- Reconnaissance Corps during the Second World War -
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- Reconnaissance Corps 1st Airborne Recce Squadron
- Reconnaissance Corps 1st Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 2nd Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps, 2nd Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 3rd (Royal Northumberland Fusiliers) Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Regiment, 3rd
- Reconnaissance Corps 4th Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 5th Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps, 6th Airborne Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 6th Armoured Airborne Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 11th (East African) Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 15th Independent Recce Squadron
- Reconnaissance Corps 15th (Scottish) Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 18th Recce Battalion
- Reconnaisance Corps, 18th Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 24th (Guards) Independent Recce Squadron
- Reconnaissance Corps 29th Independent Recce Squadron
- Reconnaissance Corps 38th Independent Recce Squadron
- Reconnaissance Corps 38th (Welsh) Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 43rd (Wessex) Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 44th Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 45th Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 46th Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 47th Independent Recce Squadron
- Reconnaissance Corps 48th Independent Recce Squadron
- Reconnaissance Corps 49th (West Riding) Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps, 49th Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 50th Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 51st (Highland) Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 52nd (Lowland) Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 53rd (Welsh) Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 54th Independent Recce Squadron
- Reconnaissance Corps 54th Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 55th Independent Recce Squadron
- Reconnaissance Corps 56th Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 59th Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 61st Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 63rd Recce Training Centre
- Reconnaissance Corps 76th Independent Recce Squadron
- Reconnaissance Corps 77th Independent Recce Squadron
- Reconnaissance Corps 80th (Holding and Training) Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 81st (West African) Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Corps 82nd (West African) Recce Regiment
- Reconnaissance Regiment, GHQ Liaison Regiment (Phantom)
4th Battalion, Royal Northumberland Fusiliers was converted to a motorcycle battalion in 1938, they served with 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division which was a Motor Division. They proceeded to France in January 1940 and saw action in France and Belgium, including the action on the Ypres-Comines Canal. They were evacuated from Dunkirk in June 1940 and came under command of Home Forces until the 30 April 1941 when the battalion was redesignated as 50th Battalion, Reconnaissance Corps and rejoined 50th Division. In June 1941 they were sent to North Africa via a stay in Cyprus from July to November 1941 and in Iraq from November to December 1941. 50 Recce was attached to 150th Infantry Brigade but from February to June 1942 it was assigned to 22nd Armoured Brigade. They returned home in June 1942. On the 6th of June 1942 the battalion was renamed 50th Regiment, Reconnaissance Corps, but in March 1943 they reverted to being 4th Battalion, Royal Northumberland Fusiliers. The battalion was placed in suspended animation on the 25th of April 1944, when the personnel formed three independent machine gun companies for 21st Army Group: 1st Independent Machine Gun Company assigned to the Guards Armoured Division, 2nd Independent Machine Gun Company assigned to the 11th Armoured Division and 3rd Independent Machine Gun Company assigned to the 7th Armoured Division. All three served throughout the North-West Europe Campaign. They variously saw action at Odon, Bourguébus Ridge, Mont Pinçon, The Nederrijn, The Rhineland, and The Rhine.
The 8th Battalion, Royal Northumberland Fusiliers was formed on the 18th of June 1939 as a motorcycle battalion. On the 2nd of October 1939 they joined 23rd (Northumbrian) Division. They proceeded to France on the 22nd of April 1940. The Division was to be engaged in labour and training duties, and embarked without their artillery and with few of their signals and administration units. The division suffered heavy casualties on the 20th of May 1940, in an attempt to delay the German advance at Arras. They were evacuated from Dunkirk. The 23rd Division was then disbanded due to the heavy losses. The 7th Northumberlands came under command of Home Forces until November 1940 when they joined 3rd Infantry Division as a motorcycle battalion. On 30 April 1941 they transferred to the Reconnaissance Corps and were redesignated 3rd Battalion, Reconnaissance Corps, on 6 June 1942 they were renamed 3rd Regiment, Reconnaissance Corps. 3rd Infantry Division landed on Sword Beach on the 6th of June 1944 and fought through the Battle of Normandy (Caen, Bourguébus Ridge, Mont Pinçon), the Netherlands (The Nederrijn) and on through the Rhineland and the Rhine, at the end of the conflict they were in Bremen.
If you can provide any additional information, especially on actions and locations at specific dates, please add it here.
Those known to have served with
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Adams James Henry. Tpr.
- Alexander Aaron. Cpl.
- Barber William Henry. Tpr.
- Bestwick Arthur. Cpl.
- Blacker Alan James.
- Brazendale Arthur. Pte.
- Briant Frank Herbert. Sgt
- Bright Stanley Sidney. Trp. (d.4th Sep 1944)
- Bright Stanley Sidney. Tpr. (d.4th Sep 1944)
- Burke Joseph. Tpr. (d.10th Aug 1944)
- Clare Sydney. Sgt.
- Clark R W. Cpl.
- Coleman Arthur David. Tpr.
- Culliss Kenneth. Sgt.
- David Leonard Peter. Tpr.
- Dixon Godfry J.R..
- Ellis Norman Peter. Cpl. (d.2nd Sep 1944)
- Ford John Henry Terry. Lt.
- Gardiner Peter. Sgt.
- Gardner John Alexander.
- Garrett Norman. Tpr
- Gibbings Thomas . Sergeant
- Gibbons Stanley. Trooper
- Gibson Howard P.. Sgt.
- Harris Frederick Fitzherbert. Sgt
- Hedges Garfield Desmond. Tpr.r
- Hickmott Alfred James. Sgt.
- Hoddy Herbert . Cpl. (d. )
- Kenyon Frank. Tpr.
- Kew Douglas. S/Sgt.
- Lambert . Sgt.
- Lawley Walter.
- McClure Roy. Cpl.
- Miller James Douglas.
- Morgan Ernest. Trooper
- Neilson David John. Sgt.
- Nicholls Hugh. Pte.
- Norris Kenneth Raymond.
- Olpin Francis Arthur Edward.
- Osman Charles Arthur George. L/Sgt.
- Page Ron.
- Pearman Arthur Edward. Tpr.
- Pennington Harold. Pte.
- Powell David George. Sgt.
- Rollinson Ernest Arthur John. Cpl.
- Sanderson John Joseph.
- Sellman Ernest Leonard. Tpr. (d.24th June 1944)
- Spence Arthur.
- Stevens Adam Topping. Tpr.
- Studley Alan Vernon. Sgt.
- Taylor H B.
- Thomas Arthur. Tpr.
- Wade Frederick William. Sergeant
- Walton James.
- Weller Arthur William. Cpl.
The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List
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Sgt Frederick Fitzherbert Harris 53rd Welsh Division Royal Armoured Corps 53 ReconnaissanceI am looking for information on the 53 Reconnaissance Unit which my father was transferred to in January 1941. I know they were attached to the 53rd Welsh Division Royal Armoured Corps Unit on 1st January 1944 and went to Normandy with them. What I am trying to find out is where they were from January 1941 until they were transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps and sent to Normandy. Did they see any action? (particularly in Africa as my late father said he was there) I think they may have been stationed around Maidstone in Kent during these years. I would be grateful for any information anyone has on 53 Reconnaissance.Mary Wood
Sgt Frank Herbert Briant Recconnaisance CorpI was born on 20th August 1939 and two weeks later my father went to war with the 2nd Battalion. He became a Dunkirk veteran. In March 1941 he was in the Recconnaisance Corp
and later that year he became a sergeant. In 1943 he was in North Africa and in 1944 remained with 1st Battalion although he transferred to the Royal Armoured Corp. He was later demobbed and in January 1946 drowned off Hengistbury Head with two other mates whilst fishing. As I was only 6 years old at the time I only have two memories of him therefore my question is very relevant.
I have a newspaper photo taken in the Middle East dated 6th August 1945 which shows a group of Sgts an S.S.M and a S.Q.M.S The names of these men are:- Sgts Brookes, Kenchington, Scarth, Nelson, Cresswell, Lorryman, Lance, Harding, Stratton, Briant, Penny, Hancock, Morris, Masterman, Barrison, and Cole. The SQMS's name is STRIDE and the SSM's name is DENNIS, can anyone tell me more about these men ie personal memories particularly if they involved my father.
There was another photo of my father standing in front of the Sphinx with another soldier but this photo has been lost over the years, does anyone know about that photo?Richard Frank Briant
Trooper Stanley Gibbons 59 RECCEMy mother married Stanley Gibbons on 23rd January 1943 in Leeds. Stanley gives his rank as Trooper 59 R.E.C.C.E. 4543978. I am compiling a family history and wondered if anyone could give me any information about where Stanley may have served during WW2. Thank you.Lynn Rhodes-Shaw
Francis Arthur Edward "Frank" Olpin Reconnaissance CorpsMy grandfather, Francis Arthur Edward Olpin, known as Frank, used to tell me that he was in the Reconnaissance Corps and was one of the first wave who landed in France; he was parachuted in. He was shot in the back by a French sniper in a graveyard and sent back to the UK where he ended his war years in hospital. He died two years ago, still troubled by his wound (and his memories). He used to say that there were 6 men in his group and he was one of the only survivors.
He was based at Catterick just before he left for France.
He was living in Bristol at the time.
Does anyone know how I can find out exactly which regiment he was in? I would like to complete his historyDorothy Green
Sergeant Thomas " " Gibbings 'B' SquadronThomas Gibbings was my Grandfather, he served in the 46th Recce Regt and the R.A.C and as far as I know was at the Salerno Landings and eventually in North Africa. I would dearly love to hear from anyone with any knowledge.David Hill
Tpr. Leonard Peter David 10 Troop, B squadron 52 Recce RegimentDeborah Fox
Cpl. Herbert " " Hoddy B Sqn. 61st Reconnaissance Regiment. (d. )My late father, Herbert Hoddy served with the 61st Recce, B Sqn from 1941 and ended the war in Lipstadt in Germany as a Clerk (Sgt.) also serving with 7 Troop, B Sqn 59th Recce and 12 Troop, C Sqn 43rd Recce. I have 300 letters of his sent to my late mother and only read, by me, in 2008. I am compiling a history of the action that he, and many other, saw during WW2 and will be making this public at sometime in the future. I would love to hear from anyone who knew my father or has any info on his regiments.Mike Hoddy
Sgt. Peter Gardiner 53rd Reconnaissance RegimentI am the grandson of Sgt Peter Gardiner, who enlisted in the newly activated Reconnaissance Corps 53 Regiment on January 19 1942. He saw action with his unit in France, Holland, Belguim and Germany. I am fortunate enough to hold on to his records from the MOD, as well as personal photographs and stories. I have recently visited Holland, and a city there that was liberated by the 53rd after heavy fighting. I have also found great info from books which talk about their actions.
My granddad was a bricklayer before the war, and what encouraged him to join the Recce Corps was that its soldiers were of the highest standard. Men had to come top on IQ tests before getting in and the press claimed they were as good as the commandos.
My granddad trained at the No 1 Reconnaissance Training Centre at Lochmaben, Scotland before heading down to Catterick. He landed in France in late June. In one incident he was leading a patrol that was recceing some crossroads. He got up on a hill and down below he could see a 88mm Flak gun, with about five Germans firing it unaware that they were being watched. He observed them carefully, and like all proper reconnaissance involved, reported their presence. With dread, he looked at each German through his binoculars then got on the radio to call in an artillery strike. In the next moment he heard the shells come ripping down killing all of those poor Germans and destroying the gun. Smoke was everywhere and what was left was a horrible stench of death and cordite which has never left my granddad since.
He lost his best friend in France too. His name was Sgt Alexander Grant, from Edinburgh just like my granddad. He was a middle-weight boxer in the regiment and my granddad was welter-weight champion. They both used to train together locally when on leave. Does anyone have any more info on Sgt Grant? I will be very grateful for any info anyone has.
Despite witnessing horrible things in the war, my granddad did have some funny stories. In Belgium, during the freezing winter of 1944 'The Battle of the Bulge' as many may recognise it, he was out on another patrol when they came across this old train carriage in the snow. They ripped off planks of wood from it to make a fire, when inside they discovered a stock of wine, cigars and women's fur coats! They were so happy they were smashing the necks off the wine bottles and letting it stream down their faces, but still managing a crate per man. They didn't care much for it though, and started to look for brandy, however I think they got drunk. They put on the women's fur coats and started smoking the cigars! When they got back to their lines like that, the entire regiment must have been laughing!
My granddad was finally discharged from the Recce Corps in 1946, at the time of its disbandment and joined the North Irish Horse until 194... He did win a medal but i'm not sure which one. I would like to find this out.
Please, if anyone has any info could they contact me. Are there any veterans who served in 53 Recce and knew my granddad? Also, does anyone have any information on a man called Paul Rockfeld? He was another friend of my granddad who served in the same unit who died in 1946. All I have is a photograph of him but nothing about his background.This would be kindly appreciated. Thank you.Michael Gardiner
Cpl. Aaron "Alec" Alexander 9th Btn. Devonshire RegimentMy father Aaron Alexander was called up and went into the 9th Devonshire Regiment on April 2, 1940. After three years he was transferred to the 53rd Welsh Recce Regiment.
He was a radio operator and a Right Recce driver. June 6, 1944 his regiment went over to France and landed in Caen and Biager. They went straight into action and many vehicles and men were lost on the first day.
They went through France and onto Lille (which they liberated). A message came through that a German general wanted to surrender and they were told to make their way across the border into Belgium to Ghent to meet up with the General. Instead of surrendering, the German's took my father and his regiment prisoners.
They ended up in Stalag 4B at Muelberg. Two hundred prisoners in a large hut, food was black bread and a sort of soup. Once they were registered they could get some food via the Red Cross. To get these parcels they had to walk underground for a distance of three miles, and then they only had one parcel between several men.
Lots of things terrible things happened whilst in the camp but he would never tell me. When the war was nearing the end the German guards left the camp, leaving the male villagers to guard the prisoners. They were finally liberated by the Russians, but although many of the prisoners tried to tell the Russians that the men guarding them were not German solders, many of the villagers were killed. My dad did mention that part of the camp was separated by razer wire and seemed to be a concentration camp.Adrienne Alexander
John Alexander Gardner Recce CorpsI have a few remarkable events in a young man's war career, like so many others, not divulged till the end. My aim in contacting you is to talk to any other vets of the recce corp as its history was short and confused. My father was one of the lucky few in front of the Highland div, mainly Black Watch. Is there anyone who can help in my research? John Gardner(Son)John Gardner
H B Taylor 8th Recce Rgt. Reconnaissance CorpsDoes any one know of H B Taylor of 8 Recce Regiment? This is to clear up a family mystery. His details appeared after my mothers death. The Details are: 4 squadron, 3 troops, 8 RECCE Regiment, CAOS (Combined Air Observers School) England. I would appreciate any info.Derek Gilbert
Sgt. Lambert Reconnaissance CorpsSometime during ww2 a unit of the reconnaissance corps was stationed in Windermere, I don't remember how long they stayed, they were billeted in the local drill hall and their Bren Gun Carriers were parked in the back lane next to our house. The troops were welcomed by the locals and we had 3 NCOs and 5 men who came to our house for a bath. Two of the NCOs were Sgt Lambert and Sgt Johnson, I was only 8 or 9 at the time and my memory is failing but I remember they were a great bunch of lads. My mother died while they were there and the whole unit attended her funeral.Don Lowis
Kenneth Raymond Norris C Squadron 56th Reconnaissance RegimentI don't have a story about my father Ken Norris I'm afraid, but I do have a lot of interesting photos & wondered if anyone knew him and could enlighten me on some stories.Jill Hopkins
Tpr. Arthur David Coleman 4th Regt Reconnaissance CorpsMy father joined the 5 Bat Northants Regt on 30 April 1939 aged 31 and was posted to France with the BEF. He was one of the lucky ones at Dunkirk. On 22 January he transferred to the new Recce Corps where he served with both 4 Regt and 1 Regt and saw action in North Africa and Italy.
He was discharged from the Army 18 September 1945 and settled back into civvy life in Peterborough where he was born and raised. He became a prominent councelor and served his community for many years and died in Peterborough Hospital in May 1988. He is sadly missed.Stephen Coleman
Tpr. William Henry Barber MM. 44th Recce Regiment Reconnaissance CorpsMy Dad served in North Africa and Italy his name was William Henry Barber. He was in the 44th Recce Regiment. He won the Military Medal on the 5th October 1944 when, on a patrol, he shot and killed two Germans and also helped bring back several prisoners despite being badly wounded in the leg himself.
If anyone remembers my Dad, Bill, please write in. Dad passed away in September 2000 and is sadly missed by all of his family.Terry Barber
Sgt. Alfred James "Lofty" Hickmott Renaissance CorpsMy father-in-law Alfred Hickmott served with the 53rd Welsh Div. The only thing I know is that he was knocked down by a half track just after he arrived in Hamburg.Gordon White
Lt. John Henry Terry Ford Reconnaissance CorpsI am trying to peice together some information about my grandfather John Ford who passed away in 1991. I know he volunteered to go to Finland and is listed as being in Group Sisu. I know from a book written by Jerome Caminada entitled "My Purpose Holds" that he helped Giles Romilly attempt to escape from Wulzberg some time prior to April 1942, he is referred to as Jack Ford. From the same book I understand that by April 1942 he was in Tost bei Gleiwitz when he, Charles Averill and Jerome Caminada tried to escape. In September 1942 he and Charles Averill assisted Jerome Caminada in a successful escape. The book follows the escape of Caminada and my grandfather's story goes cold.
From information on the Ancestry website on British Prisoners of War a J H Ford is listed as being a prisoner in Oflag V11-B, Eichstatt. I am assuming this is my grandfather although there is not a date to state what period he was held prisoner here. Would anyone be able to assist me with any further information or does any one remember him?Jacqueline Keir
Cpl. R W Clark Reconnaissance CorpsIn my late mother's papers was a photograph of men taken at Stalag XXB main camp eastern district group. All men are in uniform. on the back of the postcard, addressed to my mother in pencil, is No 3677 Oflag 111 Germany and the name Cpl. RW Clark. Also the number 14610 and the name Clark is on the side. As my mother was brought up just outside Dundee in Angus I would imagine this chap came from there too. I would love to know more and as there are no family members left to ask I am relying on someone else solving this mystery.
My mother's name was Flora Linn and she lived at Greenford, Monikie by Dundee.Norma Short
Arthur Spence 59th Reconnaissance CorpsMy Dad, Art Spence, served with the West Yorks then transferred to the 59th Recce then 53rd Recce. I have a number of photographs, but unfortunately, I don't know the names of other individuals except as inscribed on the back of the pictures.
Art Spence and Bren crew with replacements after losing 2 to a tank mine.
Art Spence top left, Nick and Jock bottom right, Germany 1945 & prisoners on the road Hamburg
Top left POW's on road to Hamburg, Germany 1945
Art Spence and friend in Hamburg, June 1945
Frassett, Germany 1945
Frassett, Germany 1945.
George Gardner receives Military Medal from Monty in Dusselforf 1945.jpg
photo inscribed: please give this to Arthur Spence
Nijmegen brige, Holland 1944
Reichwald 1945 Churchill tanks.
Start of the attack Reichwald 1945.
Art Spence and squad.
Arnhem bridge, September 1944.
Evrecy cross roads, france 1944.jpg
groesback start line 1945.
Nuncq, Germany 1945.jpg
Recce Regiment, Hamburg May 1945
Tiger tank at Falaise 1944.
Evrecy, France 1944.jpg
Flame throwing Churchill tanks, Reichwald 1945
In Germany 1945.jpg
Maeseyck, Belgium 1944.
Near Hamburg 1945
s hertogenbosch shield, Holland, 53rd Welsh Division.
Churchill Tank, Reichwald 1945.
Courseulles sur mer, France 1945.
Manchesters giving support, Reichwald 1945.
Second Army Thanks Giving Service
Cpl. Roy McClure C Company 61st Reconnaissance CorpsMy Father, Roy McClure, was in the 61st Recce Corps. I found a photo of what I think is a passing out parade. It says on the back, C company and all the men are seated in rows with a large trophy in front. I know he was on Gold Beach and saw lots of action. I have bits of stories he told and some I have heard from relatives. He was originally from London but met my Mother when he was posted to Southampton. He arrived with three bren gun cariers to dig in for an invasion. He served through France, Holland and Belgium in command of three Armoured cars. I have one story of how they ambushed a staff car, found documents and he carried a Lugar pistol he took from the officer. I have other stories that may be of interest, perhaps I may find a relation of another soldier from his unit.Chris McClure
L/Sgt. Charles Arthur George Osman Reconnaissance CorpsMy father, Charles Osman, did not talk about his time in Stalag 357 until his later years when he talked of his time before and during the war. Indeed, we did not have any idea which camp he was in until I started doing my Family History and came upon the entry in UK British Army Prisoners of War 1939-45 on Ancestry which showed the details including his POW number 228219. Sadly Dad died in 2001 before my interest in family history. I would be interested to know if there is anyone alive who would remember him or have any information.Audrey Weeks
Pte. Harold "Penny" Pennington East Lancashire RegimentMy grandad Harold Pennington lived in Slyne, Lancaster and was called up in 1939. He enlisted with the East Lancashire Regiment and saw action in Dunkirk. He then joined C Squadron, 6 Troop, 53rd Reconnainsance Regiment as a driver, mechanic, group D,class II based at Maidstone, Kent. He then saw action in France and Belgium with the 53rd Welsh Division.
On the 7th September 1944 he was listed missing in action after he and his comrades were sent to capture a German general and 500 men who had offered to surrender. I have a letter sent to his father from HQ dated Wednesday 29th September 1944 confirming this information. He was sent to Stalag XIIA, Limburg and on the 26th September sent to Stalag VIIA, Moosburg. His P.O.W number,87517. There is a letter sent to a Ken Williams, Shrewsbury address who may have been captured at the same time but sent to Stalag IVB, Muehlberg. Grandad was returned to this country on the 13th May 1945 and joined the 62nd TRG Reconnaissance Regiment.Brian Pennington
Cpl. Arthur Bestwick Reconnaissance Corps Royal Armoured CorpsMy dad Arthur Bestwick was POW in Stalag IV-A, camp location Hehenstein, Hesse. I am not sure how long he was held in the camp, but he was a POW from 18 March 1941 to to June 1945. His unit was the Royal Armoured Corps, Reconnaissance Corps. I believe he was a Cook or Chef and may have therefore been put to work in a kitchen, not sure. If he had been used as a chef, he may have come into contact with all camp POW's. I am waiting for the International Committee of the Red Cross to provide me with more information.Sandra Storey
Tpr.r Garfield Desmond "Gary" Hedges Royal Armoured Corps Reconnaissance Corps ÂGarfield Desmond Hedges was known as Gary, he attested at a Territorial Army Centre in Bristol on the 11th of January 1944 to The Reconnaissance Corps. Army No: 14443768. He served with the R.A.C. 11-01-44 to 07-08-45, Yorkshire Hussars 08-03-45 to 24-09-45, 15/19 Kings Royal Hussars 25-09-45 to 24-12-47 and his Demobilisation was on 01-10-47 from Aldershot Barracks.
It is unknown where Gary Hedges did his basic training, but he ended up at Catterick Barracks in Yorkshire for driver training and then became a trainer himself, for the Universal (Bren-Gun) Carrier. Possibly made a Lance Corporal, but we think due to what was then called word blindness (Dyslexia) Gary refused further advancement as he was offered a commission. We believe Gary was still in his initial training during D-Day 6th June 1944. Gary lost many friends in Operation Market Garden in Ahnem as he was continuing to train troops on Universal Carriers (Bren-Gun Carrier). We think Gary Hedges joined his Regiment in January 1945 in Germany and was with the advance units and liberated Bergen-Belsen Concentration camp on 15th April 1945.
Gary told us a story later in his life that, when he was there all the troops gave their rations to the prisoners, but found that because the prisoners were so weak, they died from the rich food, so they then tried giving blood transfusions and again, most of the troops present gave their blood. A little while later, the Army Medical personnel used a special famine food with added glucose and the ex-prisoners began to improve. There was also typhus epidemic present and the prisoners were eventually de-loused using D.D.T. as an effective pesticide. Those prisoners who were too weak to move by themselves were put on benches and washed by S.S. nurses, before being moved away from the infected area. (Most of the S.S. nurses contracted typhus and died.) After all of the prisoners had been de-loused and washed and stabilised, they were moved to the Displaced Persons Camp (D.P. Camp) which was housed in a former tank (Panzer) barracks. This housed 11,000. people, most of whom emigrated to Palestine. Gary Hedges and his fellow troops were also involved with the Displaced Persons in Northern Germany and ordered to de-louse many people using D.D.T. pesticide.
After VE Day (Victory in Europe) the Reconnaissance Regiment was disbanded. Gary Hedges was then transferred to the 15/19 King’s Royal Hussars and sent to Palestine in 1945. He was present when the King David’s Hotel was bombed by the Jewish group the Irgun, 13 soldiers were killed on the 22 July 1946. Which was used as the administrative centre for Palestine. 91 people were killed in total and 1 Irgun member was shot and later died. The Irgun were a militant right wing Zionist underground organisation who acted under the political direction of the Jewish Resistance Movement and under the Jewish Agency who were against the Palestine mandate. The British rule over Palestine followed the end of WW1 and removal of the Ottoman Empire in the region. The British were there to keep the peace between the Arabs, Christians and the Jewish Nations. He continued in a policing role and was possibly present during the terrorist outrage, when 2 British soldiers (Sgt Paice & Sgt Martin in July 1947) were kidnapped by the Irgun and later hanged in a polishing factory and the bodies then hung in a Eucalyptus Grove and an I.E.D. placed in the ground under the bodies which later activated when the bodies were cut down, causing facial injuries to one British Officer. Gary Hedges continued to serve until 1947 when he said he returned to Britain and shovelled snow, (1947 was a bad winter for snow) before being demobbed.
3rd Reconnaissance Regiment was formed from 8th Battalion Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, who landed in France on 6th June 1944 and served in North West Europe 1944-45. On 11/01/1944 the 26 regiments of The Reconnaissance Corps were transferred to The Royal Armoured Corp, (RAC) retaining their own cap badges and it was not until spring 1945 that all units had finally discarded the Recce Corp’s khaki beret for the RAC’s black beret which should have adopted upon joining the RAC.
The Recce Corps had been formed in January 1941, officially on the 14th, but some units (initially termed battalions, but later regiments, a term some of the battalions had been calling themselves anyway following the cavalry tradition) dated their formation from January (1st and 8th). Originally conceived as The Infantry Reconnaissance Corps, it had been raised to fill the gap for armoured reconnaissance in infantry divisions, there being insufficient cavalry to do so. Generally, the battalions / regiments of The Recce Corps served with the infantry divisions which bore the same number e.g. 1st Reconnaissance Regiment served with 1st Infantry Division, 3rd Reconnaissance Regiment with 3rd Infantry Division, 46th Reconnaissance Regiment with 46th Infantry Division.
The 11th Armoured Division, known as The Black Bull, was a British Army division formed in 1941 during the Second World War. The Division was formed in response to the unanticipated success of German panzer divisions. It was responsible for several major victories in Normandy after D-Day, and it participated in the rapid advance across France, Belgium, and the Netherlands and the Rhine crossing. The Division was disbanded in January 1946 and reformed towards the end of 1950.
The Component Units (On 6 June 1944) : British 29th Armoured Brigade, 3rd Royal Tank Regiment, 23rd Hussars, 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry, 8th battalion The Rifle Brigade, British 159th Infantry Brigade, 4th battalion The King's Shropshire Light Infantry, 1st battalion The Herefordshire Regiment, 3rd battalion The Monmouthshire Regiment, Divisional troops, 2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry, 13th (Honourable Artillery Company) Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery, 151st (Ayrshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, 75th Anti-Tank Regt, Royal Artillery, 58th (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, 15th/19th The King's Royal Hussars.
Michael Bentine (Comedian & Writer) wrote this on his encounter with Belsen: We were headed for an airstrip outside Celle, a small town, just past Hanover. We had barely cranked to a halt and started to set up the ‘ops’ tent, when the Typhoons thundered into the circuit and broke formation for their approach. As they landed on the hastily repaired strip – a ‘Jock’ [Scottish] doctor raced up to us in his jeep. ‘Got any medical orderlies?’ he shouted above the roar of the aircraft engines. ‘Any K rations or vitaminised chocolate?’ ‘What’s up?’ I asked for I could see his face was grey with shock. ‘Concentration camp up the road,’ he said shakily, lighting a cigarette. ‘It’s dreadful – just dreadful.’ He threw the cigarette away untouched. ‘I’ve never seen anything so awful in my life. You just won’t believe it 'til you see it – for God’s sake come and help them!’ ‘What’s it called?’ I asked, reaching for the operations map to mark the concentration camp safely out of the danger area near the bomb line. ‘Belsen,’ he said, simply. Millions of words have been written about these horror camps, many of them by inmates of those unbelievable places. I’ve tried, without success, to describe it from my own point of view, but the words won’t come. To me Belsen was the ultimate blasphemy. After VE. Day I flew up to Denmark with Kelly, a West Indian pilot who was a close friend. As we climbed over Belsen, we saw the flame-throwing Bren carriers trundling through the camp – burning it to the ground. Our light Bf 108 rocked in the superheated air, as we sped above the curling smoke, and Kelly had the last words on it. ‘Thank Christ for that,’ he said, fervently.
On 11th of April 1945 Himmler agreed to have the camp handed over without a fight. SS guards ordered prisoners to bury some of the dead. The next day, Wehrmacht representatives approached the British and were brought to 8th Corps. At around 1 a.m. on April 13, an agreement was signed, designating an area of 48 square kilometres (19 square miles) around the camp as a neutral zone. Most of the SS were allowed to leave. Only a small number of SS men and women, including the camp commandant Kramer, remained to "uphold order inside the camp". The outside was guarded by Hungarian and regular German troops. Due to heavy fighting near Winsen and Walle the British were unable to reach Bergen-Belsen on April 14, as originally planned. The camp was liberated on the afternoon of April 15, 1945. Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp was a displaced persons (DP) camp for refugees after World War II, in Lower Saxony in north-western Germany, southwest of the town of Bergen near Celle. It was established by British forces near the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The site used abandoned German army Panzer barracks for housing facilities, and after November 1945, Jewish refugees were given their own section. The camp was the largest DP camp in Germany with 11,000 residents in 1946 and the only exclusively Jewish facility in the British sector.Kim Hedges
Trp. Stanley Sidney Bright 53 Regt. Reconnaissance Corps (d.4th Sep 1944)I would like to get in touch with the family of Stanley Bright. He was killed in the region of Saint -Pol -sur- Ternoise, Pas-de- Calais, France. Can anyone help me?Jaft
Tpr. Ernest Leonard Sellman 43rd (Wessex) Reconnaissance Regiment (d.24th June 1944)My uncle, Ernest Leonard Sellman was a trooper in the British Army, 43rd 2/5th Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment. He died on 24th June 1944 when his cargo ship, the Derrycunihy, struck a mine off the Normandy landing beaches (Juno) and broke in two, killing over half the crew. This is all I know of my uncle. I don't have any photos from his military service. I would love to know if anyone has any further information about his regiment or if anyone knew him personally. This would be enormously appreciated as he was much loved by his family and I would like to be able to pass on information to my own family.
Editors Note: The unit was called 43rd (Wessex) Reconnaissance Regiment (formerly 5th battalion the Gloucester Regiment TA). HQ,A and C Squadrons sailed on the Derrycunnihy. On 18 June 1944 HQ, A and C squadrons embarked at West India Docks, London, aboard Motor Transport Ship (MTS) T72, a general purpose cargo ship named the MV Derrycunihy. T72 joined a convoy off Southend-on-Sea and arrived off Sword Beach on the evening of 20 June. High seas and enemy shelling prevented unloading for three days and it was decided to move T72 to Juno Beach for disembarkation. As the ship started engines at 07.40 on the morning of 24 June it detonated an acoustic or 'Oyster' mine dropped by one of the nightly Luftwaffe raiders. The mine exploded under the keel, splitting the ship in two, and the after part, packed with men of 43 Recce, sank rapidly. Worse still, a 3-tonner ammunition lorry caught fire, and oil floating on the water was set alight. Landing craft and the gunboat HMS Locust quickly came alongside and picked up survivors, most of whom were evacuated to SS Cap Touraine, a former French liner. The Regimental War Diary records that 'Great gallantry was displayed by all troops in the two aft holds' and lists 183 men of the regiment lost and about 120 others evacuated wounded. In addition, 25 of the ship's crew (including Army gunners) died in the disaster, which represented the biggest single loss of life off the invasion beaches. In the days following the sinking, the survivors were formed into a composite squadron and most of 43 Recce's vehicles were landed from the beached fore part of the "Derrycunihy". B Sqn arrived from England, together with the first reinforcements. A complete squadron was transferred to 43 Recce from the reinforcement unit, 161st (Green Howards) Reconnaissance Regiment. The regimental war diary can be viewed at National Archives in Kew. There are a number of websites for the Recce unit. There are family records on Ancestry which seem quite comprehensive.Ruth Curtin
John Joseph Sanderson 5th Reconnaissance CorpsMy grandfather John Joseph Sanderson served with 5th Reconnaissance Corps. He was evacuated from Dunkirk beaches in 1940. Later he saw action in North Africa, Italy (Cassino) then Greece at the end of the war. I have in my posession a diary of his, some Reconnaissance journals from 1945 to 1947 in mint condition and allied currency too - some I was told were for use behind enemy lines. I'd really love to learn more as he never spoke of his wartime experiences. He was such a gentle man. He did a variety of jobs after the war, becoming a bus driver in Sunderland until retirement in 1980. He died in September 1980 less than 6 months after retirement.RS
Tpr. Arthur Edward "Archie" Pearman C Sqn 15th Recce Regt.Archie Pearman was conscripted in 1940 to The Royal West Kent's. He was also a Driver Mechanic in 15th Recce, C Squadron. After the war he may have served as a driver in Essen and also possibly in Nuremberg, I have no info as to what he was doing in either location. He also served as a driver at the No.1 District Censorship Station in Bonn from the end of the war until 1947, his discharge papers confirm this. Does anyone have any information about him?Adrian Pearman
Tpr. Joseph Burke 15th (Scottish) Regt Reconnaissance Corps (d.10th Aug 1944)I visited Bayeux Cemetery to teach my kids about the sacrifice made by soldiers of WW2. As they wandered around I looked at a grave by chance his name was Joseph Burke, the same as mine. I would like to learn more of his story, can anyone provide further details?Joe Burke
Tpr. Stanley Sidney Bright Reconnaissance Corps (d.4th Sep 1944)I am researching Stanley Bright, who served with the Recconnaissance Corps. He died 'aged 32 on 4th September 1944 and is buried in the Communal Chelerts Cemetery 2, in the Pas-de-Calais, France. He was the son of Thomas George and Ella Roberta Bright. He was married to Gladys Florence Bright, of Bermondsey London. He had children in England. They may still be alive and I would like to correspond with them about their father. Can anyone help me in my research?Frederick Turner
Sgt. Alan Vernon Studley 13 Assault Troop 4th Reconnaissance CorpsDad was in 4th RECCE. He trained in Lockerby then was sent to Tunisia was wounded at Cape Bon then served in Italy and was then sent to Greece. At the end of the war they were transferred to 17/21 Lancers. If any one has any more information on 4th Recce I would like to hear it.A Price
Godfry J.R. Dixon 53rd Regiment Reconnaissance CorpsMy dad was a dispatch rider in the 53 Recce Regiment. His name was Godfry J R Dixon; he was sent to Ireland at the outset of war. I remember him telling my brothers and myself how the people in Ireland used to ask him what religion he was. He would say a Zionist and they would ask him home for dinner or tea to try and change him to become whatever they believed, he said he never had it so good. How true it was I do not know.
He also told us how when he was in Kent they used to race the Canadian dispatch riders on the narrow country roads. Their bikes had running boards and the British had movable foot rest, so the British riders would pull the foot rest up so they could lean over further and go round the bend quicker. Unfortunately the Canadians could not and a lot of them ended up in hospital.
Tpr. Arthur Thomas 61st. Reconnaissance RegimentArthur Thomas is my brother-in-law.Graham Eagland
Sgt. David George Powell 53rd Reconnaissance RegtMy father spoke very little of his time during the Second World War. But I remember at his funeral several of his "old pals" recalling his capture of some Germans single handed in a cellar. They laughed as they recalled hearing his loud voice shouting at them .... He was a drill sergeant. He went to several reunions in S'Hertershenbosch ... Where the locals looked after them royally.
My father really liked the Dutch people and mentioned how they had helped himself and others whilst under severe stress themselves. We should always remember these wonderfully courageous young men who gave so much of their lives for us. I am so deeply proud of my Father and I thought he deserved a mention, no matter how small. I have photos and will post them as I find them.Yvonne Quirke
Sgt. David John Neilson 53rd Welsh Div ReconnaissanceMy grandfather Dai Neilson fought in the 2nd World War as part of the 53rd Welsh Reconnaissance division. I have his beret, bearing the spearhead badge. I also have a SS dagger taken from a soldier during the liberation of a camp later in the war. I know he was active in the liberation of S'Hertogenbosch and have a script given by the city as thanks for his involvement.
Any contact or further info is much welcome.Paul Neilson
Alan James Blacker 51st (Highland) Reconnaissance RegimentAlan Blacker is my father. Unfortunately, upon being deployed to Egypt he got such a sunburn on his face and hands that he was eventually shipped back home. He has ginger hair and fair skin, and was unable to adjust to the environment. I believe he was in hospital in Lebanon when El Alamein started.Sue McHugh
Cpl. Ernest Arthur John "Barry" Rollinson Royal Northumberland FusiliersAlthough my father, Ernest Rollinson would not talk to me about his captivity, mum told me about a couple of failed escape attempts he made in Italy which resulted in him being held in chains on the journey to Germany. It was there he was forced to work in salt mines and treated so cruelly as a result. Later on in life we would go on our holidays and dad would never go swimming with us and would never be seen in shorts. When I asked why this was, mum said that due to the cruelty suffered in the hands of the Nazi soldiers where he had his shin smashed open by a rifle butt and the scars of the chains, although faded, could still be seen. He never wanted to present the opportunity to anyone to ask questions about these scars, he just wanted to forget.
Sgt. Sydney Clare Royal Armoured CorpsSgt. Sydney Clare was a member of the Royal Armoured Corps and the Reconnaissance Corps. His POW number was 11228 and he was held at Stalag XXB which was at Malbork, Poland. He died in the 1980's.Gill
Pte. Arthur Brazendale Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Rgt.Arthur Brazendale was my grandfather. He would often tell the family how he captured some Germans. When he was on patrol, he noticed what looked like dead men in a ditch at the side of the road. He approached with his bayonet drawn and gave them a prod. They soon moved! He knew a little German and told them to put their hands on their heads. One of them was an officer and when he stood up he was holding a grenade. My grandfather told him to drop it and the German officer did. Luck was on my grandfather's side that day and for many days after. This story was reported in the Warrington Guardian paper. My grandfather died in 1989 but the story and memories he left with us will live on.Pauline Bolton
James Douglas Miller 6th Airborne Armoured Recce RgtI was a member of the 6th Airborne Armoured Recce Regiment from 15th May 1943 until 9th July 1947.James Douglas Miller
Cpl. Arthur William Weller 2nd Reconnaisance RegimentArthur Weller was my grandfather but he never talked about the war, all I know is that he was in Burma and he was in the RAC.
Walter Lawley 49th Btn Recce RgtMy uncle was a member of the 49th Recce Regiment.I would like to find out more about this regiment.Campbell Lawley
Tpr. James Henry Adams 56th Reconnaissance Regiment Reconnaissance CorpsMy grandfather James Adams, fought with the Reconnaissance Corps and was shot and wounded at Mont Casino, he lived with his injury for the rest of his life and passed away in 1984. I am trying to find more information.Barry Macefield
James Walton 49th Btn. Recce CorpsMy father served with 49th Recce Regiment during WWII.Brian Walton
Tpr. Frank "Smokey" Kenyon Reconnaissance CorpsMy father, Frank Kenyon was captured in Sicily in 1943. He was eventually taken through Italy to Stalag 18A. I was born in March 1942, so, apart from when I was first born, I did not see him until I was nearly 4 years old. Apparently I was not happy, as I had my Mother all to myself for those years and told him to 'leave Mummy alone, she's my Mummy!' I remember as a very small child seeing my mother crying, it was apparently when she got the telegram to say my father was missing, presumed killed. My sister was born after he came home, in November 1946, and I remember Dad telling us stories of camp life when we were children.
One of the tales was of getting potatoes and hiding them in their trousers, as another contributor mentioned. He also said that he was in a working party making bricks, and they used to doctor the mix so the bricks would collapse. When my mother sent photos of me as a baby, one of the guards looked at them and was amazed, saying that they were told the British children were starving, and I was 'so fat!' One time he said he had escaped and got within half a mile of the border (with Switzerland?), before being captured by guards with Alsatians - he hated the dogs for the rest of his life.
I have a notebook he wrote during his time there, containing stories, anecdotes, cartoons and poems, all written in tiny writing in pencil.June Price
Trooper Ernest Morgan 3rd Recce Regiment, C Sqd. Reconnaissance CorpsMy late father, Trooper Ernest Morgan, was a captive at Stalag 12b at Frankenthal on the German/Polish border from June 1944 to August 1945. His prisoner number was 70617. He was in C sqd., 3rd Recce Regmt., 3rd Division. I do have several stories that were passed on if anyone interested. Does anyone have information or photos?John Morgan
Ron Page 1st Btn. East Riding Yeomanry 1st Arm. Recon Bgde.My father, Ron Page, was with the 1st Btn East Riding Yeomanry, and was taken prisoner near Watou, Belgium on 30th May 1940. He was at XXA Thorn, and XXB Marienburg, Elbing, Paulsdorf, Garnsee and Deutsch Eylau. He has a couple of POW group photos from XXB Deutsch Eylau taken in 1943 and 1944. There are names and home towns for 16 of the men in the 1944 photo. He says that the men in the photos are from a variety of regiments.Gerry Page
Cpl. Norman Peter Ellis 15th (Scottish) Regiment Reconnaissance Corps (d.2nd Sep 1944)Norman Ellis served with the 15th (Scottish) Regiment, Reconnaissance Corps.Chris Dixon
Tpr. Adam Topping Stevens 4th Battalion King's Own Scottish BorderersAdam Stevens enlisted as a Driver Mechanic but transferred to 52nd Battalion Recce Corp as a Dispatch rider.Gordon Stevens
Sgt. Howard P. Gibson Reconnaissance CorpsI don't know too much about my grandfather, Howard Gibson's service in WW2 except from tales from my father Colin. When growing up I had fond memories of my grandfather but he rarely talked about his experience in the war and his time at Stalag IVB.
We know from the Ministry of Defence that Howard was in the Reconnaissance Corps and served in North Africa. He was the commander of a tank that was ambushed by the Germans and during this ambush one of the soldiers was killed instantly and another soldier was shot and killed by the Germans after trying to flee. Howard was the sole survivor from this attack and was then brought to POW camps in Italy and then later to Stalag IVB (POW number: 226644). It is rumoured that when captured he was inspected by Erwin Rommel, as he was keen to inspect captured soldiers to see what kind of condition they were in i.e. if they were low on food and ammunition etc. although I can't verify the authenticity of this part.
Howard then married Jean and came to Sydney, Australia where they started a family. Howard was very skilled with his hands and started a successful plastics factory called Warringah Plastics which is still in operation today.
Howard was born on 23rd September 1920 and sadly passed away in 2008. This text is a tribute to Howard Gibson and his legacy and to the other brave soldiers who managed to survive and start a new life in a foreign land despite all they had gone through.Martin Gibson
Tpr Norman Garrett Reconnaissance CorpsMy uncle Norman Garrett was a trooper in the Reconnaissance Corp. He was in Stalag XXB 1942 to liberation. Unfortunately I do not have any more information. He died in 1960.
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