Did Britain's Commando heroes die in vain?

Allan74

Old-Salt
Bruneval was a truly Combined Operation

It was a parachute insertion, by the royal Air Force, of Army commando soldiers, who were subsequently extracted by the Royal Navy, and it pre-dates the formation of army parachute battalions by some months (if not years)

The officer who led the parachute troops on the Bruneval raid was John Frost, who - as you will doubtless know - went on to be the CO of 2nd Parachute Battalion, which seized and held (one end of ) the bridge at Arnhem.

I'd put a fiver on him having more experience of parachute operations than any other officer in 1st Airborne Division as at Sept 1944.
Thanks for the detailed reply: I'd no idea about the John Frost bit.
 

Allan74

Old-Salt
Been interesting to catch up on this thread.

A couple of things that struck me whilst reading

1: That WW2 'elite' soldiers , whilst fitter and better trained, didn't seem necessarily to need a much wider skills base than your average infanteer. It was more about aggression. Engineers could be bought in for explosives expertise and attached to a raid.

2: Whilst the infamous Commando Order was a pretty high level reaction to the mistreatment of German prisoners, I'm sure 'We' would not have reacted in the same way. More likely that unit CO's would have said (and most likely did say) "no prisoners" or something like "remember what happened to ......" The lads who were shot on the abortive gliderborne raid into Norway as well as the Op' Frankton ones were more likely shot due to a typically German slavish response to an order from on high. Neither group had actually operated on the ground. I hope our side would have tempered any such order with a modicum of common sense and understanding of time, place and circumstances.

I think also (but don't hold me to it) that the killings all occurred relatively soon after the order came out (within 12 months or so ..?) and after that, the shooting of prisoners was more ad hoc depending on the savagery of the action and the type of units taking part -SS for example. In fact it wold be dangerous to blame the Comando Order for every Commando / SAS etc shot in captivity. Some Germans may have used that to cover themselves with their higher-ups, others would have acted the same even if no order had ever been given.

Remember too that the Germans did not shoot EVERY PoW caught in civvies or every SOE agent captured - especially British ones.

Not that I am in any position to know, but I think also that the modern SF role is so wide now that units like SRR and others not to be named here have all been created in recognition that single, specialised SF / Elite roles can be undertaken by a much greater percentage of 'normal' soldiers with appropriate training. Training that doesn't have to be as exhaustive as of old. Note I talk of training and not selection - which might or might not be the same for many SF units. Selection is to find a potential SF candidate ref fitness and motivation. Different personalities might be better for different SF roles. Until the recent levels of activity, the SF man prior to the high pace of ops now, whilst fitter and better motivated (perhaps), also had to be a master of many more roles than one.

Please feel free to ignore all of the above bollox :)
I see to think that one of the key points of the Double Cross system was the offer made to captured German spies; work for the UK or we'll shoot you.
 

QRK2

LE
Questions should be raised about the wartime fad for all sorts of private armies to form from dashing chaps who demanded to be treated as special forces. Commandos, Parachute troops, Special Air Service, Special Boat Service, Popski's Private Army, Small Scale Raiding Force, Chindits Long Range Desert Group and for all I know the Legion of Frontiersmen.

Brooke was skeptical about creaming off the best soldiers into raiding forces. In the Great War aggressive patrolling and raiding was a job for line infantry. All these special forces creamed off many of the men whose initiative and military qualities fitted them as the leaders of the infantry. Take out the natural leaders and put them into elites and you lower the quality of the rest.,

Not unlike the current fad for SAS, SBS, SRR, SFSG, Rangers, Spec HUMINT, Spec Inf, Spec Obs, Pathfinders, SRS etc on a much narrower base.
 

QRK2

LE
did the Commandoes have much of a role on D Day?

Yes. Mostly on either flank of the British/Canadian beaches and linking between them. Eg moving to relieve the Orne Bridges and the link up with the US via Port-en-Bessin.

 
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HarryBosch

War Hero
did the Commandoes have much of a role on D Day?
A thread about 47 Cdo @ Port-en-Bessin from a couple of yrs ago. Casualties going in and fighting off the beach. Turn right and fight some more for 12 miles. Harbour up. Assault the harbour and the high ground either side of it.


It contains a few more maps and photos from contributers than the Wiki page of the assault.
 
Bruneval was a truly Combined Operation

It was a parachute insertion, by the royal Air Force, of Army commando soldiers, who were subsequently extracted by the Royal Navy, and it pre-dates the formation of army parachute battalions by some months (if not years)

The officer who led the parachute troops on the Bruneval raid was John Frost, who - as you will doubtless know - went on to be the CO of 2nd Parachute Battalion, which seized and held (one end of ) the bridge at Arnhem.

I'd put a fiver on him having more experience of parachute operations than any other officer in 1st Airborne Division as at Sept 1944.

This has almost certainly been posted here before ...... but for any newcomers , here is the man

 
I’d forgotten about the 2 Special Service Bdes
I'm not sure if Special Service Brigades were Commandos, though.

We had an old boy, sadly deceased now, used to show up for remembrance day in a navy blue beret, RM cap badge on a scarlet backing, who came ashore on D Day driving a Sherman variant of some type (to my shame, I forget which, but it wasn't a "funny", so likely it was a wader). If memory serves, his was a Special Service RM Bde.
 

Pteranadon

LE
Book Reviewer
I'm not sure if Special Service Brigades were Commandos, though.

We had an old boy, sadly deceased now, used to show up for remembrance day in a navy blue beret, RM cap badge on a scarlet backing, who came ashore on D Day driving a Sherman variant of some type (to my shame, I forget which, but it wasn't a "funny", so likely it was a wader). If memory serves, his was a Special Service RM Bde.

According to the War Office Commandos were officially Special Service battalions and the higher formations have gone into the official histories as "Special Service " Brigades. HOWEVER, it is quite likely that this term was not used by the units themselves. The distinguished Commando officer John Durnford Slater refused to acknowledge the term and would always write back as CO No 3 Commando, and in his book Commando he refers to No 1 and No 4 Commando brigades -"none of that SS nonsense" .

Your Royal Marine was probably a member of that great and wonderful Combined arms operation The Royal Marine Armoured Support Group. His beret probably looked like this

b004e8540428dea706c91f334d218760.jpg


This was a force of 80 Centaur tanks and 20 GPO's vehicles organised in five batteries - one for each British assault sector . It was a disposable assault gun brigade intended to thicken up the fire support on the D Day beaches. The Centaurs were appallingly unreliable. They were manned by a mixture of Royal Marines, Gunners and RAC under the direction of Brigadier D C W Sanders AFC TD OBE. He had been CRA of the RM Division and many of the Royal Marines had been part of the RM Division's artillery.

Your old veteran may not have worn a green beret, but Brigadier H J "Hatchet Jack" Parham the BRA Second Army wrote in his notes that he was one of a GRAND LOT OF CHAPS
hjp_notes on RMASG125.jpg

Sanders was killed in action visiting his boys in late June 1944. He is buried in Ranville CWC with Leicestershire Yeomanry cap badge on his gravestone. he served in the RFC then RAF in the First World War, then commanded the Leicestershire Yeomanry as cavalry then gunners then served under naval command in the RM Division. Any one else of that rank managed service in all three services?

Incidentally "Commando" Durnford Slater's book has more ripping yarns than most Commando comics.
 
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Fang_Farrier

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
According to the War Office Commandos were officially Special Service battalions and the higher formations have gone into the official histories as "Special Service " Brigades. HOWEVER, it is quite likely that this term was not used by the units themselves. The distinguished Commando officer John Durnford Slater refused to acknowledge the term and would always write back as CO No 3 Commando, and in his book Commando he refers to No 1 and No 4 Commando brigades -"none of that SS nonsense" .

Your Royal Marine was probably a member of that great and wonderful Combined arms operation The Royal Marine Armoured Support Group. His beret probably looked like this

b004e8540428dea706c91f334d218760.jpg


This was a force of 80 Centaur tanks and 20 GPO's vehicles organised in five batteries - one for each British assault sector . It was a disposable assault gun brigade intended to thicken up the fire support on the D Day beaches. The Centaurs were appallingly unreliable. They were manned by a mixture of Royal Marines, Gunners and RAC under the direction of Brigadier D C W Sanders AFC TD OBE. He had been CRA of the RM Division and many of the Royal Marines had been part of the RM Division's artillery.

Your old veteran may not have worn a green beret, but Brigadier H J "Hatchet Jack" Parham the BRA Second Army wrote in his notes that he was one of a GRAND LOT OF CHAPS
View attachment 611963
Sanders was killed in action visiting his boys in late June 1944. He is buried in Ranville CWC with Leicestershire Yeomanry cap badge on his gravestone. he served in the RFC then RAF in the First World War, then commanded the Leicestershire Yeomanry as cavalry then gunners then served under naval command in the RM Division. Any one else of that rank managed service in all three services?

Incidentally "Commando" Durnford Slater's book has more ripping yarns than most Commando comics.

Frank Brock, started in Army, transferred to RN, or more accurately RNAS, which then formed the RAF.

He died a Wing Commander on the Zeebruge Raid.

His back ground was Brocks fireworks.
He invented many things, an explosive bullet for use against zeppelins, coloured lens for detecting camouflaged positions and various smoke screens and flares.
 
According to the War Office Commandos were officially Special Service battalions
That is not the same as saying that all RM Special Service units/ fmns were Commando roled, however.

In the morning I'll try to find time to use my Gt Grandad's bde history (116 Indep Inf Bde RM) to (I hope) illustrate how quickly plans and roles changed for RM units in 1944.
 
I'm not sure if Special Service Brigades were Commandos, though.

We had an old boy, sadly deceased now, used to show up for remembrance day in a navy blue beret, RM cap badge on a scarlet backing, who came ashore on D Day driving a Sherman variant of some type (to my shame, I forget which, but it wasn't a "funny", so likely it was a wader). If memory serves, his was a Special Service RM Bde.
BARV other than that you had the 95mm Centaurs

barvbeach.jpg

EDIT QRK2 you are a tedious cowardly Cunt
 
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That is not the same as saying that all RM Special Service units/ fmns were Commando roled, however.

In the morning I'll try to find time to use my Gt Grandad's bde history (116 Indep Inf Bde RM) to (I hope) illustrate how quickly plans and roles changed for RM units in 1944.
IIRC 116 Brigade was formed mainly from surplus RM landing craft crews in late 44.
 
According to Ladd's history 116 Bde was originally beach battalions, it was 117 that was formed from LC crews assessed as not needed for the Far East.
Tell me more of this Ladd bloke.

Wot I know is that my Grandad entered Europe in Sept 1944 as an Indep Inf Bde, (Army Troops) part of the Canadian Army, and wound up at Buxtehude (occupying the Kriegsmarin HQ facilities, from which I have a few looted schnappsglaser) at VE day.

Whatever plans had been laid for their intended deployment were chucked out of the window at very little notice (one presumes, from the timing, because of the acute manpower shortage that arose during the beachhead fighting and led to at least RA and RAF ack Ack gunners by the thousand being re-badged Infantry around that time)
 
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