WW2 Special Forces/Interesting Units

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by maninblack, Oct 29, 2003.

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  1. maninblack

    maninblack LE Book Reviewer

    I am trying to compile a series of short presentations on some of the weird and wonderful units that grew up in WW2.

    I have info on Popski's Private Army, Popski's Private Navy and L Detachment as well as LRDG.

    Can anyone point me toward any other odd units and sources of information.

  2. Phantom signals brigade, a sort of private intelligence gathering organisation for monty after D-Day. The idea was they would roam the battlefields and pass the unvarnisehd truth to him and not his subordinates spin.

    The patrol commanders were pergrine worsthorne, later the editor of the telegraph and robert mark, later commissioner of the Met police and presenter of tyre ad's

    Robert Marks book "in the office of constable"has a bibliogrpahy you could start from

  3. Force 136 - a sort of early sas mob set up by Special Ops Executive to whip up resistance to the Japanese in Malaya. They finished up by discovering they'd given the commies there most of the kit they needed to have a civil war (funny how special forces always seem to do this..Greek commies? Yeah, have some bullets. Malayan/Vietnamese communists? Help yourself! Hamas in Gaza - of course, as long as you don't tell Yasser. Osama bin Laden? Have some more kit and a load of cash too!)

    No.30 Assault Unit - a small commando unit led by none other than Ian Fleming, which did first beach recces and then was used to seize cryptographic and scientific sites in NW Europe ahead of the advance guard, and more importantly ahead of the Russians.

    Levant Schooner Flotilla - did exactly what it said on the tin, sailing odd kinds of Greek and Turkish craft around the islands dropping off spooks.
  4. "Commandos And Rangers Of World War II" by James D. Ladd, St. Martin's Press, NY (1978) is a good overview of British and American Special Forces.

    Appendix 7 is Unit Histories. Though brief, they covers many obscure units, including some mentioned above, all Army & Marines Commandos, Rangers, Raiders, 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando and many of the '...Forces' named after their commanders.

    Other units are the Australian Independent Companies, Fiji Guerillas, SBS, and the Landing Craft Obstruction Clearance Units (LCOCUs). Would they have called themselves the "el cocks"?

    A story I find interesting: For the Torch landings in the Algiers area, some Commandos were "...equipped with the American Garand rifle that 1 and 6 Commando retained until the end of the war...All commandos wore American uniforms in this landing as these were thought less provocative to the Vichy French, and the basin-shaped tin hats came in useful as balers."

    In checking on this, I came across a story (can't remember where or name but it seems to me it was from Col John Weeks) where he agrees and but says they retained their Brens. That would have made a nice combination for down-range firepower, the Bren being a better weapon than the BAR. Too bad they fired different rounds.
  5. Army Welfare Service..............they cleverly disguise themselves as a caring sharing organisation, when all they really are is a bunch of lazy cnuts who can't cut it in their own units.

    AGC (SPS)............not too much known about them at this time. They are rumoured to hang out in the Admin/Pay Office, but I've yet to catch one. I've been told that if you want them to 'show' themselves, then try submittimg a mileage claim.
  6. David Niven was also a member of Phantom.
  7. Calcutta Light Horse - used to be a bona fide Indian Army unit but degenerated into a drinking club after the Boer War

    Resurrected in WW2 to carry out a special ops raid on German shipping in Goa - all the old biffers from the bar piled in and blew up a German spyship

    later declassified and turned into a crap film with David Niven (q.v.)
  8. FANY

    Nursing charity which somehow ended up parachuting saboteurs into France in WW2.

    Nowadays still a civilian charity which is not part of the Army but... which has SA80s... and you go on exercise with the TA... and get French parachute wings... and deploy to Iraq... er...
  9. And get locked away in deep underground bunkers. Had the Russian hordes managed to make the Dover front, they would have been held in reserve and used for breeding purposes. Well I was told that by Poppy!!
  10. a truly bizarre unit. I particularly like their cyclical rank structure, where you can drop a few ranks and start over again when you get bored. :confused:
  11. We are not nurses - we all have to hold up to date first aid qualifications however .........see www.fany.org.uk
    and you only get French para wings if you complete the course at Pau

    apaert from which the corps was formed in 1907 so cannot really be counted as a WWII organisation anyway - despite the fact most people know of the FANY through the subsequent fame of the female SOE agents such as Odette Churchill and Violette Szabo.
  12. How about SS Parachute Battalion 500.
    Almost killed Tito in Yugoslavia. The Chuck Norris of airborne units.
  13. Special Engineering Unit (Parachute). Formed from Sappers and FOOs for preparatory work forward of FLOT: Mob classification work; silent marking of targets; identifying routes/bridges that should not be targetted etc.