Operation Hardtack (commando raid)

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Operation Hardtack
Part of North West Europe Campaign
(Part of World War II)
Date 24–28 December 1943
Location Channel islands and Northern France
 United Kingdom
 Nazi Germany

Operation Hardtack was the name of a series of British Commando raids during the Second World War. The operation was conducted by No. 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando, No. 12 Commando and the Special Boat Service, and took place on the Channel islands and the northern coast of France in December 1943. Most of the raids consisted of ten men of various ranks, carried by Motor Torpedo Boats and dories, except for one operation, which was an airborne landing. The raids were ended by order of Major General Robert Laycock because they caused the enemy to bring reinforcements, which could have been detrimental to the Allies' strategy.[1][2]


Codename Date Force Target Objective Outcome
Hardtack 4[3] 26/27 December 1943 No. 12 Commando
No. 8 French Troop, No. 10 Commando
Biville actually Criel-sur-Mer Reconnaissance and
capture prisoners
The Commandos were forced to withdraw by German patrol activity having actually landed near Creil-Sur-Mer. Two soldiers climbed the cliffs and encountered a patrol of approx 15 Germans. The leader, Cpl (later Sgt) Douglas Nash was awarded to the Military Medal for covering the withdrawal. DJ Nash citation.
Hardtack 5 26/27 December 1943 No. 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando Onival Reconnaissance and
capture prisoners
One Commando was injured by an anti-personnel mine on landing; the rest spent four and a half hours ashore but did not see any Germans, just unoccupied strong points.[4]
Hardtack 7[3] 25/26 & 27/28 December 1943[5] No. 12 Commando
No. 8 French Troop, No. 10 Commando
Sark Reconnaissance and
capture prisoners
On the first attempt the Commandos had to return to England when they were unable to scale the cliffs, the second attempt was abandoned when the Commandos entered a minefield setting off a number of S Mines, one was injured and two died, their bodies left in the minefield on Sark.[5] [6]:122
Hardtack 11[3] 24/25 & 26/27 December 1943 No. 1 & No. 8 French troops, No. 10 Commando Gravelines Reconnaissance of beaches and sand dunes Landed safely, but the small dory was swamped and the commando's were stranded. One probably drowned, the rest made their way inland becoming separated and attempted to avoid capture.
Hardtack 13[3] 26/27 December 1943 No. 1 French Troop, No. 10 Commando
Bénouville-Etretat, Seine-Maritime
Hardtack 21[3] 26/27 December 1943 No. 1 French Troop, No. 10 Commando Quineville Reconnaissance and
capture prisoners
The raid gathered information on the defensive obstacles on what would become Utah Beach.
Hardtack 22[7] January 1944 (Cancelled) No. 10 Commando, later 2nd US Rangers Herm Reconnaissance and
capture prisoners
Raid was cancelled at the planning stage.
Hardtack 23[3] 27/28 December 1943 No. 1 French Troop, No. 10 Commando Ostend Reconnaissance and
capture prisoners
The raid was called off after their Motor Torpedo Boat transport ran aground.
Hardtack 28[3] 25/26 December 1943 No. 8 French Troop, No. 10 Commando
No. 12 Commando
Jersey Take sample of barbed wire and
capture prisoners
Team of 8 landed safely at Petit Port, climbing the cliff, they failed to locate a German soldier. On returning to the beach, a mine was set off seriously injuring Captain Ayton who was taken to the beach and returned to England where he died of his wounds.[6]:121
Hardtack 36[3] 24/25 December 1943 No. 8 French Troop, No. 10 Commando Wassenaar Reconnaissance and
capture prisoners
All the Commandos involved were killed after landing.


  1. ^ (Anderson 2000)
  2. ^ "Modern Day Commando". Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h (van der Bijl 2006, pp. 22–24)
  4. ^ (Messenger 1985, p. 254)
  5. ^ a b (Cruickshank 1975, pp. 243–244)
  6. ^ a b Fowler, Will. The Last Raid: The Commandos, Channel Islands and Final Nazi Raid. The History Press. ISBN 978-0750966375. 
  7. ^ (Cruickshank 1975, p. 245)


  • Cruickshank, Charles (1975). The German Occupation of the Channel Islands. The Guernsey Press Co. Ltd. ISBN 0-902550-02-0. 
  • Messenger, Charles (1985). The Commandos: 1940–1946. London: Kimber. ISBN 0718305531. 
  • Anderson, Duncan (2000). The Fall of the Reich: D-Day to the Fall of Berlin. Zenith Press. ISBN 0760309221. 
  • van der Bijl, Nick (2006). No. 10 Inter-Allied Commando 1942-45. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-999-1.