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Unit structure of the 2/1 Australian Armoured Brigade Reconnaissance Squadron 1945
by Michael Grieve

The 2/1 Australian Armoured Brigade Reconnaissance Squadron started its career as the H.Q. Sqn, 1 Aust Armd Div in October 1941 but, on disbandment of the Armd Div in September 1943, was reformed as the Reconnaissance Sqn of 1 Aust Armd Bde. In this new role, the Sqn was equipped with M6 Staghound armoured cars.

In the beginning of 1945, following the disbandment of 1 Aust Armd Bde, the Sqn was reconstituted as "An Armoured Squadron: Special Equipment" and designated 2/1 Aust. Armd Bde Recce Sqn. This Sqn was to be equipped with the specialist "Circus Equipment" - armoured vehicles fitted with flame-throwers, dozer blades or bridges - and attached to the armoured units supporting the Australian landing forces on Borneo.

These late-war Australian landing operations in Borneo were each given an "Oboe" designation. These were:
- Oboe 1 (May-June 1945) - Tarakan Island (C Sqn, 2/9th Aust Armd Regt)
- Oboe 2 (Jul-Aug 1945) - Balikpapan (1st Aust Armd Regt)
- Oboe 6 (Jun-Aug 1945) - Labuan & Brunei (A & B Sqns, 2/9th Aust Armd Regt)

 Unit structure

No.1 Tp - 3 X Grant III (M3A5) No.1 Mk.I dozers (sent on follow-up wave, Oboe 2)

WD no. 24187 WD no. 24143 WD no. 23751

No.2 Tp - 3 X Covenanter bridgelayers (one to Oboe 2, one to Oboe 6, one did not reach Morotai base in time for embarkation)

WD 81515
(Oboe 2)
WD 81728 (?) (Oboe 6)

No.3 Tp - 3 X Matilda dozers (Oboe 2)

"Minstrel" WD 6940 Dozer No.1 Mk.I WD 37157 (?) WD no. 7241

No.4 Tp - 3 X Matilda dozers (Oboe 6)

WD 18771 WD 17699 (?) WD 37159 (?)

No.5 Tp - 3 X Matilda Frogs (Oboe 6)

WD 35304 WD 35354 (?) WD 131135 (?)

No.6 Tp - 3 X Matilda Frogs (Oboe 2)

Dangerous

WD no. 82104

Deoch

WD no. 27751

Devil

No.7 Tp - 3 X Matilda Frogs (did not reach Morotai base in time for embarkation)

No.8 Tp - 3 X Matilda Frogs (did not reach Morotai base in time for embarkation)

Nomenclature

Grant III (M3A5) No.1 Mk.I dozer - Grant III (M3A5) tank fitted with La-Plant Choate M1 dozer blade
Covenanter bridgelayer - scissors bridge on Covenanter tank hull
Matilda Dozer No.1 Mk.I - Matilda tank fitted with cable-operated dozer blade
Matilda Frog - Matilda tank fitted with flamethrower as main armament

Notes

- At this stage, it is unclear as to the type of Matilda dozer operated by 3 & 4 Troops for all bar one vehicle ("Minstrel" WD no 6940, Dozer No.1 Mk.I). It is possible that some of these vehicles may have been Dozer No.3 Mk.I, where the blade was hydraulically operated.

- A "(?)" has been written next to a vehicle WD number where the number is noted in original documentation (such as shipping notes), but does not appear to tally with vehicle numbers independently listed elsewhere (such as vehicle registers).


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