Reconnaissance Unit Organisation during the Second World War
The rapid advance in battlefield mechanisation was one of the defining aspects of the Second World War. Just 25 years earlier, the armies of the Great War had relied on the railway network to transport troops to concentration points, from where they marched to battle. Reconnaissance for these formations was undertaken, as it had seemingly always been, by horsed Cavalry, who relied on the speed and stamina of their mounts to range ahead of the marching infantry to obtain information on routes and enemy dispositions.
While the horse would continue to have a place in almost every theatre of the Second World War, in terms of reconnaissance it was largely supplanted by motorised or mechanised units, and it is these units that are examined here.
The initial lure for me is that many of these units included an infantry element, and infantry organisation remains my primary interest. They also embrace the area of armoured fighting vehicles, which I concede is a specialist subject that many others have far greater knowledge of. Certain vehicles saw limited service, and often units might employ a mixture of AFVs not envisioned in their organisational table. As ever, if I'm not sure, I will try to say so.
Presently these pages are limited to coverage of British, United States and German Reconnaissance units, with some Commonwealth nations slated for later addition. That is primarily because, as with the rest of the site, I am trying to detail units for which I have the contemporary War Establishments, Tables of Organization, or Kriegsstarkenachweisung (KStN). While I have done some more substantive research for British units for the Northwest European campaign of June 1944 to May 1945, beyond that this subject remains a hobby. While there are numerous units I would like to include, especially Commonwealth and Italian, the cost of tracking down sometimes fragmentary and even contradictory items of information has undoubtedly increased in recent years. My budget though has not. And I will admit without hesitation that Red Army Reconnaissance units remain largely a mystery to me.
The below links lead to description of the various Motorised and Mechanised Reconnaissance units of the British, United States and German armies during the Second World War. I hope you might find them of use and interest.
British Reconnaissance units 1939 to 1945 Divisional Cavalry Regiment, Motor Cycle Battalion, Reconnaissance Regiment and Armoured Car Regiment
United States Reconnaissance units 1942 to 1945 Armored Reconnaissance Battalion and Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron
German Reconnaissance units 1939 to 1945 Motorised Panzer Reconnaissance and Armoured Panzer Reconnaissance Battalions
Infantry Weapons of World War Two
Infantry Tactics of World War Two