commando

Nov

1

1944

No. 4 Commando in assault on Flushing

British assault troops landed on Walcheren at dawn on 1 November 1944 and most of Flushing was included in the first bridgehead. The landings were supported by fire from British warships. The object of the assault is to silence the enemy guns menacing the Scheldt passage to the port of Antwerp. This image shows troops advancing along the waterfront near Flushing with shells bursting ahead.

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.

Mar

4

1944

Preparing for the second Chindit raid deep into Burma

A Chindit column crossing a river in Burma, 1943.

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?

Jan

22

1944

Operation Shingle: the US Rangers land at Anzio

New landings by 5th Army! Yanks wade ashore from L.C.I.’s [two LCI’s and an LSM] as 5th Army establishes a new beach-head near 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.

Dec

27

1943

Commandos killed in Operation Hard Tack 7

Commandos use fighting knives during close-quarter combat practice in Scotland, 9 January 1943.

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.

Oct

30

1943

Italian peasants shelter SAS raiding party

SAS volunteers jumping from steel gantries while undergoing parachute training at Kabrit, Egypt.

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.

Oct

5

1943

The Germans counter attack at Termoli

A Sherman tank being recovered from the river Biferno near Campo-Marino, Italy, October 1943.

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.

Oct

3

1943

SAS and Commandos surprise Germans at Termoli

Portrait of a soldier from No. 3 Commando holding his fighting knife between his teeth, at Largs in Scotland, 2 May 1942.

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.

Sep

26

1943

Operation Jaywick attacks Japanese ships in Singapore

The Krait, the vessel which carried the men of Z Special Unit on Operation Jaywick, the successful raid on Singapore Harbour on the night of 1943-09-26.

Then it was Davidson, playboy as he is, tried to sneak onboard undetected. He was a bit lucky he didn’t get a burst from a Bren gun. The blokes were pretty trigger-happy. Davo slipped over the stern and closely followed by Falls. Naturally we were more than delighted to see them. But boy, they were really beat cos they’d paddled 60 miles from Subar down to Pompong. It was pretty stressy stuff. They were pretty beat.

Jul

10

1943

The Commandos seaborne assault on Sicily

Instructions being signalled to waiting landing craft by semaphore at dawn of the opening day of the invasion of Sicily. One is LCI (L) 124 the other is an unidentified LCT.

Something will happen at any moment now, I thought, and I strained to see land through the dimness, but there was only the rhythmical repetition of the retreating waves against the skyline. I was soon cold and stiff with standing in the bows and crept into the little space that had been saved for me under the gunwales; but the stench of vomit and the retching made it impossible to stay there for long and I preferred to shiver in the spray than to be sick.

Jul

4

1943

A great invasion armada prepares for battle

A British soldier reads up on Sicily, the target for the next Allied invasion, July 1943.

That evening, after two weeks at sea, we were told our destination was Sicily, and our landing beach in the south-east corner near Pachino. Soon after hearing this there was an almighty explosion close to hand and rushing on deck we saw the ‘Dervis’, the Commodore’s ship just ahead of us, had been torpedoed. Four more destroyers had joined our existing four the previous day, along with the old monitor ‘Roberts’ with its twin massive 16inch guns. After fourteen minutes the ‘Dervis’ sank.