FULL SUPPORTING MEMBER
Joined: 04 Dec 2006
Location: Brampton, Ontario
|Posted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:26 pm Post subject: No.4 Commando
|A new British unit has now been added:
I started this unit, not just because of their history (see brief outline below), but also as they frequently used one of the most readily available WW2 airsoft weapons, the Thompson. Both 1928 and M1A1 models equipped Commando units at one time or another through the lend-lease agreement with the US.
This also is a slightly less expensive unit to get kit for compared to an airborne trooper, no Denison or Airborne helmet required. BDU, basic web kit, boots and Mk2 helmet only are needed.
4 March 1941 - Lofoten Islands, Norway
The Germans were totally unaware of the attack and their troops were taken by surprise. Several Fish Oil factories and military installations were destroyed. Lord Lovat, of No.4 Commando, captured the German staff at a seaplane base where he was accused of unwarlike conduct with the promise that he would be reported to the Fuhrer! The trawler Krebs was boarded but not before an Enigma cypher machine was thrown overboard. This was a considerable loss to the British effort to break German coded radio messages, however, a spare set of cyphers were found and passed on to Bletchley Park, Britain's top secret decoding centre. The men re-embarked with 315 volunteers for the Norwegian forces, some Quislings and 225 German prisoners, all for the cost of one casualty - an officer who had accidentally shot himself in the thigh.
27 December 1941 - Vaagso, Norway (Operation Archery)
The next planned raid, codenamed Anklet, was to Floss, Norway, on the 9th of December 1941 with No 6 Commando and half of No 9 Commando. While at sea, on the landing ship Prince Charles, there was a grenade accident causing casualties which compromised the competence of the ship's navigation. The raid was abandoned but a second was planned for the 27th December 1941, this time against Vaagso, with the objective of destroying German military installations. As with all Commando raids, along the western coast of Europe, the wider aim was to tie up German forces which could be used in other theatres of the war, notably the Eastern front. To this raid No.4 Commando contributed a medical detachment. No.12 Commando mounted a diversionary raid against the Lofoten Islands and captured the garrison there. Vaagso was raided with the support of naval gunfire, Bomber Command Hampdens and Coastal Command Blenheims, with other Blenheims and Beaufighters overhead to keep the Luftwaffe at bay. They landed at 0700 on the 27th. One landing craft was hit by a phosphorous bomb dropped by an aircraft and also hit by German fire. The main objectives were taken but South Vaagso was tougher than expected since, unbeknown to British intelligence, a number of additional German troops were billeted there on Christmas leave. Almost the entire force was required to reduce the garrison. The force re-embarked at 1445 hours, bringing back some Norwegian volunteers, 98 prisoners and 4 Quislings. 17 Commandos were killed and 53 wounded while the Navy suffered 2 killed and 6 wounded. See Vaagso for a more detailed account of the raid.
23 March 1942 - St Nazaire
On 23 March 1942, a raid was mounted on the dry dock at Saint Nazaire. Before the Tirpitz, and other German capital ships, could be deployed against the Allied shipping life-line to the USA and Canada, they needed dry-dock facilities on the Atlantic coast. The only port capable of handling these large ships was St. Nazaire on the River Loire estuary. Denying the Germans the use of the dry-dock at St. Nazaire would effectively neutralize the threat posed by these formidable fighting ships. In the raid HMS Cambeltown was packed with high explosives, ran the gauntlet of intensive German gun fire and rammed into the gates of the dry dock. The losses from those on board, and in accompanying vessels, was high but it was a supremely successful operation. The damage to the dry dock was not made good until after the war. No.4 Commando provided volunteers for the demolition parties.
19 August 1942 - Dieppe
There was now a pause of about 4 months in UK based Commando activity. The Dieppe Raid was No.4 Commando's next major assault. The wider raid, involving a large number of Canadian forces, was a disaster, but, many valuable lessons were learned which were effectively applied, two years later, in Normandy. No. 4 Commando achieved the only clear-cut success of the landings, when Lord Lovat's Commando attacked a battery of six 150mm guns by Varengeville-sur-mer. He split his force in two and his second in command, Major Derek Mills-Roberts, landed with 88 men on Orange beach 1. He engaged the battery with small arms and mortar fire from a wood some 3,000 yards away. Lovat took the remainder of his men across Orange 2, where they attacked the battery from the rear. A fighting patrol cut the communication lines from a German observation post in a lighthouse. Both the main groups suffered casualties as they got into position. Major Pat Porteous, acting Liaison officer between the two groups, came forward when Captain Pettiward was killed and, in the action that followed, he saved the life of a British sergeant, earning himself a VC. Spitfires of 129 Squadron strafed the battery while Mills-Roberts laid down an intensive machine gun barrage and fired smoke from his 2inch mortars. Lovat fired a series of white Very lights and when Mills-Roberts stopped firing, the Commandos charged, led by Major Porteous and Captain Webb. The party destroyed the guns and withdrew successfully
6 June 1944 - Operation Overlord
Within Overlord, No.4 Commando took on an assault role. They were the first Commandos to hit the beaches on D-Day. Having disembarked from their landing craft Princess Astrid and Maid of Orleans, with 500 men, they landed on Queen Red beach to find 8 Infantry Brigade pinned down by enemy fire. In the mêlée that followed the Commandos suffered forty casualties including the Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Dawson. He handed over his command to Menday. The Commando pushed forward, breaking out onto the coastal road and set off for Ouistreham, led by Nos.1 and 8 (French) troops of No.10 (IA) Commando. No.4 Commando joined the others at Hauger and dug in between Sallanelles and Le Plein.
Continuous enemy pressure on the Commando forestalled efforts to send a relief force to No.45 (RM) Commando, and by 8th June Nos.3 and 6 were both forced to mount counter-attacks during the day. By the evening, No.45 managed to break out and reach No.4's lines. No.4 Commando was withdrawn, for some much needed rest, and replaced by the 12th Parachute Battalion .
On 1st August, Mills-Roberts was ordered to seize and hold a section of high ground by dawn the following day. This was in support of a further advance to Dozule by 6th Airborne Division. No.4 Commando led with Nos.3, 45 and 6 following behind. The Brigade infiltrated through the German line and reached the objective before the Germans realized it. There were four counter-attacks throughout the day but the brigade held firm.
No.1 SS Brigade landed at Southampton and Gosport on 8-9 September, and No.4 Commando moved to Shanklin, Isle of Wight to retrain, reequip and rest. During this period new volunteers were recruited and trained. No.4 Commando was later sent back to the continent to take over from the shattered No.46 (RM) Commando, which was down to a strength of only 200 men.
Coutesy of: Combined Operations History
PM me for further info if you wish to sign up.
(Re-enactor)Sgt. Glynn Tromans, 3 Tp, 3rd Para Sqdn, RE.