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The first call for volunteers for ‘Service of a hazardous nature’ was in the early months of 1940 and for the new Independent Companies. Many of these men went onto action in Norway almost immediately with little training. On their return Winston Churchill wanted his own Corps of ‘shock troops’ to start afresh. Lt Col Dudley Clarke, who was then Military Assistant to the Chiefs of the Imperial General Staff, is generally credited with the initial outline plan of their formation. His plan was approved and the name agreed on. Thus the ‘Commandos’ were formed.
The Commando Boat Station at Achnacarry was on Loch Lochy at Bunarkaig. A small fleet of various craft was assembled for training in basic seamanship and landing drills. Amongst this armada were whalers, cuters, landing craft, dorries, canoes, rubber dinghies, kapok bridge rafts, and collapsible Goatleys. They were all stored in or moored alongside a little stone boathouse. Instruction began with a short film on the role and functions of Combined Operations, and the various craft used for training and operations.
Initially formed at Braemar in Scotland in December 1942 and called the Commmando Snow and Mountain Warfare Training Centre. The Commanding Officer was Squadron Leader Frank Smythe, an accomplished mountaineer. Its role was to train Commandos to fight in high snow covered mountain territory. After 6 months the unit moved to North Wales and assumed a different role including the training of Lovat Scouts as a Mountaineer Battalion.
A good map of the various locations of training described on our archive.
Trainees were introduced to their first speed march on the 2nd day of the course. A gentle 5 miles around the Dark Mile in under an hour. This first march was followed by other weekly jaunts each followed by an additional task
7 miles under 70 minutes followed by digging a defensive position
9 miles under 90 minutes, followed by firing practice
12 miles in under 130 minutes, followed by a drill parade on the square
This document has a brief history of the Commando Mountain Warfare Training Centre (C.M.W.T.C) and was prepared for a C.M.W.T.C. commemoration dinner on 30 November 1945. If the document does not load immediately in the viewer , refresh this page, or download from above.
Courses for the Special Service Brigade and SCU.
The following pages, compiled by the Commando Veterans Archive and published on the 10th February 2014, are designed to give the reader an insight into Commando history and training, and of the close association that has developed since then, between serving Commandos, Veterans, and their families, in the many areas such as Lochaber where they trained in WW2, and the places where they train nowadays. This section also includes an hour long film made about their WW2 training.
After the war ended and Achnacarry closed, those Royal Marines selected for specialised Commando training attended the Commando School initially located at Towyn in Wales, then relocated in 1947 to Bickleigh in Plymouth. In 1954 it was moved to the ITC Lympstone.
The following pages will tell you a little about current Commando training for the Royal Marines, and the All Arms Commando Course for the other Services of today, but first read about the changes the Commandos went through post war.
This is an account of a Commando Mountain Warfare Training Centre reunion held at St Ives on the 24-26th September 1993 as outlined in Commando Association Newsletter 98 of March 1994.
Peter John Berrisford was awarded the MM in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in North Africa whilst a Sergeant in No 6 Commando . He was noted as having spent four days alone on Djebel El Azzag (Green Hill) after the aborted attack on 30th November 1942. During that time he lay by himself on the plateau observing the location of the German machine gun positions, returning to the Commando on 3rd December 1942 at Sedjenane .
Stanley Bissell joined the Metropolitan Police on the 1st March 1926. In 1930 & 1934 he won silver medal at the British Empire Games middleweight freestyle wrestling events in Canada and London. He was then posted as self defence instructor at the Metropolitan Police Training Centre at Peel House. He attended the Army School of Physical Training to assist him in this new Police role.
Former Lance Sergeant C. F. Chaplin of the Commando Basic Training Centre (C.B.T.C.), died in 1956. [Source: Commando Association newsletter 23].
The death of Sergeant Leslie 'Jack' Evison of Peterborough, Cambs., was announced in Commando Association newsletter 112 issued March 2001. He served at the Commando Basic Training Centre.
The death of Sergeant Vallance Freeman of Paignton Devon, was announced in Commando Association newsletter 112 issued March 2001. He served at the Commando Mountain Warfare Training Centre.
In 1945 he served at the CBTC. He is shown in a photo entitled "Commando Basic Training Centre - Officers Mess - 1945." (CVA Gallery).
Sergeant Derek Ion served with No 3 Commando and on the staff at the Commando Basic Training Centre.
Brian Lees served as a Lieutenant in No 2 Commando and is included in pictures in our gallery of the officers at Gibraltar in 1943. At some stage after that he is posted to the staff at the Commando Basic Training Centre and is included in a 1945 photo of the Officers there.Post war he settled in the 50's in Illinois, America, and is referred to as Doctor Brian Lees in Commando Association Newsletter 26 of March 1958. His death was announced in a later newsletter which additionally showed the fact he had served in the CBTC (CA Newsletter 56).
Born at Marlow in 1922 and educated at the Dragon School, Oxford, and Uppingham. He enlisted in the Army immediately on leaving school in 1939 and served first in the Royal Artillery and then in the Commandos. It was when leading a bridgehead commando in Germany in the spring of 1945 that he was hit by a sniper's bullet which blinded him .
Dennis Murphy was serving as a Guardsman in the 1st Bn of the Irish Guards in 1938 when he was awarded the Military Medal for his " conspicuous gallantry during an engagement with an armed band in the vicinity of Deir Bejjala o the 18th August 1938", Recommended by the Officer Commanding British Forces in Palestine and Trans-Jordan. A copy of his citation is in the National Archives ref WO373/92/125.
Captain Ralph Parkinson-Cumine MC, 'B' troop, was reported missing presumed killed during operations in Korea.
Captain Gerald Savill served on the staff at the Commando Basic Training Centre. Post war he was a member of the Commando Association and is listed on their Lost Legion 10 pamphlet (members they had lost contact with), his last known address being Heswall, Cheshire.
William James Turney enlisted as a Private into the 6th Beds and Herts Bn., TA on the 29th January 1940 and was quickly promoted Acting Lance Corporal. He volunteered for the Independent Companies (Ind. Coy.) and on the 26th April 1940 was attached to No 3 Ind. Coy. Having reverted to Private in order to get into the Ind. Coy. he was quickly promoted to Lance Corporal on the 1st May. On the 4th May he along with the whole of No 3 Ind. Coy. sailed with Scissors Force to join the expeditionary force in Norway (Operation Avonmouth).
Charles Edward Vaughan, born 1893, was originally attached to No.7 and No.4 Commando before taking up his role as the Commandant of the newly formed Commando Depot (CBTC) at Achnacarry.