The young colonel was subsequently gazetted on June 19, 1942, and awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest decoration for valor. A memorial service in London’s Westminster Abbey was attended by some of the Commandos who had survived the doomed raid. Colonel Keyes’s remains were later reburied at the Eighth Army cemetery in Benghazi.
The raid served to point up flaws in the training and tactics of British Special Forces units. Eighteen months after the raising of the Commandos, and despite the fighting spirit displayed in Beda Littoria, there was still much to be learned. Inadequate planning and faulty intelligence were stressed as the Combined Operations chiefs critiqued the mission.
The Commandos learned their bitter lessons and went on to serve in many World War II campaigns as a peerless special force—mentoring the U.S. Rangers and setting an example for other elite assault units in the years to come.
Frequent contributor Michael D. Hull has written on numerous topics for WWII History. He resides in Enfield, Connecticut.
Originally Published in 2018.