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The 'Tobruk Four' - One of the SAS original Originals


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#1 temptage

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Posted 18 August 2012 - 09:02 PM

In my local Cemetery in Cleethorpes there is this very unassuming headstone with a little gem inscribed upon it. Many a time I had walked past it without batting an eyelid. Its not the sort of stone that grabs your attention at all.

But there towards the bottom is the name of
:poppy: James Blakeney :poppy:, one of the 'original' Originals of the 1st SAS. As you know, the Special Air Service Regiment was formed from members of No8 (Guards) Commando, in particular the ‘Tobruk Four’ - Jim Almonds, Pat Riley, Bob Lilley and James Blakeney – all Coldstreamers. They were part of the original L Detachment to which the current SAS trace their roots back to. It is claimed that the Tobruk Four perfected the art of survival, which is still continued to this day within the Regiment.

Not a lot is known about James Blakeney. I will admit to not reading either of 'Stirlings Men' or 'Gentleman Jim' so don't know whether he has any mentions in the books. I believe I found a description of where and what the SAS were doing on the day he died, on the internet, but then I couldn't find it when I went looking for it again.

Admittedly, this isn't his final resting place. He is buried in Hanover War Cemetery, but having his name there on the stone really brings it on home how much we take our War Dead for granted.


Any more information on this 'hero' would be really appreciated.


http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=920&pictureid=5542

http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=920&pictureid=5543
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#2 horsapassenger

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 08:36 AM

There's an account of Jim Blakeney's action on pages 319 - 321 of Stirling's men. "Alongside Du Vivier's jeep was Wainman's, and on board was another of the SAS originals, Jim Blakeney, who had been hit in the arm. 'I told Jim to get back up the track towards the crossroads," remembers Wainman. "Then there was a loud bang. The whole bloody jeep had gone up".

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#3 wtid45

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 02:46 PM

Strange according to his entry here he died in 1945, SAS Blakeney, James More here, Possibly jumped with Lt. Bonnington's stick and was subsequently taken Prisoner of War during Operation Squatter in November of 1941. He was recorded as being in Camp 54, Fara-in-Sabina,(near Rome) in Italy during 1943. He subsequently escaped and rejoined his unit sometime in 1944 and was killed in action in Germany in April of 1945 during Operation Archway. Private James J Blakeney ( - 1945) - Find A Grave Memorial
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#4 horsapassenger

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 03:06 PM

There must be some mistake with his age on the CWGC records. This shows that he was aged 20 when he died in 1945 - as such his age would have been only 16 when he was taken POW in November 1941.

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#5 temptage

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 10:49 PM

Yes I know his record showed his age incorrectly. It turns out he was about 5 yerars older i believe.

It certainly threw me when I first tried tracking him down with the details that he died in Arnhem in 1944. It makes you wonder why families incorrectly state dates on headstones.

Could it be that he was constantly in action or a POW from before 1944 and that they had had no contact with him since he was in or around Arnhem?

Saying that, I cant find any concrete evidence that he was even at Arnhem!
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#6 temptage

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 11:05 PM

Can anyone else add anything about this SAS Original?
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#7 temptage

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 09:12 PM

I have recently acquired this photograph, from a very kind gentleman in Germany, of James Blakeney's grave in Hanover War Cemetery.

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When the sun sets, and the shadows lengthen
  they shall stand tall again
 

Those who fell on the battlefield, have earned the right to live forever.

 

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#8 Cee

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 07:37 AM

temptage,

Nothing new but there are four brief mentions of Blakeney in Michael Asher's sprawling book The Regiment. As mentioned he was killed in Germany (possibly before the Nienburg area?).

"L-Detachment Original and prison-camp escapee Cpl. Jim Blakeny was taken out by an armoured car, while running from his blazing jeep."

When did Blakeney escape his POW camp in Italy? Gavin Mortimer in his book has him returning to Britain in October 1944 based on a "SAS report on the repatriation of Blakeney, 1944, National Archives, AIR50/205".

Asher on the other hand leaves you with the impression he took part in Operation Gain whose first elements had gone into Normandy on June 14/15 (possibly earlier from other sources) under commander Major Ian Fenwick. It could be my misinterpretation on how he inserted Blakeney's name into the story at that point?

Regards ...

Edited by Cee, 01 September 2012 - 08:08 AM.
Britain

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#9 temptage

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 07:40 PM

Thanks Cee. Theres nothing like rubbing salt into the wounds! I read another version of the same occurance online but to this day I cannot find it again. At the time I wasnt even specifically looking for it, but I just remember reading it.
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When the sun sets, and the shadows lengthen
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Those who fell on the battlefield, have earned the right to live forever.

 

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#10 temptage

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 12:36 PM

Just take a look at this web page. Invaluable additions from members of his family with never seen before photographs, and his birth certificate and medals etc.

James Blakeney SAS ~ WW2 Hero and Local Man » Rod Collins
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When the sun sets, and the shadows lengthen
  they shall stand tall again
 

Those who fell on the battlefield, have earned the right to live forever.

 

www.shotatdawnphotos.weebly.com

 

www.scarthoroadcemetery.weebly.com


#11 Cee

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 02:18 PM

temptage,

Thanks for pointing that out. You have to be absolutely delighted with the information from contributors on there - that is if you can sort it out. What a difference it makes when family members decide to get involved. Why did none of those people show up here? When I do a simple Google search for "James Blakeney SAS" this thread is fourth from the top. It's odd how some things on WW2Talk take off and some don't.


Regards ..
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#12 temptage

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 07:04 PM

I was the instigator of that blog thread. I gave all the original information and photos, and then through a bit of detective work managed to track down his remaining family, who have then contributed invaluable details to it.

I suppose they havent got involved on other websites because as far as they are concerned they have everything to remember their Uncle Jimmy by, and dont feel the need to find more, but are happy to help when asked.
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When the sun sets, and the shadows lengthen
  they shall stand tall again
 

Those who fell on the battlefield, have earned the right to live forever.

 

www.shotatdawnphotos.weebly.com

 

www.scarthoroadcemetery.weebly.com


#13 wtid45

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 07:29 PM

Just take a look at this web page. Invaluable additions from members of his family with never seen before photographs, and his birth certificate and medals etc.

James Blakeney SAS ~ WW2 Hero and Local Man » Rod Collins


Not only a great web page, but all kudos to you for your efforts.

Edited by wtid45, 23 September 2012 - 07:42 PM.

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#14 Cee

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 10:51 PM

I was the instigator of that blog thread. I gave all the original information and photos, and then through a bit of detective work managed to track down his remaining family, who have then contributed invaluable details to it.

I suppose they havent got involved on other websites because as far as they are concerned they have everything to remember their Uncle Jimmy by, and dont feel the need to find more, but are happy to help when asked.



Aah I was wondering that as well, but couldn't quite see the connection. Anyway it's wonderful to see you got some great results.

Cheers ...
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