Prepping the Operational Environment

Allied forces were well aware that delaying the German response to the mass influx of invading soldiers was key to helping ensure the success of the D-Day invasion at Normandy. To achieve this goal, we deployed multiple small special operations teams on the ground and in the water in the days and hours leading up to the invasion to do anything and everything possible to deceive the Nazis and delay their response to the invasion force. These extremely dangerous missions were given to the British Special Air Service (SAS) commandos, Navy UDT divers, and Jedburgh teams.

You may be asking, “What’s a Jedburgh team?”. Read on to find out.

Mission Uncertain, Destination Unknown

Imagine you’re an American soldier walking across your base during the height of World War II. You’re well trained, feeling invincible, and up for a challenge.

A message comes over the loudspeaker:

Wanted: Volunteers for immediate overseas assignment. Knowledge of French or another European language preferred; Willingness and ability to qualify as a parachutist necessary; Likelihood of a dangerous mission guaranteed.”

“Hot damn,” you think. It sounds like the kind of thing you are looking for. So you sign up, take a few tests, and before you know it, you’re training to become one of the Jedburgh, some of the best anti-Nazi commandos of all of World War II.

A rowdy-looking Jedburgh team with local partisans. Image credit:

Many Applied, Few Were Chosen

Of the thousands of soldiers who applied for “dangerous missions,” about 300 were selected. They were given two weeks of commando training at facilities in the Scottish Highlands and then moved to Milton Hall, near Peterborough, England, closer to the airfields from which they would be launched and to British SAS headquarters. At Milton Hall, they received intensive training in hand-to-hand combat and sabotage techniques.

The “Jeds” had a rather unusual setup. They worked in three-man teams: There was a commander, an executive officer, and a non-commissioned radio officer. One of the officers was British or American, and the other would be from the country into which the team was deploying. The radio operator could be of any nationality. They carried M1 carbines and Colt automatic pistols as primary weapons, and the teams dropped with the Type B Mark II radio, more commonly referred to as simply the B2 or a “Jed set.” The Jed set was used for communicating with Special Force headquarters and London.