Book Review
British Reconnaissance Corps
The British Reconnaissance Corps in World War II
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by: Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]

Although it has the air of cliché to it, the British Reconnaissance Corps were a formation which have never captured the attention of either authors (or modellers) which they so richly-deserved. Always somewhat overshadowed by the Armoured formations, their job was, nevertheless, vital. Always at the front of the more heavily-armed formations their job was (and still is) to probe the defensive lines of the enemy whilst guarding their flanks.

This book documents the combat service of the Corps in the Far East, the middle East and Europe whilst looking at force structure, equipment and insignia.

The Book
The British Reconnaissance Corps in World Wat II is written by Richard Doherty and illustrated by Rob Chapman. The book consists of 64 pages including 8 pages of color plates. For those who require it, it's ISBN is 9781846031229.

In Depth
The book consists of six chapters which are sub.divided into relevant areas. The structure of the book follows a logical chronological line. This becomes self-explanatory when we look at the chapter headings and their sub-divisions:

Background - Establishment of the Corps. This chapter covers the initial formation in 1941 and the doctrinal reasons for its creation. It also looks at the evolution into very mobile units.

Training and Equipment - for the modeller, the vehicles allocated to the Corps are obviously of interest here - a variety of vehicles served in the iniatial days of the corps - Beaverette Armored Cars, Humber LRCs, Universal Carriers and, most intriguing of all, the 'Ironsides' which were conversions of 30 cwt Bedford trucks. This chapter has some good, clear illustrations of some of these vehicles.

Into Action: North Africa deals with the first combat deployment of the Corps. Principally this is of more historical interest although some useful data and photos are to be found within this section. Particularly noteworthy amongst the photos are those of the Marmon-Herringtons.

The Mediterranean. Chronologically, this section goes from Sicily to Greece. Particularly notable in this section is the introduction of newer equipment such as the Staghound or the Humber Mk. IV. Once again, the incidents within the various campaigns are given good detail

NW Europe. Beginning with the Normandy campaign and terminating with the Baltic, the penultimate chapter covers in some detail operations such as Market Garden, the Rhine crossing and the campaign in the Low Counntries in the winter of 1944-45. Here the photos become very interesting indeed with some excellent images of a variety of vehicles with some useful detail for the modeller.

The Far East. The final chapter covers the fall of Singapore to the battles in Burma. Although interesting, this chapter, is, in my opinion, far too short to cover three years of campaigning.

Final Asessment
In this i'll split it into several sections looking at the elements of the book and their weaknesses and strengths:

Color Plates. Rob Chapman has done a simply superb job with the illustrations. In the eight pages of color plates, the best are undoubtedly those show the variations in uniform from European to Far-East Asian theatres. These are some of the best that Osprey has commissioned . On the debit side, the vehicle illustrations are of little practical value showing pretty nondescript 3/4 views of five types.

Photos. Osprey now seems to have ditched the old 'postage-stamp' sized photos and gone for less (but more useful) images. Perfectly screened with good resolution these are excellent. Many of the images have never been used before (originating from private sources) although the vehicle photos are, in the majority, taken from the I.W.M. archives. Some of the images have been seen before and one or two would have been better substituted for 'in-theatre' photos although they DO show the configuration of the vehicle albeit in it's 'naked' state.

Text. Once again, the true professionalism of Osprey shines through in areas such as proof-reading and editing. The text is very well-written indeed as is the captioning of the photos which is detailed and correct.

Table of Organization. Due to the nature of this book, it is necessary to illustrate Order of Battle or simply force structure. This is present but again, necessary within the historical context.

For Modellers or Military Historians?. This is actually difficult to answer. Although the book contains much which is of direct application for modellers, it is, in the final analysis, written for those with a strong interest in the historical context. As many modellers do also recognize the importance of understanding the background to a subject they are modelling, ffor many this will be welcome. For those looking for simple documentation of vehicles, then other sources should be considered.

Too much in too small a format? The history of the Reconnaissance Corps is undoubtedly a complex one. Personally, I feel the author has done an excellent job within a limited format. This book should, at the end of the day, be seen as a VERY well-written and researched 'primer'. Fortunately, for those whose interest is encouraged by this book, the author provides a short bibliography.

Final Conclusion. It isn't a book about British Armored cars but it is a very interesting book. It has got considerable value for the modeller but that isn't its primary aim. Personally, I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the area as an excellent introduction to a disgracefully documented subject.
Highs: First-class photos and color plates along with a highly-informative text, make this book a useful reference work for the British/Commonwealth Armored Car enthusiast.
Lows: Perhaps more geared towards the military history enthusiast than the modeller - it would have been nice to have seen a book specifically on the many vehicle types used by the Corps.
Verdict: A short but extremely well-presented and informative book. Of particular value to the modeller are the superbly-reproduced black and white photos.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Mfg. ID: Elite 152
  Suggested Retail: $17.95/£11.50
  PUBLISHED: Mar 19, 2007
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Jim Rae (jimbrae)

Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...

Copyright ©2021 text by Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]. All rights reserved.


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