No 12 Commando

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'Norway - Operation Checkmate'

Wednesday, April 28, 1943

Location

Kopervik
Norway
59° 17' 1.3452" N, 5° 18' 24.7572" E

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.

'Norway - Operation Crackers'

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. 
 

12 Commando Nominal Roll

In 1946 the Army Council decided that the Army Commandos were to be disbanded and no provision was allowed or made for any depository or office which would have at least contained a complete Roster of Names of the men who served in the various units.
 

12 Commando Operations

These are some of the operations that No 12 Commando took part in, either on their own, or as part of a Combined Operations assault.  In many cases only a handful of Commandos from No 12 took part rather than the Commando as a whole. They are in date order and form part of our overall history of No 12 Commando.

Click on the links for more detail about each.

Operation Chess - France, July 1941

Operation Kitbag - Norway, November 1941(aborted)

Operation Anklet - Norway, November 1941

12 Commando, Redesignation of 4 (Para) Troop,1943

Type: Letters
Author: Chris Rooney
Year of Publishing: 2014
Keywords: Rooney, Lovat,

A letter to Captain Oswald B (Mickey) Rooney of 4 (Para) Troop, No12 Commando from Lord Lovat, HQ Special Service Brigade, on the reallocation of No12 Cdo.Lovat has added a footnote to Mickey Rooney

OC No 9 'is short of a good subaltern who can be added to the 27 other ranks. Please contact him.

Document courtesy of Capt Rooney's son, Chris Rooney

ALLUM, Edward Thomas

No 12 Commando
No 1 Commando
Royal Artillery

Gunner Edward Allum was attested into the Royal Artillery in 1939. After volunteering he served in both No.12 and No.1 Commando. 

Sources
Royal Artillery Attestations Register for 1939.
Commando Association Lost Legions List 1.
 

ALLUM, Frank Edmund

Frank Edmund Allum
No 12 Commando
No 1 Commando
Royal Artillery
Gunner Frank Allum was attested into the Royal Artillery in 1939. He was wounded May 1940 in France serving with 145 Field Regiment RA. Volunteering for the Commandos he served in both No.12 and No.1 Commando.
 
Sources
Commando Association newsletter 114.

BARTHOLOMEW, Peter Ian

Peter Ian Bartholomew No 3 Commando
No 3 Commando
Somerset Light Infantry
Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
Peter Ian Bartholomew served in No 12 Commando until their disbandment when he moved to No 3 Commando. He participated in the D Day landings as Captain of 2 troop.  On the Commando's return to NW Europe from the UK in 1945, he took command of No 3 Commando with the rank of Acting Lieutenant Colonel. 

BASSETT-WILSON, Paul Francis

Paul Bassett-Wilson MC
No 9 Commando
No 12 Commando
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Military Cross (MC)
Killed in action or died of wounds
Captain Paul Bassett-Wilson MC died during operations with No.9 Commando at Lake Comacchio, Italy [1].
A former pupil of Stowe School and student at Trinity College [2], he had earlier served as a Lieutenant in No.12 Commando. 

BLOUNT, Arthur Harvey

No 12 Commando
South Wales Borderers
Killed in action or died of wounds
Corporal Arthur Blount died during the raid at St Nazaire. He was one of the commando contingent on  HMS Campbeltown and part of a Demolition Team.
 
Sources
CWGC.
St Nazaire Society website.
 

BOLDEN, Stanley

Stanley Bolden 12 Commando
No 12 Commando
SAS
Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)
Military Medal (MM)
Killed in action or died of wounds
Lance Corporal Stanley Bolden, No.12 Commando, was awarded the Military Medal in recognition of gallant and distinguished service in the Field [1][2].
He was later killed in action serving as a Corporal with the 2nd SAS Regiment during an attack on the German 51 Mountain Corps HQ at Albinea Italy [3][4].

BOWLES, Eric Charles

No 12 Commando
Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
Killed in action or died of wounds
Lance Corporal Eric Bowles, 'D' troop, based at Hamble, died while in a  trawler patrol that was attacked by enemy aircraft. 
 
Sources
CWGC
No 12 Cdo War Diary ,National Archive file W0 218 / 28.
 

BOWMAN, Thomas Horne

No 12 Commando
No 1 Commando
Lieutenant Thomas Bowman served in No.12 Commando ( Para Troop) and then No.1 Commando 6 Troop in the Far East.
Post war he had a business in Camberley Surrey and was also an actor. He had a role in the "My Fair Lady" New York Broadway Revival which ran from March 25, 1976 to February 20, 1977.

BRETT, Gerrard

No 12 Commando
Royal Ulster Rifles
Military Cross (MC)
Lieutenant Gerrard Brett was awarded the Military Cross [1] in recognition of gallant and distinguished service during Operation Chariot, the raid at St Nazaire 27/28 March 1942. He embarked on board HMS Campbeltown [2], was taken prisoner after the raid and sent to Stalag 3D Berlin-Steglitz [3].

BRODISON, Samuel James

Sam Brodison
CSM Samuel Brodison MM 12 Commnando
No 10 Commando
No 12 Commando
Royal Irish Fusiliers
Military Medal (MM)
Company Sergeant Major Samuel Brodison was awarded the Military Medal in recognition of gallant and distinguished service carrying out beach obstacle reconnaissance in France during May 1944 [1][2].
Recommendation

CALLAWAY, Thomas, Frederick

Thomas Callaway12 Commando
No 12 Commando
Hampshire Regiment
Corporal Thomas Callaway was one of the commando contingent who embarked on HMS Campbeltown for Operation Chariot, the raid at St. Nazaire 28 March 1942.
He was reported missing but later found to be a prisoner of war.
 
Sources
St Nazaire Society website.

CHETWYND, Samuel Ernest

No 12 Commando
Sherwood Forresters (Notts and Derby Regiment)
Killed in action or died of wounds
Corporal Samuel Chetwynd died during Operation Chariot, the raid a St Nazaire. He was one of the commando contingent on motor launch ML 457 as part of Capt. Pritchard's Demolition Control Party.
 

CHUNG, Ronald Robert Fong

Ron Chung 12 Commando
No 12 Commando
Royal Engineers
Corporal Ron Chung took part in Operation Chariot, the raid at St Nazaire. Embarked on board HMS Campbeltown he was taken prisoner after the raid and transported to Stalag 344 at Lamsdorf, Poland. Post war Ron was a regular attendee at Commando Association events. His son Martin also completed Commando training and received his own green beret on 30 May 1980.
 

CLAPTON, John Francis

Lieutenant John Clapton 6 Commando
No 6 Commando
No 12 Commando
Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)
Military Cross (MC)
Lieutenant John Clapton was awarded the Military Cross [1] in recognition of gallant and distinguished service on 28 January 1945 whilst leading a small Recce patrol at a wood near Linne [2].
  • Served in No.12 Commando 4 Parachute Troop prior to moving to No.6 Commando [3].
Sources

COOPER-KEY, Caryll Astley

No 12 Commando
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
30 January 1930 commissioned Second Lieutenant, Yorks. and Lancs. Regt. [1].
1 August 1938 (Lieutenant) promoted Captain, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers [2].
August 1940 second in command of No.12 Commando on its formation [3].
15 June 1942 second in command of 142 Commando Company [4].

COX, Victor John

No 12 Commando
Somerset Light Infantry
Executed
Sergeant Victor John 'Jack' Cox, No 12 Commando, was assigned to No.14 Commando for Operation Checkmate.  He was captured on the raid at Kopervik in Norway on 29th April 1943.  He was imprisoned and later executed after being taken to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and shot.  
 

CRUDEN, Peter Ramsay

Captain Peter Cruden 12 and 6 Commando
No 12 Commando
No 6 Commando
Royal Artillery
Black Watch
Mentioned in Despatches
Silver Star (USA)
Peter Ramsay Cruden was commissioned Second Lieutenant Royal Artillery 22 March 1941[1].
  • Lieutenant in No.12 Commando [2]
  • 6 June 1944 (Lieutenant) (No.6 Commando) shot and wounded in shoulder by sniper at Normandy [3][3a].

DALY, Thomas

Thomas Daly 12 Commando
No 12 Commando
Holding Operational Commando
Royal Army Service Corps

Thomas Daly served in No.12 Commando HQ from April 1941 and after No.12 was disbanded on the staff at the Holding Operational Commando until April 1946.
Read more in Linked Content below.

DEERY, Stewart

No 12 Commando
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Military Medal (MM)
Sergeant Stewart Deery was awarded the Military Medal for gallant and distinguished services during Operation Chariot at St Nazaire. He was one of the Commando contingent who embarked on HMS Campbeltown.

DEXTER, Stanley

No 12 Commando
Royal Artillery
Died on war service

Gunner Stanley Dexter from Sutton in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, died in service, cause not known to this archive.

Sources
CWGC.
Casualty Lists / National Archives file WO417/57.
Royal Artillery Casualty Card.
 

FYNN, Francis West (Lt Col)

Lieutenant Colonel Francis Fynn 2 commando
Lieutenant Colonel Francis Fynn 2 Commando
No 2 Commando
No 12 Commando
Gordon Highlanders
Military Cross (MC)
Mentioned in Despatches
Bronze Star (USA)
Lieutenant Colonel Francis West Fynn M.C. was appointed Commanding Officer of No 2 Commando from June 1944 after Lt Col Churchill was taken prisoner of war. 
A former Lance Sergeant in the Royal Artillery T.A., he was appointed Second Lieutenant on the 23rd December 1939 [1].

HENRIQUES, Robert David Quixano

Special Service Brigade
No 12 Commando
Royal Artillery
Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
Territorial Decoration (TD)
Silver Star (USA)
Bronze Star (USA)
Major Robert Henriques was the Brigade Major of the Special Service Brigade throughout the operation at Vaagso in Norway on 27 December 1941 [1].
  • Former Troop Leader of 'E' troop No. 12 Commando [1a].
  • 2 June 1943 (Captain)(Temporary Major)(Acting Lieutenant Colonel) appointed M.B.E. (Military Division) [2].

HOYLE, Robert

Robert Hoyle 12 Commando
No 12 Commando
Lancashire Fusiliers

Corporal Robert Hoyle embarked on HMS Campbeltown for the raid at St. Nazaire on 28 March 1942. Reported as missing after the raid he was later found to have been taken prisoner and transported to Stalag 344 at Lamsdorf, Poland.

HUNTINGTON, John, Memories of No 12 and No 1 Commando

Type: Personal Papers
Author: John Mewett
Year of Publishing: 2015
Keywords: Memories of Sgt John Huntington 'E' Troop No 12 Commando and 3 Troop No 1 Commando

Sgt John Huntington was in E Troop No 12 Commando and 3 Troop No 1 Commando.

This document is Johns memories as detailed in letter form over the course of 5 years to John Mewett. Unfortunately before the project was complete JH died but what was related makes for a very interesting first hand account of life in a commando unit.

JOHNSON, James

No 12 Commando
Gordon Highlanders
Military Medal (MM)
Lance Sergeant James Johnson was awarded the Military Medal for gallant and distinguished services  during Operation Chariot, the raid at St Nazaire on 28 March 1942.

JONES, Harri Havard

No 12 Commando
Welch Regiment
Killed in action or died of wounds
Corporal Harri Jones died during Operation Chariot, the raid at St Nazaire. He was one of the commando contingent on motor launch ML 268 and part of a Demolition Team.
 

LEAVER, John Charles

No 1 Commando
No 12 Commando
Welch Regiment

Private John Leaver, 5 Troop, was wounded on 23 January 1945 during operations in Burma. He previously served in No.12 Commando. Post war member of the Commando Association from Cardiff.

LEMON, Frederick

No 12 Commando
North Irish Horse / Royal Armoured Corps

Lance Corporal Fred Lemon embarked on HMS Campbeltown for Operation Chariot, the raid at St. Nazaire 28 March 1942. Reported missing after the raid, found to have been taken prisoner and transported to Stalag 344 at Lamsdorf, Poland.

MAGINNIS, John

No 6 Commando
Royal Ulster Rifles
Rifleman John Maginnis volunteered for the Commandos whilst serving in the Royal Ulster Rifles. He initially joined No 12 Commando and on their disbandment moved to No 6 Commando. 
 

MCGONIGAL, Ambrose Joseph

Ambrose McGonigal MC
No 12 Commando
SBS
Royal Ulster Rifles
Military Cross (MC)
Bar to the Military Cross
Mentioned in Despatches
Lieutenant Ambrose McGonigal was awarded the M.C. [1] for distinguished service during a raid on the enemy held island of Sark on the night of the 27th December 1943. This was a reconnaissance operation to obtain certain information and if possible capture a prisoner.

NASH, Douglas James

No 12 Commando
Worcestershire Regiment
Military Medal (MM)
Douglas Nash was awarded the MM  in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the field on the 26th December 1943. 
 
The death of Sgt. Douglas J. Nash, MM (12 & 6 Cdos) of Cleveland, Ohio, USA., formerly of Birmingham, was announced in Commando Association newsletter 75 issued September 1982.
 

O'SULLIVAN, Robert Deyos

No 12 Commando
Royal Ulster Rifles
Died on war service
Lieutenant Robert O'Sullivan died by drowning as a result of an accident.
 
Sources
CWGC.
Casualty Lists / National Archives file WO417/4.
No 12 Cdo War Diary entry for 10th Apr.1943. National Archives WO 218 / 57.
 

PINCKNEY, Philip Hugh

No 12 Commando
SAS
Royal Artillery
Executed

Captain Philip Pinckney was executed whilst a prisoner of war. At the time he was serving with 2 SAS and had been captured on Operation Speedwell after parachuting with 6 others into Bologna, Italy. The aim of the operation was to disrupt enemy railway movements.

PURDON, Corran William Brooke

Corran Purdon 12 Commando
No 12 Commando
Royal Ulster Rifles
Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
Military Cross (MC)
Colonial Police Medal
Lieutenant Corran Purdon volunteered for the Commandos whilst serving as a young officer with the Royal Ulster Rifles, and was attached to No.12 Commando. He took part in raids on Norway and St Nazaire.

REEVES, Walter

No 12 Commando
Royal Artillery
Bombardier Walter Reeves was one of the commando contingent who embarked on HMS Campbeltown for Operation Chariot, the raid at St. Nazaire 28 March 1942. Taken prisoner he was later transported to Stalag 344 Lamsdorf, Poland.
  • 1938 attested into the Royal Artillery.
Sources
St. Nazaire Society website.

SIMS, Edward, G.

Private Edward Sims 12 and 6 Commandos
No 12 Commando
No 6 Commando
Royal West Kent Regiment
Private Edward Sims served in No 12 Commando until it was disbanded in 1943, then in No 6 Commando. He was batman to Captain Peter Cruden [1][2].
  • Post war in June 1946 he was one of ten commandos chosen at random to sit with the Queen in the Royal Box at the Albert Hall concert in aid of the Commando Benevolent Fund [3]

TENNICK, Maurice William

No 12 Commando
No 1 Commando
Kings Own Scottish Borderers
Corporal Maurice Tennick served in No.12 Commando and No.1 Commando. Promoted Corporal 2 February 1944.
Maurice was a serving Police Officer who volunteered as part of the Police Intakes to the Commandos. In 1939 he was a Police Constable residing at 50 Falstaff Road, Tynemouth.
Post war member of the Commando Association residing North Shields.
 

TOWSE, Alfred Burley

No 12 Commando
No 6 Commando
Scots Guards
Corporal Alfred Towse served in No.12 and No.6 Commandos and was wounded in France on 7 August 1944.
He was a Police Officer who had volunteered for the Commandos rejoining the Police and serving at Brighton and Hove after the war ended. Final rank attained Lance Sergeant.
 
Sources

TURNER, Frederick William Morgan

No 12 Commando
Gloucestershire Regiment
Died on war service
Died in the UK
Corporal Frederick Turner, No.12 Commando, died by drowning in Loch Linne whilst serving at the Commando Depot, Achnacarry.  

Also recorded as dying by drowning on this date were Private Pat McCarthy, Fusilier James Scullion, and Gunner Alan Haydon [see Linked Content below].

TYREMAN, George Vincent

No 4 Commando
No 12 Commando
Lincolnshire Regiment
Private George Tyreman, 'C' Troop, was wounded during operations at Normandy, France. Post war member of the Commando Association residing Lincolnshire.
1n 1939 he was a Clerk with Lincolnshire Police later joining as a Constable. He volunteed as part of the Police Intakes to the Commandos. In 1963 he was promoted Inspector at Scunthorpe. 
 

Sources

WHAM, James Howie

No 9 Commando
No 12 Commando
Royal Scots
Military Medal (MM)
Private (Acting Corporal) James Wham was awarded the Military Medal in recognition of gallant and distinguished service on 19 March 1944 in Italy. Final rank attained Sergeant.
Recommendation
"Ref Map-Italy, 1/25,000 Sheet IV SE

WOOLLARD, George

No 1 Commando
No 12 Commando
Black Watch

Private George Woollard was wounded on 31 January 1945 during operations with No.1 Commando 6 Troop at Kangaw, Burma. He had previously served in No.12 Commando. Post war member of the Commando Association residing Gateacre, Liverpool.

WRIGHT, Robert Ernest

No 12 Commando
Royal Engineers

Corporal Robert Wright was one of the commando contingent embarked on HMS Campbeltown for Operation Chariot, the raid at St. Nazaire on 28 March 1942. Reported missing after the raid he was later found to have been taken prisoner and transported to Stalag 344 at Lamsdorf, Poland.

‘Norway - Operation Anklet’

Friday, December 26, 1941

Location

Lofoten Islands
Norway
68° 4' 46.5924" N, 13° 22' 27.0876" E

300 men from No 12 Commando, and some from the Royal Norwegian Army, landed on the Lofoten Islands about 300 miles North of Vaagso. Since the first Lofoten raid in March such operations were seen as a useful tactic to confuse the enemy and consequently divert enemy forces for future defence.

‘Norway - Operation Cartoon’

Saturday, January 23, 1943

Location

Norway
59° 47' 20.7456" N, 5° 23' 6.756" E
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.
 

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