“Landed. Killed Germans. F****d off.” Anders Lassen, a Dane from an aristocratic background, was an adventurer and one among a sort warrior.
He served in numerous iterations of the British particular forces throughout the warfare, the first being No. 62 Commando, a particular unit inside the Commandos higher referred to as the Small Scale Raiding Pressure (SSRF).
In 1943, he joined the Particular Air Service, the famed “SAS,” of their department of amphibious warriors, the Particular Boat Part (SBS). To qualify for any of these models, one needed to be the better of the greatest.
All of these models included greater than a handful of outlandish characters, lots of whom wouldn’t have succeeded in additional typical models.
It’s the opinion of many historians that others of the SBS and the SAS ought to have acquired the Victoria Cross (VC), Nice Britain’s highest quotation for bravery, however it was probably that an institutional prejudice towards these extra unconventional models prevented it.
British Particular Forces in the Aegean, 1944 Corporal Aubrey of the SBS (Particular Boat Service) sharpens his preventing knife as he prepares for fight.
For instance, that prejudice was in all probability the case with Lt. Colonel Blair “Paddy” Mayne of the SAS, who was amongst the most awarded males of any nation throughout the struggle.
Lingering doubts about his character, since he was a heavy and violent drinker in off-duty hours, in all probability prevented him from being awarded the Victoria Cross.
The Particular Air Service throughout the Second World Conflict Portrait of Lt Col Robert Blair ‘Paddy’ Mayne, SAS, in the desert close to Kabrit, 1942.
Anders Lassen was born in Denmark in 1920, and like many different freedom loving individuals from the nations overrun by the Nazis, fled to England to proceed the battle.
In the first days of the conflict, Churchill ordered the formation of models which might raid German-held territory in an effort to maintain the Germans off stability, let the individuals in these nations know Nice Britain was nonetheless in the warfare, and get intelligence wanted by the Allies.
Churchill named these models “commandos” after the swift-moving raiding forces of the Afrikaaners throughout the Boer Wars.
In reality, it was a type of models that had captured Churchill throughout the battle. He was impressed by their talents, their esprit de corps, and the havoc they wrought behind British strains.
Main-Common Sir Robert Laycock, inspecting Royal Marines Commandos shortly earlier than the Normandy landings.
A few of the early Commando models have been made up of foreigners from the occupied nations. There have been Norwegian, French, Belgian, and Danish Commando models. There was additionally No. 62 Commando, made up of males from all of those nations, in addition to British troopers.
No. 62 Commando was underneath the command of the Particular Operations Government, or “SOE,” the ultra-secret irregular warfare unit which managed brokers behind the strains and carried out missions too delicate to be made public and even recognized to many in the British army institution.
Colin Gubbins, (1896-1976), head of the Particular Operations Government 1943-1946
SOE’s constitution from Churchill was famously “Set Europe Ablaze,” and to try this, SOE wanted women and men that didn’t thoughts getting their palms soiled and breaking various guidelines.
Anders Lassen was considered one of them. He got here from a background of bizarre and courageous individuals. His father famously summoned his Rolls Royce in entrance of the Hyde Park Lodge with a searching horn on a pre-war go to.
His German cousin, Axel von dem Bussche, was concerned in two bomb plots towards Hitler, and was considered one of the solely officers to have survived the conflict.
Axel Freiherr von dem Bussche-Streithorst.Photograph: Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1994-022-32A CC-BY-SA three.zero
Respect for authority just because they have been in authority was not a part of Lassen’s make-up, nor that of lots of the males in the SOE/SSRF/SAS. A well-known story with some fact in it has Paddy Mayne punching out a superior officer. Others in the SAS wore no matter they needed, together with full beards.
One of them was Lassen. An officer as soon as gave his males a dressing down about it: “What would the Germans think if they discovered your dead bodies on the battlefield–unshaven??” The lads merely walked away.
On one other event, Lassen despatched in his after motion report which learn “Landed. Killed Germans. F***ed off.”
Rommel. By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA three.zero
One cause these males might get away with this was as a result of they have been protected by Churchill, however the primary purpose was as a result of they have been good. Lassen noticed motion in Northern Europe, Crete, North Africa–he was a part of the ill-fated Rommel raid to seize or kill the German Area Marshal–Greece, and Yugoslavia.
One of his most well-known actions, and one not recognized to the Excessive Command, however to Churchill and a handful of his cronies was a raid on the Spanish island of Po, off the coast of Guinea, Africa.
This raid remained secret for years, and rumors of it have been denied for simply as lengthy, for the Spanish have been impartial however leaned in the direction of the Axis.
Gulf of Guinea. Fernando Po, now referred to as Bioko, is the island nearest the mainland.Photograph: Amcaja CC BY-SA three.zero
Churchill was leery of pushing Spain into the Germans’ arms, however the Germans and Italians have been utilizing Po as a base for disguised commerce raiders that have been preying on Allied ships bringing very important provides to England.
These raiders have been trawlers and tankers that had had most of their additional weight eliminated, and whereas they nonetheless introduced the define of a business ship, they have been armed to the tooth. Additionally they flew a false flag, and in the first a part of the conflict they lured many British and different ships in nearer, and to their deaths.
The SSRF was tasked with both disabling or capturing the Italian and German ships at the islands’ port. Had Spain not been sheltering the forces of their enemy, then the British wouldn’t have needed to mount the raid–so Churchill’s considering went.
In principle, a impartial port was open to everybody together with the British, however Churchill had no illusions of that ever occurring. He wished to ship a message not solely to the Axis, however to Spain: “Don’t be drawn into this. We can hit you too.” The operation was code-named “Postmaster.”
The Flower-class corvette HMS Violet
There have been two elements to the plan. First, an SOE agent on Po would strategy the spouse of a German diplomat on the island and persuade her to throw a wild cocktail celebration for the Axis officers on shore. This is able to take the commanders and far of their crew away from the vessels.
Second, Lassen and his males would strategy the islands in civilian gown, aboard the crusing vessel Maid Honor registered in Sweden – they have been taking a pleasure cruise underneath a impartial flag.
On the night time of 14-15 January 1942, the SSRF males on Maid Honor boarded two British tugboats which had made their method from close by Lagos, Nigeria, which was a British colony at the time.
The tugs have been carrying extra SSRF males, SOE and British regulars from Nigeria. With lights out, the males transferred to the tugs. As they approached the port at Po, the males of the SSRF switched to their Falboat kayaks and approached the German and Italian commerce raiders Duchessa d’Aosta and Likombo.
The Italian cargo liner Duchessa d’Aosta
The native guards on Likombo jumped ship when the raiders with their darkened faces and machine weapons instantly appeared on the deck of the ship.
The commandos then blew the iron anchor chains holding the ship in place and waited till the Duchessa d’Aosta was additionally in British palms–which it was shortly, for the Italian crew was in no temper to struggle commandos in the center of the night time. The tugs then put every vessel underneath tow and left the harbor.
As soon as they made it out to sea, the British put out a radio sign that they have been claiming two prizes on the excessive seas – ships which one way or the other should have drifted out of port since there was no crew on both vessel.
Everybody knew it was a lie, and the Spanish protested at the violation of their neutrality, however there was not a factor they might do about it.
Commandos marching previous a collapsed Goatley boat, which was utilized in smaller raids to switch from motor boats to the shore
Lassen and his males acquired citations for this raid, although it was not extensively broadcast due to its “illegal” nature, and Lassen’s fame grew.
In early 1943, the SSRF was disbanded and lots of of the males have been folded into the SAS. Lassen joined their amphibious unit, the Particular Boat Service (SBS), which operated small scale raids and reconnaissance from the sea.
Like lots of the SAS leaders, Lassen was casual. He knew that his males would perform his orders as a result of they have been the greatest they usually revered him. Like David Stirling, who had based the SAS, and others, Lassen didn’t order his males to do something that he wouldn’t do himself.
The Particular Air Service (SAS) in North Africa throughout the WWII. Lt Colonel David Stirling DSO.
Lassen was additionally a infamous partyer, very similar to his SAS comrade “Paddy” Mayne. On depart, he was on trip–not depart.
He did what he needed, when he needed, with who he needed. He was prepared to place his life on the line in the most harmful missions, so he and his males would blow off some steam once they had the probability.
For instance, when Athens was liberated in 1944, he stole a jeep to go carousing in. Somebody then stole it from him. Regardless of–shortly thereafter, American forces confirmed up, so Lassen stole one in every of their jeeps.
He drove it up the stairs of his lodge, into the cargo elevator used for baggage, and as much as the suite he occupied.
Later throughout Lassen’s keep in Athens, he was “entertaining” an area lady, however his males have been partying too loud close by.
He went out into the corridor sporting nothing however his boots, and requested them “Chaps, can’t you let your CO s***w in peace?” In fact, his males liked him all the extra for it.
The individuals of Athens rejoice the liberation from the Axis powers, October 1944.Photograph: Υπουργείο Εξωτερικών CC BY-SA 2.zero
Sadly, Lassen didn’t survive the conflict. With nearly a month earlier than the Nazis surrendered, Lassen and his males have been tasked to neutralize an Italian and German stronghold on the shores of Lake Comacchio in northern Italy.
Sadly, they have been detected by guards in close by blockhouses and challenged. They tried to move as native Italian fishermen, however that didn’t work, they usually have been quickly beneath hearth.
The state of affairs was dire: Lassen and his males have been on a causeway with water on each side. Quickly they have been underneath hearth from the males that they had bypassed, in addition to others in entrance.
Lassen charged forward with a sub-machine gun and a satchel of grenades. He took out one blockhouse single-handedly and superior on one other, beneath overlaying hearth from his males. He quickly overran this place, killing two males and taking two prisoners.
Commandos throughout an operation – the man on the left is armed with the Thompson submachine gun
By this level, Lassen’s males had caught up with him, they usually started to fireside on a 3rd enemy place. Once more Lassen superior alone, and took out this place as properly. Germans inside started yelling “Kamerad,” providing their give up.
Just then a place to his left opened up with an MG-42 machine gun, and mortally wounded the Dane. Whereas he was falling he tossed one other grenade at that place, which wounded a few of its occupants and allowed his males to seize that place as properly.
Wehrmacht reenactors with a MG 34 general-purpose machine gun mounted on a Lafette 34 tripod.Photograph: Simon Q CC BY 2.zero
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His males needed to evacuate him, however Lassen refused. The unit was nonetheless underneath heavy hearth, and he knew that if his males stopped to assist him, they too would develop into casualties or corpses. He died shortly after refusing to be carried out. In 1945, he was posthumously awarded the VC. He’s buried at the Argenta Hole Conflict Cemetery in Italy.