No 7 Commando

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'Layforce'

Three UK based Army Commando units, Nos. 7, 8, and 11 Commandos, were initially combined within 'Force Z' for operations initially envisaged against Rhodes in the Eastern Mediterranean.  Other elements of the Force included a number of men from No.3 Commando and the Canoe section of No.8 (Guards) Commando.  They sailed from the Isle of Arran on the 31st January 1941, and arrived at Suez on the 7th March.

7 Commando

The first troops of this Commando formed up in several locations.  ‘A’ Troop in Gamblingay under Capt. Wylie R.E. while the H.Q. Staff came together in Billericay Essex. A small party of ‘B’ Troop formed in St. Albans and the remainder in Newmarket under Capt G March Phillips who was later to command No.62 Commando. After this scattered beginning all the various sections came together finally in Felixstowe at the end of July 1940. H.Q. being in a school in Station Rd Felixstowe.

7 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. 

ASHFORD-RUSSELL, Brian Harborough

No 7 Commando
Served in No. 7 Commando as a Lieutenant. Appointed M.B.E. (Military Division) in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Italy serving with the Intelligence Corps having left the Commando. 
 
On the Ist january 1968 he was appointed O.B.E. (Civil Division). 
 
The death of Major Brian Harborough Ashford-Russell OBE of Alresford, Hants., was announced in Commando Association newsletter 116 issued Feb. 2003.
 
Sources
MBE - London Gazettes Supp. 36850, page 5845.

ASTBURY, Albert Ernest

No 6 Commando
No 7 Commando
Sergeant Albert Astbury, No.6 Commando, died during operations in Germany [1]. At the time of his death his Commando were engaged in fighting at the River Aller crossing. He had earlier served with No.7 Commando and was taken prisoner of war in 1941 [2][2a] but escaped in 1943 [3]. He then joined No.6 Commando.
Extract from the Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail Tuesday 24 April 1945.

BEASLEY, Frederick

No 7 Commando
Corporal Frederick Beasley was initially reported missing presumed prisoner of war. He was later presumed killed in action during operations in Crete as part of Layforce. 
 
Sources
CWGC.
British Army Casualty Lists 1939-45.
 

CROSBIE, John

No 7 Commando
Private John Crosbie died during operations in Crete [1].
 
Extract from the Dumfries and Galloway Standard - Saturday 12 June 1943
"Dumfries Commando Dies Of Wounds :-  James Crosbie, 32 Shakespeare Street, Dumfries, has received intimation from the War Office that his son, Pte. John Crosbie, K.O.S.B., who was reported as wounded and missing while serving as a Commando in Crete two years ago, must now be presumed to have died of wounds." [2].
 

EDNEY, Frank Leslie

No 7 Commando
Private Frank Edney was reported missing 2 June 1941 during operations in Crete; found to have been taken prisoner and subsequently transported to Stalag 8B Lamsdorf Poland (renamed Stalag 344).
 
Sources
Casualty Lists 1939-45 / National Archives file WO417/28 and WO417/29.
Prisoners of War 1715-1945 / National Archives file WO392/1 and WO392/11.
 

ELSE, John

No 7 Commando
Sergeant John Else, No 7 Commando and Layforce, was accidentally killed whilst attached to No 1 Special Service Detachment.
 
Sources
CWGC.
British Army Casualty Lists 1939-45.
 

FLYNN, John

No 3 Commando
Lance Corporal John Flynn, a radio operator, was awarded the MM in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the combined attack on Dieppe on 19 August 1942 [1].
 
Citation

GREENWOOD, Stephen

No 7 Commando
Trooper Stephen Greenwood died whilst a prisoner of war after being captured at Crete, and transported to Germany. He spent the rest of the war in Stalag 3D near Berlin. He died during a forced march West whilst still a POW, when they were fired on by a Russian tank at Waganitz.
 
Sources
CWGC.
Prisoners of War 1939 - 45 / National Archives file WO392/1.
Casualty Lists / National Archives file WO417/93.

HILDRETH, Sidney James

No 7 Commando
LCpl. Sidney Hildreth, formerly 7 Commando, was killed whilst attached to 'L' Detachment SAS.  He left the Commando to join the SAS on the 30th August 1941. He was fatally injured parachuting into the SAS first raid, Operation Squatter, an abortive attack against airfields at Tmimi and Gazala. 
 

NOLTING, F.G.

No 7 Commando

Sergeant F.G. Nolting was reported missing 2 June 1941 during operations in Crete; found to have been taken prisoner and subsequently transported to Stalag 4C, Wistritz bei Teplitz, Sudetenland (part of former Czechoslovakia). 

Sources
British Army Casualty Lists / National Archives file WO417/28.
Prisoners of War 1715-1945 / National Archives file WO392/1.

PATERNOSTER, Harry

No 7 Commando
Private Harry Paternoster died of heatstroke.
 
Sources
CWGC.
War Diary A Bn,Layforce, file ref National Archives WO 218/168, Entry for the 6th April "The death from Heatstroke of 5827448 Pte Paternoster H. occurred in 13th General Hospital, Suez."
 

REDWOOD, Albert C.

No 7 Commando
Sergeant Albert Redwood died [1] having left the Commando and joined Force 136, the S.O.E.  At the time of his death he was part of Operation Ramrose, team Fox at Myothit - Irrawaddy. 
 
Extract from a Force 136 battle casualty report about his death [2].

RICHARDS, Branson

No 7 Commando
The exact circumstances of the death of Captain Branson Richards are not known to this archive.
 
He  was the son of Frank Branson Richards and of Harriet Louise Richards (nee Bowman), of San Francisco, California, U.S.A. His brother John Edward also fell.
 
Sources
CWGC
Award - London Gazettes Supp. 36563, page: 2856.
 

SEEKINGS, Albert Reginald

Albert Reginald Seekings 7 Commando and SAS
No 7 Commando
SAS
Albert Reginald Seekings served in No.7 Commando. Due to illness he did not take part in the Crete landings after which he joined 'L' Detachment SAS [1][2].
 
Distinguished Conduct Medal
Lance Sergeant, 'L' Detachment SAS, Middle East.
Recommendation

SEEKINGS, Robert William

Robert William Seekings 7 Commando and SAS
No 7 Commando
SAS
Private Robert Seekings, No. 7 Commando, was wounded 28 May 1941 during operations in Crete whilst his unit were designated as 'D' Battalion of Layforce [1]
Service History [2]
13 February 1938 enlisted at Ely into the T.A.*
3 September 1939 mobilised with the Cambridgeshire Regiment.
1940 volunteered for the Commandos.
1941 No.7 Commando designated as 'D' Bn., Layforce.
Served with Layforce in North Africa and Crete.

STEINKE, R.F.

No 7 Commando

Corporal R.F. Steinke was reported missing 2 June 1941 during operations in Crete; found to have been taken prisoner and subsequently transported to Stalag 383 Hohenfels, Germany.
 
Sources
Casualty Lists 1939-45 / National Archives file WO417/33.
Prisoners of War 1715-1945 / National Archives file WO392/1.

WESTWATER, Alexander

No 7 Commando
SAS
Sergeant Alexander Westwater DCM, formerly 7 Commando and SAS,  was killed in Italy after an explosion in what is described as a battle accident whilst serving with the Royal Artillery (AFHQ).
[Source: Royal Artillery Deaths 1939-1946, Form RH, stamped RA Record Office Field Branch]
 

WHITE, Harold

Harold White 7 Commando and SAS
No 7 Commando
Harold White was awarded the Military Medal for his gallantry whilst a Corporal serving with 'L' Detachment, Special Air Service Brigade, having left the Commando after operations in Crete.

 

Citation for the MM recommended by Lt. Col. A.D. Stirling, D.S.O.

WYLIE, Kenneth Neil

No 7 Commando
Temporary Major Kenneth Wylie, B.A. was second in command of No.7 Commando. During operations on Crete he was placed in command replacing the sick Lt. Col. Colvin and was subsequently captured by the enemy [1]
  • He was transported to Germany and imprisoned at Oflag O9/AH at Spangenberg [2].

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