The Commando raid on St. Nazaire

28th March 1942: The Commando raid on St. Nazaire

After about three or four minutes of this brisk action there was a perceptible slackening in the enemy’s fire. This was a triumph for the many gun-layers in the coastal craft and in the Campbeltown. It was, at this stage, a straight fight between the carefully sited enemy flak emplacements ashore, enjoying all the protection which concrete could afford, and the gun-layers, handling the short-range weapons on the exposed decks of their small and lively craft.



December 1941

Commando raid on Vaasgo, Norway

About a hundred yards from our landing place, I fired ten red Very light signals. This told the ships to stop firing and the aircraft to come in with their smoke bombs. As I leaped from the leading landing craft three Hampden bombers passed over me at zero feet with a roar. As they did so they loosed their bombs, which seemed to flash and then mushroom like miniature atom explosions. Some of the phosphorus came back in a great flaming sheet.



June 1941

Commando assault at the Litani River

I dragged myself into a bit of a dip and tried to get fairly comfortable, but every time I moved, they opened up on us. I could hear an NCO yelling to me to keep down or I would be killed. I kept down. After a time (when the initial shock had worn off) the pain in my legs became hellish. My right calf was shot off and was bleeding, but I could do nothing about it, and the left leg had gone rigid.



November 1944

No. 4 Commando in assault on Flushing

He reached the right-hand end of his swing and was starting the return, when one man on the left, whom he had missed at the start, got in a quick shot. It took him straight through the throat, killing him at once. McVeigh, who was beside him with a rifle, made no mistake with his return shot, then doubled back through the now empty garage, through the gap in the wall, and out to us in the alleyway.



March 1944

Preparing for the second Chindit raid deep into Burma

And now — how, actually, do you get three large Missouri mules into a C-47, at night, to a tight schedule? How do you keep them there, so that they do not injure themselves and cannot kick their handlers or the sides of the plane? What do you do if one breaks loose in the air? Shoot him? The bullet will go on through the sides of the plane. From what angles is it safe to engage in gun-play inside a loaded aircraft?



January 1944

Operation Shingle: the US Rangers land at Anzio

There were flashes on the horizon, and the deep rumble of distant bombing came to our ears. The sea was calm and the big assault ship almost motionless. ‘ The night was cold. We shivered while we waited for touch-down. Against the skyline, heavily top coated figures of Rangers exchanged parting remarks with jersied figures of British naval ratings.




Commandos killed in Operation Hard Tack 7

In view of the fact that my force had sustained such casualties. I decided to leave the two bodies, retrace my steps and return to the boat. No sooner had we started to move, however than more mines went up all around us. I cannot say how many there were but at the time we had the impression of being under fire from a heavy calibre machine gun. We continued our withdrawal to the dory.



October 1943

Italian peasants shelter SAS raiding party

Staggering forward against the wind and the rain, we retraced our path to the village by following our own footsteps in the mud. I found a tiny one-roomed cottage and knocked on the door. An old peasant gave me a chair by the table while he went out into the rain to find the others. Pointing to the soaked rag of a map, I told him that we wanted a guide and he brought forward his son, who knew the countryside well. We brewed up some tea and dosed McPhail with quinine for he was now seriously ill.




The Germans counter attack at Termoli

We had not yet been able to locate the German artillery observer who had crept into the town. Movement of troops and vehicles, even a party of two or three men, was always a challenge to him and a danger to us. We cursed him, but could not find him. I sent a party out to search for him at noon. Finally, at five, they pinpointed his location to a church tower. They crawled up the tower. “Come down — surrender!” my men called.



October 1943

SAS and Commandos surprise Germans at Termoli

Some of them seemed eager to fight until they died. I observed one lying in an olive grove partly behind a tree, about eight hundred yards in front of our position. Although obviously wounded – his actions were stiff and unnatural — he continued to fire at us regularly and accurately. We were unable to move anyone forward to take him prisoner. Instead, we returned his fire. He died where he fought, in the olive grove.