Scout Carrier

The Scout Carrier was a reconnaissance version of the Bren Gun Carrier, produced for use by mechanized cavalry regiments, and with more space in the rear compartment to allow a radio to be carried.

Scout Carriers of 51st Highland Division
Scout Carriers of 51st Highland Division

The first version of the Scout Carrier was produced in 1936 by converting a Machine Gun Carrier No.1 Mark I into the Armoured General Scout Vehicle. It was given a much larger gunners compartment on the left, for the commander/ gunner. It was armed with a Bren gun in the front, and a Boys anti-tank rifle on a sliding rail around the top. It also carried a No.1 wireless set. This was tested at the MEE, and two more of the Carrier No.1s were converted into prototype Scout Carriers.  

This was followed by a production order for the Scout Carrier, which resulted in nearly 700 being built by Nuffields and Aveling-Barford. 667 were delivered in 1938 and 356 in 1939. The production version differed from the first prototype. The driver and gunner’s positions were identical to those on the Bren Gun Carrier. There was a larger crew compartment on the right-rear, with a square back. From the right the Scout Carrier looked like the later Universal Carrier. The left side was storage, and was open. The Scout Carrier could carry a No.11 wireless set in the rear crew compartment. It was to be armed with a Boys anti-tank rifle in the gunner’s position and a pintle mounted Bren gun in the rear compartment. By the time the Scout Carrier was in production it had already been realised that the idea of having three separate types of carrier was wasteful, and it was replaced by the Universal Carrier. This had a similar rear crew compartment to the Scout Carrier but on both sides, fully enclosing the rear area and providing more space.

Scout Carriers of 13/18th Royal Hussars
Scout Carriers of 13/18th Royal Hussars

In 1940 the Scout Carrier was issued to the mechanized cavalry regiments, to carry out divisional reconnaissance. Each of these regiments was to have 28 light tanks and 44 Scout Carriers. In France in 1940 only one in every three carried a radio. The regiments were split into three squadrons. Each squadron had a HQ with two light tanks, two light tank troops and four Scout Carrier troops each with three carriers. The Regimental HQ had the other two Scout Carriers.

The Scout Carrier was used in the campaign in France in 1940. It proved to be reliable, but vulnerable to enemy fire, and could easily be overloaded. In the desperate fighting in 1940 they were often misused as combat vehicles, even being used to attack anti-tank guns. The Scout Carrier doesn’t appear to have been popular with the mechanized cavalry regiments, who found some of their vehicles to be worn out, and dismissed them as under-armed and unable to stand up against anything other than infantry or very light vehicles. Any vehicles that survived the early fighting were lost during the retreat to Dunkirk or abandoned on the beaches.

Scout Carriers reached the Middle East, where they served with the 7th Armoured Division in 1940. They were also given to the 6th Australian Divisional Cavalry Regiment, although not in enough numbers to give them the 44 they should have had. The regiment’s A Squadron took part in the attack on Bardia in December 1940 with only twenty worn out carriers.

After the disaster at Dunkirk many of the Scout Carriers that remained in Britain were used to stand in for the tanks lost in France. A number of them were used by the short-lived Yeomanry Armoured Detachment, which was posted in East Anglia to guard against a German invasion. In May this detachment ended and its component units moved to Kent to join the 20th Armoured Brigade, where they were once again equipped with carriers.

WWII Home Page | WWII Subject Index | WWII Books | WWII Links | Day by Day

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (11 March 2024), Scout Carrier ,

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us - Privacy