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Commando Raid, British Commandos of World War II
Commando Raid
British Commandos of World War II
© 2009
252 pages; 12 chapters and 4 appendixes
Although the British commandos are mentioned in every history of World War II,
very little detailed information is available.
Commando Raid focuses upon the
organization and tactics of British commando battalions. However, some
attention is given to large-scale fighting as well as micro-tactical combat.  Most of
the material in
Commando Raid is devoted to British commando exploits
during the World War II
years 1940-1942. Although the commando idea was
good, British commando units were poorly organized. The
commando raid was
the main type of combat carried out by British commandos
. The Saint Nazaire
commando raid, the Varengeville commando raid, and the commando raid on
General Rommel’s headquarters are covered in some detail. The book is not a
complete and detailed description of
British commandos, but instead captures
the essence of their organization, training, and tactical level combat during
World War II.
Review Table of Contents
“The general alarm went out about 05:30 and the German 302nd Infantry Division reacted quickly. Major von Blücher,
commander of the 302nd Antitank Battalion was ordered to organized a counterattack towards Berneval. He formed a
battle group composed of: a squadron of men on bicycles, the 3rd Company of the 570th Infantry Regiment, and a
company of divisional engineers, and moved them to the area. They quickly engaged the Commandos moving inland from
Yellow I Beach and forced them to retreat. Unfortunately the commandos’ landing craft had either withdrawn or been sunk
under heavy fire. As a result, the Commandos had no choice but to surrender. They suffered thirty-seven killed and
eighty-one lost as prisoners, the majority of whom had been wounded. Among the killed was Lieutenant Edward
Loustalot, one of the American Rangers accompanying the 3rd Commando. He was the first American soldier to be killed
in Europe during World War II.
Meanwhile, Young's group, steadily running out of ammunition, was caught in an exposed position. He therefore withdrew
his men to the beach and signaled for naval craft to come and pick them up.
On the coast of France, at the town of Dieppe, on August 18th, 1942, the cream of the British infantry (Canadians and
commandos), made a large-scale raid to "test" the quality of German defenses and infantry. The "test" resulted in an
embarrassing and costly defeat. For the first time, the Western allies perceived the effect of vast numbers of German light
machine guns. The German troops, with at least one machine gun per squad, smothered the elite British troops with
devastating fire along the skirmish line. The commonwealth troops were cut down in swaths by numerically inferior, but
better deployed and equipped German squads. In the words of one Canadian, "We went into intense, accurate light
machine gun fire." It was a true disaster.”
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25
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