Did Britain's Commando heroes die in vain?

In spite of the cost St Nazaire was a complete victory in terms of achieving its primary objective, which was to destroy the only drydock on the Atlantic coast that could accommodate the Tirpitz, thus changing the game completely against any Tirpitz breakout.
If the Tirpitz as coming down to use it, and havent heard any plan that it was, it was a Possible facility to use.... but hey great victory
215 British POW
169 British KIA
13 British Motor Launches
1 British Torpedo Boat
1 British Gunboat

In the Mean time the Submarines and their Pens were still in action and causing loss to the allies. Would have been better to target those pens if your going to sacrifice 67% casualties.
 
This was true of the First chindit operation which was an experiment to prove capability.
On the second incursion wounded troops were casevaced successfully and the high casualties came after Windgates death and Stillwell used them as disposable troops.
Yes and IF you noticed he specifically was talking about the FIRST operation..
 
'Stupid acts'?

As a matter of routine, Commandos on their small raids would kill everyone in a position they overran except for the lucky Helmut chosen to take a holiday in the UK.
The resulting psychological terror that knowing that the rough men in the night would slit your throats even if you gave up was very much part and parcel of the very dirty and nasty game we were playing with the Germans. German 2nd line garrison troops lived in abject terror of the visit in the night and would run away bravely if an owl hooted or shoot at ghosts. They were also not too keen to go for a walk in the dark or show too much interest of what was going on after dark outside their post, rather a handy habit if you were landing people to go sniff around or drop things off or collect things.
You said it right there boy, Terror. Why do you think it was OK to spread Terror and Kill POW's if you were a Commando and NOT expect to be killed yourself if captured?

Understand I am Not trying to say British Commandos were not Brave or fighting the right fight. But you(in general) whine about Commandos being executed while basking in glory of same commandos killing POW's and being stupid enough to leave Bound gagged bodies behind to be found by their comrades. Hmm, I am a Landser who just found a Mate tied up gagged and shot or stabbed and Now I capture one of the group who did it? whats my first thought going to be einstein? That you cant understand why the Germans might be a bit miffed and dole out same treatment back shows lack of
understanding human nature.
 

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
Keep the personal insults out.
 
Just been reading an article in Britain at War magazine about Operation Frankton, the Cockershell Heroes Raid on Bordeaux.

8 of the 10 commandos who paddled up the Gironde were killed whilst the OC and a Marine made it back to UK three months later.

At least two of the commandos were executed by a Kriegsmarine Firing Squad in accordance with the Fuehrer Order, but Gross Admiral Raeder, apparently writing of the execution in his War Log, questions why the commandos were shot as they were both in uniform when captured and involved in a military action at the time.
 

Pteranadon

LE
Book Reviewer
If the Tirpitz as coming down to use it, and havent heard any plan that it was, it was a Possible facility to use.... but hey great victory
215 British POW
169 British KIA
13 British Motor Launches
1 British Torpedo Boat
1 British Gunboat

In the Mean time the Submarines and their Pens were still in action and causing loss to the allies. Would have been better to target those pens if your going to sacrifice 67% casualties.


I think you miss the significance of the operation if you just look at the stated objectives. The real benefits were the consequences on the German defensive plans.

In March 1942, two weeks after Hitler issued orders for the defence of ports, the British stage what we might now regard as a terrorist spectacular, steaming right into the middle of a major port, causing mayhem and leaving a massive time bomb that hits the Germans with the force of a dozen Warren Points. The one thing the Germans have to do is to stop St Nazaire taking place again. For the next two years the Germans make a massive investment in defending ports that are never attacked, and are looking the wrong way on D Day.

Here is a monument to the success of St Nazaire - the unfinished bunkers at Mont Fleury on Gold beach.

DSCN4433a.jpg
 
Just been reading an article in Britain at War magazine about Operation Frankton, the Cockershell Heroes Raid on Bordeaux.

8 of the 10 commandos who paddled up the Gironde were killed whilst the OC and a Marine made it back to UK three months later.

At least two of the commandos were executed by a Kriegsmarine Firing Squad in accordance with the Fuehrer Order, but Gross Admiral Raeder, apparently writing of the execution in his War Log, questions why the commandos were shot as they were both in uniform when captured and involved in a military action at the time.

Contrary to common Brit perception, the German Armed Forces of WW2 were not a well-knit and cohesive organisation. The prime political movers in Adolf's circle (whoever happened to be OKH, OKM, OKL at any one time) were in competition with each other, and with the SS, for credit, profit, kudos and promotion.

Despite that, there were a very, very few professional military men who managed to not-quite-notice the extent to which the once-universal German military code of honour had been subverted.

Of them all, and whatever individual transgressions its Kapitans may have committed, the Hun Navy seems to be the least complicit in the most gross crime - genocide* - which was fundamental to German policy, and to the world-view of many (prob'ly most) of their soldiers.
============
*Stonkernote: Genocide is by definition a land-based abomination. Personally, I'm inclined to the view that the difference between Kriegsmarine and Heer was one of opportunity, rather than inclination.
 
To appreciate the relevance of the Commando raids then just imagine if the boot was on the other foot. The only reference I can find is about a single German raid against a radar installation on the Isle of Wight. Yet if the Germans had ever been able to prosecute Commando attacks on a similar scale to Britain then it could have been a game changer. The idea of German Commandos raiding UK mainland, creating havoc amongst Home Guard defended areas and destroying or even damaging infrastructure would have been a massive kick in the nuts for British morale and potentially have a huge detrimental effect on the war effort.

I presume only the strength of the RN's home fleet and the relatively small and eventual heavily defended coastline was the deterrence .
 
You said it right there boy, Terror. Why do you think it was OK to spread Terror and Kill POW's if you were a Commando and NOT expect to be killed yourself if captured?

As I pointed out right back at the very beginning, the old boy former Commando said they neither gave, nor expected any quarter.


My neighbour John, lovely old chap, was a Commando during WWIi.
He'll happily talk about his time in the Commandoes, he'll also tell you he regarded the war as a 'bloody waste', however, he makes no bones about it they were nasty little buggers when on their cross channel jollies.
The only Germans left alive after one of the raids would be the one they grabbed to take back for interrogation.
They fought a very vicious and nasty little war and neither gave nor expected any quarter.




But you(in general) whine about Commandos being executed


Care to cite the bit where I allegedly whine about Commandos being executed? Coz I've just had a look at all my posts in this thread and can't seem to find any instances.
 
I think you miss the significance of the operation if you just look at the stated objectives. The real benefits were the consequences on the German defensive plans.

In March 1942, two weeks after Hitler issued orders for the defence of ports, the British stage what we might now regard as a terrorist spectacular, steaming right into the middle of a major port, causing mayhem and leaving a massive time bomb that hits the Germans with the force of a dozen Warren Points. The one thing the Germans have to do is to stop St Nazaire taking place again. For the next two years the Germans make a massive investment in defending ports that are never attacked, and are looking the wrong way on D Day.

Here is a monument to the success of St Nazaire - the unfinished bunkers at Mont Fleury on Gold beach.

DSCN4433a.jpg



Absolutley!

You only have to look at how well defended the Atlantic and Channel ports were, many of them held out until VE Day. Massive amounts of time, money, equipment and manpower tied up in what were effectively large POW camps from June 1944 to May 1945.

And from Autumn 1944, the submarine bases at Saint-Nazaire, La Rochelle and Lorient were unable to operate effectively as they were cut off from supplies.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
RIP
I don't think Goldbricker has actually seen a submarine pen. I have, and they were never susceptible to any sort of Commando attack. Bombing didn't work either as if the concrete got a bit chipped a few hundred more Slav slaves were pulled in to lay even more concrete over the top. I met a FR naval officer once who lived in one of only two pre-war houses in Brest so it wasn't for want of trying by the RAF.
 
To appreciate the relevance of the Commando raids then just imagine if the boot was on the other foot. The only reference I can find is about a single German raid against a radar installation on the Isle of Wight. Yet if the Germans had ever been able to prosecute Commando attacks on a similar scale to Britain then it could have been a game changer. The idea of German Commandos raiding UK mainland, creating havoc amongst Home Guard defended areas and destroying or even damaging infrastructure would have been a massive kick in the nuts for British morale and potentially have a huge detrimental effect on the war effort.

I presume only the strength of the RN's home fleet and the relatively small and eventual heavily defended coastline was the deterrence .

The Hun's was a continental land army. Its leaders never quite understood that getting ashore in the UK called for a more eleborate operation than what they had in mind for SEALION (a BFO river crossing op, using barges), which rather calls into question the powers of imagination of their Generalstab. Their raiding expertise seems to have been concentrated in the Fallschirmjaegers, whose prime role was to seize and hold ground ahead of advancing armoured forces, and whose extraction could not have utilised the same means as their insertion. Naval assets would have been required - and there was no great history of co-operation between Kriegsmarine and the rest of the Wehrmacht. I don't think the German ORBAT then or now includes Marines, (or does it?), so the whole idea would have been a bit of a departure for them.

Then there was the small distraction of 'kicking the front door in' and the long fruitless struggle thereafter as the little Corporal waited for 'the whole edifice to collapse' . . .
 
The Hun's was a continental land army. Its leaders never quite understood that getting ashore in the UK called for a more eleborate operation than what they had in mind for SEALION (a BFO river crossing op, using barges), which rather calls into question the powers of imagination of their Generalstab.

Indeed.


Their raiding expertise seems to have been concentrated in the Fallschirmjaegers, whose prime role was to seize and hold ground ahead of advancing armoured forces, and whose extraction could not have utilised the same means as their insertion.

There were also the Brandenburgers, but the regt (later division) was little used in its intended role after 1940/41 and by 1944 had formed the basis for a panzer grenadier division. They did at one stage include a Kustenjager Abteilung in their orbat- the only operation I've ever heard of them being involved in was the retaking of Leros (in the Dodecanese) from the British in 1943.

Naval assets would have been required - and there was no great history of co-operation between Kriegsmarine and the rest of the Wehrmacht.

And the Kriegsmarine surface forces had just taken heavy casualties in Norway.

I don't think the German ORBAT then or now includes Marines, (or does it?), so the whole idea would have been a bit of a departure for them.

No it doesn't. There were nominally naval infantry battalions but I think they were really security troops.
 
I'm thinking 'a bit like Rock Apes, only fed on sausages, so a bit fatter, and more accustomed to the smell of the ocean'.

At certain times coastal gunners (who were navy) had been used as landing parties, such as at Danzig in 1939. During the Norwegian campaign survivors of the sunk German destroyers were formed into ad hoc infantry battalions. In 1944/45 sailors without ships were converted into infantry, some in naval divisions, others sent to reinforce existing units. Bu they never had anything like proper marines after the Seebatallione of the old Imperial navy.
 

Cpl_Clot

War Hero
This idea that significantly increased coastal defences were somehow the result of raids must surely be wishful thinking?

Yes, some key installations would have had their defences against nuisance raiding beefed-up but not to the point that resources in useful numbers were kept away from the East or North Africa.

It was the fact that Jerry knew that the Western Allies would come knocking in a do-or-die attempt one day and despite no invasion being launched until 1944, it was still a "front" that had to be equipped and manned.

The numbers of men and materiel deployed to protect against raiders was minuscule. The draw-down on other fronts began once Jerry realised that the invasion attempt was inevitable.


That "revisionism" is used pejoratively is odd. If it's an honest reappraisal of events, there is nothing to lose. Apart that is from stripping away the myth and legend of the post-war, John Mills portrayed, stiff upper lip version of history. "Revisionism" has gone a long way to rehabilitating the conduct of the Great War, it has shown the failure of the WWII bombing campaign and it has given the lie to such national myths as the effectiveness of SOE and the bumbling Jerries who they ran rings around. If the effectiveness of Commando Raids are shown to have been inflated, we should not then leap to the conclusion that they were not justified.

We know how it all ended. The decisions to commit troops to ultimately wasteful actions has to be seen from the perspective of those who had no such foreknowledge. That doesn't oblige us to avoid facing-up to the reality, even if it is reliant upon hindsight.
 

Pteranadon

LE
Book Reviewer
This idea that significantly increased coastal defences were somehow the result of raids must surely be wishful thinking?

Yes, some key installations would have had their defences against nuisance raiding beefed-up but not to the point that resources in useful numbers were kept away from the East or North Africa.

It was the fact that Jerry knew that the Western Allies would come knocking in a do-or-die attempt one day and despite no invasion being launched until 1944, it was still a "front" that had to be equipped and manned.

The numbers of men and materiel deployed to protect against raiders was minuscule. The draw-down on other fronts began once Jerry realised that the invasion attempt was inevitable. ........
We know how it all ended. The decisions to commit troops to ultimately wasteful actions has to be seen from the perspective of those who had no such foreknowledge. That doesn't oblige us to avoid facing-up to the reality, even if it is reliant upon hindsight.

Sorry this ignores the evidence of what the GERMANS did and why they said they did it.

Lt General Max Pemsel was Chief of Staff 7th Army which was responsible for the Normandy and Brittany sectors. In his post war report for the US (B-234) he wrote

" in February 1942 something happened which caused us to stop and think. In a surprise raid, British forces in small wooden landing craft succeeded in penetrating St Nazaire and demolishing facilities. The Germans defence was poorly organised and had not stood the test.

As a result the fortifications mentioned above were improved in strength and thickness to an extent determined by the nature of the coast, the degree of danger and the size of the available force. Major ports were to be be built into fortified areas having all round defence , with the first priority to the sides facing the sea. If construction work was sufficiently advanced they were to be declared fortresses and to be defended to the last..........

........Throughout 1942 and up to spring 1943, fortification construction was focused on Brittany, since primarily we had to expect an attack against the submarine pens. The armed forces were distributed accordingly. During the spring of 1943 there were 8-10 divisions in Brittany and 3-4 in Normandy..... Supply of construction materials worked similarly. "



Here is another account - this time from General Geyr v Schweppenburg, the Commander of Panzergruppe West.(B-466)

The principle fault with the ant invasion defence originated from opinions based on the commando raid at Dieppe. The ambitions of a certain leading personality on the Western Front (General Oberst Zeitler), as well as German propaganda , had recast the Anglo -Saxon experimental riad into a defensive success against a major landing attempt...... The self complacent idea could not be dislodged from the minds of OKW. Together with Rommel's misguided doctrine on coast defence, the idea was fundamentally responsible for the grotesque defence situation...

So St Nazaire makes a big difference in the Germans plans and encouraged them to waste lots of concrete in the wrong place and Dieppe encourages the Germans to believe that the Atlantic wall defences are strong enough to defeat an invasion on the beach.

Which part of this do you contest?
 
I don't think Goldbricker has actually seen a submarine pen. I have, and they were never susceptible to any sort of Commando attack. Bombing didn't work either as if the concrete got a bit chipped a few hundred more Slav slaves were pulled in to lay even more concrete over the top. I met a FR naval officer once who lived in one of only two pre-war houses in Brest so it wasn't for want of trying by the RAF.
Still would have been far Better use of troops if your sending them to die to take out the Pens than the Hypothetical use of the dry dock by Tirpitz. the Subs caused actual losses and even blocking their gate would have been better than what actually was done
 

Cpl_Clot

War Hero
Which part of this do you contest?
None of it. It doesn't state that raids caused OKW to divert significant fighting formations from other fronts (which is the justification cited for Commando raids elsewhere in this thread).

Did some tonnage of steel reinforced concrete and some extra garrison troops weaken the German war effort? The idea that the Germans "wasted concrete in the wrong place" is only based upon the knowledge that the Allies landed where they did. Had Rommel poured his concrete in the "right place" it would probably have become the "wrong place" once the Allies chose a different landing point.
 

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