175078 James LEES, King's Royal Rifle Corps & SAS

Discussion in 'Special Forces' started by Mark Hone, May 31, 2008.

  1. Mark Hone

    Mark Hone Senior Member

    I have just been reading Patrick French's excellent biography of Sir Francis Younghusband: explorer, imperial adventurer, invader of Tibet and mystic. Towards the end of his often bizarre life the aged Younghusband began a relationship with the much younger Lady Madeline Lees. French's epilogue reveals that Madeline's son James Lees was killed 'in hand to hand combat in the Balkans'. After the war, French says, Lady Lees discovered the identity of his killer, an Italian Fascist called Roberto. In a remarkable gesture she forgave him and invited him to the family home in Dorset. I tracked down James's CWGC entry:
    CAPTAIN JAMES LEES Regiment/Service:King's Royal Rifle Corps Secondary Regiment:Special Boat Service, S.A.S. Regiment, A.A.C. Age :25 Date of Death:09/03/1945 Service No:175078 Additional information:Son of Colonel Sir John Victor Elliott Lees, D.S.O., M.C., 3rd Bt. and of Lady Lees (nee Pelly), of Lytchett Minster, Dorsetshire. Casualty Type:Commonwealth War DeadGrave/Memorial Reference:10. C. 9.Cemetery:BELGRADE WAR CEMETERY

    There is clearly a fascinating story here. Does anyone know further details?
     
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  2. BLyon82

    BLyon82 Member

    Hi, My grandfather fought with Captain Lees in the SBS during their time in Yugoslavia and was present when he died. My Grandad recounted the story that they were storming a tennament block with a central staircase, as they advanced up the stair case with Captain Lees in the lead and my grandfather behind him, a grenade, a potato masher, was thrown down the staircase by the forces occupying the block. It hit Captain Lees in the upperbody and killed him instantly, my grandfather behind Lees was blinded by the explosion and his eyesight only returned some time later.

    After the War my grandfather learned that Colonel Sir John Victor Elliott Lees, James father, was visiting Repton Boarding School near our home. My grandfather contacted the school and asked if they would pass his details to Colonel Sir John Victor Elliott Lees, and that if he wanted to he could contact my grandfather as he was with his son at the time of his death. He never heard anything from the Colonel, I can only summize that either the School did not pass on the details or the Colonel declined the offer to discuss the instances around his son's death.
     
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  3. harkness

    harkness Well-Known Member

    1939 REGISTER TRANSCRIPTION
    Post Green, Wareham and Purbeck, Dorset
    NAME DOB OCCUPATION
    John V E Lees 11 Dec 1887 Private Means
    Sorry, this record is officially closed.
    Sorry, this record is officially closed.
    Madeline A P Lees 11 Feb 1895 Principal Of School (M
    Sorry, this record is officially closed.
    Sorry, this record is officially closed.
    Sorry, this record is officially closed.
    Sorry, this record is officially closed.
    Joan H Dixon 28 Aug 1910 Riding Instructor
    Kathleen M Deal 26 Jan 1908 Secretary To Sir J. Lees
    Margaret A McCausland 17 Aug 1887 Cook
    Rosanna M Dacombe 10 Dec 1892 Personal Maid
    Rosamund E Conway (Lees) 16 Aug 1921 Student
    Sorry, this record is officially closed.
    Sorry, this record is officially closed.
     
  4. sheilakevilldavies

    sheilakevilldavies Junior Member

    Captain Lees was my uncle. His sister, my mother, is still alive. I will pass your information on to her. My grandmother, Madeline Lees, brought all the people concerned with James' death back to Lytchett Minster during my childhood. These included Roberto Commotti (the Italian mentioned), Maria (a nurse) and Dr. Wasmuht - the doctor. I'm surprised my grandfather didn't get in contact with your grandfather. I have a photo of Roberto at the memorial to my uncle in Lytchett Minster graveyard. My mother has extensive archiving of letter etc of both James and Younghusband.
     
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  5. barryhouse

    barryhouse New Member

    i am trying to contact any family of capt james lees my father in law died. when we cleared his house out we found a pair of binoculars stamped lytchett-minster dorset & the name james lees [capt scratched out] +his army number i would like them to be retuned to the family if they would like them
     
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  6. barryhouse

    barryhouse New Member

    i have a pair of binoculars belonging to capt james lees i just wonderd if he had them with him when he was killed found at father in laws house when he died how he got them ?
     
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  7. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

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  8. barryhouse

    barryhouse New Member

    thank you very kind regards barry
     
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  9. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Especially for Lees family members, in addition to all who have posted on this thread.

    Extract from The Special Air Service Regimental Association News Letter, No.13, October 1949.

    Letter from Lady Lees as reproduced in the edition listed above. Poignant memories of days long gone by.

    Kind regards, always,

    Jim.

    ML 1.jpg

    ML 2.jpg

    ML 3.jpg

    ML 4.jpg

    ML 5.jpg
     
  10. sheilakevilldavies

    sheilakevilldavies Junior Member

    Capt. James Lees was my uncle. My mother, his younger sister, is alive (aged 93). I have just spoken to her and she would love to get his binoculars back! She lives in Lytchett Minster. Her name is Jane Brian, and her email address is: jane.m.brian AT gmail.com Would it be possible for you to email her? My name is Sheila Morrissey and my email is: sheila.morrissey AT btinternet.com I have some difficulty navigating the ww2talk! I have left one or two messages on the site - but no replies. My name on ww2talk is sheilakevilldavies. Thank you so much for putting the details of the binoculars on line. Sheila Morrissey, Wareham, Dorset
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 9, 2020
  11. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    For Sheila and all members of the Lees family, sincerely.

    Given the utmost respect that I have for the author of the source of the information below, please find extracts from what I believe to be the absolute definitive work on SBS casualties. May it promulgate their memory for evermore.

    As a matter for my conscience in using this source, and to continue its original aims, I have donated £200 to the Combat Stress charity prior to posting here.

    Please note, if I should receive a cease and desist request in relation to this information I will, immediately and with all reverence, always.

    I include here just one quote from the section below regarding Captain Lees. The words of Ralph Bridger, a member of Captain Lees patrol.

    “I don’t think the lads ever got over the death of Captain Lees. He was the finest officer and man I ever met in the armed forces, and we had some damn good officers in our unit.”

    I hope those words alone may be of comfort.

    So, for Sheila and her Mother, and all who have contributed here, from:

    “THE SAS AND LRDG ROLL OF HONOUR 1941-47
    VOLUME II – UTMOST DEVOTION
    Central and Eastern Mediterranean

    EX-LANCE-CORPORAL X, QGM”

    Sincerely, always,
    Jim.

    Captain Lees A.jpg

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    Captain Lees D.jpg
    Captain Lees E.jpg

    Marine Kitchingman A.jpg

    Marine Kitchingman B.jpg

    Marine Kitchingman C.jpg
     

    Attached Files:

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