Special Forces & Missions during the Second World War.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: Jewish Soldiers, Commandos, SOE, German Special Forces, US Army Rangers, Kamikaze Pilots, OSS, WW2 Paratroopers, SAS, Operation Halyard.
7 of the craziest commando missions of World War II
World War II was an exciting time for special operations and commandos. The advent of airborne operations gave them a whole new angle of approach, and the sheer scale of the war guaranteed that they`d have plenty of chances to use their skills. But even accounting for those things, operators on both sides of the war distinguished themselves with daring missions. Here are eight of the craziest:
Classic turn-based strategy games: Conflict-Series
If you like classic turn-based PC war games and legendary strategy board games make sure to check out the highly rated Conflict-series for Android. Some of the WWII Campaigns include Axis Balkan Campaign, D-Day 1944, Operation Barbarossa, France 1940, Kursk 1943, Market Garden, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Rommel's North African campaign, and the Battle of Bulge. In addition to WWII some other time periods include Korean War, American Civil War, First World War and American Revolutionary War. The more complex campaigns like Operation Sea Lion, Invasion of Norway, and Invasion of Japan 1945, include Naval element and handling logistics of supply flow.
(available on Google Play & Amazon App Store since 2011)
Hitler`s SS commando Lt-Col Otto Skorzeny worked as an assassin for Israeli intelligence Mossad
An SS officer known as `Hitler`s commando` reportedly worked as an assassin for Israeli intelligence. Lt-Col Otto Skorzeny, once described by British and US intelligence as `the most dangerous man in Europe`, was secretly recruited by Mossad after WWII. In 1962 he assassinated a former Nazi rocket scientist, the newspaper claimed. Heinz Krug, who worked under Wernher von Braun on the programme to develop the V2 rockets, disappeared without trace from Munich. He was working on a missile programme for the Egyptian government at the time. It has long been suspected he was targeted by Israel, nervous of Egypt`s intentions. Ha`aretz claims he was murdered by Skorzeny on Mossad`s orders.
Hitler`s Brandenburgers: secret multilingual warrior spies of Nazi Germany
The pre-war German Army rejected Captain Theodore von Hippel`s idea of using small units of highly trained men to penetrate enemy defenses before main actions began. They felt it was beneath the dignity of true soldiers to engage in such renegade conduct and so sent the young Captain packing. Down but not out, he ended up joining the German intelligence agency known as the Abwehr, in whom he found its commander, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, a willing listener. His ideas, much of which were learned from studying World War 1 guerilla leaders, were approved and forwarded to the German High Command (OKW), who agreed to the formation of a battalion of men trained in the arts of combat and espionage.
Condemned Men - Meet Hitler`s Penal Battalions
Call them the Fuhrer`s `Dirty Dozens` - the German army`s strafbattalions were infantry units made up largely of convicts, felons, malingerers and thugs. Inmates in these "marching prisons" could expect only the most hazardous of assignments. When they weren`t being deployed as common labourers, penal units fought as shock troops in frontal assaults or were thrown into losing battles to defend hopeless positions. However, assignment to a penal unit wasn`t necessarily a death sentence. The condemned could serve their time and be reinstated to the regular army or in cases of exceptional gallantry under fire, have their sentences commuted.
British army veteran Frank Hunt, who served in Commandos, recalls killing French civilians
Frank Hunt fought in the British army, survived the Battle of Dunkirk and served in the British Commandos during World War II. "We were in a bad situation, the French had been Hitler`s secret weapon. He had a lot of French people who were being paid money to give him information. We had orders to shoot and kill every French person in and around a house frequented by the German army. When they came out to hang clothes, we`d shoot and kill. It was cruel. You just managed to look after yourself and your mates - and they would do the same for you. We killed a lot of French people — we shot women and children. We shot them because of what they were doing for the Germans."
Royal Marine Commando recalls being trapped in a German minefield during the D-Day Normandy landings
Royal Marine Commando Bernie Lynham recalled his WWII service after proudly marching in the parade during Newport Pagnell`s Remembrance Service. Bernie, a Commando with the Royal Marines for five years, was one of five men who were badly injured after being trapped in a German minefield during the D-Day Normandy landings. "We were in France and had only been there a few days when one of our lads was blown up by a mine. As we were moving forward with a stretcher one then blew up my mate. We had to get them out of there though so we kept moving. I was bending down to pick up the stretcher at the time and, if I had been standing up, it would have taken my head off. I`m very lucky to be here.`
Catch That Tiger: WWII mission to capture a deadly Tiger Tank from the Germans
"Major! I want you to go and catch me a Tiger. I want you to bring me a Tiger tank. Park the bloody thing outside my front door. Do you understand," barked Winston Churchill. "Perfectly sir," replied Major Douglas Lidderdale. So started one of the most dangerous WWII missions, which only a handful of people have known about. Now a book -- Catch That Tiger, which is based on Lidderdale`s diaries -- explores the mission for the first time. The Tiger tanks had started rolling off the production line in winter 1942 and were wiping out Allied tanks, decimating morale. Allied tank crews` terror of Tigers was so widespread it had its own nickname: Tigerphobia.
Last surviving members of WWII commando unit the Devil`s Brigade die within 12 hours of each other in same town
Two veterans, who survived in one of the deadliest commando units of World War II, have died in their nineties with hours of each other. Mark Radcliffe, 94, and 92-year-old Joe Glass both passed away within 12 hours of each other on Sunday. They both lived in Helena, Montana and were the last members of the First Special Service Force (FSSF) - an elite unit made up of American and Canadian soldiers who captured 27,000 enemy prisoners 1942-1944. The commandos were nicknamed the `Black Devils` by the Nazis because of their formidable force.
Japanese-American WWII veterans: Military Intelligence Service and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team
On Dec. 7, 1941, 5,000 Nisei (second-generation Japanese Americans) had been drafted to serve in the U.S. Army. With Executive Order 9066 in hand, though, Military Governor Lt. Gen. John L. DeWitt decided to discharge all those Japanese Americans on the west coast and send them home. He was also responsible for forcing 115,000 persons of Japanese ancestry into relocation camps. "The legacy (of what occurred over the following years of World War II) is very important in terms of present day," said Terry Shima, executive director of the Japanese American Veterans Association since 2004.
Ian Fleming`s Commandos: The Story of the Legendary 30 Assault Unit by Nicholas Rankin (book review)
In Ian Fleming`s Commandos, author Nicholas Rankin tells the story of a secret intelligence outfit conceived and organized during the Second World War by the James Bond author Ian Fleming. Named 30 Assault Unit, the group was expected to seize Nazi codebooks, cipher machines, and documents in high-stakes operations. They went ashore on D-Day, heading for rocket-sites and radar-stations. They helped liberate Paris and then set out to steal scientific and industrial secrets from the heart of Nazi Germany. Their final amazing coup was to seize the entire archives of the German Navy - three hundred tons of documents. Ian Fleming flew out in person to accompany the loot back to Britain.
"Secret Heroes: The Ritchie Boys" -exhibit opens in Farmington Hills
An extraordinary group of WWII veterans will be honored as the Holocaust Memorial Center (HMC) opens "Secret Heroes: The Ritchie Boys" in Farmington Hills. 14 of the German-speaking U.S. soldiers who were trained as an intelligence unit will attend the opening. The Ritchie Boys, mostly Jewish soldiers who fled to the U.S. from Nazi Germany, trained at Camp Ritchie in Maryland. Guy Stern was a member of the group, and as he walked through the exhibit, the memories flowed freely: "This was one of the moments that was very emotional for many of us. After going across the Rhine River ... you were entering your home country as a victorious American soldier."
A memorial to the Cockleshell Heroes - Royal Marines who canoed 100 miles - unveiled in France
A memorial to the Royal Marines who canoed almost 100 miles behind enemy lines to blow up ships in a daring WW2 raid has been unveiled in France. For 10 marines in December 1942, their secret mission was so dangerous - only two men survived to tell the tale - that they were hailed as the Cockleshell Heroes and in 1955, immortalized in film.
Lord Ashcroft, whose collection of medals will go on public display, tells the stories behind 3 of the heroes who won them
Operation Frankton was a WWII commando raid on shipping in the Nazi occupied French port of Bordeaux carried out by a small unit of Royal Marines known as the Royal Marines Boom Patrol Detachment (RMBPD). Major Herbert "Blondie" Hasler, who planned the attack, insisted the participants had to have a long list of qualities. Plan: a submarine would take specially designed cockles (canoes) off the French coast and after attacking the merchant ships with limpet mines the commandos would scuttle their cockles and try to escape across France to spain.
The U.S. Army set up a unit consisting of pro-Nazi men - And one of them helped German POWs to escape to Mexico (PDF) (Article no longer available from the original source)
Did you know that during the Second World War the U.S. Army set up a unit made up of pro-Nazi individuals? The idea was to collect all these - potentially very troublesome - men into a one unit and give them very basic tasks like cutting wood and digging ditches in the United States, far away from the actual WWII front-lines. The plan spectacularly failed.
Dale Maple, a Private First Class, was assigned to the 620th Engineer General Service Company because the U.S. Army thought that the pro-Nazi statements he had made made him unsuitable for the sensitive radio work he had been doing. The 200 soldiers assigned to the 620th with him were all men whom the Army thought to be "unsympathetic, if not downright opposed, to the war aims of the Allies." The 620th was located at Camp Hale, Colorado, and Maple soon learned that German POWs (from Erwin Rommel`s Afrika Korps) resided nearby. It did not take too long before Maple and some German POWs were on a road trip to Mexico...
The birth of the 10th Mountain Division: "You needed letters of recommendation to get into the infantry"
As America entered World War II, the U.S. military decided to expand their mountain warfare troops. Charles "Minnie" Dole - founder of the National Ski Patrol - was asked to recruit suitable men. He opened up applications to civilian outdoorsmen, mountaineers, cowboys, and woodsmen - but they needed 3 letters of recommendation about their good health and skiing, mountaineering, or outdoor skills. As Earl Clark, a member of the 10th Mountain Division, recalls: "It was the first time in the history of mankind that you needed letters of recommendation to get into the infantry."
Conrad Vineyard served with Alamo Scouts -- U.S. 6th Army Special Reconnaissance Unit
The Alamo Scouts were an intelligence reconnaissance unit, trained to get inside enemy zone, gather information, and move out - undetected. Not too many persons knew about them until Lance Zedric wrote "Silent Warriors of World War II: The Alamo Scouts Behind Japanese Lines."
Michael Burn: A British Nazi admirer who met Hitler, but still became a commando on the St Nazaire raid
Michael Burn was one of the last survivors of the commando raid on St Nazaire, after which he was captured and held at Colditz. A Nazi admirer - who later became a communist - he met Adolf Hitler in pre-war Nazi Germany, and was invited by the Führer to witness the Nazi rallies in Nuremberg in 1935. Burn was one of many British men of the 1930s attracted to the showmanship of the Nazis. From the Third Reich he wrote: "It is so wonderful what Hitler has brought this country back to." But excitement for the Nazis wore out, and during the war he served in the Special Service Brigade which raided St Nazaire.
Hungarian desert explorer Laszlo Almasy guided Nazi agents through the Sahara
In the 1930s, Laszlo Almasy set out to find the lost oasis of Zarzura - the mythical place mentioned in Arabian treasure books. He explored 2 million square kilometers of the Sahara, drawing maps and seeing places "that no human eye had seen." In 1942, Almasy guided Nazi agents into British-occupied Egypt in a mission known as "Operation Salam." The adventurer worked for the "Brandenburg Division," a legendary German unit that carried out raids behind enemy lines. Almasy`s diaries have disappeared, but reports he wrote for the Nazis were captured and are now locked away in the Imperial War Museum in London.
Major General Logan Scott-Bowden was a member of the Combined Operation Pilotage Parties
In the months before D-Day in 1944 beach defences were set up by the Nazis. At the same time a group of commandos left for France on a top-secret mission. Robin Walton of heritage group "Discover Hayling" have tracked down a member of the Combined Operation Pilotage Parties (COPPs). Logan Scott-Bowden was one of the heroes to sail to Normandy in a miniature submarine to explore the defences of the Gold Beach through the periscope by day and swim to the shore by night - armed with a revolver, knife, and trowel - to collect information of the seabed and shoreline.
The Enemy I Knew: German Jews in the Allied Military in World War II (book review)
A kind of real-life version of the film "Inglourious Basterds" without the baseball bats, the oral history "The Enemy I Knew" lets two dozen Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany and Austria who served in the U.S. and British armed forces during World War Two tell their stories. Steven Karras` oral history gives us a different narrative from the usual Holocaust history: Those Jews who had the power to wear a military uniform and fight back surely did. Most men admit a sense of satisfaction at fighting the Nazis, and at rooting out the Nazis during the postwar occupation.
Lieutenant-Colonel Norman Field trained and led Auxiliary Units (Churchill`s Secret Army)
By mid-1940, the defences of Poland, Norway, France and the Low Countries had been overran, and Wehrmacht appeared to be ready to invade England. Pill boxes, barbed wire and tank traps began to appear on the British beaches. The War Cabinet realized the need for guerrilla troops, and formed Auxiliary Units under Colonel Colin Gubbins. A small number of officers was given the task of recruiting the most promising local men and forming them into patrols. In the event of a Nazi invasion, these men were to move to Operational Bases underground (mines, tunnels) - armed with gelignite, oil bombs, magnesium incendiary bombs, pistols, revolvers and hunting knives.
The Kings Regiment’s final campaign in the last days of World War II [T-Force]
The men of 5th Battalion The Kings Regiment should have put their weapons down and waited for the formal end of the World War II. Adolf Hitler was dead and a ceasefire had been called pending the formal act of Nazi surrender. But 5th Kings was part of the Target Force, tasked to seize as many German war secrets as they could. For 5th Kings it meant they had to go to the strategic German port of Kiel. So 350 allied soldiers drive through two German front lines to Kiel, defended by 12,000 armed German soldiers. But the German commander was not ready to surrender, he called Admiral Karl Dönitz, who was Reichspresident after Hitler`s death.
T-Force: The Race for Nazi War Secrets, 1945 by Sean Longden
Ian Fleming`s James Bond novel Moonraker - about a villain with nuclear-rocket technology - was inspired by author`s real-life WWII experiences in a secret military unit. Fleming worked with Target-Force, which brought Nazi rocket scientists to UK before they were seized by the Russians. Military historian Sean Longden has spotted uncanny similarities between Fleming`s work and the Moonraker. plot. For example Bond villain Hugo Drax`s Moonraker project was similar to Operation Backfire (a British project to test Nazi V2 rockets). Drax`s henchman Dr Walter was in real life Dr Hellmuth Walter, who ran the Walterwerke factory (the V1 and V2 rocket engines).
How SS men staged Gliwice radio station attack to get an excuse to invade Poland
On August 31, 1939, seven SS officers, posing as Polish partisans, attacked the German radio station in Gliwice (Gleiwitz). After the SS team seized the station, SS man Karl Hornack took the microphone and shouted: "Attention! This is Gliwice. The broadcasting station is in Polish hands." Then SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Alfred Naujocks, who set up the operation under orders from Reinhard Heydrich and Heinrich Müller, shot farmer Franz Honiok (dressed in Polish army uniform). The historical events - which gave Nazi leaders the excuse to invade Poland - have mostly been neglected by historians. Even relatives of Franz Honiok have only spoken of the incident in family meetings.
American Commando: Evans Carlson, his WWII marine raiders and America`s first special forces mission (Article no longer available from the original source)
Evans Carlson was not an ordinary American Marine officer. He learned guerrilla warfare from Chinese communist forces in the 1930s. He shared difficulties with enlisted men. He exchanged letters with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose son was Carlson`s executive officer. Carlson led the Marines` first WWII special forces raids. The 2nd Raider Battalion was set up and trained by Carlson. In August 1942, he led the first long-range strike against Japanese-held Makin Island. In 1942 he led the unit`s Long Patrol, travelling 30 days behind Japanese lines on Guadalcanal. Historian John Wukovits explores Carlson`s life and career in "American Commando".
The real Inglourious Basterds: Britain`s secret Jewish commandos
The commando, a balaclava over his head and his face blacked up with camouflage, clung to the rope as he edged up over the top of the cliff on the coast a few miles from Dieppe. It was December 26 1943, and his unit was on a mission to explore beaches as possible sites for a mass landing in Nazi-occupied France. Suddenly he saw a light and a patrol of German soldiers, 15 in all, advancing in his direction, rifles at the ready. If this had been a scene from the film Inglourious Basterds, then the commando would have massacred each and every one of them with his Sten gun. But the reality 65 years ago on that cliff top was very different.
WWII documentary film Lost in Libya explores the legendary Long Range Desert Group
WW2 documentary film Lost in Libya follows 3 amateur historians` travel to the heart of the Sahara to find the untouched site of a battle between the legendary Long Range Desert Group and the Italian forces. The film includes the only known historical footage of a group of specialist soldiers in action during the Second World War. The Long Range Desert Group was an elite force with special skills in navigation, desert warfare and survival. The group`s main aim was to provide detailed maps and information about Nazi positions from deep behind enemy lines in the Libyan Desert without being detected.
Pegasus Bridge operation - Securing key bridges before D-Day landings
The last living officer to serve in WW2`s Pegasus Bridge mission (Operation Tonga) which paved the way for the D-Day landings has passed away aged 85. Colonel David Wood led a platoon of airborne troopers in helping to secure two key bridges in Normandy, only hours before the Allied beach assault. He was among troops who drifted behind enemy lines in six Horsa gliders on June 6 1944 and took just 10 minutes to take the bridges. The mission - hailed as the single most important ten minutes of the war - prevented the Nazis from sending in reinforcements and enabled Allied forces to continue their advance after taking the D-Day beaches.
Syd Thomson invented the urban warfare technique of mouse-holing at Little Stalingrad
Brigadier Syd Thomson led the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada both in seizing the Adriatic port of Ortona and in inventing town-clearing tactics which were adopted by the British Army. He took over command of the Seaforths on Dec. 10 1943 when (with the Loyal Edmonton Regiment) they set about forcing out seasoned German paratroops from Ortona, where barricades forced attackers into the few open squares - many of which were ringed with machine guns to create killing grounds. The German defence was so furious that the battle is known as "Little Stalingrad", and the members of both regiments developed a technique called "mouse-holing".
The Brenner Assignment - American spies behind enemy lines [book review]
In the Alpine terrain of northern Italy, a small team of American secret agents has a singular task: to sabotage the Brenner Pass. "The Brenner Assignment: The Untold Story of the Most Daring Spy Mission of World War II" is a documented account of this daring Second World War mission. Military historian Patrick K. O`Donnell relies on thousands of declassified documents, interviews, and personal journal entries to tell for the first time the real-life story of how OSS (Office of Strategic Services) warriors worked behind enemy lines to close off the supply channels of Nazi Germany into Italy from 1944-1945.
Stories how commandos raided Fortress Europe
Operation Basalt: Seizing German officers. The commandos emerged from nowhere. Jumping off the assault boat, Major Geoffrey Appleyard ran up the beach towards the cliffs. Reaching the house of Frances Pittard, Appleyard learned from her that 20 Germans were at the Dixcart Hotel. The commandos slipped into town, kidnapping 5 Germans. But before the team could turn their focus on the hotel, hell broke loose. One prisoner began shouting, and he was shot. The team retreated to the beach, taking 4 prisoners with them, of which 3 escaped. Two were shot, while the third was stabbed. The commandos, with just one prisoner and a double-agent, managed to escape.
WWII veteran travels back to the site of top secret Gibraltar mission after 66 years (Article no longer available from the original source)
Bruce Cooper traveled back to Gibraltar and was able to confirm that Gibraltar`s "Stay Behind Cave" was indeed the secret chamber from which he and 5 other men would have spied on Germans if Gibraltar had been seized by the Nazis. Cooper is the last living member of the operation "Tracer". The visit was set up by film Producer Martin Nuza as part of his film project about Operation Tracer. This follows on from Nuza`s documentary about Adolf Hitler`s plan to capture Gibraltar (called "Operation Felix"). During a tour of WW2 tunnels Cooper id`ed himself in one of the archive military photos on display at the entrance to the tunnel system.
"Castner`s Cutthroats: Forgotten Warriors" exhibit commemorates WWII scouts
Details about a secret World War II mission are on display at the Anchorage Museum with the "Castner`s Cutthroats: Forgotten Warriors" - exhibit. Castner`s Cutthroats were a group of military scouts that gathered intelligence for the U.S. Army when Japan invaded two Aleutian Islands during the war. Present at the unveiling of exhibit were 3 scouts, who shared their accounts of being a Castner Cutthroat. "I made 7 trips to the Aleutians from Anchorage. One time by boat, the rest by airplane," Ed Walker said. The exhibit includes artifacts from the scouts` missions and will be on display for one year.
David Paton, who took part in the famous St Nazaire raid in 1942, dies
David Paton, a medical officer on the St Nazaire raid in 1942, has died aged 95. The aim of the operation was to neutralise the Nazi battleship Tirpitz by knocking off the only dry dock big enough to take her should she be damaged. The plan was to drive an explosives-packed American destroyer, the Campbeltown, into the dock gate. David Paton accompanied the Campbeltown aboard one of the little ships that followed. The Campbeltown, masked as a German vessel, got within a mile of the dock before the assault was detected. "All hell broke loose: searchlights by the dozen illuminated us from both sides and we became targets for a huge variety of guns."
Expedition to the untouched battle site of the Long Range Desert Group
For amateur historian Brendan O`Carroll, travelling thousands of miles and crossing a desert was a small price to pay to uncover a piece of New Zealand history. He went on an expedition to Libya to find a remote WWII battle site, where little-known New Zealand unit, the Long Range Desert Group, took on enemy forces, and where 3 Kiwi army trucks remain untouched since the 1941 battle. "It`s such a unique Kiwi story. They were the forerunners of the SAS and trained the SAS when it was formed..." O`Carroll has published 3 books about the Long Range Desert Group and is co-writing another about the trip.
British troops rescued Germans from the rampaging Russians
Harry Henshaw is the only living member of A Company 5th King`s Regiment - the task force given the task of evacuating the residents of Schloss Stolberg. In 1945 Germany was split into occupation zones, and the region of Stolberg-Stolberg, which houses Stolberg Castle, came under Russian occupation. Prince Jos Christian wanted to evacuate the 44 people living there because of concerns for their future and their art collection. So the prince contacted the Duke of Brunswick, who had connections with the British royal family, for assistance. The duke then handed the mission to Harry`s regiment.
Resistance fighter who helped Cockleshell Heroes escape Gestapo
The French Resistance fighter Jean Mariuad, who guided the two Cockleshell Heroes to safety after one of the most daring commando raids of WWII, has spoken about the operation for the first time. In Dec 1942 10 Royal Marines paddled up the Gironde River on Cockle Mark II canoes to plant limpet mines on German merchant ships preparing to carry war materials from Bordeaux to Japan. They sunk one ship, severely damaged 4 and did enough damage to disrupt the harbour for months. But 2 men drowned and 6 were captured. The only two who survived - Major "Blondie" Hasler (founder of the Special Boat Service) and Royal Marine Bill Sparks - owed their lives to Mariuad.
The Japanese-American Purple Heart Division during World War II
As we commemorate Memorial Day, it is fitting that we recognize the heroism of Japanese-American World War II soldiers. Like African-American veterans, Japanese-Americans veterans fought two foes: the external enemies of the U.S. and racial injustice within America itself. The 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team is the most decorated unit in U.S. military history. With more than 700 men killed in action and more than 9,500 purple hearts awarded, unit suffered a higher casualty rate than any other American military unit ever. Because of the great sacrifices the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team came to be called the "Purple Heart Battalion".
The Second Objective - The story of World War II`s Operation Griffin
"The Second Objective" by Mark Frost tells the story of World War II`s Operation Griffin, declassified a decade ago, in which a small number of German soldiers sneaked behind enemy lines impersonating American GIs. Their goal, in U.S. Army uniforms and in Bronx-inspired English, was first to sow confusion and then to execute a "second objective" meant to bring the Allies to their knees. The charismatic SS officer Otto Skorzeny, who masterminded Operation Griffin and liberated Mussolini in 1943, lurks in the background. "This is the man who would go on to form ODESSA after the war."
Book: WWII bound men together - The First Special Service Force
Like many World War II veterans, Tom Hope has not forgotten how the war changed the world as it shaped the man he and so many others would become. This spring he hopes to finish a book that looks at the ways the war helped the men who served in it bond for life. The book examines how the men of the First Special Service Force (the only unit to include American and Canadian troops under the same command in the same uniform) have continued to stay close for more than 60 years. It contains photos and accounts, memorials and tributes - many of which bring tears to Tom Hope`s eyes.
One of just six Royal Navy commandos to survive a bloody battle
A hero who was among just 6 Royal Navy commandos to survive a bloody World War II battle has died. Ken Hatton risked his life during the invasion of Elba in June, 1944. The commandos` motto was First In, Last Out, because they were first onto the beaches in battle and the last to leave. His best friend was killed next to him during fighting which raged on the Italian island as Allied troops battled for control of the German stronghold. The commandos seized a Nazi gun-boat protecting Elba`s beaches. But back-up forces failed to arrive on time and scores of commandos and POWs were killed in an explosion as the Germans fought back.
The First Special Service Force - The Devils Brigade
Raymond W. Buchholz was a member of the First Special Service Force, a Canadian-American unit known as "The Devil`s Brigade" that became the forerunner of the Green Berets. He served with the force in North Africa, at the invasion of Italy at Anzio in January 1944, in southern France and Germany. He earned 5 bronze battle stars for his service and the Purple Heart for combat wounds. He was originally being assigned to a motorized unit, driving battle tanks and heavy trucks. At Anzio, the force was up against Hitler`s crack Waffen-SS units and the Hermann Goering Division. Buchholz had one close call during that landing...
The First Special Service Force member`s escape from Nazis
Mark Radcliffe shipped out to North Africa with the legendary WWII joint U.S./Canadian fighting unit - The First Special Service Force, Devil’s Brigade - as commander of the 3rd Company, 3rd Regiment. He was involved in the conquests of Mount La Difensa and Mount Majo in Italy, and then the force was assigned to Anzio. While on patrol on the Anzio beachhead he was captured by the Nazis. His German interrogator struck him across the throat with a rubber truncheon. About then American artillery started shelling the area. Radcliffe’s captors scattered for shelter, leaving only one Nazi to guard 3 soldiers.
Commando group -- The 326th First Air Command Airdrome (Article no longer available from the original source)
Lee Lowery was shipped overseas with an air commando group to fight the Japanese. "We went in by glider hocked up to an airplane and were dropped in by parachutes. When we went to get the first spot for our ammunition, we got ambushed by a Japanese squad. We got all of them without firing a rifle or gun, with our bayonets, because we didn`t want to give our whereabouts away." "I had 25 GIs under my command, and 25 Gurhka soldiers under my command. The Gurkhas didn`t like rifles. They would take the rifles and throw them away. They used their handmade swords, which they also used to sacrifice goats, which was part of their religion."
Ove Pederson served in a special Army unit - Viking Battalion (Article no longer available from the original source)
During World War II, Ove Pederson served in a special battalion, the 99th Infantry Battalion (Separate) or Viking Battalion, made up mostly of Norwegian-Americans. After victory was secured in Europe, they entered Norway to move German soldiers and their Russian prisoners of war out of Norway. During the war he saw a lot of combat, in the hedgerows of France and during the Battle of the Bulge. Once a sniper ignored his Red Cross armband, which he held up in the air while helping a wounded G.I. The sniper shot right through the armband.
SBS team raid on the Italian-occupied island of Rhodes
Lieutenant David Sutherland and Royal Marine John Duggan were the only two to return from Operation "Anglo", a raid on the Italian-occupied island of Rhodes by the Special Boat Service in Sept 1942. The SBS team was pursued relentlessly; it had attacked two airfields and destroyed aircraft positioned to support Rommel’s threatened advance on Cairo and to bomb supply convoys to beleaguered Malta.
Rarest of the Rare - First US special forces served with distinction (Article no longer available from the original source)
The force was a rare partnership, consisting of 1,600 specially trained Canadian and U.S. volunteers. Hill was one of the originals, a member of “the Devil’s Brigade.” They came by the nickname in a brutally honest way. The soldiers were trained extensively in hand-to-hand combat. It was the paper sticker they left behind on the bodies of their victims that really earned them the sobriquet. The cards read “ Das Dicke Ende Kommt Noch” meaning “the worst is yet to come.” An entry from a diary found on the body of a German officer read, “The Black Devils are all around us every time we come into line, and we never hear them.”