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No. 14 (Arctic) Commando

Page Created
October 10th, 2022
Last Updated
October 20th, 2022
British Flag
Additional Information
Order of Battle
Interactive Page
October 1942
Late 1943
Theater of Operations
Organisational History

No. 14 (Arctic) Commando is raised in October 1942 at Lord Mountbatten’s special request. It should meet the demand for further raids in Norway, where activity had been limited since the Vaagso raid. In a minute to the Chiefs of Staff written on November 5th, 1942, he urges that further operations be mounted during the inhospitable Norwegian winter:

It will be appreciated that the success of this type of operation is dependent upon the personnel being selected having considerable skill and experience in living and operating under conditions of extreme cold.

Provided they are thoroughly skilled, particularly as skiers, operations which would not otherwise be feasible in winter could be carried out with every chance of success.”
Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel E.A.M. Wedderburn, this highly specialised new unit is organised into two fighting troops: No. 1 (Boating) Troop has nine officers and 18 Other Ranks This troop specialises in small boat operations. No. 2 (Skying) Troop has six officers and 22 Other Ranks as cross-country skiing specialists. The Commando contains British, Canadians and Norwegians and included polar explorers including Sir Peter Scott, David Haig-Thomas, Andrew Croft, August Courtauld and some men from the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve.

They specialised in using canoes and kayaks for limpet mine attacks in Arctic waters. At times it supplied men for the ad hoc formations Northforce and Timberforce. In 1943, No. 5 (Norwegian) Troop, No. 10 (Inter-Allied), No. 12 Commando and No. 14 (Arctic) Commando raided the Norwegian coast from their base in Lerwick in the Shetland Islands. In April seven men of No. 14 (Arctic) Commando took part in Operation Checkmate a raid on German shipping near Haugesund. They managed to sink one minesweeper using limpet mines but were captured and eventually taken to Sachsenhausen and Belsen Concentration Camps where they were executed. No. 14 (Arctic) Commando was disbanded late 1943 to supply reinforcements to other commando formations.