The 15th Scottish Reconnaissance Regiment was a short-lived unit, surviving for only three years from its formation early in 1943 until being disbanded in March 1946. The new regiment thus had just over a year to prepare for action. It moved to Normandy three weeks after D-Day and remained at the front for the rest of the war, taking part in the breakout from Normandy, the 'Great Swan' across France, the hard fighting over the winter of 1944-45, the crossing of the Rhine and the final 'swan' across Germany.
This book contains an interesting mix of styles. It was originally five years after the war, by members of the regiment and with a readership of former members of the regiment in mind. The book was then updated in 2010 and targeted at a more general readership. Tim Chamberlain, the author who carried out that work, was secretary of the 15th Scottish Reconnaissance Regiment and thus directly connected to the unit himself. As far as I can tell most of the connecting text comes from Chamberlain (although some has the ring of near contemporary prose) while the eyewitness accounts are a mix of material from the original book and new interviews carried out by Chamberlain with surviving members of the regiment.
The regiment was equipped with a variety of lightly armoured vehicles, including armoured cars, Carden-Lloyd carriers and Weasel amphibians (very useful in the mud of the Maas area). With these vehicles it had to advance ahead of the main army and try and locate and identify any German troops. Eighty-one men from the regiment were killed during the fighting in North-Western Europe, and many more had lucky escapes or were wounded.
This is a compelling account of the fighting right at the front line. Most unit histories focus on infantry or armoured units, so the story of a reconnaissance regiment makes a refreshing change. The unit took part in a wide variety of tasks, sometimes holding parts of the line, sometimes patrolling on a static front and sometimes dashing ahead as the Germans retreated. The section on the formation of the unit is also of interesting, looking at how a totally new formation could gain its own spirit in such a short time.
1 - The Beginning
2 - Felton Hall
3 - Pontefract
4 - Angmering-on-Sea
5 - To Normandy
6 - Three Men in a Car
7 - Into Battle (Caen Front)
8 - Advance from Caumont
9 - To the Seine - and on
10 - Belgium and a Farewell
11 - Best, Helmond and Best Again
12 - Full Cry to Tilburg
13 - Liesel, Meijel and the Peat Bogs
14 - Through Mud to the Maas
15 - Anna Hoeve and Hout Blerick
16 - Through Flood into Germany
17 - Across the Rhine
18 - The Chase - to the Leine
19 - The Battle of Ricklingen Bridge
20 - The Chase - to the Elbe
21 - Over the Elbe to Battle's End
22 - Into History
Authors: W. Kemsley, M.R. Riesco and T. Chamberlain
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: revised 2011 edition of 1950 original