7th Canadian Reconnaissance Regiment
- the 17th Duke of York's Royal Canadian Hussars

The 7th Canadian Reconnaissance Regiment - known as the 17th Duke of York's Royal Canadian Hussars came from Montreal. The 17th Hussars was a Reconnaissance Regiment and operated as independent squadrons working in close conjunction with the Brigades of the Division. The Recce regiment probed enemy positions, directed traffic and kept the Divisional commander informed on the Brigades progress. On D-Day, the 17th Hussars operated in two specialized groups: Contact Detachments and Beach Groups. These were groups of officers and men, performing special tasks for the G.O.C. and were spread out among the various landing crafts.

The Beach Exit Rec’ce parties were divided into two sections and attached to two British Beach Groups. The unit members provided “traffic control”. They were identified by the “T.C.” painted on their helmets and their white web-belts. They landed with the assaulting infantry, located the beach exits where the vehicles could pass through the sea wall, barbed-wire and mines. They were responsible for ensuring that all the tanks, guns, carriers and other vehicles got off the beach and into the forming up areas.

At 0630 hours, the LCA’s (Landing Craft Assault) of “J Force” were lowered into the sea and started the rough journey towards land. The Beach group officers were on different craft to land at various points along the beach. Twenty minutes after the first infantry landed the Traffic Control Officers landed as told by Major C.W. MacLean; “In the water ahead of us lay thousands of under-water obstacles with teller mines and various types of shells attached to them. Lt. Rowe and Lt. McKenna landed with the Assaulting troops at St Aubin-sur-mer. Lt. Crabtree and Lt. Brunstrom at Courseulles-sur-mer, Maj. Bowen, Lt. Johnson, Lt. Banks in the second wave a few hundred yards west of Courselles, Lt. Thompson, Lt. Clarke and I also in the second wave, at Bernieres-sur-mer.”

“Approaching the beaches we were met with a most impressive sight. The fight was in full swing and later found the pill-boxes still firing at the craft which were hung up on Element “C”. In our craft we all wondered why they didn’t lower the ramp and let us out, but the answer soon came when the craft hit the mines and blew apart and we all dashed through water up to our shoulders to the sea wall…Finally the assaulting troops succeeded in getting over the sea wall and into town, then we started looking for the possible vehicle exits. With the aid of bulldozers and flails, temporary exits were made and later, the follow up troops, A/T guns, carriers, tanks etc. started to roll through…. By 1500 hours things were running smoothly and the major part of work was finished.”

The Contact Detachments consisting of one Officer, a Corporal and two wireless operators were assigned to each infantry battalion. Each detachment was equipped with a jeep, a No. 22 crystal-controlled wireless set, a No. 68R crystal-controlled wireless set, and batteries. Their primary task was to inform the Divisional commander as to what the Battalions were doing. On D-Day, the first message received in the Divisional operations room after H-Hour was sent by Lt. Turley attached to the Regina Rifles: “DD Tanks have touched down”. Lt. R.K. Smith working with the Winnipeg Rifles was badly wounded and Tpr. MacKenzie was wounded and his manned 68R set completely smashed. On the 8th Brigade front Lt.’s Leblanc and Doulten were sending back reams of valuable information. While Lt. Borlase and Lt. Turley were radioing messages of “heavy M.G. fire”, “stiff opposition” on the 7th Brigade’s front, Lt’s Lynch, Doulton and LeBlanc announced that 8th Brigade had managed to seize the first objective, “YEW”. With this established, Major-General Keller, landed the 9th Brigade behind the 8th Brigade with orders to push on to the Divisional Objective – Carpiquet Airfield. From D-Day until the 31st of July, when they rejoined their regiment, the 17th Hussars Contact Detachments remained with the 3rd Division Battalions.