48 RMC A Short History.

Background

The British Commandos were formed in 1940, by the order of Winston Churchill the British Prime Minister. He called for specially trained troops that would "develop a reign of terror down the enemy coast". At first they were a small force of volunteers who carried out small raids against enemy occupied territory,  but by 1943 there role had changed into lightly equipped assault Infantry which specialised in spearheading amphibious landings.

The man selected as the overall commander of the force was Admiral Sir Roger Keyes himself a veteran of the landings at Galipoli and the Zeebrugge raid in the First World War. Initially the Commandos were an British Army formation the first Royal Marine Commando was formed in 1942. The Royal Marine Commandos like all British Commandos went through the six week intensive commando course at Achnacarry. The course in the Scottish Highlands concentrated on fitness, speed marches, weapons training, map reading, climbing, small boat operations and demolitions both by day and by night. In 1943 the commando formation had been standardised, into a small headquarters,five fighting Troops, a Heavy Weapons troop and a signals platoon. The fighting Troops consisted of 65 all ranks divided into two 30 man sections which in turn were divided into three ten man sub sections. The Heavy Weapons Troop was made up of 3 inch Mortar and Vickers machine gun teams.

 

Operations

 

June Beach 6 June No. 48 Commando landed at the extreme right

No. 48 (Royal Marine) Commando was the last commando unit formed during the Second World War in March 1944. It was formed by the conversion of the 7th Royal Marine Battalion and the Mobile Naval Base Defence Organisations (MNBDOs) defence battalions to commando duties. Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel James Moulton it carried out a shortened commando course at Achnacarry and then joined the all Royal Marine 4th Special Service Brigade alongside No. 41, No. 46 No. 47 (Royal Marine) Commandos.

Assigned to the Normandy landings 4th Special Service Brigade was given the task to seize a number of coastal villages, including Luc-sur-Mer, St. Aubin-sur-Mer Langrune-sur-Mer. They then had to push inland and capture the heavily fortified strong point near the radar station at Douvres. They were required to hold on for 48 hours before they were relieved.

Landing on the Canadian Juno Beach No. 48 (Royal Marine) Commando was the first Commando unit to land near Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer and started the assault on Langrune-sur-Mer which was liberated after heavy fighting and severe losses. They then held a position awaiting reinforcement and equipment to land.

The rest of 4th Special Service Brigade having landed No. 48 (Royal Marine) Commando carried out two attacks to take a hill near the village of Dozule. After the failure of both attacks No. 48 was reinforced by No. 46 and No. 47 Commandos. Reinforced No.48 Commando bypassed the village of Dozule to occupy the high ground at point 120, in the process cutting off a number of retreating Germans and destroying their vehicles.

No.4 Special Service Brigade instead of being withdrawn after 48 hours continued in the Allied advance to the Seine. On route liberating Pont l'Eveque, Saint-Maclou, Pavilly, Yerville, Motteville, Yvetot, Bermonville and Valmont before coming out of the line on 18 August 1944.

 

Battle of the Scheldt

 

Northern front October to November 1944

4th Special Service Brigade returned to the front line to take part in the Battle of the Scheldt and Operation Infatuate in November 1944, tasked with the liberation of the island of Walcheren.

On 1 November No. 48 Commando landed in the South from tank landing craft under German shell fire captured their first objective a row of concrete gun emplacements, on the southern shoulder of the gap and then moved on to their next objective a radar station that had been abandoned by the German defenders. Their next objective an artillery battery was assaulted by Y Troop which resulted in all the Troop being either killed or wounded before they could reach it. Calling for naval gunfire support from H.M.S. Roberts and 2nd Canadian Division the position was next assaulted by Z Troop. Z Troop's assault also failed with half of them being killed or wounded by German mortar fire. The position was again targeted by the 2nd Canadian artillery and RAF rocket firing Hawker Typhoons. Assaulted again by No. 48 Commando the battery was eventually captured and 100 Germans made prisoner of war. No. 48 Commando's next objective was the capture of Zouteland, which was planned for 2 November. The attack started at dawn following a bombardment from H.M.S. Erebus the garrison surrendered after two hours of fighting.

Following the Battle of the Scheldt No. 48 Commando raided across the Maas River in Holland and then took part in the army of occupation in Germany.

 

Legacy

No. 48 (Royal Marine) Commando together with all the army commandos and some Royal Marine commandos was disbanded in 1946 and the commando role was taken over by the Royal Marines. However the present day Parachute Regiment, Special Air Service and Special Boat Service can all trace their origins to the Commandos.

 

 

 

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