Thursday, January 12, 2017

Commandos: RCN Beach Commando "W"

Little Known Canadian Units - Royal Canadian Naval Beach Commando "W"

By E.G. Finley (Lieut., Royal Canadian Navy),
and Ed Storey (Sgt., Canadian Military Engineers) 

W Commando - Royal Canadian Navy Beach Commandos

Photo Caption - Lt. Donald Sutherland W-1 Beach Master, and others from the unit. Photo courtesy of Bill Newell, veteran of W Commando who adds " Lt. Sutherland at the left end, Lt. Eric Findlay on the extreme right, and myself partly behind John Fox in the center of the front row." Photo as found at Commando Veterans Assoc.

An informative, eight-page article can be found at a Canadian Military History website about the Canadian commando, a unit that was formed later in the war to take on many important responsibilities and activities related to landing crafts and amphibious landings. These activities were linked to the Combined Operation organization plans for D-Day Normandy and beyond.

In the article we read about the origins of the beach Commando:

In September (1943), as a direct result of the Allied leaders deliberations at the August 10-18 Quadrant Conference in Quebec City, the Canadian War Cabinet Committee authorized, among several major naval commitments; the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) to form a Beach Commando and a Beach Signal Section, with training in Britain to be completed by the spring of 1944.

The article informs the reader about how men were organized and then trained in Scotland:

By early December 1943, most of the required Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR) personnel had received their appointments and arrived in Ardentinny, Scotland, to undergo the basic beach commando training in HMS "Armadillo."

The article features several of the 100s of photographs by Lieut. Gilbert A. Milne and Lieut. "Bus" Arless, Canadian naval photographers, and we learn the new recruits turned much of their emergy towards such activities as: 

assault courses, route marches, over-night bivouacs, beach drills, cliff climbing and unarmed combat lessons. During this intensive training, being soaking wet and cold seemed to be everyone's perpetual state.... 

The full article with excellent accompanying photographs can be seen at the following link: Little Known Canadian Units - Royal Canadian Naval Beach Commando "W"


A Group of RCN Commandos.

Photo Caption: A couple more pictures of members of W Commando, Royal Canadian Navy Beach Commandos, sent in by Bill Newell who adds "The photos of our unit taken at HMS Vectis, on the Isle of Wight, just prior to D-Day". Photo as found at Forum for Commando Veterans Assoc.

Please link to Commandos: Origin and Purpose of Canadian Beach Commandos

Unattributed Photos GH

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