10 Commando at Dover: looking for info

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Fossil_Phil, Jun 4, 2010.

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  1. Hi,

    My first post here! I hope you chaps could help me with a query relating to an obscure moment in WW2 military history.

    I am a volunteer working for the Western Heights Preservation Society based at Dover in Kent - the Western Heights is a huge (and now sadly neglected) Napoleonic series of fortifications that was heavily expanded in the 1860s. It was built to defend the harbour from attacks and forms the counterpoint to Dover Castle on the opposite side of the valley. One point in the fortifications is known as the Drop Redoubt - this is a five sided bricklined fortification that was hacked out of the chalk and directly overlooks the Dover valley.

    Although we have a fair amount of information on the earlier phases of the building, one fascinating photo has come to light that depicts soldiers of 10 Commando marching on the parade ground on the roof of the Drop Redoubt. However, we have been unable to determine little further information on the WW2 use of the structure. From my understanding there is little recorded history of 10 Commando, but it consisted of seven troops of foreign volunteers including a Jewish troop (No.3 'X' Troop) and probably had only about 1000 men in total.

    As you can imagine, I would dearly love to find out more about this unit, especially in regards to the Dover connection - would anyone here have any information or be able to point me in the right direction?

    Many thanks!


  2. In May 1943 the unit was posted to Eastbourne from North Wales, but it is unlikly that the whole commando was there as 5th Norwegion troop was in the Shetlands, No 2 Dutch Troop were in the Far East, No 3 Troop was in Italy. The only time the whole unit acted as one was during the Walchernen landings

    Commandos in Exile by Nik van der Bijl, Pen and sword Books, £19.99

    Also check out "The Jewish Virtual Library" website which will give you the names of all the members of No3 (British) Troop
  3. No.10 Cdo (IA) never had ‘1000’ men or anything like it :roll: . Troop strengths were up to about 60/65 at most and many units were smaller – viz. the tiny and short lived Yugoslav Tp. No.10 never operated as a Cdo and were never intended to. At most a Tp was attached to another Op, but, being the nature of WWII Cdos, the smallest unit was one man so is was not unusual for one man or a small numbers being assigned a task.

    There was no ‘Jewish Troop’, this is a handle banded about post war, largely by Jewish writers banging the drum for Jews. 3 Tp, or X Tp, were both WWII titles and their criteria was to be fluent in German with ideally experience of having lived in a German territory. Most were Jewish refugees and most were Austrian.

    Until assigned overseas many Cdos had spells on the south coast and typically the men were expected to find lodgings among the locals – for which they were paid 6 shilling and 8 pence a day to theoretically cover this (Officers got double). No.10 had the distinction of never fighting together as a Tp as the men were typically attached in small numbers to other Cdos to act as interpreters/recce. Probably the largest number took part in D-Day, being attached as said to the 16 Cdo Units and possibly other specialist Units.

    A copy of ‘Ten Commando, 1942-45‘ by Ian Dear will give you some background and won’t stress finances.

  4. Thanks ever so much for the informative replies.

    I apologise for the inaccurate figures - that'll teach me to trust Google searching in an area unfamiliar to me! I've just ordered a copy of Ian Dear's book as you suggested, No.9, - I managed to find one for just £6.50.

    If I can get permission from the owner of the photo depicting the unit at Dover I'll post it here for you to analyse.
  5. If these Commandos were units of only a few men , are we to take it they were decoys to fool the hun?

    Wasn't there a whole ghost army?
  6. No 10 commando were used as a specialist, unit to provide Linguists, Intellagence, and in some cases local knowledge on raids carried out by other commando and airborne units, and sometimes worked as a commando ellement with there own countrys army as with the Polish troop serving with the Poles in Italy, and Dutch troop against the Japanese, and later to jump into Arnheim
  7. I see, diolch tropper.
  8. If you can get hold of a copy, Castle Commando by Donald Gilchrist is a good insight into the early days of the Commandoes and if I remember correctly Dover does get a mention although it is mainly about Achnacarry in the Scottish Highlands:

  9. Theres always been a rumour that when the French troop attacked the casino in Ouistreham on D day it was really so their Troop leader Cmdt Kiefer, could burn his outstanding bar and gambling bill from before the war, it was shown in the film "The Longest Day" and even the incident with the nuns walking through the fire fight is said to be true
  10. llech - "If these Commandos were units of only a few men , are we to take it they were decoys to fool the hun?"

    :? 8O Err......no? The WWII Cdo remit was to do whatever was asked of them. Sometimes it entailed a few men, sometimes up to a whole Bde. If there's a need, or a likely need, for someone fluent in German then you need a man with that capability. If you mean a British version of Skorzeny's imitation GIs (Ardennes), then no that didn't happen.

    However, in April '45 a Tp of No.2 Cdo march straight into a German bridge position on the strength of it being *dusk and the Germans taking them for reinforcements as they approached from 'their' side and probably looked a bit like Fallschirmjager in their Denison smocks :omg:

    If you mean on occasion some X Troopers did pass themselves off as Germans, then yes. In the D-Day episode, one man on recce claimed he lined-up for food with the Wehrmacht, and chatted to the soldiers :omg:

    Equally, another man (non German speaking Sgt of No.3 Cdo I think), found himself isolated at a German occupied farm after a skirmish. The Germans built a fire in the yard to brew-up at night, so he wandered over from the far side and brewed-up as well ;) 'It's a funny 'ole game.'

    Thinking of another incident, a captured X Trooper had some difficulty passing himself off as British to the Germans. Convinced them he sounded funny because he was Welsh :omg: :D

    * Edited because, O'muck-I-am, a bollok was dropped :oops: The Tp of No.2 marched up to the German bridge in half-light alright, but it was DAWN, not Dusk. :donut: [​IMG]
    Sorry if anyone's dissertation was screwed 8O
  11. No 3 troop Eastbourne May1943

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  12. Major Godfrey Franks 2ic left Lt col Peter Laycock centre oc.

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  13. Members of 3rd troop in Germany 1945

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  14. Gundulph, if you like Gilchrists’s ‘Castle Commando’, I think you’d also like ‘Commando Country’ by Stuart Allan - http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1905267142/?tag=armrumser-21 – and ‘It Had To Be Tough’ by Jimmy Dunning. Re the latter, it now tends to be sold at mong prices in the UK, but, you can get the US reprint, ‘British Commandos’ which is identical except for the cover/title, (Septics felt it would sell better with a more blatant name?) - http://www.bookfinder.com/search/?ac=sl&st=sl&qi=AigIx35XyQv0Hg6ayKLFir29g6w_7326817138_1:9:99&bq=author%3Djames%2520dunning%26title%3Dbritish%2520commandos%2520the%2520origins%2520and%2520special%2520training%2520of%2520an%2520elite%2520unit

    Jimmy stared out with No.4 Cdo then went to be an instructor at Achnacarry for the duration. Problem I have with Gilchrist’s book is he seems to use the ‘Alexander’ style – everyone was jolly fine chaps and ‘other’ aspects just get omitted :omg:

  15. Members of Dutch troop in the Arakan in Burma
    De Koning,Ubels,Knottenbelt,Van der Veer, and Blatt

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