'Messina to Palermo railway raid'

Date commenced: 
Friday, August 29, 1941

Location

Sicily
38° 1' 19.6896" N, 14° 11' 7.9656" E
Units: 
On the night of 29th/30th August, 1941, a small party of Commandos, led by Lt. Dudley Schofield, landed from the submarine 'Triumph' of the 10th Submarine Flotilla (operating from Malta), and successfully demolished one and a half spans of a bridge about 55 miles East of Palermo carrying the main Messina to Palermo Railway.  
 

Log Book HMS Triumph 30 Aug.1941

Between 0049-0113 hrs HMS Triumph launched 9 canoes (with 13 saboteurs led by Lt.Schofield) off Torrente Furiano to destroy the railway bridge there (there was 1 single canoe and 4 towing canoes, 4 others with demolitions and stores).
 
There are then other entries in the log not related to raid.
0320 hrs -  Saw one explosion in direction of the bridge.
0340 hrs - Stopped one mile off the shore and drifted in with the tide to half a mile. It was not before 0507 hrs before one of the canoes and its tow was identified to the seaward of Triumph. They were quickly picked up. A second canoe and tow was spotted at 0527 hrs. No more canoes were sighted after this time. Triumph had to clear the area as it was getting light. The railway bridge was seen to be partially destroyed. The remainder of the raiding party could not be picked up. Eight saboteurs including Lt. Schofield were captured by the Italians. [Source of above log book entry] https://uboat.net/allies/warships/ship/3488.html
 
The following Commandos took part and were taken prisoner (click on names highlighted).
 
Cpl. H. Davies, London Scottish

A ninth man, Petty Officer Thomas Telfer, D.S.M., a member of the crew of the submarine, volunteered to go ashore with the Commandos. He was later captured and imprisoned along with the others. He was recommended for, and received, a bar to his D.S.M. In 1945 it was announced in Gazettes that, having been earlier released and repatriated, he had additionally been awarded a Mention in Despatches for  courage, efficiency and devotion to duty whilst serving in H.M. Submarines in aggressive operations against Japanese shipping, often performed in shallow waters and in the face of serious opposition.
 
Sources
DSM - London Gazettes Supp. 35424, page 340.
Bar to DSM - London Gazettes Supp. 35545, page 1957.
MiD - London Gazettes Supp. 37394, page 6157.

Additional Sources
National Archives and LG references shown in bios on highlighted individuals above
Some of the names in Commando Association newsletter 86 of March 1988 referring to the raid.
 

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