11th (E.A.) Divisional Recce Regiment (Kenya Armoured Car Regiment)

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by RobG64, Mar 16, 2019 at 10:32 AM.

  1. RobG64

    RobG64 Active Member

    Does anyone have any details about this regiment and it's service in Ceylon and Burma. Did it ever equip with M3 tanks and armoured cars? I think this is a timeline of sorts:

    June 1939 - Reconnaissance Platoon, Kenya Regiment raised with mainly white hunters
    (Trained with 5th KAR August/September 1939)
    Late September 1939 - Platoon returned to Nairobi and expanded to East African Reconnaissance Squadron
    (using Kenya Regiment personnel) H.Q. and four troops
    1940 ?? - expanded to 1st (E.A.) Reconnaissance Regiment (Kenya Armoured Car Regiment) equipped with Marmon Herrington South African armoured cars and fought in Italian East Africa
    30 June 1941 - re-designated Kenya Armoured Car Regiment
    17 May 1943 - re-designated 11th (E.A.) Div Recce Regiment (KACR) under command 11th (E.A.) Division in Ceylon
    June 1944 - regiment left division on 15th June 1944 and remained in Ceylon
    October 1944 - regiment listed under command Ceylon Field Army in OOB return
    November 1944-August 1945 - re-equips with Stuart light tanks and armoured cars and moved to Burma??

    Sources:
    Wikipedia: Reconnaissance Corps - Wikipedia
    Imperial War Museum: badge, unit, The Kenya Regiment
    Bodleian Library: Kenya Armoured Car Regiment
    National Army Museum NAM. 1982-06-59-126


    Regards
    RobG64
     
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  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  3. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    I guess my information is similar.

    The East African Reconnaissance Squadron


    Raised
    June 1939 as the Reconnaissance Platoon of the Kenya Regiment

    The squadron was raised from the Reconnaissance Platoon of the Kenya Regiment at Nanyuki. The platoon was initially divided between the 4th and 5th King’s African Rifles but later united as the East African Reconnaissance Squadron. It was first equipped with locally-built Chevrolet Fortress Armoured Cars and later with South African Marmon-Herrington Armoured Cars. The platoon was initially divided between the 4th and 5th KAR, but was reunited later and brought up to strength form the Kenya Regiment to become the East African Reconnaissance Squadron. It took part in the first raid on El Wak on 18 June 1940. It was then used to form The Kenya Armoured Car Regiment.

    The Kenya Armoured Car Regiment

    Raised
    1940

    Title Changes
    1st East African Armoured Car Regiment - 1941
    11th (East African) Divisional Recoanaissance Regiment (Kenya Armoured Car Regiment) - 17 May 1943

    The regiment was raised from the East African Reconnaissce Squadron by June 1940. It was listed under East Africa Force on 11 June 1940. On 1 January 1941 the regiment was under East Africa Force with C Squadron under 11th (Africa) Division and B Squadron under 12th (Africa) Division. HQ Squadron served under 22nd (East Africa) Infantry Brigade during the capture of Sciola on 1-5 June 1941, while another squadron served under 23rd (Nigeria) Infantry Brigade during the capture of Abalti on 4-6 June 1941. B Squadron was under South Force and the rest of the regiment was under 25th (East Africa) Infantry Brigade during operations near Gondar in October-November 1941. On December 20th, 1942 the Kenya Armoured Car Regiment was under Command Troops, East Africa Force with C Squadron detached to 12th African Division.

    It was eventually numbered 1st East African Armoured Car Regiment and on 17 May 1943 it became 11th (East Africa) Divisional Reconnaissance Regiment (Kenya Armoured Car Regiment) EAAC. It served under 11th (East Africa) Infantry Division from 17 May 1943 until 15 June 1944, when it was disbanded. On October 1st, 1943 C Squadron was unbrigaded under HQ Northern Sub-Area. The regiment left East Africa on 14 June 1943, Ceylon on 31 May 1944 and then was located in Burma.

    The regiment was equipped with Marmon-Herrington Armoured Cars in East Africa. It first served with armoured cars in Burma and later was equipped with tanks.
     
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  4. JITTER PARTY

    JITTER PARTY Member

    11 EA Recce Regt was redesignated as 1 EA Recce Regt in 1945, by which time it was in India.
    I believe that it served in Ceylon and India and never went to Burma. It was certainly u/c ALFSEA in India 01/45, and back with 11 EA Div by 04/45, by which time the Div itself had returned to India.
    I would be surprised to find it had re-equipped with tanks, but it would be great it you could find any evidence of that.
     
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    There's two war diaries covering June 1943 to Dec 1944 for 11 Reconnaissance Regiment.
     
  6. Peter J Heath

    Peter J Heath New Member

    I've attached a link to a series of photos at the National Army Museum titled East African Reconnaissance Regiment in Burma showing Stuarts, Carriers and Jeeps:-

    Online Collection | National Army Museum, London

    Also there is another photo showing an M8 Greyhound listed as East African Armoured Corps, Far East:-

    M8 Greyhound armoured car, East African Armoured Corps, 1944 (c) | Online Collection | National Army Museum, London

    However, in the description it also says they first saw action in Italy (?)

    Pete
     
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  7. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    Perhaps that should read 'against the Italians'? That's a good find but it's a pity Brig Briggs didn't take any photos if the vehicles' formation signs.

    I had a glance through 11 EA Div's 'Rhino Review' and failed to see a mention of the Recce, despite a page or two on the Div's time out of action before VJ day.
     
  8. Peter J Heath

    Peter J Heath New Member

    Trying to get to the bottom of formation signs used in Burma is, well, challenging shall we say given the lack of documentation......

    Here's another photo showing George Formby and his wife entertaining troops of 11 EA Div:-

    George Formby performing for soldiers of the 11th East African Division, 1945 | Online Collection | National Army Museum, London

    They're sitting on a Dodge WC52 carrier carrying the markings of 40 (presumably on a black background and probably indicating a vehicle of the Div HQ) together with the Rhino head formation sign. So, if they followed the NW Europe serial numbers for an Infantry Div the Recce Regiment should carry 41 on a green over blue background. Possibly..........

    Pete
     
  9. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    I think that it was referring to the M8 Armoured Car not the regiment when it mentioned Italy.
     
  10. JITTER PARTY

    JITTER PARTY Member

    Interesting photos, but almost certainly mis-labelled by the NAM.
    As mentioned above, the division was withdrawn from Burma in 04/45 and never went back. There is no proof that the Recce Regt was ever in Burma and they almost certainly rejoined the division in India. Training in Burma before 04/45 seems unlikely. Training in India, or possibly even Ceylon, seems much more likely. Interesting, nevertheless.
    I think we can discount the picture of the Greyhound, especially in view of the mention of the EAAC Depot. I've not seen any evidence of the Greyhound in use by Commonwealth troops in the Far East.
    Shoddy work by the NAM.
     
  11. Rothy

    Rothy Junior Member

    I have copies of the files holding the orders of battle for India Command (WO 33 series) and a browse through these indicates that the 11th (East Africa) Divisional Reconnaissance Regiment was in Ceylon during 1944 (I haven't gone back as far as 1943) before moving to India sometime between November 1944 and January 1945. From January 1945 until April 1945, the unit was unbrigaded and held in GHQ (India) Reserve. Sometime between 9th February 1945 and 26th March 1945, according to the WO 33 files, the unit became known as the 1st (East Africa) Reconnaissance Regiment, KACR. Still in reserve and unbrigaded, the unit was assigned to H.Q. ALFSEA during April 1945. By 6th October 1945, the unit had come under command of the 11th (EA) Infantry Division, itself in reserve under H.Q. ALFSEA. By 22nd November 1945, the division, together with the unit was in GHQ (India) Reserve. See details below.

    This would indicate that the unit remained in India after arrival from Ceylon, and did not enter Burma. This would also explain why there are no war diaries covering the unit for this period (unless anyone can find them?).

    I should note that the data held in the WO 33 series files is often inaccurate and out of date. The OBs were compiled every couple of months or so from data submitted. Sometimes the unit designation (name) is inaccurate or a change in the name is not reflected for some months after a name change. Command assignments can also be out of date by several months.

    Steve

    11 (EA) Div (Ceylon Army Command):
    11th (EA) Div Recce Regt up to 28th January 1944 (WO 33/2191)
    11th (EA) Div Recce Regt up to 1st April 1944 (WO 33/2215)

    Note: 11th (EA) Division left Ceylon for India on 31st May 1944 (Joslen)

    26 (EA) Inf Bde Gp (Ceylon Army Command):
    11th (EA) Div Recce Regt up to 24th June 1944 (WO 33/2243)

    Note: 26th (EA) Inf Bde Gp left Ceylon for India on 14th July 1944 (Joslen)

    22 (EA) Inf Bde Gp (Ceylon Army Command):
    11th (EA) Div Recce Regt up to 14th August 1944 (WO 33/2263a)

    Ceylon Army Command (Field Command - unbrigaded):
    11th (EA) Div Recce Regt up to 20th October 1944 (WO 33/2290)
    11th (EA) Div Recce Regt up to 13th November 1944 (WO 33/2296)

    GHQ (India) Reserve:
    11th (EA) Div Recce Regt (assigned SEAC) up to 12th January 1945 (WO 33/2307)
    11th (EA) Div Recce Regt up to 9th February 1945 (WO 33/2314)
    amended to: 1st (EA) Recce Regt KACR up to 26th March 1945 (WO 33/2314a)

    Assigned to ALFSEA:
    1st (EA) Recce Regt KACR up to 30th April 1945 (WO 33/2428)
    1st (EA) Recce Regt KACR up to 3rd June 1945 (WO 33/2437)
    1st (EA) Recce Regt KACR up to 1st July 1945 (WO 33/2437a)
    1st (EA) Recce Regt KACR up to 17th August 1945 (WO 33/2458)

    11 (EA) Div (assigned to ALFSEA):
    1st (EA) Recce Regt KACR up to 6th October 1945 (WO 33/2471)
    1st (EA) Recce Regt KACR up to 7th November 1945 (WO 33/2478)

    11 (EA) Div (GHQ (India) Reserve):
    1st (EA) Recce Regt KACR up to 22nd November 1945 (WO 33/2478a)
    1st (EA) Recce Regt KACR up to 3rd December 1945 (WO 33/2489)
    1st (EA) Recce Regt KACR up to 22nd January 1946 (WO 33/2489a)
     
  12. JITTER PARTY

    JITTER PARTY Member

    WO203/1866 04/45 has 1 EA Recce Regt as 11 EA Div Tps, as does WO212/471 18/08/45.
    It seems to make sense that they moved to India and came u/c GHQ(I) whilst awaiting the return of the division from Burma, and came u/c of that formation as soon as possible.
    The phrase 'Assigned to ALFSEA' leaves a lot of room for confusion, since 11 EA Div would itself be assigned to ALFSEA during this period.
     
  13. Rothy

    Rothy Junior Member

    I made a paste error in the earlier post, the correct data is as below. There is only one period in the files where the 1st (EA) Recce Regt is shown to be 'unbrigaded' (detached) from 11th (EA) Div while "assigned to ALFSEA" and that is for April 1945. The unit can of course be designated 'Div Tps' as its 'permanent' posting and be detached from the division whilst retaining this designation, and return later, as in this case. Or the OB could contain an error as described above.

    Steve

    11 (EA) Div (Ceylon Army Command):
    11th (EA) Div Recce Regt up to 28th January 1944 (WO 33/2191)
    11th (EA) Div Recce Regt up to 1st April 1944 (WO 33/2215)

    Note: 11th (EA) Division left Ceylon for India on 31st May 1944 (Joslen)

    26 (EA) Inf Bde Gp (Ceylon Army Command):
    11th (EA) Div Recce Regt up to 24th June 1944 (WO 33/2243)

    Note: 26th (EA) Inf Bde Gp left Ceylon for India on 14th July 1944 (Joslen)

    22 (EA) Inf Bde Gp (Ceylon Army Command):
    11th (EA) Div Recce Regt up to 14th August 1944 (WO 33/2263a)

    Ceylon Army Command (Field Command - unbrigaded):
    11th (EA) Div Recce Regt up to 20th October 1944 (WO 33/2290)
    11th (EA) Div Recce Regt up to 13th November 1944 (WO 33/2296)

    GHQ Reserve:
    11th (EA) Div Recce Regt (assigned SEAC) up to 12th January 1945 (WO 33/2307)
    11th (EA) Div Recce Regt up to 9th February 1945 (WO 33/2314)
    amended to: 1st (EA) Recce Regt KACR up to 26th March 1945 (WO 33/2314a)

    Assigned to ALFSEA:
    1st (EA) Recce Regt KACR up to 30th April 1945 (WO 33/2428)

    11 (EA) Div (assigned to ALFSEA):
    1st (EA) Recce Regt KACR up to 3rd June 1945 (WO 33/2437)
    1st (EA) Recce Regt KACR up to 1st July 1945 (WO 33/2437a)
    1st (EA) Recce Regt KACR up to 17th August 1945 (WO 33/2458)
    1st (EA) Recce Regt KACR up to 6th October 1945 (WO 33/2471)
    1st (EA) Recce Regt KACR up to 7th November 1945 (WO 33/2478)

    11 (EA) Div (GHQ Reserve):
    1st (EA) Recce Regt KACR up to 22nd November 1945 (WO 33/2478a)
    1st (EA) Recce Regt KACR up to 3rd December 1945 (WO 33/2489)
    1st (EA) Recce Regt KACR up to 22nd January 1946 (WO 33/2489a)
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019 at 5:34 PM
  14. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Steve:

    That makes a great deal of sense. Based on 11th (East African) Division's operations, I believe the recce regiment would be more of a hinderance than help.
     
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  15. JITTER PARTY

    JITTER PARTY Member

    True, and of course they also had a Scout Battalion but even that never served operationally with the division. It was attached to 81 WA Div and served with them in the Kaladan
     
  16. RobG64

    RobG64 Active Member

    Many thanks to all those who have replied to this thread! Great work guys as always!

    Now, the 11th (E.A.) Divisional Scouts...
    A small unit, the Coast Irregulars, was raised in East Africa from local forces in early 1942 for coast defence duties in anticipation of Japanese activity against the African east coast and armed with captured Italian arms. By mid-1942 they were organised with a Group H.Q. and five Coast Companies (1-5) and by November 1942 with another four Coast Companies (6-9) and another Group H.Q. In early 1943 this had been formalised as H.Q. Coast Irregulars with 1st and 2nd Group Coast (Irregular) Companies and in April 1943 the Coast Companies were designated East Africa Scouts. By 1st June 1943, 1st Group had become 1st (East Africa) Scouts with 12-16 Companies and 2nd Group was given an operational role with 11th (E.A) Division and re-designated 11th (E.A.) Divisional Scouts.
    Organised with a H.Q. and four small companies (each with a H.Q., transport section and three rifle platoons) and issued British rifles and light machine-guns. On arrival in Ceylon in June 1943 they were trained in rough terrain before leaving the division in January 1944 and assigned to 81st (W.A.) Division in the Kaladan Valley in Burma as that division had to leave its recce battalion behind.
    The Scouts joined up with the division in late January 1944 and undertook operations but on 3rd March it was attacked by the Japanese and scattered, suffering heavy casualties. The Scouts were reorganised as three companies in mid-March when it received some reinforcements, but was very short of officers. It did some long-range patrols but by mid-April 1944 were below operational strength. the remnants guarding an airstrip. The Scouts left the division in late April and moved to Comilla in July 1944. They returned to Ceylon in late July 1944 under command Ceylon Army Command (thanks Steve!) where they were disbanded in November 1944

    RobG64
     
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  17. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    My information is in agreement with RobG64 with a few more details in some areas:

    The Coastal Irregulars
    Raised
    April 1942
    Title Change
    The East African Scouts - March 1943
    11th East African Divisional Scouts - 17 May 1943


    The unit recruited in southern Tanganyika and Kenya. It was raised for coastal protection in East Africa and armed with captured Italian weapons. On December 20th, 1942 the HQ Coastal Irregulars was under Central Area with with HQ 1st Group Coast (Irregulars) Companies containing 1st to 5th Companies and HQ 2nd Group Coast (Irregulars) containing 6th to 9th Companies.

    It was retitled the East African Scouts in March 1943 and its role changed to scouting. The unit recruited from Nyasaland in addition to its original areas of south Tanganyika and Kenya. In May 1943, it concentrated with 11th (East African) Infantry Division in the Arusa/Moshi area and joined the division as 11th East African Divisional Scouts on 17 May 1943. It left for Ceylon under the division on 14 June 1943 and arrived there on 28 June 1943. It concentrated in the Kandy area for training. On October 1st, 1943 the 1st East African Scouts was under HQ Mombasa Fortress.

    The unit left the division in Ceylon on 6 January 1944 and went to Comilla in India for attachment to 81st (West Africa) Division. It came under command of the division on 20 January 1944 and joined it near Paletwa on 29 January 1944. It was organized with four rifle companies and no support or HQ company. It began operations in the Kaladan Valley in Burma under the division. It was in action at Pagoda Hill through 4 March 1944 and down to 400 men by the end of that action. It then patrolled and operated in 6th (West Africa) Brigade area for a few days towards the end of March. By 18 April 1944, the unit was down to 100 all ranks. It guarded airstrips near the front for a while before leaving for Comilla, where it was disbanded on 31 July 1944. [N.B. It may have moved back to Ceylon and been disbanded there in November 1944.]
     
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  18. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    While we are in East Africa mode, how about this interesting East African unit:

    The Somaliland Camel Corps
    RHQ
    La Perug, British Somaliland
    A Camel Company - Hargeisa
    B (Nyasa Infantry) Camel Company - Tug Argen
    C Infantry Company - Burao
    D Company (Reservists) - Tug Argen (2 platoons at Sheik)
    Associations
    The King’s African Rifles
    Disbanded
    30 September 1944
    Victoria Cross
    Captain E.C.T. Wilson (The East Surrey Regiment) at Tug Argen on 15 August 1940

    At the end of the Mullah Campaign in the 1920’s, the Corps consisted of three camel-mounted companies and one pony-mounted company. One camel company was Indian and the rest Somali. The Indian company was withdrawn and ‘B’ (Yao) Company replaced the second Somali camel company in 1922.

    The unit was located in British Somaliland from 3 September 1939 until 15 August 1940. In September 1939 the regiment had 14 British officers, 1 British NCO and 554 ORs. ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies were formed from Somalis while ‘C’ Company was formed from Yao askarais. In October 1939, it received 17 officers and 20 NCOs from the Rhodesia Regiment. A request to mechanize two companies was approved on 19 May 1940.

    When the Italians invaded British Somaliland on 3 August 1940, the Camel Corps had the Yao company motorized while the rest of the unit consisted of Somalis in one camel-mounted company and a reserve company for a total of 14 British Officers, 400 askari and 150 reservists.

    The company was located in Aden on 18 August 1940 after evacuating British Somaliland. ‘C’ Company had been disbanded a week earlier at Sheik and most of the Somalis and Illalas were paid off before the evacuation. A few days after arrving in Aden, the Yao Company was absorbed into 2nd King’s African Rifles

    The unit was reformed on 16 March 1941 when the colony was retaken. It was then converted to an armoured car regiment and moved to Kenya to train. It was later to be moved to Rhodesia. Detachments served under 25th (East Africa) Infantry Brigade in East Africa and Abyssinia. It used Marmon-Herrington Armoured Cars with the Nyasaland Rifle Company in Ford trucks. During 1942-43 the unit captured a German submarine crew. On December 12th, 1942 it served under HQ Troops British Somaliland. The regiment was converted to an armoured car regiment by 1943. On October 1st, 1943 the regiment was under HQ Troops British Somaliland. On the night of 5/6 June 1944, 150 askari of the regiment broke into the armoury at Burao and looted. Thirty other askari at the EAAC depot at Gilgil displayed “dumb insolence” and were sent back to Somaliland. The Corps was disbanded on 30 September 1944 and many went on to serve with the Somaliland Scouts.
     
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  19. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Well-Known Member

    A post-war tale from a veteran British officer (ex-Royal Artillery in WW2). He served with the Somaliland Scouts, becoming a company commander and one day was in the odd position of facing both ways - Ethiopians to the front and Somalis (under Italian command) the other way. This was during a border demarcation dispute. He maintained they knew no-one would fire, but appearing ready to do so was important.

    Strange things happened in the region - such as the pre-1939 RN patrolling of the Red Sea to prevent slavery transportation between Eritrea / Ethiopia / Sudan and.Saudi Arabia / Yemen.
     
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  20. RobG64

    RobG64 Active Member

    Thanks DRyan, always interesting and excellent!
    Whilst we are still in East Africa mode I understand the there was an East African Armoured Car Regiment (different from the Kenya Armoured Car Regiment). Do you have details of that regiment?
    Whilst we are at it there was also a Southern Rhodesian Armoured Car Regiment?

    RobG64
     

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