56th Reconnaissance Corps

Discussion in 'Recce' started by Recce_Mitch, Nov 30, 2008.

  1. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    As Lesley has said this question was answered by me when you claimed he should be on the 53 Recce ROH & now you are saying he should be on the 56 Recce ROH. He was definitely with 15 Recce when he was killed & so he is on the 15 Recce ROH. When he was killed 56 Recce was in Italy not Germany.

  2. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    I found on Veterans Affairs Canada some video interviews by Ronald Arthur Tee of 56 Recce Regt who I had the pleasure of being in contact with when I first started my research into my Fathers service with 56 Recce.

    Short Bio
    Ronald Arthur Tee was born in Portsmouth, England, on the 1st December, 1919. His father served with the navy in WWI and after retiring from the service moved his family to a small village called Pinner in Northern London. At age 20, he was "called up" to the British Army. In February 1940 he joined the Queen's Royal Regiment and was posted to Newcastle. He later volunteered and joined the Reconnaissance Corps and became a member of the 56th Reconnaissance Battalion (as did my Father). In 1953, Ronald and his family moved to Canada to start a new life. He published a book in 2001sharing many stories and experiences he had as a British soldier during WWII called “A British Soldier Remembers” of which I have an Autographed copy. He also had a web site which was a present from his daughter and now can be found here:

    A British Soldier Remembers - 56th Reconnaissance Regiment

    He also helped me in obtaining an original Recce Badge.

    Service with 56 Recce
    July 1942 - Passed as Wireless Operator Gp. C, Class III
    October 1942 - Promoted to Lance Corporal
    14 October 1942 - Embarked Overseas (N. Africa)
    3 March 1943 - Promoted to Corporal
    3 October 1943 - Promoted to Lance Sergeant
    19 March 1944 - Awarded the Africa Star
    15 February 1944 - Promoted to Troop Sergeant
    8 May 1945 - Awarded the Italian Star 1939-45
    8 May 1945 - Five Service Chevrons.

    Ron sadly passed away in December 2012 at the age of 93

    Video links in following posts.

    Last edited: Mar 28, 2017
  3. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    From Hero to Coward

    Ron tells us how you can perform acts of bravery one day and the next day you may turn and run when you shouldn't.

    “Well, I'll tell you one thing right off the bat. One day you could be a hero, a real brave hero. The next day you could be a coward. It came just like that. You'd run when you shouldn't run. Or you'd do something brave that you never dreamt you would do. There is no definite answer to that. I found that. Interviewer: What does it take to turn a person from one to the other in the space of a day? How does that happen? It's all to do with the fear of your own life, you know. If it is black at night and people are coming towards you with their guns like this and you're just standing beside your armoured car, 'cause you're the only one on sentry duty, what the hell do you do? Sometimes you might run around to get to the other side of the car. Another time you might just go up and blast at them. It's very, very difficult to say. I found, and you'll find this in my book on a number of occasions, that I tried all my time in the army to save lives and not destroy lives and that included the enemy as well. I took four men, including a sergeant major, Germans, prisoner on my own because I could speak a little German and I fooled them. And using this little bit of German I came up close enough they saw, I was in the top of an armoured car, they saw my helmet and recognized it and they dropped their weapons. Now I could have, I had a sub-machine gun, I could have wounded or killed all of them, but my whole being said no and you might say well that was brave. Well, I didn't think it to be brave, I just took them in.”

  4. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    A Sense of Humour

    Ron tells us why he thinks a good sense of humour is an important trait for a soldier to possess.

    “I'm not saying that the British soldier was the best soldier in the world. Probably the best soldier in the world is the Ghurkha, but the reason that the British soldier was as good as he was, was his sense of humour and sense of humour will pull you through And the British, this isn't every single person, but generally speaking is known to have quite a sense of humour. And I really believe that had a lot to do with the way the civilians acted and the way the soldiers acted, in general. Interviewer: Can you expand on that a little bit? How is it that the sense of humour helps a person get through what they get through? Well, if you can laugh at anything, yeah I guess you can keep yourself going. You can always see something humorous, whatever it is. I mean, we had a lot of funny things happen there. My book is full of it. I haven't got stabbing Germans and all that kind of stuff, all the way through that book. There was a lot of funny times and they did mean something. I think they put your mind in a little better state. Not everybody maybe, but certainly most people. Certainly did me. 'Course I've always had a sense of humour.”

  5. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Risking Your Life for Eggs

    Ron recalls an episode where he went into a barn to collect some eggs and discovers there are Germans in the same barn.

    “With our armoured cars, we had these big ammunition boxes strapped to the front fenders that we put our clothes in and stuff like that. Well, we would use them or at least one of them and fill it full of straw or hay and we would get eggs from the Arabs in Sicily and the Italians in Italy. We always had eggs, most of the time. And there would come a time, one time, when we were... If we couldn't use our vehicles too much we were put back in the infantry. We took infantry work. So we were holding a line, we're here, there's a farmhouse and buildings right here and just the other side of that were the Germans, not very far. And we would go out, three or four or five men at a time and we're on night patrol. And the Germans would do the same. Sometimes we would clash and sometimes we wouldn't. This one time, and I was a sergeant then, this one time I took three other guys with me and we were out on the dark and I said to them once we got out there, I said, "Get in these bushes and stay there. I'm going to see if I can get some eggs," 'cause we were just about out of eggs. I went in this barn. You wouldn't believe the eggs that were there. Obviously, the farmer and everything had left for ages. The chickens were still there. Oh, this was great. So I found a box or something, I just forget what it was, I found something that I could put these eggs in. And I started putting these eggs up and I heard a noise. A couple of noises, you know and I'm sort of . . . it was a big old barn with lots of bits of rooms and I kind of looked through an aperture and I know there were Germans 'cause we were the only people there and they were whispering to each other and they're collecting eggs. So I never said anything and I just about got what I had come for and I put a few more in and left. As I say in the book, can you imagine risking your life to get some eggs?”

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  6. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Dive Bombers

    Ron recalls the Germans dive bombing them and how scary it was.

    “The first time... the Germans had a plane called the Stuka, it's a name like Stuka, it's not quite correct. My memory fails me. But I believe they had some kind of a thing fixed in somewhere or on their plane and they would dive bomb us. These planes would dive bomb us, Stuka dive bombers. You could hear them coming over and then they would come down. Hwooooeee!!! The noise of them coming down, you know. And as they would get down almost to the ground they would turn around and drop their bombs. They were bombers, not fighters. But this thing they had fastened made this terrible noise. It was bad enough what they were planning to do anyway but with these things... God, that was just so scary. After a while, everyone didn't land on you and you sort of got used to it, but I remember at first, when we first run into them, probably many a guy filled his pants.”

  7. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member


    Ron recites for us a poem, from his book, about comradeship.

    “Comradeship is the thing that... I'll tell you about Comradeship if I may do this. That's Something It's funny, how one can lie and remember things of days gone by. And in perhaps one short minute, recapture a past year and all that's in it. It's funny, how a quiet room, gives chance to ponder, leading our thoughts back through time to wander. Perhaps a tune or even a funny phrase, will recall something that happened in by-gone days. Everyone stores up things that have passed, some are forgotten, others will always last. But a soldier who has been to war, has in life's memory book, something more. "Something" that could only be, in the memories of men, like you and me. "Something" that is born amidst shot and shell, develops and grows in times of bloody hell. This "comradeship" as it is known by us, of which we never make much fuss. Is this "Something" which in our minds was set in lands were many are lying yet. And so I remember from the start, the lads that I knew, now far apart. My soldiering is finished, I leave it all behind, But that "Something" comes with me in my mind. That's all about what we're talking about.”

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  8. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Our First Casualties

    Ron talks about experiencing the first casualties.

    “Well, the very first combat I... Before we actually met the Germans we got so far they were hoping that we would get to Tunis itself and even stop the Germans from landing. The Germans were already in North Africa fighting Montgomery, but there was only some headquarters and whatever in Tunis. They brought more troops over from Italy and wherever, to Tunis to stop us and they got them over before we got to them, otherwise it would have been over very quickly. So we run into the Stuka dive bombers before we even got to the Germans. And then the one morning we went out and we run into the Germans coming our way and that was our first casualty. Three men: an officer, a driver and a gunner were taken prisoner. That was our first what you might call casualty. Then there was this little village, Arab village, that the Germans were after and which we were holding with the artillery, and we had some battles there. The artillery had 25 pounders. This is not a gun that shoots straight at a tank. This is one that goes up in the air, you know, it's a 25 pounder. They were shooting those 25 pounders straight at tanks. We didn't have any tanks over there then, just armoured cars. That was... I was scared, no doubt about it, I was scared. These boys, the artillery boys were wonderful. They stopped that tank attack and then we went through them to the other, the edge of the village and looked up the road and there's a tank right in the middle of the road. And with our glasses we could look, we could see a German in the turret. We wondered what the heck was going on, so my officer said to me, "Take your car and go up and see what is happening up there." "Take your car," you know down the road. I said to my driver, "Look," I said, "don't go slow." I said, "To hell with mines or anything like that." I said, "Go as fast as it will go and go from side of the road to the other please. That guy's going to... sitting up there, going to shoot us... a shell at us." I said, "He might miss." And by the time we got there we could see he was a very blond German just like you would see in the movies. From here up out of the turret. When we got up close, there is nothing below him here. One of these 25 pounders had gone right through and of course he was dead.”

  9. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Best Thing that ever Happened to me

    Ron tells us about how he "won" leave from Italy.

    “You see a guy die, even if it was one of your mates, it doesn't upset you like you'd think it would. It really doesn't. A funny thing really. You think more about it maybe after the war. One thing that happened to me that was very, very... This wasn't sad and it wasn't funny. There came a time when the submarines were being knocked off of, the German submarines knocked off, the planes and the boats were getting through with no problem whatsoever, they decided to give the British Army leave from Italy. And to start off there was one man for each company, that's like a hundred men, would be picked some way or other, to go at a time. We were in a bad place at that time with the mules and the mud and I'd been on duty that night. I'd come back in the morning, got into this bed in the farmhouse. Woke up with somebody to tell me that we were just about to have a draw to see who goes on this leave. We talked a little about it, but we weren't sure. Next thing you know, I fell asleep, next thing you know, I wasn't a sergeant then, corporal I think, this sergeant come, my troop sergeant came to me and said, "You've been picked. You've won." I assumed I had been drawn out of a hat and I couldn't believe it. I just couldn't believe the thought of me going home after that length of time. I just couldn't believe it. And then, this was the bit that I think about so very, very often This guy's name was Crotch. His name was Crotch. You can imagine what we called him, Sweaty. We always called him Sweaty. I met him after the war, since I've been in Canada. Went back for a reunion and I had this feeling all along there was something wrong in this sorting out of the hat and I said to Sweaty, "Tell me." I said, "The war is all over now. Tell me what did really happen that morning when you said you drew my name out of the hat?" "Well," he said, "it's all over I guess and nobody's going to worry now," he said, "But we were all, it's just officers and troop sergeants that did this. We all got together and decided we wanted you to go." And I said it as I say in the book. You can keep all your medals, you can keep all your citations. That was a, from your very young friends, that was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

  10. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Never Rush It

    Ron tells us why he would never rush things even though he was being instructed through the wireless to go quicker.

    “Well you got to have your mind very much set on everything you're doing. No messing, no talking about anything when you're doing what you're doing because what you're doing is, you're looking for something hidden behind that bush up there, maybe an 88mm gun ready to blast you right off the road. So, you know there is nobody between you and the Germans and all the time it's coming through on the wireless, "Carry on, carry on," telling you to go quicker because somebody way back at the brigadier is telling your commander they are looking for some information as to how far the Germans are gone back from their last attack and they're wanting to know what's going on. Well, I would never let this interfere with my thoughts. I would never rush it. If I thought there was... Like, for instance, one time we were coming along doing nothing, as it were. Well we know the Germans are just in front of us, somewhere. I, we pulled into a farmhouse. I ran upstairs on the second or third floor, it was a big house, to look over this hill that we'd stopped, just before a hill in the road, where we went in. Now if you look from this window and look down and sure enough there was two German motorcycles and sidecars. The sidecars had machine guns on them, waiting right there just over the brow for us to come over. So that's the sort of thing that you see I would do.”

  11. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Post War Depression

    Ron tells us how difficult he found things after the war was over.

    “One of my worst times of all, was when I came out of the army. I didn't have a wife interested in me or a girlfriend at home. Come home to mum and dad. I got quite depressed. I missed my mates. God, I missed them. What am I to do, you know, I'm 27. That was the worst thing, not the war. After the war for a while anyway. I have a couple of poems in my book, you'll read them, that I wrote. Interviewer: Can you expand that, on that for me? Help me understand that through all those years and all those horrible things with your mates, and then almost in an instant, you're separated from them. That's right. Interviewer: Help me understand that, what you go through. It's as bad as quite a lot of things, I guess. I mean, don't forget, you've been years with guys, looking at death up around every corner and suddenly you're... it's all over. You can't believe it. You thought you'd be jumping for joy. Well, I'm sure that it would be, not completely different, but certainly somewhat different, for a man who's got a couple of kids at home and a dear sweet wife. But I, it was a long time before I got settled down at all. I got over it eventually, that's for sure.”

  12. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Thank you Paul for posting the links to videos, a great find. Of course much of it is in mentioned in his book, but it is really lovely to see Ron talking on film. Hearing Ron recite the poem about comradeship is very emotional.

    Frank Barratt, whom I met last November, was great friends with Ron and kept in touch after the war. Ron and his wife came over to see Frank and his wife a few times and not to be outdone, Frank and his wife Kay, visited Canada too!

    I would love to have listened to those two guys when they got together-I bet they had some stories to tell :wink:

  13. sanchez

    sanchez Well-Known Member

    thanks for that link Paul , wonderful to see Ron talking and the poem was very moving .
  14. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    Rank: Corporal
    Service No: 4807271
    Date of Death: 17/10/1943
    Age: 29
    Regiment/Service: Reconnaissance Corps
    Unit: 56th Regt.
    Grave Reference: XIV. A. 3.
    Additional Information: Husband of Ethel May Gretton, of Burton-on-Trent.

    From the Nominal Roll of the Lincolnshire Regiment. Transferred to the Reconnaissance Corps on 8 March 1941.

  15. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Rob thanks for posting


    Attached Files:

  16. Dai54

    Dai54 New Member

    New Year Greetings to all the Recce Family!
    My father, George Langford, 7614466, served with 56 Recce in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy, but I do not think he made it as far as Austria before being sent home. Like many veterans he didn’t speak much about his experiences but, the "REME", watching dog fights over Kent, Bren Gun Carriers, 78th “Battleaxe Div”, the Battle of the Kasserine Pass, snowdrifts in Italy, the Battle of Monte Cassino, and also Italian children asking “Biscotto Johnny?” would some times slip out in conversation when questioned.
    I never pressured him too much as I was aware that it brought back memories some of which could cause him anguish, and I can remember as a teenager my mother making me aware that the artillery gun flashes on black and white war films would cause him to have restless sleep for a quite a few days.
    So today I thought it would be apt to make an initial post as Jan 1st would have been his birthday and I believe I am right in thinking that, from what he told me, and what I have since read, he was stuck in convey in the snowdrifts around the time of his 25th birthday in January 1944.
    There are a few pictures I can post in the coming days but I believe I have found him in the picture with Jack Bradley as posted on ABSR. The aircraft light cannon addition to “Cambria” is mentioned both in “Only the Enemy in Front” and also the Regimental History and where it is identified as belonging to A Squadron.
    My father is sitting third from the left on the second chair in the front row.
    So to sum up. I believe he was a driver/mechanic in A Squadron, but I am not aware of which troop. I have seen that he is mentioned as on roll in the War Diaries in December 1943 as “7614466 Cpl Langford. G. (REME)”. But then I have in my possession a photo of him with three stripes that was taken in Cairo just over 6 months later. What happened in the meantime intrigues me. Any insights info that anyone has access to would obviously be greatly appreciated.

  17. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Hello and welcome to the forum Dai and a happy New Year. Lovely to have another 56 Recce on here. :) ​My father was in C Squadron.
    Have you read the appendices for 56 Recce in addition to the war diaries which are posted on the forum? They are usually at the end of the diaries for each month. Usually promotions are mentioned in them.

    Look forward to seeing your photos.

  18. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Dai welcome to the forum, great to have another Recce on board. My father was in HQ Sqn. Also look forward to seeing your photos.

  19. Dai54

    Dai54 New Member

    Hi Again,
    Many Thanks for your welcome. I've been locating my fathers small section of photographs and scanning them onto the computer.
    This first one is probably the most significant as whilst the other pictures were loose in an envelope he had gone to the trouble of getting this group one framed.
    Haven't a clue where it was taken or at what stage in their recce adventures but obviously presume it relates to A squadron in some way.
    My father George is sixth from the left in the back row.


    Attached Files:

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  20. LesMartin

    LesMartin Junior Member

    Hi Dai
    Thanks for the posts, my father was also in A Squadron, he was in 8 troop, his troop leader was Lt Charles Ridley, unfortunately my father is not in your group photo, perhaps he may be in some of the others you have, I hope so, look forward to seeing your future posts, my father died in 1970, I never had a chance to talk to him as I was only 11 at the time. My mum said he would never talk about his war experiences

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