Special Service Battalions - The Commandos
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The Special Service Battalions were raised in 1940 as Special Infantry Companies and were quickly redesignated as Independent Companies numbered 1 to 12. The Special Service Battalions were then formed by grouping the companies under HQ Special Service Brigade. In 1941 the name was changed to Commandos.
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.
1940.10.24 No. 3 Special Service Battalion was formed from Nos. 4 and 7 Independent Companies in late 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, returing 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 transfering to Middle East Commando.
In November 1940 No. 2 Special Service Battalion was formed by a reorganisation of No. 11 Independent Company. On the 26th February they were renamed No. 9 Commando. 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.
1940 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.
1941 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.
1942.12.03 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.
1941 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 transfered 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 1941.09 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.
In 1946 the Army Commandos were disbanded and the Commando role was taken over by The Royal Marines.
I am trying to find out info about my Uncle, Captain Ronald G K Hardey MC. No2 Troop, No6 Army Commando, 1st Special Service Brigade (1940-1945).If anyone served in No 6 Commando I would be grateful to hear from you, your relatives or anyone with info about No 6 Commando.
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List of those who served.
- Capt. Ronald G K Hardey MC. No 2 Troop, No 6 Commando. Read his story
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