A commando is a word adopted by the Boers in South Africa to designate a command or military unit and eventually by the British to denote a military unit trained for swift hit-and-run raids on enemy territory. The Boers originally used the term for military and quasi-military expeditions against native Africans. By the time of the South African War (1899-1902) a commando was the local Boer militia unit.

In World War II the British organized commandos that were the size of an infantry battalion. Specially trained for raiding the coasts of German-held Europe, the first unit was created in June 1940 of army volunteers in excellent health who learned the tactics of hand-to-hand combat, night infiltration, and surprise. Later, commando units were established in the Royal Marines. Commandos participated in the Dieppe raid of August 1942, in Mediterranean campaigns, notably the Salerno invasion, and in campaigns in northwestern Europe. The U. S. Army Rangers, from which developed the Special Forces, were modeled on commandos.

After the war the commando role in Britain was reserved for the Royal Marines, and one commando unit fought in Korea. Always ready, the commandos are used chiefly to quell disorders such as the Tanzanian army revolt of 1964.

More by this Author

  • What is Hypnotism?

    Hypnotism the study of hypnosis or the art of inducing it. Hypnosis is an induced state of extreme suggestibility. The hypnotized subject concentrates exclusively on whatever is presented to him by the hypnotist and is...

  • How Dry Cleaning Works

    Dry Cleaning is the process of washing fabrics with liquids other than water. Dry cleaning solvents dissolve oily and fatty substances that are not soluble in water. These solvents do not swell natural fibers as water...

  • The White House

    The White House as it appears from the north. Photograph by David Lat. The White House is the official residence of the President of the United States, located in Washington, D.C. It is on Pennsylvania Avenue facing...


No comments yet.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article