long journey home.
The Visit
My grandmother had been invited to visit her son’s grave in the Cassino War Cemetery, Italy and also to attend the unveiling of the Cassino Memorial on Sunday 30th September 1956. Overlooked by Mount Cassino mother and daughter made their pilgrimage to Corporal Sydney ‘Johnny’ Bull’s grave. I can only imagine what must have been going through my grandmother’s mind as she stood at the grave of her youngest son. Just 23 years old with his whole life ahead of him.

The Soldier

Corporal Sydney Bull was born 19 Oct 1920. Syd was working as a clerk when war broke out in 1939. He first joined the Royal Fusiliers later transferring to the 56th Regiment Reconnaissance Corps. He soon found himself in the thick of the fighting. According to his letter to my parents dated 26 September 1942 he had got engaged to his girlfriend Kathleen the previous Saturday. He was shortly to be posted abroad. A later letter I have finds him with his regiment posted in the Central Mediterranean. The date was 26 August 1943. He states he had been there a year so he must have been posted soon after his engagement. He does not give much detail for obvious reasons but he does say that things were very quiet at that time as the campaign was over.
According to History of the 56th Reconnaissance Regiment, by Robin Dowsett the Campaign my uncle spoke of was the Sicily Campaign. Robin Dowsett states in his article ‘Following the end of the Sicily campaign, the Recce Regiment rested and recuperated for a few weeks at Gioiosa Marea’.Poignantly he finished the letter date September 1942 with a message about my
brother wh had been born just a month before ‘hope the little nipper isn’t too grown up when I see him’. Syd never got to see his nephew. Sydney William Bull died from a head wound on the 25 Apr 1944 when his patrol was hit by mortar fire. Photo’s of ‘the little nipper’ were found with his possessions.
The Battle
The Germans set up the Gustav line (100 miles south of Rome) to defend their occupation of Rome. The invasion of Italy and the push north to the Gustav Line was used by the Allies to distract the Germans attention away their forces in France as the Allies prepared for the Normandy Landings.
Part of the Gustov line passed through Cassino. Monte Cassino or Monastery Hill as it was called in 1944 overlooked the major road that runs from Naples to Rome. The hill is dominated by the Benedictine Monastery of Cassino, which was built as a fortress to guard the road. Cassino was a bottleneck that needed to be breached if Rome was to be reached.The river Rapido one of two rivers meeting at Cassino flooded during the winter months. Although only 30 feet wide the flooding made the crossing more difficult.Four times the Allies tried to take Cassino and the Monastery. Although the Germans had not occupied the Monastery, the Allies as part of the third attack bombarded the Monastery with wave after wave of 500 and 1000 lb bombs and incendiaries. The Monastery was left a shell with many civilians being killed. The Germans crawled out of their hideouts and occupied the ruins before the ground offensive startedThe third battle found the town of Cassino flattened by an intensive bombing and artillery bombardment.
The last battle was to be along a 20 mile front. The attack began on 11 May 1944. By the 13 May the Allies had broken through and were on their way to Rome.
Cassino had fallen. Rome followed but this took second place to the news of the D-Day Landings in Normandy.
The Regiment
http://tbn0.google.c...sance-Corps.jpg
In September 1943 following their recuperation at Gioiosa Marea the 56th Reconnaissance Regiment were again on the move. This time to Italy .Encountering heavy fighting the Regiment slogged its way northwards. By November 1943 the Sangro Line (a German line on the River Sangro half way up Italy) was broken. With the Allies occupying the north bank of the river. The Regiment were snowed in on the mountains in the area of Pescopenetaro, North East of Cassino for Christmas 1943 and much of January and February 1944. Supplies had to be air-dropped or brought in by ski patrol.
By February 1944 the regiment had arrived at Cassino. The regiment were involved in several attempts to take the Monastery Hill eventually being relieved and sent to the Capua area near Caserta.
The Cemetery
Posted Image
The Cassino War Cemetery can be found in the Commune of Cassino in the Province of Frasine. 86 Miles South East of Rome, Italy. Overlooked by Mount Cassino. Here lies 4,266 Commonwealth servicemen of the 2nd World War buried or commemorated. There are 284 servicemen unidentified.

Corporal SW ‘Johnny’ Bull 6476614 is buried in plot XIV.F.10 Son of William Pitt Bull and Alice Kate Bull, of Hackney, London


The MemorialPosted Image

The Cassino Memorial was unveiled on the 30th September 1956, at 12 noon by Field Marshall the Right Honourable The Earl Alexander of Tunis. My grandmother and aunt were among the guests at the unveiling.
The Abbey
Posted Image

The Abbey of Monte Cassino was built by St Benedict c529. During the years since that date the monastery has been destroyed and rebuilt four times.
The Abbey was first destroyed c577 and rebuilt in the eighth century by Pope Gregory II. The Saracens burnt it down during the invasion in 883.
Various Abbots governed Monte Cassino in the 11th century. During this time the Abbey was again restored. Only to be destroyed again by an earthquake in 1349. The Abbey was rebuilt with many additions and embellishments.
During the second world war, with the Germans dug in around the Abbey it was destroyed for the 4th time by allied bombers on the 15th February 1944.
The damage was so extensive it took a decade to complete the reconstruction.
The Conclusion
The story of the Cassino Doll has been told. A small gesture from a grandmother to a granddaughter has helped to tell the story of the death of a young man and the grief of a mother. A story similarly told millions of times around the world.

Regards
Verrieres
Anyone wishing to see the original text and images then click here
The Cassino Doll
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#19 Recce_Mitch

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 10:18 AM

Very moving story.

Thanks

Paul
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#20 Gerry Chester

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 11:10 AM

[quote]

I have that book already, Ron was instrumental in helping me obtain a Recce cap badge. Do you know what has happened to his web site. I have also read a lot of your postings on your site.
[/quote]

Paul,

Just before leaving for England I found Ron's website down - unfortunatley I omitted bring my book with his and his daughter's telephone numbers with me.
[quote]
Thanks for those links. Wish that I could get back to England so that I could get to Kew. It would be too expensive to get copies via post.
[/quote]
While here, as I am visiting Kew several times, I will photograph the 56th diaries.

Cheers, Gerry





Cheers Paul[/quote]
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#21 Gerry Chester

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 11:21 AM

From the North Irish Horse Roll of Honour records:

Trooper THOMAS RICHARD MOULD
56th Regiment Reconnaissance Corps
Died age 26, 22nd February 1946.
Service Number: 6087956.
Birthplace: London.
Son of Thomas and Jane Mould, Tinsley Green, Sussex, England.
Husband of Kathleen Mould, Tinsley Green.
Buried: Cologne Southern Cemetery, Germany. Grave location: 3.AA.6

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#22 Recce_Mitch

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 11:40 AM

Gerry, That would be really good. With Trooper THOMAS RICHARD MOULD I notice the date is 22nd February 1946. Did he die of wounds recieved prior to end of WWII?

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#23 Gerry Chester

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 12:50 PM

With Trooper THOMAS RICHARD MOULD I notice the date is 22nd February 1946. Did he die of wounds recieved prior to end of WWII?


I wouldn't think so Paul, if he was wounded before war's end he would not have joined us when we were stationed in Austria. I will contact the Regimental Historian to see what is the archives, It will probably take some time. PM your e-mail address to me: vqppnih"msn.com

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#24 Peter Bowe

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Posted 07 December 2008 - 11:54 AM

I am currently researching for a book about No.6 Commando, and am interested in any information on the actions of 56th Reconnaissance Regiment in support of No.6 Commando at Steamroller Farm on 26th February 1943.

No.6 (Army) Commando
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#25 Recce_Mitch

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Posted 07 December 2008 - 12:03 PM

The Reconnaissance Corps

Reprinted from the “Fighting Forces” (British) April 1942

One of Britain’s newest and most powerful weapons is being welded into shape at a Scottish training centre.

It is the Reconnaissance Corps whose Battalions (one to each Infantry Division) have a scale of armaments and a degree of mechanisation unprecedented in military history.

Each battalion has over 250 mechanised vehicles including armoured cars with a high road speed, Bren carriers, troop carrying trucks and motor cycles. Driving at the normal speed and density the Battalion vehicles make up a column 13 miles long which would take over 50 minutes to pass a saluting base. Armament includes anti tank artillery, .55 rifles and grenades, batteries of mortars and hosts of tommy-guns and light machine guns.

Naturally the best men are required to master these new engines of war. Before being accepted at the centre candidates must get high marks in psychological examinations which test quickness of decision and mental alertness. Journalists and schoolmasters are the most widely represented among the professions. Quick gathering of information about the enemy and good man management are vital to the conduct of operations

If possible the battalion will probe the enemy lines by cunning and stealth. But if it has to fight for it’s facts, then it can turn on a blast of fire that no battalion has ever possessed before. Therefore men must have brawn as well as brain. Training is hard and in some degree similar to that of the Commandos.

Tough Training

Trainees at the Centre are formed into Recruit Companies for two months basic drill, easy going at first, but toughening up towards the end. Subjects include handling of weapons, anti-gas, marching and gymnastics. Instructors go to great pains in making their classes “Corps conscious”. This is very necessary for the Corps was comparatively unknown until recently. Trainees sometimes include men from other regiments and wearing the new badges and buttons for the first time.

After basic training the men are posted to the Specialist Companies at the centre. Company “talent scouts” – Officer’s and NCO’s - have kept a close watch on the recruit squads and can pick the right men for the right jobs.

No. 5 Company, which produces signalers, mechanics and motor-cyclists has first choice. The signalers are the most important trainees in No. 5 Company, for wireless is the life-blood of reconnaissance. News obtained by the busy inquisitive scouts is of no avail unless quickly transmitted to Battalion Head-Quarters. In three months recruits master three different types of set which send information from the smallest sub-unit – to Battalion Head-Quarters. The wiring diagrams should be known by heart. Messages must be transmitted on the Morse buzzer at rates of twelve to fifteen words a minute

The motor-cyclists – each Battalion has over seventy – are also used for communication. In three months the mechanics learn a trade which would not be mastered under a year in peace-time.

No.3 Company produce crews for the armoured cars and carriers. The men must not only know how to drive and maintain vehicles, they must learn sufficient tactics to take their place in an operational scout platoon when posted away from the Centre. The correct procedure for transmitting messages to a receiver many miles away must be mastered. They must be very well trained in reading one-inch and quarter-inch maps. A working knowledge of field engineering, demolition and mine clearing is essential. They should be able to hit both men and planes from the revolving turret of an armoured car. They are taught something of driving, maintaining, and fighting by night. They must be quick to recognise enemy aircraft and tanks.

Finally there is No.4 Company which trains assault infantry. When the armoured cars and carriers are held up during an operation these men dismount from speedy little trucks and clear away the opposition. They are to swim rivers and scale rocks in full kit. The men are hardened by drill, physical exercises and marches. Small groups are sent out to fend for themselves for two days with mess tins, rations and two bivouac blankets. They must be capable of marching short distances at top speed. Scouting patrols, searching villages and quick occupation of road blocks are taught. They must know how to read both British and foreign maps. They also learn driving and first aid and should be able to dig the first stages of a trench system in half the normal time. Their weapon training is brought to a high pitch on the field firing range.

Initiative and quickness of decision are tested on special “Blitz Ranges”. A man selects his weapons before starting round the course with an instructor. At various points he is “attacked” by dummy targets concealed behind trees and bushes, he comes across trench systems full of “enemy” and snipers. Some of the attacks are so sudden that he has to fire his service rifle from the hip. At the end of the course the men are told how many mistakes they have made and how many “casualties” they have inflicted.

The Centres instructors are kept well up to scratch. There are special hardening courses for junior NCO’s. Everyday the officers from the Adjutant downwards and Warrant Officers do rifle exercises and marching drill under the Centres Regimental Sergeant Major. The latter is an old Grenadier who felt considerable grief when he changed his Guard’s uniform. He now says that he has never seen such a fine show as the Reconnaissance Corps.

Every afternoon the whole centre from the Commanding Officer to the youngest recruit have fifteen minutes “blitz” in weapon training. Cross country running is one of the most popular past-times. Beagles are kept and prove of great assistance in developing an eye for the country.

If the candidates show exceptional promise they are eventually sent for six months to the Reconnaissance OCTU near the Centre. A very high standard is demanded from the cadets. Until recently the Commandant had awarded only one “A” Certificate for exceptional work. The quality has improved so much during the last course that three “A’s” were awarded.

The cadets do ordinary infantry training during the first three months. Then they learn the intricacies of the internal combustion engine. Groups of vehicles are lined up, each of which has some technical fault. Cadets must right the wrong in a limited time.

There is little time to wait for a Repair section during a Reconnaissance, and cadets are taught ingenious methods of keeping their vehicles on the move. Recently a carrier driver, taking part in an important exercise, discovered that his fan belt was broken. Almost as second nature he pulled off his braces and made a temporary belt. He then climbed back into his vehicle, holding up his trousers, and brought his carrier safely back to harbour. (The army presented him with a brand new pair of braces in recognition of his deed.)

Cadets learn to master wireless. Then comes the most serious side of their work – Reconnaissance exercises composed of cadets who command the various armoured sub-units in rotation. One day a young Lance Corporal will be a company commander, a job normally undertaken by a Major. The next day he will be an ordinary driver. This system increases the versatility of the cadets. When commissioned they will know all the jobs of the men under their command.

During the exercise the cadet company commander receives orders from Battalion Head-Quarters. He must quickly grasp the points vital to his own company and transmit a quick summary to his platoons, who in turn wireless instructions to sections. Cadet can get their armoured companies on the move in five minutes after receiving Battalion orders.

There is field-firing range on the hills where the ball ammunition is fired from mortars and machine guns. Cadets are also taught to make forced marches in full kit. Recently a group marched ten miles in one hour and forty-five minutes. They also have to jump trenches and wire obstacles and scale high brick walls in special assault courses. Rugger (a well known game) and soccer are played.
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#26 Recce_Mitch

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Posted 07 December 2008 - 09:20 PM

My fathers service history originally posted on BBC site

My fathers name is Thomas Heald Mitchell, he was born at Chesterfield Rd, Bolsover on 13 June 1919.
His army number is 1873128.
His army history is as follows:

4.5.1936 – 16.2.1937 Royal Engineers
20.6.1938 – 8.2.1941 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards
9.2.1941 – 31.12.1943 56 Recce Corps
1.1.1944 – 13.6.44 Royal Armoured Corps

His active service history is as follows:

B.E.F 29.9.1939 – 27.2.1940

B.E.F 10.3.1940 – 1.6.1940

Nth Africa\Sicily\Italy 31.10.1942 – 9.3.1944

What follows next is a brief chronological account of my dad:

4 May 1936 – Dad joined Royal Engineers – 207 Party – Chatham – Brompton Barracks.

16 February 1937 – Dad discharged from Royal Engineers – underage.

20 June 1938 - Dad joined 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards – Caterham – Passed out at Wellington Barracks (Sgt Maggs Squad). His grandfather William Heald was also in the Grenadiers.

September 1939 – Dad was part of advance party into France approx 2 weeks before the rest of the Battalion. The SS Canterbury landed at Brest and he drove a staff car to Lille. Dad was in HQ Squadron.

27 February 1940 - Dad went on leave.

10 March 1940 - Dad returned to the BEF.

1 June 1940 - The 1st and 2nd Battalions Grenadier Guards embark off the beaches between La Panne and Bray Dunes; the 3rd at Dunkirk.
Dad evacuated from Dunkirk on HMS Codrington(D65), which also embarked General Montgomery and brought them back to Dover. Attacked by aircraft and shelled from shore batteries but it was not hit. Dad had his pockets and kit full of ammunition (he had picked a lot up), which was gratefully received by the crew of HMS Codrington.

9 February 1941 – Dad joined 56th Reconnaissance Corps.

27 October 1942 - Left Barri Camp Scotland for Nth Africa on the Cameronia.

13 November 1942 - Landed at Algiers Docks with HQ and B Squadrons of 56th Recce as part of Operation Torch. Spent their first night(s?) in the Botanical Gardens. Dad was in HQ Squadron.

[November 16 1942– 78 div pushed out in Tunisia.

Dad crossed the Atlas Mountains ahead of Blade Force, 1st Army's spearhead which comprised elements of 6 Armoured Division and contained the tanks of 17/21 Lancers, a motorized company from 10 Rifle Brigade, a squadron of armoured cars from the Derbyshire Yeomanry, paratroopers from 1 Para, a battery of 25-pounders from 12 RHA (HAC), a battery of anti-tank guns from 72 A/Tk Regiment, a troop of Bofors AA guns and a troop of Sappers.

Dad was classified Driver/Mech and he drove a Portee towing a 2pdr anti tank gun as part of an anti tank crew.

29 November 1942 - Dad was wounded in Action at Medjez El Bab. Cpl’s Christian and Jopling were killed instantly with Tpr Abraham dying later. After the mine explosion their own ammunition exploded and he had to lie behind a few rocks trying to avoid exploding ammunition for an hour or more. There were 2 vehicles in convoy; Dad was in the 2nd vehicle.

30 November 1942 – 159th Field Ambulance.

1 December 1942- No.8 Casualty Clearing Station.

4 December 1942 - 220 Field Ambulance.

[11 December 1942 – Dad discharged to Transit Camp Roue.

21 December 1942 - Dad transferred Field Ambulance.

7 March 1943- 19 Casualty Clearing Station - Nth Africa.

23 March 1943 - Transferred to Rest Camp (for approx 1 week) Nth Africa.

May 1943 - Dad went to Cape Bon Peninsular as part of reinforcements.

July 1943 – Dad went by LST to Catania Sicily as part of reinforcements.

September 1943 – Dad went to Italy.

12 December 1943 – Reported sick.

16 December 1943 - 99th General Hospital – Pneumonia – (ex Italian Navy Hospital, Taranto Italy) – Royal Marines commanding.

31 December 1943 - Evacuated by Ship to Catania Sicily

1 January 1944 - General Hospital (Sicily).

2 February 1944 - Transferred (by ship).

5 February 1944 - General Hospital – Algiers.

3 March 1944 - Hospital Ship to England.

9 March - Royal Infirmary (2 weeks).

22 March 1944 - County General Hospital (51 days).

13 June 1944 - Discharged from Royal Armoured Corps due to injuries received in North Africa.
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#27 Tom Canning

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Posted 08 December 2008 - 12:23 AM

Recce Mitch -
don't know what you are doing wrong but I put it down to the fact that my fingers are broad and the key buttons are small !

Just thought I'd jump in to say that the Gen Hospital in Catania was more than likely the 33 rd - which I landed in the November of '44 from Ancona via Bari - allegedly on board to Blighty but the rotters threw two dozen battle casualties off as we could be patched up and sent up the line again - sick base wallahs had our cots !
Cheers
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#28 Recce_Mitch

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Posted 08 December 2008 - 09:59 PM

Tom, Thanks for the info about the 33rd.

"When we was being evacuated the stretchers were mixed German and British. We were all ready to be put aboard a ship for Sicily. So we evacuated from Taranto to Sicily to another Hospital and then we were evacuated on another Hospital Ship to Algiers. I was on 3 Hospital ships altogether. When we got back to Algiers we went up into the mountains. It had been an old French convalescent home at one time or another. Then when I was evacuated back from there to the UK we had these nurses (Queen Alexanders Nursing Corps), one was a Major that did all the amputees, taking photographs on the docks at Algiers. Italian prisoners were carrying the stretchers. They even tried to swipe your gear. I had this small pack that I temporarily placed on the stretcher on the side of me it fitted perfectly as the bloke had lost his leg. That’s why it fitted so easily. I remember this as being Christmas Time." These are dad's own words
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#29 Gerry Chester

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 09:34 PM

Hi Paul,

The files in the National Archives are fascinating. Additional to the War Diaries there are several editions of "Tallyho" the regiment's newspaper;
a letter from the King to Lt. Colonel Chavasse; 78th Battle Division operational orders, etcetera. I will post some of them anon.

Putting the diaries in a legible form, as a good 50% or more are hand written, will be a lengthy task but it will be done.

Cheers, Gerry
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#30 Recce_Mitch

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 10:37 PM

It will be fantastic to finally see some of those records. Many thanks.

Paul
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