Independent Companies and Special Service Battalions
Raised in April 1940 from volunteers serving in the Territorial Army. There were 11 Independent Companies formed, the 11th being only for one specific operation. The first 5 Independent Companies sailed to Norway in May 1940 under the name Scissors Force to join Operation Avonmouth - the British Expeditionary Force.
Each Company consisted of 21 Officers and 268 OR's.
No 1 Ind. Coy. from 52nd Lowland Divn.,
No 2 Ind. Coy. from 53rd Welsh Divn.,
No 3 Ind. Coy. from 54th East Anglian Divn.,
No 4 Ind. Coy. from the 55th (West Lancs) Division. At the time the 55th were a two Brigade Motor Divn consisting of 164 Bde. : 9th Btn. Kings Regt, 1/4th Btn The South Lancs Regt, and 2/4th Btn. the South Lancs. Regt; 165 Bde. : 5th Btn. Kings Regt, 1st Btn. Liverpool Scottish QOCH, and 2nd Btn. Liverpool Scottish QOCH.
No 5 Ind. Coy. from the 56th (1st London) Divn.,
No 6 Ind. Coy. from the 9th Scottish Divn.,
No 7 Ind. Coy. from the 15th Scottish Divn.,
No 8 Ind. Coy. from the 18th Eastern Divn.,
No 9 Ind. Coy. from the 38th Welsh Divn.,
No 10 Ind Coy from the 66th East Lancs Divn.
No 11 Ind Coy was formed on the 14th June 1940 under Major R. Tod. with 350 OR's.
In June 1940 the first of the new army commando units were also being raised. A few months later on 11& October 1940 the Independent Companies were reorganised into Special Service (SS) Battalions merging with some of the new Commando units.
1st SS Btn. A and B Coys. was formed from Nos. 1,2,3,4,5,8 and 9 Ind. Companies
2nd SS Btn. was formed from No.6 and 7 Ind. Coys. and the only recently formed No.9 and 11 Commandos;
3rd SS Btn. was formed from Nos.4 and 7 Commando;
4th SS Btn. was formed from Nos.3 and 8 Commando;
5th SS Btn. was formed from Nos. 5 and 6 Commando.
The Independent Companies were short lived and by the end of the year most had ceased to exist. Also by February 1941 these Special Service Battalions were considered too large and unwieldy. They were therefore reorganised back into Commando Units which were smaller and more workable.
It should be noted that in January 1941 some of these units had already departed for a Middle East deployment known as Layforce. As a result Army Casualty Records for Layforce [more....] recorded a few individuals by their now defunct Special Service Battalion designation at the time of departure rather than by their current designated Commando unit within Layforce.
Finally No 2 Commando, originally raised as a Parachute Commando, was redesignated as 11 Special Air Service Bn., and in February 1941 a new No 2 Commando was was raised from 1st SS Bn. 'B' Coy. under Lt Col. Newman at Paignton.
View the Roll of Honour here [Special Service Roll of Honour].
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