8th Reconnaissance Regiment

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

8th Reconnaissance Regiment

Parallel form(s) of name

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

  • 8 Recce
  • VIII Recce
  • 8 Canadian Recce
  • 8th (Reserve) Reconnaissance Battalion (14th Canadian Hussars)
  • 8th (Reserve) Reconnaissance Regiment (14th Canadian Hussars)
  • 8th Reconnaissance Regiment (14th Canadian Hussars)

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence

1941-1958

History

Eight 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 Lieutenant Colonel Churchill C. Mann. Mann was succeeded as commanding officer on September 26, 1941, by Lieutenant Colonel P. A. Vokes, who was in turn followed on February 18, 1944, by Lieutenant Colonel 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. One source claims the unit was the union of the 27th Light Horse and the 14th Canadian Mounted Rifles, but the official lineage shows no amalgamation in 1920, just a renaming of the 27th Light Horse. Authoritative lists of units in the Active Militia and the Canadian Expeditionary Force show no record of a "14th Canadian Mounted Rifles" – there were only 13 regiments of mounted rifles organized in the CEF. In any event, the 14th Canadian Light Horse in the 1920s was headquartered in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. It comprised 'A', 'B' and 'C' Squadrons 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 an Active Service regiment was mobilized, and its members joined with other reconnaissance personnel in England to form 8 Recce.

Places

Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

The primary mission of 8 Recce was to provide reconnaissance capabilities for the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division. Reconnaissance involves determining the location and capabilities of enemy units, and providing current information concerning the state of the theatre of operations (e.g., road and bridge conditions, alternative lines of advance). Weak enemy positions might be attacked if the opportunity arose, but strong-points are generally bypassed and left for assault units to tackle. Nevertheless, determining the position and strength of the rear guard of a retreating enemy, or the location and strength of newly established defence lines, will frequently draw fire and provoke combat situations. Unless the enemy is retreating in especially disorganized fashion, a lightly armoured reconnaissance unit is vulnerable to land mines and ambushes. Consequently 8 Recce, along with other reconnaissance battalions, had significant assault capabilities to allow it to rescue pinned down scout units.

Mandates/sources of authority

Internal structures/genealogy

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 reconnaissance 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 reconnaissance 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 reconnaissance 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 assault troops. A reconnaissance squadron was commanded by a major assisted by a captain.

A scout troop comprised one reconnaissance 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.

General context

8 Recce spent the first three years of its existence involved in training and coastal defence duties in southern England. It was not involved in the ill-fated Dieppe Raid on August 19, 1942, and thus avoided the heavy losses suffered that day by many other units of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division. The regiment landed with its division in Normandy on July 6, 1944, one month after D-Day, and first entered combat as infantry in the ongoing Battle of Normandy. The regiment's first two combat deaths occurred on July 13, when a shell struck a slit trench sheltering two men near Le Mesnil.

Following the near-destruction of the German Seventh Army and Fifth Panzer Army in the Falaise Pocket in August 1944, 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 eastward out of Normandy, up to and across the Seine River, and then along the coastal regions of northern France and Belgium. The regiment was involved in spearheading the liberation of the port cities of Dieppe and Antwerp; it was also involved in the investment of Dunkirk, which was then left under German occupation until the end of war. 8 Recce saw heavy 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.

Relationships area

Related entity

14th Canadian Hussars (1940-)

Identifier of the related entity

CA-SCM-0046

Category of the relationship

temporal

Dates of the relationship

1941-1958

Description of relationship

The 14th Canadian Hussars was redesignated the 8th (Reserve) Reconnaissance Battalion (14th Canadian Hussars) on 1 April 1941. On 19 May 1958, the Regiment became the 14th Canadian Hussars again.

Control area

Authority record identifier

CA-SCM-0001

Maintained by

Institution identifier

Swift Current Museum

Rules and/or conventions used

ISAAR-CPF
RAD
ISDIAH

Status

Draft

Level of detail

Partial

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

2017/08/24 - Creation
2017/08/28 - Last Revision

Language(s)

  • English

Script(s)

  • Latin

Maintenance notes

Created by William Shepherd (Collections Officer, Swift Current Museum).
Maintenance is the responsibility of the Collections Officer, Swift Current Museum.
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