3 independent company, norway

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by booner, Nov 1, 2008.

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  1. i'm trying to find out more about 3 independent company that formed part of the 10 companies that fought in norway, 1940. they were the basis for the army commando's. my grandfather was in 3 ind. but unfortunately passed away so i can't find out more.
    he later went on to 85th field/mountain regt in italy, so any information or links etc on the above would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Try the National Archives at Kew or the Imperial War Museum.
  3. The Ind Coys contributed to the formation of the Army Commandos, but it was not because of them the Cdos came about. The Ind's formed the substantial part of the BEF to Norway (Gen. Macksey) which was primarily SCISSORS FORCE commanded by Colin Gubbins. Read 'Gubbins and the SOE', ISBN 0 85052 556 X.

    Britain did not have anything like the specialist forces before the war which it ended the war with. Very sparse and minimal resources were devoted to development because Britain still pursued the victors practices it ended-up with after winning WWI. Joe Holland MI(R) - sounds impressive but in reality was of the 'one man and his dog' nature - was investigating the 'regular' guerrilla's place in the Army but this was a paper exercise. When the nazis exploded out of the phoney war, Britain scratched around for immediate resolutions which expectedly were woefully inadequate.

    A special force in the offing was destined for Finland, which subsequently collapsed before it could arrive or even complete preparations. Joe Holland recommended the formation of 10 Ind Coys each of 290 men all ranks to act - as what we would now call - a Rapid Reaction Force. They didn't have them so they weren't trained and were hastily put together from volunteers among the TA still in Britain, (i.e. not BEF France). The number of men was arrived at because this number fitted into a Landing Ship which was to be their base and vehicle such as it was. Their operational duration was envisaged as up to 1 month tours.

    No.3 Ind Coy was formed at Ponteland on 25 Apr 1940 from 54th East Anglian Div under Maj. Newman – later of No.2 Cdo fame, St. Nazaire VC etc. During the first week of May they were in Norway. Just over a month later they all were back in Britain.

    Time did not allow for anything like proper training, (not that this was even been formalised then), and most had nothing more than a couple of forced marches with full kit before they were sent off. Of the 10 Ind Coys, only the first 5 were deployed. Nos. 6 to 10 never left Britain because BEF Norway collapsed with the men withdrawn.

    Around this time, Churchill became leader, the BEF France was being extricated and part of his offensive measures was the formation of 'Striking Forces' which became, further to the suggestion of Dudley Clarke, the Commandos. Churchill's demand for mounting the first Commando raid 'yesterday', had Clark travel to Glasgow to form a Unit of around 375 from volunteers of the Ind Coys NOT sent to Norway. This was while the formal organisation of 10 Commandos (of Special Service troops) was under way.

    In the planning it was decided the Ind Coys would be disbanded and the men – those who wanted to continue with volunteer service AND were suitable - would comprise No.1 Cdo. While they continued to change their minds, the Cdos were put under Home Forces due to the invasion scare, and reorganised into Special Service Battalions. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 9 Ind Coys made-up 1 SS Bat and 6 and 7 Ind Coy with Nos.9 and 11 Cdo made-up 2 SS Bat. 10 Ind Coy has been sent as part of the force to West Africa and were disbanded on return. Early 41 it was all change again and Cdo Bats were formally reinstated after the Lofoten episode. As for the men of the Ind Coys, some were fed-up with Norway and all the messing about thereafter and went back to their original regiments. Some continued with the Cdos and found their way into various Cdos. Actually a lot were used for reconstituting No.2 Cdo when it was decided No.2 would not be our Para Cdos, which became an entity in its own right.

  4. I did some digging about a while back for a workmates whose grandad served with No.5 Company. If you can get down to the National Archives at Kew have a look at the following files:

    WO 106/1889 Independent Companies for Norway, 1940 April - May

    WO 106/1946 Independent Companies: Reports on Operations at Mosjoen, 1940 April-May

    There may be more in there if you search around in the index. There's also some stuff in the official history:

    T.H. Derry History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Military Series: The Campaign in Norway (London: HMSO, 1952).

    You should be able to get that thru a local library, or Naval and Military Press are doing reprints for around £20 IIRC. There's also some stuff in

    Charles Messenger The Commandos 1940-1946 (London: Kimber, 1985).

    Hope this helps and good luck!

  5. Hi,

    I too have someone who served with no.3 Independent company and returned from Norway to the 85th Field/Mountain Regiment. Who was you grandfather. I have done a huge amount of research on the 85th and would love to chat to you.
    My email is hunnies28@hotmail.com. Known men who did the same are 'Tiny' Goodfellow and Jack Burton so far.
    Look forward to hearing from you.