Friday, September 9, 2011
Inter Allied Commandos in WW2
Back in the Day when the Tomahawk was a young U.S. Army pathfinder running around Europe, I had the opportunity to work with Commando units from several NATO countries. These included Belgium, Lichtenstein,Holland and a few others. I started researching the information about these units back then and found it pretty interesting reading. I hope you do also. I have included as much info on these units as I could find.
see you on the trail.
Tomahawk - Scouts out!
No. 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando was a commando unit of the British Army during the Second World War. The first No. 10 Commando was proposed in August 1940, using volunteers from Northern Command, however there was such a poor response that No. 10 Commando was disbanded and the men that had volunteered were posted to other commando units.
In early 1942 the commando was raised again, this time as No. 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando. By the end of the war the commando had become the largest commando in the British Army and included volunteers from France, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Denmark, Poland and Yugoslavia. There was another group of volunteers in X Troop which contained enemy aliens, Germans and Austrians who had escaped from Nazi Germany. Men from the No. 10 Commando served in the Mediterranean, Scandinavia, Burma and Western Europe during the Second World War, mostly in small numbers attached to other formations, never as a complete unit.
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 selected as the overall commander of the force was Admiral Sir Roger Keyes himself a veteran of the landings at Galipoli and the Zeebrugge raid in the First World War. By March 1941 there were 11 battalion sized units now called commandos and each commando would consist of around 390 men in a small headquarters and six troops of three officers and 62 men each.
The idea for a foreign commando unit came from a junior French naval officer, Philippe Kieffer, after he heard of the successful Lofoten raid. The idea was eventually put to the then Chief of Combined Operations, Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten who could see the value of a foreign commando unit but insisted it should include volunteers from all the occupied territories.
No. 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando under command Lieutenant Colonel Dudley Lister was formed on 2 July 1942. The men of the new commando were all foreigners except for the British headquarters. Headquarters consisted of a British Commanding Officer, second in command, adjutant, intelligence officer and NCO, medical officer and medical orderlies, signals officer and signals section, training officer, quartermaster, administration officer and drivers. The formation of No. 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando meant that by the end of the war it was the largest commando unit in the British Army. Like all British Commandos the men of No. 10 (Inter Allied) Commando 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. In May 1943 the commando moved to Eastbourne on the Sussex coast where they carried out specialist training which unusually for a non parachute unit included parachute training at No.1 Parachute Training School RAF, Ringway near Manchester (over 80% of the Polish troop were parachute qualified) and they also trained in mountain climbing and Arctic warfare. At the same time as the move to Eastbourne the commando got a new commanding officer when Lieutenant Colonel Peter Laycock took over command on 15 May.
No. 1 French Troop
The No. 1 French Troop was formed in July 1942 By Kieffer, from an intake of 40 Frenchmen, who were initially called 1re Compagnie de Fusiliers Marins (1st Company of Naval Rifles). The unit retained its links with the French Navy wearing naval insignia and headgear.
No. 2 Dutch Troop
The No. 2 Dutch Troop consisted of 62 men under command of Captain Mulders. The troop formed in June 1942 was always below establishment and never deployed as a complete independent unit.But the men acted as liaison officers, guides and interpretors during operations Market Garden, Infatuate I and II.
No 3 (X) Troop
The No. 3 (X) Troop was possibly the strangest unit in the British Army, consisting of enemy aliens. Under the command of Captain Hylton-Jones the first men to arrive in July 1942 were eight men from Czechoslovakia. The troop was also known as the English, Jewish or British troop and was officially renamed the Miscellaneous Troop in 1944. Most of the troop had German, Austrian or Eastern European backgrounds, others were political or religious refugees from Nazi Germany,and at least one member had been imprisoned in Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps. All members of the troop adopted British names and false personnel histories. A total of 130 men served in X Troop, but they never fought as a complete unit but provided valuable service to other formations as interpreters and interrogators. The troop lost 21 men killed and a further 22 wounded, among the highest casualty rate of any British military unit in the war.
No. 4 Belgian Troop
The No. 4 Belgian Troop was formed on 7 August 1942, by seven officers and 100 men from the 1st Independent Belgian Brigade under the command of Captain Danloy. As Belgium had surrendered in 1940, the Belgian forces serving with the Allies risked facing charges of treason on their return; the charges were only annulled in 1948.
No. 5 Norwegian Troop
The No. 5 Norwegian Troop was formed in August 1942 under command Captain Hauge, the men of the troop came from refugees brought back to Britain after commando raids and sailors stranded abroad after the German invasion of Norway.
No. 6 Polish Troop
The No. 6 Polish Troop was first formed in August 1942 as the 1st Independent Commando Company. It was integrated into No. 10 Commando in October 1942. Commanded by Captain Smrokowski is comprised seven officers and 84 men.
No. 7 Mediterranean Troop
The No 7 Troop was formed in May 1943 after a need was identified for Italian speakers. The commander was Captain Coates but difficulties finding Italian speakers in the British Army led to the Special Operations Executive offering Italian speaking Slovenes from the Royal Yugoslavian Army. The troop only numbered two officers and 20 men and it was renamed No. 7 Yugoslavian Troop.
No. 8 French Troop
The No 8 French Troop was formed in 1943 from 45 men of the disbanded 2nd Naval Infantry Battalion which had been stationed in the Lebanon and men who had been interned and released in Spain. The two French troops were combined under command of Kieffer and called the 1er Bn de Fusiliers Marins Commandos (1st Naval Rifles Commando Battalion).