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. 

ALLOTT, Richard Knowles Brian

Lieutenant (Temporary Captain)(later Major)
77673
No 8 Commando
SBS
Middlesex Regiment
Military Cross (MC)
Mentioned in Despatches
Temporary Captain Richard Allott was awarded the Military Cross [1] whilst attached to the S.B.S. after his service with No. 8 Commando, Layforce, and the 1st Special Service Regiment [2][2a] ended. 
Recommendation

ALMONDS, John Edward

Known as: 
Gentleman Jim
Sergeant (later Second Lieutenant )
2655648
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

Corporal
5618955
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
Company Sergeant Major (later Lieutenant)
2617252
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

Known as: 
Bob
Lance Sergeant (later Warrant Officer 1)
2617533
22528123
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
Guardsman
2696934
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

Corporal
2824715
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

BREMNER, George

Sergeant
2880295
No 8 Commando
SBS
London Scottish The Gordon Highlanders
Military Medal (MM)
Sergeant George Bremner,having left the Commando and joined the S.B.S., was awarded the Military Medal in recognition of gallant and distinguished service in the Middle East [1].
Recommendation

BREWITT, John

Private
7619486
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

Bombardier
930882
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 taken prisoner of war and later awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in recognition of gallant and distinguished service in the Field [3][3a].
Recommendation

BROOK, Harold

Known as: 
Ginger
Lance Corporal
2615070
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

Known as: 
Jimmy
Lance Sergeant
2695138
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.
 
See more on this entry in our Forum [view].

BROWN, Leslie Jock

Cpl. Leslie Brown 1st SAS
Corporal
5437777
SAS
No 8 Commando
'Layforce'
51ME Commando
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.
Service*

BUNN, Gerrard John Gunton

Lance Corporal
2655344
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.

Lance Bombardier
5499823
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

Lieutenant (Temporary Captain)
138704
No 8 Commando
'Layforce'
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..

CAWSEY, Francis William

Private
5499203
No 8 Commando
Somerset Light Infantry
Killed in action or died of wounds
Private Francis Cawsey was first reported missing 29 April 1942 during operations in Burma, later corrected to missing presumed killed in action on or shortly after 13 May 1942. He is believed to have been attached from No 8 C

COTTON MINCHIN, Douglas James Maurice

Capt. Cotton Minchin
Captain
77634
43543
43RM Commando
Commando Basic Training Centre
Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)
Killed in action or died of wounds
Captain Douglas Cotton Minchin was reported missing March 1945 after his patrol came under fire during operations in Italy, later presumed killed in action. He has no known grave.
Son of Capt. H. Cotton Minchin and Mrs. Cotton Minchin, of Cagnes-sur-Mer, Alpes Maritimes, France.

COULDREY, Edwin Robert

Bombardier
830703
No 8 Commando
Royal Artillery
Killed in action or died of wounds
Bombardier Edwin Couldrey, Special Service Detachment*, was reported missing 18 August 1942, later confirmed as having died, during operations in Burma. Royal Artillery Casualty Cards record his death as a battle casualty. He has no known grave.
 
Sources
CWGC.

DICKASON, Samuel Edgar

Company Sergeant Major
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

Regimental Sergeant Major
2695218
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

Temporary Captain
30978
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

EDSALL, Keith Valentine

Trooper
7912260
No 8 Commando
SBS
Royal Armoured Corps
Killed in action or died of wounds
Trooper Keith Edsall was killed in action during operations in the Western desert.
 
Sources
CWGC.
Casualty Lists 1939-45 / National Archives file WO417/36.
 

ETHELSTONE, Harry

Private
5670462
No 8 Commando
'Layforce'
Somerset Light Infantry

Private Harry Ethelstone was reported missing 2 June 1941 during operations at Crete, later found to be a prisoner of war. Originally shown on Casualty Lists as No.7 Commando attached 'A Bn., Layforce this was amended to No.8 Commando attached 'A' Bn., Layforce.

FASSAM, Joseph William

Joseph William Fassam 1st SRS
Lance Bombardier
874242
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;

GILLINGHAM, Reginald John

Company Quartermaster Sergeant
543209
'Layforce'
Royal Armoured Corps
Company Quartermaster Sergeant Reginald Gillingham was reported missing presumed died during operations in Burma on 19 June 1942, his secondary unit recorded as 'B' Batallion Layforce on each of the casualty listings [1][2].

HEARN, William Herbert

Private
5625251
No 3 Commando
No 8 Commando
SAS
Devonshire Regiment
Killed in action or died of wounds
Private William Hearn died during operations at Termoli, Italy with the Special Raiding Squadron having left the Commando. A shell hit the truck that he was sitting in.
Service 
No. 3 Commando 'A' Troop; No.8 Commando, 4 Special Service Battalion; 'B' Bn. Layforce; Middle East Commando; 1st SAS; Special Raiding Squadron.
 

HILDYARD, Thomas Fenton

Lance Sergeant
2654660
No 8 Commando
Coldstream Guards
Silver Star (USA)
Service
5 July 1930 attested at Hull into the Coldstream Guards aged 15. Trade on enlistment: Porter. 
20 June 1932 discharged from service.
5 January 1940 re-enlisted Coldstream Guards.
Attached to No 8 Commando...dates unknown.

KEALY, Michael Robert Bayley

Temporary Major (later Honorary Lieutenant Colonel)
50892
No 8 Commando
Middle East Commando
SBS
Devonshire Regiment
Mentioned in Despatches
Served in No.8 Commando and Layforce [1].
July 1942 (Major) 1st Special Service Regiment [1a].
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].

LACEY, Leonard Frank

Private
5669104
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
Major General
37258
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

Known as: 
Jock
Lieutenant
65419
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.

LILLEY, Ernest Thomas

Guardsman (later RSM 21 SAS)
2660913
No 8 Commando
SAS
Coldstream Guards & South Staffordshire Regiment
Military Cross (MC)
British Empire Medal (BEM)
Mentioned in Despatches
Lance Sergeant Ernest Thomas Lilley was awarded the Military Medal serving with 'L' Detachment Special Air Service having left the Commando.
He had previously served in No. 8 Commando [2].
Recommendation

MAYNARD, John Edward Trestrail

Corporal
5440304
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

Private
6139215
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

Known as: 
Syd
Corporal
-
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'REILLY, John Myles

Lance Sergeant
2716586
SBS
Irish Guards
Lance Sergeant John O'Reilly was awarded the Military Medal whilst serving in 1st Special Boat Squadron having left the Commando.
Recommendation
For distinguished conduct during the operation on the island of Santorin.

O'SHEA, James Andrew

Sergeant
2717197
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

Lance Corporal
5620784
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

WO2 Company Sergeant Major
5381845
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

Trooper
321274
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
Lance Sergeant
2696965
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

Corporal
6464231
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

Private
5672780
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.

Private
5620225
'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.

SMITH, William James

Trooper
7909151
'Layforce'
Royal Armoured Corps
Killed in action or died of wounds
Trooper William Smith was reported missing August 1942 during operations in Burma, later presumed killed in action on or shortly after 31 August 1942. He was attached to the Special Service Detachment and has no known grave. 
Son of William Henry and Ada Emily Smith, of Enfield, Middlesex.
Service in Burma

STAPLES, Montague

Corporal of Horse
304543
No 8 Commando
Middle East Commando
SAS
Royal Horse Guards
Killed in action or died of wounds
Montague Staples was killed serving with the 1st SAS, 'C' Sqn. having left the Commando. 

STONE, Sidney James

Sergeant
2692673
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

Private (later Honorary Captain)
6970623
223473
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

Lance Corporal
2617532
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

Gunner
798608
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

Captain (later Lieutenant Colonel)
97240
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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