Britain's commando frogman force is now the Special Boat Service (SBS), whose members are drawn largely from the Royal Marines. They perform various operations on land as well as in the water. Until the late 1990s, all members of the Special Air Service (SAS) Boat Troop were trained as commando frogmen.
The Special Boat Service (SBS) is an elite special forces unit of the United Kingdom's Royal Navy. The SBS can trace its origins back to the Second World War when the Army Special Boat Section was formed in 1940. After the Second World War, the Royal Marines formed special forces with several name changes—Special Boat Company was adopted in 1951 and re-designated as the Special Boat Squadron in 1974—until on 28 July 1987 when the unit was renamed as the Special Boat Service after assuming responsibility for maritime counter-terrorism. Most of the operations conducted by the SBS are highly classified, and are rarely commented on by the British government or the Ministry of Defence due to their sensitive nature.
The Corps of Royal Marines (RM) is the amphibious light infantry and one of the five fighting arms of the Royal Navy. The marines can trace their origins back to the formation of the English Army's "Duke of York and Albany's maritime regiment of Foot" at the grounds of the Honourable Artillery Company on 28 October 1664.
The Special Air Service (SAS) is a special forces unit of the British Army. The SAS was founded in 1941 as a regiment, and later reconstituted as a corps in 1950. The unit undertakes a number of roles including covert reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, direct action and hostage rescue. Much of the information and actions regarding the SAS is highly classified, and is not commented on by the British government or the Ministry of Defence due to the sensitivity of their operations.
In 1909 the British designer Commander Godfrey Herbert received a patent for a manned torpedo. During World War I, it was rejected by the War Office as impracticable and unsafe. Instead, in the inter-war period the Italian Navy successfully trained the special frogmen corp Decima Flottiglia MAS equipped with a new and powerful craft: a slow speed [human torpedo] (SLC: siluro a lenta corsa, best known as maiale). Equipped with this new weapon, Italian manned torpedoes were first used against Britain in 1941 and latter 1942 when Italian commando frogmen, some riding manned torpedoes, attacked British naval bases at Malta, Gibraltar and Alexandria. In the last operations six Italian frogmen rode 3 SLC's into the harbour and sank the British battleships Queen Elizabeth and Valiant, and the tanker Sagona (the six frogmen were then captured). After these operations had shown how powerful and effective this weapon was the Royal Navy was convinced to create their own programme. This was also fictionalised in the 1958 film The Silent Enemy .
Human torpedoes or manned torpedoes are a type of diver propulsion vehicle on which the diver rides, generally in a seated position behind a fairing. They were used as secret naval weapons in World War II. The basic concept is still in use.
World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.
The War Office was a Department of the British Government responsible for the administration of the British Army between 1857 and 1964, when its functions were transferred to the Ministry of Defence. It was equivalent to the Admiralty, responsible for the Royal Navy, and the Air Ministry, which oversaw the Royal Air Force. The name "War Office" is also given to the former home of the department, the War Office building, located at the junction of Horse Guards Avenue and Whitehall in central London.
Operation Source was a series of attacks to neutralise the heavy German warships – Tirpitz, Scharnhorst and Lützow – based in northern Norway, using X-class midget submarines.
Edøya is an island in Smøla Municipality in Møre og Romsdal county, Norway. The 7.5-square-kilometre (2.9 sq mi) island lies in the Edøyfjorden between the larger islands of Smøla and Ertvågsøya and Tustna. The island played an important political role during the Viking Age. More recently, it was the center of the old municipality of Edøy and the historic Old Edøy Church is located on the island.
Breivika or Breidvik is a village in the municipality of Inderøy in Trøndelag county, Norway. It is located along the Trondheimsfjord in the northern part of the Inderøya peninsula, about 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) northwest of the village of Gangstadhaugen.
Sir John Mills, was an English actor who appeared in more than 120 films in a career spanning seven decades. On screen, he often played people who are not at all exceptional, but become heroes because of their common sense, generosity and good judgment. He received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Ryan's Daughter (1970).
Portsmouth is a port city in Hampshire, England, with a total population of 205,400 residents. The city of Portsmouth is nicknamed Pompey and is mainly built on Portsea Island, a flat, low-lying island measuring 24 square kilometres in area, just off the south-east coast of Hampshire. Portsmouth is the only island city in the United Kingdom, and is the only city whose population density exceeds that of London.
The Chariot was a British-designed manned torpedo used in World War II. The Chariot was inspired by the operations of Italian naval commandos, in particular the raid on 19 December 1941 by members of the Decima Flottiglia MAS who rode "Maiali" Human torpedoes into the port of Alexandria and there placed limpet mines on or near the battleships HMS Valiant and HMS Queen Elizabeth as well as an 8,000-ton tanker, causing serious damage which put both battleships out of operational use until 1943.
The Luftwaffe was the aerial warfare branch of the combined German Wehrmacht military forces during World War II. Germany's military air arms during World War I, the Luftstreitkräfte of the Army and the Marine-Fliegerabteilung of the Navy, had been disbanded in May 1920 as a result of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles which stated that Germany was forbidden to have any air force.
By the end of the war, the British human torpedo operations had earned their participants 20 medals and 16 men had been killed.
Clearance Diving Teams were formed to clear unexploded ordnance and other military hazards left over from the war.
The Kriegsmarine was the navy of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It superseded the Imperial German Navy of the German Empire (1871–1918) and the inter-war Reichsmarine (1919–1935) of the Weimar Republic. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches, along with the Heer (Army) and the Luftwaffe of the Wehrmacht, the German armed forces from 1933 to 1945.
HMS Sceptre (P215) was a third-batch S-class submarine built for the Royal Navy during World War II. Completed in April 1943, she spent the majority of the her career in the North Sea, off Norway. After an uneventful patrol, the submarine participated in Operation Source, an attack on German battleships in Norway using small midget submarines to penetrate their anchorages and place explosive charges. However, the midget submarine that she was assigned to tow experienced technical difficulties and the mission was aborted. During her next patrols, Sceptre attacked several ships, but only succeeded in severely damaging one. She was then ordered to tow the submarine X24, which was to attack a floating dry dock in Bergen. The operation, codenamed Guidance, encountered difficulties with the attacking submarine's charts, and the explosives were laid on a merchant ship close to the dock instead. The dock was damaged and the ship sunk, and X24 was towed back to England. Sceptre then conducted a patrol in the Bay of Biscay, sinking two German merchant ships, before being reassigned to tow X24 to Bergen again. The operation was a success, and the dry dock was sunk.
HMS Campbeltown was a Town-class destroyer of the Royal Navy during the Second World War. She was originally US destroyer USS Buchanan, and, like many other obsolescent U.S. Navy destroyers, she was transferred to the Royal Navy in 1940 as part of the Destroyers for Bases Agreement. Campbeltown became one of the most famous of these ships when she was used in the St. Nazaire Raid in 1942.
The Shetland Bus(Norwegian Bokmål: Shetlandsbussene, def. pl.) was the nickname of a clandestine special operations group that made a permanent link between Mainland Shetland in Scotland and German occupied Norway from 1941 until the surrender of Nazi Germany on 8 May 1945. From mid-1942, the group's official name was the Norwegian Naval Independent Unit (NNIU). In October 1943, it became an official part of the Royal Norwegian Navy and was renamed the Royal Norwegian Naval Special Unit (RNNSU). The unit was operated initially by a large number of small fishing boats and later augmented by three fast and well-armed submarine chasers – Vigra, Hessa and Hitra.
The Decima Flottiglia MAS was an Italian commando frogman unit of the Regia Marina created during the Fascist regime.
The Welman submarine was a Second World War one-man British midget submarine developed by the Special Operations Executive. It only saw action once and was not particularly successful.
HMS Safari was a third batch S-class submarine built for the Royal Navy during World War II. Commissioned in 1942, she was assigned to operate in the Mediterranean Sea. During the course of the war, Safari sank twenty-five ships, most of which were Italian.
Above Us the Waves is a 1955 British war film directed by Ralph Thomas, about human torpedo and midget submarine attacks on the German battleship Tirpitz. It is based on two true-life attacks on the Tirpitz by British commando frogmen, first using Chariot manned torpedoes in Operation Title in 1942, and then X-Craft midget submarines in Operation Source in 1943. Some of the original equipment was used in the film.
Motoscafo armato silurante, commonly abbreviated as MAS was a class of fast torpedo armed vessel used by the Regia Marina during World War I and World War II. Originally, "MAS" referred to motobarca armata SVAN, where SVAN stood for Società Veneziana Automobili Navali.
HMS Sickle was a third-batch S-class submarine built for the Royal Navy during World War II. Completed in 1942, she made her initial war patrol off the Norwegian coast. Sickle then sailed to Gibraltar, from where she conducted one patrol, then to Algiers, French North Africa. From 10 May to 10 October, the boat patrolled the Gulf of Genoa five times and sank a German submarine as well as three minesweepers and an escort ship. She then moved to Beirut, French Lebanon, and conducted two patrols in the Aegean Sea, sinking three caïques and a merchant ship, in addition to landing resistance operatives in Greece.
HMS Simoom was a third-batch S-class submarine built for the Royal Navy during World War II. She was laid down on 14 July 1941 and launched on 12 October 1942.
HMS Saracen was a third-batch S-class submarine built for the Royal Navy during the Second World War. Completed in 1942, Saracen conducted a patrol in the North Sea where she sank a German U-boat. She was then assigned to the 10th Submarine Flotilla in Malta, from where she made three patrols; on her second, she sank an Italian submarine. Saracen was then reassigned to the 8th Submarine Flotilla, based in Algiers, French North Africa.
HMS Sahib was a third-batch S-class submarine built for the Royal Navy during the Second World War. She was launched on 19 January 1942 and commissioned on 13 May 1942. Thus far she has been the only ship to bear the name Sahib.
HMS Seadog was a third-batch S-class submarine built for the Royal Navy during World War II. Completed in September 1942, she spent most of her career in Arctic waters, off Norway, but sank only one German ship in 13 patrols. In January 1945, she was redeployed to the Far East, meeting more success. On her first patrol in the area, the submarine rescued four American airmen. On her second, she and her sister ship HMS Shalimar sank five sailing vessels, two coasters, a barge, a tugboat and a Japanese tank landing ship. After the war ended, Seadog was sent back to England, placed in reserve, then sold for scrap in December 1947. She was ultimately broken up in August 1948.
HMS Unruffled was a Royal Navy U-class submarine built by Vickers-Armstrong at Barrow-in-Furness. So far she has been the only ship of the Royal Navy to bear the name Unruffled.
Vice Admiral Sir Arthur Richard Hezlet, nicknamed Baldy Hezlet, was a decorated Royal Navy submariner. He became the Royal Navy's youngest captain at the time – aged 36 – and its youngest admiral, aged 45. In retirement he became a military historian.
Convoy JW 57 was an Arctic convoy sent from Great Britain by the Western Allies to aid the Soviet Union during World War II. It sailed in February 1944, reaching the Soviet northern ports at the end of the month. All ships arrived safely. For several days JW 57 was attacked by a German U-boat force; one escort vessel was sunk, and two U-boats were destroyed in counter-measures, during this operation.
Lieutenant Charles Esme Thornton Warren MBE (1912-1988) was a bestselling British author, a Second World War Royal Navy submariner, and one of the first Allied 'human torpedo charioteers', practising methods of clandestine attack upon enemy harbours and ships.