The United States Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, Mechanized

Following combat experience in North Africa and Sicily, the US Army reorganised its Reconnaissance units towards the end of 1943 in preparation for the next offensive in the West.  The Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron replaced the previous Armored Reconnaissance Battalion in Armored Divisions, while further non-Divisional Squadrons were available for Corps or Army use, or attachment to Infantry Divisions.

The main difference between the two units was a reduction of the Reconnaissance Troops from four to three in the independent version, with a smaller Assault Gun Troop.

The Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, circa 1943 to 1945 (Armored Division)

Squadron Headquarters (9 Officers and 47 men)

Headquarters Section (8 Officers, 13 men)

Communication Section (1 Officer, 28 men);

    3 M8 armored cars

Administrative and Personnel Section (6 men)

Headquarters Troop (3 Officers and 83 men)

Headquarters Section (1 Officer, 2 men)

Administrative, Mess and Supply Section (21 men) * reduced by 5 men July 1944

Maintenance Section (1 Officer, 6 men)

Transportation Platoon (1 Officer, 13 men)

Squadron Maintenance Platoon (33 men);

    M8 armored car

Squadron Supply Section (8 men)

Cavalry Assault Gun Troop (5 Officers, 107 men)

Headquarters Section (1 Officer, 4 men)

Administrative, Mess & Supply Section (18 men) * reduced by 5 men July 1944

Maintenance Section (9 men)

Four Assault Gun Platoons, each comprised of 1 Officer and 19 men;

    2 M8 Howitzer Motor Carriages

Light Tank Company (5 Officers, 92 men)

Company HQ (1 Officer, 10 men);

    2 Light tanks

Administrative, Mess & Supply Section (16 men) * reduced by 3 men, June 1944

Maintenance Section (1 Officer, 9 men)

Three Light Tank Platoons, each comprised of 1 Officer, 19 men;

    5 Light tanks

Four Cavalry Reconnaissance Troops (5 Officers, 140 men), each comprised of;

Headquarters Section (2 Officers, 13 men);

    2 M8 armored cars

Administrative, Mess & Supply Section (31 men) * reduced by 6 men July 1944

Maintenance Section (12 men);

    M8 armored car

Three Reconnaissance Platoons, each comprised of;

Armored Car Section (1 Officer, 11 men);

    3 M8 Armored cars

Scout Section (17 men)

Total Strength of;

    931 all ranks (42 Officers, 889 men) * reduced by 37 men, July 1944

    17 light tanks

    8 howitzer motor carriages

    52 M8 armored cars

The Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, circa 1943 to 1945 (other than an Armored Division)

Squadron Headquarters (9 Officers and 47 men)

Headquarters Section (8 Officers, 13 men)

Communication Section (1 Officer, 28 men);

    3 M8 armored cars

Administrative and Personnel Section (6 men)

Headquarters Troop (3 Officers and 79 men)

Headquarters Section (1 Officer, 2 men)

Administrative, Mess and Supply Section (21 men) * reduced by 5 men July 1944

Maintenance Section (1 Officer, 6 men)

Transportation Platoon (1 Officer, 12 men)

Squadron Maintenance Platoon (30 men);

    M8 armored car

Squadron Supply Section (8 men)

Cavalry Assault Gun Troop (4 Officers, 86 men)

Headquarters Section (1 Officer, 4 men)

Administrative, Mess & Supply Section (18 men) * reduced by 5 men July 1944

Maintenance Section (7 men)

Three Assault Gun Platoons, each 1 Officer and 19 men;

    2 M8 Howitzer Motor Carriages

Light Tank Company (5 Officers, 92 men)

Company HQ (1 Officer, 10 men);

    2 Light tanks

Administrative, Mess & Supply Section (16 men) * reduced by 3 men, June 1944

Maintenance Section (1 Officer, 9 men)

Three Light Tank Platoons (1 Officer, 19 men);

    5 Light tanks

Three Cavalry Reconnaissance Troops (5 Officers, 140 men), each comprised of;

Headquarters Section (2 Officers, 13 men);

    2 M8 armored cars

Administrative, Mess & Supply Section (31 men) * reduced by 6 men July 1944

Maintenance Section (12 men);

    M8 armored car

Three Reconnaissance Platoons, each comprised of;

Armored Car Section (1 Officer, 11 men);

    3 M8 armored cars

Scout Section (17 men)

Total Strength of;

    760 all ranks (36 Officers, 724 men) * reduced by 31 men, July 1944

    17 light tanks

    6 howitzer motor carriages

    40 M8 armored cars

Points of note

For once, it was the turn of the US Army to adopt slightly confusing terminology.  The Squadron was in fact a Battalion sized unit, with its various Troops equating to Companies.  While it boasted an impressive array of armoured fighting vehicles, the Squadron was still heavily dependent on soft-skinned Jeeps in its Reconnaissance Troops.  

The elements of the Squadron

Squadron Headquarters - HQ contained an increased allocation of officers for liaison and communication duties.

Communication Section - fulfilled the usual role of maintaining communications between the units of the Squadron and parallel and higher formations, and operated three M8 armored cars.  Another M8 was found in the Squadron Maintenance Platoon.

Assault Gun Platoon - the assault guns found in the individual Reconnaissance Platoons previously were now formed into their own Company.  Each Platoon consisted of a small HQ carried in a single halftrack, an Ammunition Section with another such vehicle, and two Gun Sections, each with an M8 gun motor carriage.  The M8 replaced the earlier halftrack assault guns, and was based on the M3 light tank chassis, mounting a snub nosed 75-mm howitzer.

Light Tank Company - exactly as that found in the The United States Armored Battalion the Company operated three Platoons, each of five M5 light tanks, with two more at Company HQ.  During late 1944 a new light tank, the M24, became available.  There are indications that the Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadrons were among the first to receive the M24, to take advantage of its speed and performance.  The M24 was a truly modern light tank, mounting a 75-mm main gun that could tackle medium enemy armoured vehicles.  It had a crew of five, and when deployed the Light Tank Company was allowed an additional 17 men.

The Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop - the Troop commanded three Platoons, each with one armoured and one Jeep Section.  

The Armored Car Section fielded three M8 Greyhounds.  The M8 was a large, six-wheeled reconnaissance car, purpose built for the role.  It had a four man crew of a driver and signaller, seated side by side in the hull front, with the commander and gunner in an open topped turret.  The M8 mounted a handy 37-mm main gun and co-axial .30-cal machine gun, with a .50-cal M2HB frequently added.  Like all such vehicles it was lightly protected, relying on speed and manoeuvre to get itself out of harm's way.  One vehicle in the Section was commanded by a Lieutenant, the other two by Sergeants.   

The Scout Section had six Jeeps, carrying a Sergeant, two Corporals, six drivers, six mortarmen and two riflemen.  The three NCOs and two riflemen carried M1 rifles, the drivers submachine guns, the mortar crews M1 carbines.  Three of the Jeeps mounted an M1919 light machine gun, the other three each carrying a 60-mm mortar, with both types of weapon usable in the ground role.  Officially, and perhaps unusually, there were no Bazookas listed with the Section, but Troop HQ had three weapons within the AM&S Section that could likely be issued one per Platoon. 

Troop HQ added two more Greyhounds for the Captain and Lieutenant, plus a third in the Maintenance Section, making a total of twelve in the Troop.  

When a Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop served as part of an Infantry Division, it kept the same basic structure given above.  Additional though was an extra M8 armoured car and a liaison officer with Jeep in the HQ Section, plus four more men in the Maintenance Section.

Summary

The Squadron was constructed for fast, mobile operations, fanning out ahead of the Armored and Infantry divisions.  Its somewhat light makeup proved less useful when, as was often the case for reconnaissance units, it found itself called upon to plug gaps in the line or hold terrain that would test an infantry battalion.  It may also have benefited from an improved anti-tank element, as the 37-mm guns of its M8 Greyhounds and M5 Stuarts were obsolete in that role by 1943, and the M24 light tank, with its more capable 75-mm gun, did not begin to arrive until late 1944.

Return to...

Index

Reconnaissance Units

United States Reconnaissance units 1942 to 1945

Site Map