The Real Jedburghs, or You Are Not A Commando, But You Don’t Need To Be

Upon finding out that a Buddy was reading this book, I asked him to write me an overview, once he had completed it. I let Steve read it before posting, and he was more than happy to comment about the content of the summary. Enjoy.


Jedburgh Team Frederick (From Left): OSS Sergeant Robert Kehoe, British Major Adrian Wise, and French Lieutenant Paul Bloch-Auroch. Just one of several Jed Teams

What it took to be a ‘Commando’….

By Someone Who Did the Research

The term, “Commando” brings to mind great images of men who were the cream of the crop in our history and are only now (when it comes to WWII) having their stories told. Simply, these guys were true ‘bad asses’.  Of late, there seems to be some interest in and of various ‘special’ commando groups from WWII and later forwarded by various voices of the ‘liberty’ or ‘patriot’ movement up to and including “borrowing” the name(s) as well as claiming selected or general capabilities from these groups.

One such group that comes to mind due to their recent popularization on at least one blog, are the Jedburgh Special Forces teams of World War II (the Jeds are the forerunners of today’s ‘Green Berets’).  There are claims out there right now that if one follows a certain path of training at a certain school (or series of schools), when it’s complete, the attendee will have the ‘skills of the commando.’   As of this writing and quick peek into the book listed below on just the training the real Jedburgh teams underwent, there’s no way to tell whether or not that particular claim will prove to be mere puffery or fact simply because there’s  no way to prove or disprove the capabilities alluded to or held. let alone the credentials of the instructors providing those skills.  Without bonafides, claims are only that.  The proof, as they say, “is in the puddin’…”

For those sincerely considering an attempt to learn various skills that the Jedburgh teams (or any other special team for that matter) that are considered ‘commando’ skills, from any corner of the training world offerings out there, comparison contrast is in order.

The following book, for example, provides some actual history regarding the selection, qualification, and employment of the Jedburgh Teams from written by Lt Col Will Irwin (Ret), “The Jedburghs: The Secret History of the Allied Special Forces, France 1944.” Published in 2005 and compiled by the author from declassified documents, records, archives and stories by the participants themselves, to tell the tale of just seven of the 100 Jed that deployed to Nazi occupied France.

To help you determine what might be a realistic syllabus in your personal training (should you be a participant in any ‘commando school’ taking its name from a historical unit), the book provides a superb summary of the training the Jeds went through and what skills they already held when they volunteered simply for assessment and selection.  In this particular instance, when one reads the history of the Jedburgh Teams, one realizes that, in effect, anyone offering you this title at the conclusion of their training telling you that you’re the equal of a special forces soldier from the era the group name is ‘borrowed’ from.  Some Latin comes to mind:  Caveat Emptor.

A better return on investment may be had by attending a course that offers solid ‘basics’ based upon staff experience.  It doesn’t matter what the person is trying to learn.  If one wants to be a chef, one doesn’t join a construction outfit.  If one wishes to learn a set of skills typically taught in the military or a particular method of employing skills in the manner of military organizations, one might consider finding a course overseen by someone with that experience within the military.


As to the subject of this brief essay, here’s a few verifiable facts on the Jeds from the book title above:

The name, “Jedburgh” was not taken from the town in Scotland; it was most likely the next approved codename on the available codename list held in Whitehall.  Churchill was obsessed with code names, and insisted they were not allowed to have anything to do with the mission or have any relation in any way to the people involved.  The first codename suggested was, “Jumpers,” and it was discarded.  As to the naming of the teams for the Scottish Borders town of, “Jedburgh,” it sits approximately 250 miles North of the actual Jedburgh training site of Milton Hall, which is near Peterborough, England.  Further, the bookThere are at five known popular descriptions of how the name was chosen.  Of those, only the one above holds historical weight due to Churchill’s documented obsession with how code names were chosen and employed.

The common nickname of the teams was, “The Jeds.”  The term, “Jedburgh” was rarely used, especially by the teams themselves.

There were 100 teams of 3 men each.

Training was about 8 months long (continuous, not in 3 day stints over the same period) that also consisted of ‘real world’ field training exercises throughout England.

The Jedburgh candidates, like other ‘special force’ candidates, didn’t arrive ‘off the street’ from bakeries, farms, or factories.  They were recruited from actively serviing/trained disciplines, and the ability to speak one or two additional languages fluently was desired.

The American contingent came from the ‘OSS’ (Office of Strategic Services) headed by William Donovan, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient in World War I (obviously, he knew a good deal about soldiering)) and who later became a successful businessman asked by FDR to head up the new office even though their politics were at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Assessments began as soon as the candidates arrived at the training site; they underwent a large battery of interviews and completed many questionnaires designed by a staff of psychiatrists and psychologists to expose the troublesome, inept, lazy or misfits.

Their washout rate was about 1/3; sometimes rejection was done in mid-training, and simply because the trainers didn’t believe the man in question had the temperament for duty behind the lines for long periods of time.


Obstacle/Confidence training

The candidates had their basic military skills ‘down cold’ before they began training for the Jedburgh teams.  An instructor for initial training stated the candidates did everything they were asked and more with a nonchalant ease that allowed instructors to focus on specialized training rather than the foundational military training described today as, ‘shoot, move and communicate.’  Those who fell behind or otherwise were found to be unsuitable for various reasons were washed out during the initial training.

Upon arrival in England, all Jedburgh candidates were assessed again by the Brits, who released even more for various reasons of unsuitability.

The candidates were primarily already ‘parachute qualified’ but were retrained in parachute drops from a modified bomb bay door after arrival in England.

Hand to hand was taught by William E Fairbairn.

Primary weapons were the M1 carbine, the .45 caliber 1911 pistol, and the Fairbairn knives.  Most training was done with the pistol and knife.

Their operations were successful to the following reasons:

o   A large, well organized military supply train, communications network, intelligence network, and air arm supported their actions on call.

o   Large amounts of local currency brought with them and air dropped as necessary to pay and support the local irregular force.

o   The local population provided shelter, food, clothing, and whatever they could.

o   The Jedburgh teams themselves displayed uncommon courage during contact with the German Wehrmacht and Gestapo units.

The teams had a unique way of calling, “Bullshit” on a speaker  (or, in today’s case, those who might be trying to capitalize on their capabilities):  The practice came from a legendary instance at Benning during jump school.  A student had been dropped for 50 pushups, and counted them out.  Near the end, the instructor heard, “48….49….50!” and as the student recovered, he said under his breath, “Some shit!”  The Jeds would use this during en masse briefings for dry or otherwise boring subjects….one Jed, somewhere in the audience would yell, “48!”, another couple or so would join in with, “49!….50!” and the rest of the audience would loudly call, “SOME SHIT!” to the bewilderment of the speaker.

The above method is a good way to deal with anyone not able to prove they can train you to that level….during their sales pitch, you can always mimic the Jeds’ by starting out with, “48…”

As for the book itself, it’s an excellent read and shows what determination, courage, and the ability to operate for long periods of time with only the support of the local population can do for a war effort.  Both Churchill and Eisenhower gave credit to the ‘resistance’ for significantly delaying German reinforcements from arriving in time at Normandy to thwart the Allied invasion of D-Day.


Jed in full kit

_________________________________________________________________________________________________  Commentary on the Review


 SFC Steven M Barry USA RET

 Most welcome is this fine book review about the Jedburghs. In a sane world it would put paid to “constitutional militia” dreamy delusions of recreating anything even remotely resembling the Jeds. But we’re not living in a sane world and in all likelihood the reaction of the dreamers will be to become yet more pertinacious in their claims that they will recreate something they could not have created in the first place – by reading the book.

This commentator on the review received an advanced review copy of the book The Jedburghs long before its 2005 publication (the original subtitle is slightly different). Thumbing through it at the time brought back many memories of this commentator’s early Unconventional Warfare education and training. What the reviewer emphasizes about the spotting and recruiting of military professionals, Assessment and Selection, training, chain of command, integration within and subordination to Theater level UW hierarchy (in their case SOE) unlimited service and support (i.e. logistics), etc., in other words everything “constitutional militias” (which are neither constitutional nor militias) don’t have and cannot create – except in their own heads and in their wildest fantasies – was wisely selected in favor over war stories which can only inflame “militia” self-selecting utopianism.

Particularly fun was the retelling of the Jed habit of tearing to sheds by ridicule and hooting those (non-OSS/SOE) staff officers of supporting services during pre-deployment OPORD briefs. The description brought back warm memories of Old SF ripping into supporting services briefers who frequently left the briefing room quite shaken. We invariably got our way. It wasn’t a game. We knew what was probable, what was possible and what was impossible. Woe befell those non-SF staff officers who briefed something merely possible – which meant it was probably impossible. This commentator cannot speak to how New SF (post 1982ish) treats such briefings; he has no experience being in an overqualified Ranger squad.

The reviewer of The Jedburghs makes a strong argument against those who, with incomprehensible hubris perfect ignorance and profound incompetence, would usurp both the name and the training and the operations of the Jeds. What, he asks, are the credentials of said usurpers? The answer of course is that they have no credentials whatsoever. Caveat emptor indeed.


By the way, if there is any question as to your “Constitutional Militia” status, read this, and feel free to comment with your credentials and “Constitutionally validating” authority. You don’t need the Constitution to give you permission to protect yourselves and your loved ones and if you think you do, you don’t understand the concept and practical application of rights as they pertain to reality. If you want to play “Jedburgh” I’d suggest you try here instead of someone’s distorted fantasy of what they think “Jedburgh” is, just based on the fact that they are “well read”. Mastery of the basics to the point of them being second nature makes a Commando, not a name or a wool hat. Be a Survivalist who is a “Jack of all Trades”, master of some (preferably the life saving and life protecting arts).


American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE.

17 thoughts on “The Real Jedburghs, or You Are Not A Commando, But You Don’t Need To Be

  1. Pingback: The real Jeds - Knuckledraggin My Life AwayKnuckledraggin My Life Away

  2. Here we go again, fighting over 2nd place in the pissing contest. I’m done, removing this page from my favorites

    • What pissin’ contest is that SJ? To be part of a “pissin’ contest”, the contestants have to bring a pecker to the table. He hasn’t and can’t, therefore he’s not a contestant, just a bystander. But he has “gotten’ wet at belt buckle range and stayed alive”. Maybe a contestant peed on him.

      • I usually enjoy your articles and i think you know your shit and do your shit well. But all this about the 3% group is childish. Who cares what terminology they use. I don’t care if they call themselves mighty morphin power rangers. Are they unqualified amateurs? Are they attracting unnecessary attention? Do they have penis envy? The answers don’t really matter because at the end of the day this country is gone to hell in a handbasket and anyone trying to do something about it or at least prepare for it needs an atta boy in my book. At this rate we will all be arguing about termimology in a jail cell waiting to be shot as domestic terrorist and it won’t matter any way at that point. While we argue amongst ourselves the real enemy gets in a better position.
        An old Ranger buddy always tells me…
        Stay low, stay focused, stay ready.

        • It’s not about “The 3% group”, it’s about a wanna be and con man that is using the “3% group” to achieve a specific financial end state. I’ve pretty much stayed out of this fight, even though I know more of the stuff that went on than most, due to being a member of the Board. He has tried to portray himself as something he is not, and I believe it is to garner sales, and because he’s a wanna be. I am a professional, and as such, I have better things to do than to play footsie with him, even though he’s said a number of disparaging and untrue things about me. Why? Because he can’t fight the facts that others have shown about him, so he resorts to ad hominem attacks on those that can hurt him with substance, and is trying to make people believe they are less than genuine when they have produced those facts. A supposed “3%er” that cites “Rightful Liberty” as his goal, but then states “First we kill all the muslims”, or that we should plan to kill the innocent family of Federal or State employees is no 3%er.It is hypocrisy, and yeah, I have a problem with that. I earned what I got in the military, the Jeds earned what they got in the military. It is in poor taste to use their earned title as a marketing tool that has nothing to do with what it stood for. To me, words and titles still mean something, I’m sorry if they don’t for you, or that maybe you don’t understand why it’s a big deal to those of us that did earn titles and ranks. I don’t know how else to explain it. I bet you won’t find one vet that actually earned something unique that would not do the same thing, especially if they realized it was for a payday.

          • For those of us that actually trained in SF/SEAL/Ranger/Recon/Commando schools and tactics, it is really hard to sit by and see these keyboard commandos start naming themselves after actual units and persons. My gut aches when I also see these re-enactors/paintball goons playing WW2 Fallscirmjagers or Vietnam Recon Marines, and now watch the same shit happening over 3% logos and gear. Fuckitall.
            We’ll see who emerges from the ashes, then work from there.

          • If reenactors want to reenact what hero’s did in a real war, fine (reenacting is different that reality). When someone sells it as a way to survive what is coming, and packages it as “You should call yourself a commando”, and “we’re gonna give you the skillset of a commando”, I have a problem, especially when they use earned titles used by true hero’s, and have never done any of it themselves, not even served in the service they are trying to emulate.

  3. Solid post. Facts are always interesting to read. What a thing it would be to sit down with a surviving Jed or someone who was trained by a Jed post WWII and listen to them describe their training or perspective on current affairs.

    As the review states, ‘true bad asses’!

  4. Pingback: Oh Wow! Proof Of Concept Was… Spartan! | The Sun Also Rises

  5. Pingback: MDT: The Real Jedburghs | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  6. You can learn alot of “jed” skills,
    1. Get at least a general class ham license
    2. Learn to skydive
    3. Learn french until you dream in french.
    4. Go to MDT or MV for rifle/patrol skills
    5. Find a systema or American Combatives school. And train hard.
    6. Get with Janich and learn blades
    7. Hit Frontsight or TDI for pistol work
    8. Get your EMTA cert.

    Now that you have a tiny taste of Jed training, go find a war zone, put on all your jed shit, skydive in and spend a few months running “ops”……..better hope the indigs speaky french 😉

  7. =>You don’t need the Constitution to give you permission to protect yourselves and your loved ones and if you think you do, you don’t understand the concept and practical application of rights as they pertain to reality


  8. I see again on many sites arguments as the world seems to be getting more crazy,the arguing makes me wonder whether we can as a people who believe/want/willing to fight for freedom can get it together,hope so.I agree with Bubba,do not need/nor will ask for permission to defend meself/family/friends whatever others may say.I do believe folks selling bad schooling/creds in all aspects of life should be exposed,that is just common sense.The Jeds sound like a tough bunch of folks who were also intelligent to do the work they did,maybe we can pick up a few of their skills/be inspired by their attitude,the country,hell,the world needs folks like that.I will continue to try and learn new skills while practising others(good bow practice after work today),tis the best I can do while still enjoying the day.

  9. Adding: sgt. Barry needs to volunteer his insight to king barack. Cause dude while I get why you dont think people should claim the titles of those who have btdt, you come across like a whiney douchenozzle….just sayin…

    Raticus baftimaximus III

    • Maxi Rat the 3rd, Apparently your definition of “whiney douchenozzlism” is lacking in a realistic assessment. You were obviously disingenuous when you said you “get why he doesn’t think people should claim the titles of those who have been there done that”. You apparently don’t “Get it” and we really don’t expect you to if you haven’t been there and done that. BTW, what the Hell does that have to do with him giving BooHOo advice?

  10. Hi JCD,
    Neat write up!! ‘Thing that really caught my eye was Photo 2 the guys decked out in the Parachutes!! ‘Guess the photo is somewhat “OLD!” Those look like old “Cotton webbing” Harnesses for starters and the have that single point release right there in the middle of their chest!! The old Scurveyirvin “Dial-A-Death” release!! ‘Ya hook it up and twist the center knob!! There’s a “Safety Pin” ya’ pull after ya’ land and slap the knob and if yer gettin dragged in the wind you are out of your harness!! Fine, if yer’ on the ground!! It’s a real bitch when it happens right out of the plane!!!! Get my drift?? And it has happened!! Murphy was “On It” for this one.
    Also ‘ya better cinch up that harness really tight because those Cotton Harnesses, although really comfortable to wear..(Note the rifle positioned on the guy’s chest??)….in the plane….under canopy, boy did they “STRETCH!!!”
    I’ll settle for my old M-5 Mirage System (Sky Supplies) and my Stiletto 190 (Performance Designs) and for back-up my Raven II Reserve (Precision Aero).
    Lets “Hit The Silk!!!!!!!” If you want a “Modern” Tactical Parachute system seek out a Complete Parachute Solutions , Military Javelin by “Sun Path Products” with canopies by Performance Designs!! ……….If ya’ just wanna have some fun!! Go to your local “Drop Zone” and check out the Action!!
    Blue Skies Bubba!!!!!!
    skybill…..B-4240, C-3114, D-6009, SCR-2034, SCS-680, FAA “Master” Parachute Rigger (Chest,Back and Seat) and Private Pilot (ASEL)

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