By Dr Paul Winter
As already established, the sub-optimal state of the Royal Marines’ institutional memory, which has engendered an intellectual environment in which muddled-thinking and half-knowledge as to the true nature of the Corps’ ‘Commando roots’ reign, has contributed much to this crisis of identity. Clearly, the advice of General Sir John Hackett quoted at the beginning of this piece, namely that, ‘To see where we are going, we must know where we are, and to know where we are, we must discover how we got here’, has been ignored leading to disorientation and mystification. This is particularly evident in how the FCF transformative programme is being sold to the Corps.
Taken at face value, the CGRM’s ‘Commando roots’ narrative could be perceived as an explicit acknowledgement that the FCF is the natural successor to the wartime Army and Royal Marines ‘Special Service’ Commandos and, as such, is the legitimate inheritor of their ethos, role and specialist skill-sets. Yet if the FCF’s proposed task-orientations, reconfigurations and roles are taken into account, together with its abdication of responsibility for relieving Army formations in the field, then the character of the FCF starts to resemble that of a World War II ‘Special Forces’ unit.
“…‘Commando roots’ narrative could be perceived as an explicit acknowledgement that the FCF is the natural successor to the wartime Army and Royal Marines ‘Special Service’ Commandos and, as such, is the legitimate inheritor of their ethos, role and specialist skill-sets…”
In stark contrast to the ‘Special Service’ Commando units who fought the majority of the Second World War in conventional infantry roles, these ‘Special Forces’ type organisations, such as the Special Air Service (SAS), the Special Boat Section (SBS), the Royal Marine Boom Patrol Detachment (RMBPD), the Small Scale Raiding Force (SSRF), the Special Raiding Force (SRF), Combined Operations Pilotage Parties (COPP), and a host of other small, specialised sub-units,carried out covert ‘cloak and dagger’ operations together with small scale raids, and were tasked and controlled by Combined Operations HQ, the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS).
Predictably, such a semi-schizophrenic state of affairs merely serves to increase mystification as to the Corps’ concept of identity and idea of self, as well as posing further questions concerning the theoretical integrity and rationale of the FCF project as it currently stands. Yet the vital need to provide a ‘taxonomic scheme’ (i.e. a classification based on biological relationships) for wartime ‘Commando’ units was highlighted by the late Charles Messenger, author of the ‘definitive’ history of the wartime Commandos, who in his introduction disclosed that,
A major problem which I struck was how to draw up clear parameters, especially over the often blurred dividing line between Commandos per se and other Special Forces. In the end, I decided to concentrate on the Army and Royal Marine Commandos, and to merely give something of the origins and method of operating of other specialist units spawned by them and Combined Operations.
Due to the absence of a clear definition, the dividing lines between the Army and Royal Marines ‘Special Service’ Commandos and World War II ‘Special Forces’ spin-offs are indeed blurred. In order to clarify matters, those currently shaping the FCF concept should indeed emulate the conceptual approach employed by Charles Messenger, namely to differentiate between ‘Commandos per se and other Special Forces’. In turn, this will enable them to determine whether the FCF is the rightful heir of the ‘Special Service’ Commandos and their post-war Royal Marines Commando descendants, or the illegitimate progeny of their SF off-shoots.
Yet in the absence of such a dichotomy, the FCF’s detractors could be justified in levelling a serious charge at its designers, specifically, that they are deliberately sailing under false colours by seeking to publicly legitimize the FCF concept by evoking the spirit of the ‘Special Service’ Commandos, when in fact their true intention is to use the World War II Special Forces ‘spin-off’ model template to facilitate the conversion of today’s Corps into a quasi-SF organisation. This would be totally at odds with the idea of creating a true Commando force in the ‘Special Service’ mould. Conversely, those less jaundiced would argue that due to a fundamental misconception on the part of the Royal Marines high command as to the true nature of the wartime Commando concept, there has transpired a genuine misattribution regarding the ‘corporate DNA’ and lineage of the FCF.
What is beyond doubt, however, is the very real need to challenge the ‘Commando roots’ narrative in order to stress-test its validity and rationale. One method of achieving this end is to ‘red team’ the CGRM’s corporate narrative utilising historical inquiry as a methodological vehicle for such a purpose. ‘Red teaming’ is defined as a technique to ‘seek out dissenting and novel ideas and to present alternative and critical perspectives on all aspects of the problem’. A ‘red team’, moreover, can ‘monitor groupthink bias and ensure that sufficient analysis and debate has been completed before a policy, plan or strategy is decided’. The fusion of red teaming with the academic discipline of history, furthermore, can counter ‘confirmation bias’, or ‘the tendency to search for or interpret new information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions, or to irrationally avoid information or reject new evidence that contradicts an established view’.
The principal duties of a military historian, however, are not only to establish ‘the chronology of events so as to understand the “march of time” and to recognize cause and effect’, but to reconstruct what ‘really happened’, and to discover ‘what the past was really like’. In addition, historians are trained not only to challenge and debunk myths (essential to the preservation of military efficiency), but to assess the veracity of historical claims, as well as raise inconvenient truths about military affairs, past and present.
Theoretically, military historians should not act as ‘yes’ men, or echo chambers for military organisations, but instead should be free to ‘speak truth unto power’ thereby assisting in the avoidance of confirmation bias. In short, scholars who interact intellectually with the UK military, and whose professional opinion and advice are consequently sought, would do well to emulate H.M. The Queen whose residual constitutional prerogatives vis-à-vis her Prime Minister are predicated on her freedom to ‘advise, encourage and warn’.
Yet what assistance can the discipline of history, and more specifically that of military history, render policy-makers and senior commanders? Professor Lord Peter Hennessy, a leading British historian and member of the Chief of the Defence Staff’s Strategic Advisory Panel, offered a selection of answers to this question when he asserted that, ‘History, in short, is a plentiful bringer of context and background to the current preoccupations of policy-makers. It is an antidote to an oversimplified or self-serving, partisanship-distorted view of the past’. These points were amplified and expanded upon by a former US defence policy-maker, who offered four general statements concerning the utility of history with regards policy-making:
- ‘History can save us from making mistakes. It can produce a sound rendering of the reality of the facts: who, what, when, where, how and why. Historians can separate the myth from the reality. For the policy-maker, they can produce a base for action that does not depend on personal experience, inaccurate memory, or interested advocacy. History [therefore]…is an important foundation on which to approach a problem’.
- ‘…understanding the historical background prevents policy-making in a void. It provides context; it makes sense of the facts’.
- ‘History provides perspective. History does not simply establish facts or provide the relevant data. It provides a depth of understanding to a problem, a set of issues, or the evidence that can lead a policy – or decision-maker to a better choice than he…might otherwise make’.
- ‘Finally, [policy-makers] need to remind [themselves] about the number of times [they] do notuse history’.
As Professor Wiliamson Murray, a leading authority on military institutions and their combat effectiveness has warned, ‘Ignorance of the past, dismissal of history, or simply distortions of recent events have resulted in disastrous choices by statesmen, political leaders and generals’ alike.This is why it is vital that military chiefs embarking on transformative programmes should heed the advice of Professor Sir Michael Howard, one-time Chichele Professor of Military History at Oxford University, who maintained that it was essential to study the history of war ‘in width, in depth and in context’, least its students succumb to its many intellectual pitfalls.
“…‘Ignorance of the past, dismissal of history, or simply distortions of recent events have resulted in disastrous choices by statesmen, political leaders and generals’ alike…”
The regrettable absence of such academic and intellectual rigour within the Corps is evidenced by two common historical misconceptions which, due to the sub-optimal state of the Royal Marines’ institutional memory, have never been challenged, and have thus gained credence and traction throughout the Royal Marines and UK Commando forces in general. The first centres on the Second Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902; the second on the wartime ‘Special Service’ Commandos. Both historical case-studies have a direct bearing on the veracity and cogency of the ‘Commando roots’ narrative, for they are routinely employed to justify, legitimize and intellectually underpin the FCF concept.
The Boer Commandos
The Boer farmers of South Africa have long been regarded by the Royal Marines as exemplars of the Commando fighter: an irregular combatant who excelled in guerrilla warfare against numerically superior forces. Received wisdom has it that the entire Anglo-Boer War was characterised by guerrilla warfare and the use of ‘Commando tactics’, which were ‘marked by lightning strikes on…British forces, with the Boers fading away into the veldt before the British could react’. While indeed a factually correct description of the tactics employed by Boer farmers when ‘on commando’, the inference that this type of irregular warfare typified the whole conflict is ahistorical. This assertion is supported by the fact that out of thirty-nine major battles and engagements fought by the Boer Commandos during the war, twenty-seven were conventional clashes, while just twelve could be classified as ‘Commando’ actions. In short, this specific aspect of the Boer War has been cherry-picked out of its historical context, and consequently adopted by the Royal Marines as fact.
Fought for a variety of geo-political and economic reasons beyond the scope of this challenge piece, the Second Boer War of October 1899 to May 1902 was a classic ‘contest of wills’ between the Boer farmers of the Orange Free State and Transvaal Republic, and the martial forces of the British Empire. The first three phases of what transpired to be a four-phase war of national survival for the Boers were characterised by semi-conventional warfare, and lasted between October 1899 and August 1900. The fourth and final phase, fought between September 1900 and May 1902, can be classified, however, as a full-scale guerrilla war in which the Boer Commandos operated almost exclusively as irregular fighters.
At the commencement of hostilities, the Transvaal Republic and Orange Free State mustered a total of 55,000 Burghers, armed civilians who in times of national crisis were called upon to take-up arms, for both states possessed few full-time Boer soldiers. On being called-up, these Burghers were organised into ‘Commandos’, with each Commando representing the town or district from which its members were drawn. One such individual, who served throughout the war as a Commando, later described the basic organisation of these units: ‘Our military organisation was a rough one. Each Commando was divided into two or more field cornetcies, and these again were sub-divided into corporalships. A field-cornetcy was supposed to contain 150-200 men, and a corporalship nominally consisted of 25, but there was no fixed rule about this…’
Yet despite being configured to fight as Commando units, as well as trained to employ the tactics of the mounted frontiersman who, when confronted by superior forces, would ‘provoke the enemy’s attack, dismount, take cover and shoot, remount and ride away’, the Boer Commandos opened hostilities by prosecuting a conventional defensive war. This entailed a ‘limited scale’ invasion of the contiguous British colonies of Natal and the Cape Colony, the aim of which was to ‘take up defensive positions just inside these territories, from whence they hoped to beat back any British attacks’. This pre-emptive strike by means of conventional forces was highly-successful, knocking the British off-balance and gaining valuable time for the Boers.
Again, contrary to the popularly held belief that the Boer Commandos fought the entire conflict as guerrilla fighters, the first three phases of the conflict in fact saw them operate as conventional troops, fighting from prepared defensive positions such as trenches, shell-scrapes and sangers, and supported by artillery units and machine gun teams. By means of conventional warfare, they inflicted grievous losses upon British forces, and achieved numerous battlefield victories, the most notable being those at Stormberg, Magersfontein and Colenso between 10 and 17 December 1899. This series of tactical humiliations, in which the British lost nearly three thousand men killed, wounded or captured, would henceforth be known by the British Army as ‘Black Week’.
Notwithstanding their early successes, by mid-March 1900 the Boers began to experience a reversal of fortunes in the field. Defeat at the hands of the British at Magersfontein, Paardeberg, Poplar Grove and Abrahamskraal-Driefontein, together with the lifting of their sieges at Kimberley and Ladysmith, as well as the capture of the Orange Free State capital, compelled the Boers to undertake a strategic pause in which to ‘decide whether’, in the words of one historian, ‘they wished to continue the struggle for their independence, and if so, which strategy to follow’. At a council of war convened at Kroonstad in the Orange Free State on 17 March 1900, the Boer leadership took decisions that, inter alia, changed the ‘course and character of the war’.
Predicating their future strategy on the escalation and prolongation of hostilities, the Boers hoped to achieve a favourable political settlement with the British by inducing acute war-weariness in their implacable foe. Conscious of Carl von Clausewitz’s famous dictum that, ‘war is merely the continuation of policy by other means’, the Boers recalibrated their ‘ways’ and ‘means’ at Kroonstad, so as to attain their desired diplomatic ‘ends’. Instrumental to this conceptual re-think was Christian de Wet, Commandant-General of the Free State Army, and as such a leading Commando leader, who proposed at the council of war three major reforms designed to usher in a new phase and style of warfare in South Africa, specifically a guerrilla campaign conducted by ‘flying-columns’ of commandos.
The first reform rested on weeding out those unfit to conduct guerrilla warfare, and to convert his commandos into an ‘élite striking force’. The second was to ‘increase their mobility, by abolishing the great wagon trains that made every Boer expedition into a Great Trek’ and had proved in the past to have been the Boers’ ‘undoing’; and the third, to move their defensive strategy ‘progressively away from the conventional method of trying to block or delay an invasion by fighting at the front…’, and developing instead a raiding strategy behind the enemy’s lines.
This decision to conduct irregular operations was later endorsed by General Jan Smuts, a leading Boer commander, who reflected that, ‘…guerrilla war was better suited to the genius of the Boer people than regular field operations’. Yet despite approving De Wet’s radical proposals, the Boer high command stipulated that future guerrilla operations must be carried out in conjunction with a conventional defensive strategy, obliging the Boers to continue to engage the British in conventional terms. As directed, Boer commando units persisted in practising regular warfare up to the Battle of Belfast (21-27 August 1900), which represented the ‘last set-piece battle of any size in the war’. A serious defeat for the Boers, Belfast marked the turning-point for the Boer Commandos who henceforth began to pursue a single-minded guerrilla campaign against their imperial antagonists.
From a tactical perspective, this step-change was quite necessary, for the ‘Commando system’, according to one historian, ‘was best suited not to large-scale, set-piece battles, but to small-scale, guerrilla strikes’. By September 1900, the strategic situation had changed so fundamentally that for the Boer Commandos frontlines had all but ceased to exist. With this new found mobility, the Boers were now free to avoid giving battle to superior British forces and instead could indulge in ‘hit-and-run’ attacks, and in what today would be classified as the ‘360 ̊ battle’, both common denominators of irregular warfare. Yet despite protracting hostilities for a further eighteen months by means of guerrilla warfare, the Boer Commandos could never hope to prevail against the might of the British Empire, and were duly forced to capitulate in May 1902.
As is evident, the Anglo-Boer War case-study offers a raft of salient lessons to those currently developing the FCF concept. With regards military effectiveness, the Boer Commandos of South Africa, like their Royal Marines Commando descendants, were just as adept at practising regular warfare, as they were at conducting guerrilla operations, proving that waging these two forms of warfare are not, nor should they ever be, mutually exclusive activities. Secondly, the existence of a specialist military force such as the Commandos may very well be predicated on the prosecution of irregular warfare, but the realities and exigencies of war rarely accord with the pre-existing task-orientation of such units. By narrowly defining their own tactical ‘ends’, ‘ways’ and ‘means’, such fighting forces apply strict parameters and thresholds to what they will, or will not do in the field, thereby impairing their military effectiveness.
The onus is therefore on all first-class military organisations, such as the Royal Marines Commandos, to adapt to future circumstances, and not expect future circumstances to adapt to their pre-defined force configurations, task orientations and skill-sets. Failure to recognise and avoid these pitfalls may very well result in a military institution precluding itself from potential future employment. Furthermore, senior officers keen to conceive new specialist units should be mindful of avoiding the bad practice of picking and choosing those historical facts which legitimize their new force concept, while rejecting those that do not.
Dudley Clarke and the Wartime Commando Concept
The adoption by the Corps of this highly-subjective and distorted version of Commando folklore can be placed at the feet of Lieutenant-Colonel Dudley Clarke, the midwife of the UK’s wartime concept of Commando forces. Something of a romantic adventurer, who would later become the mastermind of British deception operations in the Middle East and Southern Europe, Clarke was Military Assistant to the Chief of Imperial General Staff (CIGS), General Sir John Dill, at the time of the British Expeditionary Force’s evacuation from Dunkirk in late May and early June 1940.
Following the forceful ejection of the BEF from continental Europe, the CIGS’s secretariat, (of which Clarke was a member), and the War Office’s Operations Directorate sought radical ideas as to how to go back onto the offensive. After one particular brain-storming session, Clarke was moved to record that: ‘On the way home I tried to search through scattered memories of military history to find some precedent. What had other nations done in the past when the main army had been driven from the field and the arsenals captured by a superior enemy?’
The answer Clarke alighted upon was guerrilla warfare, as practised by the Spanish during the Peninsular war of 1808-1814, as well as by the Boer Commandos against the British between 1899 and 1902. Having been born in South Africa, Clarke was particularly taken by the exploits of the Commandos. ‘[M]emories of their exploits’ recalled Clarke, ‘had long lingered in my mind from thrilling accounts in the books of Deneys Reitz’, the most important of which was Commando: A Boer Journal of the Boer War, first published in 1929. Given the Corps’ historic underinvestment in the conceptual component of its fighting power, it is therefore somewhat ironic that the founding charter for UK Commando forces should be a book.
In an official account written in 1942, Clarke stated that, ‘…since the Commando seemed the best exponent of guerrilla warfare which history could produce, it was presumably the best model we could adopt’. Setting aside the whiff of uncertainty in this last statement, Clarke proceeded to examine the ‘secrets of success in guerrilla fighting’, specifically mobility, fighting in light scales, living off the land and the discarding of old and outdated military theories. Factoring in the advantages of Britain’s maritime position, Clarke finally arrived at the notion of an ‘amphibious “Commando”’ force, whose ‘mobility’ would be ‘superior’ to that of the enemy’s, enabling it to ‘concentrate at the best point of attack’ more speedily than its opponent could ‘mass’ against it. Such an amphibious striking force, it was reasoned, could then ‘disengage and run to fight another day from the moment when they [the enemy] were on the verge of bringing superior strength to bear’. This initial blueprint was duly sold to the CIGS, the Chiefs of Staff and Churchill, who directed that a body to coordinate and manage raiding operations should be formed, namely Section MO9.
Significantly, in order to forge a Commando force fit to meet the strategic realities Britain now faced, Clarke had to ensure that his irregular units broke away from tradition. ‘Desperate days demanded desperate remedies’, wrote Clarke after the war, adding that the predicament of the British Army following Dunkirk ‘seemed the one time to break away from tradition…’. As with the advocates of today’s FCF concept, a ‘discontinuity’ with the immediate past, but a close affinity with earlier history, was seen by Clarke and supporters of the Commando idea as an instant solution to their long-term problems. Yet eighty years on it could be argued that the initial force design for the nascent Commando units, conceived as it was on the hoof, lacked intellectual rigour, as well as historical perspective, and was essentially underpinned by a schoolboyish romanticism.
Clarke’s romanticism and theatricality are evidenced by his description of how MO9 went about defining a Commando: ‘We looked for a dash of the Elizabethan pirate, the Chicago gangster and the Frontier tribesman…’ albeit tempered by ‘professional efficiency’ and a ‘standard of discipline of the best regular soldier’. This pre-echoes current feelings in the Corps concerning the FCF, with those attempting to sell the concept evoking the image of steely-eyed Commandos, executing cliff-assaults with Fairburn-Sykes fighting knives clenched firmly between their teeth. Yet both of these exotic depictions are quite at odds with the far more sober and realistic image of the specialist infantryman offered by General Sir Archibald Wavell, who felt he should be ‘a mixture of cat-burglar, poacher and gunman’.
Evidently, military organisations embarking upon programmes of radical transformation must avoid succumbing to such colourful and quixotic notions, for they cloud judgement, are self-deceiving and encourage myth-making. Writing on the ‘uses and abuses’ of history, Professor Sir Michael Howard defined myth-making as, ‘the creation of an image of the past, through careful selection and interpretation in order to create or sustain certain emotions or beliefs’. By failing to study the history of the Anglo-Boer War in width, in depth and in context, Dudley Clarke’s romantic and fertile mind, whether consciously or unconsciously, did just that. Had he applied Professor Howard’s methodology, he would have been cognisant of the Boers’ decision at Kroonstad to wage guerrilla and conventional warfare concurrently against the British, and of the fact that a significant majority of the battles and engagements fought in that war were conventional in character. Moreover, despite reading Reitz’s book Commando, which records clearly, and unambiguously, the Boers’ employment of conventional ‘ways’ and means’ to achieve their strategic ‘ends’, Clarke, instead, chose those details from the book which highlighted the irregular activities of the Boers, thus validating his own glamorous notion of Britain’s nascent ‘Special Service’ Commandos.
The ‘Special Service’ Commandos
It was this irregular warfare template that Dudley Clarke and senior officers therefore used to form the first Commando units in the summer of 1940, whose raison d’etre was to conduct limited ‘butcher-and-bolt’ operations against targets situated along the coastline of occupied Europe. Major-General R.H. Dewing, Director of Military Operations (DMO) at the War Office, and Clarke’s departmental superior, set out the original Commando concept in a memorandum dated 13 June 1940. The ‘main characteristics of a commando in action’, according to Dewing, were: (a) ‘Capable only of operating independently for 24 hours’; (b) ‘Capable of very wide dispersion and individual action’; and (c) ‘Not capable of resisting an attack or overcoming a defence of formed bodies of troops, i.e., specialising in tip and run tactics dependent for their success upon speed, ingenuity and dispersion’.
These self-enforced operational parameters are reminiscent of those placed on the Royal Marines in 1924 by Admiral Sir Charles Madden’s Committee, which, while seeking to determine the scope of its future employment, defined the Corps’ duties and roles thus: (i) ‘The Royal Marines are an integral and essential part of the Royal Navy. They are to provide detachments in war and peace for the larger ships capable of manning their share of the gunnery armaments’; (ii) ‘They are to provide independent forces to join the Fleet on mobilisation and to carry out operations for the seizure and defence of temporary bases and raids on the enemy’s coastline and bases…’; and (iii) ‘They will serve as a connecting link between the Navy and the Army, and will supply the Army in war with units for special duties for which Naval experience is necessary’.
Yet while Dewing’s blueprint granted the Army’s ‘Special Service’ Commandos the opportunity of becoming self-contained units capable of executing raids, sabotage, covert intelligence gathering, reconnaissance missions, pre-emptive seizure and diversionary actions behind enemy lines,Admiral Madden’s recommendations, on the other hand, acted as a strait-jacket, precluding the Corps from its rightful amphibious Commando role, and from participating in much of the fighting during the first three years of the war. It wasn’t until early 1943, however, that Admiral Louis Mountbatten, Chief of Combined Operations, warned the Corps that ‘the RM division must convert its battalions to the Commando role or face total oblivion’. This they duly did, eventually fielding a further six Royal Marine Commando units. But what this historical case-study really serves to accomplish is to issue a further reminder to those presently shaping the FCF that they must refrain from placing too many caveats on the future configuration and employment of their new force, for the realities of war rarely conform to initial force concept designs.
The last point was painfully learnt by the wartime Commandos, whose expectations regarding their intended purpose and function received a series of periodic reality checks as the war developed. The first to be disabused were the Independent companies raised in early 1940. Prototypes of the later ‘Special Service’ battalions, they were deployed to Norway before they could complete their specialist training, and were subsequently ‘deployed in an orthodox infantry-of-the-line role’, experiencing little action before being withdrawn from this theatre of operations. Their successors, the ‘Special Service’ battalions, later renamed Army Commandos, would fair little better.
At first, Combined Operations HQ, the operational tasking centre for Commando forces, satisfied itself with small ‘butcher-and-bolt’ attacks on the coast of occupied Europe. Yet as the war progressed, its appetite for bigger and more complex raids grew. These ambitions culminated in the Lofoten Islands and Vaagso raids in early and late 1941, and the raids on St. Nazaire and Dieppe in March and August 1942 respectively. Later that year, however, the course of the war changed favourably for the Allies and with it the desired operational and strategic ‘ends’.
Having successfully executed amphibious landings in North-West Africa during Operation Torch, the Allies were no longer on the strategic defensive. For the Army and Royal Marines ‘Special Service’ Commandos, this signalled a significant step-change regarding their role and purpose. Henceforth, Commando units would, due to the exigencies of war, invariably act as ‘shock troop’ formations, stiffening resolve on the battlefield, as well as undertaking hazardous ‘enabling’ tasks beyond the capability of standard infantry regiments of the line. Yet this re-roling outside of their own specialism would necessitate the Commandos fighting as conventional ground troops. This they accomplished with distinction serving throughout the campaigns in Tunisia, Sicily, Italy, N.W. Europe and Burma under the command of higher formations at the Brigade, Divisional, Corps and Army Group levels.
This fundamental shift is attested to by the thirty-eight battle honours awarded to Army Commando units for various actions undertaken during the Second World War. An examination of each of these battles/campaigns reveals that only four were awarded for classic ‘Commando raids’ (‘Norway 1941’, ‘Vaagso’, ‘St. Nazaire’ and ‘Dieppe’) while the vast majority, thirty-two in all, were for engagements in which Commandos fought in their capacity as specialised amphibious infantry units. The remaining two battle honours were granted for operations entailing a mixture of raiding and conventional war-fighting (‘Greece 1944-45’ and ‘Adriatic’). Significantly, Greece and the Adriatic, according to one leading authority, were the only theatres of operation which afforded Commando forces the scope and opportunity to practise their specialised skill-sets, and thus conform to the ‘traditional Commando concept’.
© Dr Paul R.J.Winter, 2019
TO BE CONTINUED IN PART THREE
 General Sir John Hackett, The Profession of Arms, (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1983), p. 7.
 In September 1943, the Army and Royal Marines ‘Special Service’ Commandos were formally organised into four separate ‘Special Service’ Brigades, namely the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th who came under the overall command of Special Service Group commanded by Major-General Sir Robert Sturges RM. See Charles Messenger, Commandos: The Definitive History of Commando Operations in the Second World War, (London: William Collins, 2016), pp. 244-246.
 Nos. 12, 14 and 30 Commandos were also specialist units and can therefore be classed as distinctly different from the Army and Royal Marines ‘Special Service’ Commandos.
 See Charles Messenger, Commandos: The Definitive History of Commando Operations in the Second World War, (London: William Collins, 2016), pp. 237-260.
 Ibid., p. 12.
 Chapter 2: ‘Decision-Making’, Section 4: ‘Choosing the Right Team’, Understanding and Decision-Making, Joint Doctrine Publication 04, 2ndEdition, Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre, MoD, 2016, p. 52.
 Chapter 2: ‘Decision-Making’, Annex 2B: ‘Biases and Heuristics: Why We Think The Way We Do’, Understanding and Decision-Making, Joint Doctrine Publication 04, 2nd Edition, Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre, MoD, 2016, p. 66.
 General Sir Rupert Smith, The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World, (London: Allen Lane, 2005), p. 29.
 Michael Howard, The Lessons of History, (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1991), p. 12.
 Michael Howard, The Causes of Wars and Other Essays,( London: Unwin Paperbacks, 1984), p. 210.
 Peter Hennessy, Muddling Through: Power, Politics and the Quality of Government in Postwar Britain, (London: Victor Gollancz, 1996), p. 16.
 Peter Hennessy, Distilling The Frenzy: Writing The History of One’s Own Times, (London: Biteback Publishing, 2012), p. 186.
 Anne N. Foreman, Foreword to Military History and the Military Profession, edited by David A. Charters et al., (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1992), pp. viii-ix.
 Williamson Murray, War, Strategy and Military Effectiveness, (Cambridge: CUP, 2013), p. 15.
 Michael Howard, The Causes of Wars and Other Essays, (London: Unwin Paperbacks, 1984), pp. 215-17.
 Charles Messenger, Commandos: The Definitive History of Commando Operations in the Second World War, (London: William Collins, 2016), p. 17.
 André Wessels, ‘Boer Guerrilla and British Counter-Guerrilla Operations in South Africa, 1899 to 1902’, Scientia Militaria, South African Journal of Military Studies, Vol. 39, No.2, 2011, p. 4
 Deneys Reitz, Commando: A Boer Journal of the Boer War, (London: Faber & Faber, 1929), p. 21.
 Thomas Pakenham, The Boer War, (London: Abacus, 1994), p. 105.
 André Wessels, ‘Boer Guerrilla and British Counter-Guerrilla Operations in South Africa, 1899 to 1902’, Scientia Militaria, South African Journal of Military Studies, Vol. 39, No.2, 2011, p. 4.
 Thomas Pakenham, The Boer War, (London: Abacus, 1994), p. 246.
 André Wessels, ‘Boer Guerrilla and British Counter-Guerrilla Operations in South Africa, 1899 to 1902’, Scientia Militaria, South African Journal of Military Studies, Vol. 39, No.2, 2011, p. 5.
Ibid., p. 6.
 Carl von Clausewitz, On War, edited and translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret, (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1989), p. 87.
 Thomas Pakenham, The Boer War, (London: Abacus, 1994), p. 387.
 Deneys Reitz, Commando: A Boer Journal of the Boer War, (London: Faber & Faber, 1929), p. 112.
 Thomas Pakenham, The Boer War, (London: Abacus, 1994), pp. 387-388.
 Ibid., p. 455.
 Deneys Reitz, Commando: A Boer Journal of the Boer War, (London: Faber & Faber, 1929), p. 111.
 Thomas Pakenham, The Boer War, (London: Abacus, 1994), p. 332.
 André Wessels, ‘Boer Guerrilla and British Counter-Guerrilla Operations in South Africa, 1899 to 1902’, Scientia Militaria, South African Journal of Military Studies, Vol. 39, No.2, 2011, p. 9.
 Thaddeus Holt, The Deceivers: Allied Military Deception in the Second World War, (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2004), p. 11.
 Dudley Clarke, Seven Assignments, (London: Jonathan Cape Ltd, 1949), pp. 205-206.
 Ibid., p. 206.
 Deneys Reitz, Commando: A Boer Journal of the Boer War, (London: Faber & Faber, 1929).
 Charles Messenger, Commandos: The Definitive History of Commando Operations in the Second World War, (London: William Collins, 2016), p. 27.
 Dudley Clarke, Seven Assignments, (London: Jonathan Cape Ltd, 1949), p. 207.
 Ibid., p. 219.
 Michael Howard, The Causes of War and Other Essays, (London: Unwin Paperbacks, 1984), p. 208.
 Charles Messenger, Commandos: The Definitive History of Commando Operations in the Second World War, (London: William Collins, 2016), pp. 28-29.
 Major-General Julian Thompson, The Royal Marines: From Sea Soldier to a Special Force, (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 2000), pp. 227-228.
 David Thomas, ‘The Importance of Commando Operations in Modern Warfare, 1939-1982’, Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 18, No. 4 (Oct. 1983), p. 689.
 The exceptions were Nos. 40 and 41 Royal Marine Commandos who were officially formed in February and October 1942 respectively. See Robin Neillands, By Sea and Land: The Royal Marines Commandos: A History, 1942-1982, (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1987), p. 12.
 Major-General Julian Thompson, The Royal Marines: From Sea Soldier to a Special Force, (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 2000), p. 300.
 See Charles Messenger, Commandos: The Definitive History of Commando Operations in the Second World War, (London: William Collins, 2016), p. 243 & J.L. Moulton, Haste To The Battle: A Marine Commando At War, (London: Cassell & Co Ltd, 1963), p. 202.
 James Dunning, When Shall Their Glory Fade? The Stories of the Thirty-Eight Battle Honours of the Army Commandos, 1940-1945, (London: Frontline Books, 2011), p. 3.
 Combined Operations: The Official Story of the Commandos, (New York: Macmillan Company, 1943), p. 5.
 Robin Neillands, By Sea and Land: The Royal Marines Commandos: A History, 1942-1982, (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1987), p. 15.
 See James Dunning, When Shall Their Glory Fade? The Stories of the Thirty-Eight Battle Honours of the Army Commandos, 1940-1945, (London: Frontline Books, 2011) and Hilary St. George Saunders, The Green Beret: The Story of the Commandos, 1940-1945, (London: Michael Joseph Ltd, 1949).
 See James Dunning, When Shall Their Glory Fade? The Stories of the Thirty-Eight Battle Honours of the Army Commandos, 1940-1945, (London: Frontline Books, 2011).
 Charles Messenger, Commandos: The Definitive History of Commando Operations in the Second World War, (London: William Collins, 2016), p. 330.