The Fighting Fifty-Second Recce
The 52nd (Lowland) Reconnaissance Regiment, North-West Europe 1944-45
Foreword by Sir James Stormonth-Darling
Introduction by Charles Whiting
Eskdale Publishing. UK
Hardback, 192 pages, 46 photographs & illustrations, 7 maps.
Of all the units granted elite status in World War Two, the Reconnaissance Corps is one of the least known. Numbering a mere 20,000 men the reconnaissance regiments were, more often than not, the spearhead of any attack, searching out enemy strong points and gathering intelligence. By mid 1944, of the twenty-six reconnaissance regiments, none was so experienced and highly trained as the 52nd (Lowland) Divisional Reconnaissance Regiment.
The 52nd (Lowland) Division had undergone two periods of special training: first in mountain warfare and second as an airborne unit. Then in the summer of 1944, still wearing the distinctive mountain flash, the first units of that division forming 157th Brigade Group, including the men of the 52nd (Lowland) Recce Regiment, set sail for France and set off towards their first battlefield, Holland; ironically the lowest terrain in Europe.
Blazing a trail of glory to the heart of Germany, during the hard and tenacious fighting that would decide the outcome of the war in north-west Europe, the 52nd Recce fought alongside some of the best known and most elite units of the Allied armies. Their first battle, under command of the 101st 'Screaming Eagles' US Airborne Division was in the race for Arnhem; then they assisted the First Canadian Army in clearing the flooded polderlands and islands of the Scheldt Estuary before linking up with the US 9th Army during the Ardennes offensive.
As the Allied armies reached Germany's last great natural barrier, the River Rhine, the 52nd Recce had the honour of being the first recce regiment to cross the river, and enter the heartland of Nazi Germany, in their storm boats along with commandos of the 1st Special Service Brigade. Across the River Rhine, with the massive Allied force behind them, they then swept across the vast north German plain that culminated in an all out assault on Bremen and final victory.
From an initial strength of 790 men, the 52nd Recce would earn over 50 honours and awards; but at the cost of over 160 casualties. This, told for the first time, is the story of the men who took part in that long, bloody journey.
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