30 Commando Assault Unit

B Section, 33RM Troop, 30AU Jan 45

nb. The following history is from different named sources and should not be taken as the "Official" history. 

In Sep 1942, the Director of Naval Intelligence authorised the formation of the Special Intelligence Unit, composed of 33 (Royal Marines) Troop, 34 (Army) Troop, 35 (RAF) Troop and 36 (Royal Navy) Troop. The Special Intelligence Unit was later renamed 30 RN Commando (Special Engineering Unit), and was redesignated 30 Assault Unit in December 1943 **.

The unit's operational role was to move ahead of advancing Allied forces, or to undertake covert infiltrations into enemy territory by land, sea or air, to capture much needed Intelligence, in the form of codes, documents, equipment or enemy personnel. The unit served in North Africa, the Greek Islands, Norway, Pantelleria, Sicily, Italy, and Corsica, 1942-1943.

In Nov 1943, 30 RN Commando returned to the UK to prepare for the Allied invasion of German occupied Europe. In Normandy, France, 30 Assault Unit (codenamed WOOLFORCE and PIKEFORCE) landed on JUNO and UTAH beaches, attempted to capture a German radar station at Douvres-la-Delivrande, and later fought their way into Cherbourg.

During July 1944 the Unit served in Rennes and Brest, and followed French forces into Paris, France, Aug 1944. In Sep 1944 30 Assault Unit began a series of operations in the Channel coast ports as they were captured by the Allies. By May 1945, Royal Marines from 30 Assault Unit had captured the German Naval Base at Bremen, Germany.

A 30 Assault Unit Royal Marines detachment was sent to the Far East in 1945, but the Japanese surrender precluded operations. Subsequent activities in Singapore, Indo-China and Hong Kong eventually provided much useful intelligence. 30 Assault Unit was finally disbanded in 1946. 

Source: The Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives from papers presented to the Centre by Sqn Ldr David C Nutting in 1997.

** When the unit was redesignated as 30 Assault Unit in Dec 43, the troop numbers were changed from 33, 34, and 36, to A, B, and X troops, with an additional HQ troop. They were then billeted at Littlehampton. Lt Col. Arthur Woolley was their CO at Littlehampton

Footnote: In Nicholas Rankins book Ian Fleming's Commandos, and later in a programme titled Dieppe Uncovered screened on the 19th August 2012, documents would appear to reveal that in fact an Intelligence Assault Unit was formed for the Dieppe Raid (19th August 1942) by Commander Ian Fleming RN and operated covertly on the raid as a Platoon of 40RM Commando under Lt H.O Huntingdon-Whitely (promoted Acting Captain on I5th Oct. 1942), their role to "pinch" signals intelligence documents, etc. from German Naval HQ at Dieppe. They did not achieve their objective.

One of the documents discovered is titled "History of SigInt (Signals Intelligence) operations undertaken by 30 Commando, 30 AU", and in para 4 of that document it states " the party at Dieppe did not achieve their objectives". 

30 Cdo. AU Roll of Honour

"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."

click on any name for more information
The Fallen from No. 30 Commando Assault Unit
Lieut. T.A.M.  IONIDES 
Lieut.  A.D.  ROBINSON
Cpl.     L.A.P.  WRIGHT
Bdr.    J.  BANCROFT
Mne.  J.M.  ALEXANDER **
Mne.  L.   BENTLEY
Mne.  G.  SHAW
Tpr.    F.  McDAID
Mne.  S.B.  NORTHERN **
Fus.   C.W.  ASHTON

We will Remember them

and all ranks who served in the Commando, and have since passed on in the passage of time, who are also remembered by their proud families and comrades.
** These men were part of the signals intelligence team covertly designated as a platoon of 40RM Commando,  10 platoon 'X' Company , solely for the Dieppe Raid.  This was the forerunner of 30 AU. Their names may also be on the 40RM Commando ROH.

30 Assault Unit Officers, Oct.'44

Extract from the Navy Lists

October 1944 Volume 2 Page 1106.  (page 262 on N.L.S. website page list)
Source: National Library of Scotland website.
Commanding Officer —  Act. Lieut.-Col. A. R. Woolley.
Staff Officer —  Act. Tempy. Capt. C. R. Lamb.
Intelligence Officer —  Act. Tempy. Capt. G. H. E. Bailey.
Majors —  Act. Tempy. Maj. A. L. Evans.


Tempy. Capt.
T. C. Salmons.
J. C. Lessing, S.A.U.D.F.

Act. Capt.
J. R. Douglas.

Act. Tempy. Capt.
J. S. Hargreaves-Heap.
K. G. G. MacGregor.
C. H. Cunningham.
G. Pike.
C. S. Baker.
W. Hamling.
S. A. Ryder.

Sergeant-Major — Tempy. Sergt.-Maj. A. F. Jacobs.

The Asti Seven 30AU

Extract from Commando Association newsletter 85 issued September 1987

Peter Jemmet (30 Cdo) writes: -" The Asti Seven ".
These seven members of No. 2 Section, 30 Commando (Special Operations), parachuted into the Asti area of N.W. Italy, ending the war in Turin (1945). They were:-
  • Major Strachan,
  • Lieut. Paterson,
  • Sgt. Eddie Smith, MM.,
  • Sgt. John Fairey
  • Pte. Denman
  • Pte. Anderson
  • Pte. Dan Whitcombe.