Home Forums WWII Daimler Dingo & Bren Carrier debussing

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  • #47520
    Les Hammond
    Participant

    How often were the Bren guns detached from the vehicles so that the crew could fight defensively on foot?

    I gather that sometimes recce units would ‘take on’ enemy they bumped into, get themselves in a bit of bother thus negating their intended role of recce.
    I suppose I am trying to gauge whether to discourage Bren guns etc to debus at all from recce vehicles like this, as opposed to Carrier Platoons for instance where there is a proper infantry role intended.

    6mm France 1940

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    #47522
    MartinR
    Participant

    It was pretty common for the crews of all recce vehicles to dismount and conduct recce on foot (park up and crawl up the edge of the wood or whatever). I’m not sure they’d bother to take a bren with them, but who knows.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    #47524
    Rod Robertson
    Participant

    In dire situations the Canadians dismounted their divisional recce troops and used them like really well armed infantry. This was the case in the battles for the Channel Ports in Pas de Calaise and around the Breskins Pocket on the approaches to Antwerp. They also dismounted their PIATs and on occasions their 2″ mortars. It was also common to do foot recce before risking the carrier breaking cover and the Bren was often employed dismounted as part of the recce or to cover it. By Sept./Oct. 1944 many Universal Carriers had been Jerry-rigged with heavier machine guns than the Bren, so the Bren was more of a crew weapon than a main armament.

    the Brens and PIAT’s were also dismounted nightly when the vehicles were in their nighttime harbors.

    Cheers and good gaming.

    Rod Robertson.

    #47527
    John D Salt
    Participant

    The Bren is *supposed* to be dismounted; that’s what the carrier’s for. Doctrine at the time stated clearly that the Bren carrier was a firepower transport, not an armoured fighting vehicle.

    I would question the idea that the carrier platoon of an infantry battalion has a “proper infantry role”, in that they certainly should not be closing with the enemy to destroy them in close combat. Rather they should be providing fire support; contemporary doctrine stated that there was no point approaching closer than 300 yards to gain fire effect with the Bren, and also commented on the difficulty of assuring local security with so few bodies.

    Martin R is (as is his custom) right about recce troopers dismounting very frequently in order to do their job. Back when I worked on a cancelled recce vehicle project at Fort Hatstand, one of the various ways in which the design teams from the competing consortia had failed to understand the task of the vehicle they were designing was shown by their opinion that it would do its whole job without the crew dismounting. This misunderstanding was corrected, and the design changed to make dismounting easier, following the advice of a cavalry Colonel just back from operations in Bosnia. He pointed out that “Recce vehicles do not do reconnaissance. Recce troopers do reconaissance, and they use recce vehicles to get them about.”

    Of course sometimes people will have a rush of blood to the head, “recce by stealth” will go out the window, and people will fight mounted as if they were Hungarian hussars. WO 232/36, “AFV Policy”, contains mention of what sounds like a splendid free-wheeling action by a patrol of 49 Recce Regt (an armoured car troop (2 hy A/Cs and 1 LRC), a carrier troop (2 sections of 3 carriers), an assault troop and a 3-in mortar detachment) in the vicinity of Aerle-Maerle (I can’t find anywhere corresponding to these names but I imagine it’s in the Netherlands). It mentions the use of mounted fire from the carriers, “sousing” areas with fire, a charge by the carrier troop, and knocking out a 20mm flak gun by a PIAT shot from 200 yards. The report concludes “Carrier Tp, with assistance of Armd C Tp, had by then accounted for two 88m and three 20mm flak guns, taken 6 PW and killed 7 Germans. They then went on with their next job.”

    I suspect that most wargames rules would have difficulty recreating such a battle, and have to suspect that a large dose of suprise was working in 49 Recce’s favour that day.

    All the best,

    John.

    #47532
    Mike Headden
    Participant

    “in the vicinity of Aerle-Maerle (I can’t find anywhere corresponding to these names but I imagine it’s in the Netherlands).” – John D Salt

    They are cities near Gorp in Noord-Brabant, Netherlands, if that helps.

    Personally I’d look to the likes of Chain of Command to play out games based on this sort of thing.

    For games at the level of BKC, for example, I’d expect this level of stuff to be worked out abstractly, factored into special abilities or die rolls.

    Growing old is mandatory, growing up is entirely optional!

    #47534
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Ah, thanks, Mike. After battling through an awful lot of nonsense about trail mix, further googleage enabled me to locate the places. Current spelling seems to be Aarle and Maarle, which would explain why I had no joy before. They are just on the Belgian side of the border, at the tip of pointy bit north of Tilburg.

    Given the location between Antwerp and Eindhoven, I would guess that at the time of 49 Recce’s action the Germans were retreating in considerable disorder, which would no doubt have helped an audacious recce trooper fighting mounted.

    All the best,

    John.

    #47538
    Rod Robertson
    Participant

    The Royal Canadian Hussars (7th Recce) provided two examples of unorthodox use of carrier-borne recce troops. The first example came during the fighting towards Carpiqet and Caen in July of 1944. There was an assault when the 7th Recce Regt (17th Duke of York’s Royal Canadian Hussars) of the 3rd Cdn Inf Div did a mounted charge on an enemy position with Universal carriers. This attack happened on the 9th of July as they advanced in support of the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders (S.D.G.’s) attacking towards the Chateau Louet near Gruchy. The following is cited from the 7th Recce’s unit history which was printed in 1948. The attack was led by Lt. Donald Ayer who was an American from the State of Maine and who was serving in the Canadian forces.

    “On 9th July, the attack on Buron, Gruchy and Authie was launched, by the 9th Brigade, from Les Buissons and Vieux Cairon. As Rosel and Rots were directly on the right flank of this attack, the 17th Hussars were called up to “shoot the infantry on to their objectives” with the heavy armoured cars. At first light, immediately after the tremendous artillery barrage had lifted, the heavy Humbers were engaging the enemy with direct fire from their 37 mm and machine guns, while the Infantry were sweeping into these ‘Gates to Caen’.

    “One of the jobs allotted the Regiment during this attack was the task of ‘mopping-up’ as the Infantry overran enemy positions. For this Lt. Don Ayer was given command of all the carriers from “B’ Squadron’s Scout Troops. Unfortunately, the infantry were having a hell of a time. At Buron the Highland Light Infantry had already received 400 casualties, while at Gruchy, the S.D.G. had been stopped by very heavy machine gun fire just outside the town. Lt. Ayer, who, with his 15 or 16 carriers, was waiting for the S.D.G.’s to push on, saw this. So, without hesitation, he charged right through them, in real old cavalry style, right into the middle of an enemy Company position. With grenades and Bren guns (not to mention the “Ayer pistol”) firing at point-blank range, they drove the enemy from his dug-outs, killing dozens, wounding others and capturing 25 or 30 prisoners. This act of extreme gallantry on the part of all ranks allowed a complete battalion of infantry to advance into Gruchy. This fact was confirmed later that evening, when Lt. Pavey (still with Contact Detachments) was talking to Lt.-Col. Christianson, Commanding Officer of the S.D.G.’s. He said, ‘I’d like to thank that Officer. Without his aid along with his crazy carrier crews, I doubt very much if we would have got into Gruchy’.

    This Action cost “B” Squadron 2 killed and 2 wounded. Sgt. Bob McDougall and Tpr. Turner, killed. Lt. Ayer and one other rank being slightly wounded without being evacuated.”

    Lt. Ayer was awarded the distinguished service medal for his efforts. Alas, he was killed a month later and is buried in Groesbeek cemetery, in the Netherlands.

    The second unorthodox attack came in mid September 1944 when the carrier troops were deployed to cover the western flank of the assault on Calais during Operation Undergo. Canadian 3rd Division was so desperate for troops to assault towards Calais that they pulled the 7th infantry brigade out of the line and replaced it with the dismounted carrier troops of the 7th Recce. When the assaults went poorly and bogged down around Cap Gris Nez, the Recce troops and the repositioned 9th Brigade were ordered to attack and fight like infantry. The 7th Recce carrier troops did their task well and captured quite a few strong points while at the same time maintaining flank security and keeping the cordon around Calais secure.

    Similar unconventional actions were carried out by the 8th Recce Regiment (14th Canadian Hussars) of the 2nd Infantry Division throughout 1944.

    Cheers and good gaming.

    Rod Robertson.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by Rod Robertson.
    #47552
    Les Hammond
    Participant

    Some excellent facts for me to work with, thank you

    6mm France 1940

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    #48156
    Jemima Fawr
    Participant

    A good quote from the Carrier Platoon training pamphlet circa 1939 is “It must be remembered that the Carrier is not a light tank; it is a machine for conveying the LMG from place to place, but also from which the LMG can be fired when necessary. If this point is kept clear, little difficulty in its correct handling should be experienced.”

    I’ve found examples of Recce Carrier Troops and Carrier Platoons having double the issue of Brens on occasion, so that one could remain attached to the Carrier.  There are also various examples of .50 Cals being installed.

    Recce Regiments also found themselves fighting as infantry battalions on occasion – particularly during the last six months of the war.  53 Recce Regiment conducted a magnificent defensive action at Rethem in 1945.

    In the Far East, Carrier Platoons frequently found themselves dismounted, though retained the scale of 3 Brens per Section and were used as a combination Recce/Fire Support Platoon.

    My wargames blog: http://www.jemimafawr.co.uk/

    #48307
    kavita1
    Participant

    thanks for all the insights 🙂

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