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Brits in Foreign Armies

Greetings Kinch: Many years ago did I perhaps read a book written about young Roy Farran,
Winged Dagger

Also have a look at Bernard Fergusson's Across Beyond the Chindwin - based off his after action report on the first Chindit exped
Used to live near an old boy who had been fighting the Irgun et all post War - always called them by their full name and regretted the decline of the more robust ways they used to deal with them
 
Greetings Kinch: Many years ago did I perhaps read a book written about young Roy Farran,
'Winged Dagger' 1948, I have an original version. It was reprinted c. 1998 but with the final chapter on Palestine removed. Palestine apart, Farran had an extraordinary WW2 career which I believe began with a Hussar unit and ended with the SAS. Damien Lewis' "The Italian Job" provides an excellant account of Farrans leadership during an operation that makes the 'Dirty Dozen' seem tame.

An added bonus of the book is an account of the equally extraordinary WW2 exploits of Major Alistair McGregior who was subsequently recruited to lead one of Bernard Fergusson's two "Special Squads' in Palestine. In our amazingly small world, McGregor's son, James, would become the second commander of Frank Kitson's MRF in Belfast 1972. I will dig out a copy of one of Farrans citations and post it later.

ETA I hope to pen an overview of the evolution of Britains non SAS covert forces which involves a host of personalities including Orde Wingate, Moshe Dyan, Menacham Begin, Monty, Golda Mier, 'Boy Browning', Churchill all of the above mentioned and quite a few others. I believe it provides an important backdrop to some of the events of 'Op Banner'.
 
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maritime

Old-Salt
Two liverpool chaps that I know of, (sure there are many more) Derek Ponting and John Shell. Derek was of the 'ten pound pom' scheme. But unfortunately/fortunately for him Australian conscription kicked in (including new comers) not long after he arrived and he was conscripted in the Australian army serving in Vietnam.Wounded in-country 8 months later, he eventually returned to liverpool later on in life.
John was part of the mersey beat time and played in bands in the cavern.There are photos of him on the t'internet. Born in the US (mother a GI war bride) came to liverpool as a 2yr old toddler and grew up in liverpool. John returned to the US and joined the US army and to Vietnam where the poor bugger was killed in a base rocket attack. Would his body be returned to US or UK?
Read a book called 'Charley Rangers' lurps in vietnam . Authors team member was a brit whom went to Canada,went south , joined USMC did a tour then returned to do another tour in Army.Picture of him in book holding 'the pig', M60. Another I read, afghan/iraq era of a Seal whom mentions coming across a former 'Booty' in Delta and an ex RN going for the Seals.
 
Major Alastair McGregor, who died in 2002 aged 84, won the DSO and the MC while serving with the SAS behind enemy lines during the Second World War.

In October 1943, McGregor, then a lieutenant, was in command of a party of seven NCOs and men which was parachuted into southern Italy, near Chieti, with the task of guiding escaped Allied prisoners of war to the beaches on the Adriatic for evacuation.

His party was dropped too early, while it was still light, and on the wrong dropping zone. During the descent, McGregor thought that they would land on the bridge of Chieti itself and he saw some German cars and a motorcycle coming to intercept them.

As it turned out, on landing they found themselves surrounded by Italian peasants, all of whom were friendly. "Indeed," McGregor said afterwards, "they were shaking my hand before I even touched the ground."

Then the Germans arrived on the scene and everyone disappeared very quickly. His patrol split up into pairs and, in the space of a fortnight, they sent 500 PoWs on their way to freedom.

On October 20, a detachment of German SS troops moved into the Chieti area to hunt down and recapture the roving bands of Allied soldiers and airmen which had been at large since the Italian Armistice.

In order to divert their attention to his own group, McGregor commandeered a small 8-cwt truck from an unpopular local fascist and carried out a series of ambushes on enemy transport.

Some of these fascists were betraying prisoners of war to the Germans in return for money. McGregor heard of a new Fiat 6-cylinder car belonging to the King of Italy which was being hidden in a house until the end of the war.

He requisitioned the vehicle together with 300 gallons of petrol and, with two men armed with Tommy guns on the running-board, he drove around enemy-occupied towns after nightfall, calling on notorious local fascists to ensure that there would be no repetition of their activities.

For three and a half months, working with the Italian partisans, McGregor kept the enemy guessing as to the whereabouts and the size of his tiny force before returning to the Allied lines in a stolen rowing boat. He was awarded the DSO for his exploits, a rare distinction for a subaltern who had just turned 25.

James Alastair McGregor was born on September 5 1918 at Hendon, north London, and educated at Epsom College, where he boxed, fenced, shot and played rugby. After Sandhurst, he was commissioned into the Royal Scots in 1938 and, following the outbreak of the Second World War, went to France with the British Expeditionary Force.

After a hazardous evacuation from Dunkirk, McGregor joined the newly-formed 5th (Scottish) Parachute Battalion, which, as part of the 1st Airborne Division, was in North Africa preparing for the invasion of Sicily.

In June 1943, after an altercation with the authorities at battalion headquarters, he was posted back to England. As this development did not suit him, he left the train at one of the stopping places in the desert and, after making contact with the SAS, was invited to join them.

In August 1944 McGregor took part in Operation Loyton under the cover name of "Captain Beverley"; in command of a half squadron of the 2nd SAS Regiment, he was dropped by parachute near the Foret de Charmes, near Nancy, to assist the Maquis and harass the Germans.

From March 1945 until the German surrender in May, he led a troop of Jeeps acting as a forward reconnaissance unit for the 2nd Army in the advance from the Rhine to the Elbe. The citation for his MC referred to his coolness, initiative, leadership and personal courage under fire. The French government awarded him the Croix de Guerre.

At the end of the war, a handful of those who had served with the SAS were sent on challenging assignments abroad; the rest returned to their parent units. Despite having had an unusually hectic period of active service, McGregor was seconded to the Foreign Legion at Marseilles, where he served as an instructor in special operations before moving to the Political Intelligence Department of the Foreign Office.

In 1947 McGregor was seconded to the Palestine Police in the rank of superintendent and took part in operations against the Stern gang and the Irgun terrorists. He was attached to the Greek Army Commando Brigade in 1948 as a combat instructor and battle liaison officer in operations against the Communists.

The Greek government awarded him the Greek War Cross with Silver Crown.

In 1950 McGregor was ordered to raise a squadron comprised mainly of experienced SAS men to fight in Korea. After three months training at the Airborne Forces Depot, he was informed that the squadron would not, after all, be needed there, and he and his comrades instead volunteered to join Major Mike Calvert's Malayan Scouts, where they formed "B" Squadron, the forerunner of the modern 22 SAS.

McGregor, together with Johnny Cooper, who had been one of Col David Stirling's founding members of the SAS, took the lead in a series of experiments into the hazards of parachuting into the jungle. The greatest problem lay in creating a foolproof system whereby a parachutist who was hanging by his canopy from a 250ft tall tree could descend safely to the ground.

McGregor made eight parachute descents in a single morning, a considerable feat in a normal climate, but these involved a 30-mile truck journey back to RAF base in the heat and humidity of Malaya after each jump. On one occasion, he fell to the ground and seriously injured his back; but, with characteristic robustness, he trained himself back to full operational fitness.

In 1953 McGregor returned to the French Foreign Legion on attachment, taking part in two parachute operations in Indo-China against the Viet Cong; these took the total number of his parachute jumps to more than 200. After a disagreement with the War Office, which wanted to post him to Hong Kong without his wife (who had accompanied him on his postings for many years), he returned to England.

McGregor retired from the Army in 1954 to pursue a successful career in sales management. When he finally retired, he went to live at Broadstairs, on the east coast of Kent, in 1987. Rather stocky in build, his sometimes gruff manner on first acquaintance concealed considerable charm and a lively sense of humour.

Alastair McGregor died on September 27. Magda Feher, whom he married in 1942, died in 1996. He is survived by a son and a daughter.
 
Roy Farran Citations - some very famous names as signatories.
 

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Alistair McGregor citation: - another famous name as CO
 

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Two liverpool chaps that I know of, (sure there are many more) Derek Ponting and John Shell. Derek was of the 'ten pound pom' scheme. But unfortunately/fortunately for him Australian conscription kicked in (including new comers) not long after he arrived and he was conscripted in the Australian army serving in Vietnam.Wounded in-country 8 months later, he eventually returned to liverpool later on in life.
John was part of the mersey beat time and played in bands in the cavern.There are photos of him on the t'internet. Born in the US (mother a GI war bride) came to liverpool as a 2yr old toddler and grew up in liverpool. John returned to the US and joined the US army and to Vietnam where the poor bugger was killed in a base rocket attack. Would his body be returned to US or UK?
Read a book called 'Charley Rangers' lurps in vietnam . Authors team member was a brit whom went to Canada,went south , joined USMC did a tour then returned to do another tour in Army.Picture of him in book holding 'the pig', M60. Another I read, afghan/iraq era of a Seal whom mentions coming across a former 'Booty' in Delta and an ex RN going for the Seals.

Ta for the info, I've just found two books still available on Amazon, "Charlie Rangers" by John L Rotundo, and "Charlie Rangers at War", by Darrel Gibson.

Looks like I have some enjoyable reading ahead...
 
'Winged Dagger' 1948, I have an original version. It was reprinted c. 1998 but with the final chapter on Palestine removed. Palestine apart, Farran had an extraordinary WW2 career which I believe began with a Hussar unit and ended with the SAS. Damien Lewis' "The Italian Job" provides an excellant account of Farrans leadership during an operation that makes the 'Dirty Dozen' seem tame.

An added bonus of the book is an account of the equally extraordinary WW2 exploits of Major Alistair McGregior who was subsequently recruited to lead one of Bernard Fergusson's two "Special Squads' in Palestine. In our amazingly small world, McGregor's son, James, would become the second commander of Frank Kitson's MRF in Belfast 1972. I will dig out a copy of one of Farrans citations and post it later.

ETA I hope to pen an overview of the evolution of Britains non SAS covert forces which involves a host of personalities including Orde Wingate, Moshe Dyan, Menacham Begin, Monty, Golda Mier, 'Boy Browning', Churchill all of the above mentioned and quite a few others. I believe it provides an important backdrop to some of the events of 'Op Banner'.

Thanks for the info on these books Mr Kinch, and thanks to you, I've just managed to grab a 1948 Edition print of "Winged Dagger", in good nick, and also a copy of "The Italian Job" as well. Farran was certainly a larger than life character from the small bits I've read so far...
 
Thanks for the info on these books Mr Kinch, and thanks to you, I've just managed to grab a 1948 Edition print of "Winged Dagger", in good nick, and also a copy of "The Italian Job" as well. Farran was certainly a larger than life character from the small bits I've read so far...
When you have read the final chapter on Palestine let me know and I will post some of the file I found at the National Archives. If I posted it now it would spoil the book. On Farran generally, he was indeed quite a character - and an extremely solid leader. 'The Italian Job' is an extraordinary feat of soldiering - Farran, not for the first time, completely disobeyed his orders and I suspect he upset a few head sheds in the process.
 
When you have read the final chapter on Palestine let me know and I will post some of the file I found at the National Archives. If I posted it now it would spoil the book. On Farran generally, he was indeed quite a character - and an extremely solid leader. 'The Italian Job' is an extraordinary feat of soldiering - Farran, not for the first time, completely disobeyed his orders and I suspect he upset a few head sheds in the process.

I certainly will let you know, and I went after the original edition specifically because you mentioned that Chapter being removed. If at all possible, I prefer to read my History, unedited, as it were, rather than altered to suit changing political ideals and World views..
 
I can't remember when it was but a past Chief of Army decreed that everyone would wear the slouch hat when in Parade Dress. No exceptions. The reason given was OH & S, ie. long periods on parade in the sun. Which sort of missed the point that when worn on parade the left side of the brim is turned up, providing no sun protection. Cue grizzling from the obvious suspects. Gradually the beret sneaked back in and the last I saw (mid-last year) it was ops normal.
I think it was the Sergeant Major of the Army of the time had contracted and survived skin cancer and so had a bit of a bee in his bonnet (understandbly) about OH&S matters re sun protection and banned the wearing of berets in working dress with the full support of Aussie CGS. Very floppy jungle hats were to be worn or the jap hat with French Foreign Legion neck flap Beu Geste style. Very OH&S compliant but not very ally. SASR and the Commandos were excempt due to the special significance and history of the colour of their beret's.

Obviously the troops weren't happy with this and pointed out completing a hard selection course and been awarded a different coloured beret didn't protect you from cancer. The Tankies pointed out that their black berets also had special significance and any way they were generaly out of the sun closed down in their panzers.

ASM, His side kick CGS and assorted minions said ' but ah, SASR and Commandos have access to copious amounts of sun screen! Que continued chuntering by the troops. After a decent amount of time had passed common sense prevailed ( or more likely ASM had retired or moved on) and it was decreed everyone could wear a beret again but they must have access to copious amounts of sun screen.
 
'Winged Dagger' 1948, I have an original version. It was reprinted c. 1998 but with the final chapter on Palestine removed. Palestine apart, Farran had an extraordinary WW2 career which I believe began with a Hussar unit and ended with the SAS. Damien Lewis' "The Italian Job" provides an excellant account of Farrans leadership during an operation that makes the 'Dirty Dozen' seem tame.

An added bonus of the book is an account of the equally extraordinary WW2 exploits of Major Alistair McGregior who was subsequently recruited to lead one of Bernard Fergusson's two "Special Squads' in Palestine. In our amazingly small world, McGregor's son, James, would become the second commander of Frank Kitson's MRF in Belfast 1972. I will dig out a copy of one of Farrans citations and post it later.

ETA I hope to pen an overview of the evolution of Britains non SAS covert forces which involves a host of personalities including Orde Wingate, Moshe Dyan, Menacham Begin, Monty, Golda Mier, 'Boy Browning', Churchill all of the above mentioned and quite a few others. I believe it provides an important backdrop to some of the events of 'Op Banner'.
Roy Farran wrote a second book - Operation Tombola specificaly about the Italien job first published in 1960. I have not read the Damien Lewis book - I am not a great fan of his books, however I would wager that Roy Farran's account is the better book.
 
I think it was the Sergeant Major of the Army of the time had contracted and survived skin cancer and so had a bit of a bee in his bonnet (understandbly) about OH&S matters re sun protection and banned the wearing of berets in working dress with the full support of Aussie CGS. Very floppy jungle hats were to be worn or the jap hat with French Foreign Legion neck flap Beu Geste style. Very OH&S compliant but not very ally. SASR and the Commandos were excempt due to the special significance and history of the colour of their beret's.

Obviously the troops weren't happy with this and pointed out completing a hard selection course and been awarded a different coloured beret didn't protect you from cancer. The Tankies pointed out that their black berets also had special significance and any way they were generaly out of the sun closed down in their panzers.

ASM, His side kick CGS and assorted minions said ' but ah, SASR and Commandos have access to copious amounts of sun screen! Que continued chuntering by the troops. After a decent amount of time had passed common sense prevailed ( or more likely ASM had retired or moved on) and it was decreed everyone could wear a beret again but they must have access to copious amounts of sun screen.

You might be right, or the truth might be somewhere in between what you and I remember. It was LTGEN K*n G******ie who as Chief of Army (as the appointment became) ordered it but he may well have had his ASM's hand up the back of his shirt. In my experience CAs all tended to want to make some significant change IOT be remembered. I'll never forget K*n, but that's a whole different story/book.

Incidentally, I don't remember seeing the Jap hat being worn in the Aussie Army, perhaps it was an SF thing.
 
You might be right, or the truth might be somewhere in between what you and I remember. It was LTGEN K*n G******ie who as Chief of Army (as the appointment became) ordered it but he may well have had his ASM's hand up the back of his shirt. In my experience CAs all tended to want to make some significant change IOT be remembered. I'll never forget K*n, but that's a whole different story/book.

Incidentally, I don't remember seeing the Jap hat being worn in the Aussie Army, perhaps it was an SF thing.
It was in one of the features in the Australian 'Army News' produced monthly online.
 

Bad Smell

Clanker
Incidentally, I don't remember seeing the Jap hat being worn in the Aussie Army, perhaps it was an SF thing.


I vaguely remember it being about. Mid 90s perhaps?
 

QRK2

LE
I think it was the Sergeant Major of the Army of the time had contracted and survived skin cancer and so had a bit of a bee in his bonnet (understandbly) about OH&S matters re sun protection and banned the wearing of berets in working dress with the full support of Aussie CGS. Very floppy jungle hats were to be worn or the jap hat with French Foreign Legion neck flap Beu Geste style. Very OH&S compliant but not very ally. SASR and the Commandos were excempt due to the special significance and history of the colour of their beret's.

Obviously the troops weren't happy with this and pointed out completing a hard selection course and been awarded a different coloured beret didn't protect you from cancer. The Tankies pointed out that their black berets also had special significance and any way they were generaly out of the sun closed down in their panzers.

ASM, His side kick CGS and assorted minions said ' but ah, SASR and Commandos have access to copious amounts of sun screen! Que continued chuntering by the troops. After a decent amount of time had passed common sense prevailed ( or more likely ASM had retired or moved on) and it was decreed everyone could wear a beret again but they must have access to copious amounts of sun screen.

Discuused on here at the time:


 
In the US Army the first to wear berets were the Infant US Army Special Forces at Fort Bragg who ordered Green Berets from Canada. The post commander hated USSF and banned them from wearing them on post. As soon as they got in the field out came the Green Berets - highly illegal military wise.

In 1961 President JFK made a visit to Fort Bragg specificaly to see a demonstration of USSF as he had a great interest in unconventional warfare. General Yarnborough had all his troops wearing their green berets. JFK thought they looked really cool and authorised their wear by presidental order.

By the 1970s a number of other units had started cutting around the posts wearing berets such as the 75th Rangers with black, 82 Airborne with maroon and the 101 Airborne (Air Assault) with Skye blue. In about 1978 the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff banned them (probably because he didn't qualify for one) with the exception of USSF due to their historical connections ( Being the Green Berets aka John Wayne). However like King Canute who found that their is no point swimming against the tide by about 1985 another incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CDS in Brit Mil speak) authorised the wearing of berets for the above units (Probably because he qualified for one) Now everyman and women and his dog wear one. The story does not end there though. The US military has not really discovered the secrets of Allyness and are subject to mirth and derision from their British cousins for the manner in which they wear their berets.

The germans who set the standard for Allyness between 1939 and 1945 were late in the game. The panzer waffe adopted a black beret after seeing how Ally their RTR oppos looked. However this was one of the occaisons where Hugo Boss had an epic design failure and after being laughed out by the rest of the german army abandoned the beret in about 1940 -41, and adopted their very ally black side cap. By the 1990s realising that the british, not only winning two world wars and one world cup, far out surpassed them in alleyness. Hard though it was the germans swallowed their teutonic pride and adopted the beret for their armed forces. They knew that they only had one chance to get this right if they weren't to be a laughing stock like the americans and that was to copy the british in both style and fashion.

The British set the fashion trend running with the adoption of the black beret for the Royal Tank Corps in the early 1920's. (The French don't count)
 
Back on topic, Mark Owen (bloke who claims to have topped Osama Bin Laden) in his book 'No Easy Day' states that while in DEVGRU he was attached to Delta Force in Iraqi. He states: There were five guys on the team. One of them was a former British Royal Marine who had dual citizenship. He came to the United States, enlisted, and eventually worked his way into the ranks of Delta.
 
Robert O'Neil (DEVGRU bloke who also claimed to have topped OBL) in his book ' The Operator states : The other new guy I wasn't sure I was I was glad about. Not that Andy wasn't a great guy. He was English, I transfer from the British Special Boat Service. He was another "No. 1 in his class" type, just a tip-top, awesome operator. But he had a reputation among the Brits for having a war cloud following him. Everywhere he went he got in some huge battle.

He goes on to describe the incident in 2003 during the invasion of Iraqi where a squadron of SBS were jumped by a force of Feyadeen and forced to abandon landrovers and kit.
 

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