8th Reconnaissance Regiment (14th Canadian Hussars)

8th Reconnaissance Regiment (14th Canadian Hussars)

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=8th Reconnaissance Regiment (14th Canadian Hussars)
type=Light cavalry (Light armour)
branch=Militia, activated during WWII
dates=1940- 1968
command_structure=2nd Canadian Infantry Division
size=One battalion of about 821 men
garrison=Swift Current, Saskatchewan
motto="First In, Last Out"

The 8th Canadian Reconnaissance Regiment (14th Canadian Hussars), commonly abbreviated to simply 8 Recce or VIII Recce, was the reconnaissance arm of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division during World War II.

Formation and Structure

8 Recce was formed at Guillemont Barracks, near Aldershot in southern England, on March 11, 1941 by merging three existing squadrons within the Division. Its first commanding officer was Lt. Col. Churchill C. Mann. Mann was succeeded as commanding officer on September 26, 1941 by Lt. Col. P. A. Vokes, who was in turn followed on February 18, 1944 by Lt. Col. M. A. Alway. The last commanding officer was Major "Butch" J. F. Merner, appointed to replace Alway a couple of months before the end of the fighting in Europe.

8 Recce had its roots in the 14th Canadian Light Horse, a militia unit formed in 1920 by the union of the 27th Light Horse and the 14th Canadian Mounted Rifles. The Regiment was headquartered in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. It comprised Squadrons A, B and C based at Swift Current, Swift Current and Shuanavon, respectively. In 1937 the Regiment was designated a mechanized unit, and in 1940 the Regiment was renamed the 14th Canadian Hussars. In 1941 the Regiment was mobilized, and its members joined with other reconnaissance personnel in England to form 8 Recce.

Following the pattern used in the Reconnaissance Corps of the British Army, 8 Recce was composed of a Regimental Headquarters (officially 26 men of all ranks at full strength), one Headquarters Squadron (222 men of all ranks) and three Recce Squadrons identified by the letters A, B and C (191 men each of all ranks). The Headquarters Squadron contained a squadron headquarters (6 men), an Administrative Troop (44 men), a Signal Troop (40 men), an Anti-Aircraft Troop (9 men), an Anti-Tank Troop (79 men) and a Mortar Troop (44 men).

Each of the three Recce Squadrons was composed of a Squadron Headquarters (36 men), three Scout Troops (38 men each) and one Assault Troop (41 men). The 12 troops in the recce squadrons were numbered, with Troops #1 to #4 in A Squadron, Troops #5 to #8 in B Squadron, and Troops #9 to #12 in C Squadron. Troops #4, #8 and #12 were the the Assault Troops. A recce squadron was commanded by a major assisted by a captain.

A Scout Troop comprised one Recce Section and two Carrier Sections. Each Scout Troop (38 men of all ranks) would usually be commanded by a lieutenant assisted by a second lieutenant. An Assault Troop (about 41 men of all ranks) contained four Assault Sections (8 men each). Each Assault Troop was commanded by a lieutenant assisted by a sergeant.

The nominal strength of the regiment was 42 officers, 71 non-commissioned officers and 708 other ranks for a total of 821 men of all ranks.

Weapons and Equipment

Upon its formation in England, 8 Recce was equipped initially with BSA M2 motorcycles, trucks, light armoured cars, automatic weapons and radio communication equipment. The equipment was upgraded progressively during the three years of training in England to include more heavily armed armoured cars and a variety of weapons systems in response to the combat experience of other reconnaissance regiments in the Reconnaissance Corps. During the campaign to liberate northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands, the primary weapons of 8 Recce were the Humber and (later) Daimler armoured cars. Although the ruggedness and speed of these lightly armoured wheeled vehicles was ideal for the reconnaissance role during the campaign across Northwest Europe, they were vulnerable to German antitank weapons, such as the 88-mm gun. Other major weapons deployed by 8 Recce included the Universal Gun Carrier, the M5 half-track, 2-inch light mortars, 3-inch mortars, 2-pounder anti-tank guns, 6-pounder anti-tank guns, PIAT portable anti-tank weapons, and heavy machine guns.

Toward the end of the war each Scout Troop was equipped with five armoured cars (three Daimlers and two Humbers) and seven Universal Gun Carriers (each mounted with one American .50-calibre heavy machine gun, replacing the original .303-calibre Bren gun). Each Assault Section would be equipped with five half-tracks, each carrying one .50-calibre heavy machine gun.

In accordance with the system of vehicle markings used by the British Army, the vehicles of 8 Recce were identified as belonging to a reconnaissance unit by the presence of a square marking containing the number 41 in white. The background of the marking was two-tone, with a green stripe on top of a blue stripe.

Action during World War II

After more than three years of training in England, 8 Recce landed with its division in Normandy on July 6, 1944 and first entered combat as infantry in the on-going Battle of Normandy. Following the near-destruction of the German Seventh Army and Fifth Panzer Army in the Falaise Pocket in August 1945, the remaining German forces were compelled into a rapid fighting retreat out of Northern France and much of Belgium. 8 Recce provided the reconnaissance function for its Division during the advance of the First Canadian Army across the Seine River and then along the coastal regions of Northern France and Beligum. The Regiment was involved in spearheading the liberation of the port cities of Dieppe and Antwerp. 8 Recce saw hearvy action through to the end of the war including the costly Battle of the Scheldt, the liberation of the Netherlands and the invasion of Germany.

The reconnaissance role of 8 Recce often put its members well ahead of the main body of the Division, especially during the pursuit of the retreating German army across northern France and Belgium in August and September 1944. For example, elements of 8 Recce entered Dieppe on the morning of September 1, 1944, scene of the disastrous raid of 1942, a full 12 hours before the arrival of truck-borne Canadian infantry. The liberation of Dieppe was facilitated by the withdrawal of the German occupying forces on the previous day. 8 Recce was responsible for liberating many towns in the campaign across Northwest Europe, such as Bedum on April 17, 1945 in the Netherlands.

During the Battle of the Scheldt, 8 Recce advanced westwards and cleared the southern bank of the West Scheldt river. In one notable action, a squadron of armoured cars was ferried across the river; on the other side the cars then proceeded to liberate the island of North Beveland on November 2, 1944.

On April 12, 1945, #7 Troop of 8 Recce began the liberation of Camp Westerbork, a transit camp built to accommodate Jews, Roma people and other people arrested by the Nazi authorities prior to their being sent into the concentration camp system.

During the war 79 men were killed outright in action while serving in 8 Recce, and a further 27 men died of wounds.

Battle Honours

The battle honours of 8 Recce are as follows. The capitalized honours appear on the Regimental Guidon.
*CAEN (July 6-18, 1944)
*FALAISE (August 7-22, 1944)
*Falaise Road (August 7-9, 1944)
*Clair Road (August 11 & 13, 1944)
*The Laison (August 14-17, 1944)
*THE SEINE, 1944 (August 25-28, 1944)
*ANTWERP-TURNHOUT CANAL (September 24-29, 1944)
*THE SCHELDT (October 1 - November 8, 1944)
*Woensdrecht (October 1-27, 1944)
*SOUTH BEVELAND (October 24-31, 1944)
*The Rhineland (February 8 - March 10, 1945)
*TWENTE CANAL (April 2-4, 1945)
*GRONINGEN (April 13-16, 1945)
*OLDENBURG (April 27 - May 4, 1945)

Postwar History

8 Recce was deactivated in Swift Currant on December 15, 1945, but after the war it continued to function as a militia unit. The regiment was redesignated the 8th Armoured Regiment (14 CH) in the 1950s, and renamed again the 14th Canadian Hussars in 1958. In 1968 the militia unit was disbanded as part of a reorganzation of the Canadian Armed Forces.

See also

* Reconnaissance Corps
* 4th Reconnaissance Regiment (4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards)
* 7th Reconnaissance Regiment (17th Duke of York's Royal Canadian Hussars)
* 3rd Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment (The Governor General%27s Horse Guards)
* 29th Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment (The South Alberta Regiment)


*Copp, Terry: "Cindarella Army: The Canadians in Northwest Europe, 1944-1945", University of Toronto Press, 2006, ISBN 0-8020-3925-1.
*Bell, Kenneth: "The Way We Were", University of Toronto Press, 1988, ISBN 0-8020-3990-1.
*Doherty, Richard: "Only the Enemy in Front (Every Other Beggar Behind...) The Recce Corps at War 1940-1946", Tom Donovan Publishing Ltd., London, England, 1994, ISBN 1-871085-18-7.
*Doherty, Richard: "The British Reconnaissance Corps in World War II", Osprey Publishing Ltd., Oxford, England, 2007, ISBN 1846031229.
*Mason, Tom: 8 Recce veteran and Past President of the 8 Recce Association, personal communication concerning the structure and equipment.

External Links

* [http://members.shaw.ca/the8recce/8_recce_history.htm 8 Recce History]
* [http://www.saskd.ca/27Light.htm The 14th Canadian Hussars]

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