Thank you for continuing to read my blog, after the success of the first episode of my PodCast , 'HMS Belfast to Victory the story of Ron Knight a Royal Marine on operations in Korea and Malaya'
I am also searching for veterans to take part in future episodes in particular from WW2, Korea, Malaya, Borneo, Aden, Cyprus, Falklands etc.
So if you know anyone, please let me know, or ask them to get in touch.
More here: https://anchor.fm/royal-marines-history
Keep your heads down and powder dry, Per Mare Per Terram.
Come and see over 356 years of History, search by Unit, Year, Month, Conflict, or Historic Period mapped out with over 600 pins and growing!
Royal Marines served in every theater and in almost every major sea engagement in the Second World War and were in action until the last day of the war in Europe and still engaged in Asia until the Japanese surrender.
On 17th September 1939 HMS Courageous was struck by 2 torpedoes, the carrier capsized and sank in 20 minutes, the first British ship sunk in WW2, with the loss of 519 lives, 23 Royal Marines are listed as killed on the Plymouth War Memorial.
In December of the same year Royal Marines were in action manning turrets on HMS Ajax, Achilles and Exeter during the Battle of the River Plate, 15 Marines lost their lives.
In Norway a small party of Royal Marines were first ashore at Namsos in April 1940, seizing the approaches to the Norwegian town preparatory to a landing by the British Army two days later.
Royal Marines supported the RAF concentrated at Bardufoss aerodrome mounting A/A guns, here Group Captain Moore, R.A.F. 'speedy and efficient work of Lieutenant Colonel H. R. Lambert, D.S.C., R.M., and his men of the Royal Marine Fortress Unit in mounting guns under difficult conditions merit the highest praise'
Blondie Haslar later of Cockleshell Hero's fame was at the rearguard action in Narvik and one of the last to leave.
Royal Marines fought rearguard action in Calais, supporting the evacuation at Dunkirk, told from the outset that they would likely not be extracted.
A Royal Marine fought in the Battle of Britain in 1940, Ronald Cuthbert Hay, DSO, DSC & Bar was the only Royal Marine fighter ace.
The Royal Marines Division was formed to mount Amphibious Operations, parts of which served at Dakar and in the capture of Madagascar in 1942.
After the assault on the French naval base at Antsirane in Madagascar was held up, fifty Sea Service Royal Marines from HMS Ramilles commanded by Captain Martin Price were landed on the quay of the base by the British destroyer HMS Anthony after it ran the gauntlet of French shore batteries defending Diego Suarez Bay. They then captured two of the batteries, which led to a quick surrender by the French.
In addition the Royal Marines formed Mobile Naval Base Defence Organisations (MNBDOs) . One of these took part in the defence of Crete.
The first Royal Marines commando unit was formed at Deal in Kent on 14 February 1942 and designated 'The Royal Marine Commando' re-designated 'A' Commando it saw action in the raid on Dieppe, on return designated 40 (RM) Commando. One month after Dieppe, most of the 11th Royal Marine Battalion was killed or captured in an ill staged amphibious landing at Tobruk in Operation Agreement.
In 1942 the Infantry Battalions of the Royal Marine Division were re-organised as Commandos, joining the British Army Commandos. The Division command structure became a Special Service Brigade command. The support troops became landing craft crew and saw extensive action on D-Day in June 1944.
A total of four Special Service Brigades (later Commando brigade) were raised during the war, and Royal Marines were represented in all of them. A total of nine RM Commandos (Battalions) were raised during the war, numbered from 40 to 48.
1 Commando Brigade had just one RM Battalion, No 45 Commando. 2 Commando Brigade had two RM battalions, Nos 40 and 43 Commandos. 3 Commando Brigade also had two, Nos 42 and 44 Commandos. 4 Commando Brigade was entirely Royal Marine after March 1944, comprising Nos 41, 46, 47 and 48 Commandos.
1st Commando Brigade took part in Operation Jubilee the raid on Dieppe and Normandy, campaigns in the Rhineland and crossing the Rhine at Wesel.
2 Commando Brigade was involved in the Salerno landings, Anzio, Comacchio, and operations in the Argenta Gap.
3 Commando Brigade served in Sicily and Burma.
4 Commando Brigade served in the Battle of Normandy and in the Battle of the Scheldt on the island of Walcheren during the clearing of Antwerp.
In January 1945, two further RM brigades were formed, 116th Brigade and 117th Brigade. Both were conventional infantry, rather than in the commando role. 116th Brigade saw some action in the Netherlands, but 117th Brigade was hardly used operationally.
Eighteen Royal Marines commanded Fleet Air Arm squadrons during the course of the war, and with the formation of the British Pacific Fleet were well-represented in the final drive on Japan. Captains and majors generally commanded squadrons, whilst in one case Lt. Colonel R.C. Hay on HMS Indefatigable was Air Group Co-ordinator from HMS Victorious of the entire British Pacific Fleet.
Throughout the war Royal Marines continued in their traditional roles of providing ships detachments and manning a proportion of the guns on cruisers and capital ships, involved in every major sea battle including the Battle of the River Plate in 1939 and the loss of 116 marines during the sinking of HMS Hood.
They also provided beach control units and the crews for the UK's minor landing craft, and the Royal Marines Armoured Support Group manned Centaur IV tanks on D Day; one of these is still on display near Pegasus Bridge.
Only one Marine (Corporal Thomas Peck Hunter of 43 Commando) was awarded the Victoria Cross in the Second World War for action at Lake Comacchio in Italy. Hunter was the most recent RM commando to be awarded the medal.
RM Band members served on all RN Capital Ships and by the end of the Second World War, 225 musicians and buglers had been killed in action, which was a quarter of their strength at the time, and the highest percentage of any branch of any service, after Bomber Command.
The Royal Marines Boom Patrol Detachment under Blondie Haslar carried out Operation Frankton and provided the basis for the post-war continuation of the SBS, Royal Marines also provided divers clearing the beaches in the hours before the D Day invasion.
Royal Marines also formed troops in 30 Assault Unit, driving ahead to capture important documents, take prisoners and secret weapons.
The first HMS Shah was a 19th-century unarmoured iron hulled, wooden sheathed frigate of Britain's Royal Navy designed by Sir Edward Reed. She was originally to be named HMS Blonde but was renamed following the visit of the Shah of Persia in 1873. Her complement was 469 officers and men, 46 boys and 87 marines.
She fought an action, the Battle of Pacocha, in company with the corvette HMS Amethyst on 29 May 1877
The naval Incident of Pacocha took place on 29 May 1877 when Nicolás de Piérola was leading a revolution to overthrow then Peruvian President Mariano Ignacio Prado. Piérola's supporters used the Peruvian monitor Huáscar as a raiding ship. She harassed the shipping especially off El Callao, the main commercial port of Peru. However, after she boarded some British merchant ships, British authorities sent Rear Admiral de Horsey to capture the vessel.
The Peruvian warship managed to outrun the British squadron after a fierce exchange of fire. Huáscar's guns were undermanned, and she fired just 40 rounds. Shah's mast was damaged by splinters. On the British side, Shah fired 237 shots and Amethyst 190, but none of them carried armour-piercing ammunition. Huáscar was hit 60 times, but her armour shield defeated all the rounds.
There was a last-ditch effort to stop or sink the rebels when two small torpedo rams from Shah attempted to find the Huáscar, but the Peruvian ship managed to escape under the cover of darkness. The rebel crew was forced to surrender their ship to the Peruvian government just two days later. This battle saw the first use of the newly invented self-propelled torpedo in action which, at the time, had just entered limited service with the Royal Navy. The torpedo was dodged by the rebel monitor.
On Friday 28th May 1982, the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment was engaged in fierce fighting to take enemy positions in the area of Darwin and Goose Green. Two Gazelles and two Scout helicopters from 3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron Royal Marines were tasked to support the attack.
From dawn, heedless of enemy ground fire, the two Scouts from B Flight, led by the Flight Commander, Captain Jeff Niblett RM with his air gunner Sergeant John Glaze RM in ‘Delta Tango’ with ‘Delta Romeo’ flown by Lieutenant Richard Nunn RM with his air gunner Sergeant Bill Belcher RM, supported the Battalion by flying vital ammunition forward to the front line and then evacuating casualties to safety. The two Gazelles from M Flight were also committed throughout the battle.
After flying continuously for three and a half hours, it was learnt that the Commanding Officer and others in the battalion’s forward Tactical Headquarters had been severely wounded. Both Scout aircraft were tasked to fly forward once more to evacuate the wounded, taking with them the Battalion Second in Command.
Five minutes after take-off from their forward operation base at Camilla Creek House, suddenly and without warning two Argentine Pucara ground attack aircraft attacked both Scouts with cannon and rocket fire. With great flying skill Lieutenant Nunn evaded the first attack but on the second his aircraft was hit and destroyed. Lieutenant Nunn was killed instantly. Sergeant Belcher was seriously wounded but thrown clear. He lost a leg.
By employing a combination of exceptional flying skill and superb teamwork with his air gunner Sergeant John Glaze, Captain Niblett successfully evaded a further three cannon and rocket attacks, eventually completing the mission.
The crew of ‘Delta Tango’ resolutely continued support and evacuation operations until well after dark. The support given by the aircraft of 3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron was vital to the conduct of the attack and was instrumental in the eventual victory. Captain Jeff Niblett RM was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Lieutenant Richard Nunn was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
The citations for both awards published in the London Gazette on 8th October 1982.
Lieutenant Richard James Nunn, citation records:
"On Friday 28th May 1982 the 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment was engaged in fierce fighting to take enemy positions in the area of Port Darwin. From dawn, Lieutenant Nunn, a Scout helicopter pilot, had supported the Battalion flying vital ammunition forward to the front line and had evacuated casualties heedless of enemy ground fire.
After flying continuously for three and a half hours, it was learnt that the Commanding Officer and others in Battalion Tactical Headquarters forward had been severely wounded. Lieutenant Nunn was tasked to evacuate these casualties collecting the Battalion Second in Command en route. However, five minutes after take off, suddenly and without prior warning, two Pucara aircraft appeared from the South and attacked the Scout with rockets and cannon fire. By great skill Lieutenant Nunn evaded the first attack but on the second his aircraft was hit and destroyed. Lieutenant Nunn was killed instantly and his aircrewman Sergeant Belcher was grieviously wounded.
Lieutenant Nunn displayed exceptional courage, flying skill and complete devotion to duty in the face of the enemy. His achievements that day, supporting the Battalion, were exceptional and were instrumental in the eventual victory."
SBS Operations - West Falklands - Fox Bay Dateline : 26th May 1982
With the British now firmly established on East Falklands, the Argentinean battalion stationed at Fox Bay, West Falklands, could be mustered to attack the British flanks as they prepared to march on Stanley. Something had to be done to harass the Argentinean forces in the area and keep them occupied. Without wanted to commit a large scale unit to attack Fox Bay, the British planners decided to use a deadly combination of Naval gunfire and special forces.
A team of 2 Naval Gunfire Support (NGS) specialists from 148 Commando Forward Observation Battery escorted by a 5-man SBS delivery and protection team were inserted 5 miles south of West Head by HMS Plymouth. The 148 Commando team was led by Captain Hugh McManners, who had accompanied the SBS on their mission to clear Fanning Head. The team was loaded into a Gemini Rigid Inflatable for the perilous journey. The SBS took a route that followed the coast as this way, to any enemy radar operator they would be hidden amongst the 'clutter' of the coastline.
Whilst stealthy, the route caused other problems - a thick seaweed-like type of marine-life known as Kelp clogged the boat's outboard motors. The Kelp was so thick close to their proposed landing point that the team decided to update their plans and set up their OP (Observation Position) on Knob Island, overlooking Fox Bay West & Fox Bay East.
Once Knob Island had been checked out by the SBS, the observers from 148 Commando manned their OP and plotted a list of targets, radioing them back to HMS PLymouth, which took up position on its gun line. With corrections provided by 148 Commando, Plymouth shelled Argentinean fuel stores and ammo dumps. Naval artillery is more accurate than field artillery thanks to a gyroscopically stabilized gun and a computerized aiming system. The ship's main gun can also fire repeatedly. putting many rounds down per minute. The effect of such a powerful weapon system under the direction of highly trained men on the ground caused much consternation and confusion amongst the Argentinean positions.
The artillery mission complete, the SBS now had the challenge of getting themselves and the FO team back safely. Due to problems with the outboard motors on their boat, and facing strong winds and currents, the SBS fashioned a sail out of crossed paddles and a poncho. The Argentinean forces at Fox Bay, now truly riled up from the shelling, were firing AAA and machine gun fire out to sea in the hope of hitting HMS Plymouth. Whilst this fire was wild and blind, it did stray close to the SBS/148 team, adding as little colour to their evening.
McManners retaliated by calling in more naval gunfire to cover their escape. It was a hard slog, but eventually the team was picked up by HMS Plymouth and both the SBS and 148 Commando got some well-earned sleep. During the course of the war HMS Plymouth fired 909 4.5 inch shells.
The Fox Bay operation was followed the next night by a mission to Port Howard by another SBS/148 team
Original article here: https://www.eliteukforces.info/special-boat-service/operations/fox-bay/
The Battle of the Denmark Strait was a naval engagement on 24 May 1941 in the Second World War, between ships of the Royal Navy and the German Kriegsmarine.
The British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser HMS Hood fought the German battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, which were attempting to break out into the North Atlantic to attack Allied merchant shipping (Operation Rheinübung).
Less than 10 minutes after the British opened fire, a shell from Bismarck struck Hood near her aft ammunition magazines.
Soon afterwards, Hood exploded and sank within three minutes, with the loss of all but three of her crew.
Prince of Wales continued to exchange fire with Bismarck but suffered serious malfunctions in her main armament.The British battleship had only just been completed in late March 1941, and used new quadruple gun turrets that were unreliable. Therefore, the Prince of Wales soon broke off the engagement.
The destroyer HMS ELECTRA rescued the only three survivors out of a total complement of over 1,418 on board, including 162 Royal Marines killed.
These deaths constituted the Royal Navy's greatest single ship loss of the Second World War.
Bismarck firing at HMS Prince of Wales shortly after sinking HMS Hood in the Denmark Strait
The British public were shocked that their most emblematic warship and more than 1,400 of her crew had been destroyed so suddenly. The Admiralty mobilised every available warship in the Atlantic to hunt down and destroy Bismarck.
The Battle of the Denmark Strait
By 05.45 the opposing battle groups had sighted each other.
Admiral Lütjens was faced with a dilemma aboard Bismarck, his orders were to engage enemy commerce, not enemy warships let alone capital ships.
Bismarck could outrun the British heavy units, but with the ice edge close by and enemy cruisers on his starboard quarter, he had little alternative but to engage in battle.
Admiral Holland ordered his force to open fire at 05:49.
Initially Hood engaged Prinz Eugen instead of Bismarck, a mistake not realised until Hood fired the first salvo of the engagement at 05:52:30 at a range of approximately 12.5 miles (25,330 yards or 23,150 m).
Hood's shells landed very close to Prinz Eugen causing minor shell splinter damage.
Hood continued to race toward the German ships in an attempt to close the range and reduce the time Hood's decks were exposed to plunging fire.
The German ships quickly found the range to Hood and she was hit first by an 8 inch (203mm) shell from Prinz Eugen on the boat deck which ignited 4 inch (102 mm) ammunition and UP rockets, causing a fire to burn out of control endangering the ship.
Shortly afterwards Prinz Eugen shifted her aim to Prince of Wales following a semaphore order from Bismarck.
At 05:55 Holland ordered "2 blue", a 20 degree turn to port, to enable Hood to bring her aft turrets to bear on Bismarck.
At about 06:00 as Hood was turning she was struck by one or more shells from Bismarck's fifth salvo fired from a range of 15 to 18 km (about 8 to 9.5 nautical miles).
Almost immediately, a huge jet of flame burst out of Hood from the vicinity of the mainmast.
This was followed by a devastating explosion that destroyed the after part of the ship.
Hood's stern rose and sank rapidly, then her bow section reared up in the sea and the forward turret fired one last salvo just before the bow section sank.
HMS Hood, the pride of the Royal Navy, sank within 3 minutes, and only 11 minutes had past since Hood's first salvo to her sinking.
Of the 1,418 crew only three men survived(Ted Briggs (1923–2008), Robert Ernest Tilburn (1921–1995) and William John Dundas (1921–1965)), rescued about two and a half hours after the sinking by the destroyer HMS Electra.
The Royal Navy forces pursued and brought Bismarck to battle. The German battleship was sunk on the morning of 27 May.
Royal Marines killed:
ABBOTT, Frederick, Marine, PO/X 4821:
ABLETT, Wallace A, Marine, PO/X 328:
ADAMS, Frank P, Musician, RMB/X 546:
ADAMS, Keith H, Corporal, RM, PO/X 2029:
ALLEN, John G, Marine, PO/X 2182:
ALLOTT, George, Marine, PO/22532:
AMBRIDGE, Walter C, Sergeant, RM, PO/22128:
BAILEY, Frederick W, Marine, PO/18832:
BARRINGER, William H, Marine,PO/X 4223:
BASSTONE, Jack, Marine, PO/X 100574:
BATES, Leonard A, Marine, PO/X 1561:
BEARD, Alan, Marine, PO/X3360:
BENNETT, Ernest, Marine, PO/X 3432:
BOCUTT, Alfred A, Marine, PO/21632:
BONEHAM, Norman, Marine, PO/X4228:
BRAND, William H, Corporal, RM, PO/X 1776:
BRITTON, Clarence V, Marine, PO/X 100335:
BROWN, Arthur, Marine, PO/21742:
BULLOCK, Henry W, Marine, PO/X 546:
BURKIN, Robert H, Marine, CH/X 692:
CANN, Herbert R, Marine, PO/22722:
CAPSTICK, Arthur J, Marine, PO/X 3816:
CARPENTER, Robert S, Marine, PO/X 3508:
CARTER, Robert J W, Marine, PO/X 4247:
CARTWRIGHT, Thomas D, Captain, RM:
CHAMBERLAIN, Henry S, Ty/Corporal, RM, PO/X 3393:
CLARK, Leonard A, Marine, PO/X 100046:
CLARK, Robert G, Marine, PO/X 3361:
COLE, George D, Marine, PO/X 100756:
COLE, William G, Marine, PO/X 1844~:
COLEMAN, Dennis J, Marine, PO/X 101102:
COOMBES, Gerald E, Sergeant, RM, PO/X 22638:
COOPER, John, Marine, PO/X 3432:
COULSON, John, Musician, RMB/X 60:
CRAWTE, Alfred E J, Musician, RMB/X1037:
CRESSWELL, Henry R, Marine, PO/X 1856:
CUTHBERT, Albert T, Corporal, RM, PO/X 1848:
DAVIES, Horace D, Lieutenant, RM:
DAVIES, Kenneth J, Boy Bugler, PO/X 4687:
DAVIS, Herbert A, Marine, PO/19475:
DAY, Frederick J, Marine, PO/X 4017:
DEAR, Nelson L, Musician, RMB/3013:
DISCOMBE, Archie A J, Musician, RMB/X 528:
DUNNELL, Graham G, Marine, PO/X 3868:
EASTWOOD, Walter C, Marine, PO/22420:
EDWARDS, Melville, Marine, PO/X 4154:
EMERY, Lawrence A, Musician, RMB/3064:
FARRAR, Clifford, Marine, PO/X 3163:
FENNER, Henry J, Marine, PO/X 3495:
FOTHERINGHAM, George, Marine, PO/X 1639:
FOWLER, Robert H, Musician, RMB/X 313:
GIBSON, Thomas, Marine, PO/X 1764:
GILLAN, Joseph, Marine, PO/X 3429:
GLEDHILL, James E, Corporal, RM, PO/X 1814:
GOMER, Harry, Marine, PO/216871:
GOOD, Bernard E C, Marine, PO/X 1852:
GOUGH, John M, Colour Sergeant, RM, PO/216779:
GREEN, Benjamin L, Marine, PO/X 3394:
GREGORY, John, Marine, PO/X 3365:
GRIFFIN, Charles A, Marine, PO/X 3811:
GROVES, Stedman B, Musician, RMB/X 505:
GUEST, Alan, Band Boy, RMB/X 1108:
HAEGER, Edward G, Sergeant, RM, PO/21804:
HALL, Thomas, Marine, PO/X 2844:
HARRIS, James H, Marine, PO/X 428:
HATHERILL, William H, Marine, PO/21992:
HENDRY, William, Marine, PO/X 4894:
HERMON, Eric D, Marine, PO/X 100265,:
HEROD, Maurice H E, Band Master 1c, RMB/2826:
HIBBS, Francis H F, Ty/Corporal, RM, PO/X 205:
HILL, Eric J R, Marine, PO/X 3870:
HISCOCK, Frederick J, Marine, PO/X 1849:
HOLLAND, Charles, Marine, PO/22490:
HOWIE, Robert G W, Marine, PO/X 3503, (served as Robert G Watson):
HOWS, Gordon, Marine, PO/X 3426:
HUGHES, William F, Marine, PO/X 1816:
HUMPHREYS, William, Marine, PO/X 3815:
HUNNS, John A C, Marine, PO/X 3363:
HUNTINGTON, Ernest S, Ty/Sergeant, RM, PO/X 1288:
JACKSON, George S, Marine, PO/X 3337:
JOHN, Thomas, Marine, PO/X 3481:
JULIER, Alfred E, Marine, CH/22942:
KEITH, Arthur W, Marine, PO/X 3863:
KERSLEY, Albert S, Marine, PO/22368:
KIRK, Russell G, Marine, PO/X 3421:
LAYCOCK, Henry, Marine, PO/X 22631:
LAYTON, Sidney G, Marine, PO/X 3392:
LEVACK, John S L, Marine, PO/X 4826:
LOCK, Robert H, Marine, PO/X 4804:
LONDON, Reginald J C, Sergeant, RM, PO/X 911:
LONG, George H, Musician, RMB/X 975:
LUMLEY, Heaton, Major, RM:
MANSER, Richard A, Marine, PO/X 100888:
MARSH, Percy G, Marine, PO/22660:
MCFADYEN, Walter E, Ty/Sergeant, RM, PO/X 859:
MCQUADE, Ernest G, Marine, PO/X 3494:
MILES, Ronald S, Marine, PO/X 3074:
MILLS, Montague D, Marine, PO/X 3424:
MORGAN, Albert H, Marine, PO/X 3391:
MORGAN, Ronald, Marine, PO/X 3386:
MURRAY, Frederick C, Marine, PO/X 3864:
NEALE, Robert S, Marine, PO/22454:
NOBLE, Alexander, Marine, PO/X 3496:
ORRELL, Walter J, Marine, PO/X 100578:
PALMER, James A, Marine, PO/X 3487:
PALMER, Reginald W, Ty/Sergeant, RM, PO/X 1063:
PEACE, Denzil S, 77 Marine, PO/X 3427:
PERKINS, William G, Marine, PO/X 3390:
PERRY, Leonard, Marine, PO/21963:
PIERCE, Robert D, Marine, PO/X 4141:
PIKE, William A, Musician, RMB/X 738:
PLANT, Edwin, Marine, PO/X 1788:
POAR, Reginald J, Marine, PO/215898:
PORTER, Frederick A, Marine, PO/19699:
PORTER, Reginald J, Musician, RMB/3040:
PRATT, Albert W C, Marine, PO/X 1400:
RANDALL, Stanley R, Marine, PO/X 3871:
REED, Hector L, Corporal, RM, PO/1682:
RODLEY, Samuel J, Marine, PO/X 3967:
ROSENTHAL, Henry C, Marine, PO/X 4273:
ROWE, Stanley G S, Marine, PO/X 4837:
ROWLANDS, Daniel J, Marine, PO/X 3490:
RUNDLE, Arthur F, Marine, PO/X 3358:
RUNNACLES, Frederick E, Marine, PO/X 3420:
RUSSELL, David L, Musician, RMB/X 1450:
SADLER, Edward R, Marine, PO/X 3890:
SAUNDERS, Albert, Ty/Corporal, RM, PO/X 1501:
SCOTT, Robert C, Marine, PO/X 1245:
SEWELL, Gilbert W, Marine, PO/22568;
SHADBOLT, Maurice H, Marine, PO/X 3800:
SMITH, Benjamin T, Marine, PO/X 1564:
SNOOK, George A, Marine, PO/X 2073:
SOUTHGATE, Thomas E, Marine, PO/X 3799:
SPARKES, Ernest, Marine, PO/X 3911:
STEPTOE, John H, Marine, PO/X 4879:
STODDARD, George H P, Marine, PO/X 1276:
STUBBINGS, Douglas H, Marine, PO/X 100028:
TAPSELL, Albert E, Marine, PO/X 3874:
TAWNEY, David R, Musician, RMB/X 568:
TAYLOR, Lewis J, Marine, PO/X 541:
TAYLOR, Reginald L, Musician, RMB/3087:
TELFORD, Charles, Marine, PO/X 3647:
THORPE, Joseph, Marine, PO/X 3187:
SCOTT, Robert C, Marine, PO/X 1245:
TOOGOOD, Leslie B, Marine, PO/X 4878:
VINEY, Albert E, Marine, PO/21511:
WALLIS, Michael H S J, Marine, PO/X 4834:
WALTON, Clifford, Marine, PO/22215:
WARREN, Donald, Marine, PO/X 100275:
WEARN, Arthur, Marine, PO/X 1941:
WEARNE, Harry E, Able Seaman, P/JX 133821:
WEAVER, Henry E, Marine, PO/X 3923:
WELCH, Sidney C T, Marine, PO/X 3501:
WELLS, Philip J, Corporal, RM, PO/X 1645:
WHITE, Harry, Ty/Marine, PO/X 4215:
WHITEHEAD, Reginald C, Sergeant, RM, PO/X 1038:
WILLIS, Herbert, Marine, PO/X 4881:
WISHART, Jack E, Marine, PO/X 3489:
WORSFOLD, Sydney G, Band Corporal, RMB/2854:
WYATT, Jeffrey A F, Marine, PO/X 2560:
YOUNG, Percy A, Boy Bugler, PO/X 3413:
YOUNGER, Albert, Marine, PO/X 3813.
RMA-The Royal Marines Charity celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2021, marking the foundation of one of its predecessor organisations, the Royal Marines Association (RMA), in 1946.
After the Second World War, there was a Royal Marines Old Comrades Association (RMOCA) which flourished in branches normally in port cities, providing comradeship and mutual support, the demobilisation of some 80% of the then 77,000 Royal Marines posed a challenge to find employment on a huge scale. On the initiative of Lt Col Nicol Gray and Col Paine, RMA was established in early 1946 after an initial meeting on 27 November 1945.
RMA was initially based in an office in Queen Anne’s Mansions in Petty France, Westminster alongside the then Royal Marines HQ, with HM King George VI as Royal Patron and Lt Gen Sir Robert Sturges as President, and a monthly Executive Committee meeting with branch and regional representatives. The original aims were to help those going outside to find jobs, resettle and maintain contact with each other and the Corps, and to assist those in financial need, principally through assistance from the Royal Naval Benevolent Trust. There was a target for 50,000 members by the end of the first financial year 30 April 1947.
A new bespoke HQ was opened by Earl Mountbatten of Burma at 5 Talbot Square, London in 1948, by which time there were 155 branches and 30,000 members, and by the start of 1950 jobs had been found for 9,300 members. 1952 saw a step up in the employment and welfare sections, and the appointment of the first General Secretary followed a year later, and in 1954 the first annual reunion took place in Wigan.
in more recent times the Corps saw significant action in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001-14, and though Royal Marines make up only 4-5% of British armed forces, their elite skills (meaning they provide 45-50% of UK Special Forces) meant that they were disproportionately exposed to threat. As a consequence, though they won 25% of awards for bravery in Afghanistan, they sustained 13% of deaths and 16% of the serious injuries. There was a surge of support from the Royal Marines Corps Family to support the injured and families of the bereaved. This manifested itself in a number of initiatives and organisations being established to support the Corps Family.
Now called the ‘RMA-The Royal Marines Charity’ and operating from a HQ at CTCRM, but with satellite offices at Whale Island, Stonehouse Barracks Plymouth and Piccadilly in London, we offer preventative and reactive benevolence support to individuals and families in need, employment support to RM who are compulsorily discharged or who find themselves in need as veterans, membership services to the now over 16,000 members in 89 worldwide geographical and virtual branches (including sports, military specialisms and the arts), undergirded by an effective fundraising and communications function.
On May 21 Chinese forces attempted a night ambush on British positions in the hills to the north of Canton but were repelled. By 2:00 am on the 24th a contingent of naval and land units under Maj. Gen. Hugh Gough assembled, ready to attack the city.
The right column, towed by the steamer Atlanta, comprised around 330 men of the 26th Cameronian, Madras Artillery and an officer of the Engineers. They were to attack and hold the factories with support from the men-of-war anchored on the Canton River. The left column towed by Nemesis consisted of more than 700 troops drawn from regiments that included the 49th Foot, 27th Madras Infantry and Bengal Volunteers along with 380 Royal Marines.
The right column reached its objective by 5:00 pm under Maj. Pratt of the 26th Cameronians, who held his men ready for defensive or offensive action. The large number of troop-carrying vessels under tow by Nemesis slowed her progress and she did not reach the bank next to the village of Tsing-Hae, some five miles up river, until dusk.
Gough landed with the 49th Foot and carried out reconnaissance while other troops unloaded artillery from the ships. In his official report he later noted, "The heights to the north of Canton were crowned by four strong forts and the city walls, which run over the southern extremity of these heights, appeared to be about three miles and a half distant.
"At 3:00 and already under bombardment from the two Western forts, British troops set up a rocket battery, two 5½ mortars, two 12-pounder howitzers and two nine-pounder guns, then returned fire. Under cover of the artillery, Lt. Col. Morris and the 49th, supported by the 37th Madras Native Infantry and Bengal Volunteers, had orders to advance up a hill to his left towards the nearest eastern fort.
Meanwhile, the 18th Royal Irish under Maj. Gen. Burrell, with the Royal Marines in support, were to move forward to protect Morris' flank. At the same time Gough ordered the brigade of seamen to attack the two western forts but the sudden approach of a large body of enemy troops from the right forced him to detach the marines under Capt. Ellis to cover the right and rear. Together with an artillery brigade under the command of Capt. Knowles, Royal Artillery and the crews and troops of the attached naval squadrons, Gough had a total of around 6,000 men under his command.
When the advance sounded, the troops attacked, captured the four forts with comparatively small losses, and within a half-hour "British troops looked down on Canton within 100 paces of its walls.
The Bill Balmer Story (Royal Marine 1939-1953)
My Second Battle
Calais – Friday 24 to Sunday 26 May 1940
After the Boulogne operation Blue Watch was coming off leave, White Watch was on Coastal Defence and Red Watch was supposed to go on leave. I was in Red Watch and because we were available, we were sent to Calais. As we came down the stairs from our accommodation to ‘Go Ashore’ we were approached by the Sergeant Major, who ordered us to listen out for the ‘General Assembly’ to be announced and to be prepared to muster on the parade ground within two minutes. We asked him what was happening to which he replied that we were going on another trip. ‘By the way’, he added, ‘Go to the Armourer’s shop and sign out your guns’. That was the two Vickers machine guns, tripods and water coolant as well as our personal .45 revolvers.
The Sacrifice Army
We were known as the ‘Sacrifice Army’ for that operation. Before we left for Calais we knew we were on a lost cause. A young ‘Geordie’ in our squad called Thwaites had been talking to a Brigadier’s daughter. She had overheard her parents talking and she was able to tell us, ‘You will be going to Calais, and you will not be coming back’.
The main reason we were sent there was to destroy the Calais harbour installations and reinforce the troops already in position. Unknown to us at that time, Winston Churchill, the wartime Prime Minister, had taken a leading part in planning a series of rearguard actions designed to allow the retreat of the Allied forces at Dunkirk to continue.
That Friday ninety-six Royal Marines and four officers headed for Calais on a Royal Naval destroyer
. The officers included Captain Curtis, Lieutenant Bruce, Lieutenant Hunter and the Machine Gun Officer, Lieutenant Scott. The Senior NCOs were Colour Sergeant Reid and Sergeant Mitchell. The Junior NCOs were Corporal Harper and Lance Corporal O’Farran. There were supposed to be some troops from the Royal Ulster Rifles with us but their trip was cancelled.
While we were crossing the Channel to Calais, Lieutenant Scott moved around the ship talking to everyone. He came and sat down beside me and started to talk. He said, ’You’re Irish, aren’t you?’ I said I was. He then asked me if I was superstitious and I replied that I wasn’t really. He told me that he was superstitious about some things. When I asked him what superstitions he had he related how a single magpie had flown across the road on the way to the Royal Navy destroyer. Lieutenant Scott was joking with me and had to bite his lip to stop himself from laughing. I told him the Irish also believed that superstition. He finished off by saying, ‘Just keeping you going.’
Before the weekend was up I would mistakenly pronounce him dead.
Our first action took place on the way into Calais harbour. Two mortar shells exploded harmlessly above the destroyer on the jetty. Because the jetty was well above us there were no casualties. It did not take us long to disembark from the destroyer after that hot reception. As we were disembarking other troops were boarding.
For the next three days there was a constant run of small ships from Calais harbour evacuating the Allied non-combatant troops. The ships never brought in fresh troops after we landed.
The Royal Marines were supposed to meet with French Marines but we never met them. We eventually found them on Sunday morning 26 May 1940 just before we were captured. They were all at the railway station, all drunk with their weapons piled up.
Despite that setback with the French troops, a British officer was able to direct us, No 1 Gun Team, to a building called The Citadel, which was ideal for fighting from. It was a great vantage point, over three stories high. It had also been severely damaged during the fighting and was full of debris. This gave us good cover from enemy fire.
The Royal Air Force (RAF) had a transport pool at the Citadel. The Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) and the Queen’s Regiment had established a hospital within the Citadel.
The roof of the Citadel was full of rubbish and debris from earlier battles. Our gun team NCO, Colour Sergeant Reid, thought this was ideal, just as long as we didn’t look up or move when the German aircraft flew over our position. The white of our faces would have given our positions away.
The German spotter planes were constantly passing overhead and we used the rubbish to camouflage our position. Colour Sergeant Reid made sure we kept our heads and feet covered at all times.
The other machine gun team was behind our position to our left. We could hear the machine gun firing but such was the confusion no one told us it was our other team.
I had a very busy forty hours at Calais before we surrendered to the Germans. No sleep, hardly anything to eat or drink. ‘Geordie’ and myself worked a four-hour shift behind the gun but there was little respite for the two days. The lucky soldiers were those posted near or in the convent. They were well looked after by the nuns whereas we were isolated on the Citadel for the battle.
Our main task in the Citadel was to observe a gap in the battlements where the railway line entered the old city. That was over 600 yards from our location. We had to stop German foot soldiers and vehicles from gaining access to the harbour through that point. The Germans were waiting there to break through, but we were successful in stopping them for two days.
If the Germans managed to get through that gap they would have overwhelmed our troops in the harbour. As soon as we saw any movement on the other side of the railway lines we would fire a five or six round burst to keep them back.
As soon as I saw any movement I would kick ‘Geordie’ awake and fire the gun. It was his job to reload the gun when necessary. We were sleeping rough because sleeping bags had yet to be issued to fighting troops in those early days.
I saw many horrible sights at Calais. Men were blown to bits by Stuka bombs, artillery fire and mortar fire. The worst scene I witnessed was No.2 Gun Team and a rifle section of ten Royal Marines; twelve young men or should I say boys, blown to bits by a bomb from a Stuka.
On another occasion Geordie and myself had to deliver a message to the railway station. We watched two soldiers coming along the track towards us. Then we heard a mortar shell being fired in our direction so we flattened ourselves to the platform. When we looked up the two soldiers were gone, just bits of uniform lying where they had been.
When you see people killed in front of you, that’s when your training kicks in and you do what you were trained to do.
That Sunday morning on 26 May 1940 at about 8 am, Colour Sergeant Reid said to me, ‘I’ve made a cup of tea. And there’s a cup sitting there for you. I will take over the gun’. I stood up and walked over to get the cup of tea. As I stood up I heard a ‘ping’ and thought little of it.
The Colour Sergeant said to me later, ‘You were lucky. A bullet hit the gun just after you stood up and walked away’. Sure enough the bullet had hit one of the tripod legs. If I had been lying behind the gun the bullet would have caught me between the shoulders.
No soldier likes to be shot in the back. We always thought that anyone shot in the back was either running away or doing something they should not have been doing.
Stretching Our Legs
Later that morning the Machine Gun Officer came to the Citadel and told ‘Geordie’ and myself that we needed to stretch our legs after being in position for nearly two days.
There were stories circulating that German snipers had infiltrated close to our positions. Because of that we were tasked to go to the railway station and locate Sergeant Mitchell who was in charge of a rifle section there.
Eventually we found Sergeant Mitchell and gave him the message. He had to take his rifle section and search the ground to his front before the machine gun teams moved forward.
Sergeant Mitchell said, ‘I want the organ grinder not the two monkeys’. We had a few choice words with him and returned to the officer with the message. Sergeant Mitchell (G) shifted his position after that meeting and we never met him again to re-task him.
The Last Stand
For the last stand we had moved from our gun position on the Citadel to the sand dunes on the Dunkirk side of the town. We were located four hundred yards from Calais, overlooking the town. We had to street fight all the way there. I was carrying the tripod for the Vickers gun, another Marine carried the barrel and a third Marine carried the water container of coolant for the gun.
Across the channel lay the town of Dover, freedom so near and yet so far. We had nothing but a very uncertain future, not really comprehending what lay ahead. We believed that our defence of Calais had engaged the Germans troops and allowed the Dunkirk evacuation to continue.
Later, two stretcher-bearers came to ‘Geordie’ and myself and asked us to identify a dead Royal Marine officer. We went with them and identified the officer as Lieutenant Scott, our Machine Gun Officer. We took his ‘dog tags’ (Identification discs) and pay book and then returned to Colour Sergeant Reid, our section commander.
But Lieutenant Scott was not dead, just badly injured. Later on, after we were captured, the German stretcher-bearers came across him and moved him into hospital where he recovered.
We were taken prisoner by German infantry at 4 pm on Sunday afternoon on the 26 May 1940. The Colour Sergeant had just taken a phone call on the field telephone. He said, ‘We are going to surrender. They have asked for a senior officer to go forward with a white flag and surrender. Destroy your guns’.
An army officer then told a Sergeant to take a white flag and stand on a hill. The Sergeant refused and had to be ordered again. He stood up, drew his gun and said, ‘Death before dishonour’. And then the Sergeant shot himself dead with one shot to the head from his own .45 revolver.
Another Sergeant was ordered to raise the white flag and did so. The German troops were now swarming around us. A young German officer who was as broad as he was tall approached us. As he did so we were busy destroying the gun.
My mate ‘Geordie’ Thwaites said, ‘Paddy, I don’t know how to pray. Say a prayer for me.’ I replied that I had already said it. ‘What did you say?’ he asked. I replied ‘God help us.’ He asked, ‘Is that enough?’ ‘I think so.’ I replied.
The German officer said something to us in German. We did not understand him and he repeated himself, but this time he spoke in perfect English. We said to him, ‘Why didn’t you say that in the first place?’ We learned that he had been educated in Cambridge before the war. He then asked us what regiment we belonged to and we refused to answer him. He then told us we were in the Royal Marines because he recognised the buttons on our tunics. He then asked us if we knew what the Germans did to Royal Marines. We replied that we did not know so he informed us that we would be shot. A rare sense of humour indeed! After talking to us for a while he returned to the German lines.
HMS Gloucester was one of the second batch of three Town-classlight cruisers built for the Royal Navy during the late 1930s.
Transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet in mid-1940 and spent much of her time escorting Malta Convoys. Gloucester played minor roles in the Battle of Calabria in 1940 and the Battle of Cape Matapan in 1941.
Gloucester acquired the nickname "The Fighting G" after earning five battle honours in less than a year.
She was sunk by German dive bombers on 22 May 1941 during the Battle of Crete with the loss of 722 men out of a crew of 807.
After a series of heavy air attacks during withdrawal from Kithera Channel she was hit by three bombs. Major fires broke out and could not be controlled. The disabled ship had to be abandoned. 90 RMs died.
85 men survived to be taken into captivity in 1941 but only 83 survived to return home in 1945.
21st May 1944
Part of Force A with HMS WARSPITE, HMS VALIANT and HMS FIJI to give support cruisers of Force C (HM Ships NAIAD, PERTH, CALCUTTA and CARLISLE and a screen of 3 Fleet destroyers) during attacks on invasion craft in Kithera Channel.
22nd May 1944
Came under a series of heavy air attacks with HMS FIJI, HM Destroyers GREYHOUND and HMS GRIFFIN during withdrawal from Kithera Channel. After HMS GREYHOUND was sunk by dive bombers west of Crete.
Rescue of survivors with HMS FIJI was prevented by the intensity of air attacks and by the depletion of stocks of AA ammunition.
Hit by three bombs which caused internal explosions and major flooding.
Major fires broke out and could not be controlled.
Disabled ship had therefore to be abandoned.
HMS FIJI was ordered to withdraw because of the continuing air attacks but left rafts and boats for survivors.
Sank after ninety minutes with the loss of all but 82 of the ship's company. (HMS FIJI was later sunk by air attacks with heavy loss of life.)
Read here Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Hugh Singer's description of the sinking of Gloucester and the traumatic events that followed as they waited for rescue. WW2 Cruisers
The British Task Force started to land at San Carlos Bay on May 21st 1982 after receiving approval from London, under command of Brigadier J H Thompson, Royal Marines of 3 Commando Brigade.
Men from 40, 42 and 45 Commando were landed in San Carlos Bay along with men from 2nd & 3rd Parachute Battalions.
The main priorities were to secure the beachhead from attack and land as many men and supplies as was possible. To prevent nearby Argentine forces attacking the beachhead and disrupting it, groups of SBS and SAS Special Forces were sent out to deal with known and possible threats on the approaches and flanks.
1. FANNING HEAD RAID - SBS land by helicopter from Antrim; Argentine positions engaged by machine guns under Antrim's covering fire
2. DARWIN RAID - D Sqdn SAS landed by helicopter to hold down Argentine forces around Darwin and Goose Green. Support fire from Ardent out in Grantham Sound
3. AMPHIBIOUS SHIPS - 1st ASSAULT WAVE: Fearless - 40 Cdo by Fearless LCU; Norland - 2 Para by Intrepid LCU; 2nd ASSAULT WAVE: Intrepid - 3 Para; Stromness - 45 Cdo; RESERVE: Canberra - 42 Cdo; SUPPLY TRANSPORTS - Europic Ferry, Fort Austin, Sir Galahad, Sir Geraint, Sir Lancelot, Sir Percivale, Sir Tristram
4. SAN CARLOS (Blue Beach) - 40 Cdo RM and 3 Cdo Bde HQ, Arty Bty. Also 2 Para which moved towards Sussex Mountains
5. AJAX BAY (Red Beach) - 45 Cdo RM. Also Brigade Maintenance Area, Cdo Logistic Regt, Arty Bty
6. PORT SAN CARLOS (Green Beach) - 3 Para. Also 42 Cdo RM, Arty Bty
7. British aircraft lost just east of Port San Carlos - [b11,b12] Gazelles
AT END OF DAY
8. BACK TO CVBG - DD Antrim, Transports Canberra, Europic Ferry, Norland
9. AMPHIBIOUS SHIPS IN SAN CARLOS WATER- Assault ships Fearless, Intrepid, RFAs Fort Austin, Stromness, LSLs Sir Galahad, Sir Geraint, Sir Lancelot, Sir Percivale, Sir Tristram
Of concern to the British planners was an Argentine position placed atop Fanning Head, a high ridge that overlooked San Carlos Waters.
Radio transmissions had been detected, from an Argentine call sign of 'EC Hermes'. Believed to be half-company sized and covering the approaches to the landing areas with heavy weapons, the Argentine presence was a significant threat to the landings.
The task of clearing Fanning Head fell to 3 SBS, supported by HMS Antrim. The Argentine position was located by using a thermal imaging device attached to Antrim's Wessex helicopter.
An SBS assault force of some 25 men, many armed with GPMGs, was delivered into the vicinity, piecemeal, by Wessex helicopter.
Accompanying the SBS was Captain Hugh McManners, a Naval Gunfire Forward Observation (NGFO) specialist from 148 Commando Forward Observation Battery who was expert at directing artillery fire from Antrim's main gun, and Caption Rod Bell, a Spanish-speaking expert at psychological operations, who hoped to persuade the Argentine forces to surrender.
As the SBS approached the enemy positions, Captain Mc Manners directed artillery fire onto the target. Upon reaching the target area, the SBS lined up and aimed their GPMGs towards the enemy forces. Hoping that the shelling the Argentineans had suffered would be enough to break their morale, Captain Bell, called out in Spanish for the Argentines to surrender. The response from the enemy positions was a volley of machine gun fire. With that, the SBS countered with sustained fire of their own, raking the Argentineans with GPGM fire as well as m203 grenade launchers and LAW rockets.
The SBS moved forward, getting within hand grenade range of the Argentine positions before those surviving defenders chose to surrender. The SBS and naval artillery had killed 11 of the 60 Argentineans, 6 had surrendered and the rest had fled. The SBS had suffered only light injuries.
One interesting event is reported to have happened the following morning as the landings got under way. A pair of Argentine attack jets came screaming up the valley and flew over Fanning Head, seeking to attack the landing force. The SBS who were now covering the landings from the Argentinean defenses opened up with small arms fire, bringing down one of the jets.
This was a small but vital operation. The Argentinians on Fanning Head were manning heavy weapons that could have been brought to bear on the landing force.
On the night of June 3 1944 21 year old Lt Jeff Beadle commanded Y Troop 40 commando Royal Marines during Operation Flounced (31 May/5 June 1944).
The raid on the enemy held island of Brac involved Commando Units of 2 Special Service Brigade primarily from 40 and 43 Royal Marine Commandos, and 2 Special Service Brigade HQ assisted by Partisan forces.
He led his Marines forward under the cover of darkness they advanced up a heavily defended hill Pt 422 with bayonets fixed firing from the hip at German entrenchments to the accompaniment of bagpipes played by Lieutenant Colonel ‘Mad Jack’ Churchill, “Will ye no’ come back again?”
Six men reached the summit but thanks, as Jack Churchill wrote afterwards, to Beadle’s gallant leadership, they delayed its recapture by a much superior enemy.
Fighting off a German counter-attack Beadle ran out of ammunition for his captured Schmeisser and had drawn his Colt pistol when he was caught by an explosion, shrapnel cutting into his back and shoulder as well as buttocks and legs.
Left for dead that morning he was found by the Germans and taken prisoner, evacuated to the mainland he remembered a German medical officer telling him “You will be pleased to know that your soldiers have landed in France” he was mistaken for an American airman when under integration in Hungary and taken to Stalag III where the 'Great Escape' had taken place earlier that year.
Jeff had planned to lead a party to freedom through the last undiscovered tunnel 'George' however all the prisoners were marched out of the camp to avoid the approaching Russians on the infamous winter march from Poland back to Germany.
On April 26 by chance Beadle met an advance party from 45 Commando RM, and so was able to rejoin the Royal Marines.
This was a British Commando and Yugoslav partisan attack on Brac island in the Adriatic Sea off the Dalmatian coast of German-occupied Yugoslavia (31 May/5 June 1944).
While the headquarters of Brigadier T. D. L. Churchill’s British 2nd Special Service Brigade was searching for island target on which a successful assault would avenge the failure of ‘Farrier’, and the headquarters of the 26th 'Dalmatia' Division of Marshal Josip Broz Tito’s partisan forces was simultaneously planning its raid on Brac island, news reach the Allies on Vis island that the Germans had launched ‘Rösselsprung’ (ii) in an attempt to capture Tito and his headquarters staff.
In order to reduce the pressure on Tito, the ‘Flounced’ raid on Brac island was quickly planned and implemented to persuade the Germans that the partisans intended to take and hold the island, and then land on the coast itself. Thus the Germans would be dissuaded from sending forces from the coast inland to support ‘Rösselsprung’ (ii), and perhaps even force them to send reserves from inland to defend the coast.
At this time Brac island was held by two reinforced battalions of the 738th Jägerregiment of Generalleutnant Josef Kübler’s 118th Jägerdivision, less one reinforced company holding the eastern part of Hvar island. The strongest German positions were those in the central part of the island, to the south-east of Nerezisc, and in the eastern part of the island in the area of Selca and Sumartin; in the area of Supetra and on Vidova mountain there were only smaller German forces.
The Allied forces for ‘Flounced’ comprised the 26th ‘Dalmatia’ Division (less two battalions of the 3rd Overseas Brigade) amounting some 1,300 men transported and supported in 45 vessels, and the reinforced British No. 43 Commando supported by elements of the British No. 40 Commando and men of the Raiding Support Regiment with two captured Italian 47-mm anti-tank guns. The assault force was transported in and supported by some 20 warships (including two destroyers) and landing craft.
The assault force was divided into three columns. The Northern Column was to land during the night of 31 May/1 June on the south coast, remain hidden on the island during the day and then during the night of 1/2 June use the smaller part of its strength to destroy the German stronghold in the Vidova hill area and the larger part of its strength to blockade Supetar and Nerezisc. The Western Column, the strongest of the three columns and transported by three groups of ships, was to land in the same area as the Northern Column but on the following night was to destroy the German strongholds in the area of Nerezisc. The Eastern Column was to land on the same night as the other two columns, but in the area to the east of Bol, and was then to attack the German strongholds in the eastern part of the island.
All three columns were to attack at 06.00 on 2 June, and a reconnaissance platoon (20 partisans and six commandos) was to be transferred on the night of 1/2 June to Solta island to report the movement of any German reinforcements from Solta and to any report ship movements from Split harbour.
Two advance parties were landed on 31 May/1 June and moved into position. At first light British warplanes attacked the German main position and also that at Supetar with rockets fired by Hawker Hurricane fighter-bombers. No. 43 Commando attacked the northernmost points of the main position, Pt 542, but its effort was halted by a minefield, as the Highland Light Infantry had been during the previous night in attempting to take a German observation post. The partisans attacked Pts 648 and 622 in the morning and Pt 542 in the afternoon. Another attack by the Highland Light Infantry and a company of partisans again failed to take the observation post. The RAF was called in for support, and the position was finally taken.
Air attacks preceded the partisan attacks on Pts 648 and 622, but the combination of mines and wire proved formidable, although the partisans did succeed in overrunning the outposts.
No. 43 Commando had a similar problem at Pt 542, and further partisan attacks during the night were unsuccessful. Reinforcements were summoned during that night, these amounting to three troops of the British No. 40 Commando, 300 partisans and two 25-pdr gun/howitzers landed in the early hours of 3 May.
In the east the partisans enjoyed considerable success and captured or killed a large number of Germans, and by 12.00 on 3 June had the remainder bottled up in the town of Sumartin.
The main German position still remained a problem, so it was decided that Nos 40 and 43 Commandos would attack Pt 422 at dusk, the partisans harassing Pts 542 and 48, and the commandos would then support the partisan attacks on these. Communications now developed problems, with No. 40 Commando’s orders indicating that it alone was to make the attacks with partisan support on its flanks. No. 43 Commando began its attack at 20.30 with supporting artillery fire, and got through the minefield with the use of Bangalore torpedoes.
The men of the commando reached the top of the hill just before 22.00, but were taking fire from both flanks. Almost immediately the commando was counterattacked and lost touch with its B Troop on the right. The lack of radio communications with brigade headquarters and steadily mounting casualties persuaded Lieutenant Colonel Simmonds to withdraw. B Troop was held up by a suspected minefield and the withdrawal took its far to the left of No. 40 Commando. The men of B Troop were located by No. 40 Commando and took part in No. 40 Commando’s attack, which passed through the suspected minefield and reached the objective. Here the British soldiers came under heavy fire, and D Troop of No. 43 Commando arrived, but German soldiers overran the position and captured 13 men, whereupon the rest of No. 40 Commando and B Troop of No. 43 Commando withdrew to the start line, where they joined forces with the rest of No. 43 Commando.
The attack had cost the commandos 10 officers and 41 other ranks killed or missing, and six officer and 70 other ranks wounded. The company of the Highland Light Infantry had taken 16 casualties and the partisans on the flanks some 60 casualties.
In view of the fierce German resistance it seemed unlikely that the two commandos would be able to destroy the German garrison and they withdrew, covered by the Hurricane warplanes of the RAF’s No. 242 Group and by British warships.
A small British squadron under the Command of Captain Henry Marsh sailed from Plymouth, despatched against the French settlements in West Africa.
On Sunday 30th April Marsh landed 700 Marines, and a detachment of 25 Artillerymen with 10 guns and 8 mortars under Captain Walker to attack Fort Louis.
A French deputation soon surrendered the fort which was garrisoned by 232 French officers and soldiers. However, the actual handing over of the Fort was delayed, owing to the action of the local natives, who, not thinking that their interests had been sufficiently secured, blockaded the French.