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15th Scottish Reconnaissance - 1944 Immersion at Hazelton PA Sept 2018

Updated: Dec 14, 2021

Spring 2018 an old strip mining facility in Hazelton PA through the organization of a German re-enactment group, becomes "somewhere in Europe 1944". They actually name the scenario after an historical battle and try to role play the objectives within. Its more of an immersion event as authenticity is encouraged to a detailed level and all signs of the 21st century are asked to be left behind a line in the driveway. So After that point its WW2 period vehicles, equipment, clothes, camping and as best we can - food!

The reconnaissance regiments and detachments for the British Army by 1944 were some of the highest trained, equipped and experience troops. The opening years of the war had revolutionized mechanized warfare and reconnaissance became to embody a fusion of all new technologies to gain an advantage. Light, fast (reliable) armored vehicles that could withstand machine gun fire. A range of infantry armaments to counter any found threat (machine guns, mortars, anti tank devices). The most potent weapon was the radio! Being able to call in support from artillery, larger ground forces and coordinate with air support, even though the radio technology was bulky and temperamental, each resource was at first a soldier and then had specialist skills to form this all together, gunner, radio operator, driver, mechanic. Each person of a 3 man crew held different skills and responsibilities and was cross trained before the Allies headed back into France.

A period tinted photo of the 15th recce base camp from our second Hazeleton trip - a solid impresssion of 1944.

Our motley crew represents 75% of the Eastern Sea Board - Owner / Driver from Florida (seen here tightening nuts), Gunner / (Breaker Monkey) from Maryland and Gunner / Radio Monkey from Pennsylvania (yours truly - the mug with the mug):

Alfred the Great - a replica Humber Light Recon Car Mk3 - this one is based on a RHD (USPS surplus) Jeep Cherokee - the new lightweight body is exacting to the rare original.

As well as carrying mounted small arms for the crew (Thomson / Sten, Lee Enfield Rifles, Signal Pistols), the Humber is armed with a 0.55" Boys Anti Tank Rifle, a turret mounted Bren machine gun (with 100 round magazine) and smoke mortars. All the arms onboard are rebuilt blank fire / gas fire only - we still take safety precautions and familiarization training seriously, although the most dangerous part so far has been the steering wheel.

"Alf" ready to deploy - Pattern 37 Haversacks and personal gear festooned, extra gas can, Pioneer equipment in its stowage points, water bottles in the door racks. The trapezoidal hatch in the rear is for the driver to pop open and reverse away from an engagement.

As part of the immersion we enjoy period rations, eating and cooking equipment, beans and spam as well as other less popular choices with lashings of tea!

Here can be observed 3 types of authentic dress - overalls for repairing and maintaining the vehicles and gear when off the front line, denim "tank suit" and wool or denim battledress. The vehicle crews also took to plimsoles for low slip clambering in and out of sleek, wet hulls.

After breakfast and briefings we were asked to be the "pointy end" of the Allied advance into the German held territory (400 Axis vs 150 Allied) - we were told to give "speed and aggression" to the crossroads along a straight narrow wooded road..

After we returned from the event, we were offered this photo taken by a German unit - they were watching Alf advance down the narrow wooded road impressively camouflaged!

We did happen into a blockade of logs across the road. Once cleared we backed into a culvert at the sight of a Stug 3 driving down the road towards us. A brief halt of tactical hostilities was called as Alf was pulled clear (fender / wing the only damage - easily fixed when home). The Boys rifle did claim a half track truck and kubelwagon on the way. We were the most advance part of the Allied penetration for the whole day,, a "convoy fight" ensued and there was little room to pass vehicles on the narrow road.

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