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JJHH
10-15-2009, 05:20 PM
The Small Scale Raiding Force (SSRF) was initiated by Lord Louis Mountbatten, Chief of Combined Operations, in February/March 1942 to be a permanent "amphibious sabotage force" of fifty men directly under his command. The force was actually a reclassification of the Maid Honor Force already formed by the SOE. The title coming from the Brixham trawler named Maid Honor which SOE requisitioned and substantially armed and converted.

Mountbatten negotiated control of the SSRF which remained within SOE based on Station 62 Anderson Manor while being under operational control of Combined Operations and known as No.62 Commando. Major Gus March-Phillipps continued to lead the force and be its main inspiration, as Major Geoffrey Appleyard remained its second in command. Both men formed the original "Maid Honor Force" when specially chosen for that duty by Brigadier Colin Gubbins the military head of SOE, from B Troop of No.7 Commando.

The SSRF used MTB 344 (colloquially nicknamed The Little Pisser from its outstanding turn of speed) and conducted a number of raids by sea from Britain including Operation Aquatint on 12/13 September 1942 on St Honorine, (later part of Omaha Beach), where most of the 11 men on the raid were killed (including March-Phillipps) or captured. The force was made up to strength with men from No.12 Commando with Appleyard now Operational Commander. Appleyard conducted Operation Basalt on the island of Sark on 3/4 October 1942 with Lt. (later Maj.) Anders Lassen (who was to be awarded the VC whilst commanding a Squadron of the Special Boat Service in Italy in 1945) amongst his force. An incident involving prisoners having their hands tied behind them, their mouths stuffed with grass and their subsequent killing whilst attempting to escape led directly to Hitler's decision to issue his Kommandobefehl (Commando Order) on 18 October 1942 as attested by Colonel General Alfred Jodl, who drafted the order, in his testimony at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in 1946. Accounts vary as to whether the captives were knifed by Lassen himself or shot by him or another. Officially sanctioned German military accounts of the time assert unequivocably that the dead German soldiers were found with their hands bound and later German military publications make many references to captured Commando instructions ordering the tying of captives hands behind them and the use of a particularly painful method of knotting around the thumbs to enable efficient, coercive, single-handed control of the captive.

Despite No.62 Commando being made a larger force thereafter, the SSRF was disbanded after Operation *****foot on 3/4 April 1943, though prior to this the force had started to break up after a January decision of the Chiefs of Staff curtailed their raiding operations following "clashes of interests" objections from the SOE and SIS (MI6). Both Appleyard and Lassen went to the Mediterranean, where Appleyard helped to shape the new 2 SAS which evolved from a Detachment of No. 62 Commando under the command of Bill Stirling, elder brother of David Stirling, and where Lassen raised the SBS from the Special Boat Squadron of 1 SAS. Neither survived the war.

Source: http://en.allexperts.com/e/s/sm/small_scale_raiding_force.htm

JJHH
10-15-2009, 05:30 PM
Relatively unknown but certainly a hardcore raiding unit. The total force size is still uncertain. Probably never more than 60 men.

Nationals of many countries were recruited, British, French, Dutch, Czechs, at least one Dane. When it was disbanned, most of them went to other special units; SAS, SBS, SOE (several joined The Jedburghs), etc.

I did some research on its members and it appears that most of them did not survive the war. Extraordinary brave men. Among them, the Dane Anders Lassen VC, MC & Two Bars.

Dominique
10-15-2009, 05:38 PM
Thanks for the article, it's interesting to go back and read about all of the specialized units formed during the war. It's also sad to see how many times the units were wasted on tasks that could have been performed by other units, or disbanded for for what appears to be no reason.

James
10-16-2009, 03:08 AM
Very interesting. Now I'm going to read up on Ian Fleming's 30 Assault Unit.

A couple of years ago I read a fantastic book called To Dare And To Conquer (http://www.amazon.com/Dare-Conquer-Special-Operations-Achilles/dp/0316143847) by Derek Leebaert.

Ngati Tumatauenga
10-16-2009, 05:22 AM
You can expand your loadout James...

James
10-16-2009, 09:17 AM
You can expand your loadout James...

Hehe.

I've been rocking some green tiger *****e this trip.

baboon6
10-16-2009, 10:36 AM
Thanks for the article, it's interesting to go back and read about all of the specialized units formed during the war. It's also sad to see how many times the units were wasted on tasks that could have been performed by other units, or disbanded for for what appears to be no reason.

Arguably some of these units were raised in the first place for no particularly good reason either. This was very much the era of personality-driven special forces units and units were often raised on the strength of their commanders' personality and not always for any real strategic or tactical need. When these factors- personality and purpose- interceded successfully, and when things had been thought through properly- a unit could be a great success. Two very good examples of this are David Stirling and the SAS, and Roger Courtney and the Special Boat Section. Stirling and Courtney both off their own bat convinced higher headquarters that there was a real need for their ideas to be put into practice, and then raised and trained units and carried out successful, strategically valuable operations. Stirling more so than Courtney but Courtney was the first man to realise the military potential of canoes.

There are examples of "top-down" units, when a higher headquarters had identified the need for a unit to carry out a specific task or set of tasks, and a unit was then raised and trained for that task. The best examples of this would to me be the Long Range Desert Group and the Combined Operations Pilotage Parties; while the founding commanders of these two units, Ralph Bagnold and Nigel Clogstoun-Willmott, were invaluable in their success, and possessed possibly unique skill-sets, they were not the prime instigators behind their formation.

But there are examples of units which, while manned by brave and skilled men, achieved very little of substance, while using personnel and resources which might have been better used elsewhere. I would classify the SSRF and Popski's Private Army in this category. Both units were primarily formed to satisfy their commanders' personalities. Both achieved some minor successes but not enough in my opinion to justify their existence. They were units in search of a real mission. I know I'm going to get flak for what I have written but I'm tired of people over-romanticising this subject.

James
10-16-2009, 03:32 PM
Until WWII, the vast majority of special operations as we now think of them were carried out by task organized units formed from individuals in regular units who were brought together for a specific task. When the mission was accomplished, these special units were often disbanded and the men were returned to their original units.

JUNKHO
10-16-2009, 08:20 PM
^^^^ Sorry for a little further OT
In the near future given all the technology available both for operations and support, would you expect a similar process to what you described?

ie. no special ops units but rather one military unit of highly skilled soldiers which would provide a task organized group, which would train, equip to do a specific mission and then return to their original units?

James
10-17-2009, 04:52 AM
I think dedicated SOF units are here to stay. Often, the sheer amount of technical know-how necessary is astounding. Take SEALs - they need to have all the necessary knowledge for a variety of SCUBA and MFF skills, and that's just what they need to get to the fight.

ferguson
10-17-2009, 05:54 PM
"We all sleep safe in our beds because there are rough men who stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."

Sometimes very good men are required to do very bad things.
Be thankful for such men.

I take a lot of pride in having served shoulder to shoulder with some of them.

baboon6
10-17-2009, 07:46 PM
Interesting information on two brothers who both served with SSRF. Sergeant Bruce Ogden-Smith joined the Special Boat Section after the disbandment of the unit and then became one of the COPPists who conducted recces of the Normandy beaches before D-Day. See the thread I have started on COPPs for more details. Major Colin Ogden-Smith remained with SOE and was killed in action near Finistre, Brittany on 29 July 1944, while serving as commander of Jedburgh Team FRANCIS.

http://www.specialforcesroh.com/browse.php?mode=viewiroll&rollid=4098

http://www.specialforcesroh.com/thread.php?postid=767

http://www.specialforcesroh.com/browse.php?mode=viewiaward&awardid=423

baboon6
10-18-2009, 07:23 PM
An article on Major Geoffrey Appleyard, 2IC and then OC of the SSRF. Has some inaccuracies:

http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/yorkshire-diary/He-who-dared.3224202.jp

Major John Geoffrey Appleyard, DSO, MC and Bar, MA, of The Commandos and Special Air Service Regiment was a Second World War hero, son of Leeds garage owner John Appleyard. The Major didn't make it back and in his memory his father published a book in 1945 called simply Geoffrey.


The young adventurer

Acts of bravery by British troops are being played out daily on the killing fields of Iraq and Afghanistan and we get to know little or nothing about them except when tragedy strikes and some are killed.

But such heroics are nothing new for members of our Armed Forces. During the Second World War Geoffrey Appleyard was one of a swash-buckling band of heroes who were decorated for their bravery several times.

Today communications can be instant but back then there was no internet, no mobile phone. We only know about Geoffrey Appleyard's wartime adventures because he wrote regular chatty letters to his parents in which he revealed his thoughts and some details about his missions.

After the war Geoffrey's father, John Ernest, founder of the Appleyard group of Companies, had the letters turned in to a book he called simply Geoffrey and he presented it to employees of his garage business as a Christmas gift in December, 1945 with the message: " Mr and Mrs Appleyard and Family send best wishes that the Peace so dearly won may be with you this Christmastide and throughout the years to come."

Village

Geoffrey was born on December 20, 1916. His garage-owing family moved from their home in Bramley when he was five and bought imposing Linton Manor in the stockbroker village just outside the market town of Wetherby.

He went to Moorlands School in Headingley, a private establishment which still thrives today, before moving to Bootham School in York which also still flourishes for what Geoffrey's father described as "his serious education".

But there seems to have been something of the rebel in Geoffrey. At Bootham he was more interested in planning and executing his wide-flung ornithological expeditions or organising what was known at Bootham as a "rabble" a midnight rag.

He became secretary of the school's Natural History Society and helped with a British Museum project to ring or band birds to investigate patterns of migration.

They discovered from ring or band recoveries British birds moved to and from South Africa, Algiers, Russia, Norway and Denmark and even Greenland.

Geoffrey's work with the Society earned him the school's coveted Natural History Exhibition.

It was at Bootham that Geoffrey learned a valuable lesson in the art of camouflage.

One night he climbed the school walls and got on to the roof believing no one had seen him. He was mistaken. Next day a master summoned Geoffrey to his study:

"You were on the roof last night, Geoffrey!" blasted the master.

"Yes, Sir, but how did you know?"

"I saw your silhouette you silly wet", was the reply.

Geoffrey never forgot that lesson which came in useful during his military service and used to good effect in more serious raids in graver times.

Geoffrey might have been something of the ******* but he proved at Bootham when he believed it was necessary to concentrate he was more than capable of buckling down.

He was lured by the thought of going to Cambridge and realised he had to pass the entrance examination if he was to be admitted. His concentration on his studies bore fruit he went to Caius College, Cambridge, at the start of the new academic year in 1935.

Again, Geoffrey was "distracted" by the sporting opportunities that presented themselves, especially rowing.

It didn't take him long to become a member of the College Eight, then he was Boat Club secretary in his second year at Caius and in his final year he was Captain of the Boats.

But Geoffrey was also drawn to ski-ing and went with the University team to Breuil in Italy in December, 1936.

This winter wonderland was also a challenge to Geoffrey. The day before Christmas he and a companion accomplished the feat of climbing the mountain frontier range near the Breithorn, ski-ing down the glacier to Zermatt in Switzerland and climbing back in moonlight over the Theodul Pass and down to Italy.

Studies

t was considered impossible to complete in one day but Geoffrey proved the sceptics wrong. Such determination stood him in good stead when he joined up.

Geoffrey devoted his attention to his ski-ing and made the team for the Inter-Varsity Downhill and Slalom and the race was run at Davos in Switzerland on Geoffrey's 21st birthday.

His birthday "present" was to win the Slalom Race for Cambridge against the old "enemy" Oxford. Other wins on the ski slopes followed and he was invited to Captain an English team to ski against Norway in the Easter vacation.

Leader from the start

AS war clouds gathered a national call to voluntary service was made and Geoffrey Appleyard joined the Supplementary Reserve of officers in the Royal Army Service Corps.

In August 1939 volunteers like Geoffrey were called up. He went to Salisbury Plain and showed from the outset although he was an officer he wasn't afraid to get stuck in with his men and dig trenches.

He led from the front. Shades of his modis operandi in his father's garage where he got his hands dirty like the rest of the workforce.

Geoffrey proved he had nerves of steel and was fearless in the face of adversity as the collection of letters shows.

He volunteered and was accepted as a commando and at Christmas, 1940, found himself at a secret training camp on a remote island off the west coast of Scotland.

In May, 1941, after a daring rescue to bring two secret service agents who'd been operating in France back to England carried out by submarine and then dingy, Geoffrey, now an acting Captain, was awarded the Military Cross for his "services in the field".

Next came a spell on board a converted Brixham trawler called Maid Honor which went under sail to West Africa. It was a covert operation and the vessel had been converted for the clandestine transportation of weaponry and could take 30 men.

Geoffrey and his crew had a few "narrow escapes". On one operation codenamed 'Postmaster' they planned to capture a German tanker in harbour on the island of Fernando Po. The date was January 1942 and although the island was Spanish territory, therefore officially neutral, the mission went ahead and was accomplished, taking the German tanker and an Italian freighter!

So successful was 'Postmaster' that additional men were recruited and the force expanded. The importance of the Maid Honor's crew's work and Geoffrey's part in it came with the announcement Geoffrey had been awarded a Bar to his Military Cross.

His chum Lt (acting Captain) Graham Hayes was awarded the Military Cross. Could this have been for capturing the tanker and freighter?

landing too far

In early 1942 Geoffrey was one of the mostly hand-picked officers to form a nucleus for a small scale raiding force was this the forerunner of today's Special Boat Service? [no it wasn't- the Special Boat Section as it was then called had been formed in 1940] to probe the French coastal defences.

They operated with motor launches capable of doing 30 knots.

They led charmed lives but then in September, 1942, their luck ran out in a raid on the Cherbourg Peninsula.

Geoffrey was injured and couldn't walk but was allowed on the mission and stayed on the motor boat while Major March-Phillipps (Gus) and Captain Graham Hayes and seven others got into their landing craft but as soon as they made it ashore the Germans sprung an ambush. Gus was killed, Graham was posted missing.

It was not until after the war that Graham's parents learned the truth about their son.

He'd swam for his life and eventually was washed ashore. He found a friendly farmer who handed him over to the French resistance and he got to Paris where he lived openly without capture.

But Graham wanted to go home and was guided by the resistance over the Spanish border. But then tragedy struck. The Spanish handed him over to the Germans who took him back to Paris and locked him up in the Fresnes Prison. Graham was kept in solitary confinement for nine months then on July 13, 1943, he was shot by the Germans.

Geoffrey had lost his two best friends.


You here again? said the King

On December 15, 1942, the London Gazette recorded that Geoffrey now a major in charge of the Small Scale Raiding Party had been awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

At his Investiture his third at Buckingham Palace in 11 months King George paused to have a conversation with Geoffrey and opened by saying "What, you here again so soon?"

Geoffrey took part in 17 raids in which landings were made on the enemy coast as well as crossing the Channel night after night before a landing could be effected.

Next stop was North Africa.

The Small Scale Raiding Force, which had operated from land and sea, was now given an air capability. [In fact it had by now been disbanded and some of its former personnel, including Appleyard, transferred to 2 SAS Regiment]

Again much of what Geoffrey did was top secret but his letters home showed mixed emotions and some long periods of boredom which certainly wasn't what the boy from Bramley expected.

Geoffrey had lost his two best pals Gus and Graham. Now his luck was about to run out. He wasn't supposed to go on an airborne expedition to drop around a dozen paratroop commandoes north of Randazzo in Sicily on the night of July 12, 1943, but the rebel in him was still burning away.

He joined the flight although he didn't intend to drop, just determine the spot to which reinforcements should be send the following night. He expected to return to North Africa within a few hours. Five days later there was still no sign of him.

Then the letters started to arrive in Linton bearing the sad news. a letter to the Appleyard family from King George read: "The Queen and I offer you our heartfelt sympathy in your great sorrow. We pray that your country's gratitude for a life so nobly given in its service may bring you some measure of consolation."

Once word was out that Geoffrey was missing presumed dead other letters of tribute arrived at Linton. One was from Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia, which read: "He was a grand leader and I was proud to have him in my command."

Major Appleyard was 27 when his plane failed to return to its base in North Africa.

He has no grave. Shades of the fate of the American band leader Glenn Miller. And why no one has made a film based on Geoffrey beats me.

JJHH
10-19-2009, 06:58 AM
Major Colin Ogden-Smith remained with SOE and was killed in action near Finistre, Brittany on 29 July 1944, while serving as commander of Jedburgh Team FRANCIS.


I know of at least two other SSRF members who became Jedburghs. They too didn't survive the war.

baboon6
10-19-2009, 12:50 PM
I know of at least two other SSRF members who became Jedburghs. They too didn't survive the war.

Do you know their names?

Obituary of another former SSRF member, Major Peter Kemp. He fought in the Spanish Civil War (on the Nationalist side) before joining the Royal Horse Guards and then SOE. After his service with SSRF participated in SOE missions in Albania, Poland and Thailand.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/obituary-peter-kemp-1501984.html

Peter Mant MacIntyre Kemp, soldier and writer: born Bombay 19 August 1915; MC 1941; DSO 1945; twice married (marriages dissolved); died London 30 October 1993.


PETER KEMP was a distinguished irregular soldier during the Second World War, and long retained his nose for trouble spots thereafter.
His father was a judge in Bombay, where he was born. After conventional education at Wellington and Trinity, Cambridge, he started to read for the Bar, but was called away by the outbreak of civil war in Spain. Already alarmed at the menace of Communism, he joined a Carlist unit in General Franco's forces in November 1936 and later transferred to the Spanish Foreign Legion in which - rare distinction for a non-Spaniard - he commanded a platoon. He was several times wounded, but stayed at duty till a mortar bomb broke his jaw in the summer of 1938.


He had barely recovered from this wound when a chance meeting with (Sir) Douglas Dodds-Parker brought him into MIR, a small research department of the War Office which was one of the starting components of the wartime Special Operations Executive. MIR sent him on an abortive expedition to Norway by submarine. He was one of the earliest pupils at the Combined Operations Training School at Lochailort on the shores of the Western Highlands; sailed in intense discomfort to Gibraltar in the hold of that dubious craft HMS Fidelity; and went on another abortive submarine voyage in pursuit of a German U-boat. This aborted because a British destroyer attacked the submarine carrying Kemp by mistake. The operation SOE had planned for him in Spain was cancelled. He returned to the United Kingdom for further training in parachuting sabotage and undercover tactics.

With a small-scale raiding force he took part in a few cross-channel commando raids, including a successful one which captured all seven of the crew of the Casquets lighthouse (one of them still wearing a hair-net). When the force closed down after its leader's death in action he went out to Cairo, and was absorbed into SOE's Albanian section. He spent 10 months clandestinely in Albania, many of them in disagreeable proximity to Enver Hoxha, the Communist leader. He had several close brushes with death, and found the complexities of Balkan politics intensely confusing in a many-sided war. Eventually he walked out into Montenegro, across the border with Yugoslavia, and was safely brought back to Cairo.


He did one more mission for SOE in Europe, into southern Poland at the end of 1944, in a party commanded by Colonel DT Hudson, who had been a leading SOE agent in Yugoslavia. Their Polish friends protected them from capture by the Germans. They were then overrun by the Red Army, and imprisoned in odious conditions for three weeks by the NKVD. Two months hanging about in Moscow waiting for an exit visa followed.


He had still not had enough fighting. He parachuted once more, in the summer of 1945, into Siam and ran arms to the French across the border with Laos - again fighting a polygonal war, for both the Japanese and the Viet Min tried to stop him.


Tuberculosis forced his retirement from the Army, and his health thereafter was always precarious. His energies remained enormous. He sold life insurance policies for a living, and wrote some excellent books. One, Mine Were of Trouble (1957) described his part in the war in Spain, and No Colours or Crest (1958), his life with MIR and SOE. These were strong, spare narratives, in beautifully clear English, extremely readable then and since. He acknowledged many of his own mistakes and never said a word of his calm, gentle, unfailing courage.

He went to Hungary during the rising in 1956, nominally as the Tablet's correspondent, and helped some students escape to Austria. He was present during the troubles in the Congo that led to its independence as Zaire; he fought intermittently in Vietnam; he visited and reported on revolutions in Central and in South America; he could even bear to revisit Albania, where he predicted further racial clashes between Albanians and Serbs. He was always ready to advise a friend; and in The Forms of Memory (1990) produced a notable autobiography. He bore his last illness with his usual fortitude.

JJHH
10-19-2009, 01:06 PM
Do you know their names?

These men were the Dutch Maj. Brinkgreve and Irish Sgt. Austin. Both men were part of the same Jedburgh team that was dropped into Holland in advance of operation Market Garden. Brinkgreve, C.O. of this Jed team was discovered by the SS and killed in the following fight. His radioman, Austin was also discovered by the Germans, imprisoned for months and executed. I'm working on a publication on Jedburgh team operations in Holland so more info will follow.



Obituary of another former SSRF member, Major Peter Kemp. He fought in the Spanish Civil War (on the Nationalist side) before joining the Royal Horse Guards and then SOE. After his service with SSRF participated in SOE missions in Albania, Poland and Thailand.

Peter Kemp wrote a great book on his wartime experiences called 'No colours or crest'. Hard to get your hands on but absolutely worth reading.

baboon6
10-19-2009, 07:08 PM
These men were the Dutch Maj. Brinkgreve and Irish Sgt. Austin. Both men were part of the same Jedburgh team that was dropped into Holland in advance of operation Market Garden. Brinkgreve, C.O. of this Jed team was discovered by the SS and killed in the following fight. His radioman, Austin was also discovered by the Germans, imprisoned for months and executed. I'm working on a publication on Jedburgh team operations in Holland so more info will follow.



Peter Kemp wrote a great book on his wartime experiences called 'No colours or crest'. Hard to get your hands on but absolutely worth reading.

Thanks. Yes I have heard of Kemp's book before but it does seem to be pretty rare.

JJHH
10-20-2009, 05:45 AM
Thanks. Yes I have heard of Kemp's book before but it does seem to be pretty rare.

There is one on ebay.. for $85..;)

belcamp
04-17-2014, 06:16 PM
It appears after the Small Scale Raiding Force was disbanded, Some of the 12 Commando members returned to unit and kept on raiding till they were disbanded later in 1943.
Most of these raids went under the name Forfar ---. Ted Fynn ran the northern raids and Mickey Rooney ran the southern raids. A lot of the raids were called off for various reasons, and eventually the members of 12 commando were posted elsewhere, (it appears 12 Commando had half the men of the other commandos) either other commandos, 2 SAS or returned to unit. Ted Fynn went on to command another commando. Major Rooney went to train the South Wales Borderers and later 3 SAS (French), before transferring to 2 SAS.