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Combat! Season 1
Combat! Season 2
Combat! Season 3
Combat! Season 4
Combat! Season 5



Season 4
COMBAT! episodes:

[A Day in June]
[Any Second Now]
[Just for the Record]
[The Squad]
[Lost Sheep, Lost Shepherd]
[Forgotten Front]
[Missing In Action]
[Rear Echelon Commandos]
[The Chateau]
[The Prisoner]
[Escape to Nowhere]
[The Celebrity]
[Far from the Brave]
[The Quiet Warrior]
[Cat and Mouse]
[I Swear by Apollo]
[The Walking Wounded]
[The Medal]
[The Volunteer]
[No Time for Pity]
[Next in Command]
[Night Patrol]
[Off Limits]
[No Hallelujahs for Glory]
[Battle of the Roses]
[Hill 256]
[The Sniper]
[One More for the Road]
[High Named Today]
[No Trumpets, No Drums]


Military Magazines

Military Posters

Patriotic Jigsaw Puzzles

WWII Video Games

WWII toys

American Flag Jewelry


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Combat! reviews by Jo Davidsmeyer * Episodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets 

Rear Echelon Commandos


3 bayonets

Teleplay by Gene Levitt
Story by Richard Tregaskis
Directed by Robert Altman
First aired 09-Oct-1962 (Episode 2 of Season 1)


On the frontline, the squad receives three new replacements straight from rear echelon duty in England. They are Gainsborough (a scared, overweight cook), Temple (an equally scared ex-ballet dancer), and Crown (a radio announcer whose cocky attitude masks his fear). Saunders reluctantly takes these newcomers on a dangerous recon mission and discovers that his survival depends on the ingenuity of these misfits.


"Rear Echelon Commandos" is a story about the lessons a soldier must learn to survive on the front. In the episode, it is the teacher, Sgt. Saunders, who learns the greatest lesson.

Richard Tregaskis, author of the 1943 book Guadalcanal Diary, developed this story of a Saunders at the end of his patience with war and with the stupidity of rear echelon orders. In the sixties, Tresgaskis also wrote two historical war books for adolescents: From Pearl Harbor to Okinawa and From Casablanca to Berlin.

In "Rear Echelon Commandos," at first Saunders and the squad are amused by the many inadequacies of the replacements. But the laughter turns to anger when Hanley orders Saunders to lead these men into danger. When Saunders’ complains that those men don’t know the difference between a patrol and a picnic, Hanley tells him what he should have already known. "Then teach them the difference, Sergeant." The lessons go badly, and Saunders’ anger subsides into apprehension as he realises his life depends on these unhappy and unprepared recruits.

Vic Morrow deftly plays the many layers of Saunders and gives a simple believability to the various revelations that come to him in dealing with three people he probably never would have known in civilian life. Here is an aspect of Saunders rarely seen in the series: the defeated Saunders, the soldier who has completely given up. When Saunders is wounded while his only trained soldier, Kirby, is also wounded and unable to help him, he surrenders himself to the idea that his situation is hopeless. But his students teach Saunders the lesson that nothing is ever lost while there’s still breath, and that to survive, you must use the resources you have at hand, even the unlikely abilities of a ballet-dancer.

John Considine is superb in this episode as the delicate soldier who becomes a hero because of his past, not in spite of it.


  • Continuity problems:
    • After being shot, Kirby rolls over and in the next shot, the same roll-over is shown.
    • Saunders’ pant leg has blood on it before he is shot.
  • This is Jack Hogan’s second appearance as Kirby, but he is not yet signed as a regular. He receives guest star billing.
  • Littlejohn appears in the beginning of this episode, milking a cow. Saunders calls him Littlejohn, but Dick Peabody isn’t listed in the closing credits.
  • Crown appears in a later episode, "Off Limits." He also appears with Temple in "I Swear by Apollo." Arnold, the actor who plays Crown, also appears in "The Long Way Home" as Cole, a character similar to Crown.
  • Helmet switch — Saunders is wearing his trademark camo helmet, but he loses it when rescuing Kirby. He grabs Kirby's helmet and wears that for the rest of the episode.


    Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders
    Rick Jason as Lt. Hanley

    John Considine as Temple
    Arnold Merritt as Crown
    Stephen Coit as Gainsborough
    Pierre Jalbert as Caje
    Jack Hogan as Kirby

    Dick Peabody as Littlejohn (uncredited)

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Copyright 2012 Page last updated 06/29/2012.