Also known as: formerly Special Engineering Unit, latterly 30 Assault Unit, 30 Advanced Unit

Date Founded:  30 September 1942
Mission When Founded:  The collection of technical intelligence from enemy headquarters and installations.
Mission During the War:  Unchanged
Jurisdiction:   The Mediterranean, NW Europe & SE Asia
Headquarters:  Formerly Amersham, Buckinghamshire; latterly Littlehampton, West Sussex. Each troop maintained a tac HQ in theatre.
# of Personnel:  No.33 troop (1943) 2 officers & 20 other ranks, (1944) 6 officers & 144 ORs; No.34 troop 4 officers & 20 ORs; No.36 troop 5 officers
Annual Budget:  Not known

History/Profile:  No.30 Commando was an inter-service unit that was inspired by the Germans' Abwehrkommando, specialist intelligence gathering teams that advanced with forward troops or sometimes ahead of them. Ian Fleming, then the Personal Assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence suggested the creation of an Offensive Naval Intelligence Group. Major W.G. Cass, a staff officer with MI5 suggested the creation of a similar unit. The DNIís persistence led to the creation of the unit after initial doubts from the Joint Intelligence Committee.

30 Cdo consisted of Royal Marine, Army and Royal Navy elements that were organised into three troops: No. 33, No. 34 and No.36 respectively. Initially codenamed the Special Engineering Unit, the unit reported to the Chief of Combined Operations, though the Admiralty retained ultimate control of No.36 troop. No.35 troop was left vacant for the RAF to utilise but they never raised a troop to participate in 30 Cdo.

Unit members were given general commando skills and weapons training, and were then trained in recognising enemy mines, booby traps, handling of explosives, demolitions, counter-demolitions, recognition of enemy uniforms and equipment. Parachute training, small boat handling, recognition of enemy documents, search techniques including lock picking and safecracking, prisoner handling, photography and escape techniques were also taught. A significant number of the initial recruits were formerly policemen.

30 Cdoís operational tactic was to move ahead of advancing Allied forces, or to undertake covert infiltrations into enemy territory by land, sea or air, to capture intelligence, in the form of equipment, documents, codes or enemy personnel. 30 Cdo often worked closely with the Intelligence Corps' Field Security sections.

The individual troops served in all the Mediterranean and NW European operational theatres, usually operating independently, gathering information from captured facilities. The unit served in North Africa, the Greek Islands, Norway, Pantelleria, Sicily, Italy, and Corsica, 1942-1943.

The unitís first operation participation was part of Operation TORCH, in which No.33 troop captured the Italian Armistice Commissionís building. No.33 troop perfected its tactics of advancing with leading troops in the Tunisian campaign on the advance to Tunis. The unit operated near, if not ahead of the vanguard of advancing troops.

The next action seen was as part of Operation HUSKY, the invasion of Sicily. Sections of Nos.33 and 34 troops landed separately. No.33 troop made searches of enemy HQs and infiltrated enemy lines on clandestine reconnaissance missions. Plans were made for operations in Yugoslavia that were refused. A section of No.34 troop was posted to Lebanon where it didnít see active service. It was later moved to participate in the Italian campaign where it remained for the rest of the war, taking part in the capture of Genoa in 1945.

Men from 30 Cdo also took part in raids on Norway in early 1943.

In November 1943, Nos.33 and 36 troops were brought back to Britain from the Mediterranean to train for Operation OVERLORD, leaving No.34 troop on Corsica. 30 Cdo was redesignated 30 Assault Unit in December 1943, and No.33 troop was increased to three sections A, B and X each consisting of two officers and 48 other ranks, and a tactical HQ.

In Normandy, France, 30 Assault Unit (codenamed WOOLFORCE and PIKEFORCE) landed on JUNO and UTAH beaches, and failed to capture a German radar station at Douvres-la-Delivrande but maintained a patrol 200 yards from the perimeter. Later they fought their way into Cherbourg and found Ďmasses of material as well as an excellent wine cellarí in a underground base at Villa Maurice, Octaville. The unit searched safes, files, dustbins of burnt paper, desks and lockers for the next two days.

July 1944 saw the unit take part in a series of races toward Rennes and Brest, and followed Free French forces into Paris in August 1944.

September 1944 saw 30 Cdo begin a series of operations in the Channel coast ports as the Allies captured them. The unit was then withdrawn back to Britain to reequip and retrain for the final assault on Germany.

No.33 troopís three sections A, B, X and the tac HQ split Germany into three zones for operations. By May 1945, the unit had captured Emden and Wilhelmshaven ports culminating with the Deschimag shipyard at Bremen. The haul included several new Type 21 U-boats. The unit went onto Hamburg and captured examples of the revolutionary Walterboat and its designer. A detachment of Royal Marines was sent to the Far East in 1945, but the Japanese surrender precluded operations. Subsequent activities in Singapore, Indo-China and Hong Kong eventually provided much useful intelligence.

The unit was redesignated 30 Advance Unit in the winter of 1944/45. 30 Commando was finally disbanded in 1946.

Occupational Templates

COMMANDO: Demolitions, Locksmith, Military Science, Parachute, Photography, Pilot: Small Boat, Psychology, Rifle, Safecracking, Spot Hidden; plus any 4 skills from the following: Climb, Conceal, Drive Auto, Drive Motorcycle, First Aid, Grapple, Handgun, Heavy Weapons, Knife, Machine Gun, Martial Arts, Navigate, Operate Heavy Machinery, Signals, Sneak, Sub-Machine-Gun, Survival Swim

Standard Uniforms & Equipment

Uniforms: Standard British battledress

Weapons: Fairbairn-Sykes Commando knife, Colt M1911A1 pistol, SMLE No.1 MkIII or Lee-Enfield No.4 rifle or Thompson M1928A1 or M1 SMG or BREN MG, No.36 Mills grenades

Equipment: Standard British equipment

Sample Character

Lieutenant Charles Tyneworth RNVR
Race:  Caucasian
STR: 14     DEX: 08     CON: 14     SIZ: 17     INT: 12
APP: 08     POW: 11     EDU: 18     SAN: 55     HP: 16
Damage Bonus:  +1d4
Education:  University, ROTC, Commando basic training
Occupation:  Commando, No.33 troop, 30 Cdo
Skills:  Demolitions 30%, Dodge 21%, Handgun 40%, History 30%, Knife 40%, Locksmith 25%, Martial Arts 10%, Military Science 35%, Navigate 30%, Operate Heavy Machinery 20%, Parachute 35%, Photography 30%, Pilot: Small Boat 40%, Psychology 40%, Rifle 50%, Safecracking 25%, Shiphandling 25%, Signals 30%, Spot Hidden 50%, Sub-machine Gun 50%, Swim 28%
Languages:  English 90%, French 20%
    F-S Commando knife 40%, 1d4+2+db
    Colt M1911A1 pistol 40%, 1d10+2
    Thompson M1928A1 SMG 50%, 1d10+2
    Fist/Punch 54%, 1d3+db
    Grapple 29%, Special
    Kick 29%, 1d6+db

Written by Adam Crossingham

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