MUTINY ON CHRISTMAS ISLAND - Christmas Island, in the Indian Ocean, became a valuable asset due to its source of high-grade phosphate and was consequently captured by the Japanese in March 1942. Prior to this a mutiny by a group of Punjabi soldiers took place as they were in fear of going against the enemy. David Mitchelhill-Green recounts the fascinating story.
Resistance Tragedy at Benschop - On February 13, 1945, a large German force raided the Dutch village of Benschop, a hotbed of underground activities, storming several farms known to house local resistance leaders. In the ensuing action, seven arrests were made but two of the resistance leaders fought back and shot or fatally wounded three of the Germans before being killed themselves. Enraged by their losses, the Germans rounded up over 60 people and took them away. Four days later, they returned with seven of the arrested men and, in an act of brutal retaliation, summarily executed them in full view of villagers and passers-by. The incident left the close-knit community severely traumatised, the more so since there had clearly been treason in the game.
US Rangers at Achnacarry - From 1942 to 1945, all recruits for the Commando forces had their initial training at the Combined Basic Training Centre, located deep inside the desolate Lochaber Hills in the Scottish Highlands. Commanded by the redoubtable Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Vaughan, the CBTC presented its trainees with four to five weeks of gruelling speed marches, PT exercises, obstacle courses and tactical schemes coupled with fieldcraft lessons and long hours of weapon training. Standards were exceedingly high and a considerable percentage of the men failed to meet up to them and were, as it was called, ‘Returned to Unit’. In addition to regular Commandos, two battalions of US Rangers — the American equivalent of the Commandos — passed through Achnacarry, the 1st Ranger Battalion in July 1942 and the 29th Ranger Battalion in February-May 1943. Whereas the former would gain legendary fame as ‘Darby’s Rangers’, the latter suffered a less-glorious fate, being disbanded after just ten months.