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Irish Guards mate? ETA missed the link whoops.

His career gets more interesting later on...


To the Editor of The Times

Sir, - A very bit part in organizing and inspiring the Commandos - now to be absorbed into the Regular Army after a fine record as separate units - was played by Major-General Charles HAYDON, DSO., Irish Guards, who commanded them from late 1940 until early 1942. Commando officers like the late Lieutenant-Colonely KEYES, VC., Lieutenant-Colonel NEWMAN, VC., Brigadier LOVAT, and Major-General LAYCOCK are justly well known; but little has ever been heard of General HAYDON, who so successfully joined the experience of a regular with an unorthodox imagination and enterprise, and so gave a classic example to those under his command.

His object was set down lucidly in his training programmes, which were carried out conscientiously during the experimental period before action. The results appeared in the raids on VAAGSO, St. NAZAIRE, and DIEPPE, and in the battles of SICILY, SALERNO, and NORMANDY. He wanted all his soldiers to be self-reliant, able to use individual initiative without harm to discipline, physically perfectly fit, instructed in explosives and first aid, as well as in the usual weapons, and trained to assume that no obstacle could not be overcome. He had to keep the experiment alive against the prejudice of those who thought it a waste of time, and against the impatience of his own volunteer force, who were constantly keyed up to raids cancelled at the last moment. At a period in 1941, when the lurid Press were describing the Commandos as thugs and cat-burglars, he insisted that their discipline should be as strict in essential respects as that of the Regular Army and their appearance as smart. He aimed at a regular irregularity. This training had a stimulating effect on character; after a few months of it officers and men were transformed.

Many will be sorry if the green berets and Commando flashes are now to disappear. The War Secretary said that the lessons the Commandos were first to learn are now to be incorporated into the whole Army. If the voluntary spirit and the sense that the impossible is possible can be incorporated without being submerged, that will make up for the loss of an exclusive position. But the War Secretary was not ambitious enough. A speech on the subject is more a matter for the Prime Minister since the spirit is really one incorporated into the whole nation.

Yours, etc

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