in Italy and the Mediterranean 1943-45
BBC Animated Map: The Italian Campaign
BBC - History - The 'D-Day Dodgers' by Richard Holmes
Imperial War Museum Despatches Summer 2009: Italy: Masterstroke or 'Missioncreep'?
Combined Operations - OPERATION CORKSCREW - PANTELLERIA 11th JUNE 1943
July 10th 1943
A total of seven RN Commandos took part in Operation Husky, C, E, F, G, K, M and N. All were
attached to the Eastern Naval Task Force to assist the Eighth Army Landings. Follow this link to see where they landed.
by the Normandy Landings the following year, “Operation HUSKY the invasion of Sicily in 1943 was actually
the largest amphibious operation of World War II in terms of the size of the landing zone and the number
of divisions put ashore on the first day of the invasion”(Sicily 1943 U.S. Army Centre of Military History).
assembled for the invasion of Sicily were enormous. Never before had the numbers of ships and men been equalled in
an amphibious operation. The Armada of 3,200 ships assembled for Husky was in fact the most gigantic
fleet in the world's history” (from Bitter Victory, The Battle for Sicily 1943 by Carlo
Force ‘V’ was to land the Canadians in the Bark West assault area on the west
side of the
Pachino Peninsula, on a total front (including that of the two Commandos) of roughly
The Royal Marine Commandos landing at Commando Cove were on the extreme left wing
Eighth Army, the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade landed in Sugar sector with the aid of RN Beach
G and the 1st and later the 3rd Canadian Infantry Brigades landed in Roger sector with
of RN Beach Commando N.
BBC WW2 People's War - The Sicily landings, July 1943 by Stewart E Linsell
The Highland Division landed in Queen sector on a four-battalion frontage led by the 154th Brigade aided by RN Beach
Commando M. For the landing the brigade was split into two groups, the 154th brigade group landing on the Red beaches and
the 1st Gordon Highlanders group landing on the Green beaches. The 1st Gordon Highlanders group’s objectives were the
Capo Passero Island and the village of Portopalo, a tuna factory, a lighthouse and the ridge beyond dominating the approach to Pachino, these they achieved by 09:00hrs on the tenth.
The 51st Highland Division land at Portopalo
IWM (A 17916) View from Queen Red II at Isola del Correnti
The comparatively small Force 'N' under Captain Lord Ashbourne RN in HMS Keren had
commanded by Brigadier R E Urquhart. This force landed in Nan Sector of the Bark East Assault Area
assisted by RN Beach Commando K.
Force 'A' under Rear-Admiral T.H. Troubridge in HMS Bulolo sailed from the Middle
East with 13 Corps consisting of the 50th and 5th Division plus No.3 Army Commando, three RN Beach Commandos C, E and F assisted
the 13th Corps to land in the Acid Centre Assault Area.
The Calabria Landings, Italy
September 3rd 1943
The initial invasion of southern Italy, Operation Baytown,
was launched on the 3rd of September 1943 on the fourth anniversary of Britain declaring war on Germany and was carried
out by the British 13th Corps consisting of the British 5th
Infantry Division and the Canadian 1st Division. The operation was carried out on a three brigade front with the British 17th
Infantry Brigade Group landing in ‘HOW’ Sector, the 13th British Infantry Brigade Group landing in
‘GEORGE’ Sector and the 3rd Canadian Brigade Group landing in ‘FOX’ Sector.
the Straits of Messina were relatively narrow the operation was executed as a
shore-to-shore landing craft operation. The British and Canadian forces embarked in landing craft
from beaches in Sicily near Mili Marina. They then crossed the straits to the coast of Calabria travelling an average
of 12,000 yards. The flotillas of Landing Craft Assault (LCA) and Landing Craft Mechanised (LCM) that comprised the initial
assault wave being joined by DUKWs and Landing Craft Infantry - Large (LCI(L)) in subsequent waves.
Both N and G Royal Naval Beach Commandos (RNBC)
were deployed for Operation Baytown. N RNBC was landed with the British 5th Division and worked with the
33 Beach Brick in HOW Sector and 32 Beach Brick in GEORGE Sector. G2 and G3 of G RNBC landed with the Canadian 1st Division and
worked with 34 Beach Brick. G1 would land a few days later with 20th Beach Group supporting the 231st ‘Malta’
brigade in a subsidiary landing codename Operation Ferdy at Porto San Venere. Later elements of Nan RN Beach Commando landed
Operation Baytown, The Calabria Landings, 3rd of September 1943 by Griffin Turton
BBC WW2 People's War - Activities in Sicily & Italy by John Bartlett
September 9th 1943
Three Royal Navy Beach Commandos, K, M and D were involved
in Operation Avalanche, which Winston Churchill described just prior as 'the most daring we have yet launched', primarily
as it was the first large-scale opposed landing on the European continent.
The Royal Navy Beach Commandos K and
M landed on Sugar and Roger sectors respectively with the 56th Division. K Commando's commanding officer was
Acting Commander A.A. Havers RN who was also the Principal Beach Master (PBM) for Sugar Sector.
commanding officer was Acting Lieutenant-Commander P.U. Bayly RN, he was also to double up as the PBM of Roger Sector.
of Salerno two detachments from D Commando commanded by Lieutenant-Commander J.C. Pearson RN, who was also the designated
PBM for the area, were to be landed at two widely separate locations Maiori designated Z sector and Vietri X sector. Pearson
commanded one small detachment of seventeen men at Maiori with the Rangers, whilst Lieutenant R.J. Franklin RNVR commanded
a detachment of fifteen men which landed with the British Commando Brigade at Vietri.
See 'RN Beach Commandos and Operation Avalanche'.
Amongst the D Commando men at Vietri was Assistant Beach Master Hugh Birley whose experiences
at Salerno are recounted in 'Hugh Birley Assistant Beach Master 1943-45'.
A letter written by Warrant Telegraphist Henry Hayles started as he was leaving the beaches at Salerno on the 15th of September
1943 describes his transit to Salerno and his experiences there with Naval Party 874.
October 3rd to 6th 1943
Operation Devon was an amphibious landing to outflank the Volturno Line carried out by a force from 2 Commando Brigade. The force was lead by John Durnford-Slater and included No.3 Commando, 40 Commando Royal Marines and the Special Raiding Squadron.
Later on the 5th October the 38th Irish Brigade of the 78th ‘Battleaxe’ Infantry Division landed by sea, this was probably supported by elements of George RN Beach Commando.
World War Two Memories - Bryan Woolnough, MBE, 2 Commando Brigade Signals
Memoirs of Termoli operation by Bryan Woolnough, MBE, 2 Commando Brigade Signals
Commando Veterans Association - Memories of Jack Cox, No.3 Commando, Termoli 1943
January 22nd to May 25th 1944
Four RN Beach Commandos were allocated to the Anzio Landing,
three were used ashore Able, King and Nan, whilst Oboe was a reserve unit used afloat to unload craft.
Anzio Beachhead 22 January - 25 May 1944 U.S. Army Centre of Military History
Battle for Anzio by William Woodruff
'Anzio Annie' in Action
June 17th 1944
Operation Brassard - Combined Operations Website
Southern France 1944 U.S. Army Centre of Military History
BBC WW2 People's War - Operation 'Dragoon' by Vernon Copeland
Operations 1943 - 45
In November 1943 elements of G RN Beach Commando assisted
in recovering allied prisoners in the Adriatic. Afterwards they set
up a base on the island of Lucin Piccolo, on the Yugoslav coast. A week later the Germans counterattacked and, after a brief
but bloody resistance the survivors were captured.
In October 1944 men from H RN Beach Commando took a Motor Fishing Vessel (MFV) to Vis with a Yugoslav officer, returning promptly
Adriatic Campaign of World War Two
F.O.T.A.L.I - Flag Officer Taranto and Liaison with the Italians
Memoirs of Vis, Albania and Corfu operations by Bryan Woolnough, MBE, 2 Commando Brigade Signals
Elements of two RN Beach Commandos are believed to have taken part in the Spring Offensive
in April 1945. Just prior elements of Nan RNBC were employed at Berchi de Porto near Rimini and possibly also at Porto Corsini
north of Ravenna assisting in the deception plan to convince the enemy an amphibious assault was being prepared to land on
the Adriatic Coast. Later elements of N RNBC and H RNBC supported operations on Lake Comacchio, elements
of N RNBC using their DUKWs they had acquired at the end of 1944 from Popski’s Private Army and others amongst the naval
officers who were brought in to help navigate the LVTs including the PBM of H RNBC, Commander Hudson and Lt John Hill, BM