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Special Service Battalions (The Commandos) in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- Special Service Battalions (The Commandos) during the Second World War -

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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

Special Service Battalions (The Commandos)

   The Royal Marines Engineer Commando was formed on the 25th of October 1943 from units in the RM Battalions which were trained as assault engineers and in demolition.

   The Royal Marines Commando was formed entirely from volunteers on the 14th of February 1942, briefly known as "A" RM Commando, it was designated 40 Royal Marines Commando in October 1942. They trained on the Isle of Wight with the Commandos being billeted in homes at Shanklin, Sandown and Ventnor. They saw action at Dieppe, St Benere, Termoli, Anzio, Dalmatian Islands, and Lake Comacchio. The unit was disbanded early in October 1946.

   Royal Marines 41 Commando was formed on the 10th of October 1942 from the 8th Royal Marines Battalion. They saw action at Salerno, Orne and Walcheren. The unit was disbanded on the 20th of February 1946.

   No 42 Commando Royal Marines was formed in August 1943 and served in India and Burma. They took part in the Battle of Kangaw on the 31st of January 1945. In August 1945 they were renamed 42 Royal Marines Commando (Light). In early 1946 they reverted to their original title.

   43 Commando Royal Marines was formed on the 1st of August 1943 and disbanded in September 1945.

   No 44 Commando, Royal Marines was formed on the 1st of August 1943 from the 3rd Royal Marines Battalion. They served in the Far East, Burma and Trincomalee, with 3rd Special Service Brigade (later renamed 3rd Commando Brigade).

   No. 46 Royal Marines Commando was formed on the 1st August 1943 at 'A' camp, Piddlehinton, Dorset, by the redesignation of 9th Royal Marines Battalion. In June 1944 they landed in Normandy. They were withdrawn to the Isle of Wight in September after suffering heavy casualties and returned to the front line in January 1945. They were in action in Belgium and in the assault river crossings during the advance into Germany. After VE Day they took on policing duties in Germany. The unit was disbanded in February 1946.

   No. 1 Special Service Battalion was formed in 1940 from Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5 Independent Companies In March 1941 they were renamed and became No. 1 Commando. They saw action in September 1941 during raids on the French coast. In November 1942 they were in North Africa, returning to Britain in April 1943. They were in action again in September 1944 in Ceylon moving to Burma in November 1944 and to Hong Kong the following year. In 1945 they amalgamated with No. 5 Commando, to form No. 1/5 Commando.

   No. 2 Commando was formed in March 1941 formed from a reorganisation of No. 1 Special Service Battalion. They saw action in Norway in December 1941, Gibraltar in July 43, then in Sicily in August and Italy in September. In January 44 they were in Yugoslavia, returning to Italy in Feburay 1945. On the 24th September 1945 they amalgamated with No. 9 Commando, to form The Army Commando.

   No. 4 Special Service Battalion was formed from Nos. 3 and 8 Independent Companies in November 1940. They saw action in Guernsey in the following weeks. At the end of February 1941 they became No. 3 Commando. In March they saw action in the Lofoten Islands and in December they were in Norway. In August 1942 they took part in raids on Dieppe and in February 1942 they were in Gibralta before moving to North Africa. In July they took part in the landings on Sicily and advanced through Italy before returning to the UK. No 3 Commando were in Normandy as part of the D-Day plans and remained in Europe until September when they returned to Britain. They saw action again in Holland and Germany from January 1940 to the end of hostilities.

   No. 3 Special Service Battalion was formed from Nos. 4 and 7 Independent Companies in on the 24th of October 1940. On the 26th February 1941 they were renamed No. 4 Commando. In December 1941 they saw action in Norway. In August 1942 they were involved in the raids on Dieppe. From June 1944 they saw action as part of the D-Day landings and were involved in fighting across North Western Europe, returning to Britain in November 1944.

   No. 5 Special Service Battalion was formed in November 1940 from Nos. 5 and 6 Independent Companies. In February 1941 they were renamed No. 5 Commando. In august of that year they took part in raids on the French coast. They saw action in May 1943 in Madagascar and Bombay, India in January 1944, moving to Burma in March, In 1945 they served in Hong Kong before being amalgamated with No. 1 Commando, to form No. 1/5 Commando in 1945.

No. 6 Commando saw action in Norway in December 1941, in April 1942 they took part in raids on the French coast. They were in North Africa from November 1942 returning to Britain in April 43 to prepare for the D-Day invasion. They took part in the landings in Normandy and fought in North Western Europe.

   No. 7 Commando operated as "A" Battalion in 6th Division. They saw action in Egypt in March 1941 and in Crete during may of that year. In August 1941 they were disbanded with some personnel transfering to Middle East Commando.

   No. 8 Commando was formed from personnel of Household Cavalry, Foot Guards, Somerset Light Infantry, and Royal Marines. They operated as "A" Battalion in 6th Division, seeing action in Crete in May 1941 before moving to North Africa. They were disbanded in July 1941 with some personnel transferring to Middle East Commando.

   No. 9 Commando was formed on the 26th February 1941 by the redesignation of No. 2 Special Service Battalion. In November 1941 they took part in the French coast raids. In 1943 they were in Gibraltar and The Aegean, moving to Italy in January 1944, they saw action in Greece and Italy during 1945. On teh 24th of September 1945 they amalgamated with No. 2 Commando, to form The Army Commando.

   No. 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando was formed in January 1942 and included No. 1 and No. 7 Troops (French) , No. 4 Troop (Belgian), Dutch Troop, Norwegian Troop, Polish Troop, X Troop (German and Austrian, Hungarians and Greeks), Yugoslav Troop, which often served detached in other theatres. In August 1942 They were involved in the Dieppe raids. June 1944 they took part in the Normandy Landings and fought across North Western Europe.

   No. 11 (Scottish) Commando was formed in 1940, they saw action in May 1941 in Cyprus and in Syria in June. They were disbanded in 1941 with some personnel transfering to Middle East Commando.

   No. 12 (Irish and Welsh) Commando was formed from volunteers of North Irish and Welsh regiments in 1941. In July 1941 and January 1942 they took part in raids on the French Coast and saw action in Normway in December 41 and during 1943. They were disbanded in December 1943.

   No. 14 Commando was formed from British, Canadian and Native American personnel in December 1942 they trained in Britain for long distance raids in Arctic conditions.

   No. 30 Commando was formed in 1941, they trained as divers and intelligence gatherers from sunken ships. They saw action in Sicily and Italy in the summer of 1943 and became No. 30 Assault Unit in May 1944, attached to Admiralty Intelligence. They took part in the Normandy landings and saw action in North West Europe as No. 30 Advanced Unit.

    No. 50 (Middle East) Commando and No 52 Commandos were formed in 1941 from personnel in Middle East by GHQ Middle East. They saw action in 1941 in Egypt and Crete. In August 1941 they were disbanded and some personnel transferred to Middle East Commando.

   No. 62 Commando was formed in 1941 at Kabrit, Egypt, including some personnel of No. 7 Commando. They operated as "L Detachment, Special Air Service Brigade" being renamed No. 1 Small Scale Raiding Force in September 1941 and becoming Special Air Service in October 1942.

   Middle East Commando was formed in August 1941 from personnel of disbanded 7 Commando, 8 Commando, 11 Commando, 50 Commando, 52 Commando. They saw action in North Africa and were disbanded in 1942.

   No. 6 Commando saw action in Norway in December 1941, in April 1942 they took part in raids on the French coast. They were in North Africa from November 1942 returning to Britain in April 43 to prepare for the D-Day invasion. They took part in the landings in Normandy and fought in North Western Europe.

   10th Battalion Royal Marines moved to the barracks in Dorchester on 1st August 1943 and was renamed 47 Royal Marine Commando. They were in action during the D-Day Landings and the seaborn assault on the Dutch island of Walcheren.

10th February 1941 Operation Colossus

28th Feb 1942 Raid

6th Jun 1944 Beach Landing

6th Jun 1944 Advance

6th Jun 1944 On the Move

7th Jun 1944 In Action

8th Jun 1944 Radar Station

9th Jun 1944 Reliefs

10th Jun 1944 Advance

11th Jun 1944 Advance

12th Jun 1944 Reliefs

18th Jun 1944 In Action

19th Jun 1944 In Action

20th Jun 1944 Shelling

17th Jul 1944 Reorganisation

19th Aug 1944 Advance

21st Aug 1944 Advance

If you can provide any additional information, especially on actions and locations at specific dates, please add it here.

Those known to have served with

Special Service Battalions (The Commandos)

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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Henry Thow No. 7 Commando

My father Henry Thow was in Stalag 383. He was Scottish and was taken prisoner on Crete after the parachute drop by the Germans. My Dad was in number 7 Commando and were really left to fight the rearguard. He hid out for a while in the mountains but was taken prisoner. The Germans were very bad to them and made them march to the boat to Italy. the men were in cattle trucks and very rarely let out. By the time they reached the camp many had died in the trains.

My Dad said he had been a 'Guest of the Furer' for 5 years! When he came home he was very thin and the last months in the camp was pretty rough as the Germans were not giving them their red cross parcels. He escaped twice and was in solitary often, also for refusing to work on New Years day!!

He had a lovley experience when he went back to Crete and was made a honorory member of the local Crete resistance.

Morag Thow

Joseph Alec Wells No: 6 Commando

I would like any information with regard to my fathers military career I think he enlisted in 1938 possibly in the Royal Engineers transferred to the commandos. Eventually he was commissioned and joined the Beds and Herts Regiment as an Officer serving in Italy & Greece & possibly Yugoslavia. After the war he seved till 1949 in Q section? BAOR.

Simon Wells

Albert James Lucy 2 Commando (d.28th Mar 1942)

I recently saw Jeremy Clarkson's programme about the raid on st Nazaire and suddenly realised my uncle died there. After a bit of research I found out that he was in one of the motor launches and is buried in la Baulle cemetery. He served wth 2 Commando and the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). Is there any way I could get a photograph of his regiment or even better one of him? I have no family photos of the Lucy family and it would mean a great deal to me.

Janet Edwards

L/Cpl. Frank Ernest Varney 10 Troop 11th Commando

My Dad, Frank Varney, served with 11th commando 10 troop in the raid to capture Rommel in November 1941, Operation Flipper. He also spent a period of time at a POW camp PG65 in Italy. I would love to hear from any of his mates.

Andrew Varney

Cpl. William Gray Highland Light Infantry

My Dad, William Gray served in the HLI with either the 5th. or 6th. Battalation and I'm sure was at Maryhill Barracks in Glasgow around '39 to '40. He volunteered and trained as a Commando and was billeted in Buckie. He took part in night-time raids especially Walcheren Island, Holland where he was wounded. As his mates carried him on a stretcher back to their boat ignored the bullets, and brought a dressing gown from his home which he placed over him to keep him warm - a kindness remembered with great affection. We have always treasured this memory as an indication of the respect between the Dutch and the Scots. His C.O. sent my mother a lovely tribute as my Dad was hospitalised for some time. (He was to develop T.B. from his chest wounds and was in Hairmyres Hospital for approximately 10 years before being sent home to die around 1952. (We visited him there every Sunday via old, cold buses for the long trip.) My younger brother is extremely keen to access our Dad's records. We cannot find his Service number, and so we cannot effectively trace his progress I'm now a retired Church of Scotland Parish Minister who has the privilege of conducting the public Remembrance Service in Oban each year. Any help you can give (especially Dad's Service number) will be greatly appreciated.

Rev. William Gray

Pte. Thomas Irwin Leicestershire Regt

My father Tomas Irwin enlisted in the Leicestershire Regimentt in 1934 (he was born in 1918, which makes his age 16 but it shows his date of birth on his discharge papers as 1916) the only information on his active service is from his medals, POW and discharge records. My father never spoke to me about the war but through snippets of family conversation he served in Palastine from 1936-1939, next he apparently joined the commandos and was posted to the Middle East he was captured on Crete and spent the rest of the war in Stalag 4a in Hohenstein. This was a region in Germany that was not a good place to be hence the silence about his war experience.

If anyone has any further information I would be pleased to know about it.

Alyn Irwin

Frank Jones Commandos

Frank Jones was my grandfather, I am looking for anybody that can tell me more about the Special Service Brigade he was in, possibly 2 Commando. He was also in The Highland Light Infantry, I believe. I only have a few pictures and stories about his time in the services. He was young when he joined up and possibly lied about his age to join early. I'm awaiting his records from the MOD but without the date of birth he gave they don't think they'll be able to source them. He was definately stationed in Sicily during the latter years of WW2, along with his older brother Ted who joined up years before, also a commando but different Brigade and stationed a few miles down the road. Frank acheived a rank but we don't know what, could be Sergeant or Corporal.

Apparently his superiors liked Franks attitude and leadership whilst in the field but he was a joker when not in action and he would regularly go AWOL to the pub or to visit Ted. He spoke of having to paint coal white and peel potatoes many times. He was apparently to be involved in Operation Market Garden in Arnhem but broke his ankle the week before playing football, lucky considering the outcome. At one point his unit were behind enemy lines and cut off from support. The unit's rations had run out and they were starving. Frank made his way to a local farm and staged a daring raid for chickens and eggs. He was to be awarded for bravery for this, but the motorcyclist carrying his commendation back to HQ was killed before he arrived and the award was never received.

Any info on the commandos of the Special Service Brigade, the Highland Light Infantry would be appreciated.

Neil Ormsons

Reginald Alban Smith 3 Commando

My father, Pte. Reginald Alban Smith of 3 Commando was taken prisoner 19th August 1942 at Dieppe and was held in shackles for about 18 months following capture, a Prisoner at Stalag 8b (334)

Graham Smith

WO2 Albert John Cotterill North Staffordshire Regiment

My Dad, Jack Cotterill joined Nth Staffs in 1933 and was posted to Palestine in 1936. In 1939 he was shipped off to France and was evacuated from Dunkirk with 300,000 of his mates. In due time he served in North Africa and volunteered to be trained as a commando. After serving in 6th Commando and spending time with the Long Range Desert Group,he was sent to Italy where he was captured by the Italians. When Italy surrendered, he was handed over to the Germans and sent off to Germany to finish the war in a POW camp. He was repatriated by the Soviets and sent back to the UK.

In 1946 he was sent to Trieste (Betfor) where he met my mother,a local girl. They were married in 1947. I was born in the British Military Hospital and we stayed in Trieste until 1954 when the Regiment was sent back to England. In 1955, Dad left the Army and we emigrated to Australia.

Dad went through WW2 uninjured, survived the commandoes and spent two years in a POW camp. In 1973, aged 57,he died of cancer. Mum passed away last Xmas.

Dad did not talk about the war that much except to say that his most fondest memory was not the food or the thought of someone shooting at you or the wonderful RSM but the bond he had with his mates (even the RSM). I joined the navy in 1966 and two years later,I was in Vietnam. It was then I understood what he meant.

Joe Cotterill

Thomas Glenville Scott Commandos 42

My grandfather, Thomas Glenville Scott, served in WW2 with the Royal Marines 42 Commandos roughly 1939-45. Unfortunetly, I dont have very much info on him I know he served in possibly Japan and I think France. He received the Defence Medal, Pacific Star and the 1939-45 Star. He also had a wife Audrey. He was from Ystalafera in Glamorgan Wales. I am trying to gain information for my father as his father never spoke much about the war and I would greatfully welcome any help people could give me. Unfortunetly, I also don't have his service number but if anyone remembers him or has any info please get in touch.

Lucy Davies

William Mackie Commando

My father, William Mackie, Commando was captured in Crete and from what I can remember was in Stalag 8b. He didn't talk too much about his war experiences but I can remember him telling me that he escaped through Poland to Russia and then home. The picture shows him sitting 4th from the right front row as you look at the picture. He is wearing an RAF uniform which was swapped to allow a pilot to escape as the Germans classed RAF personnel as more intelligent than Army. There is also a picture of his Commando Service Certificate. He sadly passed away in 1995.

Lindsay Mackie

L/Cpl. Dennis Coulthread 10/11 Commando

My uncle, Dennis Coulthread, was with Geoffrey Keyes on Operation Flipper, the raid on 'Rommel's House' at Beda Littoria in Libya, November 1941. The raid did not go well (to put it mildly) and he was eventually captured by the Italians. I don't know the sequence of events, but he ended up in Stalag 8b, part of the Auschwitz complex. He only spoke to me once about this. He did forced work in a local factory and said he kept his head down and his mouth shut.

One morning he gave a Jewish boy some food from a Red Cross parcel. When he returned from the factory, he saw that the boy had been hanged, having refused to say who had given him the food.

He said that towards the end of the war the prisoners were force-marched into Germany. Many died on this march, and anyone who tried to help someone was shot there and then. Dennis was a robust, tough man, and he said it was this that got him through. I think that by the time Hitler issued his infamous 'commando order' they must have lost track of his real identity, either by chance or deception. No doubt they would have carried out this order retrospectively. My father said Dennis's hair had gone from jet black to pure white over a couple of years and this made him appear older - probably saving him from hard labour in the mines and further concealing his real identity.

John Willott

Frederick Perry HMS Nelson

Believe Frederick Perry joined the Royal Marines in 1942 and served on the HMS Nelson before going into 42 Commando unit. He then was involved in the Africa and Italy campaigns. Does anyone have any information please?

John Perry

Anders Frederik Emil Victor Schau Lassen VC, MC. 62 Commando Special Air Service (d.9th Apr 1945)

Anders Lassen was the son of Emil Victor Schau Lassen and Suzanne Maria Signe Lassen, of Nyhavn, Copenhagen. After serving in the Danish Merchant Navy, he came to the United Kingdom shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War and joined the British Commandos in 1940, serving with No. 62 Commando as a private. He was commissioned in the field and awarded an immediate Military Cross for his part in Operation Postmaster, the capture of three Italian and German ships from the neutral Spanish island of Fernando Po, in the Gulf of Guinea.

No. 62 Commando was later absorbed into the Special Air Service in February 1944 and Lassen became a Major by October 1944. During his service he saw action in North-West Europe, North Africa, Crete, the Aegean islands, mainland Greece, Yugoslavia and Italy. He was awarded two bars to the Military Cross, the first dated 27 September 1943 and the seconded dated 15 February 1944

He was commanding the Special Boat Squadron when he was awarded the Victoria Cross. The London Gazette of 4 September 1945, gives the following:

"The King has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the Victoria Cross to: Major (temporary) Anders Frederik Emil Victor Schau Lassen, M.C. (234907), General List. In Italy, on the night of 8/9 April 1945, Major Lassen was ordered to take out a patrol of one officer and seventeen other ranks to raid the north shore of Lake Comacchio. His tasks were to cause as many casualties and as much confusion as possible, to give the impression of a major landing, and to capture prisoners. ' No previous reconnaissance was possible, and the party found itself on a narrow road flanked on both sides by water. Preceded by two scouts, Major Lassen led his men along the road towards the town. They were challenged after approximately 500 yards from a position on the side of the road. An attempt to allay suspicion by answering that they were fishermen returning home failed, for when moving forward again to overpower the sentry, machinegun fire started from the position, and also from two other blockhouses to the rear. Major Lassen himself then attacked with grenades, and annihilated the first position containing four Germans and two machineguns. Ignoring the hail of bullets sweeping fire road from three enemy positions, an additional one having come into action from 300 yards down the road, he raced forward to engage the second position under covering fire from the remainder of the force. Throwing in- more grenades he silenced this position which was then overrun by his patrol. Two enemy were killed, two captured and two more machine-guns silenced. By this time the force had suffered casualties and its firepower was very considerably reduced. Still under a heavy cone of fire Major Lassen rallied and reorganised his force and brought his fire to bear on the third position. Moving forward himself he flung in more grenades which produced a cry of " Kamerad ". He then went forward to within three or four yards of the position to order the enemy outside, and to take their surrender. Whilst shouting to them to come out he was hit by a burst of spandau fire from the left of the position and he fell mortally wounded, but even whilst falling he flung a grenade, wounding some of the occupants, and enabling his patrol to dash in and capture this final position. Major Lassen refused to be evacuated as he said it would impede the withdrawal and endanger further lives, and as ammunition was nearly exhausted the force had to withdraw. By his magnificent leadership and complete disregard for his personal safety, Major Lassen had, in the face of overwhelming superiority, achieved his objects. Three positions were wiped out, accounting for six machine guns, killing eight and wounding others of the enemy, and two prisoners were taken. The high sense of devotion to duty and the esteem in which he was held by the men he led, added to his own magnificent courage, enabled Major Lassen to carry out all the tasks he had been given with complete success."

Lassen is buried at the Argenta Gap war cemetery and his Victoria Cross is on display at the Museum of Danish Resistance in Copenhagen, Denmark.

S. Flynn

Pte. Thomas Wilson "Tucker" Elliott 3 Commando

My father enlisted in the Border Regiment on 2nd March 1938 at Whitehaven, Cumbria, aged 17 years, having lied about his date of birth. He saw action in Dunkirk, Norway, Dieppe and other locations marked 'special services' on his army records. He was captured at Dieppe and incarcerated in Stalag V111-B, suffering from bullet and shrapnel wounds. In 1945 he was forced onto one of the notorious death marches from which he made his escape and was eventually picked up by American forces in Czechoslovakia. Like so many others, he never spoke about his wartime experiences although there are one or two that we have picked up from others along the way. At Dieppe he was part of the 'Yellow Beach' offensive, alighting at Dieppe and scaling the cliff at Bernaval. As Dad and his comrades scaled the sheer cliff face, German gunners were in position and waiting. This is when Dad suffered his injuries and he was captured in a corn field at the top of the cliffs. Whilst in Stalag V111-B he managed to steal a baked potato and when challenged by a guard promptly hid the contraband in his clothing, the guard pinned him up against a wall severely burning his chest. He treated his own infected wounds with maggots and on repatriation to the UK he was severely malnourished. I am forever in his debt and very proud to say he was my Dad.

Christine Elliott

Cpl. Ted Sinnott South Lancashire Regiment

My late Uncle, Cpl Ted Sinnott, born 1921, Widnes, Cheshire (then Lancashire) was taken POW at raid on St Nazaire, France 28/3/1942. Eventually transferred to Lamsdorf 8b/344 around June 1942 before transfer to Stalag XXA Thorun, Poland (1944) and eventually Stalag 357 Fallingbostel, Germany and liberation April 1945.

He served with South Lancs Regt. before joining No 2 Commando in late 1940 after surviving Dunkirk. It would be great if anyone reading this knew of my uncle/or about life in this camp, and could contact me.

John Sinnott

Cpl. John James Jones 10th Btn. Cameron Highlanders

My Father Jack Jones, was captured on Crete when the Germans parachuted on to the Island. My father and his mates were backed on to the beach and before they surrendered they all removed their boots and threw them in the sea, as the Germans shot on site any Commandos captured and they could only identify them by their boots.

They were then marched to Poland, Lambowich to Stalag VIII-B POW Camp where he spent the rest of the war. I have recently found his diary of the Long March to Poland and the food rations they were given. Like many captives my Dad did not speak much about the war or the March but all of the situations they faced must have been horrific. God bless all those who gave so much for us

Ian Jones

Pte. John "Daisy" Mackay C Btn. No.11 (Scottish) Commando

Private John Mackay, son of Hugh Kenneth and Elizabeth Mackay and brother of Georgie Mackay, was a 16 year old farm servant when he enlisted with 5th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders in 1938. He left home on September 2nd 1939. In the summer of 1940, his time was spent patrolling remote sites in Wester Ross and Sutherland when he and some of his fellow soldiers decided to volunteer for the Special Service Brigade. He was then sent to Africa to join the 11th Commando.

John Mackay set off on his first patrol on 11th Oct 1941, destined for Kharga in the Libyan Desert. In Egypt, April 1943, the fit and healthy members of the Long Range Desert Group, of which John was now a member, were sent to train in Lebanon at the Mountain Warfare School. He was then ordered to fight for the Dodecanese Islands, and LRDG were sent to the island of Calino at the start of the campaign. On 20th October the Battle of Leros was underway, and British command gave the LRDG orders that the island of Levitha was to be captured immediately. On the night of 22nd October the commandos of B Squad slipped into canvas assault boats and prepared to land on the nearby beach. Unfortunately they came under heavy machine gun fire and the end result was that there was no option but to surrender. John Mackay was officially captured by the Germans on October 24th 1943. The LRDG men taken prisoner on Levitha were first shipped over to Yugoslavia from where they began the long train journey to Germany. Private Mackay ended up a POW in Stalag 8b, Lamsdorf, Poland. In late January 1945 he made the journey to Trieste to work salt mines in northern Italy.

Once he was set free he had to make his way back to the British lines on foot, and once back in Britain he spent a period convalescing in hospital prior to coming home. John arrived at Fort George in March 1946, and was reunited with his family two months later.

Skinner 10 Commando

My late father was in 10 Commando and was attached to SIS. It has been reported to me via one of his old army comrades that he was at Ringway Airfield in late 1943 doing parachute training and that my father was not staying with the other units, but at a large country house near the airfield. It could have been either, Milton Ernest Hall or North Cliffe Hall. If you have any knowledge of the area at that time, or know anyone who does, I would be most grateful if you would let me know. I am writing the story of my father and his war and it would be most helpful to solve the mystery of his stay and training at Ringway.

Sylvia Skinner

Pte. Tom Ellis Jones Cameron Highlanders (Queens Own)

My father, Tom Jones, a policeman in 'C' division in Liverpool before and after the war, he was a prisoner of war in Austria. He was imprisoned in a small camp which I believe was under the village school or the town hall, in the centre of a village called Wundschuh, Stiermark. Each day, the men in this camp went out to the surrounding farms to work as labourers. Within the bounds of what was acceptable at the time, dad and the farmer's family became good friends, and they kept in touch for the rest of their lives. Mum, my sister and I have all visited the family and I received a letter of condolence from the farmer's grandson when dad died in 2007.

Dad had many yarns about his time working on a very basic farm in Ponigl during WW2, a very different life from that of a policeman working on the Liverpool docks! A few years before he died, he was contacted by an Austrian PhD. student called Edith Pettschnig, who was researching the era of 'farming prisoners' called 'Vom Front aus Feld' of which I have a copy. If anyone would like me to check for their relatives in the many reminiscences quoted there, I would be happy to check and photocopy the relevant passages - all the quotes are in English.

One story I would love to hear the end of. According to dad there were two Jewish Austrian nationals in their ranks, men who had made their way to England at some point and had been able to join up, being subsequently captured and returned to their home countries. Dad was very clear about this - he said everyone went to great lengths to conceal the true origins of the men concerned. One was called Peter Black, And the other was Arnold Glebe, or something like that. I would love to know whether they made it to the end of the war - dad was marched out of that part of Austria early in 1945 and didn't know.

Kath Breen

Sgt. Harold Peace 48 Commando (d.8th Nov 1944)

Harold Peace died aged 24 and is buried in the Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery in Holland. He was the son of William Bryan and Rebecca Peace of Beeston, Nottinghamshire.

S Flynn

L/Cpl. Harry Rose 5 Commando Special Service Battalion

My father Harry Rose died in 1957 when I was 10, so I didn't have a chance to quiz him about his war years. He joined up on the 4th of September 1939 and was discharged on the 27th of December 1945 with. He served with 51st Royal Tank Regiment and served in Africa and Italy. For a period he was in 5 Commando/5 Special Service but was returned to his unit on the 1st of January 1941. Why? Was it because he put a bullet through the Duchess of Argyllshire's windscreen. My Dad would have been 31 in 1941, maybe a bit of a boy!

Jim Rose

Horace Frederick Martin 3 Commando

My father, Horace Frederick Martin was in 3 Commando. He spent 3 years in Stalag 8b. If anyone has any memories of him, I would like to hear from them.

Alan Martin

William Bidmead King's Royal Rifle Corps

My father, Bill Bidmead, served in the King's Royal Rifle Corps, stationed at Winchester. On disbandenment he went on to serve in a tank regiment, the Highland Light Infantry where he volunteered for the Commandos. He then served with No. 4 Commando on D-day and throughout the Normandy campaign. He was also at Walcharen and later joined No. 6. Commando preparing for the attack on the Japanese mainland.

Howard Bidmead

Ronald Hardey 6th Commando

My uncle, Ronald Hardey, served with No. 6 Commando, 1st SSB (1941-1945).

Simon Hardey

Marine. Vowell 45 Commando

Dad joined the Marines 22/8/1938 was posted to H.M.S. Columbo 30/7/1939 and was at Gibraltar when War was declared. It was then sent to the Denmark Strait looking for German ships, while there they captured the german ship Henning Oldendoff on the 17/11/1939. Dad was posted to H.B.L. R.M. Brigade 1/4/1940 then onto 45 Commando 11/8/1943 finally from September 1943 to June 1946 he was Combined operations (H.M.S. C.O.P.R.A.) He was released to Fleet Reserve March 1950.

Douglas Vowell

Leslie Wood 42 Commando Royal Marines

Leslie Wood was in the 42 Marine Commandos. Apparently, when en route to Burma the ship was damaged/bombed and they had to stop at Alexandria in Egypt for repairs in October 1943.


L/Cpl. Victor McNally No.6 Commando East Surrey Rgt. (d.22nd November 1942)

My grandfather, Victor McNally, served with the East Surrey Regiment in WWII. His secondary regiment was No. 6 Commando. He died in action on 22nd November 1942 and is buried in the Bone War Cemetery, Annaba. Does anyone know anything more about him?

Diane McNally

Gdsman Stanley Bolland 2nd Btn. Scots Guards (d.20th November 1941)

My uncle Stanley Bolland, Guardsman, served with 2nd Btn Scots Guards, No. 8 Commando and "L" Detachment, Special Air Service Brigade. He was killed on 20th November 1941 in a failed attack on Tmimi/Gazala landing strips in North Africa. Does anyone have any further information about my uncle?

John Bolland

Frederick Martin "Orrie" Martin No 3 Commando

My father was captured at Dieppe and spent three years in Stalag 8B. He escaped three times. He was a member of No. 3 Commando. Does anyone remember him?

Alan Martin

Pte. William Asquith No. 6 Commando

My father was William Asquith who served with No.6 Commando.


Pte. Thomas McCormack No 2 Commando (d.11th April 1944)

Thomas McCormack served with the 1st Btn Liverpool Scottish (Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders) and No 2 Commando. He was seriously injured during the Commando raid on St Nazaire (France) in 1942 and was buried in my town (Rennes, France). I am looking for information, could you help me?


My great uncle was a member of the Guard of Honour at Thomas McCormack's funeral, one of four captured allied servicemen who attended. Thomas McCormack was buried with full military honours by the German Forces. After the funeral McCormack's grave was a mass of flowers and these were renewed for many days afterwards by the French people of Rennes. (Robert Allwood)


Sgt. Les Shipp No. 2 Troop No. 1. Commando

I am enquiring on behalf of my son-in-law about his father who he has only recently learned about. He is Sgt. Les Shipp, No.1 Commando, No.2 Troop. If anyone has any recollections of him or any photographs, he would be very grateful.

April Clark

Bert Hall No.3 Commando

Bert Hall and Frank Lawrence, No. 3 Commandos were billeted with my parents in Largs, Ayrshire, they were both taken prisoners after the Dieppe raid and sent to Stalag 8b. I'm looking for any information

Catherine McGinty

Frank Lawrence No.3 Commando

Frank Lawrence and Bert Hall of No. 3 Commandos were billeted with my parents in Largs, Ayrshire, taken prisoners after the Dieppe raid and sent to Stalag 8b. I'm looking for any information.

Catherine McGinty

Alfred Louis Lancaster 9 Commando 2 Commando

My father, Alfred Louis Lancaster was in 2 and 9 Commando. Does anyone remember him?

John Lancaster

Capt. Jim Staples No 7 Commando

My dad Jim Staples was in 7 Comanndo in Crete and North Africa in 1941 and Burma in 1942 until 1945. He was ex-Royal Army Service Corps, serving in 535 petrol company as a corporal and ended the war as a captain. Can anyone give me any information?

Guy Staples

Sgnlmn. Gordon Bennett No. 2 Commando

Can anyone help me with information on my grandfather? He served as a signalman with No. 2 Commando in Italy, Crete, Yugoslavia, Vis, Sicily and Channel Raids and trained as para at Ringway.

Andy Byford

Sidney Gordon Bateman Layforce Commandos

My late father-in-law, Sidney Gordon Bateman, was captured, as a member of the Layforce Commandos, at the fall of Crete. He owned a book stamped with 'Gepruft 20 Stalag IVC' - which I understand was at Wistritz, in Czechoslovakia - but my husband believes that his father was a prisoner-of-war in Germany itself. I would be grateful if anyone who knew Sidney Bateman and has any relevant information about his life during the war would let us know, as we would be very interested.

Ann Bateman

Cpl. Thomas Cecil Gerrard No. 3 Commando (d.19th Aug 1942)

My late uncle, Thomas Cecil Gerrard, was lost at Dieppe. I know something of his training at Largs. Are there any available records of the other raids they made up to Dieppe? I am in touch with his last CO who was taken POW at Dieppe, Captain John Smale.

Ian R Gerrard

Capt. John Smale No. 3. Commando

Captain Smale served with No. 3 Commando and was taken captive at Dieppe in 1942.

C. J. Wootton Commandos

I am looking for information about my grandfather who served with the Commandos during WW2. His name and number were 14627960 Wootton C. J. I know he went to France and Germany but that's about it. I have a few addresses which give clues to where he trained; they are as follows:

Date: 23/6/1943. June 6th Platoon (Room 8), No 1 Primary Coy, 74 PTW 25 I.T.C., Omagh, N. Ireland

No 1 S.S. Brigade (Signal Troop), Signalman Wootton

Date: 11/3/1944. Leicester Commando B.T.C, Achnacarry House, Invernesshire Scotland.

Any help would be greatly appreciated

Simon Paul Nock

Sgt. Jack Ernest Moores No 2 Commando Royal Norfolk Regiment (d.29th July 1944)

Jack Ernest Moores was the son of Walter and Alice Moores; husband of Vera Lucy Moores, of Cambridge.

He was 37 when he died. He is buried in the Tirana Park Memorial Cemetery in Albania.

s flynn

Capt. George Alexander Parsons Somerset Light Infantry (d.9th Oct 1944)

George Parsons was the son of William George Lanyon Parsons and Norah Gabrielle Parsons, of Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire. He was 23 when he died and was buried in the Tirana Park Memorial Cemetery in Albania and is mentioned on the Special Memorial E.

s flynn

Marine Ronald Pincher No. 40 R.M. Commando. (d.10th Oct 1944)

Ronald Pincher was the Son of Emily Jane Pincher and the late William Pincher, of Bilston, Staffs. He was aged 19 when he died and was buried in the Tirana Park Memorial Cemetery in Albania

s flynn

Mrn. James Valentine Salt No. 40 R.M. Commando (d.9th Oct 1944)

James Salt was the son of James Charles Salt, and of Kathleen Salt, of Low Hill, Wolverhampton. He was 20 when he died and is buried in the Tirana Park Memorial Cemetery, Albania.

s flynn

Marine William James St.Ange No. 40 R.M. Commando (d.9th Oct 1944)

Marine St. Ange was the son of Mr. and Mrs. B. J. St. Ange, of Southampton and Eastleigh, Hampshire.

He was 24 when he died and is buried in the Tirana Park Memorial Cemetery, Albania.

s flynn

Cptn. Peter Beckwith Whitehouse No. 2 Commando Royal Engineers (d.9th October 1944)

Captain Whitehouse was the son of Sir Harold Beckwith Whitehouse, and of Lady Whitehouse (nee Griffith), of West Brompton, London.

He was 26 when he died and was buried in the Tirana Park Memorial Cemetery, Albania. He is remembered on the Special Memorial "E" his grave having been lost.

s flynn

Paul W.M. Heuts 10 Commando

Lee Enfield practise at Wrottesley

Soldier Heuts on bike, time, place unknown

My father, Paul W.M. Heuts, volunteered with the Dutch Army during WWII. He enlisted on 14th of August 1941 in 1941 at Stratford, ON, Canada. He arrived in England on 17th of Oct 1941, where he served with the Royal Dutch Brigade Princess Irene. He transferred to 2 Troop, No. 10 Inter Allied Commando in 1943. Arrived on the continent approximately fall 1944. Was discharged in August 1945. Anyone who knew him or has information about him during the period 1941 - August 1945 please contact me.

Paul Heuts

Matthew Mcilwain 42 Commando

Matthew Mcilwain is in the back row - far left (with the green berry on).

Matthew Mcilwain served with 42 Commando, Royal Marines.

Alex Mcilwain

Sgt. William Glen "Larry" Larsen 238th Field Coy. Royal Engineers

Sergeant William Glen Larsen of the Royal Engineers was a loving and kind hearted father and grandfather who did not like to talk about his exploits during the war. He passed away in late 1998 at the age of 78.

After receiving some records of his movements and awards through the war this is what I found: He enlisted at Paisley as a boy into the Royal Engineers Territorial Army and posted to 238th Highland Field Company on 24.03.37 the transferred to 51st Divisional Engineers on 12.04.37 On attaining the age of 17 years on 25.12.37, William was posted to the Ranks. He was Promoted Corporal on the 11th of August 1939 and embodied for war service on the 2nd of September 1939. On the 13th of August 1940 he was posted to No. 2 Troop No. 6 Commando. then returned to 238th Field Company on the 10th of June 1941 He was Appointed Acting Lance Sergeant on the 17th of December 1941, then Acting Sergeant on the 2nd of February 1944 and granted War Substantive Rank of Sergeant on the 31st of July 1944 After the war he was released to the Royal Army Reserve on the 22nd of July 1946 being Discharged from Reserve Liability on 30.06.59 due to the Navy, Army and Air Forces Reserve Act 1959. His Service with the Colours was from 02.09.39 to 22.07.46 seeing Overseas Service with the British Expeditionary Force France 15th of January 1940 to 2nd of February 1945 and in the Middle East from 3rd of February 1945 to 14th of March 1946 His Military Conduct is listed as Exemplary.

William's Testimonial reads: Sergeant Larsen has been with this unit since before the outbreak of war. He has served with it in the Battle of Dunkirk, North Africa and Italy. Since being in the service he has qualified as a vehicle mechanic and for the past two years has had sole charge of the motor transport of the unit. He is loyal, conscientious and an excellent disciplinarian. He is extremely capable, smart and soldierly in appearance and an all round first class NCO with a very fine record. I have no hesitation in recommending him most strongly for a position of trust and responsibility to any future employer. Medal issued: Efficiency Medal Territorial, 1939-45 Star, Africa Star, Italy Star and War Medal 1939-45.

Joshua Hallatt

Pte. Walter Thomas George Skeggs 2nd Btn. Dorsetshire Regiment

I have found two records showing my father, Walter Skeggs, as missing in action and then as a casualty in June 1940, so possibly from the evacuation at Dunkirk. I have also found notes saying that he was a commando and, I believe that this may have been 5 Commando as 5 Commando were formed in Bridlington, East Yorkshire around the time that the Dorsetshires were guarding the East Yorkshire coast prior to their deployment to India.

Allan Skeggs

Recomended Reading.

Available at discounted prices.

Fighting with the Commandos

Neil Barber & Stan Scott

the recollections of Stan Scott, No. 3 Commando
More information on:

Fighting with the Commandos


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