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Small Scale Raiding Force

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Small Scale Raiding Force

Initiated by Lord Louis Mountbatten, Chief of Combined Operations, in February/March 1942 to be a permanent ‘amphibious sabotage force’ of fifty men directly under his command. The force was actually a reclassification of the Maid Honour Force already formed by the SOE. The title coming from the trawler named “Maid Honour” the SOE requisitioned and substantially armed and converted.

Mountbatten negotiated control of the SSRF who remained on the SOE's role (as Station 62) while being under operational control of Combined Operations (as No.62 Commando). Maj. Gus March-Phillipps continued to lead the force and be its main inspiration, as Maj. Geoffrey Appleyard remained its second in command. Both men formed the original ‘Maid Honour Force’ when specially chosen for that duty by Colin Gubbins of SOE, from B Troop of No.7 Commando.

The SSRF used MTB 344 (dubbed The Little Pisser) and conducted a number of raids by sea from Britain including Operation Aquatint on 12/13 September 1942 on St Honorine, (later part of Omaha Beach), where most of the 11 men on the raid were killed (inc. March-Phillipps) or captured. The force was made up to strength with men from No.12 Commando with Appleyard now Operational Commander. Appleyard conducted Operation Basalt on the isle of Sark on 3/4 October 1942 with Maj. Anders Lassen VC among his force. An incident involving prisoners having their hands tied and subsequently being killed while escaping is believed to have contributed to Hitler's decision to issue his Kommandobefehl (Commando Order) on 18th October 1942. It remains an open question if any of the prisoners had their hands tied when escaping.

Despite No.62 Commando being made an larger force thereafter, the SSRF was disbanded after Operation Pussyfoot on 3/4 April 1943, though prior to this the force had started to break-up after a January decision of the Chiefs of Staff curtailed their raiding operations following ‘clashes of interests’ objections from the SOE and SIS (MI6). Both Appleyard and Lassen went to the Mediterranean where Appleyard joined the new 2 SAS and Lassen the SBS. Neither survived the war.

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