Discussion in 'Recce' started by Tony56, Mar 15, 2011.
For those with an interest in 44th Recce I have attached an officers group photo - with names.
Thanks for posting
Hi I’m a new member.
My late father in law, Sgt James “Tubby” Goodall served in 44th Recce from January 1941 until December 1945, being demobbed in July 1946. Jim served in North Africa and Italy where he was wounded in action at Volterno Crossing. As a result of that action he was Mentioned in Dispatches which as published in the Supplement to the London Gazette on 29th November 1945.
Although we have been able to find out a lot about Jim’s service record but have not yet found details of why Jim’s action resulted in his MID. An online search of the National Archive doesn’t mention him at all and I wonder if anyone has any other ideas.
From what Jim said, his patrol was ambushed and he was the only survivor carrying his wounded officer to safety. A colleague, Cpl Harry Garside, was also wounded but both of them subsequently died from their wounds. If anyone has any details of what happened it would be much appreciated.
Harry’s grave is in the Caserta War Cemetry and Jim visited it in 2004 and we have a photo of Jim at the grave. Unfortunately we have no information about the officer.
Amongst Jim’s papers are several other photos including one of “A” Squadron (Assault Troops) of 44th Recce in battledress by the Demarcation Line between Slovenia and Italy and 44th Recce’s NCO’s taken in Trieste prior to its disbandment. I’ve noticed a photo of 44th’s officers at the same location. Also there is a signed menu of 44th’s Farewell Lunch and the RACTD CMF’s Christmas 1945 Souvenir Programme and Menu which is also signed by Jim and several of his colleagues.
I can probably manage to download the photos and documents if these are of interest.
Welcome aboard !
By a curious coincidence I was also at the RACTD on Xmas 1945 (Rieti) and spent over a year in the Trieste area keeping the peace between the Italians and the Yougoslavs.
I would be interested to see any snaps or scans of that period.
A nice photograph. Thank you for posting.
Several Recce people on the forum will appreciate whatever you have.
Hello and welcome Tubby. Lovely to have another Recce on board. All photos are very welcome on here!
Thanks for your greetings.
Here goes with the attachments.
The units war diary will probably be your best bet. I've checked the NA citations section and its not listed but sadly most MiD's are not.
These diaries maybe of interest:
WO 169/8765 44 Recce Jan-Dec 1943
WO 170/889 44 Recce Jan-Dec 1944
WO 170/4372 44 Recce Jan-Dec 1945
I would also consider getting a copy of his service records from Glasgow.
I'll have a look at the War Diaries. We got his records from Glasgow shortly after he died and they were a great help.
Another photo is attached - sorry it's on its side.
Fred welcome to the forum, I've added James to the Decorations list.
Does anyone have any information as to the composition of the Regiment in the latter half of 1942 in North Africa?
44 Recce-passages taken from the book "Only the Enemy in Front" by Richard Doherty
On 14 August 1942 44th division moved up to the Alamein line into a reserve position behind General Freyberg's NZ Division at the southern end. The recce regiment was placed under command of 7th Armoured division, the Desert Rats, for a period of guidance. During its time with the Desert Rats 44 Recce was split up to serve with the battalions and regiments of 4 Light Armoured Brigade. The assault troops and carriers were assigned to motor-battalions and the LRC's to cavalry regiments. When Rommel launched his attack on Montgomery's positions on 30 August elements of 44 Recce were engaged in action with their mentors of 4 Light Armoured Brigade during the Battle of Alam Halfa. On 4 September, the regiment concentrated once again under 44th Division but a week later it was placed under 22 Armoured Brigade which had become a permanent part of 7th Armoured Division on 7 September.
For two weeks the regiment had the task of guarding front-line positions at the British "Nuts" and "May" minefields, near Himeimat. Then came a withdrawal into reserve where it seemed as if someone had come up with a positive idea for the use of the regiment: the LRC's were sent to guard rear areas and the regiment was redesignated 44th Divisional Reconnaissance Carrier Regiment. This new organisation included one strong carrier squadron formed from all the regiments carriers with two additional carrier squadrons made up from men and machines of 132 and 151 Brigades. Detachment of Royal Engineers were included in the order-of-battle and there was talk of Scorpions-tanks fitted with flails to explode mines-being allocated.
And so it became obvious that the regiments job would be to clear paths through enemy minefields for Eighth Army's armour in the forthcoming offensive. Specifically, it was told that its role would be to clear four gaps for an armoured brigade and, in carrying out reconnaissance in force and be prepared to seize and hold ground, "to carry out reconnaissance in force and in so doing to be prepared to overcome minor resistance". There were shades of the original recce role in those orders but the task that lay ahead of 44 Recce was totally different to that for which it had trained for so long. Retraining was necessary and lasted into October.
A mineclearing drill was worked out, practised and then revised until a definitive drill was arrived at, which was then practised to perfection. Central to this drill were the Scorpions, six of which were issued to the regiment, one for each path with two tanks in reserve. As training continued a change in the shape of the regiment was thought necessary and so it re-formed into two carrier squadrons and an assault squadron; Matilda infantry tanks were to provide armoured support.
On 22 October the operation order was received: the regiment would go into action on the night of 23 October in Operation Lightfoot. As the minefield task force of 7th Armoured Division, 44 Recce had absorbed all the carriers of its division and also contained 4th Field Squadron, RE. The six Scorpions were in the van, supported by the Stuarts of A Squadron, Royal Scots Greys, rather than the intended Matildas, a battery of anti-tank guns and two companies of 1st KRRC. They had an approach march of almost ten miles over four parallel tracks through three British minefields before reaching their start line east of the German minefield codenamed "January". Clearing paths through "January" and a second minefield, codenamed "February", was 44 Recce's task.
B and C squadrons led the regiment into "January" ten minutes behind schedule. The gapping parties had arrived almost half an hour late at the start line, a delay caused by the fact that many of the lamps lighting the approach route had gone out. A number of further difficulties and mistakes beset the squadrons. Number 2 gap was cleared by C squadron by 1.40am although the Scorpion had been damaged by a mine and then hit by anti-tank fire leaving the sappers to clear the gap by hand; number 1 gap was also cleared by C sqn almost three hours later at 4.30 am, but just west of the exit there was an enemy position. To the south gaps 3 and 4 presented even more difficulties for B sqn, soon after leaving its start line the sqn had run into mines in a deep sandy wadi which claimed three carriers and, believing this to the the eastern edge of "January", the squadron leader ordered flailing to begin. It was not "January", but mines that had been laid in front of it. One Scorpion overheated several times and broke down, enemy fire was heavy with machine-guns, mortars and artillery and the sqn sustained heavy casualties before reaching the eastern edge of the enemy minefield where the Scorpions fortunately were all back in working order through the efforts of their crews. By 2.15am, number 3 gap was clear but was useless for wheeled vehicles due to soft sand; one Scorpion was now disabled at the western end of the gap. The final gap, number 4 was cleared by hand half an hour after midnight, the Scorpion assigned to it having been knocked out three-quarters of the way through.
The minefields had been bigger than anticipated and resistance very strong; B sqn had been reduced to less than six carriers and casualites were severe. So bad were those casualites that 44 Recce's CO, Lieutenant Colonel Corbett-Winder, told Brigadier Roberts of 22 Armoured Brigade that his men could only clear two gaps instead of four in "February", the two squadrons could muster only one column each rather than two. The attack through "February" was due to start at 5.30am. It had to be called off: one gapping party was unable to get to "February"; the other reached it but came under heavy fire from the enemy. Dawn was breaking and, as any attempt to clear minefields in daylight would be suicidal, the operation was cancelled. One Scorpion, hit by anti-tank fire, had to be abandoned.
Daylight saw 22 Armoured Brigade deployed on either side of "January". Their situation worsened when the Free French were pushed off Himeimat and their commanding officer, the peopular and inspiring Colonel Amilakvari, killed. Throughout that day there was heavy fighting all along the Alamein front and 7th Armoured Division had orders to extend their bridgehead westward through "February" that night. The men of 44 Recce were to clear two gaps through which 22 Armoured would pass to be followed by 4 Light Armoured Brigade. Once again things did not go according to plan; although both gaps were complete by 2.30am, enemy fire was so heavy that the sappers were unable to mark the sides with dannert wire and lights; so much enemy anti-tank artillery was still operational that the British armour, after making one more attempt to pass through, was forced to withdraw. For 7th Armoured Division the situation had been virtually stalemated; 44 Recce was pulled back to a reserve position at Deir el Ragil where it remained until 2 November. After forcing its way through "February" the regiment had only four carriers surviving from 38, 13 officers and over 100 ranks had been killed or wounded.
As the Axis forces began to withdraw from the El Alamein line 44 Recce, at the head of 44th Division, began a pursuit of the Germans and Italians from Himeimat. For 70 miles the division harried the retreating foe, taking hundreds of prisoners and large quantities of arms and equipment after a number of minor actions. Then came news of the division's withdrawal. Worse was to come, the CinC, Middle East Forces, General Sir Harold Alexander, judged that the need for reinforcements for Eighth Army, plus the supply problems of the advance, meant that two of his divisions could no longer be kept in being; the axe fell on 8th Armoured and 44th Infantry Divisions. Informed that it would be disbanded also, 44 Recce was sent to Qassasin, in the Nile Delta, to await their fate. However, a stay of execution was ordered and the regiment was re-organised with Marmon-Harrington armoured cars replacing its Humber LRC's. Without an operational role it moved to the Citadel in Cairo in January 1943 to guard GHQ. That task ended in February and, by the end of that month, 44 Recce had moved to Gaza and 56th (London) Division which had left its own reconnaissance regiment in England on moving to the Middle East. By the begining of April, 56th Division was moving westwards to join Eighth Army which had broken the Mareth Line and was operating in Tunisia.
My Great Grandfather prior to Dunkirk was serving with the Royal Sussex Regiment, and my nan who i see regularly was born in India where they served. After Dunkirk he served the rest of the war with 44 Recce Regt and won a MiD, again i have no details of this even through my Great Uncle has his records. Was wondering if anyone remembered him at all. His name was John Knight and he was from Brighton. I believe by the time he got to 44 Recce regt he was a Lt or Captain. My family have many pictures, but the ones i have seen are of the Royal Sussex, but i will check and see if their is any of him with the Recce Regt. He finished his time in the army in 1948 as a Major at Bovington. But my nan always says she remembers the Black Cat on his arm during the was.
Hope someone can help with any memories, and as a serving member of the forces im very interested
Hello Lee and welcome to the forum. Great to have another Recce on board!
I am sure other members will be able to help you with your queries.
Hi Lee welcome to the forum. Great to have another Recce on board. Would your Great Grandfather be J W Knight as I have listed a WO II J. W. Knight M.I.D in 44 Recce.
Separate names with a comma.