Date Founded: March 1942
Mission When Founded: Amphibious sabotage
Mission During the War: Amphibious sabotage, reconnaissance and intelligence gathering
Jurisdiction: Combined Operations theatres
Headquarters: Anderson Manor, Blandford, Dorset, UK
# of Personnel: 55 men and officers
Annual Budget: Not known
History/Profile: Mountbatten, the Chief of Combined Operations (CCO), approached the British Chiefs of Staff about establishing an ‘amphibious sabotage force’ as a permanent group of 30 men. The SOE’s ‘Maid Honor’ force that had successfully returned from Africa was seen as the ideal basis of the group. Part of Operation POSTMASTER, this force had successfully hijacked the Italian liner ‘Duchessa d’Aosta’ and a German tug and lighter from the Spanish island of Fernando Po, West Africa. SOE would continue to administer and finance the SSRF but the unit would operate under the control of the CCO, though no raids could take place without SOE’s agreement.
The SSRF’s work was classified, and there is no official specific mention of the unit. It carried out reconnaissance and prisoner acquisition missions for intelligence gathering purposes in the Channel Islands and the French coast. The SSRF used MTB 344, part of SOE’s private flotilla, as its insertion vehicle. MTB 344 was nicknamed ‘the Little Pisser’ because of its speed. Although conducting raider-like activities and codenamed as a Commando unit, the original members of the SSRF were not commandos, not having completed the commando basic training at Achnacarry.
Following Operation BASALT on 3-4 October 1942, Hitler issued the infamous ‘Commando Order’ ordering the execution of captured commandos because of the manacling and shooting of German prisoners by members of the SSRF.
In October the SSRF’s strength was raised to four troops formed from a permanent cadre of originals and drawing on Commando or regular troops for temporary attachment for individual operations. Raiders from 12 Commando filled most of the attachments. Major Bill Stirling was appointed Commander, who submitted raid proposals directly to Mountbatten.
The activities of the SSRF clashed with other interests however. Priority for small raidng operations rested with SIS, but where there was a clash of interest with SOE or COHQ, the Admiralty would adjudicate. COHQ was banned from raiding the French mainland west of the Cherbourg peninsula.
The SSRF was disbanded in April 1943 after Bill Stirling departed to form 2 SAS in North Africa. Members of the SSRF went on to work for SOE, COPP (Combined Operations Pilotage Parties) and 12 Commando.
RAIDER: Climb, Conceal, Demolitions, Handgun, Knife, Rifle, Sneak, Spot Hidden and Submachine Gun
Standard Uniforms & Equipment
Uniforms: Standard British battledress, SV boots
Weapons: Fairbairn-Sykes Commando knife, Colt M1911A1 pistol, SMLE No.1 MkIII rifle or Thompson M1928A1 SMG or Bren MG
Equipment: Lifejacket, toggle-rope, Bergen rucksack
STR: 14 DEX: 10 CON: 13 SIZ: 16 INT: 16
APP: 13 POW: 08 EDU: 14 SAN: 40 HP: 15
Damage Bonus: +1d4
Education: Grammar school, Irregular Warfare School
Occupation: Raider, SSRF
Skills: Climb 60%, Conceal 50%, Demolitions 35%, Handgun 65%, Hide 20%, Knife 60%, Listen 45%, Martial Arts 10%, Military Science 20%, Rifle 65%, Sneak 45%, Spot Hidden 50%, Submachine Gun 40%
Languages: English 70%, Latin 15%
F-S Commando knife 60%, 1d4+2+db
Colt M1911A1 pistol 65%, 1d10+2
Thompson M1928A1 SMG 40%, 1d10+2
Fist/Punch 65%, 1d3+db
Grapple 55%, Special
Kick 50%, 1d6+db
Written by Adam Crossingham
Original content for this page is copyright 2003 Adam Crossingham and may be freely copied, posted on other websites, or used in other media in whole or in part with the following mandatory conditions imposed on usage: (1) any usage must respect and protect copyrights on all material, and specifically must obey restrictions placed on use by Pagan Publishing on its copyrighted material, and (2) regardless of alterations or additions, Adam Crossingham must be credited as author of parts © Adam Crossingham.
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