2 army dental techs invade france in 1942

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by ugly, Mar 11, 2006.

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  1. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    I couldnt believe it myself but last sunday on Geographical channel was a story about a sgt ex WW1 and a young private fed up with making army dentures in 42 who stole some grenades, a fishing boat and 2 revolvers. They went absent and sent a letter to WS Churchill with their paybooks stating they were going to france. Turns out that they blew up the cookhouse and some sort of Radar mast at bruneval and fortuitously created a diversion for the 2 Para raid by Mjor Frost and his men. It was claimed to be true. I thought it was very funny and enjoyed it! They also derailed a train by accident!

    Just in case anyone else saw it!
  2. Wasn't this made into a film last year?

  3. a very good film
  4. Looks an interesting story. I,ll have to check out the film. All power to them. Did they end up in the sh1t ???

    Regards LT.
  5. Completely true. Haven't seen the film but read the book a while back. Can't for the life of me remember the name of it though.

    I'd be cautious about accepting the film's version of version of events. Although I haven't seen it I read that it played heavily on the "British bumbling" slant to make it entertaining. While it was a harebrained scheme I don't think it was quite as bad as the film (apparently) made it out to be.

    The RADC Sgt was a very on the ball guy, widely believed to have had significant service with the Guards that hadn't officially come to light - probably due to having gone AWOL or something similar. He certainly wasn't ex-WW1. The Pte was keen as you like, fit and switched on, ended up in the RADC very much against his will.

    For those who haven't read the book..

    They didn't attack a radar base as Bruneval - that was dramatic licence on the part of the film makers. As far as I know they didn't inadvertantly provide a diversion for a raid either. They landed on the French coast in rag order - neither had sailed before and they narrowly missed being pulled out into the Atlantic by strong currents. They were navigating with a single compass and a page torn from an atlas. Because they had to hide out for a week or so after they broke out of their camp to steal a boat they'd used up all their food and by the time they landed they were starving, ate some carrots and slept in a barn.

    The next evening they stuck grenades on a railway track - damaging the rails but not derailing a train. They tabbed about cutting telegraph wires here and there before they raided a German sentry post to steal a sandwich. I think they killed one guard before they ran low on ammo (they had about 40 rds or something equally dismal) and legged it.

    They got to the coast with a battalion of Boche close at their heels, rounds flying past their heads, refound their boat and set off north. They were so weak they drifted for days and quickly ran out of water. They slept and hid from the sun. Their only food was an albatross they shot and their only drink was their piss. They despaired of being discovered and practiced shooting each other simultaneously until they lost the energy to even do that.

    By extreme good luck they were seen by a coastal command plane which was killing time by flying in wide circles while waiting to take part in an exercise with a sub. They were picked up and taken back for Court Marshal. The powers that be had a major sense of humour failure and was convinced that either a) they'd been attempting to desert or b) it was a cunning scheme by the Boche to smuggle spies into the UK. They couldn't prove their identity as they'd posted their paybooks as a gesture of good will in a pre-op letter to Winston Churchill.

    Sgt King (I think that was his name) got demoted to Cpl and posted to the Commandos. He served with distinction, winning an MC. He was commissioned and transferred to the New Zealand Army and won a DSO in Korea. He died in the early 60s in a road accident when he was a forestry officer in NZ.

    The Pte was sent to Colchester for 6 months, transferred to the Durham Light Infantry and he later became Mayor of Sunderland. Oddly enough he and King never got on touch after the whole affair.

    Haven't read the book since I was about 11 years old! But I thought the two of them were so f ucking cool the story stuck with me.

    Surely Commando magazine would have done a story and immortalised them!
  6. It was by foxall, but are you sure it was called 'Amateur Commandos', I am sure that the battered copy i had had a longer title. it was a really good schoolboy read. I felt the film was a pity because it embellished an already fascinating story.
  7. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    I am sure whilst channel surfing I stumbled across what must have been the film one Saturday only a month or two back. ISTR the young lad made a remark about something the older one had claimed to have done (in the First World War?) and the elder replied that it was all a Walt.

    I carried on surfing.
  8. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    In the film he got decorated for changing a tyre whilst wounded under fire!