COLLINS, Thomas Joseph

Rank: 
Marine
Unit/Base: 
Regiment/Corps: 
Royal Marines
Service: 
Royal Navy
Service number: 
RM 20139
Born: 
Friday, March 22, 1940
Died : 
Wednesday, March 16, 1966
Killed in action or died of wounds
Age: 
25
Cemetery/Memorial: 
Marine Thomas Joseph Collins 42 Commando
Marine Thomas Collins was shot on Indonesian territory on 16 March 1966, the same day as Lt Clark from L Coy 42 Cdo RM., while taking part in a cross-border operation during “Confrontation”. He was seen to fall but the circumstances of the operation made it impossible to recover his body at the time. Subsequent searches failed to produce any trace of his body or grave, or any indication that he had survived and might still be alive. A certificate of presumption of death was issued by the Registrar General in October 1966.
 
The fact that British forces were involved in operations inside Indonesian territory was considered highly sensitive. A press release of April 1967 stated: “On the 18th March 1966, a patrol of 42 Commando Royal Marines was heavily engaged in the precipitous jungle of Sarawak, in the vicinity of the Indonesian border. Marine Thomas Collins, the leading man of the patrol at the time it came under fire, was hit during this action and was subsequently found to be missing. At the conclusion of the engagement a search was made for Marine Collins, but owing to the terrain and the proximity of the enemy it was not possible to carry out a further search for the body without unjustifiably hazarding the remainder of the patrol. He was eventually posted as Missing Presumed Killed."
 
In 1992 the Defence Attaché Jakarta, assisted by the Indonesian authorities, led an exhaustive search for Collins’ remains and succeeded in locating his grave. His remains were repatriated and he was buried with full military honours next to his father.
 
Also died in this operation
 
Primary Source:
RM Historian (Naval Historical Branch, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth).
 
Additional Sources:
RM Historical Society online.
Online Publication Soldier an' Sailor Too
Sir Peter Whitely Obituary  in the Independent 13 Feb 2016.
 
Notes
  • The cross border operation was to Sajingan Besar in Indonesia (seen elsewhere as Sedjingan and Sebedang). This particular operation, codenamed Lively Cricket, was against Indonesian forces who had been mortaring the 42 Commando base at Kampung Biawak, in Sarawak, Malaysia. Cross border operations/raids were part of Operation Claret.
  • The headstone at his grave shows his date of death as 16th March and is confirmed as correct by the RM Historian, Naval Historical Branch. The date of the 18th shown on the AFM ROH is as per the censored official Press Release at the time.
Photo of grave in Gallery: 
Yes

Ask questions / Add information

Use our Forum for research enquiries, or to add information or photos. [register now]
Your message will then be seen by our Research Group and the many knowledgeable members of our Forum. Read some frequently asked questions here [FAQ's].
 
All content is researched and administered by the Commando Veterans Archive.