Unit / Base: 
3 Commando
8 Commando
'Special Boat Section'
Royal Artillery
P.O.W. number: 
Died : 
Wednesday, July 6, 1955
Bombardier John Brittlebank served in both No.3 and No.8 Commando before joining 1 Special Boat Section [1][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].
"On the night of the 5th of September 1942, Bombardier Brittlebank accompanied Captain Wilson in a Folbot to make an attack with experimental torpedoes on an enemy ship in Crotone harbour.
The craft was so skilfully manoeuvred into position by Bombardier Brittlebank that it remained undetected in spite of the dangerously calm water within the harbour. After the attack had been delivered, the Folbot party succeeded in withdrawing from the harbour, although by this time the enemy were actively hunting for them. This enemy activity prevented HM Submarine P.42 from keeping the agreed rendezvous, and so Bombardier Brittlebank and Captain Wilson were forced to spend the night at sea in their craft which gradually became damaged by the sea as the weather deteriorated.
This fact obliged them to beach the Folbot in order to carry out some necessary repairs before setting a course for Malta, some 250 miles distant. In doing so, both Captain Wilson and Bombardier Brittlebank were detected and captured*.
Captain Wilson reports that throughout the operation Bombardier Brittlebank's conduct and reactions to the varying circumstances left nothing to be desired, and that during the interrogations subsequent to his capture, he set a fine example of reticence. When told that he was to be shot at dawn, his only request was that he might be granted permission to write to his next-of-kin.
This non-commissioned officer previously had taken an active part in the raid on Field Marshal Rommel's Headquarters and had succeeded in finding his way back to his unit after being 40 days in the desert behind the enemy lines. His selection for this further difficult and dangerous task in Crotone harbour appears to have been thoroughly justified.
I consider that his determination and devotion to duty on this occasion were well worth the award for which I now recommend him [4].
[Recommended by R. Laycock , CCO].
[1] Obituaries in Commando Association newsletter 21 issued September 1955.
[2] SBS in World War Two, author G.B. Courtney.
[3] London Gazette 37396, page 6188.
[3a] Casualty Lists / National Archives file WO417/53.
[4] National Archives file WO373/100/391.
* POW Lists / National Archives files WO392/21 and WO392/1.

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