Thieving Commando MM – OHMS

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by No.9, Nov 3, 2006.

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  1. For some years they’ve been wittering on about making a Scottish film that does more justice to the story of the legendary Johnny Ramensky than the vaguely adapted plot of the 1958 Ray Milland film, The Safecracker. Latest news appears to be it is going ahead, but will now be filmed in Ireland and Eastern Europe as the director claims a lack of support (i.e. wedge) from Scottish Arts? Maybe 2007 then?

    Yonas Ramanauckas, aka Johnny Ramensky, aka ‘Gentleman Johnny’, aka Sgt. John Ramsey MM, 30 Commando AU (Assault Unit), 1905-1972. Son of a Lithuanian immigrant he learnt his skills with explosives down Lancashire mines before moving to Glasgow and embarking on a life of crime as a master safecracker. Acknowledge by police and piers alike as the absolute Gov’nor, coupled with the athleticism of the finest cat-burglar, he was an ideal candidate for the new 30 Commando.

    30 Commando/30 AU was established in the autumn of 1942 by the Joint Intelligence Board, along the lines of the German Abwehrkommando of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris. A key role being to seize enemy intelligence, the Army Troop of 30 Cdo recruited Ramensky while in prison. After applying his art with distinction during the war, and receiving a full pardon thereafter, Ramensky returned to crime and did his last job when aged 65 in 1970. Though he escaped from prison five times, he spent most of his life behind bars, including when he died of a stoke in 1972.

    More on Johnny Ramensky here

  2. Any idea what Fusiler Regt he was in ?
    I assume from the photo it's Fusilers.
  3. Ventress

    Ventress LE Moderator

    Seeme to be Royal Fusiliers, quite distinctive Grenade.
  4. Whichever Fusiliers he was ‘in’, would only have been nominal. The Army Commandos of WWII were never regimented hence all the men remained on attachment from their original regiments and therefore continued to be paid by their original regiment and recorded on the records of same. In this respect Ramensky was just like the police who volunteered in the 1942 Police Draft. None of these men had a regiment to volunteer from so they were generally allow to choose one. Several police volunteers told me they picked a tank regiment because the thinking was, if they were Returned To Unit at any stage, they wanted to go somewhere where they hoped they would ride around rather than march around.

    All Commandos with Eastern European names were obliged to pick a British name for their protection (and that of any European family) in the event of capture, and their ‘record’ amended or created accordingly. A clear example of this were the men of 3 Troop, No.10 Commando (Inter Allied) who were mostly Austrian. Though many men came from the Pioneer Corps, many new identities showed them as coming from the Buffs.

    In all cases the men had to pass the Commando course and received their extra living allowance of £0.06.08 a day, (a third of a pound – double for officers), while they self-accommodated in the UK.

  5. 6 Bob a Day, 43 Bob a week just over £2, not bad money for 1940s.
  6. The money was to pay for food and lodging in the UK as they had no barracks. As to what they did was up to them, most shared a room or tripled up for economy. But, if your landlady was a bit stingy, (which seemed to be very rare), you were free to find somewhere else. Then again, if you were told one evening to be on parade in another town the next morning, how you got there was also down to you. If circumstances changed, e.g. you went overseas, the allowance stopped.

  7. Please do look at this website for more information regarding 30 Commando Assault Unit
  8. Thank you for the advert to buy your book.

    Your own publicity states: ”Based on a remarkable true life story of love and bravery.” Ah, ’Based on’, OK, so it’s a novel, fair enough. But the blurb ends: ”re-write the history books.”??? A novel re-writing the history books???

    Could you please explain what ‘history’ is being re-written exactly, e.g. the history compiled by David Nutting – who took part - in Attain by Surprise)?

    Which in turn begs the question, by what reason do you feel qualified to re-write history?

    And who on earth says the author of the Dirty Dozen got the idea from 30AU?

  9. there have been a number of quoted american news paper articles that stated the dirty dozen inspiration was taken from Johnny Ramensky story.
    As for the 'history' i'm going to re-write, I can't reveal that as yet, you'll have to read the book. :D or not as you wish....
  10. Spotted this thread by accident whilst searching for the one on "worst British General"... interesting story and reminded me very much of an old Commando comic I had stashed away. It's an early edition (no 54) and the story line involves an ex-convict safe cracker by the name of Jonny Malloy who is a commando on a mission where a safe needs to be cracked without explosives... Coincidence...? :D Does amke you wonder how many more of the old Commando comics are based upon actual events and individuals :D

  11. Probably a fair number lancs, considering on how many war comics and series within comics were about after WWII. Then again, probably all that was needed was a seed of an idea for the writer to produce another edition/episode – Hollywood still does of course. ;)

    Perhaps a problem is, when you discover an event which is utterly amazing and portray it in print or on the screen, people tend to think ‘it’s just a story’ and nothing like this would ever happen in real life. We’ve recently had another rendition of the basics of the Combined Ops raid on St. Nazaire. As a great number have observed for years, it plays like a film script which has written itself.

    When you evaluate War Diaries in the historical frame together with speaking with Veterans, you find some popular thumbnails are somewhat ‘inflated’, while other incredible events seem to have been missed altogether? Substance to the sentiment that fact is often stranger than fiction.

    An ever present danger, expressed by the great historian Alan Taylor, is that ’History does not repeat itself, historians repeat each other.’ In this Taylor was not saying that given a similar sequence of events, a consequential outcome will never repeat the past, rather that if a historian publishes a version of an event which is not quite correct, and that version is then copied by other historians in their works, you end up with several works all saying the same. Therefore, new historians have a ready made excuse not to investigate for themselves but accept the incorrect version because it appears in so many published works, assuming that each author has made their own investigation and reached the same conclusion, so they don’t really need to. [​IMG]

  12. It seems real events very often find themselves being reproduced as fiction first - it's a way of getting around the Official Secrets Act.

    For example the story of the "Man Who Never Was" deception was first published as a fictional book by Duff Cooper (the former Minister of Information). Ewen Montagu was very annoyed about it and, IIRC, threaten legal action against the Government if they stopped him publishing the true story.

    Also like Ian Fleming with the Bond books, his experiences with Naval Intelligence during the war find their way into the books/movies. The exploding brief case in "From Russia With Love" had been developed by SOE intended to be used to destroy sensitive documents in an emergency.

    Just the other day I was watching a repeat of the old 60's TV show The Prisoner that seems to closely resemble Operation Periwig, an SOE plan to fake a resistance organisation in Germany. The programme even had the carrier pigeon with fake message intended to deliberately fall into enemy hands. But perhaps I'm just reading too much into that one!