RECCE, but what unit/regiment?

Discussion in 'Recce' started by etybagem, Aug 19, 2010.

  1. etybagem

    etybagem Junior Member

    Please find attached a photograph of my late Uncle Henry McGeown. It appears from his uniform that he was in a Reconnaissance group. As you can see underneath the Reconnaissance shoulder flash there is a St Andrews Cross badge and then underneath that a flash beginning ‘MOU...’ and then at the bottom of the tunic sleeve are what appears to be two crossed flags. I do not recognise the cap badge.
    Henry was born in December 1918 and may have been in the TA before the start of WW2. Allegedly he went to France with the BEF and was one of the last to leave France as his regiment formed part of the rearguard defending the evacuation. There are also family stories that Henry fought in North Africa and Italy before joining the D-Day landings. He never spoke of the war but did pass the comment when watching A Bridge Too Far that he was at Arnhem. He also mentioned being billeted with a Dutch family and once had a pair of Dutch army binoculars. He also owned a souvenir ‘cat of nine tails’ that he claimed the Germans used to use on prisoners. It was believed by now deceased relatives that Henry fought through Europe right to Berlin.
    Whether any of this fits in with his unit or whether he was in the same unit for the whole of WW2 is unknown; his family are now all deceased so direct evidence is hard to come by.
    Any assistance on his regiment and its WW2 activities would be much appreciated, as, naturally, would anything on Henry himself if by chance anyone knew him.
    I have added a couple of photographs of my Uncle Henry McGeown in uniform but in both cases the tunic is quite without insignia or identifying marking as far as I can see - perhaps they are from his TA days, if he was indeed in the TA before WW2. The only other piece of information I have about Henry is that he was apparently taught to ski as he was to go to Norway but, in the event, he neither went there nor used that skill; it was also suggested that he was in the Royal Scots Reconnaissance Corp but I have been unable to trace such a Corp. I do not have a copy of his service record but am considering how best to obtain this - his immediate family are deceased and he never married so as his nephew I should qualify to receive them.
    Etybagem
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi and welcome to the forum.

    The cap badge does indeed look like the Recce Regiment to me.

    The badge on his shoulder is the 52nd (Lowland) Division (Mountain Division)

    The badge on his sleeve means he is signals trained.

    Have you got his service records? They are essential for any serious research to be done.

    Cheers
    Andy
     
    Smudger Jnr likes this.
  3. CL1

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

  4. redlynch

    redlynch Junior Member

    Specifically - 52 (Lowland) Recce Regt, Royal Armoured Corps
     
  5. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    Hi and welcome to the forum I find this comment by you intresting " He never spoke of the war but did pass the comment when watching A Bridge Too Far that he was at Arnhem". The 52nd were not involved the Battle of Arnhem see this excerpt from the Pegasus archives. The 52nd (Lowland) Division were to be transported to Deelen Airfield by air to reinforce the 1st Airborne Division, but only once the 2nd British Army had reached Arnhem and the area was safe. Despite offers to be delivered into the thick of the action once it was recognised that the plight of the 1st Airborne was serious, the Division was not used and remained in England. The Battle of Arnhem Archive so was he attached to 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadon:huh: in one of the 3 troops it had there all the best, WTID45.
     
  6. I was thinking the same myself, as 52nd Div arrived in NWE during October 1944...

    But, Joslen's OOB notes that 52nd Recce Regt formed part of the 157 Inf Bde Group that went ahead of the Div, landing in NWE 6th Sep 1944. So he may well have been there during MG, but the Bde didn't participate. If memory serves there was continued action around Arnhem after the airborne epic was over, and 52nd Lowland were heavily involved in Holland generally after their arrival in theatre.
     
  7. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Etybagem,

    I believe Andy was the frst to suggest the 52nd (Lowland) Reconnaissance Regiment.

    It all fits, with Mountain warfare training, before being re-roled as an air portable formation.

    First saw action in Operation Market Garden.

    A squadron took part in the Rhine crossing in March 1945 before the Regiment participated in the advance on and capture of Bremen.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  8. etybagem

    etybagem Junior Member

    I have added some detail to my original post.
     
  9. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    I have just found an illustration of a Lt in the 52nd (Lowland) Recce and it shows a patch under the St Andrews cross, the wording "Mountain".

    Definitely the 52nd Recce.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  11. etybagem

    etybagem Junior Member

    I was thinking the same myself, as 52nd Div arrived in NWE during October 1944...

    But, Joslen's OOB notes that 52nd Recce Regt formed part of the 157 Inf Bde Group that went ahead of the Div, landing in NWE 6th Sep 1944. So he may well have been there during MG, but the Bde didn't participate. If memory serves there was continued action around Arnhem after the airborne epic was over, and 52nd Lowland were heavily involved in Holland generally after their arrival in theatre.

    Sorry, but I am confused by some of the jargon. What are 'Joslen's OOB notes' and what is meant by 'during MG'?
     
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Joslen is an Author of a book that contains Order Of Battles (OOB) for the British Army in WW2 (Army formations-very boring) and MG is Op Market Garden (aka Arnhem etc)
     
  13. jawan

    jawan Old Hand

    Welcome, Firstly the history of 52 Recce is well recorded in Time Spent by Maj TDW Whitfield pub in 1946 (and rare), The Fighting 52nd Recce by Carl Shilleto pub 2000 (I have a spare copy if that helps), and mentioned in the excellent divisional history Mountain & Flood (scarce), there is also an incredibly rare little pamphlet published at the end of the war called Echelon Episodes about 52 Recce. Secondly, 52 Recce were formed on 8 Jan 1941 as follows: A Sqn from Royal Scots & KOSB, B Sqn from RSF & Cameronians and C Sqn from HLI & Gordon's. it is quite possible your uncle served with other units before transferring to the Recce Corps but from what I can tell he probably did not join the TA pre-war. 52 Recce did not serve overseas till Sep/Oct 1944 and then only in NWE. Hope this helps.
     
  14. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Welcome to the forum

    Formed as the Reconnaissance Regiment for the 52nd Lowland Division with which it served until its eventual disbandment, the 52nd Recce trained for mountain warfare with their Division. This mountain role never came off and the Regiment first went into action on the flat stretch of Holland between Eindhoven and Nijmegen at the time of the Arnhem operation (September 1944). The Regiment subsequently fought to the end of the campaign in North-West Europe.

    Cheers
    Paul
     
  15. etybagem

    etybagem Junior Member

    [FONT=&quot]Welcome, Firstly the history of 52 Recce is well recorded in Time Spent by Maj TDW Whitfield pub in 1946 (and rare), The Fighting 52nd Recce by Carl Shilleto pub 2000 (I have a spare copy if that helps), and mentioned in the excellent divisional history Mountain & Flood (scarce), there is also an incredibly rare little pamphlet published at the end of the war called Echelon Episodes about 52 Recce. Secondly, 52 Recce were formed on 8 Jan 1941 as follows: A Sqn from Royal Scots & KOSB, B Sqn from RSF & Cameronians and C Sqn from HLI & Gordon's. it is quite possible your uncle served with other units before transferring to the Recce Corps but from what I can tell he probably did not join the TA pre-war. 52 Recce did not serve overseas till Sep/Oct 1944 and then only in NWE. Hope this helps.

    Interestingly one of the few remaining relations who as a young child knew Henry is convinced that he served with the Royal Scots Reconnaissance Corp. That would fit in well if he was in the TA and then A Sqn of the Royal Scots before becoming a member of 52 Recce. On Arnhem I suppose Henry's comments could be ambiguous; did he participate in the battle or was he billetted there after the battle? This could also fit, particularly given his skiing training, with "the 52nd Recce trained for mountain warfare with their Division. This mountain role never came off and the Regiment first went into action on the flat stretch of Holland between Eindhoven and Nijmegen at the time of the Arnhem operation (September 1944). The Regiment subsequently fought to the end of the campaign in North-West Europe." [/FONT]
     
  16. etybagem

    etybagem Junior Member

    I mentioned that my Uncle Henry was thought to have been in the TA before WW2 and that he had allegedly been with the BEF and formed part of the rearguard at Dunkirk and had fought subsequently in Africa, Italy and Europe, having possibly participated in the fighting at or around Arnhem. Responses to date suggest that this may be family hearsay rather than fact. Not being knowledgeable enough I would not argue against this but I have stumbled upon this page on wikipedia 52nd (Lowland) Infantry Division - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that suggests the 52nd Lowland was a TA unit and formed [FONT=&quot]part of the 'Second BEF' that remained in France after Dunkirk, eventually being evacuated in late June 1940 during Operation Ariel.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The Wikipedia entry alleges that it trained as a mountain warfare formation but was never used in that role, which fits in with the uniform Henry is wearing one photograph. The entry continues by claiming that in August 1944, it became part of the First Allied Airborne Army as being a mountain formation it had little heavy equipment and transport and could operate as an air-transportable formation. It adds that the first major operations of the 52nd were not in mountainous terrain or through the air, but deployed below sea level on the flooded polders around the Scheldt Estuary of Belgium and the Netherlands. Operation Vitality and Operation Infatuate were aimed at capturing South Beveland and the island of Walcheren to open the mouth of the Scheldt estuary. This would enable the Allies to use the port of Antwerp as a supply route for the troops in North-West Europe. It was in this vital operation that the 52nd Division was to fight its first great battle with brilliant success.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The Wikipedia entry notes that the famous territorial Regiments incorporated in the 52nd Lowland Division were all drawn from the Scottish Lowlands – my uncle came from West Lothian – and included the 7th/9th Bn of The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment)[/FONT]
    Does any of this seem plausible given his uniform and the family stories about his history? I will try to get a copy of his records to answer the question with finality.
    [FONT=&quot][/FONT]
     
  17. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Don't trust Wiki verbatum and have you applied for those Service Records yet? ;)
     
  18. Nothing incorrect re the Wiki entry you've got. 52nd did deploy briefly to France in 1940, and by brief I mean 11th June to 17th June under General HQ (GHQ) BEF.

    Between May 1942 and June 1944, the Div was trained and held available for deployment as a Mountain formation, which was a type of Div notably lacking from the British order of battle. There was a definite attempt to convince the Germans that the Allies would strike in Norway at some point, so having a mountain div on the books helped in that respect. In August 1944, the Div was selected as a candidate for airlanding operations, but this was not in the same manner as the gliderborne Airlanding Brigades of the two Airborne Divs. Their role was more to be flown in by transports and landed on captured runways.

    As is often the case with military preparations, none of this came to pass, and the only Mountain Div in the army ended up fighting along the rather flat terrain of Holland from late September, early October of 1944. They joined 21AG just prior to the 50th (Northumbrian) Div leaving and returning to the UK. It remained in Northwest Europe until August 1945.

    Gary
     
  19. etybagem

    etybagem Junior Member

    Don't trust Wiki verbatum and have you applied for those Service Records yet? ;)

    Drew5233 - As Henry died unmarried some years ago and has no surviving direct family I qualify as his nephew to get a copy of his service record but I need a copy of his death certificate. I am in course of getting that now so that I can put in my request. I hope to be in a position to proceed with that soon. When in the distant future I obtain the information I will post a summary here.
    Thanks
    Etybagem
    :)
     
  20. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Any proof of death will do-A photo of his grave for example.
     

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