Layforce

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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.

BOYLE, Richard

Major Richard Boyle MC died serving with the 1st Black Watch during operations at the River Rhine crossing having left the Commando. (1) 
 
He had previously served as Captain of 'D' Company,  'D' Bn.  Layforce, and was one of those who escaped from Crete after the ill fated action there. (2)
 
In 1942 he was awarded the MC for gallant and distinguished services in the Middle East. (3)
 
Sources

BROWN, Jack

Tpr. Brown was shot and killed whilst a prisoner of war and attempting to escape.
 
On the 2nd February 1941 he was posted from the Yorkshire Hussars to the "Depot Commando Training and Holding Unit."  This Depot came into being mid December 1940 and was formally established at Geneifa beside the Great Bitter Lake under the command of Maj. D.W. Melville MC on the 25th January 1941. Its role to provide training and reinforcements for 50, 51, and 52 Commandos who were all deployed at the time, and also as a Holding Unit for Commandos.

CHEYNE, John

Jock Cheyne 11 Commando
Sgt Cheyne, 8 troop, was posted to 'L' Detachment, Special Air Service Brigade, on the 28th August 1941. He was killed during operations targetting an airfield at Timimi, west of Tobruk,  whilst attached to 'L' Detachment, Special Air Service Brigade. 

DUFFY, Joseph Aloysius

Pte. Duffy joined L Detachment, SAS, from No 11 Commando on the 28th August 1941 and was killed in training due to a parachute failure with his friend and fellow Seaforth Highlander, Pte. WarburtonLocation given as East side of the Great Bitter Lake. The pair became the Regiment's first casualties. 

FARMILOE, William Arthur

Captain Farmiloe, 3 Troop, was killed during operations at Litani River.
 
Entry in London Gazettes (Supplement 34693 page 6496)  "2nd Bn. L.R.B., Rifle Bde.—Cpl. William Arthur Farmiloe (96875) (late Cadet Lance Corporal, Winchester Coll. Contgt., Jun. Div., O.T.C.) to be 2nd Lt. 2nd Sept. 1939."
 

HILL, Francis John

Tpr. Hill died during the period of the evacuation of allied forces from Crete. Elements of Layforce were engaged in a rearguard action whilst the evacuation took place. He was attached to the Commando on the 13th January 1941.
 
Sources
Tank Museum archives re Cdo service

JOHNSTON, Robert

Corporal Robert Johnston 11 Commando
Corporal Robert Johnston died of  exhaustion and malaria whilst assigned from the Commando to Middle East Detachment 2, later redesignated 2nd Special Service Detachment (SSD 2), in Burma.
 
Some additional detail can be found on this link to a message on our Forum.
 
Sources
CWGC
His niece Mary Johnston.
 

KEITH, Douglas

Pte. Douglas Keith, formerly 11 Commando,  was posted to 'L' Detachment, Special Air Service Brigade, on the 28th August 1941, and was taken prisoner after Operation Squatter.  He died whilst being transported on the Italian prison ship SS Sebastiano Venier, after it was was torpedoed by a British submarine.

MAXWELL, Thomas Turnbull

Gdsm. Maxwell died whilst a prisoner of war.
 
The CWGC list him by his Regiment only. His name is however recorded on the Westminster Abbey Commando ROH as being a member of Layforce and dying as a Prisoner of War.  His name is therefore held on our ROH in the hope that further information establishing, or otherwise, any Commando service will come to light in the future.
 
Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery

MILLER, John

Pte. 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.

MUNRO, George

Sgt. Munro, a veteran of the Litani River raid, was killed during operations with the SBS on the island of Samos after leaving the Commando.
 
Postings
Sep   1940 - volunteered for 11 Cdo.
Mar  1941- arrive Middle East - 'C' Bn Layforce
Aug  1941- 11 Cdo absorbed into ME Cdo
Jan   1943 - volunteered  for SAS
Mar 1943 - posted to D Sqn - promoted Sgt - D Sqn becomes SBS.
 

NICHOLAS, John Harry

Tpr. Nicholas was attached to the Commando on the 1st November 1940 and died on Crete. 
 
Sources
Tank Museum archives re Cdo service
Westminster Abbey Commando Roll of Honour file ref. National Archives DEFE/2/843.
CWGC
 

Operation Exporter

Location

Litani River
Syria
33° 20' 20.0004" N, 35° 14' 43.0008" E
Sunday, June 8, 1941

The original objective assigned to C Battalion "Layforce" (11 Scottish Commando) was to land on two beaches to the north of the River Litani and one to the south, seize and hold the Qasmiye bridge over it until relieved by 21 Australian Infantry Brigade.

Operation Flipper

Location

Beda Littoria
Libya
32° 45' 59.0004" N, 21° 44' 30.0012" E
Friday, November 14, 1941

Attack on Rommel's HQ by units from 'C' Bn Layforce. They included a group from No 11 Commando led by Lt Col Keyes supported by others, including two from No 7 Cdo who had escaped from Crete, Sgt Fred Birch (No 7 Cdo & 51ME Cdo) and Cpl John Kerr (No 7 Cdo & 51ME Commando)

PARKINGTON, Oswald

The full circumstances of the death of Pte. Parkington are not known to this archive. The date of his death coincides with that of the evacuation of allied forces from Crete. Elements of Layforce were engaged in a rearguard action whilst the evacuation took place. 
 

PATERNOSTER, Harry

Pte Paternoster died of heatstroke.
 
Source
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."
 

RICHARDSON, Arthur

Company Sergeant Major Arthur Richardson 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.

ROBERTSON, Andrew

Gnr. Robertson died of wounds received during operations at Litani River.
 
Ramleh War Cemetery was used "by various Commonwealth hospitals posted in turn to the area for varying periods." (Source: CWGC)
 

SEVERN, Clive

LCpl. Severn SBS
Lance Corporal Clive Severn, 11 Commando, was killed at sea whilst attached to the SBS. He received a posthumous MiD "in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the Middle East. [Source: London Gazettes Supp. 36065, page 2870.]
 

SILLETT, Thomas John

Pte. 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.
 

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