• Si Biggs

Formation of No. 46 (Royal Marine) Commando formed up in Dorchester August 1943

Updated: Aug 4


Formed at Dorchester, West Dorset, in August 1943 mainly from men of 9th RM Bn; 46 Commando RM had a brief but important role in the invasion of Europe before being disbanded on 31 January 1946.

Principal operations 1943–6: Trained in Scotland with two weeks at Achnacarry (23 October to 9 November 1943); mobilisation completed on 24 January 1944, but intended night raiding role cancelled.

Embarked 1 June with cliff– climbing and demolition equipment for destruction of Benerville Bty (or Houlgate Bty as alternative target) in Normandy, but unfavourable weather and the fact that neither battery was harassing shipping, led to operation being cancelled.

Landed Berniers (Normandy) on 7 June (D+1) capturing strongpoint at Petit Enfer (see chapter 6) before occupying the town. 7/8 June patrols sent inland to La Deliverande, Douvres; 9 June occupied the village of Douvres and came under command of 3 Canadian Division; 11–12 June actions in Mue Valley;

17 June rejoined 4 SS Bde in Orne line; ‘S’ Troop re–equipped with support weapons; 17 August patrols entered Troarn to find it deserted but heavily mined; 19 August with 47 RM Cdo attacked Dozule successfully after silent approach at night.

On 25 August, having been brought forward in transport, the Commando was south of Beuzeville, the CO Lt–Col Campbell Hardy was wounded but continued in action while the road was cleared a wellcamouflaged enemy defences were engaged in a fire–fight, as the Commando and a Para Bn advanced. After three hours the second–in–command, Maj John Lee, MC, and 10 others had been killed and 37 all ranks wounded before the commando was withdrawn.

Men of 46 (RM) Commando, 4th Special Service Brigade, entering the village of Douvres-la-Delivrande, 8 June 1944, watched by French civilians.

The Commando went into billets — the first in 12 weeks — on 26 August at St Maclou; 11–15 September guarded prisoners near Le Havre; 18 September in Bray Dunes area (Belgium) occupying former German defences investing Dunkirk; 7 October sailed for UK to join 1 SS Brigade. The Commando received 200 reinforcements and reorganised; sailed to Ostend (Belgium) on 15 January 1945 and detached from 1 SS Brigade for deployment to Antwerp. Took over a sector of line Heel to Beegden on the Mass on 2 February, with standing patrols out but little activity.


On 12 February the Commando relieved 3 (Army) Commando at Linne, and after spending several weeks here and further west, the Commando trained for river crossings. It crossed the Rhine on 23 March, establishing a bridgehead, helping to clear Wesel next day; in April in actions crossing the Weser, Aller and on 29 April the Elbe. Arrived Neustadt (near Lubeck) on 5 May and returned to UK on 8 June. The commando spent the summer of 1945 at Tunbridge Wells training for operations in the Far East, but the Commando’s strength began to be run down from October.

Memorable date: 11 June, the attack on Le Hamel and Rots (in 1944)

Royal Marines Museum - RM Unit Histories




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