2 Commando, Interlude

"In between the operation that had been undertaken at Spilje and the operation that was to come at Sarande (both in Albania), life went on much the same in that field near Monopoli, except that No. 2 Commando had been joined in its encampment by the men of No. 9 Commando and No. 43 R.M. Commando. At the time we wondered if this number of Commandos, numbering close to 800 men – a ‘horde’ by Commando standards – was the forerunner of ‘something big’. But none of the usual ‘pre-op’ signs which any Commando knew so well were present and we settled down figuring that the No. 9 and No. 43 boys just needed a home for a spell. Sgt. Doug Webster and two others from No. 2 returned from Albania, where they had been cut-off during our withdrawal from Spilje and had lived with the partisans for a few days.

One day in late August, the author was told to report to Col. Fynn. It seemed unusual, and it was to be the beginning of another change of direction in my Commando service. He advised me that he would like me to go down to Taranto the next day and ‘talk to someone’ he knew rather well. He further stated that this personage (still un-named) would have a chat with me at the Bologna Hotel. The Colonel asked me if I wanted to go, to which I replied, ‘Of course, SIR!’  The interview was over.

I wondered that night why the Colonel had ‘asked’ me to do something instead of just telling me what to do. The next day transport was supplied and conveyed me to the hotel at Taranto. Someone in R.A.F. uniform met me at the front entrance of the building and guided me inside. There was no office interview. A tall figure rose from an armchair in the lobby, eyed me, then stuck out his hand exclaiming, ‘Dodds-Parker! – Grenadier Guards!’ The figure had on his shoulders the insignia of a full Colonel. No time was wasted. He glanced at a single sheet of paper and then inquired, ‘Would you like to go to N.W. Europe and do something?’ I responded to this question by asking if I would be able to return to No. 2 Commando. He replied ‘Yes you will be carried on their strength until you return’. There was a brief pause and he concluded the interview by saying, ‘Go back to the Commando and talk to Colonel Fynn, be ready to move in 48 hours!’

The author returned to Monopoli and used the remainder of the day to go to Bari Hospital and visit Capt. Michael Stilwell who was making his recovery from his Spilje-raid wounds. I said ‘Goodbye’ to him then and wished him a speedy recovery. The next day I left and two days later I landed in Naples – the first step on a journey which was to terminate in Eindhoven, Holland."

nb. The above  account is part of the overall history of No 2 Commando by Bob Bishop No 2 Cdo.

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