Best/favourite large-scale special forces unit in WWII

Best/favourite large-scale special forces unit in WWII

  • US Marine Raiders

    Votes: 1 5.0%
  • US Airborne Rangers

    Votes: 2 10.0%
  • US/Canadian 1st Special Service Force (Devil's Brigade)

    Votes: 2 10.0%
  • German Brandenburgers

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • German Waffen-SS special forces units

    Votes: 4 20.0%
  • British Commandoes

    Votes: 9 45.0%
  • Soviet Naval Scouts

    Votes: 1 5.0%
  • Japanese Teisin Shudan (Paratrooper raiding unit)

    Votes: 1 5.0%
  • Japanese Geiritsu (gliderborne raiding unit)

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    20
Oct 2015
944
Norway
This is sort of a follow up to my poll on small scale special forces. This poll is about units that usually went on missions in larger groups of at least company size, often batalions or regiments. Perhaps the archtype here is the British Commandoes.
I'm making a distinction between "beachhead" units that captured areas ahead of the front for the rest of the army (typically airborne and naval infantry) and raiding units that attacked areas behind the front and then withdrew. If I included "beachhead" units I would hav to include every elite light infantry unit in the world, so I decided not to list them. Just like my first poll this one can only hope to cover all the relevant units and some of my choices may be controversial. I know the Brandenburgers were in the small unit SF poll too. The reason is after reading a book on them, I think the unit functioned as small-unit special force, commando raiding force and elite light infantry during the war. In the last year of the war the unit even stoppd being a special forces unit and was transformed into a panzergrenadier division. I also included Waffen-SS special forces units, just lik in my other poll, for the same reasons. My case may be less strong than it was for the Brandenburgers, but there you go.
The Japanese Geiritsu gliderborne raiding unit also deserves a special
mention. The unit was trained for landing on a enemy-held island and fight there as best they could. But they had no extraction method and they were ordered not to surrender, so doesn't this make them suicide troops? If you disagree with my choices, please comment. This type of poll is never a precise science, anyway.
Please vote and commnent .
 
Last edited:
Dec 2014
194
Kent,England
This is sort of a follow up to my poll on small scale special forces. This poll is about units that usually went on missions in larger groups of at least company size, often batalions or regiments. Perhaps the archtype here is the British Commandoes.
I'm making a distinction between "beachhead" units that captured areas ahead of the front for the rest of the army (typically airborne and naval infantry) and raiding units that attacked areas behind the front and then withdrew. If I included "beachhead" units I would hav to include every elite light infantry unit in the world, so I decided not to list them. Just like my first poll this one can only hope to cover all the relevant units and some of my choices may be controversial. I know the Brandenburgers were in the small unit SF poll too. The reason is after reading a book on them, I think the unit functioned as small-unit special force, commando raiding force and elite light infantry during the war. In the last year of the war the unit even stoppd being a special forces unit and was transformed into a panzergrenadier division. I also included Waffen-SS special forces units, just lik in my other poll, for the same reasons. My case may be less strong than it was for the Brandenburgers, but there you go.
The Japanese Geiritsu gliderborne raiding unit also deserves a special
mention. The unit was trained for landing on a enemy-held island and fight there as best they could. But they had no extraction method and they were ordered not to surrender, so doesn't this make them suicide troops? If you disagree with my choices, please comment. This type of poll is never a precise science, anyway.
Please vote and commnent .
Where are the Soviet Guards Divisions?
 
Oct 2015
944
Norway
The Soviet Guards divisions we not special forces. I guess it can be argued that the Guards paratroopers who were dropped behind German lines to support partisans may have been acting as special forces, but I don't think they were trained or intended to be commandoes.

The SBS is a typical small-unit special forces, so feel free to vote for them in the poll about that type of unit :)
 
Dec 2014
194
Kent,England
The Soviet Guards divisions we not special forces. I guess it can be argued that the Guards paratroopers who were dropped behind German lines to support partisans may have been acting as special forces, but I don't think they were trained or intended to be commandoes.
Yeah,that's what I meant..
 
Oct 2015
944
Norway
Making a poll like this one that everyone agrees on is virtually impossible. To be honest I didn't consider the Guards Paratroopers in the poll (though the case can be made) I tried to find Sovit army units that were clearly commando-type, but even though I suspct they existed I couldn'tfind them.
I think soviet and Japanese special operations in WWII is a terra incognita for many and I wish to learn more.
 

Poly

Ad Honorem
Apr 2011
6,698
Georgia, USA
"Large Scale Special Forces" is a contradiction in terms

Special Forces were, by their very nature, small unit based

This has come up so many times before - you are confusing "Special Forces" with "Elite Forces"

British army commandos were not special forces
 

Space Shark

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
3,474
Redneck Country, AKA Texas
Probably one of the first three Waffen SS divisions - Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, Das Reich, and Totenkopf.
 
Oct 2015
944
Norway
British Commandoes were the largest unit in the Combined Opertions Headquarters. Combined Operations can be compared to the present day American Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and also contained units such as Royal Marines Boom Patrol Detachment (best known as the "Cochchell Heroes"). US Army Airborne Rangers are today a part of SOCOM, and their role has changed little since WWII. Classifying commando units such as the organisations in the poll as special forces was normal, and they took part in special operations. I am aware that these units are in many ways the elite light infantry of special forces, and I think they used the term 'special forces' for a wider range of units in WWII than is done today.

The Leibstandarte, Das Reich and Totenkopf divisions were elite armoured divisions and not special forces. If you doubt me, try to think of a special operations mission they took part in.
 
Last edited:
Oct 2015
944
Norway
I would like to ask Poly this: If the British Commandoes weren't special forces, don't you find it odd that some of them were issued the suppressed De Lisle carbine, one of the most silenced guns in the world?
And why were they sent on missions to sabotage hydropower plants in occupied Norway (Operation Musketoon) or to assasinate Rommel (Operation Flipper)?
I know the Commandoes took part in a few non-special operations missions too, particularely on D-Day, but clearly the examples I have mentioned are special operations?
 
Last edited: