No 2 Commando

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'Messina to Palermo railway raid'

Location

Sicily
38° 1' 19.6896" N, 14° 11' 7.9656" E
Friday, August 29, 1941
On the night of 29th/30th August, 1941, a small party of Commandos, led by Lt. Dudley Schofield, landed from the submarine 'Triumph' of the 10th Submarine Flotilla (operating from Malta), and successfully demolished one and a half spans of a bridge carrying the main Messina to Palermo Railway.  
 

Log Book HMS Triumph 30 Aug.1941

'Operation Blackcock'

Sunday, August 15, 1943

Operation Blackcock was a British amphibious landing to take Scaletta on the north-east coast of Sicily. Planned by Lieutenant General Sir Miles Dempsey’s XIII Corps, of General Sir Bernard Montgomery’s 8th Army, the operation was designed as one of a pair of Allied operations to cut off the last elements of the German forces trying to fall back to their evacuation point at Messina in north-eastern Sicily.

2 Commando

The History

The first No.2 Commando was formed on the 22nd June 1940 for a parachuting role at Cambrai Barracks, Perham Down, near Tidworth, Hants. The Unit at the time consisted of four troops - 'A', 'B', 'C' and 'D'.  Eventually 11 troops were raised. A nominal roll of 'C' and 'D' troops can be found in our documents album within the No 2 Commando gallery.

2 Commando Commanders

This history of No. 2 Commando was compiled at the request of The Commando Veterans Association, who wanted a record of the unit’s activities and first-hand recollections of its members as seen through the eyes of a No. 2 Commando veteran. There was a certain urgency about the request because this veteran, turned author, is old and just about one step away from the knacker’s yard. There is much to tell about the No. 2 Family and its Father, Charlie Newman.

Bob Bishop

Read more about each Commanding Officer below.

2 Commando Nominal Roll

In 1946 the Army Council decided that the Army Commandos were to be disbanded and no provision was allowed or made for any depository or office which would have at least contained a complete Roster of Names of the men who served in the various units. 

2 Commando Salerno Casualties

Type: Files
Author: No 2 Commando Officer
Year of Publishing: 2018
Keywords: salerno, casualties, 2 commando, avalanche, vietri, dragone hill, piegolette, piegolelle, the pimple, scaletta, sicily, italy

A document created by an officer of No 2 Commando with specifics relating to No 2 Commando casualties at Salerno, and locations of where they lay, or were first buried. It also includes details of three from the action at Scaletta, Sicily the previous month.

We also have a full Commando Roll of Honour for Salerno. [view].

nb. If the document below does not display, reload/refresh this page in your browser.

2 Commando, Glomfjord, Norway

Operation Musketoon

"It was on a day in late July, 1942 that the author noted the absence from the ranks of his troop of Capt. Graeme Black, Pte. Eric Curtis and Rfmn. Cyril Abram. At the same time, men of other troops recorded that Capt. Joe Houghton, Sgt. Richard O’Brien, L/Sgt. Bill Chudley, Pte. Reg Makeham, Cpl. John Fairclough, T.S.M. Miller Smith and Pte. Fred Trigg had also vanished. No member of No. 2 Commando had any inkling as to the significance of these disappearances, but as usual, no questions were asked.

2 Commando, Lake Comacchio

Operation Roast.

"Remote from what was to be known as the ‘Battle of Lake Comacchio’, this author did not have a clue as to what was happening to his friends in No. 2 Commando. He had been inside Germany for some time and way out of touch.

It seems that No. 2 Commando had been joined by No. 9 Commando and Nos. 40 and 43 R.M. Commando to implement the task of grabbing a spit of land which extended from Lake Comacchio to the Adriatic Sea, with further exploitation northwards envisaged in the minds of the ‘planners’.

2 Commando, Operations from Vis

"No. 2 Commando started to arrive at Komiza on the Yugoslavian island of Vis on January 16th, 1944. They were to operate on Yugoslav soil for the next six months. The Commando was still much-depleted as a result of the battering it had taken at Salerno, and almost half the unit remaining in Italy consisted of the replacement men and those ‘old hands’ who formed the training cadres.

2 Commando, Salerno Aftermath

"As the No. 2 Commando War Diary states, the remnants of the unit, following the Salerno campaign, were redeployed to Catania, Sicily. For once they were not lodged in their usual dusty field. By some accident they had been given a roof over their heads in the shape of a former Italian barracks.

2 Commando, St. Nazaire

Operation Chariot

"If any reader of this attempt to record the history of No. 2 Commando has gotten this far, he or she will have noted that the pride of place, on Page 1, has been given to the remembrance of the men of the Commando who died in the course of No. 2 Commando operations, including the men who did not return from St. Nazaire.

2 Commando, Vaagso

"The frustrations of 1941 dragged on almost to the end. It had not been a good year from the offensive-action viewpoint of the men of No. 2 Commando. They had done nothing to speak of and were upset at being unemployed. However, the Vaagso raiding force announced the end to this inertia, commencing warfare on December 27th, 1941, landing on Maaloy Island and overrunning the place in less than ten minutes.

ABRAM, Cyril

Rifleman Cyril Abram was one of the seven men of No. 2 Commando who were captured after Operation Musketoon, and later executed under Hitler's Commando Execution Order, at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, Berlin, 1942.

This was a raid on an electricity generating station at Glomfjord in German occupied Norway. They were taken by submarine to a remote Fjord, completed a difficult overland route, approaching their target from the rear and successfully destroyed it. Seven were captured and later executed at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp under Hitler's infamous Commando Order. 

AMESBURY, Alfred Edmund

Corporal Alfred Amesbury, 3 Troop, was awarded the MM in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Italy.

Source
London Gazettes Supp. 36349, page 519.
 
Notes
On the National Archives file WO/373/4/320 his rank is shown as Trooper
 

ANCHOR, John Robert

Corporal John Anchor, 6 Troop, was awarded the MM for his gallantry during Operation Healing 2 at Spilje Albania.

The citation for his award is on our report on the Operation. [view report.]

The death of Cpl. John Robert Anchor MM, from Chelmsford, Essex, was announced in Commando Association newsletter 56 issued March 1973.

Medal Source
London Gazettes Supp. 36730, page 4570.
CVA Gallery.
 

ASHCROFT, Arthur

L/Cpl Ashcroft was wounded and taken POW at St Nazaire.

Posted 25/4/40 to 'X' Company 1st Liverpool Scottish before volunteering for the Independent Companies. He was attached to No 4 (Liverpool Scottish) Platoon of No 4 Independent Company based at the time in Paignton. Then joined No 2 Commando 5 troop on its formation in Feb.1941. He was injured and captured during Operation Chariot - St Nazaire on the 28/29th March 1942.

BANTING, Gareth Bernard (Reverend )

Padre of No 2 Commando. Captain Reverend Gareth Banting was killed in action at Sarande.

From the No 2 Commando War Diary " Revd. Banting takes party from 3 Tp. to bury Capt. Parsons, Lieut. Coyle, Gnr. Clarke, and Pte. Lyons. After burial he moved fwd. to bury German dead in the same posn., but is blown up on a mine. Stretcher party finds he has died of wounds - carried back to Sarande by M.O. before nightfall." 

BARE, Jack Stormont

From the No.2 Commando War Diary : "5th February 1944 Captain Jack Stormont Bare of No.2 Commando was buried in the afternoon in the British Naval Cemetery at Vis, the first British serviceman to be interred there for over 130 years. The body was brought from the billet draped in a White Ensign (a Union Jack not being available) by 6 brother Officers. A piper from the Scottish (No.5) troop played a lament and the body was placed on the deck of a schooner.
 

BARRON, Robert James

Sgt. Robbie Barron 2 Commando
Sergeant Robert Barron, 1 troop, was one of the Commando contingent who participated in the St. Nazaire raid on ML 446. Post war in 1998 he was appointed M.B.E. (Civil Division) for services to the London Scottish Regimental Association and the St. Nazaire Society.
 
Sources
St Nazaire Society.
London Gazettes Supp. 55155, page B15.
Commando Association newsletter 81.
 

BARRY, John

Private John Barry died of wounds inflicted during the action at Salerno.

We have a document in our Gallery that outlines these details. He died of wounds that he  "received at Dragone Hill, Salerno, on the 13th September 1943 " and that he "died at 67 General Hospital CMF".*

Click  here to view the document:  Casualties and Missing.

BELLRINGER, Roy

LSgt Bellringer served with 1 troop and took part in the raid at St Nazaire.  He was on board ML 446 and was evacuated back to the UK. In July 1942 he was part of the No 2 Commando Boxing Team. We have numerous photos in the gallery of him both before and after St Nazaire, and in an image of the boxing team.

He then left No 2 Commando to become an NCO Instructor at the Commando Depot, Achnacarry.  He was part of the PT Team alongside CSMI Frickleton and Sgt Bissell.*

BENNETT, Derick S.

Private Derick Bennett, 6 troop, died during operations at Salerno.

We have a document in our Gallery that outlines these details. He was killed in action  "on the 13th September 1943 at Dragone Hill, Salerno", and that he was originally buried by house at the top of the steps on the West side of Hill. Religious ceremony. Map ref. 606307." He was buried in a communal grave with Capt. Mason and LCpl Formoy.

BIRNEY, David Leslie

 Captain David Birney, Officer Commanding 2 troop, was killed during the raid at St Nazaire. He was one of the commando contingent on ML 447 and OIC of an assault group. The date of his death is confirmed by French authorities, and the CWGC, whose records show that he died of wounds. 
 
Born in India, David Birney later attended Trinity College graduating with a BA in 1938.

BLACK, Graeme Delamere

Captain Graeme Black DSO, MC, was executed whilst a Prisoner of War. He was one of the seven Commandos of No. 2 Commando who were captured after Operation Musketoon, and later executed under Hitler's Commando Execution Order, at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, Berlin, 1942.

He was awarded the MC in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in successful combined operations, against the enemy at Vaagso and Maaloy.

He was awarded the DSO in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the field.

BLACKWELL, Alun Trevor

In October 1939 Alun Blackwell enlisted with the South Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales Volunteers). When Independent Companies were raised he went with them as part of Scissorforce to Norway. He volunteered for the new No.2 Commando. Later he was handpicked from No.2 Commando for an SOE operation in Tunisa in 1941. 

BLISSETT, Harry Harold

Maj. Blissett 2 commando
Major Blissett served as a Captain in No 4 Independent Company and No 2 Commando. He was appointed Brigade Major in the 1st Special Service Bde in preparation for DDay.  In 1945 he received a MiD for "gallant and distinguished services in NW Europe."
(Source: London Gazettes Supp. 36994, page 1558.)
 

BLOWER, Alfred

Private Alfred Blower 2 Commando

Private Alfred Blower, 4 troop, died of wounds after the action at Salerno. [1]+[2]

We have a document in our Gallery that outlines these details. He died of wounds that he  "received at Dragone Hill, Salerno, on the 13th September 1943 " and that he "died at 67 General Hospital CMF". [2]+[see notes]

BONDY, Theodor

Driver Theodore Bondy BEM 2 Commando

Driver Theodor Bondy was awarded the BEM (Military Divison) in 1943 in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the Middle East. 

Sources
London Gazettes Supp 36209, page 4543
CVA Gallery No 2 Commando images
 

BRADLEY, Eric

Sergeant Eric Bradley was killed during the period when No 2 were a Para Commando unit.

He is not listed as a Commando on the CWGC database, however his name is on the Wesminster Abbey Commando Roll of Honour.

BRADLEY, Richard

LSgt Richard Bradley MM 2 Commando

Lance Sergeant Richard Bradley, 1 troop,  was awarded the MM for gallant and distinguished services in the field relating to his successful escape in October 1943 after being wounded and captured during the raid at St Nazaire in March 1942. He was one of the Commando contingent on board ML 457.

BROOME, Richard Frank

Captain Richard Broome, OC 5 troop, died during operations at Salerno.

Richard Broome volunteered from the South Lancs for the Independent Companies when they were raised. He joined No 4 Independent Company as a Lieutenant and saw action during an operation in Norway.  Later he embarked with a contingent from No 2 as part of Force X sailing for Gibraltar and Malta.

BROWN, Robert Hall

Lance Sergeant Robert Brown, No 2 Commando, was awarded the MM [1] in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the field. He was one of the Commando contingent that took part in operations from HMS Triumph against the Palermo and Messina railway on the 29/30 August 1941.

BUCKMASTER, Eric

Eric served in No 2 Commando 5 troop from mid 1942 until the Commando was disbanded in 1946. During the Salerno operations Eric was wounded and sent for medical treatment to North Africa. He returned to the unit in November 1943. 

Eric, aged 96, is still an active member of the CVA. Follow this link to read more of his Recollections.

His older brother Stanley Buckmaster also served in 5 troop, joining them when the Commando was reinforced after Salerno. 

BUCKMASTER, Eric, Memories of No 2 Commando

Over the last few years Eric Buckmaster, No 2 Commando, has been a wonderful help to this Archive by providing information in response to our many questions, not only about those who served with him in No 2 Commando 5 troop, but also in providing other more general information about events and places.
 
Eric served alongside his brother Stanley Buckmaster in 5 troop. Here are some extracts from a few of his responses.

BUCKMASTER, Stanley Owen

Stanley served in No 2 Commando 5 troop joining them whilst they were overseas after the Salerno raid.

His younger brother Eric Buckmaster also served in 5 troop.

When Stanley died the President of the Commando Association, Henry Brown, wrote this obituary which was published in Commando Association newsletter 110 of March 2000.

BURKE, Edward

Sgt Edward 'Tiny' Burke BEM, 2 Commando

Edward 'Tiny' Burke enlisted into the 1st Bn Liverpool Scots TA (QOCH ) and volunteered for the Independent Companies. He was posted to No 4 Independent Company on the 23rd April 1940 and took part in the landings at Bodo Norway as part of Scissor Force. In February 1941 he joined the newly raised No 2 Commando and served as a Sergeant in 5 troop until it was disbanded at the end of the war.

BURN, Michael Clive

Capt. Burn MC 2 Commando
Captain Michael Burn, 6 troop, was awarded the MC for gallant and distinguished service during the raid at St Nazaire.  He was i/c of the commando contingent on board ML 192 and was taken prisoner after the raid.
 

BURNS, Charles

Gunner Charles Burns, 6 troop, died during operations at Salerno.

We have a document in our gallery with more details. He was "killed in action at Dragone Hill, Salerno." It goes on to say that he was "buried as far as is known by the 6th Yorks and Lancs on the forward slope of hill."  In the same document against the death and burial of Fus W. Davies it adds " (see 1612571 Pte. Burns. C. ) "

CAMPBELL, Norman Murray Priggen

Lance Sergeant Norman Campbell was killed during the 6 week period in February/March when No 2 Commando were placed "in the line" in Italy under 5 Corps.

He is referred to in the diary entry for February 1945 of Victor Miller of No 2 Commando, "Mon 26th  Thing are pretty sticky, my mates in 3 troop are catching it, Bob, Brampton, Bill, Campbell, Jocko, Timber ...all dead."

CANT, Evelyn Arthur George

Cpl Cant was in 4 troop of No.2 Commando.

He attended Achnacarry as part of one of the Police Intakes being a member of Essex Police Force. There is a more about him in the No.2 Commando history section - The Men.  His last known rank in the Commando was Corporal.  From London Gazettes we know he was later posted to OCTU and commissioned as 2/Lt. on the 7th April 1945.  It is not known if he was still with the Commando at this point.  Source: London Gazettes 11 May 1945; Supplement: 37077; Page: 2506

CARRICK, George

Lance Corporal George Carrick, 3 troop, died during operations at Salerno.
 
We have a document in our Gallery with details that he was killed in action on the 13th September at Dragone Hill. He was initially buried there (Map ref 602409).
Click  here to view the document: Casualties and Missing.
 

CHEETHAM, Gerald

Fusilier Gerald Cheetham, Heavy Weapons Troop, died of illness (pneumonia)  whilst on active service in Italy [1].
 
A former pupil of Ashton Grammar School, Gerald Cheetham joined the Metropolitan Police. In July 1942 he volunteered for the Commandos [2]. Prior to this whilst serving as a  Police Constable on " G " Division, Metropolitan Police, he  was awarded the King's commendation for brave conduct in Civil Defence during an air raid [3]
 

CHURCHILL, John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming (Lt Col)

After a brief spell as 2i/c No 5 Commando, the then Major John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill (later affectionately known by some as Mad Jack) moved to 2i/c No 3 Commando. Shortly after Lt Col Newman was taken prisoner at St Nazaire in 1942, Major Churchill was promoted Lt Col. to replace him as OC No 2 Commando. Lt Col Churchill remained OC until he was also taken prisoner in 1944. 


An account by Bob Bishop No 2 Commando from his history of No 2:

CLARK, James

Gunner James Clark was awarded the MM in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the field. 

Sources
London Gazettes Supp. 36983, page 1427.
 

CLARKE, Alfred John Douglas

Gunner Alfred Clarke was killed in action at Sarande.

No 2 Commando War Diary entry:  " 9th Oct'44. Sarande - 3 troop moving round left flank come upon enemy positions suddenly. Heavy spandau and rifle grenade fire. Capt. Parsons MC is hit. Lt Coyle takes over but is hit in the leg. Moves forward again but is killed by grenade."

COX, Cecil Ernest Robert

Corporal Cecil Cox, 1 troop,  died of wounds he received during a raid on the village of Grohote in the island of Solta [1+2].

The No 2 Commando War Diary dated 23rd March 1944 states "Cpl. Cox, wounded in the Solta raid and who died of his wounds the previous evening, was buried in the British Naval Cemetery, Vis." [2].

COYLE, James Albert

Lieutenant James Coyle was killed in action at Sarande. 

No 2 Commando War Diary entry:  " 9th Oct'44. Sarande - 3 troop moving round left flank come upon enemy positions suddenly. Heavy spandau and rifle grenade fire. Capt. Parsons MC is hit. Lt Coyle takes over but is hit in the leg. Moves forward again but is killed by grenade."

CRAIG, Robinson Ostle

Private Robinson Craig died during operations at Salerno.

We have a document in our Gallery with details that relate to his death. The document states he "was killed in action on the 11th September at Dragon La Hill, near Vietri, and buried at Dragon La Hill on the 12th September." It states the grave was marked with a cross, however there is no known grave for Pte Craig and he is remembered with honour on the Cassino Memorial.

CRIPPIN, Ronald

RQMS Ron Crippin 2 Commando
Ron Crippin, then a Corporal in the HQ troop, took part in the raid at St Nazaire. He sailed on board ML 447 and was evacuated back to the UK.  He was awarded the BEM ( Military Division) "in recognition of distinguished services during the raid". (1)
 
He had previously seen action with 2 Ind. Coy., in May 1940 at Bodo, Norway, as part of Scissors Force. (2)
 

CURTIS, Eric Gordon

Private Eric Curtis was one of the seven men of No. 2 Commando who were captured after Operation Musketoon, and later executed under Hitler's Commando Execution Order, at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, Berlin, 1942.

DAVIES, Ronald John

Corporal Ronald Davies was killed in a training accident. The No 2 Commando War Diary dated 27th March 1944 states "Cpl. R.J. Davies (No 2 troop) accidentally killed from a rifle shot whilst instructing a Squad."

His brother 3909503 Private Douglas James Davie, aged 22 and serving in the Welch Regiment, died on the 25th December 1943 and is buried at Ancona War Cemetery.

DAVIES, Wyndam Francis

Fusilier Wyndam Davies, 6 troop, died during operations at Salerno.

We have a document in our gallery that gives details of his death. He was "killed in action at Dragone Hill Salerno. " It goes on to state" Buried as far as is known by the 6th Yorks and Lancs Regt., on the forward slope of hill. " It also adds " ( see 1612571 Pte Burns. C.) "

DAY, Arthur Frank

Private Arthur Day died during operations at Salerno.

We have a document in our Gallery with details that relate to his death. The document states he "was killed in action on the 17th September at Piegolelle (aka Piegolette), Italy." It also states he was buried there with 2 others.

Click  here to view the document: Casualties and Missing.

DAY, Stanley Ambrose

Capt Stanley Day MC 2 Commando
Captain Stanley Day, adjutant of No 2 Commando, was awarded the MC  in recognition of gallant and distinguished services during the raid on St. Nazaire. He was one of Lt. Col. Newman's HQ party on board MGB 314 and was taken prisoner after the raid.
 
Sources
London Gazettes Supp. 37162, page 3493
St Nazaire Society website.
 

DE NOBRIGA, Derek John

Sgt. Derek De Nobriga, No 2 Commando, was awarded the DCM [1] in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the field. He was one of the Commando contingent that took part in operations from HMS Triumph against the Palermo and Messina railway on the 29/30 August 1941. His party could not be re-embarked and were subsequently captured. He was imprisoned at Stalag 344 Lamsdorf and his prisoner of war number was 220792. [2]

DEAKER, George James

Lance Bombardier George Deaker, 5 troop, was killed during operations at Lake Comacchio, Italy.

George Deaker joined No 2 Commando during the period in Italy when they sought replacements from those serving in units in North Africa. George volunteered from the Royal Artillery. His Commando training after selection would have taken place in Italy. (Source: Eric Buckmaster 2 Cdo.5tp)

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