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 COMBINED OPERATIONS

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Commando Raids and Major Landings Index of Pages
 

Raids & Landings ranged from Commando "hit & run" attacks, designed to inflict damage on the German war machine and to tie down German forces in areas that might otherwise be lightly defended, to major amphibious landings such as Notth Africa,Italy and Normandy.

04 Jul 40 Mers-el-Kebir (Catapult)  

Operation Catapult aimed to secure the immobilisation of a squadron of the French Naval Fleet to prevent it falling into German hands. Although not a Combined Operation this naval action is included in this website because it provides useful background to British concerns about Vichy French military resources and foreign held territories. These concerns subsequently resulted in actions involving Combined Operations such as those in North Africa (Torch) and the Litani River.

03-04 Mar 41 Lofoten Islands (Claymore)

Operation Claymore was the 1st Lofoten Islands raid off the Norwegian coast just north of the Arctic Circle. It achieved a good measure of destruction of German ships and fish factory oil and it gave free passage to the UK to over 300 Norwegian volunteers and a few Germans and Quislings. It was, however, most notable for giving a great boost to flagging morale within the ranks of the Commandos and later the country as news of the raid was made public. Land forces - 3 & 4 Commandos. Sea Forces -  HMS Queen Emma, Princess Beatrix & 5 Destroyers.

20-21 Apr 41 Bardia, North Africa

This land/naval raid took place at a time of rapid changes in the fortunes of war - usually in favour of the Axis forces. The objective was to disrupt enemy lines of communication and to inflict as much damage as possible to their installations and equipment. Land Forces - A Battalion (ex No 7 Commando). Sea Forces - HMS Glengyle, a RN submarine and supporting gun ships.

09-10 Jun 41 Litani River, Vichy French Syria. The Litani River raid was, initially, a Commando operation to capture, intact, a key bridge in Vichy French Syria just prior to the arrival of Australian forces sent in to occupy the country. However, the Commando's plans was changed and while the new objectives were largely achieved, the cost in lost lives was high. [Land] C Battalion (ex 11 Commando). [Sea] HMS Glengyle.

14 Nov 41 Rommel's HQ, N Africa (Flipper)

A daring but unsuccessful Commando Raid to capture Rommel in his North Africa HQ. Poor intelligence thwarted the operation since Rommel was not in Africa at the time and the targetted building was not his HQ. Geoffrey Keyes was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. [Land] Middle East Commando. L detachment, No 11 Commando & G(R) Branch.]

26-27 Dec 41 Lofoten Islands 2nd Raid (Anklet)

Operation Anklet, the second Lofoten Islands raid, was a diversion in support of a much larger action at Vaagso, over 300 miles to the south, on the Norwegian coast. There was no opposition to the landing but a near miss from a German bomber convinced the planners that air support would be provided on future operations. [Land} 12 Commando. [Sea] HMS Arethusa & 8 destroyers in support.

27 Dec 41 Vaagso, Norway  (Archery)

The raid on the Norwegian islands of Vaagso and Maaloy, codenamed Operation Archery, broke new ground for Combined Operations. It was the first time air support was integrated into the raiding plans from the outset. It provided a much needed boost to the morale of the Commandos and the nation. [Land] 2 & 3 Commandos [Sea] HMS Prince Leopold & Prince Charles + HMS Kenya & 4 Destroyers. [Air] Bomber Command & Coastal Command.

27 Feb 42 Bruneval, France. (Biting)

In February 1942, men of the newly formed British 1st Airborne Division went into action for the first time. Their target was the German 'Wurzburg' radar installation at Bruneval. Their objective was to seize vital radar components and to bring them back to the UK for inspection by trained scientists. [Air] 1 Whitley Squadron. [Sea] Landing Craft & Escorts. 

28 Mar 42 St Nazaire, France (Chariot)

Operation Chariot was an audacious Combined Operation raid on the port of St Nazaire in German occupied France. Packed with tons of high explosives, the destroyer, HMS Campbeltown, was rammed into the gates of the only dry dock capable of servicing the German battleship Tirpitz. Such was the damage, the dry dock was rendered unusable for the remainder of the war. [Land] Nos.1,2,3,4,5,9 & 10 Commandos. [Sea] HMS Campbelltown.

05-07 May 42 Madagascar (Ironclad)

This brief account of Operation Ironclad, the invasion of Madagascar is taken from the viewpoint of a member of No 5 Commando. The Combined Operations Command was not the principal player in this operation against the Vichy French regime - more of an assistant. The total campaign lasted 6 months but the bulk of the special work of Combined Operations and the Commandos was concentrated into a few days in early May 1942. [Land] No 5 Commando.

19 Aug 42 Dieppe, France (Jubilee)

Few raids have been subjected to so much scrutiny, analysis and comment as Operation Jubilee, better known as the Dieppe Raid. It aimed to seize a major port and to hold it for a short period, while seeking opportunities to gather intelligence and to demolish important infrastructure and buildings. The raid would show the UK's determination to fight on and, if successful, it would boost the morale of the armed forces and the country.

At the same time, Mountbatten wanted to test Combined Operations amphibious landing training, equipment and techniques in a sizeable raid against entrenched German shore defences. The raid failed in almost every regard and at a high cost in lives lost, numbers injured and captured, particularly for the Canadian Forces involved.

[Land] Nos 3 & 4 Commando with 50 US Rangers, the Canadian 2nd Division. [Sea] 230 ships with 3000 men. [Air] 65 RAF Squadrons (fighters, fighter/bombers and bombers).

12-13 Sep 42 'Omaha' Beach (Aquatint)

Operation Aquatint was a Small Scale Raiding Force's (SSRF) operation which took place on part of 'Omaha' beach, which, unbeknown to anyone at the time, would witness the largest amphibious invasion force in history just 21 months later on June 6 1944. [Land] 12 Commandos of the Small Scale Raiding Force (SSRF). [Sea] MTB 344 the Little Pisser under the command of Freddie Bourne.

15-22 Sep 42 Glomfjord, Norway (Musketoon)

German control of Norway's wealth of natural resources posed a considerable threat to the Allied cause, in this case, aluminium, which was vital to the enemy's aircraft production.

Operation Musketoon was a daring, small scale Commando raid on an electricity generating station at Glomfjord in German occupied Norway, just north of the Arctic Circle. The station provided electricity for a nearby aluminium plant, without which the manufacture of the metal would come to a halt. [Land] 2 Captains, 8 other ranks from No 2 Commando & 2 Corporals from Norwegian Forces attached to SOE. [Sea] Free French Submarine Juno.

08 -12 Nov 42 North Africa (Torch)

Operation Torch was the invasion of west North Africa to prevent the Germans taking control of the territories occupied by the French, then under the control of the Vichy French Government. Torch was an American led operation under Eisenhower with substantial UK support.

07 Dec 42 River Gironde, France (Frankton)

Operation Frankton, 7/12 December 1942, popularly known as "The Cockleshell Heroes". Royal Marines paddled 70 miles up the River Gironde during the hours of darkness. They took 5 days to reach Bordeaux where they laid explosive charges on enemy shipping. The losses were high but two returned safely home. [Land] 10 Royal Marines - "The Cockleshell Heroes." [Sea] Sub. HMS Tuna.

11 Jun 43 Pantelleria (Corkscrew)

Operation Corkscrew, the assault on the small Italian island of Pantelleria in June 1943, was partly operational and partly experimental. It would be a useful toe-hold for the planned invasion of Sicily and Italy and it would serve to test the effectiveness of large scale bombing on strong, entrenched enemy defensive positions, prior to the landing of troops. 

10 Jul 43 Sicily (Husky)

Operation Husky, the Invasion of Sicily, was the first major Allied assault on German occupied Europe. Churchill described Sicily and Italy as the soft underbelly of Europe but the Italy campaign was hard fought and only came to an end in May 1945.

[Land] US 7th Army British 8th Army [Sea] 2760 ships of the RN and US Navy [Air] ?

09 Sep 43 Salerno, Italy (Avalanche)

A brief account of the advance from Sicily to Rome. More detailed accounts of the individual landings listed below will be added in due course.

06 Jun 44 Normandy, France (Neptune & Overlord)

Operation Neptune, the largest amphibious invasion force in history, was the seaborne phase of Operation Overlord. On June 6th 1944, 4,000 landing craft, supported by 2,000 naval combat ships, ancillary craft and merchant vessels, transported 132,600 assault troops from the south coast of England to the Normandy beaches, together with thousands of tons of vehicles, tanks, supplies and ammunition. In addition, 24,000 paratroops were deployed.

156,000 assault troops, including 24,000 paras, 6000 ships and 820 aircraft mainly from Canada, UK and the USA.

17 Jun 44 Elba, Italy (Brassard)

In this account of this French led invasion of Elba the emphasis is on the role of the RN Commandos (Beach Commandos).

1-8 Nov 44 Walcheren (Infatuate)

Operation Infatuate, the codename for the invasion of the Dutch Island of Walcheren, was a major Combined Operation's amphibious landing against entrenched German defensive positions. The fortified island stood at the mouth of the River Scheldt blocking Allied access to the captured port of Antwerp some 60 kilometres inland. It was urgently needed to supply the advancing Allied armies as they moved towards Berlin.

Infatuate 1[Land] 155th Infantry Brigade - 4th & 5th Bn. KOSB, 7th/9th Bn The Royal Scots. Infatuate 2 4 Special Services Brigade - 41, 47 & 48 RM Commando with attached No 10 (Inter Allied)

Jan 1945 Burma (Romulous

This account covers the landings on the north east coast of Burma - Akyab, Myebon and Kangaw. There were set-piece battles and cat and mouse manoeuvrings on both sides with danger and death constant companions while on operations. The author's father, Sgt Alexander Pirie, MM, served  in 3 Troop, Royal Marine Engineering Commandos, whose heroic efforts in clearing beach obstacles and preparing roadways are, deservedly, well documented.

To be written

1941 Spitzbergen (Gauntlet)

03/09/43 Reggio, Italy

11/09/43 Taranto, Italy

22/01/44 Anzio, Italy (Shingle)

15/08/44 Anvil, France

19/08/44 Southern France (Dragoon)

21/01/45 Ramree, Arakan Peninsula

26/01/45 Cheduba, Arakan Peninsula

16/02/45 Ruywa, Arakan Peninsula

Apr 45 Comacchio, Italy

02/05/45 Rangoon. Burma

Sep 1945 Malay Coast (Op Zipper)

Thought to be a comprehensive List of WW2 Combined Operations by theatre - British, USA and Joint.

N W Europe

Lofoten Islands CLAYMORE 4 Mar 41

Spitzbergen GAUNTLET 18 Aug 41

Vaagso ARCHERY 27 Dec 41

Bruneval BITING 28 Feb 42

St Nazaire CHARIOT 28 Mar 42

Dieppe JUBILEE 19 Aug 42

Normandy OVERLORD/NEPTUNE 6 Jun 44

Breskens-Scheldt Estuary SWITCHBACK 9 Oct 44

Walcheren INFATUATE 1 Nov 44

Rhine Crossing PLUNDER 23 Mar 45

Elbe Crossing 29 Apr 45

Mediterranean

North Africa TORCH 8 Nov 42

Pantelleria CORKSCREW 11 Jun 43

Sicily HUSKY 10 Jul 43

Invasion of Italy (Messina) BAYTOWN 3 Sep 43

Salerno AVALANCHE 9 Sep 43

Termoli DEVON 6 Oct 43

Anzio SHINGLE 22 Jan 44

Elba BRASSARD 17 Jun 44

South of France DRAGOON 15 Aug 44

Lake Comacchio ROAST 1 Apr 45

Indian Ocean

Madagascar, IRONCLAD, 5 May 42

Burma

Akyab, LIGHTNING, 3 Jan 45

Myebon, PUNGENT, 12 Jan 45

Ramree Island (initial assault), MATADOR, 21 Jan 45

Kangaw, 22 Jan 45

Ramree Island - Cheduba, SANKEY, 26 Jan 45

Ramree island - Kyauknimaw, MIKE, 4 Feb 45

Ru-Ywa, 16 Feb 45

Letpan, 13 Mar 45

Rangoon, DRACULA, 2 May 45

Pacific

Guadalcanal (Solomons), BREWER, 7 Aug 42

Attu (Aleutians), LANDGRAB, 11 May 43

Woodlark & Kirwina Islands, CHRONICLE, 30 Jun 43

Kiska (Aleutians), TURNOVER, 15 Aug 43

Baker Island, BILLSTICKING, 1 Sep 43

Lae (New Guinea), POSTERN,4 Sep 43

Finschaven (New Guinea), DIMINISH, 22 Sep 43

Bougainville (Solomons), RIFLE RANGE, 1 Nov 43

Tarawa (Gilberts), 20 Nov 43

Makin (Gilberts), GALVANIC, 20 Nov 43

Arawe (New Britain), DIRECTOR, 15 Dec 43

Cape Gloucester (New Britain), BACKHANDER / ESCALATOR, 26 Dec 43

Saidor (New Guinea), MICHAELMAS, 2 Jan 45

Roi, Namur & Kwajelein (Marshalls), FLINTLOCK, 31 Jan 44

Admiralty Islands, MERCANTILE, 29 Feb 44

Aitape, Humboldt Bay, Tanamarah (Hollandia) -  (New Guinea), RECKLESS, 22 Apr 44

Wake Island, STRAIGHT LINE, 17 May 44

Biak Island, HORLICKS, 27 May 44

Saipan (Marianas), FORAGER / TEARAWAY, 15 Jun 44

Noemfoor Island (Dutch New Guinea), 2 Jul 44

Guam (Marianas), FORAGER / STEVEDOR, 21 Jul 44

Tinian (Marianas), FORAGER, 24 Jul 44

Cape Sansapar (Dutch New Guinea), GLOBETROTTER, 30 Jul 44

Morotai (Halmaheras), INTERLUDE, 15 Sep44

Angaur Island (Palau), STALEMATE 2, 17 Sep 44

Pelelieu (W Carolinas), STALEMATE 2, 17 Sep 44

Leyte (Philippines), KING 2, 20 Oct 44

Mapia Islands,15-18 Nov 44, Mindoro (Philippines),15 Dec 44

Lingyan Gulf, Luzon (Philippines), MIKE 1, 9 Jan 45

Iwo Jima (Volcanos),19 Feb 45

Zamboange, Mindanao (Phillipines), VICTOR 4, 10 Mar 45

Okinawa (Ryukus), ICEBERG, 1 Apr 45

Tarakan (Borneo), OBOE 1, 1May 45

Wewak (New Guinea), DELUGE, 11 May 45

Brunei-Labau (NW Borneo), OBOE 6, 10 Jun 45

Balikpapan (Borneo), OBOE 2, 1 Jul 45
 


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