Allied Special Forces Operations in France and Norway 1940–43

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Map Code: Ax00291

After the evacuation of Dunkirk, Churchill ordered the assembly of a special force of highly trained individuals. He described ‘leopards’ who could ‘spring at the throats’ of the enemy and participate in a counteroffensive against Nazi-occupied Europe. Known as commandos, they specialized in surprise and speed, attacking German coastal defensive positions by landing in the night, destroying key targets and leaving quickly. Many raids took place on the Atlantic Wall, from the Spanish-French border in the south to the Arctic Circle in the north. They involved between 2–10,000 men and lasted a few hours to a few days. There were 36 raids in France, twelve in Norway, seven in the Channel Islands, one in Belgium and one in the Netherlands. The commandos and their often undetected raids were so effective that in 1942 Hitler issued the Commando Order, stating that any special forces soldier captured alive should be shot.

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