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How did British Commandos operate during WW2?

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  • How did British Commandos operate during WW2?

    My apologies if this is posted in the wrong section; I haven't been here in a while!

    I am planning on doing some war gaming and I was wondering how British Commandos would have operated in terms of how they were organized. On the field, how would you expect British Commandos to be split up? Were they organized into sections like the regular British Army?

  • #2
    Now, this is something Britain truly excels at, the special forces / commando type operation. I'm sure someone can give details on how these units were organized.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Swanbridge View Post
      My apologies if this is posted in the wrong section; I haven't been here in a while!

      I am planning on doing some war gaming and I was wondering how British Commandos would have operated in terms of how they were organized. On the field, how would you expect British Commandos to be split up? Were they organized into sections like the regular British Army?
      What do you mean by 'Split up'? I was a Royal Marine during the war and in the 'Combined Ops'.Not as a Commando but in 'Combined Ops' both as Landing Craft crew and then Infantry and do know a little about them. They closely resembled the army in having individual jobs but those jobs were secondary to the main, which was to overcome the enemy in skill and toughness. The 'Royals' were a perfect tool for such a job as their normal infantry training was in access of the normal. The barracks where I did my training is now their HQ. And all Marines are now Commando's. lcm1
      'By Horse by Tram'.


      I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
      " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

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      • #4
        Hi lcm

        Glad to see you are still kicking!

        So by split up I mean how were British Commandos organized in the field? If I was a Lieutenant, how many men would I usually be leading? Wikipedia says they were organized into 15 man sections, which were later increased to 30 man sections but I am not sure how accurate that is.

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        • #5
          If you give some detail on the specific scenario I'm sure someone here will be able to dig up the historical "OOB".

          The ACG is usually quite good at that sort of thing
          High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Swanbridge View Post
            So by split up I mean how were British Commandos organized in the field?
            What you want to look for is terms like "TO&E" (tables of organization and equipment), which is, however, US parlance, or, more appropriately for the British, "WE" or "war establishment". Look up for this, in relation with keywords like "commando company". And the year you are interested in. Keep in mind both the Army and the Royal Marines had commandos. Using those keywords should give you access to reasonably good sources.

            Michele

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            • #7
              This is the most detailed I've found from an old John Salt Britorg pdf

              Army or Royal Marine Commando, 1943
              [WO204/8397]
              Total strength is 458 all ranks.
              The commando has a Cdo HQ, a heavy weapons troop and five numbered rifle troops.
              The Cdo HQ has a total strength of 89 all ranks, with duties assigned as follows:
              CO Lt-Col
              2-i-c Major
              Adjutant Captain
              Admin officer Captain
              RSM, RQMS, MT Sgt
              Intelligence duties: Subaltern, L/Sgt, 4 Ptes
              Tradesmen Clerks 1 Sgt, 1 Cpl, 1 L/Cpl, 4 Ptes
              Pay clerk 1 Sgt
              Eqpt repair 1 Pte
              Non-tradesmen Batmen 5 Ptes
              Batmen/drivers 2 Ptes
              Drivers i/c Cpl, L/Cpl, 14 Ptes
              Motor cyclists Cpl, 8 Ptes
              Storemen Cpl, 4 Ptes
              Attached Medical MO, 1 Sgt, 2 Ptes nursing orderlies RAMC
              Armourers 1 Sgt 1 L/Cpl
              HQ weapons include 1 LMG, 1 PIAT, and 42 .45 pistols.

              The heavy weapons troop has a total strength of 39 all ranks, with duties assigned as follows:
              Tp comd Captain
              2-i-c Subaltern
              Tp Sgt Sgt
              Batmen-drivers 2 Ptes
              Attached 1 Col RAMC nursing orderly
              3" mortar section
              Tradesmen Driver-mechanics 2 Ptes
              Non-tradesmen Mor dets 1 Sgt, 2 Cpls, 6 Ptes
              Drivers i/c 3 Ptes
              Signallers 1 L/Cpl 1 Pte
              Rangetaker 1 Pte
              MMG section
              Tradesmen Driver-mechanics 2 Ptes
              Non-tradesmen MG dets 1 Sgt, 2 Cpls, 6 Ptes
              Drivers i/c 3 Ptes
              Runner Pte
              Rangetaker Pte
              Troop weapons include 3 3" mortars, 3 .303" MMGs, 17 .45 pistols and 12 signal pistols.

              Each rifle troop has a total strength of 66 all ranks, with duties assigned as follows:
              Troop HQ:
              Troop comd Captain
              CSM
              2" mortarmen 2 Ptes
              PIAT gunners 3 Ptes
              Attached medical 1 L/Cpl RAMC
              Stretcher-bearer 1 Pte
              Batman 1 Pte
              The troop had 2 sections.
              Each section has a section HQ of the commander (subaltern) and a sergeant, and two sub-sections.
              Each sub-section has a L/Sgt, a Cpl, 2 L/Cpls and 9 Ptes.
              Troop weapons include 1 PIAT, 2 2" mortars, 4 LMGs, 2 EY rifles, 2 sniper's rifles, 2 silent stens, 9
              Thompson SMGs, 15 .45 pistols and 3 signal pistols.


              Comments and corrections
              This war establishment is stated to be "as notified in ACIs on 8th September 1943".
              A prominent note on the overlay giving the weapons allocations to each part of the organisations reads:
              "THESE FIGURES ARE NORMAL WAR ESTABLISHMENTS. Troop Commanders may use their own
              discretion re weapons for operational purposes and obtain additonal or alternative weapons from the
              RESERVE POOL."

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              • #8
                Just what I needed!

                Thanks everyone!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Swanbridge View Post
                  Hi lcm

                  Glad to see you are still kicking!

                  So by split up I mean how were British Commandos organized in the field? If I was a Lieutenant, how many men would I usually be leading? Wikipedia says they were organized into 15 man sections, which were later increased to 30 man sections but I am not sure how accurate that is.
                  I was not much help for the tech: side of it but by the look of the other contributions it does not matter! lcm1
                  'By Horse by Tram'.


                  I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
                  " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I found a file that I stowed away that says:

                    Independent Commando Company 1940 (20 Officers, 270 Enlisted)


                    Company Headquarters (8 Officers, 64 Enlisted)
                    Headquarters and Staff (3 Officers, 15 Enlisted) 1 x Car, Motorcycles for couriers
                    Service Section (30 Enlisted) 1 x 30 cwt Truck
                    Sapper Section (1 Officer, 17 Enlisted) Demolition Charges
                    Medical Staff (1 Officer, 6 Enlisted)
                    Armorers (4 Enlisted)

                    3 Platoons (4 Officers, 66 Enlisted each)
                    Platoon Headquarters (1 Officer, 8 Enlisted) 1 x Bren LMG
                    3 Sections (1 Officer, 18 Enlisted each)
                    2 Rifle Squads (1 Officer, 9 Enlisted or 9 Enlisted each)
                    Michele

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                    • #11
                      The U.S Army's Ranger Battalions were modeled on the British Army Commandos as was the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion. Other Marine Raider Battalions used a slightly different organizational template.

                      Merrill's Marauders was modeled on Orde Wingate's Chindit concept.
                      "Shoot for the epaulets, boys! Shoot for the epaulets!" - Daniel Morgan

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Michele View Post
                        I found a file that I stowed away that says:

                        Independent Commando Company 1940 (20 Officers, 270 Enlisted)


                        Company Headquarters (8 Officers, 64 Enlisted)
                        Headquarters and Staff (3 Officers, 15 Enlisted) 1 x Car, Motorcycles for couriers
                        Service Section (30 Enlisted) 1 x 30 cwt Truck
                        Sapper Section (1 Officer, 17 Enlisted) Demolition Charges
                        Medical Staff (1 Officer, 6 Enlisted)
                        Armorers (4 Enlisted)

                        3 Platoons (4 Officers, 66 Enlisted each)
                        Platoon Headquarters (1 Officer, 8 Enlisted) 1 x Bren LMG
                        3 Sections (1 Officer, 18 Enlisted each)
                        2 Rifle Squads (1 Officer, 9 Enlisted or 9 Enlisted each)
                        This is without doubt correct, but it was commonly noted that they could possibly be short on numbers at critical times ( and not always due to enemy action ) hence the short stay of myself and fellow L/C members with the Army Commando unit after the landings. We were told that they were short handed anyway. lcm1
                        'By Horse by Tram'.


                        I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
                        " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

                        Comment

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