Know Your Enemy: Commando marks two 75th British military anniversaries

Commando 4827Here’s the intel on the new issues of DC Thomson’s long-running Commando (Issues 4827-4830) on sale tomorrow, 16th July 2015 in all good newsagents and via various digital platforms.

Three of the four issues celebrate a couple of important British military anniversaries – the 75th Anniversary of the formation of the original Royal Engineer Bomb Disposal Teams and the 75th Anniversary of the formation of the Intelligence Corps.

Issue 4828 (“One False Move…”), a classic tale from 1979, has been reprinted with a new introduction by Colonel Mike Brooke MBE, former Commanding Officer of 33 Royal Engineers Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD). This month is

Issues 4827 (“Know Your Enemy”) and 4829 (“Operation Double Bluff”) were the result of collaboration with the Intelligence Corps – and both feature an introduction (the same intro is inside both books) from the Corps themselves.

Commando No 4827 – Know Your Enemy
Story: Alan Hebden Art: Vila Cover: Stephen White
Preview: www.commandocomics.com/latest-issues/16th-july-2015-collection?issue=4827

In the Summer of 1940, rumours abounded that German forces were poised to invade Great Britain…

Brigadier Harry Thomas of the Intelligence Corps believed in hard facts and those came from proper intelligence, reported by seasoned professionals.
Aerial reconnaissance photos, for example, were valuable, of course, but they were no match for a couple of his finest operatives who were in the thick of the action.

But would Captain Frank Draper and Sergeant Ollie Wentworth live long enough to deliver their vital reports?

Intelligence Corps Camp Flag
Intelligence Corps Camp Flag

Here’s the introduction to this issue, which also features in Issue 4829

Intelligence. The word conjures up a mental picture of fast cars, snappy dressing and the latest gadgets. The reality is somewhat different and military intelligence, far from being a contradiction in terms, can trace its roots to biblical times when Moses was told “go spy the land” (Numbers 13:17).

Prior to the Boer War, the British Army tended to form ad hoc intelligence organisations during campaigns in order to provide the commander with the necessary information and intelligence to defeat our enemies. After each campaign the military intelligence organisations were disbanded.

Steps were taken to raise an Intelligence Corps on the outbreak of the First World War. Following the expiry of the British ultimatum to the Germans on 5th August 1914 some fifty or so individuals received a telegram inviting them to join the newly formed Intelligence Corps.

Former metropolitan Police Officers operated, as field security police, to great effort behind our own lines identifying enemy agents, capturing mutineers and protecting the Royal Family. Despite the good work by members of the Corps, by 1929 the whole of the Intelligence Corps was disbanded.

An SOE agent's radio. Over 600 members of the Intelligence Corps served in SOE.
An SOE agent’s radio. Over 600 members of the Intelligence Corps served in SOE. Image: The Military Intelligence Museum

On the outbreak of war on 4th September 1939 the British Expeditionary Force deployed to France with 31 Field Security Police Sections and upon this small foundation the Corps eventually grew to 3040 officers and 5930 other ranks. The Corps was formally constituted with the consent of King George VI on 15th July 1940, with the formation being notified on 19th July 1940 in Army Order 112.

Post war the threat was from Communism and the Corps has played a major role in the games of counterespionage, intelligence and counter-intelligence that characterised the Cold War in Europe and Asia in the latter half of the twentieth century.

Since the Second World War, the Corps has deployed with the British Amy all over the world and in recognition of its meritorious service the Corps was declared an ‘Arm’ on 1st February 1985. An ‘Arm’ is defined as those Corps whose role is to be close in combat with the enemy.

The Intelligence Corps, to fans and detractors alike is known as the Green Slime due to the distinctive colour of its beret. It has always attracted unique soldiers in terms of temperament, character and demeanour; in the Intelligence Corps today you are likely to meet soldiers with advanced degrees.

Manui dat cognitio vires

• For more on the history of British Military Intelligence, visit the Military Intelligence Museum web site: www.militaryintelligencemuseum.org | Located at Building 200, Chicksands, Shefford, Bedfordshire

Commando 4828

Commando No 4828 – One False Move…
Story: Bernard Gregg Art: Carrion Cover: Ian Kennedy
Preview: www.commandocomics.com/latest-issues/16th-july-2015-collection?issue=4828

“Unexploded bomb!” That dreaded cry would send shivers down the spine of the bravest man. Yet, for Lieutenant Bill Seddon of the Bomb Disposal Company, it was all in the line of duty. Every day he faced the task of defusing these devilish devices with the same outward coolness.

But now the strain was beginning to show. Bill’s hands were trembling as he lifted the fuse mechanism from the dull-grey 250kg bomb which lay before him. His nerves had been stretched to their limit, and death now stared him in the face. All it would take was…

A bomb disposal party working on an enemy weapon dropped near Algiers, November 1942. Image: Wikimedia Commons/Imperial War Museums
A bomb disposal party working on an enemy weapon dropped near Algiers, November 1942. Image: Wikimedia Commons/Imperial War Museums

“2015 is a special year for Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal as it is exactly 75 years since the original Bomb Disposal Teams were formed in 1940 in response to a terrible threat facing the United Kingdom from Nazi Germany,” notes Colonel Mike Brooke OBE, former Commanding Officer 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), in his introduction to this special issue of Commando, which centres on the the deactivation of a bomb that could have destroyed London’s St Paul’s Cathedral .

“There are commemorations in the Bomb Disposal Regiments culminating in a Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral in October. St Paul’s Cathedral has a special place in our hearts since it could well have been destroyed by a German aerial delivered bomb which penetrated 30 feet into the road just outside the Cathedral but failed to detonate. Lieutenant Robert Davies RE and his team were immediately deployed to tackle it.

“At huge risk to themselves, the bomb was made safe and removed by Lance Corporal George Wylie. Their incredible bravery in the face of certain death earned them each the George Cross, Britain’s highest award for gallantry not in the face of the enemy! It’s hard to imagine that the average life expectancy of Bomb Disposal Officers and their Number 2s was just 7-9 weeks in Central London at the height of the Blitz! The Nation owes them a lot.

“But the story of Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal doesn’t stop at World War Two. Each year since 1945, Explosive Ordnance Teams have been busy dealing with every type of bomb, shell or missile wherever the threat to military and/or civilian personnel occurred. In the aftermath of the 1st Gulf War in 1991, some five million items were safely dealt with once Sadam Hussein had been booted out of Kuwait… Equally, ex-members of the 33/101 Engineer Regiments (EOD) have been employed in lots of civilian explosive ordnance disposal companies helping to make safe civilian populations all over the world, particularly in Africa and the Far East in places like Vietnam.

“So, as you dip into this comic, which I thoroughly recommend, please remember the ‘unsung heroes’ of Royal Engineer Bomb/Explosive Ordnance Disposal Units, some of whom paid the ultimate price to make our world a safer place.”

• There’s a great visual history of bomb disposal here on I09: From Pickaxes to Robots: The Evolution of the Bomb Disposal Squad

Commando 4829

Commando 4829 – Operation Double Bluff
Story: George Low Art: Vicente Alcazar Cover: Janek Matysiak
Preview: www.commandocomics.com/latest-issues/16th-july-2015-collection?issue=4829

After seeing his fellow Paratroop squad soldiers brutally killed by Germans in enemy-occupied Holland – and being shot himself and left to die – Lieutenant Ralph Loach was a man determined to settle the score.

Newly transferred to war-battered Berlin with the Intelligence Corps, could Ralph put aside his quest for revenge long enough to let him help his new colleagues find the sadistic S.S. officer responsible?

Commando 4830Commando No 4830 – Appointment In Cairo
Story: R.A. Montague Art: Ibanez Cover: Ian Kennedy
Preview: www.commandocomics.com/latest-issues/16th-july-2015-collection?issue=4830

Cairo — Egypt’s capital city and British General Headquarters in the Middle East, nerve centre of the Allied campaign in North Africa. A city filled with soldiers, sailors, airmen…but also a city teeming with spies and agents, men who would stop at nothing to get the information they needed…then send back to their own headquarters — Berlin!

“Have your holidays ever not quite turned out as planned? And I’m not talking about a missing suitcase or the Duty Free shop in the airport being closed,” asks Commando Deputy Editor Scott Montgomery.
“Our hero, Lieutenant Dick Maltby of the Special Investigative Branch — the Army’s criminal investigative wing — is enjoying some hard-earned leave in the bustling Egyptian capital when he is thrust into a deadly fight for his life against a shadowy spy ring. Well, it happens.
“This is a thrilling Commando tale packed with action, intrigue and espionage and…I reckon it makes for some great summer holiday reading!”

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• There are more details of Commando on the official Commando website, the Commando Facebook page

• Commando Collections: Our Checklist

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", working as an editor, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years. His credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel UK and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines. He also edited STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics, including Team M.O.B.I.L.E. and The Beatles Story. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare” for Tian Books. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.