Forming 1941 - 1942
The Reconnaissance Corps was formed at Churchill's request, along with the Parachute Regiment, the Glider pilot Regiment and the Special Air Service. The Reconnaissance Corps came into being on 1st January 1941 in response to recommendations made in the light of the Battle of France. T he Corps responsibility would be to obtain "vita tactical information in battle for infantry divisions".
Armed with roughly twice the fire-power of a normal infantry division and operating, often behind enemy lines, in their armoured cars and Bren gun carrier the Corps was to report back the enemies strengths and dispositions. As a throwback from cavalry days, the role of whom Recce undertook, the standard soldier was a trooper instead of private. Most Recce troopers and officers were trained at the Reconnaissance Corps Training Establishment near Halleaths Hall, Lochmaben, Dumfrieshire, Scotland. Here Regimental Sergeant Major Harrison was to be heard barking out his orders on the parade square each morning.
Recce became divisional troops with a squadron or regiment attached to each of the infantry, armoured and airborne divisions. As a result Recce fought in every theatre of the Second World War. Due to the nature of their work Recce was always at the vanguard of an advance and losses were high, as many as 1 in 10 were killed in action.
1st Airborne Reconnaissance Corps was the smallest of the Recce units. A normal Recce unit attached to an infantry division would be of regiment size, 4 squadrons consisting of 4 troops each, operating armoured cars and universal carriers. 1st Airborne Recce was just 1 squadron consisting of 4 front line troops, 1 HQ troop and 1 support troop. Each of the front line troops had 4 sections each of 10 men and 2 jeeps instead of the armour used by the other Recce regiments.
What was to become 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron was formed in January of 1941 from 31st Independent Brigade Anti-Tank Company and was renamed 31st Independent Reconnaissance Company. With the personnel trained for glider operations the unit was renamed 1st Airlanding Reconnaissance Squadron under the command of Major T. B. H. Otway. Otway was succeeded by Major C. F. H. Gough who was instrumental in building up the squadron, selecting only the finest men who displayed great initiative and imagination.
On return from Italy in late 1943 the squadron completed training as parachute troops and was finally renamed 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron. The squadron was now capable of deploying by a mix of gliders and parachutes. It was around this time that the jeeps of the squadron were equipped with the distinctive Vickers 'K' machine-gun.