Can anyone help me.

This is a little long winded but its the only way I can try to give the info I have to you as I search for more about my Grandad.

He joined up in 1938 according to his service record card with the Royal Welch fusilliers that were based in the barracks in wrexham that being his nearest point as he was from FLINT.
Now on his service pay book it states he was a gunnerand a part of the B.E.F . it also says the words Para 390 ( XV11G) which i dont have a clue about.
Now it gets strange as I also have a letter from the Military to my Nan which says that he had not been seen or heard of and they are looking at the fact he was missing but would do all they could to help as my Nan had not heard from him.
Now I also have a POW dog tag which was his which is from Stalag XX1B in Poland which on his Demob card says was his.
Now I have run checks on his military roll number and there is no record of him ever being in the forces and the fact he had to children one in 43 and the other in 45 means he could not have been in that POW camp for five yrs.
The other thing is that he told me when that he was caught by the Japanese and put in a POW camp in malaya but escaped.
There are no record for this also which I find weird untill my uncle told me
a bit of info the other night.
According to him his Dad was dropped off by a sub on the Island of Rhodes to train resistance fighters with another two soldiers and was in some sort of special ops team.
They worked out there untill someone leaked some info on them and the village in which they trained was attacked by German forces and wiped out.
As long as I new him he would never talk of the war and my uncle says it was for this reason and he blamed himself for the tragic events that happend to the local Greeks.
Also in the late 80s my uncle was told there was a bar in Rhodes that had a picture of the three British service men out there which had the words DICKY WILLIAMS on the photo. this is what the Islanders new him as and through a contact the owner eventually rang my grandad up at his home.
His son asked who was calling and in broken English a voice asked for Dicky williams.
My grandad took the phone and according to his son started to talk fluent Greek down the phone which shocked the life out of him.
After the phone call he asked what was going on and he said his Dad had tears flowing down his face but said they want me to go back but I cant.

Now whatever happend or what ever he did there is no records what so ever and I would be so greatful if someone could point me in the right direction.

name Richard Williams
rank gunner
his army no was 4193730
and according to his papers he served from 1938 to 45 with
Royal welch fusilliers 21/3/38 to 27/11/38
Royal artillery ( field)28/11/38 to 22/11/45

Please if anyone could help I would be very greatful indeed.

I can also be contacted by e mail.

many thanks

David Williams.
All I have is his army book,64 which is a
Soldiers service and pay book.

stamped on the back of this in very pale ink are the words

Comdg "P" Battery
384 Anti Tank Regt
RA (RWF) then two letters I can not make out.


killbill said:
All I have is his army book,64 which is a
Soldiers service and pay book.

stamped on the back of this in very pale ink are the words

Comdg "P" Battery
384 Anti Tank Regt
RA (RWF) then two letters I can not make out.
I suggest you apply for an SAR. Whoever is his surving NOK is the only one who can apply.

Application form here:

Be warned though there is currently about a 6 month backlog.
killbill said:
According to him his Dad was dropped off by a sub on the Island of Rhodes to train resistance fighters with another two soldiers and was in some sort of special ops team.
If this is correct it would imply he was recruited into the Special Operations Executive (SOE). The place to find out more would be at the National Archives at Kew. The SOE archives are in the HS series of files.

I checked to see if there's a Personnel File for him in HS 9 but there isn't one. That's not unusual though.
can i thank you all for your info its a great help.
The hs files for the SOE are deep and i cant find any ref to him but I will keep on looking.
I may sound daft here but please what is a NOK? so that I can send for a
SAR form.
This is for me a rats nest as it seems things are getting a bit deep as last night I had a phone call from my uncle who told me not to try and find out as I will hit a brick wall with it as he had tried in the late late 80s and again
around 94.
feels like he was warning me off but I know from the past that My Grand dad was honoured with medals but he would not take them.
I thought if I found out is reg number they would show up but Nothing.
After 60 odd yrs if he was in some sort of special unit time must say the info would be released.
Thank you all again.


Book Reviewer
spitlock said:
sounds an amazing story mate, I wish you well with uncovering whatever information you can come across,

good luck
Totally agree, I for one, who love to hear the full story if you uncover - sounds truly fascinating.

Best of Luck.
I may keep coming here to pick your grey matter if that is ok with you all.
What is so weird about all of this is I have a Stalag dog tag issued to him in front of me yet records seem to show he was never there.
his younger brother was also in the BEF was killed at Dunkirk and the last his elder brother seen of him was when he jumped from the boat to wade back to shore to look his younger brother.
that was the last time he was seen by his brother untill 1945.

i really dont know if I will ever find out maybe his records have been wiped out for some reason.
But I will not rest untill I know for sure and Yes if I do uncover the facts I would love to post them on here he was one of you lot and he deserves
abit of limelight.
Your all good blokes I have been reading the site for along time but never had the curage to post untill the other day.
My be something to do with not being ex services myself ( they knocked me back due to a smashed knee cap) and my mums constant moaning that she didnt want to lose another family member to some far land.
I respect you all and thank you again so much.
Does sound like an intriguing story.

If there is a connection with SOE then it will take a lot of reading at Kew to discover more. A good starting place would by the Greece histories in HS 7/150 to HS 7/154.

It might be worth contacting the International Red Cross as I believe they still hold records on WWII Prisoners of War.

It's going to take a lot of research to get to the bottom of your grandfather's war and if you are seriously going to look into it also prepare yourself for it taking you in very unexpected directions and possibly finding out troubling information.
A few suggestions and observations kb.

1. Paying for Richard’s service record may be disappointing. People tend to think you get a dossier with chapter and verse, when usually it’s a few sentences or a short paragraph at best. WWII Service Records are not available on-line as WWI records are. His Paybook covers his war era and has him as Royal Artillery. You have his name and number and believe he never collected his medals. In this case they can be forwarded to his next of kin, free, on his behalf. You should at least find out his entitlement?


2. Remaining on the RA payroll does not mean he didn’t have a second service in a specialised unit, or actually spent more time serving away from the RA than in it. For Example, all Army Commandos remained on their original payroll, men who joined from the Police had to choose a nominal ‘parent’ unit as usually did foreign Nationals. Perhaps drop a mail to the RA at research @ , to see if they think they might be able to help, in broad terms, with probable events around the BEF time and when he left them for another branch? I think this is realistically the best you could hope for as they won’t have a clue about what went on in other services.

3. Perhaps your strongest lead is the Rhodes episode? You need to find who phoned Richard don’t you. If your uncle is willing, find out what he knows of the ‘contact’ who was the intermediary, and/or the name/location of the bar with the photo? If he doesn’t know the service Richard was with, does know the rough date of this episode?

4. If this produces nil results, then you’ll have to ask the Greeks. If someone troubled to seek Richard out and phone (from Rhodes?), there’s a chance someone out there is still interested? Also, they wanted him to go back – for a reunion? You said there were three men in the mission, perhaps one or both are still alive, or they have interested descendants who know the full story? I suggest dropping a mail to the British Consulate on Rhodes at rhodes @ and ask them if they could mail you back with the name and the email address of the most popular local newspaper/s on Rhodes. If no email then fax number. Armed with this, contact them and ask if they could run a paragraph for you. The war remains a very sensitive issue so you need to phrase your request very carefully. If you go this route and get this far, you may want to PM me for suggested text?

5. While what your uncle has said is all you have to go on, keep an open mind and think laterally. What you were told may be ‘more or less’ what happened, e.g. it may have been on a Dodecanese island, but not Rhodes. I definitely advocate doing some serious homework, because (a) it will enable you to put into context what you discover, (b) it will enable you to cross reference some of what you are told, and (c) you will be better equipped to ask worthwhile questions and better direct record searching. I strongly suggest starting with a short list of two books, ‘Churchill as War leader’ by Richard Lamb, and ‘Improvise and Dare’ by J. S. Guard. BookFinder The former you should be able to get sent for around a fiver, while the latter costs, so perhaps a library borrow. However, with ‘Churchill’ there are pertinent sections to read, with ‘Improvise’ digest the lot. You won’t be reading about Richard specifically – I don’t think? – but you will have a good understanding of what was going on and why, and it won’t be web junk.

6. And, while the described mission (if as stated), bears all the traits of SOE – specifically SOE (Cairo) aka Force 133, while the continuously recycled (but never executed) better known military plan was ACCOLADE, I’m inclined to put 50p on Operation HERCULES, in WO, CAB, DEF2 and PREM files in the PRO – nothing to do with the German operation to seize Malta BTW.

KB - for a potted history of this sort of thing, a chat to somebody at the Imperial War Museum might prove useful. They have all sorts of weird and wonderful things stashed away and the people who work there are a font of knowledge and might be able to point you in the right direction.

Keep us posted - sounds fascinating.

Good luck!
hello No9

And, while the described mission (if as stated), bears all the traits of SOE – specifically SOE (Cairo) aka Force 133, while the continuously recycled (but never executed) better known military plan was ACCOLADE, I’m inclined to put 50p on Operation HERCULES, in WO, CAB, DEF2 and PREM files in the PRO – nothing to do with the German operation to seize Malta BTW.

sorry to be a pain but where can I find these files are they in the national archives.
Yet again no9 i find more but am I clutching at straws.

I have found this which mentions a massacre in a greek village and the only one I have found todate.
may be you are right about it being another island I really dont know.
kb you are not being a pain, and, not knowing how used to or fluent you are with WWII investigation and evaluation, I can only guess at whether a pointer or chapter and verse is most useful in any suggestion.

Re being ‘right’ about the island, it’s just an observation on probability based on various conclusions I have arrived at over time. As you appear to be very low on specifics, probabilities and possibilities are valid. For example, if someone asked me to guess the Aegean island where three men landed by sub to train locals as Partisans, I’d probably guess Crete? However, I wouldn’t put my mortgage on it as there were hundreds of landings all over various islands by Army and Navy (including utilisation of what may be termed ‘Private Armies’), SOE and various MI organisations. Though they preferred to ‘do their own thing’, of necessity (and sometimes on direct order) they would help each other out – and then claim any success was really down to them.

At the top of the scale you had Churchill driving the whole Aegean enterprise, principally supported by Cunningham (C in C Med), and Jumbo Wilson, C in C Middle East. Thwarting him at almost every step of the way were the Americans. Churchill never abandoned his ideas and if he couldn’t do what he wanted, then he did what he could. i.e. If he couldn’t have (primarily) the landing craft for an invasion, he’d use and sanction as many ploys as he could which didn’t entail American involvement.

Rhodes was an early prime target. The largest island of the Dodecanese with airstrip and good strategic position for operations in that area. The island had been more or less Italian before WWI and had around 36’000 Italians garrisoned there, and 6’000 Germans. There was a large Italian community and the Italian CO was also the island’s governor – more a governor than a soldier. Reports state it was a peaceful and relatively happy existence. Rhodes was to be seized by Layforce, which was a mostly a Commando force sent from Britain early ’41. After the German invasion of Greece/Yugoslavia, this operation was called off. After the Italian Armistice in autumn ’43, there was a splendid opportunity to take the Aegean islands with existing Italian forces as co-belligerents. It could have been, but wasn’t. Some islands were held/taken by the British/Italians, most acquired by the Germans, including Rhodes.

If, the Greeks you refer to were ‘killed’ by the Germans, it is logically most likely to have been in the latter years. Then, if operatives were training-up locals, typically it would be to act in unison with an invasion force. A handful of Partisans are not going to take on the German Army alone on a small island with nowhere to withdraw to. Churchill continued to support plans to invade Rhodes, ACCOLADE, but none ever took place. Rhodes eventually surrendered May ’45 to Force 281 when the war ended. Is it feasible that in lieu of hopes of invasion, a few men would have been landed to prepare locals? Yes of course it is. But in context of what was going on and planed with all the other islands, this is nothing extraordinary or remarkable.

Re the ‘massacre’, while I can find references to some – in texts, not the web – none mention anything on Rhodes. Then again, if the ‘massacre’ was actually one or two people shot and a house burnt, that’s nothing special I’m afraid.

Re the PRO, HERCULES, (the latter war plan), is just a guess on my part.

To search for available files, go to and enter Hercules in the ‘Word or phrase’ box, and 1940 and 1945 in the ‘Year range’ boxes. Not all the Catalogue references it throws-up will be relevant, but I would guess those in the sections I sited earlier may be? Click-on the number at the end for a further breakdown of contents, then the ‘I’ symbols for more. If you go down to Kew and pull a file, you will find it’s probably a jumble of documents up to 6 inches thick.

If, you want to dive straight in with a SOE on Rhodes theory, try file HS 5/715 – “Dodecanese islands; Rhodes; CLARION, ERRATIC, RODEL, SYMPTON; voyage, landing and operational reports – 1943/1945”

And HS 5/585 – “Operations in Greece and Aegean: instructions and directives; Force 133 mission in Rhodes; relief supplies to Dodecanese islands; subversion of Polish troops in Cos and Leros; enemy situation in Aegean 1945; Force 142 operation at Kimolos; Force 281 plan for occupation of Dodecanese; attacks on Kallimache airfield; Force 292 plan to secure Leros – 1943/1945” ?

I have posted a piccy of Dicky on your Historical piccy section and will put up his service paybook later now that i have worked out how to use the bloomin scanner.
I have also found a card that says record of service which I will scan and put up if anyone is intrested.