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Second World War

* St Nazaire Raid
St Nazaire Raid
* Salerno landings * Operation Devon * Battle of Lake Comacchio
Battle of Lake Comacchio

COMMANDERS

Notable commanders Lieutenant Colonel Augustus Charles Newman
Augustus Charles Newman
VC OBE TD Lieutenant Colonel Jack Churchill
Jack Churchill
DSO* MC* Lieutenant Colonel Francis West Fynn MC

INSIGNIA

COMBINED OPERATIONS SHOULDER PATCH

NO. 2 COMMANDO was a battalion -sized British Commando unit of the British Army
British Army
during the Second World War . The first No.2 Commando was formed on the 22nd June 1940 for a parachuting role at Cambrai Barracks, Perham Down, near Tidworth, Hants. The Unit at the time consisted of four troops - 'A', 'B', 'C' and 'D'. Eventually 11 troops were raised. On 21 November, it was re-designated as the 11th Special Air Service (SAS) Battalion
Battalion
and eventually re-designated 1st Parachute Battalion
Battalion
. After their re-designation as the 11th SAS Battalion, a second No. 2 Commando
No. 2 Commando
was formed. This No. 2 Commando
No. 2 Commando
was the leading commando unit in the St Nazaire Raid
St Nazaire Raid
and suffered heavy casualties. Those who made it back from St Nazaire rejoined the few who had not gone on the raid, and the commando was reinforced by the first intake of volunteers from the new Commando Basic Training Centre at Achnacarry. No. 2 Commando
No. 2 Commando
then went on to serve in the Mediterranean , Sicily , Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
, and Albania
Albania
, before being disbanded in 1946.

CONTENTS

* 1 Background

* 2 Operational history

* 2.1 St Nazaire raid * 2.2 Mediterranean theatre * 2.3 Salerno * 2.4 Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
* 2.5 Albania
Albania
* 2.6 Comacchio
Comacchio

* 3 Legacy * 4 Battle honours * 5 References

BACKGROUND

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 Admiral Sir
Sir
Roger Keyes
Roger Keyes
himself a veteran of the landings at Galipoli and the Zeebrugge raid
Zeebrugge raid
in the 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 Special
Special
Service Brigade
Brigade
was formed into 12 units called commandos. Each commando would number around 450 men commanded by a lieutenant colonel . They were subdivided 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 , with the exception of No 2 Commando who adopted the fighting knife as their cap badge, and remained on their regimental roll for pay purposes. Initially commando training was done on a unit basis with selected officers and nco's attending STC Lochailort for specialist training, returning to their units to pass on the skills learnt. From February 1942 the then STC at Achnacarry
Achnacarry
which was being used as a Holding wing for Lochailort, was renamed the Commando Depot ( later redesignated as the Commando Basic Training Centre) and became the centre for all Commando training. Initially the volunteers went through a six-week intensive commando course at Achnacarry
Achnacarry
, in the Scottish Highlands. Training 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. In 1943 the commando formation was also standardised, into a small headquarters, five fighting Troops, a Heavy Weapons troop, and a signals platoon. The fighting Troops consisted of 65 men of all ranks divided into two 30-man sections which, in turn, were divided into three ten man sub-sections. The Heavy Weapons Troop was made up of 3 inch Mortar and Vickers machine gun teams.

OPERATIONAL HISTORY

The first No 2 Commando, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Jackson, did not carry out any operations before being turned over to parachute duties. After the formation of the 11th SAS Battalion
Battalion
a new No. 2 Commando
No. 2 Commando
was formed, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Augustus Charles Newman
Augustus Charles Newman
, from a new batch of volunteers. The first action that men from No. 2 Commando
No. 2 Commando
were involved in was two troops supporting No. 3 Commando
No. 3 Commando
in the Vaagso raid in December 1941. The next action involving men of No. 2 Commando
No. 2 Commando
was Operation Musketoon
Operation Musketoon
in September 1942. This was a raid against the Glomfjord hydroelectric power plant in Norway
Norway
. The raid, commanded by Captain Graeme Black , MC , landed by submarine and succeeded in blowing up pipelines, turbines and tunnels, effectively destroying the generating station; the associated aluminium plant was shut down permanently. One commando was killed in the raid; another seven were captured while trying to escape the area and were taken to Colditz Castle
Colditz Castle
. From there they were taken to Sachsenhausen concentration camp and executed, the first victims of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
's Commando Order
Commando Order
. The three remaining commandos managed to escape to Sweden, eventually returning to No. 2 Commando.

ST NAZAIRE RAID

Commandos captured after the St Nazaire Raid
St Nazaire Raid
.

The St Nazaire Raid
St Nazaire Raid
(Operation Chariot) was a seaborne attack on the heavily defended docks of St. Nazaire in occupied France on the night of 28 March 1942. The raid has since been called "The greatest raid of all". This was a combined operation undertaken by Royal Navy
Royal Navy
and Commando units. The main commando force was provided by No. 2 Commando with supporting demolition parties from other commando units. The intention of the raid was to destroy the dry dock which would force any large German warship in need of repairs, such as the Tirpitz , to return to home waters rather than seek safe haven in the Atlantic coast. Of the 600 men who left the port of Falmouth, Cornwall
Falmouth, Cornwall
, England, on the raid only 225 would return.

The main commando force was 100 men from No.2 Commando. In addition to demolition tasks, they were to assault the harbour gun positions and provide covering fire for the demolition parties. Demolition Parties from No.2 Commando were supported by those drawn from No. 1 , No. 3 , No. 4 , No. 5 , No. 9 and No. 12 Commando
No. 12 Commando
. The raid was considered a success even with 25% of the force killed and most of the rest captured. Commando Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Newman and his surviving troops were captured trying to escape the town into open country, when they ran out of ammunition. For his part in the raid Newman was awarded the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
. A posthumous Victoria Cross was awarded after the war to Sergeant
Sergeant
Thomas Durrant of No. 1 Commando for his part in the raid, upon recommendation by Newman.

MEDITERRANEAN THEATRE

With the capture of Lieutenant Colonel Newman at St Nazaire the commando unit received a new commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jack Churchill
Jack Churchill
, in April 1942. The commando was sent to the Mediterranean Theatre as part of 2nd Special Service Brigade and in July 1943 landed at Catania
Catania
during the Allied invasion of Sicily . No. 2 Commando
No. 2 Commando
had a quiet time in the Sicily campaign and their only noteworthy action was landing in advance of the British Eighth Army at Scaletta about 15 miles (24 km) south of Messina
Messina
on 15 August. Here they engaged the German rearguard and then on 16 August were involved in house to house fighting in Scaletta itself.

SALERNO

Salerno D-Day plan.

After Sicily was secured, the Allied invasion of Italy
Allied invasion of Italy
followed, beginning 3 September 1943. No. 2 Commando
No. 2 Commando
landed at Vietri sul Mare at 03:30 hours, their initial target was a German gun battery. After the commandos scaled the cliffs they discovered the battery was undefended; they moved towards Vietri itself, and the town was secured two hours later. Establishing their headquarters there, they then opened Marina beach for further landings.

No. 2 Commando
No. 2 Commando
was next ordered to capture a German observation post outside of the town of La Molina which controlled a pass leading down to the Salerno beach-head. No. 2 and No. 41 (Royal Marine) Commandos , infiltrated the town and captured the post, taking 42 prisoners including a mortar squad. On 11 September the commandos made contact with the U.S. Army Rangers who had landed to their west. On 13 September the commando defended the village of Dragone against the attacking German paratroopers and panzergrenadiers . The battle cost the commando 28 dead and 51 wounded. After a day's rest following the battle the commando moved to Mercatello , about three miles east of Salerno. Together with No. 41 (RM) Commando, they were tasked by Brigade
Brigade
to "sweep the area and clean out the German forces". Having completed the requested "sweep", the commando returned, bringing with them 150 captured Germans.

Both commandos were then ordered back to occupy the area known as the "pimple". Over the next days the commando losses grew and included the then-Duke of Wellington . Finally relieved on 18 September they were withdrawn to Sicily. During the Salerno operations No. 2 and No. 41 (RM) Commandos had 367 killed, wounded or missing out of the 738 who had made the landing.

YUGOSLAVIA

A depleted No. 2 Commando
No. 2 Commando
landed on the Yugoslavian island of Vis 16 January 1944; almost half the commando, consisting of replacements and training staff, remained in Italy. They would remain in the area for the next six months and carried out a number of operations including raids on German garrisons, attacking shipping, making assaults on fixed positions and even helping in the construction of an airfield. Between 26 January and 4 February the commando attacked the German garrison near Milna on the island of Hvar
Hvar
four times. On 19 March the 110 men from No. 2 Commando
No. 2 Commando
attacked the village of Grohote killing six and capturing 102 Germans with the loss of one man. By May 1944 No. 2 Commando
No. 2 Commando
had been joined on the island of Vis by No. 40 (Royal Marine) Commando , No. 43 (Royal Marine) Commando , some men from the Highland Light Infantry
Highland Light Infantry
and a Royal Artillery
Royal Artillery
detachment. On 2 June Lieutenant Colonel Jack Churchill
Jack Churchill
, in command of both Royal Marine commandos and a group of Yugoslav Partisans
Yugoslav Partisans
in an assault on German fortifications, was captured after having been knocked unconscious. He was replaced as commanding officer by Lieutenant Colonel Francis West Fynn . After the commando marched past Marshal Josip Broz Tito
Josip Broz Tito
at an airfield they had helped construct on 23 June they returned to Italy.

ALBANIA

On their return from Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
the commando were based near Molopoli in Italy; they recruited new men and carried out parachute training. On the night 28/29 July 250 men from No. 2 Commando
No. 2 Commando
landed at Spilje in Albania
Albania
; their objective was a German position near the village of Himare . After withdrawing they estimated that 100 Germans had been killed; the commando lost 29 dead and 61 wounded. On 22 September No. 2 Commando raided Albania
Albania
again; their objective this time was to capture the port town of Sarande . The Commando landed on a beach 6 miles (9.7 km) north of Sarande and soon came under artillery fire. Believing the German garrison to consist of 200 men they discovered that the true German strength was 2000 men. Requested reinforcements from No. 40 (Royal Marine) Commando arrived 24 September. Sarande was captured by the combined force on 9 October. With the capture of the town, the German garrison on Corfu
Corfu
was cut off and surrendered to the commandos in November.

COMACCHIO

On their return to Italy No. 2 Commando
No. 2 Commando
and the rest of 2 Commando Brigade
Brigade
was gathered together for Operation Roast the battle at Comacchio
Comacchio
lagoon . Their task was to capture a spit of land which extended from Lake Comacchio
Comacchio
to the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
, with possible further exploitation northwards. No. 2 Commando
No. 2 Commando
started the attack at 19:00 hours 1 April 1945 by boat across Comacchio
Comacchio
lagoon; they reached the opposite shore at 05:00 hours 2 April and approached the Germans from the rear and started their attack. All the Brigade objectives were achieved, with all the German forces south of Porto Garibaldi captured or destroyed. Fighting continued until mid April when No. 2 Commando
No. 2 Commando
were withdrawn having lost 23 men in the operation. The German forces in Italy surrendered on 2 May 1945.

LEGACY

After the Second World War all the British Army
British Army
Commandos were disbanded and the commando role was taken over by the Royal Marines. However the present day Parachute Regiment , Special Air Service
Special Air Service
, and Special Boat Service
Special Boat Service
can all trace their origins to the commandos. The Army Commandos were reborn in the 1960s, 29 light artillery regiment was tasked to become a commando regiment, men were asked to volunteer for the commando Course at CTCRM, most men did and they passed, 29 Commando Regiment RA was born. Later came 59 Commando Squadron Royal Engineers ( now 24 Commando Regt RE ) and many more smaller Army Commando attached units. Unlike RM recruits who have to start their training from scratch and learn everything, Army Commandos are already trained soldiers, who attend the All Arms Commando Course at The Commando Training Centre in Lympstone Devon, the course mirrors the last 8 weeks of the RM recruits training, often referred to as the "Commando Phase". The Army Commandos provide specialist support that the Royal Marines can't provide themselves, many are parachute trained and both 29 and 24 provide Recce elements to the Commando Recce Force, the eyes and ears of 3 Commando Brigade. These Recce elements, 148 Commando Forward Observation battery from 29 and 59 Recce troop RE hold their own internal selection courses to make sure they get the best from their respective units. The selection courses are very hard and designed as a pre curser to SF selection for those guys who may wish to go onto the SAS / SBS. 1 48 Commando are based in Poole, co-located with the SBS, they are a very specialist unit with the capability to call in fire from fast jets, attack helicopters, artillery and naval gunfire support, all four of these assets can be coordinated to land simeltaniously or on a set fire plan. The 148 teams can work by vehicle, parachute (land and sea) and also from submarines. The Army Commandos provide a very important asset to 3 Commando Brigade
Brigade
on the modern battlefield.

BATTLE HONOURS

The following Battle honours were awarded to the British Commandos during the Second World War.

* Adriatic * Alethangyaw * Aller * Anzio * Argenta Gap * Burma 1943–45 * Crete * Dieppe * Dives Crossing * Djebel Choucha * Flushing * Greece 1944–45 * Italy 1943–45 * Kangaw * Landing at Porto San Venere * Landing in Sicily * Leese * Litani * Madagascar * Middle East 1941, 1942, 1944 * Monte Ornito * Myebon * Normandy Landing
Normandy Landing
* North Africa 1941–43 * North-West Europe 1942, 1944–1945 * Norway
Norway
1941 * Pursuit to Messina
Messina
* Rhine * St. Nazaire * Salerno * Sedjenane 1 * Sicily 1943 * Steamroller Farm * Syria 1941 * Termoli * Vaagso * Valli di Comacchio
Comacchio
* Westkapelle

REFERENCES

NOTES

* ^ A B "2 Commando Commando Veterans Archive". www.commandoveterans.org. Retrieved 2017-03-25. * ^ Shott & McBride, p.4 * ^ Moreman, p.91 * ^ Chappell, p.5 * ^ Chappell, p.3 * ^ Moreman, p.8 * ^ Chappell, p.6 * ^ A B C Haskew, p.48 * ^ Moreman, p.12 * ^ "A timeline of Commando Training Commando Veterans Archive". www.commandoveterans.org. Retrieved 2017-03-25. * ^ van der Bijl, p.12. * ^ Moreman, pp.84–85 * ^ van der Bijl, p.28 * ^ Moreman, p.15 * ^ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q "History of No. 2 Commando". Commando Veterans Association. Archived from the original on November 21, 2008. Retrieved 27 April 2010. * ^ Messenger, p. 165 * ^ Miller, p.41 * ^ Ford, p.19 * ^ Moreman, p.66 * ^ "Remembering St Nazaire raid". BBC
BBC
. Retrieved 24 April 2010. * ^ Neillands, p.46. * ^ Neillands, p.53. * ^ A B "No. 37134". The London Gazette
The London Gazette
(Supplement). 15 June 1945. pp. 3171–3172. * ^ Parker p.133 * ^ Tomblin, p.266 * ^ Parker pp.136–137 * ^ Tomblin, p.273 * ^ "Commandos - United We Conquer Commando Veterans Archive". www.commandoveterans.org. Retrieved 2017-03-25. * ^ Lord & Graham, pp.216–317 * ^ Otway, pp.31–32 * ^ Breuer, pp.46–47 * ^ Molinari, p.22 * ^ Moreman, p.94

BIBLIOGRAPHY

* van der Bijl, Nick (2006). No. 10 Inter-Allied Commando 1942–45. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-999-1 . * Breuer, William B. (2001). Daring missions of World War II. John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 978-0-471-40419-4 . * Chappell, Mike (1996). Army Commandos 1940–45. 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 . * Lord, Cliff; Watson, Graham (2004). Royal Corps of Signals. Helion & Company Limited. ISBN 1-874622-92-2 . * Messenger, Charles (1991). The Last Prussian: A Biography of Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, 1875–1953. Brassey's. ISBN 978-0-08-036707-1 . * Miller, Russell (1981). The Commandos. Time-Life Books. ISBN 0-8094-3399-0 . * Molinari, Andrea (2007). Desert Raiders: Axis and Allied Special Forces 1940–43. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84603-006-2 . * Moreman, Timothy Robert (2006). British Commandos
British Commandos
1940–46. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-986-X . * Neilands, Robin (2005). The Dieppe Raid. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-34781-5 . * Otway, Lieutenant-Colonel T.B.H (1990). The Second World War 1939–1945 Army – Airborne Forces. Imperial War Museum. ISBN 0-901627-57-7 . * Shortt, James ; McBride, Angus (1981). The Special
Special
Air Service. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 0-85045-396-8 . * Tomblin, Barbara (2004). With utmost spirit: Allied naval operations in the Mediterranean, 1942–1945. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-2338-0 .

* v * t * e

British Commando units of the Second World War

BRITISH ARMY:

* No. 1 Commando * No. 2 Commando * No. 3 Commando
No. 3 Commando
* No. 4 Commando
No. 4 Commando
* No. 5 Commando * No. 6 Commando * No. 7 Commando * No. 8 (Guards) Commando * No. 9 Commando * No. 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando * No. 11 (Scottish) Commando * No. 12 Commando
No. 12 Commando
* No. 14 (Arctic) Commando * No. 50 Commando * No. 51 Commando * No. 52 Commando * No. 62 Commando
No. 62 Commando
(Small Scale Raiding Force) * Middle East Commando

ROYAL MARINE:

* No. 40 (Royal Marine) Commando * No. 41 (Royal Marine) Commando * No. 42 (Royal Marine) Commando * No. 43 (Royal Marine) Commando * No. 44 (Royal Marine) Commando * No. 45 (Royal Marine) Commando * No. 46 (Royal Marine) Commando * No. 47 (Royal Marine) Commando * No. 48 (Royal Marine) Commando

ROYAL NAVY:

* Royal Naval Commandos * British commando frogmen

ROYAL AIR FORCE:

* Royal Air Force Commandos

JOINT SERVICE:

* No. 30 Commando

BRIGADES:

* Special Service Brigade * 1st Special Service Brigade * 2nd Special Service Brigade * 3rd Special Service Brigade * 4th Special Service Brigade

AD HOC FORCES:

* Forfarforce * Layforce * Layforce II * Northforce * Timberforce

OTHER COMMANDO FORCES:

* S