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Old 27-03-16, 08:15 AM
rac1944 rac1944 is offline
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Surrey
Posts: 153

Although the following dates won't pin down the photo exactly, hopefully they'll place it generally and also help with the timing of the Recce conversion/43R adoption.

161 RAC converted from 12th Bn, Green Howards at the end of July 1942, initially formed to be the A/C regiment of 42nd Armoured Div. At some point in late 1942 whilst at Scarborough they changed over to black berets. The regiment was officially transferred to the Recce Corps 12/10/1943 as 161 Reconnaissance Regiment.

As Les mentions, the regiment continued to wear both the black beret and the Green Howards cap badge. It is highly likely that 161 Recce was the first Recce regiment to wear the black beret, the black beret started being adopted by the Recce Corps in early 1944.

B Sqn 161 Recce was selected to replace A Sqn 43 R lost in the mine explosion which sank the Derrycunihy. The 161 Recce sqn arrived in France right at the end of July 1944 and 43 Recce wasted no time in bringing them into the Recce brotherhood. According to Fred Sylvester in It's The Same Brush..., the new A Sqn was issued with khaki berets and Recce cap badges about the second week of August 1944. So for approximately one week in August 1944 it would have been possible to see a large body of men of 43 Recce wearing black berets and Green Howards cap badges. Again, as Les mentions, some undoubtedly slipped through the net even after the issue of khaki/recce badges.

161 Recce remained in the UK serving as a reinforcement regiment supplying troops to NWE. They were disbanded in 1946.

43 Recce was one of those regiments which felt particularly strongly about its Recce heritage and stuck to wearing the khaki beret long past the official orders which would have come out in early 1944. Presumably reinforcements would have been sent over later in 1944 with black berets but the Regiment wasn't having any of it, so much so that their War Diary records an entry in November 1944 stating 'In no circumstances will the black beret be worn...except for maintenance.' Still sticking to the khaki beret, it wasn't until April 1945 that 43 Recce fully and officially (i.e. they recorded it in their War Diary) replaced khaki berets with black ones!
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