The United States Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, Mechanized

As with their infantry and armored units, the US Army adopted an organisation for their reconnaissance units that was to serve largely unchanged from late 1943 to the end of the war.  There were in fact two variations for the Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, one serving with the Armored Division, the other operating independently at Corps level.  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)

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)

Squadron Supply Section (8 men)

Cavalry Assault Gun Troop (5 Officers, 107 men)

Headquarters Section (1 Officer, 4 men)

AM & S Section (18 men) * reduced by 5 men July 1944

Maintenance Section (9 men)

Four Assault Gun Platoons, each 1 Officer and 19 men

Light Tank Company (5 Officers, 92 men)

Company HQ (1 Officer, 10 men)

AM & S Section (16 men) * reduced by 3 men, June 1944

Maintenance Section (1 Officer, 9 men)

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

each comprised of 5 Tanks

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

Headquarters Section (2 Officers, 13 men)

AM & S Section (31 men) * reduced by 6 men July 1944

Maintenance Section (12 men)

Three Reconnaissance Platoons, each comprised of;

Armored Car Section (1 Officer, 11 men)

Scout Section (17 men)

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

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)

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)

Squadron Supply Section (8 men)

Cavalry Assault Gun Troop (4 Officers, 86 men)

Headquarters Section (1 Officer, 4 men)

AM & S Section (18 men) * reduced by 5 men July 1944

Maintenance Section (7 men)

Three Assault Gun Platoons, each 1 Officer and 19 men

Light Tank Company (5 Officers, 92 men)

Company HQ (1 Officer, 10 men)

AM & S Section (16 men) * reduced by 3 men, June 1944

Maintenance Section (1 Officer, 9 men)

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

each comprised of 5 Tanks

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

Headquarters Section (2 Officers, 13 men)

AM & S Section (31 men) * reduced by 6 men July 1944

Maintenance Section (12 men)

Three Reconnaissance Platoons, each comprised of;

Armored Car Section (1 Officer, 11 men)

Scout Section (17 men)

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

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 Companies.  

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 - 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 was based on the M3 light tank chassis and mounted a snub nosed 75mm 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.

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 had a four man crew of commander, driver, gunner and signaller.  One was commanded by a Lieutenant, the other two by Sergeants.  The M8 mounted a handy 37 mm main gun, but like all such vehicles was light protected, relying on speed and manoeuvre to get itself out of harm's way.

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.    

Troop HQ added two more Greyhounds, plus a third in the Maintenance Section, making a total of twelve in the Troop.  The same basic organisation was also used by the Reconnaissance Troop of an Infantry Division, adding an extra officer and nine men and a further M8 for HQ.

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 features that would test an infantry battalion.  It may also have benefited from an anti-tank element, as the 37 mm guns of its M8 Greyhounds and M5 Stuarts were obsolete in that role by 1943.

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