BUCKMASTER, Eric, Memories of No 2 Commando
"The majority of the key members of 5 Troop came from Liverpool, Birkenhead, and Warrington. It was known as the Scottish Troop, because initially it had a large contingent of Liverpool Scottish, plus members of other Scottish Regiments.
"When 2 Commando was first formed the Tam O' Shanter was our Unit headgear. When I joined them mid 1942 after St Nazaire, that is what I wore initially. However the CO had adopted the Fighting Knife as a standard hat badge, and we had shoulder flashes which were the Fighting Knife with SS on either side of it. We were issued the Flashes, but the hat badges were not at that time on issue, they had to be made by ourselves.
"As part of our Training whilst in Ayr, some of us were sent to drive trains, some of us were sent down coal mines. I was sent down the Auchencruive Pit in Ayrshire which ran some 2 miles under the sea. A long part of the tunnel was no more than 4’ 6” high due to the presence of a long seam of hard “ Whin Stone ”. How men were able to traverse that each day before starting work I don’t know."
"There is a photo headed No 2 Boys on HMS Keren.
"I was most pleased to receive your note and the lovely photograph of the old boat. I was amazed to learn that she had continued in service as a Cruise Ship until 2004. It appeared relatively old to us in 1943, although there was nothing of the Cruise Liner about it when we were on board.
"This is not a moan, but an observation, in our experience Commando soldiers did not often fare over well when it came to feeding. This was partly due to the inadequacies of the British army specifications on food, and partly due to lack of experience. Jimmy Smith confided to me one day that he had managed to burn the Tea !
Details on the photo below of 5 troop.
"The Commando between the 2 prisoners on the left is my brother Stanley, so 5 Troop were involved here although I cannot immediately remember the names and faces of the other lads present. I must be somewhere around that group, because Stanley was No 2 on my Bren Gun, and he’s carrying his rifle in that picture. We were moving down towards the Harbour, so that our Landing Craft could come round from our up coast landing spot, to pick us up more easily.
"Unless one was say in the Orderly Room, and perhaps had access to a typewriter, all letters would have been hand written. Letters posted home were always censored by each Troop CO. There was an Army Newspaper called the ‘8th Army News’, but afterwards this became ‘ The Crusader ’. I imagine because both the 1st & 8th Armies were engaged in the action at that time.
We arrived home late June, early July 1945, and I was sent down to St Ives in Cornwall, to attend a “ Surf Landing Boating Course ” at the Commando School for Boating and Cliff Climbing. The Japanese War was still in progress and we were being regrouped to be sent Far East.
Service after the War
"After the war Jack Payne, my brother Stanley, and I, all enlisted in the London (TA) 10th Battalion Parachute Regiment, and spent 6 years jumping out of aeroplanes and balloons. I may have mentioned that we had done an initial Parachute Course on our return from Yugoslavia, at a place named Gioia del Colle, which means Happiness on the Hill.
We were in number 3 Company, based at Dagenham Essex. Jack Payne persuaded us to make up a Company Boxing Team, and we won the Inter Company Trophy, 5 years running, so they gave it to us and set up another Trophy."
(First uploaded to Archive October 2016, updated December 2018.)