This WWII Special Forces – Royal Marines Commando – began as a separate commando unit in 1940. Then in 1942, they became a part of the Royal Marines. During the war, the Royal Marines began their commando role, linking themselves to the Army Commandos, which were already in existence.
Step back in time as you step into the Firearms and Ordnance Gallery at the Armed Forces History Museum. Here, reality awakens within, as you marvel at the weapons and feel the power of destruction housed throughout this extensive gallery. Authentic weapons (including some used by Special Forces) from around the world dating throughout history can be witnessed in this astonishing collection. The oldest piece on display is a very rare bayonet from the Revolutionary War.
Winston Churchill Requests a Commando Group
The commando group was first ordered by Winston Churchill who wanted to establish a small “butcher and bolt” raider unit. With the defeat at Dunkirk and the British Expeditionary Force being evacuated from mainland Europe, the country’s morale was believed to be low and in need of a boost. At the time, Britain’s military was in no position to instigate any type of major attack on the Germans. Churchill felt that a series of smaller – more spectacular – missions would in fact assist with raising public morale.
The commandos would land in Nazi-occupied areas – generally at night – destroy intended targets and then evacuate quickly. By June of 1940, Winston Churchill summoned 20,000 men to be called up and ready to go for the throats of the Germans. He called these men “leopards”. In June of 1940, the Combined Operations formed under the War Office to oversee the creation of this type of Special Forces in any of the three services.
The recruits for Churchill’s commando unit would come from the British Army and the British Police Force. Selection was demanding and required recruits to be in excellent physical condition. They also had to exhibit independence and, in the event of a breakdown, the ability to operate without the traditional chain of command. Those who met the criteria and passed training received additional pay and a commando badge and were equipped with the best weapons and equipment available.
The newly formed commandos conducted their first raid in June of 1940 on the north coast of France. Their missions would take them throughout France, Italy, Norway and the Middle East. This WWII Special Forces – the Royal Marines Commando – also had an instrument role in D-Day, which ultimately inspired Hitler to form his Commando Order – the “Kommadobefehl”.