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"British armoured recce regiment and motor battalion '44?" Topic

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Fred Cartwright28 Aug 2017 4:42 a.m. PST

Looking for some details on specifics of armoured recce regiments and motor battalions for 1944 in particular the armoured recce regiment and motor battalion of 11th armoured, so the 8th Rifles and 2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry and then the 15th/19th Kings Royal Hussars.
Starting with the recce regiment I gather it had a recce troop of 11 Stuarts organised into 3 sections of 3 plus an HQ of 2. What was the ratio of gun tanks to jalopies? I have a vague recollection of 1 gun tank and 2 jalopies per section, but not sure. 17pdr Challengers didn't appear until mid August AFAIK, so not before 2nd Northants was disbanded I presume.
Moving onto the motor battalion I gather the company had HQ, a Mortar group with 2 3" mortars, 3 rifle platoons and a carrier platoon. I assume the rifle platoons had HQ and 3 rifle sections carried in 4 M5 half tracks and that 30 or 50 cal MG's were normally removed – is that correct? Did the carrier platoon have the usual 3 carriers with a Bren, 2" Mortar and PIAT?

SquireBev28 Aug 2017 5:03 a.m. PST

Have a look at this: link

It's paper strength rather than actual strength, but I think it has what you're looking for.

Fred Cartwright28 Aug 2017 5:48 a.m. PST

Thanks. Very useful. It suggests no jalopies as Stuarts are listed as 37mm gun. The carrier platoon appears to be 3 sections of 3 plus 2 in the HQ.

SquireBev28 Aug 2017 9:28 a.m. PST

As I understand it, Jalopies started to appear as the battle progressed. If you were to find an OOB for Market Garden it might give you better figures.

SquireBev28 Aug 2017 9:33 a.m. PST

TMP link

"The 11th Armoured Division apparently jalopied 'most' of its Stuarts immediately after Op Epsom and before Goodwood. As mentioned they also reduced Troop size to 8x Stuarts (HQ of 2 and 3x Sections of 2)."

Starfury Rider28 Aug 2017 10:41 a.m. PST

Definitely one of 'those questions' which sounds simple enough but actually has multiple answers.

The Armd Recce Regts were put on the same WE as the standard Armd Regts prior to deployment of 21AG. Originally they were to be on the WE for an Armd Recce Regt Type "B", which mixed light tanks and cruisers down to Tp level (2 lights and 2 cruisers), while the Regt's Recce Tp had scout cars. When 2NY went over to France in 1944 they had Cromwells in their normal Tps and scout cars in their Recce Tp, with no Stuarts in the Regt. I won't pretend to know why but it's backed up by the memoir of an officer (64 days of a Normandy summer). When 15/18H relieved 2NY they inherited the same format (and probably the same vehicles). Unit Entitlements for Stuarts in 21AG fall consistently short of what the WEs authorise by a neat 11, so to the best of my knowledge 15/18H kept faith with scout cars. (As an aside the other two Armd Recce Regts, 2 Armd WG and 8KH also went native in their Recce Tps; the Welsh Gds supplanted Stuarts with Cromwells and the Royal Irish used a mix of carriers, Stuarts and scout cars, then went to an even split of Stuarts and scout cars).

There's always debate about when Challengers appeared, pretty sure 2NY never ran them so can be excluded if you're looking specifically at their service with 11th Armd.

As a further aside I don't know if there was a uniform usage of turret-less Stuarts or an ratio of them to gun tank Stuarts. The AFV returns available for the latter half of the campaign make no reference. I've always suspected things were a bit more varied.

Motor Bn is a bit more straightforward;


HQ Coy;

Coy HQ
Sig Pl
Admin Pl

Sp Coy;

Coy HQ
Three Atk Pls (each four towed 6-prs)
Two MMG Pls (each four MMGs on carriers)

Three Mot Coys (each);

Coy HQ (includes two 3-in Mrtr Dets)
Three Mots Pls (each HQ of 1 Offr and 6 men and three Mot Secs each 8 men, each element carried in its own halftrack)
Scout Pl (11 carriers and one scout car)

Scout Pl used a Sec of three carriers, one with 2-inch mortar, one with PIAT, each with an LMG. Pl HQ added two carriers and a scout car, each veh with an LMG. I think 8RB adorned their carriers with .50-cals donated by an Armd Regt. That's another area where I think there was a lot of variety (.50-cals on carriers of various units).


Khusrau28 Aug 2017 3:39 p.m. PST

I always wondered about 50 cal on smaller vehicles, as the ammo is very bulky and heavy.

forSCIENCE29 Aug 2017 10:03 a.m. PST

I think 8RB adorned their carriers with .50-cals donated by an Armd Regt. That's another area where I think there was a lot of variety (.50-cals on carriers of various units).

I'll have to check my copy of The Black Bull, but I seem to recall a passage mentioning carriers, recce Stuarts and maybe some of the Inns of Court scout cars had .50s fitted which were donated by one of the armored regiments, the 23rd Hussars I think? I know for certain the squadron of 23rd Shermans I've modelled are shorn of their .50s, though I put those together a few years ago.

Skarper29 Aug 2017 11:49 p.m. PST

Something that often irritates me is that .50cals in the AA role had very small ammo supplies. Typically one box on the gun and a couple of extra boxes – making 300 rounds. Halftracks would have more. 800 rounds is one reference I've seen. Still not a lot.

It's not enough for the sustained fire some games allow from these guns.

German halftracks are packing 3000 rounds for their Mg34/42[though some of that might be earmarked to resupply the squads MGs]

Also – on a ground mount a .50cal moved forward into position will only have a few hundred rounds on hand. The gun and tripod is heavy but so is the ammo.

forSCIENCE06 Sep 2017 5:30 a.m. PST

A week later, dug up my copy and found on page 25 it's mentioned that it was the 3rd RTR that removed superfluous Browning .50s from their Shermans and gave them to 8 RB to be installed on carriers, trucks and the odd armoured car.

Skarper06 Sep 2017 7:04 a.m. PST

I read somewhere that in WW2 the turret mounted .50 cals were all but useless and almost never fired. To engage ground targets – like infantry – the commander would have to be standing half out of the hatch and very exposed to return fire. [Audie Murphy notwithstanding]

One of those things that looked great in theory but didn't pan out so well in practice.

In my own rules I give these guns much reduced firepower and range. You'd almost always use the coaxial in preference. [Some US TDs often didn't have coaxials of course, so may well have been glad of the .50 cal. though according to wikipedia (I know) they too only got 300 rounds.]

number4 Inactive Member13 Sep 2017 7:41 p.m. PST

British ones were commonly removed as they got in the way of a fast exit when the tank was hit :)

Some US outfits (notably under Patton) used them extensively for "reconnaissance by fire" – if it moves, shoot it, if it doesn't move, shoot it up until it does, then hit it with the 75mm

Several field modifications were introduced in the Autumn of 1944, and one of them that was very widespread, was to move the .50 cal to a pintle mount in front of the loaders hatch to allow easier use from inside the turret. This seems to have been done on a lot of tanks as pictures of both Seventh and Third Army Shermans show this mount on many Shermans from late '44 onward, often combined with a pintle mounted .30 cal in front of the TCs hatch.
The Zaloga series on US Armour shows tons of pictures of it in use on this mount, but the .50 is always in front of the loaders position.

Audie Murphy was actually on an M10 tank destroyer :)

number4 Inactive Member13 Sep 2017 7:54 p.m. PST

Of course it depends on which sub variant of the tank you're talking about – all Sherman turret hatches are not equal and most early ones had a ring mount incorporated into the commander's hatch. This Canadian crew opted for a pair of Bren guns for reasons best known to themselves



Skarper14 Sep 2017 4:11 a.m. PST

Thanks for that number4 very interesting.

I still contend it's going to be tricky to use the .50cal and the main gun at the same time. If the commander is firing it the situational awareness would drop. If the loader then the rate of fire would be compromised. This may be a given but some rules allow this without any handicap. [ASL is my main example but I expect there are others]

I can see them being handy in the advance against light or no opposition. Shooting up hedges and suchlike that could be hiding a threat and might stall an advance on a just in case basis…

But once you're in the thick of combat, hatches will be closed down altogether or the TC will just have his head and maybe shoulders poking out of the turret.

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