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

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.



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 .




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


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