March Past! (Hardback)
The Memoir of a Commando Leader, From Lofoten to Dieppe and D-Day
At the outbreak of war in 1940, Simon Frazer, the 15th Lord Lovat and a former Guards officer, was mobilized from the reserve list to join the Lovat Scouts, the British Army’s first sniper unit that had been formed by his father during the Boer War. The following year he volunteered for one of the new Commando units then being created.
Lovat was personally involved in the training of the Commando troops on the West coast of Scotland. He was eventually attached to, and led, No.4 Commando. On 3 March 1941, Nos. 3 and 4 Commando launched a raid on the German-occupied Lofoten Islands. In this successful attack, Operation Claymore, the commandos destroyed fish-oil factories, petrol dumps, and even eleven ships. They also seized encryption equipment and codebooks, as well as captured 216 German troops.
Promoted to temporary major, Lovat led 100 men of No.4 Commando and a 50-man detachment from the Canadian Carleton and York Regiment in a raid on the French coastal village of Hardelot in April 1942. For this action he was awarded the Military Cross on 7 July that year.
Lord Lovat was involved in further raids against the German-held French coast, most notably Dieppe, during which No.4 Commando destroyed the coastal battery at Varengeville-sur-Mer in a text-book commando attack. This resulted in Lovat being awarded the DSO.
Such was the effect the Commando raids had on German morale, Lovat had 100,000 Reichmarks placed on his head, dead or alive.
Promoted to brigadier, Lovat formed the 1st Special Service Brigade (later the 1st Commando Brigade) which stormed ashore on D-Day to secure the eastern flank of the attacking forces. In this, he famously instructed his personal piper, Bill Millin, to pipe the commandos and himself ashore, in defiance of specific orders not to allow such an action in battle. In the subsequent fighting Lovat was seriously wounded, effectively ending his active career.
These are the memoirs of one of the most remarkable fighting figures of the Second World War, who was involved in some its more exciting and dangerous operations. Despite his aristocratic ancestry, he led from the front and, without doubt, Simon Frazer, Lord Lovat was a soldiers’ soldier.