Some Raids and Operations 1943

Operation Cartoon

Date commenced: 
Saturday, January 23, 1943
An operation to destroy the pyrite mine on the island of Stord near Leirvik. The party landed at two locations half at Sagvaag, and the remainder on the other side of the bay.  They were responsible for the complete destruction of the Transformer at the Pyrite mine.
Corporal Ivar Marius Haga, No. 10 Inter Allied Commando 5 (Norwegian) Troop died during the raid [more...].

'Operation Crackers'

Date commenced: 
Monday, February 22, 1943
An intelligence gathering operation originally planned to include the destruction of observation posts in the Norwegian fjords, but due to bad weather the raiders took over an unmanned observation post for a week of intelligence gathering before making good their escape. 
No. 14 Commando War Diary entry  "3 March 1943, Sub.Lieut. J. Godwin [view] and a detachment of 4 other ranks of the commando attached to No 12 Commando returned from Operation Crackers which commenced on 22 Feb. Landings were made in canoes from an M.G.B.on the coast of Norway, in the area of Sogne Sjoen." [1]
[1] No 14 Cdo War Diary  Jan-May 1943. National Archives file ref WO 218/ 58.

'Operation Carey'

Date commenced: 
Monday, April 12, 1943

Northforce section of No 12 Commando in operations in the Norwegian Fjords. 

'Operation Checkmate'

Date commenced: 
Wednesday, April 28, 1943

Operation CheckmateA combined operations raid on Axis shipping in the harbour at Kopervik, Norway. This raid was a No 14 Commando operation. The raiders managed to sink several ships using limpet mines, but were eventually captured and initially taken to Haugesund for interrogation before being transported to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.

All but one of the group were executed whilst Prisoners of War. The man who was not died of Typhus in captivity before he could be.

The raid was led by Lt John Godwin, RNVR., who was in No 14 Commando as were the other Naval personnel.  Sergeant Cox was attached to the group from No 12 Commando.

[Names below link to more about each man.]

All but Mayor and Roe were executed at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. 

These two men were transferred to the Concentration Camp at Belsen. Able Seaman Keith Mayor was executed there. Petty Officer Alfred John Roe died of Typhus.

There is a Memorial at Sachsenhausen in memory of these men, and all the British and Commonwealth Forces, many still unknown, who were interned and perished there, or elsewhere, at the hands of their captors.

These include the Commandos from Operation Musketoon [view].

‘Operation Husky’

Date commenced: 
Friday, July 9, 1943
Operation Husky

The invasion of Sicily.  In addition to Commando units the Special Raiding Squadron (SRS) also participated. Whilst the SRS were engaged at Bagnara and Augusta and other areas, No 3 Commando's time in Sicily included one particular action at Agnone. 

On the 14th/15th July 1943 No.3 Commando were tasked with taking and holding a bridge at Malati until the arrival of the 50th Division. After capturing the bridge from the Italians and removing the demolitions they had laid, a counter attack by the Germans with support of tanks inflicted heavy casualties on No.3 Commando.

Eventually they were ordered to withdraw, but the bridge had been saved from demolition. General Montgomery later ordered that a stone be carved with “3 Commando Bridge” and this stone cemented into the Malati bridge. An excellent account of the action can be found here : 

Recollections of Sicily and Malati Bridge by Lieut. John Channon Erskine RE & No.3 Commando

One of the pillboxes still remains at the bridge and it can be viewed HERE.

The graves of some of the fallen from No 3 Cdo during this operation can be viewed on this link to our gallery for Syracuse War Cemetery

On the 22nd July 1943 No 2 Commando were sent to the action in Sicily. Read more about their part here in our No 2 Commando History section.

'Operation Blackcock'

Date commenced: 
Sunday, August 15, 1943

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 History contains some more information [view].
[Source: National Archives records file DEFE 2/105, Combined Operations Headquarters: "Blackcock" and "Bullfrog" Date: 1943.]

This should not be confused with a later Operation Blackcock, an operation to clear German troops from the Roer Triangle, formed by the towns of Roermond and Sittard in the Netherlands and Heinsberg in Germany. It was carried out by the British Second Army in January 1945. The objective was to drive the German 15th Army back across the rivers Roer and Wurm and advance further into Germany. The operation was carried out by Lt-General Neil Ritchie's XII Corps by three divisions: the 7th Armoured Division (Major-General Lewis Lyne), the 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division (Major-General Gwilym Thomas) and the 52nd (Lowland) Infantry Division (Major-General Edmund Hakewill-Smith).
The National Archives hold the following records regarding this latter operation.
DEFE 2/95              Combined Operations Headquarters: "Baboon" "Copyright" "Blackcock" "Bruteforce" "Barbaric" and "Bristle" Date: 1941-1945 
WO 205/846           21st Army Group Operational reports: Operation Blackcock Date: 1945 Jan
WO 205/847           Operation Blackcock: working papers Date: 1945 Jan.
WO 205/848           Operation Blackcock: 7 Army Division Date: 1945 Jan.  
WO 205/849           Operation Blackcock: 52 Division Date: 1945 Jan
WO 351/60             21 Army Group: Operation "BLACKCOCK"; clearing the area between the River Maas and the River Roer 15-26 January 1945 Note: With maps Date: 1945 Jan 01 - 1945 Dec 31

Operation Ferdy

Date commenced: 
Wednesday, September 8, 1943

40RM Commando and two troops of 3 Commando were engaged on this amphibious dawn landing at Vibo Valentia, known at the time as Porto San Venere, on the southern tip of Italy.  The following day 'X' troop of 40RM Commando entered the neighbouring town of Pizzo (The Green Beret by Hilary St George Saunders).

Operation Avalanche

Date commenced: 
Thursday, September 9, 1943
Salerno map © IWM (A 20158)

The allied invasion of Italy

Read an account about No 2 Commando involvement in this operation - [View here.]

Commando Roll of Honour for Salerno 9th -20th September 1943. - [View here.]

'Salerno Diary'

Type: Booklet
Author: Captain H.H. Blissett No 2 Commando
Year of Publishing: 2017
Keywords: salerno, commando, ww2

First published March 1944.

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2 Commando War Diary 18/19th September 1943

No 2 Commando War Diary 18th September 1943, and part of the entry for the 19th.

[Transcribed from the 2 Cdo.War Diary]

"A daylight recce patrol went out under Command of Lieut. Keep. Dug in positions on the lower slopes of the hill were found with line connections to each other. They were equipped with beds and camp furniture. They were unoccupied and must have taken some weeks to construct.
All the enemy dead seen in previous patrols had been removed, also most of our own, only badly mangled British dead being left.
From the side of the hill it was possible to observe a stretch of the road invisible from Piegolette, and a group of buildings (700335) was observed to be the scene of much enemy activity. Tanks and staff cars kept coming and going, also D.R's. Fire was suddenly brought to bear on the patrol by the enemy, who, it was found, were in force still further up the hill. Mortar bombs began to fall round the patrol and some stick grenades were thrown. Fire was returned whilst the map reference was taken, then the patrol returned. Mortared on the way from the valley, three of the patrol were hit by fragments.

Lt-Col. J.M.T.F. Churchill, MC, ordered the officer i/c Patrol down to Brigade to give direct information, it being hoped that the buildings were being used as Div. H.Q. by the enemy. He was taken to the G.I. of 48 Div. who arranged a Divisional Artillery Shoot on the target. It was later reported destroyed  together with tanks sheltering in the vicinity.
An attack was put in by one of the neighbouring Brigades on White Cross Hill and The Pimple under supporting fire of Artillery, and the Commando, but this achieved only a very limited success. The heavy concentration of 3" and 4.2" mortar fire ( American [1] ) which the Commando had never ceased to put down on the Pimple was having its effect, and by nightfall, no return fire had been experienced for several hours.
During the night the Commando was drawn into reserve in the Mercatello area, and fresh troops went forward on the 19th September to find the Pimple evacuated and strewn with enemy dead.
No 2 and 41 (RM) Commandos in 10 days had suffered severe casualties  - 13 Officers had been killed , and 15 wounded. 54 O.R.'s were killed and 225 wounded, while 1 Officer (R.M.) and 59 O.R.'s were missing. [2]
These figures amount to 48% of the strength of the two Commandos when they landed on the 9th September at Marina."

Commando Roll of Honour for Salerno 9th -20th September 1943 - [View Here.]

[1] The 2 Cdo war diary entry for the 17th states that the Commando had been reinforced by seven 4.2" mortars of the US Mortar Bn. under the command of the Special Service Brigade
[2]  As can be seen from the Roll of Honour link above, a total of 14 Officers and 70 O.R.’s from Nos.2 and 41RM were actually killed.

2 Commando Salerno/Scaletta Casualties

Type: Files
Author: No 2 Commando Officer
Year of Publishing: 2018
Keywords: salerno, casualties, 2 commando, avalanche, vietri, dragone hill, piegolette, piegolelle, the pimple, scaletta, sicily, italy
Image of Salerno

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.

We have a full Commando Roll of Honour for Salerno. [view].

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Operation Devon

Date commenced: 
Sunday, October 3, 1943

Amongst the Allied forces taking part were No 3 Army Commando, 40RM Commando, and the Special Raiding Squadron (SAS). They captured Termoli, thus unhinging the German defensive position along the river Bifurno. The enemy counter-attacked violently. For a time confusion reigned and the situation was critical, but the great steadiness of the Commando troops under Lt Col. Durnford-Slater, saved the town.

An account of No 3 Cdo 6 troop action written by Jack Cox who served in 6 troop can be read HERE

Operation Partridge

Date commenced: 
Wednesday, December 29, 1943

29th/30th Dec.'43. A diversionary raid in the area of the Garigliano River.