Operation Blackcock was a British amphibious landing to take Scaletta on the north-east coast of Sicily. Planned by Lieutenant General Sir Miles Dempsey’s XIII Corps, of General Sir Bernard Montgomery’s 8th Army, the operation was designed as one of a pair of Allied operations to cut off the last elements of the German forces trying to fall back to their evacuation point at Messina in north-eastern Sicily.
No 2 Commando
Useful Tip: If you don’t find what you are looking for here, use the search facility on the panel to the right below 'Whats New'. The image gallery and forum also have their own search facilities.
"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them."
The first No.2 Commando was formed on the 22nd June 1940 for a parachuting role at Cambrai Barracks, Perham Down, near Tidworth, Hants. The Unit at the time consisted of four troops - 'A', 'B', 'C' and 'D'. Eventually 11 troops were raised. A nominal roll of 'C' and 'D' troops can be found in our documents album within the No 2 Commando gallery.
This history of No. 2 Commando was compiled at the request of The Commando Veterans Association, who wanted a record of the unit’s activities and first-hand recollections of its members as seen through the eyes of a No. 2 Commando veteran. There was a certain urgency about the request because this veteran, turned author, is old and just about one step away from the knacker’s yard. There is much to tell about the No. 2 Family and its Father, Charlie Newman.
Read more about each Commanding Officer below.
In 1946 the Army Council decided that the Army Commandos were to be disbanded and no provision was allowed or made for any depository or office which would have at least contained a complete Roster of Names of the men who served in the various units.
A document created by an officer of No 2 Commando with specifics relating to No 2 Commando casualties at Salerno, and locations of where they lay, or were first buried. It also includes details of three from the action at Scaletta, Sicily the previous month.
No 2 Commando War Diary 18th September 1943, and part of the entry for the 19th.
[Transcribed from the 2 Cdo.War Diary]
"It was on a day in late July, 1942 that the author noted the absence from the ranks of his troop of Capt. Graeme Black, Pte. Eric Curtis and Rfmn. Cyril Abram. At the same time, men of other troops recorded that Capt. Joe Houghton, Sgt. Richard O’Brien, L/Sgt. Bill Chudley, Pte. Reg Makeham, Cpl. John Fairclough, T.S.M. Miller Smith and Pte. Fred Trigg had also vanished. No member of No. 2 Commando had any inkling as to the significance of these disappearances, but as usual, no questions were asked.
"Remote from what was to be known as the ‘Battle of Lake Comacchio’, this author did not have a clue as to what was happening to his friends in No. 2 Commando. He had been inside Germany for some time and way out of touch.
It seems that No. 2 Commando had been joined by No. 9 Commando and Nos. 40 and 43 R.M. Commando to implement the task of grabbing a spit of land which extended from Lake Comacchio to the Adriatic Sea, with further exploitation northwards envisaged in the minds of the ‘planners’.
"No. 2 Commando started to arrive at Komiza on the Yugoslavian island of Vis on January 16th, 1944. They were to operate on Yugoslav soil for the next six months. The Commando was still much-depleted as a result of the battering it had taken at Salerno, and almost half the unit remaining in Italy consisted of the replacement men and those ‘old hands’ who formed the training cadres.
"As the No. 2 Commando War Diary states, the remnants of the unit, following the Salerno campaign, were redeployed to Catania, Sicily. For once they were not lodged in their usual dusty field. By some accident they had been given a roof over their heads in the shape of a former Italian barracks.
Operation Healing 11
"If any reader of this attempt to record the history of No. 2 Commando has gotten this far, he or she will have noted that the pride of place, on Page 1, has been given to the remembrance of the men of the Commando who died in the course of No. 2 Commando operations, including the men who did not return from St. Nazaire.
"The frustrations of 1941 dragged on almost to the end. It had not been a good year from the offensive-action viewpoint of the men of No. 2 Commando. They had done nothing to speak of and were upset at being unemployed. However, the Vaagso raiding force announced the end to this inertia, commencing warfare on December 27th, 1941, landing on Maaloy Island and overrunning the place in less than ten minutes.
2 COMMANDO OVERSEAS April 13th 1943 - May 8th 1945An account from a booklet written by an unknown member of No 2 Commando detailing the period April 13th 1943 to 8th May 1945 Gourock – Ravenna. From the collection of Lance Sergeant Joe Rogers MM.
A False start
On the night of 29th/30th August, 1941, a small party of Commandos, led by Lt. Dudley Schofield, landed from the submarine 'Triumph' of the 10th Submarine Flotilla (operating from Malta), and successfully demolished one and a half spans of a bridge carrying the main Messina to Palermo Railway.
Log Book HMS Triumph 30 Aug.1941
Between 0049-0113 hrs HMS Triumph launched 9 canoes (with 13 saboteurs led by Lt.Schofield) off Torrente Furiano to destroy the railway bridge there (there was 1 single canoe and 4 towing canoes, 4 others with demolitions and stores).
Rifleman Cyril Abram was one of the seven men of No. 2 Commando who were captured after Operation Musketoon, and later executed under Hitler's Commando Execution Order, at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, Berlin, 1942.
This was a raid on an electricity generating station at Glomfjord in German occupied Norway. They were taken by submarine to a remote Fjord, completed a difficult overland route, approaching their target from the rear and successfully destroyed it. Seven were captured and later executed at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp under Hitler's infamous Commando Order.
Gnr. Walter Ainslie joined 5 troop mid 1942 and served with them for the remainder of the war.
Private Michael Aird, 4 troop, was killed during the raid at St Nazaire. He was one of the commando contingent on ML 268.
Lance Corporal Hugh Allan was killed during the action at Jaconti, near Vietri.
We have a document in our Gallery that outlines the precise details. He was originally buried "at the bottom of Jaconti village (East side). Map Ref. 601307."
Click here to view the document: Casualties and Missing.
Corporal Alfred Amesbury, 3 Troop, was awarded the MM in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Italy.Source London Gazettes Supp. 36349, page 519. Notes On the National Archives file WO/373/4/320 his rank is shown as Trooper
Corporal John Anchor, 6 Troop, was awarded the MM for his gallantry during Operation Healing 2 at Spilje Albania.
The citation for his award is on our report on the Operation. [view report.]
The death of Cpl. John Robert Anchor MM, from Chelmsford, Essex, was announced in Commando Association newsletter 56 issued March 1973.Medal Source London Gazettes Supp. 36730, page 4570. CVA Gallery.
L/Cpl Ashcroft was wounded and taken POW at St Nazaire.
Posted 25/4/40 to 'X' Company 1st Liverpool Scottish before volunteering for the Independent Companies. He was attached to No 4 (Liverpool Scottish) Platoon of No 4 Independent Company based at the time in Paignton. Then joined No 2 Commando 5 troop on its formation in Feb.1941. He was injured and captured during Operation Chariot - St Nazaire on the 28/29th March 1942.
Sergeant Stephen Bampton was killed during the short period when No 2 Commando were placed "in the line" near Ravenna.
Padre of No 2 Commando. Captain Reverend Gareth Banting was killed in action at Sarande.
From the No 2 Commando War Diary " Revd. Banting takes party from 3 Tp. to bury Capt. Parsons, Lieut. Coyle, Gnr. Clarke, and Pte. Lyons. After burial he moved fwd. to bury German dead in the same posn., but is blown up on a mine. Stretcher party finds he has died of wounds - carried back to Sarande by M.O. before nightfall."
Private John Barry died of wounds inflicted during the action at Salerno.
We have a document in our Gallery that outlines these details. He died of wounds that he "received at Dragone Hill, Salerno, on the 13th September 1943 " and that he "died at 67 General Hospital CMF".*
Click here to view the document: Casualties and Missing.
Bernard James Barton was commissioned Second Lieutenant in The Buffs on the 22nd June 1940 (1).
On the 30th January 1941 he was transferred to the Recce Corps. (2)
LSgt Bellringer served with 1 troop and took part in the raid at St Nazaire. He was on board ML 446 and was evacuated back to the UK. In July 1942 he was part of the No 2 Commando Boxing Team. We have numerous photos in the gallery of him both before and after St Nazaire, and in an image of the boxing team.
Rifleman Norman Benner is buried in the UK. At the time of his death No 2 Cdo were overseas. Fuller details are not known at this time.
Private Derick Bennett, 6 troop, was killed during the action at Salerno.
We have a document in our Gallery that outlines these details. He was killed in action "on the 13th September 1943 at Dragone Hill, Salerno", and that he was originally buried by house at the top of the steps on the West side of Hill. Religious ceremony. Map ref. 606307." He was buried in a communal grave with Capt. Mason and LCpl Formoy.
Captain Graeme Black DSO, MC, was executed whilst a Prisoner of War. He was one of the seven Commandos of No. 2 Commando who were captured after Operation Musketoon, and later executed under Hitler's Commando Execution Order, at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, Berlin, 1942.
He was awarded the MC in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in successful combined operations, against the enemy at Vaagso and Maaloy.
He was awarded the DSO in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the field.
In October 1939 Alun Blackwell enlisted with the South Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales Volunteers). When Independent Companies were raised he went with them as part of Scissorforce to Norway. He volunteered for the new No.2 Commando. Later he was handpicked from No.2 Commando for an SOE operation in Tunisa in 1941.
Private Alfred Blower, 4 troop, died of wounds after the action at Salerno. +
We have a document in our Gallery that outlines these details. He died of wounds that he "received at Dragone Hill, Salerno, on the 13th September 1943 " and that he "died at 67 General Hospital CMF". +[see notes]
Driver Theodor Bondy was awarded the BEM (Military Divison) in 1943 in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the Middle East.Sources London Gazettes Supp 36209, page 4543 CVA Gallery No 2 Commando images
Gunner Peter Boon, 1 troop, was killed during the action at Splije, Albania.
Private Lionel Bowman, 5 troop, was killed in action at Salerno.
Sergeant Eric Bradley was killed during the period when No 2 were a Para Commando unit.
He is not listed as a Commando on the CWGC database, however his name is on the Wesminster Abbey Commando Roll of Honour.
Lance Sergeant Richard Bradley, 1 troop, was awarded the MM for gallant and distinguished services in the field relating to his successful escape in October 1943 after being wounded and captured during the raid at St Nazaire in March 1942. He was one of the Commando contingent on board ML 457.