15th Scottish Reconnaissance - WW2 Immersion - Hazelton PA April 2019
Updated: Dec 27, 2022
The original 15th Scottish Reconnaissance unit had several specialisms within its structure - one of these was the Assault Section - these were the most akin to traditional infantry or as the Britts knew them the PBI (Poor Blinking Infantry). For return to Hazelton we worked on an assault section turn out. They were split away from our vehicles for the day, despite our attempts at preparing to have them attach to support our vehicle movements. While they were away to play, this photos was taken with them marching down a road - our friendly graphic designer then merged into an original photo of the PBI marching in France.
Meanwhile we have learned to gloss over the start and assembly for the event - the overnight from Friday into Saturday saw torrential rain and high winds and all camps were battered and flooded - most slept in their cars and then assembled for the start of the Saturday inspections and organization to move out.
This time we had the Humber mk4 LRC with us, fresh back from repairs and shakedown tests - it would form the command unit in our task force of 2 Humbers. This is an original WW2 example - it having been sold to Portugal post war and then returned on the surplus market - after a few twists of fate, one of the surviving veterans identified the project vehicle as being "Vandal" within the 15 Recce unit during the war - so that is how she is represented now. Vandal is co-owned by 3 friends / investors and they work together to take it to shows based out of PA.
As you can see, the British were evolving a very purposeful and potent Armored Reconnaissance vehicle design. A crew of three with a fully rotatable turret mounting a 37mm gun and a co-axial BESA 8mm machine gun, able to advance on road at 4omph and withstand machine gun fire. Note the smoke launcher (4" tube pointing skywards on the turret).
We were marshaled into the starting grid and told to advance onto the high ground and take a defensive position - expecting a German attack.
Two Humber models together and readied to move out. Yours truly filling the BREN turret on the vehicle behind, Jim, the vehicle owner peering out of the vehicle in front from his "steel coffin" / driving position. The gunner is wearing an RAC helmet - good, compact protection for hulls and hatches - even if it makes you look like a mushroom - he's really an funghi though. Note the Jeep Armada behind - if you are going to own and restore a WW2 vehicle - do try to choose something distinctive!
The opening acts of the action were very authentic! Commanders pointing at maps and up and down roads, orders and radio chatter garbled into nonsense, chaos in the cabin as crew members tried to work out what all the switches do and then chaos as the Germans appeared from a completely different direction than our briefing and "intelligence" - perfect! They made quick work of us in the initial engagement, so we fell back to a dip in the road and set up a pincer ambush, which they drove into and we slugged it out with blanks and pyro mortar rounds. We were soon over run though - so we got out to take pictures and let the living surrender.
Having pulled our casualties clear of the knocked out vehicles, I set about administering first aid and rifling through their pockets - one of them has to have a KitKat or similar to loot. Note the white interior to the vehicle - early war interiors were painted silver - the high metal content in the paint made it a higher flash and burn point - desirable with all that ammunition and fuel, the later war vehicles were painted white due to the need (and shortage) for the metals to make other materials. Here you can see the "wounded" commander for the day still wants to point at maps.
After our defeat on the slopes, we separated the Humbers. the Mk4 then had some time on the trails in the woods. The potabellla-fella took this selfie in the scenery - our friendly photo-shopper again added ww2 photo wreckage to the image for atmosphere.
Meanwhile back at the start line with the Humber LRC "Alf", some old friends greeted us and we fed them apples.
Here I am taunting our command in the style of a Monty Python French Knight. - Give better orders or I will taunt you for a second time!
We held our lonely and uncontested high ground position for hours, hearing the rattle of blanks and tanks across the valley for awhile. Then we were asked to join in the road battle to finish the day. We only had a couple of minutes to meet and muster and then the German advance parts was on us. Friends in a 222 reconnaissance vehicle (our nemesis) were charging towards us quite quickly!
Then a bang and lots of shouting...their rear wheel came off due to a fractured hub adaptor...the interior of their vehicle was then brown...
Being colleagues and familiar with vehicle gremlins and travel away from home we stopped to help them recover their vehicle onto the trailer for home - a little wrenching and innovation and the day was complete - until next time we meet!