Special Service Brigade & Signals Troops

The Special Service Brigades were later renamed Commando Brigades

Brig Derek Mills Roberts, Major General Robert Grice Sturges, Lord Lovat

In 1940 there was only the Special Service Brigade, consisting of five Special Service Battalions and an HQ under the command of Brigadier J.C. Haydon.  The newly formed Army Commandos ( from the Special Service Bn's., and Independant Companies) then came under the command of the Brigade, and Signallers were a troop, divided into Sections, within it, along with other groups.

In 1943 after the introduction of the new RM Commando units, the single Brigade was replaced with four Special Service Brigades, each having several different Commando units operating within it.  The four new Brigades operated under the overall command of the Special Service Group under Major General Robert Grice Sturges, who can be seen in the above photo with Lord Lovat and Brig. Derek Mills-Roberts.

Commando signallers were addtionally attached to each of the respective Special Service Brigades. It should be noted that Signallers would be attached to where they were needed and this meant that on occasions RM Cdo Signallers would operate with Army Commandos and vice versa.

Nos. 1 and 4 Bdes operated in North West Europe; No. 2 Bde in Italy, Yugoslavia, and the Central Mediteranean area; and No. 3 Bde in Burma.

Officers and men from other units were often temporarily attached for specific operations to the Brigades either for their skills or knowledge.

More can be read about 3 Commando Brigade (click on link) in copies of the Third Jungle Book issued at the time they were overseas. We have several copies in this archive including Issue 9 which has a Roll of Honour for each Commando within the Brigade and a history of each of the Units that were part of the Brigade Headquarters.

CVA Gallery images can be viewed here: Special Service Brigade Gallery

'Special Service Roll of Honour'

The Fallen commemorated in perpetuity by the Commando Veterans Association.

 

The names below were men who were attached to the Special Service Battalions, or the Special Service Brigade, later renamed the Commando Brigade,  when they died. They may have served in different capacities and include Commando Signallers and Royal Engineers.  Some names may be shown elsewhere on specific Commando Unit Rolls of Honour because that was their unit with whom they primarily served.  Consider using our search facility if a name is not shown here and you think it should.  Contact us if you have any information or queries.
 
click on any name for more information

 

Special Service Battalions

2/Lieut. O.S.  HARE, 1 SS Bn.
 
Special Service/Commando Brigade HQ , Bde. Signals
Lieut. W.H. PRITCHARD, RE
LSgt. J.A. BECKETT, Bde.Sigs.
LCpl. A.G. PATERSON, Bde.Sigs.
Sig. A.B. BURNS, Bde.Sigs.
 

Holding Operational Commando

Gnr. A.C. BAILEY, RA

1 Special Service/Commando Brigade 

Sgt.  A.J. SUMMERHAYES, RM
Sig. N.W. CASSEY
Sig. N. DAVIES
 

2 Special Service/Commando Brigade

Major Anders Frederick Emil V. Schau LASSEN, attd from the SBS
Major  J.P.L. HENDERSON,  RE
Capt.  J. PIRIE, RE
Capt. E.R. WAKEFIELD, RA
Capt. P.B. WHITEHOUSE, RE
Cpl. A.F.G. SENTANCE
Sig.  F. LEWIS
 

3 Special Service/Commando Brigade

Mne.  J.N. STOCKWELL, RM
 

4 Special Service/Commando Brigade

Capt. G.D. HOWIE, RM
Lieut. S. RICHARDSON
Lieut. G.M. McKENZIE
Mne.  G.A. BUTLER, RM
Mne.  J. HUGHES, RM 
Mne. A. PORTER, RM
 
We will Remember them
 
and all ranks who served in the Special Service Brigades, and have since passed on in the passage of time, who are also remembered by their proud families and comrades.
 

1 Brigade War Diaries

Transcripts of some War Diary entries.

1 Special Service Bde Signals Troop War Diary June-Sept 1944

This section contains a transcript taken from the War Diary covering specific periods. It is a basic transcript for private research and educational use only. Whilst we always endeavour to achieve accuracy, we acknowledge that there may be dates and/or entries missing, and other possible errors, The actual War Diaries can be found at the National Archives in Kew. These full and complete War Diaries at Kew should be viewed by those wishing to reference/source war diary entries in any future publications to ensure historical accuracy. The UK National Archives website

Month and year: June 1944

Commanding Officer: Capt. J.R. Alexander

2nd June 1944
Place: Southampton
0900 - Capt. J.R. Alexander & 4 ORs embarked for operation "Overlord".
5th June 1944
Place: Southampton
AM - One O.R. admitted to Hospital.
PM - Lt. B.A. Beattie R Signals & Lt. L. Bridger RM embarked with remainder of
Troop.
6th June 1944
Place: Normandy
0750 - Capt. J.R. Alexander & 4 ORs landed on Queen Red Beach.
L/Sjt Lewis, Sigmn McGregor, Carruthers, Sanderson wounded.
0835 - Lt. Beattie & Bridger landed with main body of Troop.
Sigmn Norton J., Pattas & L/Sjt Tasker wounded.
Place: Ecarde
1600 - Brigade H.Q. arrived at ECARDE. Lines laid to No.4 & 6 Cdos. Wireless
communication all round.
7th June 1944
Place: Le Plein
1800 - Bde HQ moved to LE PLEIN. Move completed by 2030 hrs. Lines laid to 3 &
4 Cdos, Heavy Weapons Troop & 6 Cdo.
8th June 1944
Place: Le Plein
Lines completed to 45 Cdo at LE PLEIN. Line brought in from 6 Airborne Div.
Satisfactory line communication established throughout the Brigade. One OR (DR)
wounded & evacuated.
2330 - One OR (temp Op W/L III) wounded by bomb splinter & evacuated.
9th June 1944
Place: Le Plein
A.M. - Heavy mortaring destroyed majority of lines. Wireless communication
maintained. Lines all replaced by nightfall.
10th June 1944
Place: Le Plein
A.M. - Morning spent in maintaining lines and equipment.
2100 - 12 Para Bn relieved 4 Cdo at HAUGER. Rear-link detachment provided from
Bde sources. 2568780 Sgmn Morgan J. appointed L/Cpl. One O.R. (Lineman) Sigmn
Hoare J. wounded.
11th June 1944
Place: Le Plein
0830 - Bde position heavily mortared & shelled.
1 N.C.O. L/Cpl Cassey N.W. No.14649217. Cipher Op M.G. killed by mortar fire.
2300 - Bde position heavily shelled - all lines destroyed.
12th June 1944
Place: Le Plein
A.M. - Quiet day spent in reorganising and repairing damage caused by previous
nights shelling.
1330 - 4 Cdo returned to line in old position at HAUGER. 4 S.S. Bde took up
position in SALLENELLES area - communication established by line & W/T.
14th June 1944
Place: Le Plein
Quiet day - spent in improving line communication.
15th June 1944
Place: Le Plein
Quiet day - Line communication established with 3 Para Bde.
16th June 1944
Place: Le Plein
Quiet day - All round maintenance. Further U.C. 10 Line SB installed to cope
with additional lines.
17th June 1944
Place: Le Plein
1125 - Capt. J.R. Alexander, R.Signals wounded in face and evacuated to D.M.A.
(M.D.S.)
Command of unit devolves on Lt. B.A. Beattie, R Signals.
2 OR's (Sigmn Wootton J. & Hughes J) received wounds about face & body - both
were evacuated to D.M.A. (M.D.S.).
18th June 1944
Place: Le Plein
Signal Command Post sandbagged. All lines terminated on terminal block. Lt.
B.A. Beattie, R Signals appointed A/Capt. vice Capt. J.R. Alexander, R Signals
evacuated as a result of his injuries. Line laid to O.P. within 300 yards of
Enemy Lines.
19th June 1944
Place: Le Plein
Quiet day - Routine maintenance.
20th June 1944
Place: Le Plein
Quiet day. Major Benjamin, R.M. visited the Unit. One O.R. Op W/L loaned to
unit by S.S. Group Tac H.Q. General line maintenance.
21st June 1944
Place: Le Plein
Line from 150 FD Regt R.A. brought on to switchboard. L.A.D. line extended to
include R.M. Support Gp. L Bty. Capt. B.A. Beattie, R Signals visited O.C. 6
Airborne Div and obtained essential stores. Major G. Hurst (S.S. Group Tac HQ)
visited unit to deal with Personnel Replacements. Extensive line & stores
maintenance. One O W/L evacuated with broken wrist.
22nd June 1944
Place: Le Plein
Recce of German buried cable system carried out prior to being taken over by 6
Airborne Div. Additional line brought in from 6 Airborne Div utilising German
buried systems. Lines laid from Cdos O.P.'s to Cdos Switchboards for use to
Mortar Plotting Centre, via this Unit. Mortar Plotting Centre established at 4
S.S. Bde. Unit visited by C.O. 6 Airborne Div.
23rd June 1944
Place: Le Plein
Unit visited by Col E.C.L. Cole, R Signals C.S.O. 1 Corps. General line
maintenance. Wireless sets on 2 hourly calls. Telephone to 6 Airborne Div
brought in to Signal Office.
24th June 1944
Place: Le Plein
Quiet day. Maintenance on Lines & Switchboards.
25th to 30th June 1944
Place: Le Plein
Quiet period. General maintenance.

Month and year: July 1944

Commanding Officer: Capt. B.A. Beattie
1st July 1944
Place: Le Plein
Line communication established between this HQ and Ox & Bucks L Inf at Breville
prior to No.4 Commando moving in to Breville. General maintenance.
2nd July 1944
Place: Le Plein
Quiet day. Maintenance. No.22 set installed and R.C. circuit ran in to Bde
office.
3rd July 1944
Place: Le Plein
A.B & C O.P. line maintenance and connected to Plotting Centre at No.4 SS Bde.
Lines run forward to F.D.L's. for connection to loudspeaker system preparatory to
Propaganda Broadcast.
4th July 1944
Place: Le Plein
Propaganda Broadcast failed. Lines (thin copper) again laid, broadcast a
success. Capt. C.L. Hale, R.M. and 2 Marine O.R.'s attached this unit from S.S.
Group Signals.
5th July 1944
Place: Le Plein
Propaganda Broadcast again attempted with better connectors, which proved a
success.
6th July 1944
Place: Le Plein
Quiet day. Maintenance.
7th July 1944
Place: Le Plein
No.4 Commando moved into Breville. No.4 SS Bde took over old HQ at Hauger. Line
communication established.
8th to 9th July 1944
Place: Le Plein
Routine maintenance.
10th July 1944
Place: Le Plein
Routine maintenance. Two O.R.'s from No.4 Commando relieved.
11th July 1944
Place: Le Plein
C.S.O. SS Group visited unit.
13th to 15th July 1944
Place: Le Plein
Routine maintenance.
16th July 1944
Place: Le Plein
Major A.J. L**** R Signals D.C.S.O. SS Group visited unit.
17th July 1944
Place: Le Plein
No.12 Para Bn placed under command of this Brigade and included in Command Net.
Line communication established to No.12 Para Bn. 2598341 Sigmn McGregor A.M.
awarded Military Medal.
18th July 1944
Place: Le Plein
1 N.C.O. appointed L/Sgt. 2 O.R.'s relieved from No.4 Cdo. No.12 Para Bn
changed location, line communication established to them.
19th July 1944
Place: Le Plein
Routine maintenance.
20th July 1944
Place: Le Plein
Capt. C.L. Hale, R.M. & one Marine O.R. ceased attachment to this unit on
returning to U.K. Two N.C.O's went to within 400 yds. of enemy positions with
Loud-Hailer mounted on Wireless Handcart and carried out Propaganda Broadcast.
Driver Kirkman A. evacuated to U.K. with severe skin rash.
21st July 1944
Place: Le Plein
Extensive digging of drainage system after torrential rain.
22nd July 1944
Place: Le Plein
Maintenance.
23rd July 1944
Place: Le Plein
Renewal of cable and general maintenance.
24th to 25th July 1944
Place: Le Plein
Routine.
26th July 1944
Place: Le Plein
Sigmn Wright D, previously reported evacuated with wounds, now known to be P.O.W.
in German hands.
Sigmn Potter? D. previously reported wounded, now known to have died on a date
not yet known, buried at HERMANVILLE on 11 June 44.
*** previously reported wounded, now known to have died on a date not yet known
and buried at HERMANVILLE.
27th July 1944
Place: Le Plein
Unit visited by Lt Col E.C. Cole, R Signals now C.O. 6th Airborne Div Sigs.
Routine.
28th to 29th July 1944
Place: Le Plein
Routine.
30th July 1944
Place: Le Plein
Two O.R's relieved from No.45 (RM) Cdo.
31st July 1944
Place: Le Plein
Signal Office closed down at LE PLEIN, re-opened at new location MAP REF 136716.
Unit took over from 3 Para Bn Signals.

Month and year: August 1944

Commanding Officer: Capt. B.A. Beattie
1st August 1944
Place: 136716 Bois de Bavent
Extensive Line Maintenance.
0200 - All sets changed frequency.
0315 - Whole area heavily shelled.
0350 - All lines broken by heavy shelling.
1500 - All lines repaired and large dugout constructed to accommodate W/sets.
3rd August 1944
Place: 136716 Bois de Bavent
Constant mortaring necessitated extensive line maintenance. Wireless dugout
construction continued.
4th August 1944
Place: 136716 Bois de Bavent
Extensive line maintenance continued and a lateral connecting up flanking troops
was laid behind Commando forward positions. Sets withdrawn from No.4 Commando
for overhaul and sets moved into dugout christened Radio City. 2 O.R.s sent to
Rest Area.
5th August 1944
Place: 136716 Bois de Bavent
Duplicate legs laid to Nos 4 and 45 Commandos and extensive line maintenance.
Complete changeover of duties.
6th August 1944
Routine. Broadcast on loud hailer. As a result 7 deserters gave themselves up
to the Brigade on our flank.
7th August 1944
7 O.R. reinforcements arrived from U.K. C.S.M. Larkham returned to U.K. Sgt
Mepham appointed L/A/C.S.M. Sigmn Henley W. appointed L/A/U/L/Cpl
8th August 1944
Usual mortaring.
9th August 1944
4 O.R.s sent to Rest Camp. 45 Commando detachment relieved and Brigade visited
by Major-General R.E. Laycock D.S.O. Chief of Combined Operations.
10th August 1944
Routine.
11th August 1944
Driver Jameson evacuated.
12th August 1944
New intake of Regimental Signallers tested.
13th to 14th August 1944
Routine maintenance.
15th August 1944
Sign Dege C.B. wounded by mortaring. Mortaring necessitated extensive line
maintenance.
16th to 17th August 1944
Mortaring and shelling heavy. Extensive line maintenance. L/Cpl Walker J. and
Sgmn Pollock wounded. 3 O.R. reinforcements arrived.
18th August 1944
Operation Paddle commenced. Unit established H.Q. at Bavent.
19th August 1944
Place: Bavent
In Bavent lines to Nos 6 4 and 45 Commandos and A Echelon.
20th August 1944
Place: Angroville
Left Bavent for Angroville.
21st August 1944
Place: Angroville
Battle of Angroville heights. Communications from TAC HQ to Div stepped up at
Main HQ. Communication faded out completely at night. Units cut off from
supply.
22nd August 1944
Place: St Vaast en Auge
0300 - Ran gauntlet at 0300 and got through with batteries. Mobile advance to
St. Vaast en Auge. Heavy rain swamped two No.22 sets. Maintenance and supply
becoming very difficult owing to distance between Advance and Rear H.Q.s and
short duration of stay at one place. Transport limited so that only the minimum
of stores and personnel can be lifted. Lt Garnons-Williams joined from H.O.C.
with two O.R.s.
23rd August 1944
Place: Duibee
Moved from St. Vaast en Auge to Duibee le Hair Tondue. Operation for crossing
river and passing in front of Pont L'Eveque planned and mercifully cancelled.
Men very tired and equipment in need of maintenance.
24th August 1944
Place: Quetteville
Recce party crossed river Auge at Pont L'Eveque and commenced an operation with
the minimum of equipment and no reserve batteries before Main HQ could move. No
communication due to the fact that we were too close to the enemy and had to
close down wireless sets.
25th August 1944
Place: QuettevilleOne Troop per Commando sent forward to cut enemy off. No contact with enemy.
Communication between Tac HQ and forward troops utilising A wave 46 set. Cpl
Whalebelly posted to 2nd Army Sigs. L/A/U/L/Cpl Henley appointed A/U/L/Cpl.
Communication between Tac HQ and Main HQ failed due to close wooded and hilly
nature of country.
26th August 1944
Place: St. Maclou
0410 - Rover set used as step-up and communication established. Units given 24
hrs rest at an evacuated hospital 3 miles E of Beuzeville.
27th to 29th August 1944
Place: St. Maclou
Resting re-equipping and general maintenance.
30th August 1944
Place: St. Maclou
Bde came under 1 Corps at first light. Cdo B wave changed frequency 2495 k/cs.
Rear link changed Frequency to 2232 K/cs and opened up on 1 Corps C.9 net on W/T.
31st August 1944
Place: St. Maclou
Three members of troop went to Paris for parade down Champs Elysees behind R.M.
Band Plymouth Division. Lt. Bridger took over 3 Cdo Signal Troop from Lt. Skelly
who joined Brigade Signal Troop.

Month and year: September 1944

Commanding Officer: Capt. B.A. Beattie
1st September 1944
Place: St. Maclou
Reorganisation and General Rest. Driver Jameson rejoined from Hospital.
2nd September 1944
Place: St. Maclou
3rd September 1944
Place: St. Maclou4th September 1944
Place: St. Maclou
Returned equipment to R.S.D. and certain equipment to 4 S.S. Bde.
5th September 1944
Place: St. Maclou
More stores returned.
6th September 1944
Place: St. Maclou
Left St. Maclou and returned by lorry to Arromanches where we spent the night.
7th September 1944
Place: Arromanches
Stayed in Camp, embarked in evening on L.S.T.
8th September 1944
Place: L.S.T.
Sailed across to England in convoy and anchored in CALSHOT for the night.
9th September 1944
Place: Gosport
1000 - Disembarked at Gosport.
Place: Rec. Camp.
1700 - Arrived No.2. Camp S.S. Group Reception Camp.
10th September 1944
Place: Rec. Camp.
Re-equipped and cleaned up.
11th September 1944
Place: Rec. Camp.
Off on Disembarkation Leave until 26 Sept.


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War Diary HQ No 1 Cdo Bde Jan-Mar 1945

This section contains a transcript taken from the War Diary covering specific periods. It is a basic transcript for private research and educational use only. Whilst we always endeavour to achieve accuracy, we acknowledge that there may be dates and/or entries missing, and other possible errors, The actual War Diaries can be found at the National Archives in Kew. These full and complete War Diaries at Kew should be viewed by those wishing to reference/source war diary entries in any future publications to ensure historical accuracy. The UK National Archives website

January

[This transcript commences on the 12th January]

Commanding Officer:  Brigadier D Mills-Roberts DSO MC Irish Guards

12 January 1945

Lewes  -  Bde HQ entrained at Lewes at 1057 hrs for BLA.

16 January 1945

Asten, Holland  -  The Bde came under command 15 (S) Div and went into reserve.  3 Cdo were detached and came under command 11 Armd Div.

19 January 1945

Asten, Holland  -  3 Cdo captured the island of Stevensweert without opposition one POW being taken.

20 January 1945

Helden  -  The Bde took over position of line held by 227 Bde.  Bde set up at Helden.  Very cold with more snow.

21 January 1945

Helden  -  Cold day with some snow.  Orders were received from 15 (S) Div that the Bde was to be relieved in the Helden sector and come under command of 7 Armd Div.

22 January 1945

Helden  -  Cold day.  Some sunshine.  The relief of the Bde was completed by 1100 hrs.  The Bde proceeded to Echt by TCV.

23 January 1945

Echt  -  Another very cold day with several snow showers.  The Bde was ordered by GOC 7 Armd Div to clear the enemy from his left flank between the rly and the R Maas and to capture Maasbracht, Brachterbeek and Linne.  One Sqn of 1 RTR was put under command, 3 RHA in support and 11 H were ordered to assist in recce and on the right flank.  3 Cdo would revert to command at 1100 hrs in the morning.

The ground between Berkelaar and Maasbracht being flat and open and the only covered approach being a narrow wadi running from St Joost N to Brachterbeek which had not been investigated, the Bde Comd ordered 6 Cdo to assault Maasbracht from the W crossing the Juliana canal by the ice near Berkelaar during the hours of darkness and to recross by the lock.  The Sqn of 1 RTR was ordered to support the advance whilst 3 RHA and a medium regt RA fired concentrations on the E end of Maasbracht and Brachterbeek.  11 H provided last minute recce up to Maasbracht and gave the invaluable infm that the village was lightly held.

23 January 1945

Berkelaar

0830 – 0900  -  By 0830 hrs 6 Cdo were ready at their FUP on Stevensweerd, Bde HQ and 45 Cdo having set up at Berkelaar.  At 0900 hrs 6 Cdo recrossed the lock by a footbridge erected by the SORE and supported by the tanks captured Maasbracht without opposition.  45 RM Cdo passed through 6 Cdo and captured Brachterbeek again without opposition and Bde HQ moved to the Burgomasters house at Maasbracht.  All this was completed by 1100 hrs.

23 January 1945

Maasbracht

1100  -  4 RHA came in to support the Bde in place of 3 RHA.  45 RM Cdo moved forward towards the Montfortbeek with a patrol thrust towards the station.  The latter became heavily engaged and were unable to extricate themselves until nightfall after suffering and inflicting casualties.  45 RM Cdo had now succeeded in getting a bridgehead established over the Montfortbeek in the face of heavy opposition from about a Coy of enemy clad in snow suits.

3 Cdo arrived in Maasbracht during the afternoon and went into Bde reserve.  During the night they sent a patrol forward to the De Villa area where they were engaged by heavy fire.

2030  -  The Bde Comd held a conference at Bde HQ and issued further orders.  During darkness 6 Cdo were to relieve 45 RM Cdo in the Montfortbeek bridgehead and were to drive down the stream from N to S with the station as the final objective.  One Tp was ordered to clear the woods towards De Villa.  A Sqn of 8 H who were relieving 1 RTR overnight was ordered to send tanks down the Montfortbeek in support.  Arty on Linne, the enemy localities at the windmill along the stream and at the station, was provided by two medium and three field regts RA.

24 January 1945

Maasbracht

0730  -  Another very cold day with more snow.  6 Cdo in posn on Montfortbeek.

0800  -  Arty programme commences

0815  -  6 Cdo commences drive down Montfortbeek covered from enemy view by a smoke screen laid by Brigaded 3” mortars to obscure view from Linne.

0900  -  Cdo established at Station.  No opposition apart from shelling.

1000  -  3 Cdo who had occupied De Villa were ordered to patrol forward into Linne and they got forward to the church where they captured a prisoner.  Owing to heavy enemy fire the patrol then withdrew.

1415  -  3 Cdo were again ordered to patrol forward into Linne which they found was still held.

1700  -  A scissors bridge was put down at the windmill by the Div Engrs.

1715  -  A patrol of 3 Cdo supported by tanks of 8 H attempted to move up the Vloot Beek into Linne.  Owing to heavy mortaring this attempt had to be cancelled.

2030  -  The Bde Comd held a conference and ordered the assault on Linne to take place next morning.  3 Cdo were to assault with two tps carried on the tanks of the 8 H.

25 January 1945

Maasbracht

0740  -  Arty programme on Linne commenced provided by two medium and two field regts.  A few minutes later the tanks moved across the scissors bridge.

0815  -  Assault tps mounted on tanks which had formed up along the Montfortbeek.  Assault commenced covered by smoke screen given by brigaded 3” mortars.

0820 – 0830  -  Linne captured by 3 Cdo.

1100  -  The Corps Comd and the Div Comd (Lt Gen Ritchie and Maj Gen Lyne) visited Linne.

1400  -  The Bde HQ moved to the Priests house by the church at Brachterbeek.  Weather still very cold with snow showers.

26 January 1945

Brachterbeek  -  Weather very cold.  Snow showers.  During the afternoon 6 Cdo supported by two tps of 5 RTR who had taken over from 8 H patrolled forward to a line from 764864 to 773858.  A foot patrol carried on to 774861 when it made contact with the enemy.

27 January 1945

Brachterbeek

No change in weather.  More snow showers.  During the afternoon 6 Cdo patrolled forward to the Spielsmanhof area MR 772851.

2215  -  45 RM Cdo sent a fighting patrol to Anchor island and Bell island.  Anchor island was not held but the patrol ran into violent opposition on Bell island.  The patrol withdrew after inflicting heavy casualties and suffering 30 casualties itself.

28 January 1945

Brachterbeek  -  No change in weather.  6 Cdo carried out another patrol E of their area and captured 4 prisoners during the afternoon.  The enemy allowed us to evacuate our dead from Bell island under cover of the Red Cross.

29 January 1945

Brachterbeek  -  No change in weather.  Multi barrelled mortar fire caused damage in the Bde area during the night 28/29 Jan.

30 January 1945

Brachterbeek  -  Weather warmer.  Slight thaw.  6 Cdo carried out another patrol E of their area during the afternoon.  Enemy were encountered in the Heide Wood area and we sustained 2 officer casualties.

31 January 1945

Brachterbeek  -  Weather much warmer.  Thaw in progress.  6 Cdo again patrolled E of their positions during the afternoon and reached Boschberg.

February

Commanding Officer:  Brigadier D Mills-Roberts DSO MC Irish Guards

1 February 1945

Brachterbeek  -  Thaw continued.  Rds in a very bad state.

1030 – 1130  -  5 RTR shelled enemy positions from hull down positions on the river bank during the morning.  The enemy positions were on Bell island.  6 Cdo patrolled E of their positions during the afternoon.

3 February 1945

Brachterbeek  -  Weather continued mild with more rain.  6 Cdo patrolled E of their positions during the night.

5 February 1945

Brachterbeek  -  Capt Easton who is attached to Bde HQ started a cadre in watermanship on the River Maas.  Reps from all units are attending.

6 February 1945

Brachterbeek

2100  -  Bde Comd held a conference at Bde HQ and issued orders as follows:

6 Cdo will take over positions from 2 Devons on 7 Feb.

45 RM Cdo will take over positions from 6 Cdo.

5 RTR and 258 and 259 Btys NY will come under comd at 0900 hrs on 7 Feb.

5 RHA will be in support.

3 Cdo will be responsible for patrolling E of the Bde positions.

7 February 1945

Brachterbeek  -  Alterations in dispositions completed by 1400 hrs.  11 deserters from the island gave themselves up to 46 RM Cdo.

8 February 1945

Brachterbeek  -  Weather still mild with some rain.

2000 – 2300  -  3 Cdo patrolled forward without incident.

9 February 1945

Brachterbeek  Fine morning.  Rail in afternoon.  Still mild.

10 February 1945

Brachterbeek  -  Brigadier J Durnford-Slater DSO visited the Bde.  No change in weather.

0300  -  6 Cdo successfully beat off an enemy patrol killing two NCOs and capturing one wounded man.

11 February 1945

Brachterbeek  -  Fine morning, with rain later.  Still mild.  6 Cdo were shelled during the afternoon without causing any damage or cas.  Lt Hadley US Army visited Bde HQ.  He fired propaganda leaflets into the enemy on Bell Island.

12 February 1945

Brachterbeek  -  Little change in weather.  During morning Lt Hadley US Army talked to the enemy on Bell Island by loudspeaker.  During night 12/13 45 RM Cdo patrolled in the Heide Wood area without incident.  46 RM Cdo reverted to comd and relieved 3 Cdo in the Linne sector.  3 Cdo went into Bde reserve at Maasbracht.

13 February 1945

Brachterbeek  -  Fine morning.  Heavy rain in afternoon and evening.

0725  -  A flying bomb passed over the Bde area flying W.  Brigadier J Durnford-Slater DSO visited the Bde.  During the night 13/14 45 RM Cdo again patrolled in the Heide Wood area without incident.  Lt Sigband US Army visited Bde.  He belongs to the historical section of XVI Corps.

14 February 1945

Brachterbeek  -  A fine spring day.  Weather colder but sunny.  The River Maas continues to rise, three quarters of Bell Island now being under water.  The water meadows on our side of the river are now flooded.

1100 – 1130  -  The GOC 7 Armd Div visited Bde HQ.  Lt Hering US Army photographer visited the Bde.  He took photographs of the Bde front.

1400  -  Lt Sigband US Army again visited the Bde.  During the night 14/15 Feb Capt Griffiths and two ORs of 10 IA Cdo attached Bde HQ carried out a recce patrol.  They found Boschberg and the wood SW of Boschberg clear but flushed enemy at 776850 who fired SA fire at the patrol from 20 yds distance.  The patrol withdrew without casualties.

15 February 1945

Brachterbeek  -  A misty day.  During the night 45 RM Cdo patrolled in the Heide Wood area without incident.

16 February 1945

Brachterbeek  -  A fine spring day.  Brigadier J Durnford-Slater DSO visited the Bde.  A party of seven American pilots (3 officers and 4 Sgts) were entertained by the Bde.  Lt Hadley US Army again visited the Bde and spent the night at Bde HQ.  46 RM Cdo sent two recce patrols to the Heide Wood area without incident.

17 February 1945

Brachterbeek  -  Weather overcast and misty.  The Commander 2nd Army Lt General Sir Miles Dempsey KCB DSO MC visited the Bde.  6 Cdo went into rest, 3 Cdo taking over their positions.  Col Wallis US Army visited the Bde.  A patrol of 45 RM Cdo with elements of 10 IA Cdo visited the Boschberg area during the night 17/18.  Enemy outposts were shot up without loss to ourselves.

18 February 1945

Brachterbeek  -  A wet misty day.  Two deserters who came into 3 Cdos lines were interrogated at Bde HQ.  Much valuable infm being obtained.  The Comd 7 Armd Div Maj Gen LO Lynne CB DSO visited Bde HQ during the evening.

19 February 1945

Brachterbeek  -  The Bde were relieved by the CCR of the 8th (US) Armd Div during the day and proceeded to Schilberg where it staged for the night.  Col Wallace comd the CCR.  Adv parties from Bde HQ and Cdos proceeded to 95 US Div HQ at Deurne.

20 February 1945

Venrai  -  The Bde moved into the line occupied by 378 and 379 US Inf Regt and came under direct comd of VIII Corps.  Bde HQ took over the HQ previously occupied by 379 US Inf Regt.  Col Bacon US Army who is in comd of 379 US Inf Regt and his staff were most helpful.

21 February 1945

Venrai  -  A really fine day.  Air activity (our own) increased in intensity as the day went on.

The following units are now under comd 1st Cdo Bde:

25 Fd Regt RA

1 Tp 474 S/L Bty

2 3 4 and 5 Coys (Ind Dutch Coys).

The following visited Bde HQ during the day:

Lt Col Fayle RE VIII Corps

Major Mansell GII ‘I’ VIII Corps

Capt McMurray 64 FS Sec

Capt Farmer 64 FS Sec

                        GIII ‘O’ VIII Corps

                        GII Air VIII Corps

Lt Neat LO 115 Inf Bde visited Bde HQ.  Lt Hume Spry 6 Cdo and 9 men crossed the River Maas and recced the Well area without loss during the night 21/22 Feb.

22 February 1945

Venrai  -  Lt Miller 6 Cdo and 9 men crossed the River Maas and recced the Elsteren area without loss during the night 22/23 Feb.

Lt Col C Vaughn MBE arrived at Bde HQ from the CBTC on a visit.

23 February 1945

Venrai  -  Weather still fine.  Lt Hume Spry 6 Cdo and 20 ORs crossed the Maas and raided the Well area without loss.  Two POWs were captured and one other enemy shot dead.

24 February 1945

Venrai  -  Weather fine.  The Comd VIII Corps Lt Gen E H Barker CB CVO DSO MC visited the Bde and toured forward positions.  The Rev John Armstrong Commando Group visited the Bde.

26 February 1945

Venrai  -  Lt Col Black ADMS Commando Group arrived at Bde HQ.  He is visiting all units.

28 February 1945

Venrai  -  Weather still fine.  During the day an order for half the Bde to move was received.

MARCH

Ref ; WO/218/73.

The War Diary for March has been declared missing at the National Archives following a search for it in April 2004 

War Diary HQ No 1 Cdo Bde 1st - 9th April 1945

This section contains a transcript taken from the War Diary covering specific periods. It is a basic transcript for private research and educational use only. Whilst we always endeavour to achieve accuracy, we acknowledge that there may be dates and/or entries missing, and other possible errors, The actual War Diaries can be found at the National Archives in Kew. These full and complete War Diaries at Kew should be viewed by those wishing to reference/source war diary entries in any future publications to ensure historical accuracy. The UK National Archives website

1 April 1945

Commanding Officer:  Brigadier D Mills-Roberts DSO MC Irish Guards

Gescher, Germany

Cool and windy day.  Some rain.  During the night 31/1 orders were received to move to the Greven area.  The Bdes task was to protect the right flank of VIII Corps who had crossed the Dortmund EMS Canal and were advancing towards Osnabruck.

0900  -  Bde HQ convoy moves off.

1300  -  Bde HQ convoy arrives Greven.  During the 24 hrs period ending 1600 hrs some 240 PW were captured by the Bde.  The Bde was disposed around Greven and the surrounding woods were patrolled.

2 April 1945

Greven  -  No change in weather.  Another 50 PW were captured by the Bde during the day.

3 April 1945

Greven  -  Weather wet and cool.  During the night 2/3 orders were received for the Bde to come under the comd of 6 Airborne Div.  The task was to capture the town of Osnabruck whilst the Airborne Div controlled the high ground approaching it.

0800  -  The Bde moved off in TCVs.

3 April 1945

Hasbergen

2359  -  The Bde arrived in the staging area 5 km west of Osnabruck.

4 April 1945

Hasbergen

0300  -  The Bde moved off in single file and approached Osnabruck from the NW.  3 Cdo led with Tac HQ and 45 RM Cdo following.  6 and 46 RM Cdo were in the rear.  By dawn the Bde had infested the NW part of the town and by 1000 hrs Osnabruck was in our hands, only a few snipers remaining.  Whilst the casualties of the Bde were low and those of Tac HQ nil, the enemy lost some 50 killed and wounded and 450 PW.

5 April 1945

Osnabruck  -  Weather cool and heavy showers.  The Eastern suburbs were cleared by 46 RM Cdo.

6 April 1945

Osnabruck  -  The Bde came under comd of 11 Armd Div and moved to Ucht.

6 April 1945

Ucht  -  45 RM Cdo crossed the River Weser at Stolzenau into a bridgehead established by a Bn of the RB and immediately came up against stiff opposition.

7 April 1945

Ucht  -  During the hours of darkness 3 Cdo were ferried across the river to reinforce 45 RM Cdo.  They were across by 0500 hrs.  During the day the fighting in the bridgehead showed no sign of abating.  The enemy were SS men and they fought extremely well.  After many casualties from shelling and dive bombing work on the bridge was suspended.

1700  -  The Bde Comd held an O Group.  He ordered the Bde to advance by night to the rear of Leise from which all the opposition was coming and capture Leise before first light on the 8th.  6 Cdo were to lead laying a white tape to mark their route and the rest of the Bde were to follow in single file.  Bde HQ (Tac) would march with 6 Cdo.

2300  -  All the Bde had been ferried across the River Weser at Stolzenau and the night march commenced.  The march was carried out with few incidents.  4 AA guns were overrun and their crews captured.

8 April 1945

Leise  -  By dawn Leise was in our hands and some 50 PW captured.  About 30 more enemy were killed or wounded.  The Bde captured several Arty pieces, a V2 site intact and a Chemical Warfare Factory.

9 April 1945

Leise  -  A fine spring day.  Brigadier Lord Lovat DSO MC and Lt Col R Dawson DSO visited the Bde.

1500  -  Orders were received for the Bde to move to Helsdorf immediately.  The move of Bde HQ was completed by 2000 hrs.

Documents

Documents and booklets relevant to Nos 1, 2, 3, and 4 Special Service/Commando Brigades.

Documents relevant to 3 Commando Brigade: 3 Commando Brigade Operations in Burma