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

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
Coldstream Guards
Military Medal (MM)
Bar to the Military Medal
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]

BAKER, Kenneth

No 8 Commando
Independent Companies and Special Service Battalions
Devonshire Regiment
Killed in action or died of wounds

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.

BARNES, George

George Barnes MM Special Boat Section
No 8 Commando
SBS
Grenadier Guards
King's Regiment
Military Medal (MM)
Bar to the Military Medal
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].

BENNETT, Robert

No 8 Commando
SAS
Grenadier Guards
Military Medal (MM)
British Empire Medal (BEM)
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].

BOLLAND, Stanley

Stanley Bolland
No 8 Commando
SAS
Scots Guards 2nd Bn
Killed in action or died of wounds
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.

BOOTH, John Hamilton

No 8 Commando
SBS
Seaforth Highlanders
Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM)
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

BREWITT, John

No 8 Commando
Royal Army Ordnance Corps
Died on active service
Private John Brewitt died as a result of an accident.
 
Sources
CWGC.
Casualty Lists 1939-45 / National Archives file WO417/24.
 

BRITTLEBANK, John

No 3 Commando
No 8 Commando
SBS
Royal Artillery
Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM)
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

BROOK, Harold

No 8 Commando
SAS
Grenadier Guards
Killed in action or died of wounds
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
Scots Guards 2nd Bn
Military Medal (MM)
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.
 
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BROWN, Leslie Jock

Cpl. Leslie Brown 1st SAS
'Layforce'
SAS
Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry
Killed in action or died of wounds

Corporal Leslie Brown had previously served in the Commandos before joining 'B' Squadron of the 1st Special Air Service. He died when his jeep patrol was attacked whilst en route to harass the enemy in Southern Tunisia.

BUNN, Gerrard John Gunton

No 8 Commando
Coldstream Guards

Lance Corporal Gerrard Bunn was attested into the Coldstream Guards on  9 January 1932. He was wounded serving in No.8 Commando on 17 August 1941 during operations in Cyrenaica. He transferred to the Royal Corps of Signals on 29 June 1942.

BUXTON, Leslie, J.

No 8 Commando
Royal Artillery
Lance Bombardier Leslie Buxton was wounded 12 June 1941 during operations in Libya [1].
  • 18 January 1943 reported missing during operations in Libya later found to be a prisoner of war [2][3].
Sources
[1] Casualty Lists / National Archives file WO417/26.

CAMPBELL, Robin Francis

No 8 Commando
General List
Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
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..

DICKASON, Samuel Edgar

No 3 Commando
No 8 Commando
East Surrey Regiment
Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
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.

DRONGIN, Anthony

No 8 Commando
SAS
Scots Guards
Killed in action or died of wounds

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.

DUNNE, Philip Russell Rendell

No 3 Commando
No 8 Commando
2 Special Service (Commando) Brigade
Royal Horse Guards
Military Cross (MC)
Captain Philip Dunne, Special Service Bde. HQ., was awarded the Military Cross for gallant and distinguished service during the Salerno Landings.
Recommendation
Salerno Bay 9-16 September 1943

FASSAM, Joseph William

Joseph William Fassam 1st SRS
No 8 Commando
Middle East Commando
SAS
Royal Artillery
Killed in action or died of wounds
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;

KEALY, Michael Robert Bayley

No 8 Commando
Middle East Commando
SBS
Devonshire Regiment
Mentioned in Despatches
Served in No.8 Commando and Layforce [1].
Commanded No.1 S.B.S. Middle East after departure of Major R.J. Courtney M.C. [2].
Returned to the UK 28 July 1943 [2].
Senior Officer in command of the newly formed 'A' and 'B' Special Boat Groups, 2  Special Boat Section [2].

LACEY, Leonard Frank

No 8 Commando
Somerset Light Infantry
Died on active service

Private Leonard Lacey died whilst a prisoner of war. He had been assigned from the Commando to Middle East Detachment 2, later redesignated 2nd Special Service Detachment (SSD 2), in Burma.

LAYCOCK, Robert Edward

Major General Robert Edward Laycock
Special Service Brigade
Royal Horse Guards
Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG)
Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB)
Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
Knight of the Order of St John (KStJ)
Order of Oranje Nassau with Swords (Netherlands)
Legion of Merit (USA)

Born 1907; educated at Eton College and Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst; joined Royal Horse Guards, Mar 1927, 2nd Lt, 1927; Lt 1930; Capt 1934; married Angela Claire Louise (née Dudley Ward), 1935; instructor on anti-gas and air defence measures, School of Military Engineering, Chatham, Dec 1937; General Staff Officer, Grade 3 (passive air defence) in department of Chief of Imperial General S

LEWES, John Steel

No 8 Commando
SAS
Welsh Guards
Killed in action or died of wounds
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.

MAYNARD, John Edward Trestrail

No 8 Commando
Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry
Killed in action or died of wounds
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

MILLER, John

No 8 Commando
East Surrey Regiment
Killed in action or died of wounds
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.

MOORE, Sydney Henry

No 7 Commando
No 8 Commando
51ME Commando
-
Post war member of the Commando Association from Tadcaster in Yorkshire. His brother Albert served in No.3 Commando.
 
Sources
Commando Association newsletters 64, 77, 105, and others.
 

O'SHEA, James Andrew

No 8 Commando
Irish Guards
Sergeant James O'Shea was reported missing 21 June 1942 during operations in Cyrenaica, later found to be a prisoner of war. Post war member of the Commando Association from Truro.
 
Sources
Casualty Lists / National Archives files WO417/46, WO417/50 and WO417/94

PROWSE, Alfred Charles

No 8 Commando
Independent Companies and Special Service Battalions
Devonshire Regiment
Killed in action or died of wounds
Lance Corporal Alfred Prowse died during operations in Libya with 'B' Battalion Layforce.
 
Sources
CWGC.
Casualty Lists / National Archives file WO417/34.
 

RICHARDSON, Arthur

No 8 Commando
Royal Armoured Corps
Killed in action or died of wounds
Company Sergeant Major Arthur Richardson was reported missing presumed killed in action during operations in Burma. He is believed to have been one of a contingent from Layforce who were attached to Middle East Detachment 2, later known as 2nd Special Service Detachment or SSD2, for operations in the Far East.
 
Sources

SCANES, Lewis Ralph

No 8 Commando
1st Royal Dragoons Royal Armoured Corps
Died on war service
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

SENIOR, Fred

Fred Senior 1st SAS
No 8 Commando
Middle East Commando
SAS
Scots Guards 2nd Bn
Killed in action or died of wounds

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.

SHORTALL, James Patrick

SAS
Royal Fusiliers
Executed
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.
 

SILLETT, Thomas John

No 8 Commando
SAS
Somerset Light Infantry 5th Bn
Died on active service
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.
 

SLADE, E.A.H.

Layforce
Devonshire Regiment
12 June 1941 wounded during operations in Cyrenaica, unit 4 Special Service Bn. [1] [notes]
6 June 1944 wounded N.W.E. serving with his Regiment, rank Lance Corporal [2].
 
Sources
[1] Casualty Lists / National Archives file WO417/36.

STONE, Sidney James

No 8 Commando
SAS
Scots Guards
Killed in action or died of wounds

Sergeant Sidney Stone 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.

TANNER, Ralph Esmond Selby

No 3 Commando
No 8 Commando
Royal Berkshire Regiment
King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Mentioned in Despatches
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].

TERRY, John Leslie

No 8 Commando
Grenadier Guards
Died on war service
Died in the UK
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.
 

WELLS, Percy Arthur

No 8 Commando
Royal Horse Artillery
Killed in action or died of wounds
Gunner Percy Wells was killed in action during operations in the Western Desert.
 
Sources
CWGC.
Casualty Lists 1939-45 / National Archives file WO417/48.
 

WILSON, Robert

No 8 Commando
SBS
Royal Artillery
Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
Bar to the Distinguished Service Order
Mentioned in Despatches
Territorial Efficiency Medal
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.

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