51ME Commando

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'Rommel HQ - Operation Flipper'

Friday, November 14, 1941

Location

Beda Littoria
Libya
32° 45' 59.0004" N, 21° 44' 30.0012" E

The raiding party landed 14 November. The attack on Rommel's HQ by units from Layforce took place 17 November. The raiding party included a group from No 11 Commando (see What Links Here above) led by Lt Col Keyes supported by others, including two from No 7 Cdo who had escaped from Crete, Sgt Fred Birch (No 7 Cdo & 51ME Cdo) and Cpl John Kerr (No 7 Cdo & 51ME Commando)

51ME Commando

Some of 51ME Cdo in Asmara, Eritrea
 

51 ME Commando in East Africa February - October 1941

 
This article was written by Harry Fecitt MBE TD , ex-68 Company, Royal Pioneer Corps.
 

The Beginning

BIRCH, Frederick

Fred Birch 7 Commando
Sergeant Frederick Birch 7 Commando
Corporal (Acting Sergeant)
No 7 Commando
51ME Commando
Liverpool Scottish Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
Sergeant Frederick Birch served in No.7 Commando taking part in operations at Bardia and Crete before moving to 51 Middle East Commando. He was attached to 'C' Bn Layforce for Operation Flipper after which he was taken prisoner of war.
 
Sources
Casualty Lists / National Archives files WO417/36, WO417/37, and WO417/96.

BROWN, Leslie Jock

Cpl. Leslie Brown 1st SAS
Corporal
SAS
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.
 
Sources
CWGC.

DAB, Jakob

Raider
51ME Commando
Pioneer Corps
Military Medal (MM)
Raider Jakob Dab was awarded the Military Medal whilst attached to 51 ME Commando. 
Recommendation

Before Keren Eritrea.

FISCHER, M.

Private
51ME Commando
Pioneer Corps
Killed in action or died of wounds
Private Fischer died during operations in Eritrea.
 
Notes - Asmara War Cemetery

FROST, Henry Shelmerdine

Captain
51ME Commando
Cheshire Regiment
Mentioned in Despatches
Killed in action or died of wounds
Captain Henry Frost died [1] during operations in Eritrea when leading a patrol up a steep gulley running South from Beit Gabru to harass enemy positions [2]. He received a Mention in Despatches in recognition of distinguished service [3].
 
Sources
[1] CWGC.

HEATH, George

Sergeant
51ME Commando
The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)
Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM)
Sergeant George Heath, 3 Troop, was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in recognition of gallant and distinguished service during operations on the night of 4/5 March 1941 at Beyt (or Beit) Gabru, Eritrea.
 
Sources
London Gazette 35221, page 4110.
National Archives file WO373/28/131.

LAPRAIK, John Neilson

Acting Captain (later Honorary Colonel)
51ME Commando
SBS
SAS
Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
Military Cross (MC)
Bar to the Military Cross
Mentioned in Despatches
Territorial Decoration (TD)
Acting Captain John Neilson Lapraik was awarded the Military Cross for gallant and distinguished service in the Middle East [1].
Recommendation

MOORE, Sydney Henry

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.
 

ROSENSTEIN, Natan

Lance Corporal
51ME Commando
Pioneer Corps
Died on war service
Lance Corporal Natan Rosenstein, an Austrian of Jewish Faith, served in the Commando from November 1941 and died of illness in July 1942.  
 
Sources
CWGC.
The SAS and LRDG ROH 1941-1947/ Service Record.
 

SHIELDS, Ronald Francis

Lance Sergeant
51ME Commando
Coldstream Guards 3rd Bn.
Died on active service
Lance Sergeant Ronald Shields, ‘D’ Squadron, died at 63 General Hospital in the Middle East from burns to his limbs and face received from an accidentally ignited petrol drum thrown up on the beach by sea at El Rakham Bay.

STAPLES, Montague

Corporal of Horse
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. 

ULRICH, Itzchaz

Private
51ME Commando
Pioneer Corps
Killed in action or died of wounds
Private Itzchaz Ulrich died during operations in Eritrea when on a patrol up a steep gulley running South from Beit Gabru to harass enemy positions. 
 
Sources
CWGC.
Account by Lt.Col. Cator in Middle East Commandos, author Charles Messenger.
 

WAJNSZTEJN, Shmaryahu

Shmaryahu Wajnsztejn 51ME Commando
Private
51ME Commando
Pioneer Corps
Killed in action or died of wounds
Private Shmaryahu Wajnsztejn died during operations in Eritrea when on a patrol up a steep gulley running South from Beit Gabru to harass enemy positions. 
 
Sources
CWGC.
Account by Lt. Col. Cator in Middle East Commandos by Charles Messenger.
 

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