The Relay System | Multi Level Representation and the UK | Relay System History, Links and Think Tank | Royal Naval Beach Commandos 1942-45 | Unit Histories of the RN Beach Commandos - Able to Mike | Unit Histories of RN Beach Commandos - Nan to William | RN Commando Operations in 1942, North West Europe & SEAC | RN Commando Operations in Italy and the Mediterranean 1943-45 | World War Two in Seven Verses

Unit Histories of the RN Beach Commandos - Able to Mike

     Below I have started to group together documents, articles, photos and websites specific to Able through to Mike RN Beach Commandos. In each case the first link shows an account of that commando from the History of Naval Beach Control Parties (formerly Royal Naval Beach Commandos) from the National Archives. These accounts were written between the 18th of March and the 1st of April 1946 after the 'great spring clean' so there maybe a few anomalies.Two other pages from this document show when each unit was formed and where they were deployed at intervals.

NEW - Naval Party numbers associated with the Royal Navy Beach Commandos

Royal Naval Beach Commandos Able and Baker

R.N.B.C. "A" and Baker National Archives Record

     It is not known when the first beach parties were formed but up till the time of the Madagascar expedition sailed in March 1942, the parties appear to have been associated with the particular troop transport to which they were more or less permanently attached.

     It is believed that the five or six parties which proceeded to Madagascar on Operation Ironclad were known as ‘Keren’ party, ‘Karanga’ party etc, depending on which troopship they were attached to, then subsequently they were named A and B by Combined Operations Headquarters (COHQ), though in actual fact there was by that time only sufficient personnel to complete one unit which was known as ‘A’. The men of Naval Beach Part ‘Able’ also took part in a second amphibious assault on Madagascar at the harbour of Majunga in Operation ‘Line’ on the 10th of September 1942.

     In India in the autumn of 1943 it formed part of Force P. Force 'P' was intended to be used for a divisional strength penetration along the Arakan coast but this was cancelled because of a lack of landing craft as large number had been diverted to ferry reinforcements to Salerno. Afterwards the commando moved in January 1944 to the Mediterranean where they participated in the Anzio Landing.

     Thereafter the unit moved to Corsica where it remained until the 17th of June 1944 when ‘A’ 1 participated in the attack on Elba, with Oboe Commando, in which two officers and eighteen rating were killed.

     The balance of ‘A’ returned to Corsica where they were relieved by the RN Beach Commando ‘Dog’, before they returned to the UK in September 1944.

     The unit reached HMS Armadillo on the 28th October 1944 where it was disbanded in December, in view of the long service of the majority of the officers and men in Beach Parties.

     Naval Beach Commando Baker never had any real existence in fact, though on paper it was counted as a formed unit for a long period.

Operation Brassard - Combined Operations Website

Note the Royal Indian Navy also had 'A' Beach Commando, which was active in operations in 1945 in Burma, there is very little information about this unit but any body who has any details please contact me via the Facebook Group or the Guestbook.

Royal Naval Beach Commando Charlie

      Royal Navy Beach Commando 'Charlie' was formed at Coulport about March 1942 after the Madagascar Force sailed.

      Personnel from this unit, notably Sub-Lieutenant DT Kent DSO, RNVR, Sub-Lieutenant FAH Leeke RNVR and Petty Officer Murphy had taken part in raids on Lofoten, Vaagso and Boulogne.

      On the 19th of August 1942 RNBC Charlie took part in the Dieppe Raid, where it lost a considerable number of officers and men, the sub unit 'C2' having to be replaced in total.

      However it was able to take part in Operation Torch, landing on the 8th of November 1942 in Oran, North Africa.

      After it's return to the UK from North Africa it was attached to 'Force W' (afterwards 'Force 'G') sailing for Suez via the Cape in March 1943 before taking part in the Invasion of Sicily, Operation Husky' in July 1943.

      On it's return to the UK in October 1943, it remained in Gailes Camp for some months and later it was accommadated in HMS Armadillo before proceeding to carry out exercise commitments in Appledore in Devon and Burnham.

      From April 1944 the commanding officer was Lieutenant Commander A Wilson, DSC, RNVR.

      RNBC Charlie was a reserve unit for Operation Neptune / Overlord in Normandy but was not called on to participate.

      In 1945 it proceeded to South East Asia Command (SEAC) with 'Force W' in two sections, the first going on the 21st of February 1945 and the second in April 1945.

In September 1945 it took part in Operations in Malaya and in November 1945 the unit was disbanded in theatre.

Royal Naval Beach Commando Dog

    RNBC Dog The original Dog Commando was formed at Coulport House or Inverary in April – May 1942 and on the 18th of August they took part in Operation Jubilee, the Raid on Dieppe where the majority of personnel were casualties and because of this it was decided not to reform the unit in the UK.

    On the 11th of June 1943 the unit 5 Beach Commando also known as the Saunders Beach Party, which had been formed from a unit called the Mobile Beach Party that had supported Eighth Army along the the North African Coast, took part in Operation Corkscrew the assault on Pantelleria.

    Later in 1943 it was decided by the Chief of Combined Services Lord Mountbatten to designate the unit Royal Naval Beach Commando Dog. A second Saunders Beach Party was designated the letter Z for Zebra but was absorbed into RNBC Dog in September 1943.

    In July 1943 they took part in Operation Avalanche the landings at Salerno. RNBC Dog providing beach parties for two smaller landings to the north on the Amalfi Coast, one at Vietri Sul Mare for a Commando Brigade and the second at Maiori for the American Rangers.

    RNBC Dog eventually returned to HMS Saunders, Kabrit (Suez Canal) just after Christmas 1943, however it was not a long stay for some members as they were transferred to Nan Commando at very short notice on New Year's Eve.

    Dog Commando stayed at HMS Saunders until June 1944 when they relieved Able Commando in Corsica and in August 1944 they took part in Operation Dragoon.

    After further periods at Naples and Messina, the unit returned to the UK in February 1945 reaching HMS Armadillo on the 29th of March, the unit was later disbanded in late April or early May 1945.

    Assistant Beachmaster Hugh Birley who joined RNBC Dog at Suez in the spring of 1943 and stayed with them until transferred to RNBC Nan prior to Anzio wrote two sets of notes which have been combined with some details from letters into single document, Hugh Birley Assistant Beach Master 1943-45.

Royal Naval Beach Commando Easy

R.N.B.C. Easy National Archives Record

Royal Naval Beach Commando Fox

R.N.B.C. Fox National Archives Record

IWM Interview - Kenneth George Oakley

BBC D-Day 60 Years On - Ken Oakley 1921 - 2007

BBC WW2 People's War - Ken Oakley 1921 - 2007

Able Seaman Sydney Compston DSM (1919-2010)

Lt Henry Albert Venn, Assistant Beach Master on Queen Red sector of Sword Beach, KIA 6th June 1944

Richard Donger Beach Master on Queen Red sector of Sword Beach,dies aged 91 (2014)

IWM Interview - Edward Gueritz PBM Fox Commando Sword Beach

Fox Commando Re-enactment Group

Royal Naval Beach Commando George

R.N.B.C. George National Archives Record

     George Royal Naval Beach Commando was formed at Coulport House and Inverkip House in Scotland in July and August 1942. The completion of training being delayed for at least a fortnight owing to a suspension of Beach Group training due to the Exercise Dryshod, which took place in Ayrshire from the 4th to the 8th of August 1942 and was a tactical exercise with the aim of testing the requirements for staging and executing a large-scale amphibious landing against opposition.

     On the 15th of August 1942 the sub-units G2 and G3 assembled at Inverkip to the strength of two officers, one Petty Officer, one leading seaman and sixteen Able or Ordinary Seaman. Then when these parties joined G1 at Dundonald in September 1942, a further leading seaman and four Able Seamen were added to each sub-unit.

     Leave was given and after returning to Dundonald to collect kit, the sub-units G1 and G2 proceeded to Knightswood School, Glassgow and G3 to anti-aircraft gun site at Cardross to await embarkation to North Africa.

     George RN Beach Commando was allocated to the Eastern Sector of Operation Torch landing on the Apples Beaches near Algiers on the 8th of November 1942, G2 landing on the Apples White beach.

     The two sub-units G2 and G3 of George RN Beach Commandos were then deployed on the subsidiary landing Operation Perpetual at Bougie.

     Despite information that British troops might get an unfriendly reception at Bougie, at 06:15 on the morning of November 11th, troops of the 6th Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment, came ashore at Bougie unopposed. However the calm was not to last long and a German and Italian airborne storm soon arrived. A description follows of Operation Perpetual by Lt Cdr M. V. Redshaw, VRD*, RNVR the Beach Master of the sub unit G2 of George RN Beach Commando.

     We embarked in the Awatea (LSI) in company with the 5th Buffs for the next landing, which was at Bougie.

     The Bougie landing was no trouble but this time the Luftwaffe and the Italian Air Force were organised and for the best part of a week we had one big air raid broken only by short intervals. During this week we helped discharge the follow-up store ships in the bay. We had no air cover during this period. Our own air force being grounded at Djidelli airfield awaiting the arrival of the petrol and ammunition we were trying to get out of the ships in Bougie Harbour.

     Many ships were lost during this week due to lack of air cover, including the Karanja, Cathay (LSIs) and Tynwald (AA cruiser).

     Bougie was full of survivors from the ships but I am glad to say that, although Awatea was sunk soon after we left her with most of our stores, my Petty Officer reported later that we had suffered no casualties, and no loss of arms and ammunition, and that we were ready for action. While Karanja was on fire before sinking, some of my men commandeered a landing craft, went alongside Karanja and collected stores.

     Bougie was indeed a nightmare and we were more than pleased when we sailed from there in LCMs carrying petrol for the aircraft grounded at Djidelli. (From the book 'Invasion North Africa 1942' by S.W.C. Pack)

     * VRD Volunteer Reserve Decoration

     Around the 19th of November, the two sub sections of George RNBC moved off to Bone in LCA and LCM with the flotillas. Making the trip in three night passages to Djidjelli, Philippeville and finally Bone. They were inland at Souk Ahras in late November and were as far as Tabarka in Tunisia in early December but then returned to Bone in Algeria. The Beach Commandos State Report for December 14th 1942 shows both G2 and G3 sub sections still on Operation Torch but the following week’s report on the 20th of December 1942 shows both sub sections back at Foliot III.

     However the State Reports also show Lt Redshaw and Lt Turton remained in theatre. During which time Lt Redshaw reported they served with numbers 1 and 6 Army Commandos for a short period spending Christmas day in the Hotel Transatlantique in Bone and returning to England, going alongside in Liverpool on the 13th of January 1943.

      In March 1943 George RN Beach Commando was designated the Naval Party number 855 and in July 1943 they landed with Force 'V' of the Eastern task Force, in the Sugar Sector of the Bark West Assault Area supporting the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade of the 1st Canadian Division. On D+2, G RNBC was moved from the Sugar Sector to Bark South area, as the landing sites were better. Here they remained up to six weeks unloading reinforcements and supplies and loading POWs.

     Later during the invasion of Italy, Operation Baytown on the 3rd of September 1943, G2 and G3 landed with the Canadian 1st Division on the Calabrian coast of Italy. In a subsidiary landing Operation Ferdy, G1 landed with the 231st Malta brigade at Vebo Valentia Marina on the 8th / 9th of September, where G1 was pinned down on the mole of the harbour for some time. After the landing operations the sub-units of G RNBC regrouped at Andrea near Bari. Later elements landed at Termoli possibly as part Operation Devon in October 1943 before the unit concentrated on Termoli.

     In November 1943 George RN Beach Commando undertook operations from Termoli along the Adriatic coastline to recover allied POWs beyond enemy lines. In November the unit moved back to Andrea and in December 1943 they became the port party in Barletta, which included the unloading of Gas Supplies for which Barletta had become the main port.

     The unit returned to the UK in the autumn of 1944, the G1 sub-unit going via Malta as Naval Party 857. Finally during the November / December period of 1944 the unit was disbanded at HMS Armadillo.

Lieutenant-Commander-Tony-Bentley-Buckle 1921-2010

IWM Interview - Lieutenant Norman Draper

Royal Naval Beach Commando How

R.N.B.C. How National Archives Record

     The original ‘How’ Naval Beach Party was formed at Coulport House in August / September 1942 and participated in the North African landings (operation Torch). On its return to the UK the unit was accommodated at HMS Foliot, where all its officers, petty officers and leading seaman were absorbed into the first units belonging to Force W (which included Naval Beach Parties C, E, F, K and M) and the balance of the ratings were brought to CTC Armadillo in February 1943, where they were absorbed into George Commando or new units. TBC

     A completely new unit ‘How’ Royal Naval Beach Commando was formed in May 1943 with Lt H.J. Telfer as the senior officer but he then went sick the following month.

BBC War veterans reflect on time in battle - George Fagence (Jungle George) 1924 - 2010

Royal Naval Beach Commando Jig

R.N.B.C. Jig National Archives Record

BBC WW2 People's War - The Millionaire Mob by Jack Gaster (ABM Jig Commando)

Jack Gaster also wrote a book Time and Tide, the life of a Thames waterman.

Royal Naval Beach Commando King

R.N.B.C. King National Archives Record

IWM interview - Lieutenant Charles Berkeley Portman, Beachmaster K1 1943

Royal Naval Beach Commando Love

R.N.B.C. Love National Archives Record

Royal Naval Beach Commando Mike

R.N.B.C. Mike National Archives Record

R.N.B.C. Mike National Archives Record page two

IWM Interview - Lieutenant Patrick Bayly, Principal Beachmaster M Commando

Nominal of Personnel in Major Landing Craft returning to the United Kingdom, including M1 Beach Party, M2 Beach Party, M3 Beach Party, RNBSS7 and RNBSS9 as of the 11th of December 1943.

Nominal of Combined Operations Personnel on passage back to the United Kingdom including four members of M Beach Party as of the 16th of December 1943.

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