Replacement Medals Query

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by exMercian, Feb 6, 2007.

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  1. Hi all,

    I've recently put together the memoir of a work colleague's grandfather, who had an interesting war. He started as a pre-WW2 TA soldier with the London Scottish, volunteered for Special service and went to Norway with No. 5 Independent Company, where he narrowly avoided capture. he then volunteered for more Special Service and ended up in Malta with the forerunners of the SBS, canoeing ashore from subs to blow things up. He was captured on Sicily when a mission went pear shaped, spent some time in various Italian POW camps before escaping and reaching Allied lines after spending several months on the run. He then went to the Int Corps and ended the war travelling with the pointy end of the advance into Germany tasked to seize Nazi records in newly captured towns and arresting war crminals.

    Anyway, he has lost his medals somewhere over the years. According to a 1998 letter from the MoD he's entitled to -
    Military Medal
    1939/45 Star
    Africa Star
    France and Germany Star
    Defence Medal
    War Medal
    Efficiency Medal (TA)

    I was wondering if anyone knows if it possible to obtain replacements of the above, and if so how one goes about it.

    Any help would be much appreciated, as the chap is currently not too well in hospital and we think getting hold of them would give him a bit of a boost.

    all the best,

  2. sounds like he ended up with 10 IA cdo, I know if your serving you can get replacements, I think all of the medals except the MM would have been issued without engraving the soldiers name rank etc. sounds like your colleagues grandfather has a story to tell. I'm sure your querie will be answered by someone with more knowledge than me fairly quickly. good luck
  3. also if he was captured on sicily there should be an italy star in that lot as well
  4. "sounds like he ended up with 10 IA cdo"

    No.10 (IA) was a Cdo for foreign Nationals, if anything he may have been assigned to No.30 Cdo (AU).

    "if he was captured on sicily there should be an italy star"

    Unfortunately not as while only 1 days service qualified, it had to be after 10 Jul 1943. The SBS went out to the Med with Layforce and were operational in March ’41. As Layforce came apart, Courtney was able to effectively get them divorced to Combined Ops in Alexandria under Adm. Maund, and conduct raids and covert ops at any and every opportunity.

  5. Fair shout, there was quite a few brits in 10 IA cdo so I'm hedging my bets here, by the sounds of it he could have been in either, respect anyway.
  6. Hi all,

    thanks for the replies, most helpful. I'll cull out the relevant info and pass them onto the guy's grandson to chase up.

    Ref the units he served with, according to his service record he only spent one day assigned to a Commando (No.2) which I think was an admin thing. He served with the 1st Battalion, the London Scottish Regiment, No.5 Independent Company, No. 1 Special Service Battalion, No. 2 Special Service Battalion and finally No. 61 Field Security Section, Intelligence Corps. He did one of the early Commando courses at Arisaig and was entitled to wear the Commando beret but never bothered, preferring to stick with his London Scottish glengarry. There's a photo of him wearing the latter in Germany in 1945, and he also proudly claims that he never wore a steel helmet once throughout the war.

    Blobby, you're right, he does have a story. He got the last destroyer out of Bodo in Norway after a forty mile forced march with one companion and a jar of GS rum, he ended up in the crows nest of a destroyer with a Bren gun during the passage from Gibratar to Malta when the carrier Illustrious was almost sunk by Stukas, and when his last mission went pear shaped (which is a suspicious story in itself) he wanted to canoe back to Malta from Sicily with his oppo. The officer in charge put the lid on that and you can tell he is still miffed about it. I've got the whole story all sorted ready for a publisher but I can't get anyone to take it on.

    No.9, his story actually contradicts the stuff about the SBS in the secondary accounts I looked at (Ladd's Commandos and Rangers and Seymours British Special Forces of WW2 for example). He was based in Malta and pulled at least one succesful mission before the date the SBS is supposed to have started doing business from Alexandria. I've cross-reffed his story against the War Diaries and submarine logs in the PRO and it all checks out.

    all the best,

  7. "No.9, his story actually contradicts the stuff about the SBS in the secondary accounts I looked at (Ladd's Commandos and Rangers and Seymours British Special Forces of WW2 for example)."

    Neither book could be considered comprehensive, or certainly 'gospel', and Courtney's (SBS) arrival in the Med with Cockles, (the military adapted Folbots), is well documented. Nigel Clogstoun-Willmott (who developed the COPPs organisation) was already in the Med working on beach recce ideas, and, the Navy had experimented (unsatisfactory) with strapping punt type craft to subs to deploy small numbers - the Cockle was carried inside the sub and passed through the hatch. Also, Cunningham tried his hand at Combined Ops before Layforce arrived - which was generally disastrous.

    Your chap being with the convoy where Illustrious was damaged would place him in Jan ’41, so he would have been out there before Layforce, which sailed via the Cape and arrived Suez early March.

  8. Ref the books, I looked at others but they were the ones I could remember off the top of my head. Can recommend anything else? My chap's name is John Ferguson, and he was involved in experiments with the punts from the submarine depot ship HMS Forth somwhere on the River Clyde. He also carried out a raid against a railway tunnel at Torre Fili on the Italian mainland using a steel punt from the submarine Upright on the night of 27/28 May 1941. I've checked the Upright's log and this is pukka.

    After that he carried out two raids using Folbots. The first was against a railway at the Cap d'Ali in eastern Sicily from the submarine Unique using a single Folbot. First attempt on the night of 28/29 July 1941 was aborted after the Folbot had been launched when an enemy vessel appeared. They tried again on the night of 29/30 July 1941, put charges on the track and saw a train detonate the charge from the sub. Again, this is all confirmed from the subs log.

    Third mission went in from the submarine Triumph using 9 men and six Folbots on the night of 28/29 August. They had all sorts of drama including the Triumph torpedoing the Italian cruiser Bolzano and suffering numerous tech problems, and the landing was postponed 3 times due to high seas and fishing boats. They were after a bridge over the River Furioso in northern Sicily, and got in fine and laid their charges. However, when they got back to the beach the guys they'd left to guard the Folbots were gone and so was one of the canoes. They were unable to contact the Triumph and went into the bag after daylight. They got the bridge though. There is something fishy about this, but the Triumph's log for August is missing altho all the others are there, and there is a cryptic comment about the raid in a later log.

    If you can shed any light on any of this I'd be most interested and so would John and his family.

    Yes. I haven't got any concrete evidence but the peripheral stuff I found strongly suggests that John's party was earmarked to operate from Malta before they left the Clyde aboard the cruiser HMS Bonaventure with Convoy WS5A; they had a brush with the Admiral Hipper on the way to Gibraltar. He went to Malta aboard the destroyer Jaguar. There are foiur photos on p.28 of the old Squadron/Signal book British Commandos in Action that I think are his detachment - they are training with punts and Folbots in Valetta harbour and firing weapons on an improvised range in a dry moat. Unfortunately John's eyesight is none too good and he couldn't ID any of the guys.

    all the best

  9. Thank you for the extra info. From what you state it certainly appears he kept moving about to stay in action. Unfortunately, his moves appear to be radical so his story can only, IMHO, be expanded by looking into different areas, and therefore no one book exists.

    From London Scottish to No.5 Independent Company under Peddie on 21 April 1940 is straightforward enough. All volunteers totalling @ 290 officers and ORs per Company, to be a ‘rapid reaction force’ or ‘fire brigade’ for Norway, landing Mosjoen on 8 May. Ten Coys numbered 1–10, 1–5 went to Norway, 6–10 not sent as BEF recalled/cancelled 23 May. No.5 moved to around Fallingfoss where one platoon (Prendergast) ambushed a 60 strong cycle patrol, but all were ordered to withdraw when the main German force arrived – particularly Austrian ski troops who were deployed successfully to out-flank them. Somerville’s platoon being surrounded and not escaping for some time at night. They re-embarked 11 May and; ”many were exhausted and had to be carried on board”, then moved to Sandesjoen, then Bodo (early 12 May). They left Bodo for home on 30/31 May, last rearguard was one Coy of Scotts Guards and one Coy of South Wales Borderers with four 25 pounders. All out 31 May/01 June, all back in Scotland by 10 June.

    At this time the Commandos were in the process of being formed, and instead of totally disbanding the Independents, it was thought they could remain as well as the Commandos, or volunteer for this service – 350 men from No.6 and No.7 near Glasgow being the first to volunteer for a Commando on 14 June 1940. In early October 1940, it was decided to organise units into five Special Service Battalions of 1000 men each in two Coys of 500. 1 SS Bat. was to be the best 1000 volunteers of Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 9 Independent Companies – i.e. about a 50% reduction of original strengths. Many by then (or at that time) elected to return to their original regiments and some no doubt to go elsewhere. 2 SS Bat. was Nos.9 Cdo and 11 Cdo with additional volunteers from what remained of Nos.6 and 7 Ind. Coys., most already in the Cdos, especially No.9 Cdo, from 14 June 1940. The other three SS Bats. were made up of two Cdos each – Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 Cdos. No.1 Cdo was always intended to comprise men from Ind. Coys., No.2 Cdo were paratroops, and No.10 Cdo failed to find enough suitable men at that time – eventually formed 1942 as a foreign Nationals Cdo. Coincidentally, No.10 Ind. Coy. also missed this round of reorganisation as they had been sent off to Dakar in Op MENACE. No.12 Cdo were 250 strong and on special reserve in N. Ireland.

    1 SS Bat. were based at Dartmouth and Paignton, Devon, and 2 SS Bat. were based at Whitling Bay, Scotland. Arisaig was one of the locations Cdos trained at before the training centre at Achnacarry was set-up in 1942, the same year as the Green Beret was first issued.

    Re punts/canoes, when the Cdos formed in the summer of 1940, No.6 Cdo raised a canoe troop (101 Troop) as did No.8, though with No.8 it was Roger Courtney (SBS) rather than the CO who took the initiative. Initially they both used the commercial sporting Folbot which they modified, till the advent of the purpose designed Cockle about a year later by the Goatley Company, (101 was merged into 2 SBS when Courtney formed this end April ‘42). Re the sub mounted punts, I cannot find anything very specific on them, but my guess is they came about trying to find something to land or extract agents (or escapees) for SOE, MI6, MI9 or MI(R)? De Gaulle’s office is also a possibility, but it seems highly unlikely he could have got anything like that degree of co-operation from the Navy, whom I believe were undertaking this research. Certainly, as everyone learnt about the Cdos use of Folbots they adopted them where the situation called for something of this nature.

    Unfortunately a considerable number of my books and docs are currently in storage, including most stuff on the SBS and in particular Secret Navies which I fancy might be useful. I can’t offer much on the SBS in the central Med for the moment and doubt if anything on the missing record for Triumph. Have you tried the SBS Diaries or Ops in the Med records? Also, do you have Op names for those you mentioned?

    Re No.61 Field Security Section, (formerly Field Security Police), over 450 existed at one time or another, (numbered 1 to 760 but not consecutively), covering Security in overseas campaigns, Security in the UK, and Security in certain British colonies. Duties varied greatly from the mundane to on occasion being part of the action, such as the unit deployed at Arnhem – not much choice really. No.61 were attached to 11 Armoured Div 1944-45 I Believe? FSS in NW Europe had an arrest list of about 1/4M people, 50K designated War Criminals – they got Himmler, but not his cyanide capsule. Appreciate John was not No.30 Cdo (AU), but was he at all assigned to the Enemy Documents Unit of Intel.?