Before the major assault that would happen at D-Day, the allied forces wanted to test an amphibious operation and storming of a defended coastal area. The raid on Dieppe took place on the morning of 19 August 1942, and was a disaster. Miscommunication between different commanders, and stronger German defences the previously thought, led to the raid being aborted. Thousands were killed and injured.
‘A’ Royal Marine Commando took part in the raid. ‘A’ RM Commando was the first Royal Marines Commando raised and later became 40 (RM) Commando. Part of the men in the ‘A’ RM Commando had roles in demolition platoons, tasked to blow up key enemy resources/infrastructure. Rucksacks of the type featured here were likely to have been issued to demolition platoons of ‘A’ RM Commando. The owner would have had to not only carry his own kit in the Bergen, but he had to carry explosives as well.
Large rucksacks, typically Bergens, were introduced for Royal Marines Commandos in the middle of the Second World War. Prior to the issue of Bergen’s, Royal Marines, like British Infantry, would have had a small pack attached to their 1937 Pattern Web Equipment (as pictured). Bergen's were more useful in combat than webbing packs due to their detachability, and the ease of access they provided to objects contained within. The metal ‘A’ frame also meant it supported the back better when carrying large loads.
The Royal Marines also manned the support craft at Dieppe, beach patrol craft and Landing Craft Flaks LCF. For more information about the raid on Dieppe and Royal Marine involvement please see our guide sheet.
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