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Kenfig - The Complete History
A Welsh Documentary Heritage Website
Identified by The National Library of Wales Kenfig - The Complete History
A Welsh Documentary Heritage Website
Identified by The National Library of Wales

The British Army - 49th West Riding Reconnaisance Regiment

War Years Section || 49th West Riding Reconnaisance Regiment


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The British Army

49th West Riding Reconnaisance Regiment

Background

The 49th West Riding Divison was a pre-war Territorial Army formation consisting of three Brigades (the 146th, 147th & 148th). The first two recruited in Yorkshire and the latter in the Nottingham and Derby area.
In 1940 the 49th Division was involved in a disastrous campaign in Norway and the 148th Brigade suffred severe casualties - they were replaced by 70 Brigade another Territorial Army unit which was recruited in the Tyneside area. The Division was ordered to occupy Iceland and its Divisional sign is the Polar Bear as a direct result.

Return to England

In 1942 the 49th Division returned to England where they were earmarked for the Normandy invasion which was due to take place in 1944.
In 1941 the Reconnaisance Corps had been formed to carry out the duties of reconnaisance in front of the Intantry. (This role had been undertaken by the Light Cavalry in both the 18th and 19th centuries).

The Reconnaisance Corps

The Corps were composed of various Regiments and Independent Squadrons and in the summer of 1942 it amalgamated three of the latter to form the Regiment that was required by the 49th Divison.
In accordance with normal practise the Reconnaisance Regiment was given the same number os the Division in which it was to serve - the 49th.

Porthcawl

The 29th & 148th Independent Squadrons arrived in Porthcawl in September 1942 and became 'A' & 'B' Squadrons.
the 1st Belgian Fusiliers originally formed 'C' Squadron but were replaced by the 24th (Guards) Independent Squadron in December 1942.
The 49th Reconnaisance Regiment spent its time in Porthcawl undergoing intensive training - individual fitness was priority with physical training on the sands and cross country runs over the sand dunes. The Regiment imposed a high standard of turn-out and drill and evening guard mounting parades in front of the Esplanade Hotel drew large crowds of onlookers.
There were gun drill exercises by the Regiment's Anti-Tank Battery on the common opposite the Seabank Hotel and the unit took part in a number of training exercises in the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons with the Anti-Tank guns travelling to Harlech to practise on dummy tanks.
The Regiment stayed in Porthcawl until the summer of 1943. When the Regiment moved out of the town it first went to Scotland and then to Norfolk and joined the invasion of Normandy shortly after D-Day.
Eleven members of the unit married Porthcawl girls.

The Regiment

Were heavily involved in the battles that were fought throughout the remainder of WWII. On 14 April 1945 - it passed through Arnhem and as the war ended on 08 May 1945 made a sweep through the countryside that became a triumphal march.




St John's Church, Newton, Porthcawl

A tablet on the wall inside St John's Church records the 50th Anniversary of the formation (September 1942) in Porthcawl of the 49th West Riding Reconnaisance Regiment.
The tablet was dedicated on 06 September 1992 - the service attended by many former members of the Regiment, residents and the Town's Mayor.

49th West Riding Reconnaisance Regiment

Tasks of the Regiment

The mainstay of reconnaisance would be to know all about wireless; capable of finding a way about a strange countryside, clearing minefields and to hit both men and aircraft from the revolving turret of an armoured car.
The hardest task was that of the Reconnaisance Regiment's assault troopers - when the main attack force was held up in battle, it was the job of the assault troopers to move up in speedy little trucks and clear the way over any kind of country and to fight as they did so.
The troopers had to be able to dig the first stages of a trench system in half the normal time; their weapons training was also to an extremely high level.

Invasion of Normandy

The 49th Reconnaisance Regiment was involved in fighting from the time it landed. It was first employed in an infantry role protecting the Divisional left flank.
The Anti-Tank gun training on the 'Green in Porthcawl' was rewarded when the troop of anti-tank guns under 'B' Squadron command knocked out 4 German tanks in one engagement on the outskirts of Fontenay.
August 15 - the Regiment assumed its real job of reconnoitring in front of the Division.
During the two weeks the Regiment would advance ahead of the Infantry, take prisoners, examine the condition of bridges and report on the positions held by the enemy.
August 25 - Germans made determined stand near Epaignes, they were finally beaten back by the combined efforts of the three Squadrons. 'A' Squadron crossed the Seine at the end of August on rafts (Two bren-gun carriers were lost in the river when rafts capsized).
Remainder of the Regiment abandoned the crossing and headed for the bridge at Bolbec which was leaning into the river and littered with German equpiment, motor transport and dead horses.
The Regiment crossed over and headed for Le Havre capturing an entire company of Germans before handing over the task of dealing with the stronger resistance to the Division.



Associated Website Links ||

Acknowledgements ||


Bibliography

(1) Bridgend County Borough Council Library & Information Services
(2) 3rd party copyright © Mike Mansley (Porthcawl at War 1939-1945)
(3) Porthcawl Museum & History Society
(4) Rob Bowen - Kenfig.org Local Community Group

Webpage Author

(1) Mr Rob Bowen - Kenfig.org Local Community Group, 2009.

3rd Party Copyright:

49th West Riding Reconnaisance Regiment;

Information & photos originally researched by Mike Mansley (Porthcawl at War 1939-1945) and part re-published online strictly for educational purposes only - 3rd party copyright © Mike Mansley (Porthcawl at War 1939-1945) - (First Printed 1994 - ISBN 0 9523152 0 3)
Information edited & sub-edited for online purposes || Rob Bowen - Kenfig.org Local Community Group, 2009
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