3 Commando Commanders

DURNFORD-SLATER, John Frederick

Rank: 
Brigadier
Unit/Base: 
3 Commando
Special Service Brigade, Group, & Signals
Regiment/Corps: 
Royal Artillery
Service: 
Army
Number: 
41090
Died : 
Saturday, February 5, 1972

On the 28th June 1940 Captain J.F. Durnford-Slater was appointed Lieut. Colonel and ordered to raise and command No 3 Commando after volunteering for Special Service whilst Adjutant of the 23rd Medium and Heavy Training Regt., RA.

He trained and then led his Commandos on their early raids at Guernsey and the Lofoten islands, then Vaagso and Dieppe, before embarking with them to Gibraltar, North Africa, and the subsequent actions in Sicily, including that at Termoli where he was Force Commander of  No 3 Commando, 43RM Commando, and Special Raiding Squadron. On his return to the UK he was appointed Deputy Commander of the new Commando Group HQ under Maj. General Robert Sturges RM, with responsibility for all Army Commandos and the planning for their subsequent role on D Day, and later operations in France and Germany after D Day.

Post war he reverted to the rank of Captain before being promoted Major, then given the honorary rank of Brigadier on his retirement from the Army in 1946.

DSO after the Vaagso raid.*
Bar to his DSO after Termoli.**
MiD after Lofoten Raid. ***
 
His death in 1972 was notified to members in Commando Association Newsletter 54:
"We are indeed sad to have to report the death on February 5th, last, of Brigadier John Frederick , Durnford-Slater, D.S.O., formerly Officer Commanding No. 3 Commando, the Deputy Commander of Commando Group, and, and during the period 1946/47, President of The Commando Association.
The following are extracts from an appreciation by Brigadier Peter Young.
"John Durnford-Slater was one of the most successful and dynamic of the Army Comrnando leaders of World War II, in which he won the D.S.O. and Bar. When in 1940 the War Office called for volunteers for Special Service, he was among the first to be selected, was promoted from Captain to Lieutenant Colonel and raised No. 3 Commando. He was a brave, tough, kindly, simple-hearted commander, who looked after his men and his officers, and strove for old-fashioned ideals which are not now much in vogue. Those who served under him in No. 3 Commando would wish to pay tribute to his memory ".
 
Sources:
The book Commando, author Brig Durnford-Slater
Commando Association Newsletter 54.
*  London Gazette 35172, Page 3003.
**London Gazette 36217, Page 4661.
***London Gazette 35172, Page 3003.
 

YOUNG, Peter

Known as: 
Bungy
Rank: 
Brigadier
Unit/Base: 
3 Commando
Special Service Brigade, Group, & Signals
Regiment/Corps: 
Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment
Service: 
Army
Number: 
77254
Born: 
Wednesday, July 28, 1915
Died : 
Tuesday, September 13, 1988
Brigadier Peter Young
Then then Major Peter Young
Peter Young was commissioned Second Lieutenant in 1939. He served in France with the British Expeditionary Force before being wounded and evacuated back to the UK at Dunkirk.  Joining No 3 Commando in the first selction of officers after its formation, the next few years would see Peter Young rise to the temporary rank of Lieut. Colonel and assume command of No 3 Commando in late 1943. He took part in the early raids on Lofoten and Vaagso, being awarded his first MC for his "gallant and distinguished services" during the latter. 
 
After a brief interlude on the staff of Combined Operations HQ, he returned to No 3 Commando with the war substantive rank of Major and as second in command. During the Dieppe raid he was awarded the DSO for "gallant and distinguished services".
 
In 1943 he was awarded a bar to his MC for "gallant and distinguished services in Sicily" and then took command of No 3 Commando during the invasion of Italy after the promotion of their CO  Lt Col. John Durnford-Slater. Peter Young was later awarded a 2nd bar to his MC for "gallant and distinguished services in Sicily." In 1944 he led No 3 Commando on D Day and in the subsequent actions in Normandy until September 1944.
 
On the 2nd October 1944, after being ordered to take over as 2i/c of 3 Commando Brigade, he left to join them in the Far East. On arrival he discovered that Brig. Nonweiler RM had taken ill, and so Peter Young assumed temporary command of the Brigade. After returning to England at the end of the Arakan Campaign, he briefly assumed command of the 1st Commando Brigade until the surrender of Japan.
 
Post war Peter Young remained in the Army serving for 3 years in command of the 9th Infantry Regt. Arab Legion, finally retiring with the Honorary rank of Brigadier in 1959. He took up post as Reader in Military History at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. He later founded a Civil War reenactment society called The Sealed Knot.
 
His death in 1988 was notified to members in Commando Association Newsletter 88 where the then President, Colonel Tony Lewis,  wrote this obituary:
"Brigadier Peter Young was a remarkable man with a natural talent for soldiering. Apart from Dunkirk, his wartime career was with the Commando Group and in particular, No. 3 Commando, with whom he served from Troop Leader to Commanding Officer. There cannot be many soldiers, who, starting with Dunkirk, followed up by fighting in all theatres of war, the Mediterranean, Burma, and Europe. What is more, this was clearly no rear rank stuff, as his D.S.O. and M.C. and two bars tell us.
 
He was a colourful character and had more than his fair share of the qualities of leaderhip. Probably the strongest of these was his unflapability. I have seen him receive bad news and there would be a short pause before the humorous side of the problem struck him which he would then illustrate with a sharp dart of his irrepressible wit. He had a good brain, which, after the war, he applied to Military History and the Civil War in particular, becoming the recognised authority on this war, about which he wrote many books. Not satisfied with this, he formed the Sealed Knot and re-enacted the battles with real people.
 
His Memorial Service was well-attended by his comrades of both wars, those of the Sealed Knot looking splendid in their red velvet ceremonial dress uniforms, raising our spirits on an otherwise gloomy occasion. He will be sadly missed at Commando Association events and especially by the members of his Commando, No. 3, who held him in high esteem. We will all feel the loss of one of our most colourful and successful leaders and our sympathy goes to Joan, his widow. Col. A. D. Lewis (President)."
 
Sources:
Storm from the Sea by Peter Young.
MC: LG Supplement 35510, Page 1506
DSO: LG Supplement 35729, Page 4328
Bar to MC: LG Supplement 36217, Page 4661
2nd Bar to MC: LG Supplement 36327, Page 255
 

BARTHOLOMEW, Peter Ian

Known as: 
Barty
Rank: 
Lieutenant Colonel
Unit/Base: 
12 Commando
3 Commando
Regiment/Corps: 
Somerset Light Infantry
Service: 
Army
Number: 
73118
Died : 
Tuesday, October 24, 1989
Peter Ian Bartholomew No 3 Commando
Peter Ian Bartholomew served in No 12 Commando until their disbandment when he moved to No 3 Commando. He participated in the D Day landings as Captain of 2 troop.  On the Commando's return to NW Europe from the UK in 1945, he took command of No 3 Commando with the rank of Acting Lieutenant Colonel. 
  • Awarded the Distinguished Service Order for gallant and distinguished service in North West Europe, the award being published in June 1945. [London Gazette 37138, page 3231.]
Henry Brown OBE, the Secretary of the Commando Association, wrote this obituary which was published in their Newsletter 90 of March 1990:
"There is no doubt that in the passing away on 24th October last of Peter Bartholomew, our movement lost a very staunch and faithful supporter.
After service in No. 12 Commando, Peter served with distinction in No. 3 Commando and was in fact the unit's last Commanding Officer prior to disbandment.
After the war, his deep interest in the activities of our Association, and in the general welfare of comrades and their dependants, was well known to all, and was so clearly shown during his Presidency of the Association during the period 1966 - 68, and in- later years as Chairman of the Commandos' Beievolent Fund Trustees.
Peter always had a particularly caring interest in his men, and this carried on in civilian life through his close contact with many comrades resident in the West Country. It did not diminish in recent times when, sadly, he was not enjoying the best of health. We deeply mourn the loss of a good friend and great supporter of our Commando cause. HB."