No 8 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.

8 Commando

History of the Unit

8 Commando

The Commando was formed on the 23rd June 1940 reaching full strength in September at Burnham on Crouch, Essex. Mostly made up of members of the various Guards Brigades, it became unofficially known as No 8 (Guards) Commando. 

8 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. 

ALMONDS, John Edward

No 8 Commando
SAS
Sergeant John Almonds, known as Gentleman Jim, served in No.8 Commando and embarked with them to the Middle East as part of Layforce. When his Commando unit was being disbanded he transferred to the newly raised  'L' Detachment SAS [1]
  • Awarded the Military Medal in recognition of gallant and distinguished service during SAS operations at Nofilla Areodrome and Aghelia [2].

BAKER, Kenneth

No 8 Commando
Independent Companies and Special Service Battalions

Corporal Kenneth Baker was killed in action during operations in Libya with Layforce.

Sources
CWGC.
British Army Casualties List / National Archives file WO 417/35.

Notes
4 Special Service Bn. was a very short lived title redesignation of Commando Units and was no longer in use at the time of his death.  'B' Bn Layforce was made up of men from No 8 Commando whose unit had been part of 4 Special Service Bn.

BARNES, George

George Barnes MM Special Boat Section
No 8 Commando
SBS
Sergeant George Barnes was attached to No.8 Commando from the Grenadier Guards. He was selected for the new Folbot Troop commanded by Captain Roger Courtney, which would later become No.1 Special Boat Section, embarking with them for the Middle East as part of Layforce [1].
  • 24 February 1942 awarded the Military Medal in recognition of gallant and distinguished service in the Middle East on 11 June 1941 [2][2a].
Recommendation
Special Boat Section M.E. HMS Medway Alexandria.

BENNETT, Robert

No 8 Commando
SAS
Lance Sergeant Robert Bennett joined 'L' Detachment, S.A.S. Brigade on the disbandment of No.8 Commando. He was awarded the Military Medal in recognition of gallant and distinguished service during the December 1941 S.A.S. raid on Tamet areodrome. He had participated in five previous operations [1][2][3].
  • 1 January 1963 (Warrant Officer 1) (RSM of 21 SAS) awarded British Empire Medal [4][5].
Sources
[1] London Gazette 35799, page 5142.

BOLLAND, Stanley

Stanley Bolland
No 8 Commando
SAS
Guardsman Stanley Bolland was serving with  "L" Detachment, S.A.S. Bde., Special Air Service Regiment, A.A.C. at the time of his death, having previously served in No. 8 Commando. He died during Operation Squatter, a raid on Axis airfields at Tmimi and Gazala, West of Tobruk in Libya.
 
Sources
CWGC.

BOOTH, John Hamilton

No 8 Commando
SBS
Corporal John Booth was attached to No.8 Commando until joining the SBS [1][2]. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in recognition of gallant and distinguished service in the Middle East [3][4].
Recommendation
"For particularly meritorious service in action against an armed German Naval Auxiliary vessel off Suda Bay on the 21st. April, 1942, when his courage and skilful shooting with the Bren gun were worthy of the highest praise.

BREMNER, George

No 8 Commando
SBS
Sergeant George Bremner, having left the Commando and joined the S.B.S., was awarded the Military Medal in recognition of gallant and distinguished service in the Middle East [1].
 
Recommendation

BRITTLEBANK, John

No 3 Commando
No 8 Commando
SBS
Bombardier John Brittlebank served in both No.3 and No.8 Commando [1] before joining 1 S.B.S. [2].  He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in recognition of gallant and distinguished service in the Field [3].
Recommendation
"On the night of the 5th of September 1942, Bombardier Brittlebank accompanied Captain Wilson in a Folbot to make an attack with experimental torpedoes on an enemy ship in Crotone harbour.

BROOK, Harold

No 8 Commando
SAS
Lance Corporal Harold Brook died [1] during operations in France with 1st Special Air Service Regiment having left the Commandos. He was reported as missing in action during Operation Houndforce [2]. 
 

BROUGH, William Gordon

No 8 Commando
SAS
Lance Sergeant William Brough, formerly No.8 Commando and known as Jimmy, was awarded the Military Medal whilst serving with the Special Air Service Brigade in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the field.
 
See more on this entry in our Forum [view].
 
Sources
London Gazettes Supp. 35799, page 5142.

BROWN, Leslie Jock

Cpl. Leslie Brown 1st SAS
51ME Commando
SAS

Corporal Leslie Brown died when his jeep patrol was attacked whilst en route to harass the enemy in Southern Tunisia. He was serving with 1st SAS  ('B' Sqn.) at the time of his death having left the Commandos. He had previously served in both No 8 Commando and 51ME Commando. 

CAMPBELL, Robin Francis

No 8 Commando
Layforce
Temporary Captain Robin Campbell was attached to the raiding party for Operation Flipper, an attack on Rommel's HQ in November 1941. Wounded and taken prisoner, he was subsequently repatriated in 1943 because of his wounds. He relinquished his commission 31 December 1944 with the honorary rank of Captain..
  • Awarded the Distinguished Service Order in recognition of gallant and distinguished service in the Middle East.
Recommendation

COULDREY, Edwin Robert

No 8 Commando
Bombardier Edwin Couldrey died during operations in Burma [1]. He is listed on a Royal Artillery Casualty Card as a battle casualty [2].
He was one of the Commandos from No 8 who were attached to the Special Service Detachments (1 & 2) and  Military Mission 204 to the Far East and in a last letter home he had written that he was "going native." [3]
 
Sources
CWGC.

DICKASON, Samuel Edgar

No 3 Commando
No 8 Commando
Company Sergeant Major Samuel Dickason served in No. 8 and No.3 Commando [1].
 
  • 13 June 1970 appointed M.B.E. (Civil Division) whilst Chief Office Clerk, House of Commons Library [2].
Sources
[1] Commando Association newsletters 83, 87, 108.
[2] London Gazettes Supp. 45117, page 6378.
 

DRONGIN, Anthony

No 8 Commando
SAS

Regimental Sergeant Major Anthony Drongin of No 8 Commando gave up his rank to join L Detachment SAS when 8 Commando was disbanded. He served as a Corporal and is reported to have died of wounds inflicted during SAS operations near Benghazi.

[Sources: CWGC, CA Newsletter 119, SAS and LRDG Roll of Honour 1941-1947.]

FASSAM, Joseph William

Joseph William Fassam 1st SRS
No 8 Commando
Middle East Commando
SAS
Lance Bombardier Joseph Fassam died during operations at Termoli Italy with the Special Raiding Squadron having left the Commando.
Service 
No. 8 Commando;  
4 Special Service Battalion;
'B' Battalion Layforce;
Royal Artillery;
Middle East Commando, 'A' Squadron;
1st SAS;
Special Raiding Squadron.
 
Sources
CWGC.
[Service and Image] The SAS and LRDG Roll of Honour 1941 -1947.
 

GILLINGHAM, Reginald John

'Layforce'
Company Quartermaster Sergeant Reginald Gillingham was reported missing presumed died during operations in Burma on 19 June 1942, his secondary unit recorded as 'B' Batallion Layforce on each of the casualty listings [1][2].
  • 2 January 1924 enlisted Royal Tank Corps aged 18. Former trade 'Shop Assistant'. Residence 'Fisherton Salisbury Wiltshire' [3].
Sources
[1] Casualty Lists 1939-45 / National Archive files WO417/57, WO417/66, WO/417/100.
[2] CWGC.

LEWES, John Steel

No 8 Commando
SAS
Lieutenant John Lewes  was serving with  "L" Detachment, S.A.S. Bde., Special Air Service Regiment, A.A.C. at the time of his death. His previous service in No. 8 Commando is mentioned in various books but nothing official confirming this has yet been found by this archive.  His name is recorded here in the hope that this can be clarified in the future. He was killed during operations against an airfield at Nofilia. 
 

MAYNARD, John Edward Trestrail

No 8 Commando
Corporal John Maynard died during operations in Tobruk (Cyrenaica Libya) whilst part of a detachment from No 8 Commando ('B' Bn. Layforce) assigned to the garrison [1][2][3].
  • 17 August 1939 awarded the Royal Humane Society's Testimonial in Vellum, for Saving Life at Sea [1].
Sources
[1] CWGC.
[2] Casualty Lists 1939-45 / National Archives file WO417/28.
[3] See Linked Content below.
 

MILLER, John

No 8 Commando
Private John Miller was one of a contingent from Layforce (No 8 Commando)  who were attached to Middle East Detachment 2, later known as 2nd Special Service Detachment or SSD2, for operations in the Far East. He was reported missing and later presumed killed in action.
 
Sources
CWGC.
British Army Casualty Lists 1939-45.

RICHARDSON, Arthur

No 8 Commando
Company Sergeant Major Arthur Richardson was reported missing presumed killed in action during operations in Burma. He was one of a contingent from Layforce (No 8 Commando)  who were attached to Middle East Detachment 2, later known as 2nd Special Service Detachment or SSD2, for operations in the Far East.
 
Sources
CWGC.
British Army Casualty Lists 1939-45.
 

SCANES, Lewis Ralph

No 8 Commando
Trooper Lewis Scanes was reported missing presumed died during operations in Burma on or shortly after 19 June 1942, his secondary unit shown simply as "Commando" on each of the casualty listings [1][2].
  • The Westminster Abbey Commando Roll of Honour lists his Unit as No.8 Commando [3][notes]
Sources
[1] Casualty Lists 1939-45 / National Archive files WO417/57, WO417/66, WO/417/94, WO/417/100.
[2] CWGC

SENIOR, Fred

Fred Senior 1st SAS
No 8 Commando
Middle East Commando
SAS

Lance Sergeant Fred Senior died when his jeep patrol was attacked whilst en route to harass the enemy in Southern Tunisia. He was serving with 1st SAS  ('B' Sqn.) at the time of his death having left the Commandos. He had previously served in both No 8 Commando and the Middle East Commando, and 'L' Detachment SAS.

SHORTALL, James Patrick

SAS
Corporal James Shortall was taken prisoner of war and executed whilst serving with the 2nd Special Air Service Regiment.
He had previously served in No.8 Commando in October 1940 and by March 1941 had moved to No.3 Commando. In April 1943 he was posted to 62 Commando SSRF whilst in North Africa which formed the foundation on which 2nd SAS was raised on 13 May.
 
Sources
CWGC.
Full details in the SAS and LRDG Roll of Honour 1941-47.
 

SILLETT, Thomas John

No 8 Commando
SAS
Private Thomas Sillett died of illness (diptheria) whilst serving with 1st SAS, 'A' Sqn.  He had joined No 8 Commando in 1940 and embarked with them for the Middle East at the end of January 1941 as part of Layforce.  He later left the Commandos and joined 'L' Detachment SAS in June 1942.
 

SUTHERLAND, David (Lt Col)

No 8 Commando
SBS

(The following is from the Times obituary.)
 
LIEUTENANT David Sutherland and Royal Marine John Duggan were the only two to return from Operation “Anglo”, a raid on the Italian-occupied island of Rhodes by the Special Boat Service in September 1942. The SBS team was pursued relentlessly; it had attacked two airfields and destroyed aircraft positioned to support Rommel’s threatened advance on Cairo and to bomb supply convoys to beleaguered Malta. 

TANNER, Ralph Esmond Selby

No 3 Commando
No 8 Commando
Private Ralph Esmond Selby Tanner was Lt. Evelyn Waugh's batman [1][3].  He received a Mention in Despatches in recognition of distinguished service in Crete 1941 [2][3].
  • 1 January 1942 commissioned 2nd Lieutenant with the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry [4].
  • 19 August 1946 granted honorary rank of Captain [5].
Sources
[1] Oral interview held at the National Army Museum ref. 1990-04-238.

TERRY, John Leslie

No 8 Commando
Lance Corporal John Terry, 2 troop,  was killed by a locomotive during a night operations exercise. The Commando were based at Burnham on Crouch at the time.
 
Sources
CWGC
No 8 Commando War Diary entry 29th August 1940.  National Archives WO/218.
 

WILSON, Robert

No 8 Commando
SBS
Gunner Robert Wilson was commissioned Second Lieutenant on 2 September 1939 [1]. After volunteering for the Commandos he joined the folbot section of No.8 Commando, prior to a move to the Special Boat Section in the Middle East.
  • 24 February 1942 (Lieutenant) (Temporary Captain) (SBS) Distinguished Service Order in recognition of gallant and distinguished service in the Middle East [2][2a].
  • 24 February 1942 Mentioned in Despatches in recognition of distinguished service in the Middle East [3].

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