British Commandos, Special Service Brigade, 1940–1945

British Commandos disembarking an R.A.F. crash boat in a German-occupied Seaport on the French Atlantic Coast.

British Commandos disembarking a crash boat in a German-occupied Seaport on the French Atlantic Coast. The Airfix miniatures of British Army Commandos may be distinguished from regular infantry by the typical knit kap worn during raids, and the great number of Thompson sub-machine guns used by commandos. As the war progressed, the personal equipment of the Commandos was made more suitable for special forces type operations. Waterproofed cotton assault vests, called Battle Jerkins, were designed to carry ammunition and handgrenades more comfortably, and they offered better noise camouflage than the 1937 pattern web equipment with its brass buckles, flopping canteen and entrenching tool. In the field, the small pack was often replaced by a Bergen rucksack. Commandos preferred crepe-soled shoes to hobnailed army boots.

The Commandos were established in 1940 from army volunteers and soldiers of the disbanding Divisional Independent Companies of the Territorial Army who had seen service in Norway. The proposal for the new Commando force was put forward by Lieutenant-Colonel Dudley S. Clarke just two days after the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) from Dunkirk. The Commandos were capable of taking the war back to the European mainland, striking anytime and anywhere along the occupied Channel and Atlantic coastline, thereby drawing sizeable enemy forces away from other theaters of operation. In the process, the Commandos developed significant expertise in amphibious operations and they gathered valuable information about coastal defences at likely invasion beaches in France. One of the most well-known Commando officers was Evelyn Waugh, the British writer and author of the highly biographical Sword and Honour trilogy, recounting Waugh's combat experience as a Commando in North Africa and Crete.

Miniatures

  • British Commando Sergeant (No. 6 Commando 1944), 1:30 del Prado MAW 1
  • British Commandos and Lord Lovat, 1:32 King & Country DD52
  • British Commandos, 1:32 King & Country DD53
  • British Commandos attacking, 1:32 King & Country DD57
  • British Commandos, 1:32 Airfix 51554
  • British Commandos (Caen 1944), 1:35 Dragon Models MAS3512
  • Lord Lovat and Staff, 28 mm Artizan Designs SWW150
  • Commando Command Group II (Offizier, Funker, 2" Grw., PIAT), 28 mm Artizan Designs SWW153
  • British Commando Command Group, 28 mm Bolt Action Miniatures GB022
  • British Commando Section (late Uniform and Beret), 28 mm Artizan Designs SWW151
  • British Commando Section II (Rifles, SMG, LMG, Steel Helmet), 28 mm Artizan Designs SWW159
  • British Commando Halfsection I (Rifles), 28 mm Artizan Designs SWW155
  • British Commando Halfsection II (Rifles, SMG, LMG), 28 mm Artizan Designs SWW156
  • British Commandos with Rifles, 28 mm Artizan Designs SWW157
  • British Commandos with Rifles, 28 mm Bolt Action Miniatures GB010
  • British Commando Bren LMG-Team, 28 mm Bolt Action Miniatures GB016
  • British Commandos with Bren LMG, 28 mm Artizan Designs SWW158
  • British Commando Vickers MMG-Team, 28 mm Artizan Designs SWW152
  • British Commandos with Special Weapons, 28 mm Artizan Designs SWW154
  • British Commandos with Thompson SMG, 28 mm Black Tree Design WW2098
  • British Commandos with Bren LMG, 28 mm Black Tree Design WW2104
  • British Commando Raiders, 28 mm Black Tree Design WW2118
  • British Commando Demolition Team, 28 mm Black Tree Design WW2126
  • British Commandos with Dagger, 28 mm Black Tree Design WW2127
  • British Commandos with silenced Sten SMG, 28 mm Black Tree Design WW2128
  • British Commandos with silenced Sten SMG (II), 28 mm Black Tree Design WW2157
  • British Commando Sniper, 28 mm Black Tree Design WW2135
  • British Commando Command Group (North Africa, Mediterranean), 28 mm Artizan Designs SWW114
  • British Commandos with LMG (North Africa, Mediterranean), 28 mm Artizan Designs SWW111
  • British Commandos I (North Africa, Mediterranean), 28 mm Artizan Designs SWW112
  • British Commandos II (North Africa, Mediterranean), 28 mm Artizan Designs SWW113
  • British Commandos with SMG (North Africa, Mediterranean), 28 mm Artizan Designs SWW117
  • British SBS Commandos in MK.II Kajak, 28 mm Bolt Action Miniatures GB012
  • British SBS Commandos in MK.II Kajak II, 28 mm Bolt Action Miniatures GB012b
  • British Special Boat Section Commandos disembarked, 28 mm Bolt Action Miniatures GB013
  • British Commandos, 1:72 ESCI P-210
  • British Commando Command Group, 20 mm Raventhorpe BRIT 5
  • British Commando Section, 20 mm Raventhorpe BRIT 6
  • British Commando Support Section, 20 mm Raventhorpe BRIT 7
  • British Commandos, 1:76 Airfix 01732
  • British Commandos, 1:76 Matchbox 40906
  • Brigadier Peter Young & Commando Troop, 15 mm Battlefront Miniatures BR882
  • British Commando Troop, 15 mm Battlefront Miniatures BR793
  • British Commando Support Troop, 15 mm Battlefront Miniatures BR794

Organisation & Equipment

  • British Commando HQ, 1941
    1. Commando Troop (65 all ranks)
    2. Commando Troop (65 all ranks)
    3. Commando Troop (65 all ranks)
    4. Commando Troop (65 all ranks)
    5. Commando Troop (65 all ranks)
    6. Heavy Weapons Troop

Historical Employment

  • Operation Collar, Boulogne-sur-Mer and Le Touquet, France, 23 June 1940
  • Operation Ambassador, Guernsey Island, 14 July 1940
  • Operation Colossus, Calitri, Italy, 10 February 1941
  • Raid against Bardia, Libya, 20 April 1941
  • Operation Claymore, Lofoten Islands, Norway, 4 March 1941
  • Operation Anklet, Lofoten Islands, Norway, 26 December 1941
  • Operation Archery, Vågsøy, Norway 27 December 1941
  • Battle of Creta, 20 May to 1 June 1941
  • Crossing of the Litani, Syria, June 1941
  • Operation Chariot, Saint-Nazaire, France, 28 March 1942
  • Operation Musketoon, Glomfjord, Norway, September 1942
  • Operation Basalt, Sark Channel Island, Night of 3/4 October 1942
  • Normandy Invasion, 6 June 1944
  • Operation Roast, Lake Comacchio, Italy, 1 April 1945

Bibliography

In addition to the British Army Commandos, the Royal Navy established its first Royal Marine Commando on 14 February 1942. British Army and Royal Marine Commandos served in the same brigades on many occasions. The Army Commandos were disbanded after World War Two.

Frequently Asked Questions

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British Miniatures of World War Two