No.14 Artic Commando
A Combined Operations Commando
The previous page was: "No.12 Army Commando"
No.14 Artic Commando were sometimes also called the Special
Commando Boating Group, they formed in late 1942, for action in
the Arctic especially against German Naval and German Air Force
bases in Norway used for attacking Arctic Convoys.
No.14 Commando was formed at the request of the Chief of
Combined Operation, Louis Mountbatten to meet the demand for
further raids in Norway. Under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel
The Artic Commando comprised two troops. No.1 (Boating) Troop of
Nine officers and 18 men who specialized in small boat
operations and No.2 Troop of six officers and 22 men who
specialized in cross-country skiing.
The Commando contained British, Canadians and Norwegians and
included polar explorers including Sir Peter Scott, David Haig-
Thomas, Andrew Croft, Andrew Courtland 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.
No.12 Army Commando
In 1943, No.5 Troop (Norwegian), No.10 (Inter-Allied), No.12
and No.14 (Arctic) Commandos 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. Checkmate was the
codename for a raid at Haugesund, Norway. It took place in April
1943 during the Second World War by British Commandos.
Operation Checkmate was the last of 12 commando raids on the
Norwegian coast. The raiding party assembled for the operation
was composed of one officer and six other ranks from No.14
For Operation Checkmate the men selected for the raid came from
No.1 (Boating) Troop. The raid commander was Lieutenant John
Godwin, Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, who was originally from
Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The rest of the raiding party comprised one British Army
sergeant—Victor John Cox, on attachment from No.12 Commando;
two Royal Navy petty officers—Alfred John Roe and Harold
Hiscock; and three Royal Navy able seaman—Neville Arthur
Burgess, Keith Mayor and Andrew Anthony West.
Their mission was to attack shipping in Oslo and Kopervik in the
Haugesund by entering the harbours by canoe and attaching
Limpet mines to ships' hulls.
Transported By Motor Torpedo Boat
The Commandos of the raiding force were transported across the
North Sea by Motor Torpedo Boat. On arrival in Norwegian waters
they set up their patrol base on the island of Bokn, before the
Motor Torpedo Boat left them and returned to the United Kingdom.
The raiding party were left with a small fishing coble and their
canoes. It was always intended that the Motor Torpedo Boat would
return at a later date and transport them back to the United
The Commandos had been issued with two canoes with which to
carry out their mission. Lieutenant Godwin and Able Seaman
Burgess were one crew and the other was crewed by Able Seamen
Mayor and West.
Their plan was for the coble, under the cover of darkness, to
move within striking distance of their targets and then use the
canoes to get in closer and plant their Limpet mines.
They did only manage to sink one German warship, a mine sweeper,
A captured German document when translated quotes "a number of German steamers were sunk in Oslo and Kopervik." This report covers both the ship sunk during this operation and the ones that the Oslogjengen; the Oslo gang, sunk in Oslo.
After Operation Checkmate
The two canoes then returned to the location where the coble had
been. It had meanwhile been moved by the three remaining
soldiers, with the assistance of norwegian civilians, to a safer
location further inland; when it developed engine trouble.
The two canoes then moved westward, towards the islands Urter,
where they waited for their MTB pickup. The coble had been moved
even further inland in an attempt to get it fixed, but without
success. It had to be abandoned by its crew.
This party was eventually captured on 14th May 1943, after an
extensive search by the German Army and police with the
assistance of Norwegian civilians. The day after the four men on
Urter were also captured.
After their capture they were initially held in the prison at
Grini where they were interrogated, before they were handed
over to the Sicherheitsdienst (better known as the SD) and
transported to Sachsenburg concentration camp in Germany.
All involved in Operation Checkmate were captured in uniform and
should have been treated as prisoners of war.
However in 1942, Adolf Hitler had issued the Commando Order that
stipulated that all captured Commandos, no matter if they were
in uniform or not, were to be executed shortly after
While at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, the men from
Operation Checkmate were forced into breaking in German Army
boots by marching 30 miles (48 km) a day over cobblestones.
Five of the team excluding Mayor and Roe were executed at
Sachsenhausen on 2nd February 1945.
Mayor and Roe were transferred to Belsen concentration camp,
where Mayor was executed on 7th April 1945, and Roe died of
Godwin was posthumously Mentioned in Despatches on 9th November
1945, "For great gallantry and inspiring example whilst a
prisoner of war in German hands in Norway and afterwards at
Sachsenhausen, near Oranienburg, Germany, 1942-1945."
He is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, one of the
memorials for those of the naval service with no known grave.
Mayor was posthumously Mentioned on 22nd April 1947, "for great
fortitude and resolution while in the hands of the Germans,
from; the time of his capture in 1943, to the time of his death
at Belsen in April 1945," and is commemorated on the Plymouth
Naval Memorial. Cox is commemorated on the Brookwood Memorial.
Roe is also commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial,
Hiscock on the Lowestoft Naval Memorial, Burgess on the Chatham
Naval Memorial, and West also on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.
The next Link below will be: "3 Cdo Dieppe"
No.14 Artic Commando
3 Cdo Dieppe
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