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Thread: German raid of British radar station in WWII

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    Default German raid of British radar station in WWII

    I recently bought a copy of an excellent new book, Commando Country. This is about the various training establishments used by Combined Operations, Commandos, SOE etc mainly here in the Highlands.

    In the book there is this paragraph

    "Only a single German commando attack was made on British soil, later acknowledges by a senior British Commando officer as "one absolutely splendid raid carried out by the Germans from the Channel islands ... we were rather jealous of it, it went very well indeed". This is believed to have been an attack against a radar station on the south coast of the Isle of Wight, launched from the occupied Channel island of Alderney in 1941."

    The source is a item by Major General Laycock in the RUSI Journal in 1947.

    I found an Isle of Wight website that reported rumours of such a raid but wondered if anyone here knows anything about it?

    Martin Briscoe

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    Try Googling "Shingle Street" leave it up to you to decide if fact. Pete

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    I have not managed to get hold of a copy of the RUSI Journal article yet but the quote quite specifically refers to the Isle of Wight.

    The rest of the book is very well researched with plenty of references so I am inclined to believe it.

    If a raid did take place then Laycock (look up his biography in the DNB) would certainly have known about it and could have either been involved in an investigation or would have read any reports.

    There are also similar rumours on the Isle of Wight that something happened there.

    I find it very unlikely that Laycock would have written a report in the RUSI Journal and got the place mixed up unless it was a cover-up but why would he bother especially in a publication like that?

    Martin Briscoe

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    Hi
    Interesting stories.
    I often wonder why files at the NA / PRO are closed for so long.
    Opening them would at least confirm or deny stories like these.
    Cheers
    Jerry

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    Default German raid of British radar station in WWII

    Hello,

    I can only refer to this website.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/classic/A612334

    Ventnor Radar Station "Captured" by No. 2 Special Services Battalion.

    A training in preparation of an attack of a similar station in France. The German radar installation at Bruneval, France

    Regards

    Finn Buch

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    Again, Laycock was in posts where he would know all about such raids so I can't imagine him confusing a practice attack with a real one.

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    Martin,

    You say the rest of the book is well researched, by which I assume you mean it is well supported by references, yet what you describe in your opening message:

    "Only a single German commando attack was made on British soil, later acknowledges by a senior British Commando officer as "one absolutely splendid raid carried out by the Germans from the Channel islands ... we were rather jealous of it, it went very well indeed".

    appears to be an unreferenced and unsupported statement. I would suggest that if this raid did indeed take place, as the 'only single German commando attack ... ' it would have merited a far greater entry. Had it been the success implied I'm sure the Germans would have used it for propoganda purposes, either at the time or later.

    I'm always highly suspicious of throw-away statements like this. I'm currently reading Wilson's "Men of air. The doomed youth of Bomber Command". Because of all the references at the end of the book one assumes the author has properly researched his subject - and so it might be in some respects, but in others, and particularly the references to meteorology, it is blindingly obvious that he hasn't a clue as to what he is talking about. In the chapter about the Nuremberg raid he writes that '... the navigator (of the 1409 Met Flight assessing the route that afternoon) forecast that '"over the Continent the convection cloud is expected to break up completely" '. Sorry, but that is a basic error and one that Middlebrook wouldn't have made, navigators were not forecasters, and all the Met Flight crews did was to report the conditions encountered.

    Don't believe all you read.

    Brian

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    Each section of the book ends with a list of references from that section. The part I quoted has

    7. R. Laycock: "Raids in the Late War and their Lessons", in the Journal of the Royal United Service Institution (RUSI Journal), November 1947, pp. 534-35. ..... The author of this outline study was Major-General Robert Laycock, Independent Company Commander in 1940, leader of the Commando force despatched to the Middle East in 1941 and, from late 1943, Chief of Combined Operations.


    The book is on Commando training in Scotland mainly but has a short summary of commando forces in other countries which mentions the German Brandenburg unit with the comment on their one raid on teh UK. It is not a major part of the subject of the book so does not go into any further detail which is presumably covered in the RUSI Journal which is quoted above.

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    Thank you Martin,

    I'd still be worried for a number of reasons, the first being that no date appears to have been given and the second that Laycock was not operational in the south and, indeed, could well have been abroad at the time of the alleged incident. Had he either access to files or first hand knowledge the least he could have done was to give a date.

    The Bruneval raid, Operation BITING, took place on the night of 27/28th Feb (not 17th as recorded in the link you give Finn). The operation is described in a number of books, and although I can't recall if there was a practice 'attack' on Ventnor, but I'm reasonably sure it wasn't by the paratroops selected for the operation (I don't have the book to hand). When selected these had not even completed their paratroop training, and they immediately transferred to Tilshead on Salisbury Plain to practice the assault. However, a couple of exercises were conducted on the south coast to practice the disembarkation of the troops.

    BITING was a combined services exercise, insertion of paratroops ('C' Company 2nd Battalion, 1 Para Brigade) by 12 Whitleys of 51 Squadron, and extraction by the Navy, so there would have been no reason to conduct a full scale landing and attack on Ventnor from the sea.

    The optimum requirements for the operation were a combination of a full moon and a high tide (so the landing craft extracting the paratroops could reach the shore), which limited the time frame to 23-26 Feb. In the event the operation was almost abandoned because of strong winds and snow along the French coast, but on 27th (the day it should have been cancelled) the met officer, Flt Lt Crichton-Miller forecast ideal conditions for the coming night, and on that basis the operation went ahead. Sources: 'The Red Beret' by H. St. George Sanders (1950) and my (as yet unpublished) biography of Crichton-Miller.

    Brian

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    The only German 'commando raid' from the Channel Islands that I am aware of took place against the French port of Granville on 8-9 March 1945. Not a highly publicised event but well worth further research. For those who wish to know more try the After The Battle magazine No. 47.

    Rgds

    Jonny

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