Apologies if this story has been previously covered, I couldn't find it by doing a search - it is quite long but a 'Right Riveting Read' "No Commando of the day wore the Commando patch if they hadn't completed yomps of 60 miles in 24 hours!"
"Troop Sgt. Maj. Haines arrived with a 2-inch mortar in the midst of all this hell, calmly set up his tube and managed to suppress much of the German fire, even though he was firing without sights. When one of the German ships in the St. Nazaire Basin fired on Newman's party, Haines silenced it with a Bren gun."
Later Maj. George Haines DCM.
I knew Major Haines very well. A top man with wrists as thick as you arms!
What the article didn't mention and what my father (Para) used to take the p*ss out of the good RM was how he got out of St.Nazaire after the attack on the dock.
He and another RM broke into a clothes shop looking for something to disguise themselves; unfortunately it was a womenâs clothes shop and all they could find that would cover them were fur coats! They made their way through the streets like two old ladies occasionally opening up on the Germans with the Sten guns hidden beneath their furs!
It was in all but name a suicide mission. Brave men, all.
A film was made of the raid back in the 50/60'S but I forget the title.
Any publicity for âOp Chariotâ (27/28 March 1942), should be welcomed, however, this American effort leaves quite a bit to be desired from the point of the Army Commandos, of which the author appears to appreciate little.
The article states: âThere would be 256 officers and men in the landing force, drawn from six different commando troops.â A single individual and a whole battalion are both termed âa Commandoâ. Within an original Commando of 500 men were 10 âTroopsâ of 50 men each, which during the war became modified to a Commando of around 420 with fewer Troops each containing more men â operationally this did vary. The bulk of the Army Commando force came from No.2 Cdo (Newman of No.2 commanding) with 184 men, in the main, having; âresponsibility for neutralising the defences in the docks and providing close protection to the demolition partiesâ. The demolition parties comprised volunteers from Nos. 1, 3, 4, 5, 9 and 12 Army Cdos, who generally were those who had already been trained in explosives and demolitions.
Of the 265 Commandos who took part in the raid, there were 59 posted killed or missing and 109 captured. Of the 16 motor launches the Commandos used, plus 1 MTB and 1 MGB, only 5 launches and the MGB returned to Britain, (1 launch suffered engine failure on the way out, where the men doubled up with another).
On 01/02 June, âOp Foxrockâ was mounted against St.Valery-en-Caux, along similar lines but smaller scale. This involved 100 men all ranks of No.12 Cdo, who turned back when about 25 miles out after wireless intercepts established German aircraft had detected them.
Op Chariot was described in The Greatest Raid Of All, which I read in 1966. It was a line remembered from this book that led me to ARRSE. It described how the commandoes demanded rubber-soled boots to that they could clump across the cobbled mole instead of CLICK-CLACKing across the mole. My research didn't prove for me that Op Chariot was the first appearance of the DMS Boot by name, only by design.
ISTR that checking Amazon for The Greatest Raid Of All drew a blank - out of print.
âThe Greatest Raid of Allâ shouldnât be too hard to find, paperback copies frequently float about at Car Boots for pennies while even hardback versions donât come much higher. While this remains a good overall study, perhaps the benchmark, there are a number of other books including an account by RED Ryder himself. A bit of a âhand-in-the-pocketâ job for some 100 odd pages, but if you want the version from the Naval Commanderâ¦.. Then again, if you want it from a Commando Officer, thereâs âSt. Nazaire Commandoâ by Lt. Stuart Chant-Sempill of No.5 Cdo, who names all who took part, (200 pp).
Click on BookFinder.com and just search with just Nazaire in the title section, and scores come up, low as 1p plus postage.
Pal of mine in No.2 was greased and ready to board when they found they had too many for his ML. Officer looked at him as asked if he was just married? That being correct he was one of those ordered to stand down â just the way it goes.
Having read some old notes, I have the numbers breakdown for Army as follows:
No.1 â 13; No.2 â 184, No.3 â 15; No.4 â 3; No.5 â 15; No.6 â 1; No.9 â 13; No.12 â 16;
with 2 Offsâ SS Brigade, 2 French Offsâ, and 1 Brigade IO.
Jeremy Clarkson has/is doing a programme about the raid at St nazaire for broadcast early 2007 (he was doing some filming at The Army School of Ammunition a couple of weeks ago), with his track record for military stuff should be good.