The Commandos 1940-45
In the summer of 1940 when Britain’s fortunes in World War II
were at their lowest ebb and an enemy invasion was threatened
Winston Churchill boldly ordered the raising of an elite force to raid
the enemy-held coastline of Europe and regain the initiative.
The new units, which initially consisted of volunteers from the
regiments and corps of the British Army were called ‘Commandos’.
Within weeks they were in action in Europe later in the Middle East
and the Far East. During the next five years they fought in every
theatre of war with such success that the word ‘Commando’ became
feared by the enemy – yet respected by friendly forces.
In 1942 the Commando Basic Training Centre was established in the
Scottish Highlands at Achnacarry. There potential Commando
soldiers (who by then came from not only the British army but also
the Royal Marines and the Allied armies) underwent their tough
and purposeful training. Only those who succesfully completed all
the course were accepted and privileged to wear the famous Green
Beret. This distinctive head-dress was acknowledged as the hallmark
of the highest standards of military training, self-disipline, physical
endurance, initiative, bravery and courage, whilst under their simple
motto ‘United We Conquer’ a comradeship beyond literary
description was born, fostered and flourished.
For their valour in action the Commandos earned thirty-eight battle
honours and many awards, including eight Victoria Crosses, but
many made the supreme sacrifice, no fewer than 1,700 Commando
soldiers lost their lives and others were seriously wounded. It was a
record that prompted Winston Churchill to pay the following tribute
to the Commandos: “We may feel sure that nothing of which we
have any knowledge or record has ever been done by mortal men,
which surpasses their feats of arms. Truly we may say of them when
shall their glory fade”
This plaque was unveiled on the occasion of the Freedom of
Lochaber being conferred on the Commando Association on the
13th November 1993.