No. 7 Commando

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No. 7 Commando
Active 1940–1941
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Type Commando
Role Raiding
Size ~ 500 officers and men
Part of Layforce
Engagements

Second World War

Insignia
Combined Operations
Shoulder Patch
Insignia of Combined Operations units it is a combination of a red Thompson submachine gun, a pair of wings, an anchor and mortar rounds on a black backing

No. 7 Commando was a unit of the British Commandos and part of the British Army during the Second World War. The Commando was formed in August 1940 in the United Kingdom No. 7 Commando was transferred to the Middle East as part of Layforce. Committed to the Battle of Crete it suffered heavy casualties, after which it was disbanded.

Background[edit]

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".[1] At first they were a small force of volunteers who carried out small raids against enemy occupied territory,[2] but by 1943 their role had changed into lightly equipped assault Infantry which specialised in spearheading amphibious landings.[3]

The man initially 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.[4] Keyes resigned in October 1941 and was replaced by Admiral Louis Mountbatten.[5]

By the autumn of 1940 more than 2,000 men had volunteered for Commando training, and what became known as the Special Service Brigade was formed into 12 units called Commandos.[5] Each Commando would number around 450 men commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel. They were sub divided into Troops of 75 men and further divided into 15 man sections.[5] Commandos were all volunteers seconded from other British Army regiments and retained their own cap badges and remained on their regimental roll for pay.[6] All volunteers 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.[7]

By 1943 the Commandos had moved away from small raiding operations and had been formed in Brigades of assault infantry to spearhead future Allied landing operations. Three units were left un-brigaded to carry out smaller scale raids.[8] In 1943 the commando formation was also standardised, into a small headquarters,five fighting Troops, a Heavy Weapons troop and a signals platoon. The fighting Troops consisted of 65 all ranks divided into two 30 man sections which in turn were divided into three ten man sub sections. The Heavy Weapons Troop was made up of 3 inch Mortar and Vickers machine gun teams.[9]

History[edit]

No. 7 Commando was formed in Felixstowe in July 1940 and in December 1940 were sent to Scotland for boat training. They were then re-designated 3rd Special Service Battalion on 24 October 1941 and sent to the Middle East. On arrival in Alexandria they were assigned to Layforce as 'A' Battalion.

Their first planned operation was the invasion of Rhodes which was later cancelled. This was followed by the raid on Bardia on 19 April 1941. They were next sent to take part in the battle of Crete, assisting in the evacuation of the Allied forces. Opposed by a larger German force most of the men of the Commando were taken prisoner. After Crete the Commando was disbanded and its personnel sent to other commando units in the theatre or returned to their previous units.[10][11][12][13]

Battle honours[edit]

The following Battle honours were awarded to the British Commandos during the Second World War.[14]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Chappell, p.5
  2. ^ Chappell, p.3
  3. ^ Moreman, p.8
  4. ^ Chappell, p.6
  5. ^ a b c Haskew, p.48
  6. ^ Moreman, p.12
  7. ^ van der Bijl, p.12
  8. ^ Moreman, pp.84–85
  9. ^ van der Bijl, p.28
  10. ^ Chappell 1996, p. 46.
  11. ^ Saunders 1959, pp. 52–67.
  12. ^ Moreman 2006, p. 19.
  13. ^ "No. 7 Commando history". Commando Veterans Association. Retrieved 6 May 2010. 
  14. ^ Moreman, p.94

References[edit]

  • Chappell, Mike (1996). Army Commandos 1940–1945. Elite Series # 64. London: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-85532-579-9. 
  • Haskew, Michael E (2007). Encyclopaedia of Elite Forces in the Second World War. Pen and Sword. ISBN 978-1-84415-577-4. 
  • Moreman, Tim (2006). British Commandos 1940–46. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-986-8. 
  • Saunders, Hilary St. George (1959) [1949]. The Green Beret: The Commandos at War. London: Four Square Books. OCLC 1260659.