Commando. The Elite Fighting Forces of the Second World War.

By Sally Dugan

Printed: 2001

Publisher: Channel 4 Books

Edition: First edition

Dimensions 17 × 24 × 3 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 17 x 24 x 3

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In the original dustsheet. Black cloth binding with gilt title on the spine.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

My father, G.A.F. Frost joined the Commandos at their inception. He became an expert in unarmed combat and helped the Israelis develop Krav Maga. Martin Frost, later worked for  Mountbatten in a similar role.

Combined Operations Shoulder Patch

Disappointed by the steady increase in disasters for the British troops, Chuchill conceived the idea of an elite force that would “develop a reign of terror” among the enemy. This specially trained “hunter class” would become an essential fighting force, being copied  the world over.

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 their role had changed into lightly equipped assault infantry which specialised in spearheading amphibious landings.

The man initially selected as the overall commander of the force was Admiral Sir Roger Keyes himself a veteran of the landings at Gallipoli and the Zeebrugge raid in the First World War. Keyes resigned in October 1941 and was replaced by Admiral Louis Mountbatten.

By the autumn of 1940 more than 2,000 men had volunteered for commando training, and what became known as the Special Service Brigade was formed into 12 units called commandos. Each commando would number around 450 men commanded by a lieutenant colonel. They were subdivided into troops of 75 men and further divided into 15-man sections. Commandos were all volunteers seconded from other British Army regiments and retained their own cap badges and remained on their regimental roll for pay. All volunteers 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.

By 1943 the commandos had moved away from small raiding operations and had been formed into brigades of assault infantry to spearhead future Allied landing operations. Three units were left un-brigaded to carry out smaller-scale raids.

Review: Sally has done a great job with this companion book to the TV series.She has been able to present these first ‘superheros’ in a way that shows how they developed over time.Also depict their inner conflicts in making the transfer from peacetime to total war.


Sally Dugan is a writer and teacher with a special interest in the Victorian era. She has written several other books including The Day the World Took Off and Commando.

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