Second World War
* Operation Carey
* Operation Hardtack
COMBINED OPERATIONS SHOULDER PATCH
NO. 12 COMMANDO was a battalion -sized commando unit of the British
Army during the Second World War . Formed in 1940 in Northern Ireland
, they carried out a number of small-scale raids in
Norway and France
between 1941 and 1943 before being disbanded and its personnel
dispersed to other commando units.
* 1 Background
* 2 History
* 2.1 Formation
* 2.2 Operations
* 2.3 Disbandment
* 3 Battle honours
* 4 References
The commandos were formed in 1940, by the order of Winston Churchill
the British Prime Minister . He called for specially trained troops
that would "develop a reign of terror down the enemy coast". At first
they were a small force of volunteers who carried out small raids
against enemy occupied territory, but by 1943 their role had changed
into lightly equipped assault infantry which specialised in
spearheading amphibious landings.
The man initially selected as the overall commander of the force was
Roger Keyes himself a veteran of the landings at Galipoli
Zeebrugge raid in the
First World War
First World War . Keyes resigned in
October 1941 and was replaced by
Admiral Louis Mountbatten .
By the autumn of 1940 more than 2,000 men had volunteered for
commando training, and what became known as the
Brigade was formed into 12 units called commandos. Each commando
would number around 450 men commanded by a lieutenant colonel . They
were sub divided into troops of 75 men and further divided into 15-man
sections . Commandos were all volunteers seconded from other British
Army regiments and retained their own cap badges and remained on their
regimental roll for pay. All volunteers went through the six-week
intensive commando course at
Achnacarry . The course in the Scottish
Highlands concentrated on fitness, speed marches, weapons training,
map reading, climbing, small boat operations and demolitions both by
day and by night.
By 1943 the commandos had moved away from small raiding operations
and had been formed into brigades of assault infantry to spearhead
future Allied landing operations. Three units were left un-brigaded to
carry out smaller-scale raids.
Formed on 5 August 1940 in
Northern Ireland ,
under the command of Lieutenant Colonel S. Harrison, the unit,
although technically a part of the
Special Service Brigade under
Brigadier Joseph (Charles) Haydon, largely remained independent of it
and carried out small scale raiding and sabotage operations.
Training was conducted at various locations in Northern Ireland,
Aldergrove Airport , where the commandos carried out a
mock attack. In early 1941 they were billeted for a brief time at
Warsash before undertaking combined operations training at
Compared with some of the other commando units, No. 12
Commando had a
short history. Its first raid came on the night of 27/28 July 1941
when a party of 16 men carried out a landing near
Ambleteuse , France
. Embarking on an assault landing craft, they were towed to a position
2 miles (3.2 km) from the mouth of the
Slack River by a motor launch .
Although no prisoners were taken, the raid was partially successful
and the commandos were ashore for approximately an hour before
returning to their landing craft and heading back to Britain.
On 9 December 1941, a detachment from No. 12 Commando, along with a
detachment from No. 6
Commando and some Norwegian soldiers, took part
Operation Kitbag , a raid on the town of Florø in
Embarking on the
HMS Prince Charles , an infantry landing ship, they
set out from
Scapa Flow . During the voyage an incident occurred while
some of the men were priming grenades for the raid which resulted in
six men were killed and another 11 were seriously wounded,
nevertheless the decision was made to continue with the raid. In the
end, however, due to navigational difficulties the operation was
eventually called off when the naval commander was unable to locate
the fjord upon which Floss was located.
Later that month, on 26 December 1941, No. 12
Commando took part in
Operation Anklet , which was the only raid it undertook during its
history where the entire unit took part. The operation was a
diversionary raid on the
Lofoten Islands in
Norway , as part of the
Operation Archery , which was a larger commando raid on Vågsøy
Måløy . No. 12
Commando along with 68 Norwegians from Norwegian
Independent Company 1 and a demolition party landed on the island
capturing the German garrison who surrendered without a fight. Under
Harrison's command, they landed at Reine and after the garrison
surrendered, the commandos stayed on the island for two days to carry
out demolitions work, destroying two German wireless stations before
withdrawing. They took 29 German prisoners and over 200 volunteers
for the free Norwegian forces in Britain with them.
After this No. 12
Commando undertook a series of small scale
operations, with half of the unit forming
Northforce in Norway, while
the other half carried out operations in
France along with the Small
Scale Raiding Force as part of
Forfarforce . On 27/28 February 1942,
a detachment took part in the
Bruneval Raid , providing the recovery
parties for the paratroops. Later other detachments took part in the
St Nazaire Raid
St Nazaire Raid and a raid on Sark known as
Operation Basalt . In
total the commando played a part in at least 15 raids between 1941 and
The decision was finally made to disband the unit in December 1943
as part of the re-organisation of the commandos into four brigades
underneath the divisional-sized commando Group HQ and the subsequent
conceptual change in emphasis from small-scale raiding towards that of
larger-scale infantry operations in which the commandos were treated
as highly trained infantry instead of raiders. In addition to this,
the losses suffered by the commando units serving in North Africa and
Italy needed to be replaced. At the time there were widespread
shortages across the entire British Army, and the volunteer nature of
the commandos meant that there were even greater difficulties to
replace commando losses. As a result, it was decided that some of
these losses could be made up by disbanding No. 12 Commando.
Following the disbandment of the unit, many of the unit's personnel
were transferred to other commando units, namely Nos. 1 , 3 , 5 and 6
The following Battle honours were awarded to the British Commandos
during the Second World War.
* Argenta Gap
* Burma 1943–45
* Dives Crossing
* Djebel Choucha
* Greece 1944–45
* Italy 1943–45
* Landing at Porto San Venere
* Landing in Sicily
* Middle East 1941, 1942, 1944
* Monte Ornito
* North Africa 1941–43
* North-West Europe 1942, 1944–1945
* Pursuit to Messina
* St. Nazaire
* Sedjenane 1
* Sicily 1943
* Steamroller Farm
* Syria 1941
* Valli di Comacchio
* ^ "No. 12 Commando".
Commando Veterans Association. Retrieved 3
* ^ Chappell 1996, p.5
* ^ Chappell 1996, p.3
* ^ Moreman 2006, p.8
* ^ Chappell 1996, p.6
* ^ A B C Haskew 2007, p.48
* ^ Moreman 2006, p.12
* ^ van der Bijl 2006, p.12
* ^ Moreman 2006, pp.84–85
* ^ Chappell 1996, p. 15.
* ^ A B C D E "No 12 Army
Commando – The \'Irish\' Commando".
www.commandoveterans.org. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
* ^ Moreman 2006, p. 18.
* ^ Saunders 1959, p. 41.
* ^ A B C D E Chappell 1996, p. 14.
* ^ A B Saunders 1959, p. 42.
* ^ Chappell 1996, p. 47.
* ^ Saunders 1959, p. 51.
* ^ Saunders 1959, pp. 187–188.
* ^ Saunders 1959, p. 70.
* ^ Saunders 1959, p. 100.
* ^ Chappell 1996, p. 30.
* ^ Moreman 2006, p. 29.
* ^ Moreman, p.94
* van der Bijl, Nick (2006). No. 10 Inter-Allied
Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-999-1 .
* Chappell, Mike (1996). Army Commandos 1940–1945. Elite Series #
64. London: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-85532-579-9 .
* Haskew, Michael E (2007). Encyclopaedia of Elite Forces in the
Second World War. Pen and Sword. ISBN 978-1-84415-577-4 .
* Moreman, Tim (2006).
British Commandos 1940–46. Osprey
Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-986-8 .
* Saunders, Hilary St. George (1959) . The Green Beret: The
Commandos at War. London: Four Square Books.
OCLC 1260659 .
Commando units of the Second World War
* No. 1
* No. 2
* No. 3
* No. 4
* No. 5
* No. 6
* No. 7
* No. 8 (Guards)
* No. 9
* No. 10 (Inter-Allied)
* No. 11 (Scottish)
* No. 12 Commando
* No. 14 (Arctic)
* No. 50
* No. 51
* No. 52
* No. 62
Commando (Small Scale Raiding Force)
* Middle East
* No. 40 (Royal Marine)
* No. 41 (Royal Marine)
* No. 42 (Royal Marine)
* No. 43 (Royal Marine)
* No. 44 (Royal Marine)
* No. 45 (Royal Marine)
* No. 46 (Royal Marine)
* No. 47 (Royal Marine)
* No. 48 (Royal Marine)
Royal Naval Commandos
British commando frogmen
ROYAL AIR FORCE: