Recce Assets of Armoured Divisions

Discussion in 'Recce' started by Obergefreiter, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. Obergefreiter

    Obergefreiter Junior Member

    Good evening everyone!

    British Infantry Divisions had at their disposal a Reconnaissance Regiment comparable in size and equipment to German Panzer Aufklärungs Abteilungen. German Infantry Divisions had no Recce element at all from 1942 on, the Aufklärungs Abteilung being replaced by a Divisions Füsilier Bataillon as a reserve combat formation.

    From D-Day on, the three British Armoured Divisions had Armoured Reconnaissance Regiments, in effect a fourth Armoured Regiment equipped with Cromwell Cruiser Tanks; the 7th Armoured Division was altogether equipped with Cromwells, the Guards and 11th Armoured had Shermans otherwise. At least, the Guards Armoured Division used its Armoured Recce Regiment in the same way as its Armoured Regiments, forming four "Combat Commands" following the US example, joining an Armoured Regiment and an Infantry Battalion.

    Only from September 1944, Armoured Car Regiments were transferred from Corps to the Armoured Division.

    My question is: how were the Armoured Recce Regiments expected to do the Recce job with their Cruiser Tanks, lacking the usual Armoured Cars?

    Greetings from Germany!
  2. singeager

    singeager Senior Member

    Interesting question:

    Can anyone clarify which reconnaissance corps regiments (the ones with 44 tac markings) actually used tanks in the true reconnaissance role and as their routine primary purpose?
    Ie, that of heading out into the unknown to find the enemy, establish deposition & strength, too report on terrain and to assess the best route of advance.
    Where on establishment, I suspect that most tanks were used for fire support / backup and followed the lighter smaller specialist vehicles. (Im sure Tom & others will corrcet me)
    Tanks for the true recce role, are far from ideal, being too heavy, too big, too slow and far too noisy.

    I know that the 27th Hussars used the Stuart 'Honey tanks' within their establishment
    This particular vehicle was perhaps the most suitable but even so, usually the turrets were removed to reduce the visual height & improve speed etc.
    The Inns of Court Regiment also removed the turrets from their armoured cars for the same reason.
  3. idler

    idler GeneralList

    My question is: how were the Armoured Recce Regiments expected to do the Recce job with their Cruiser Tanks, lacking the usual Armoured Cars?

    I recall a comment that was something along the lines of: 'recce in Normandy meant driving down a road until something fired at you.' On that basis, a Cromwell might have been marginally less vulnerable than a Stuart, plus it had a bigger, HE-capable gun in a proper three-man turret.

    My understanding is that Armd Car Regts would be well forward trying to find the enemy but avoiding contact. Armd Recce Regts would be operating closer to their division, not just looking for the enemy but having the capability to deal with minor opposition without requiring the deployment and delay of the main force - but is that actually 'recce'?

    In the event, the open battlefield that suited the Armd Car Regts only existed for the first week or so of the Normandy campaign, until the breakout and swan in August.

    7 Armd Div certainly employed their Armd Recce Regt - 8 Hussars - as flank and van guards on the way down to Villers-Bocage. To all intents and purposes, they also had XXX Corps' Armd Car Regt - 11 Hussars - under their command. They operated a little further out on the flanks, not so much in front.
  4. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Cant imagine using a Cromwell for recce as there was always an armoured car regiment for that purpose as recce's main task was to "observe and report back" - not fight -they did however get involved hence the many casualties..
  5. Obergefreiter

    Obergefreiter Junior Member

    Interestingly, in earlier times Bundeswehr Panzer Aufklärungs Bataillone had heavy platoons with Leopards and light platoons with eight-wheel Luchs armoured cars.

    As far as I know, the Armoured Car Regiments - at Corps level before being transferred to the Armoured Divisions in September 1944 - had Armoured Cars and Infantry in Armoured Half Tracks. They bore a green/blue AOS mark with the number 44. The Armoured Recce Regiments - AOS mark in blue/green with the number 45 - were in effect Tank Regiments with Cruisers. Like every British Tank or Armoured Regiment, they had a Recce platoon with Stuarts and a Liaison platoon with Dingos.

    By the way, during Barbarossa, my father had served with a Bicycle company, riding a full day's march ahead of his Infantry Regiment, lacking any modern means of communication, and only having available their usual machine guns, a horse-drawn twin-mount for AA defence and a handful of light mortars. Only on rare occasion they have been supported by one or two Assault Guns or self-propelled 20 mm AA guns.

    More than once, such advance companies have been wiped out to the last man!

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