Commando raids in WWII

Touchstone

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Just been brushing up on some corps history and was reading about raids done by the Royal Marines in WWII. It shoes their courage and daring, and ultimately sacrifice. A the commando order was issued by Hitler which stated that any commandos captures would be executed immediately, which goes against the rules of engagement and international law.

Operation Frankton
The headquarters of Operation Frankton was SS Celtic, based at Portsmouth at the time. Led by Major Herbert "Blondie" Hasler, the men launched their six canoes from the British Royal Navy submarine HMS Tuna on 7 December, some 10 miles (16 km) from the mouth of the Gironde Estuary, near Montalivet. One canoe was damaged while being passed out of the submarine, leaving ten men in five canoes to attempt a 70-mile (110 km) paddle up river (against the winter current) to their targets.

Of those ten, only four reached their objective. Shortly after launching, one canoe became separated from the others and capsized in the surf. The men made it ashore, but were captured by the Germans and executed (shot) in accordance with Hitler’s Commando Order of October of that year.

Two men drowned after their canoe capsized and they fell prey to the cold water and currents. Two more became separated and days later, shortly before the Bordeaux quays, hit an underwater obstruction and sank. They made their way ashore and south towards Spain and were in a civilian hospital at La Réole when they were betrayed to the Gestapo and eventually taken to Paris.

The four remaining men reached their targets after four days, lying low during daylight and paddling only by night.

Though not all limpet mines attached to targets detonated, four cargo ships were flooded and a "Sperrbrecher" (minesweeper) was damaged. The raiders then made their way over land 90 miles (145 km) northeast to Ruffec, where they stopped at the Hôtel Restaurant la Toque Blanche to contact the French Resistance and utilise the ‘pipeline’ for their escape to Gibraltar and Britain. Only Blondie Hasler and partner Bill Sparks made it; the other two were betrayed by locals and captured at Montlieu. They too ended up in Paris with the men captured at La Réole. All four are believed to have been shot by firing squad on or around 23 March 1943.

Operation Basalt
On the night of 3-4 October, 1942, ten men of the British Small Scale Raiding Force and No. 12 Commando (attached) made an offensive reconnaissance raid on the isle of Sark, Operation Basalt. In line with standard procedure the acquisition of prisoners was required. The raiders broke into a local's house. The occupant of the house, Frances Pittard, proved very informative and advised there were about 20 Germans in the nearby Dixcart Hotel. She also declined an offer to be taken back to England.

In front of the hotel was a long hut like building, apparently unguarded. This annex comprised a corridor and five rooms wherein were five sleeping Germans, none found to be officers. The men were roused and taken outside where after the commandos decided to go on to the hotel and capture more of the enemy. To minimize the guard left with the captives, the commandos tied the prisoners' hands. One prisoner started shouting to alert those in the hotel and was shot dead with a .38 revolver. The enemy now alerted, incoming fire from the hotel became considerable and the raiders elected to return to the beach with the remaining four prisoners, all of whom had been silenced by stuffing their mouths, according to Anders Lassen, with grass. En route to the beach, three prisoners made a break. Whether or not some had freed their hands during the firefight has never been established, nor is it known whether all three broke at the same time. Two are believed to have been shot and one stabbed. The fourth was conveyed safely back to England and provided a gold mine of information. Officially sanctioned German military accounts of the time assert unequivocally that the dead German soldiers were found with their hands bound, and later German military publications make many references to captured Commando instructions ordering the tying of captives' hands behind them, and the use of a particularly painful method of knotting around the thumbs to enable efficient, coercive, single-handed control of the captive.

In future, all terror and sabotage troops of the British and their accomplices, who do not act like soldiers but rather like bandits, will be treated as such by the German troops and will be ruthlessly eliminated in battle, wherever they appear.

I find this attitude strange in light of the events, considering the conduct of Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front, and the commando raids by the SS to capture prominent allies.
 

Seedytucker

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yeah, but it's not much different to terrorist vs black ops. can you tell me the difference? who's to say our/their terrorist isnt another coutry's black ops agent? (note: i mean this in the context of WWII)
EDIT: that isnt to say i think of our spec ops as terrorists, now or then, i mean that is how jerry viewed them
 

Iago

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I've been reading SBS by John Parker, just finished the first section on its foundations in WWII. What a bunch of heroes. Recommended reading!
 

Touchstone

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yeah, but it's not much different to terrorist vs black ops. can you tell me the difference? who's to say our/their terrorist isnt another coutry's black ops agent? (note: i mean this in the context of WWII)
EDIT: that isnt to say i think of our spec ops as terrorists, now or then, i mean that is how jerry viewed them

Well it is different. They where taking military targets as part of their objective, wearing uniform and operating under the Geneva convention. This was not their orders they where Hitler's orders to execute commandos.
 

Matt B

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I have no constructive input to this thread, I just want to say that my Grandad was in the SBS. I am so proud of him, unfortunately I get the feeling that his stories were very watered down and cut short as he has spent many years trying to forget some of the horrors he had to experience.

He fought in Burma and was awarded the Burma cross which he never accepted to receive in an attempt to just 'forget'.

I am currently trying to have his service records sent to me along with the Burma cross that he deserved so I can wear it on my uniform in pass out and on rememberance parades.

He died 2 years ago.
 

Chris

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The command from hitler and nazi leaders to have any commando's killed is not really much of a shocker though, we all know they were a burger and fries short of a happy meal during the war. However i dont think jerry as a whole would have acted the same, while the Nazi element of the germans were responsible for more atrocities than I care to mention many german soldiers were just fighting for their country or fighting out of fear for what would happen to their families. There is a book called "Under Hitler" that has excerpts from diaries from german soldiers that explained how alot of them had no idea about why war was started or what the nazi's were doing and fought because they were simply soldiers and others that fought because they knew what would happen if they didnt.

Operation Frankton is available as a movie called the cockleshell heroes and is a brilliant laugh with some action towards the end if anyone is interested.
 
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