British commando frogmen

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British navy frogman in August 1945, here equipped with a Davis apparatus, a rebreather originally conceived in 1910 by Robert Davis as an emergency submarine escape set British navy frogman.jpg
British navy frogman in August 1945, here equipped with a Davis apparatus, a rebreather originally conceived in 1910 by Robert Davis as an emergency submarine escape set

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.

Royal Marines marine corps and amphibious infantry of the United Kingdom

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.

Special Air Service regiment of the British Army

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.



Before 1942

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 torpedo Early form of diver propulsion vehicle

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 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

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.

War Office department of the British Government responsible for the administration of the British Army

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.


Portsmouth City & unitary authority area in England

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.

Chariot manned torpedo

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.

<i>Luftwaffe</i> Aerial warfare branch of the German military forces during World War II

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.



For more information about the X-craft operations, see X class submarine.

1945 and after

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.

See also

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  4. Sub-Lieutenant Rod Dove obituary
  5. Hobson, Robert W (2004). Chariots of War. ULRIC publishing. p. 137. ISBN   0-9541997-1-5.