commando

Jun

27

1943

The Commandos receive their orders

Commandos cross a river on a 'toggle bridge' under simulated artillery fire, at the Commando training depot at Achnacarry, Inverness-shire, Scotland, January 1943.

The announcement gave a keener edge to our sensibility. We knew the worst at last. This expedition was not the gigantic hoax which we had been almost tempted to believe it; it was not a fantasy but a reality, that rose upright through the spume of fear and expectation like a gaunt rock from the ocean bed.

Feb

28

1943

Operation Gunnerside – the Telemark Raid

Vemork Hydroelectric Plant at Rjukan, Norway in 1935. In the front building, the Norsk Hydro hydrogen production plant, a Norwegian Special Operations Executive (SOE) team (Operation Gunnerside) blew up heavy water production cells on the night of 27/28 February 1943 in order to sabotage the efforts of the World War II German nuclear energy project.

We said to the man, “You just run around the corner, up the staircase, lie down and keep your mouth open, until you hear the bang. There will be only one bang, so when it is over you can go down and watch the result”. I do not know ifhe did. But I know that he kept his mouth open, because he could hear when I met him two years later. Otherwise, if he had had his mouth closed he would have blown out his eardrums.

Dec

12

1942

Operation Frankton survivors reach their target

The Royal Marines 'Special Boom Detachment' during training off Portsmouth. Ostensibly their job was to patrol the six mile harbour boom, in fact they were training for a secret operation. Only two of the ten men who set pout came back.

We were lucky. We could have arrived to discover that the harbour was empty; there had been no way to knowing how many ships we would find until this moment, and we were satisfied. We chose four targets. We turned back towards the cargo ship and pulled up alongside. Her hull shrouded us in darkness. We could hear the crew singing. I wondered what they’d be singing in a few hours’ time. It proved an easy target. I attached my magnet-holder to the hull to prevent the tide from carrying us away.

Dec

7

1942

Operation Frankton is launched from HMS Tuna

Major 'Blondie' Hasler leads one of the two men canoes during training for Operation Frankton. The other man may be William Sparks.

It was around two in the morning and we were falling behind schedule. The orders had been plain; no man’s jeopardy should put the mission in peril. The Major was having to make swift decisions, and I could see that he was tormented. He could not just leave the two men there to fend for themselves in the freezing water. They would die for sure.

Oct

18

1942

Hitler’s Order – Summary death for Commandos

Portrait of a soldier from No. 3 Commando armed with a 'Tommy gun' and wearing a balaclava, at Largs in Scotland, 2 May 1942.

I therefore order: From now on all enemies on so-called commando missions in Europe or Africa, challenged by German troops, even if they are to all appearances soldiers in uniform or demolition troops, whether armed or unarmed, in battle or in flight, are to be slaughtered to the last man.

Sep

20

1942

Operation Musketoon – Commando raid on Glomfjord

A reconnaissance photograph of the Hydro electric power station at Glomfjord. Machinery inside the power station was blown up by men from No.2 Commando as well as the inlet pipe of water which can just be discerned running down the hill and entering the rear of the building.

After the operation, which took place successfully on the night of 20th September, we climbed up to the huts behind Glomfjord power station. Captain Black then told the rest of us to climb the hill as best we could and get away. We divided into two parties, Smith, O’Brien, Christiansen (Granlund), Fairclough and Trigg going up to the right and the others to the left. However Captain Black called Smith back to administer morphia to a man who had been wounded.

Aug

19

1942

Operation Jubilee – the raid on Dieppe

A German prisoner, Unteroffizier Leo Marsiniak, being escorted at Newhaven. He was captured at the gun battery at Varengeville by No. 4 Commando.

In the initial assault Major Porteous, working with the smaller of the two detachments, was shot at close range through the hand, the bullet passing through his palm and entering his upper arm. Undaunted, Major Porteous closed with his assailant, succeeded in disarming him and killed him with his own bayonet thereby saving the life of a British Sergeant on whom the German had turned his aim.

Mar

28

1942

The Commando raid on St. Nazaire

The Campbeltown wedged into the dock gates, showing signs of the damage sustained in the battle."

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.

Dec

27

1941

Commando raid on Vaasgo, Norway

An Me 109 fighter attempts to take off as the Norwegian airfield of Herdla comes under low level attack, bombs can be seen exploding. Blenheim bombers from No.114 Squadron made this diversionary raid 80 miles south of Vaasgo.

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.

Jun

9

1941

Commando assault at the Litani River

Artillery on the move, part of the main land invasion of Syria, advancing from Palestine

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.