Brookwood Memorial: Commando/Special Forces deaths 6th June 1943

Discussion in 'War Cemeteries & War Memorial Research' started by Steve49, Sep 19, 2021.

  1. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member

    Listed on Brookwood Memorial four deaths from four different units on 6th June 1943

    Serjeant SINCLAIR ARCHIBALD ROY MCGREGOR 28 '3326187' Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment) [SAS Regt]
    Lance Corporal HOODLESS DONALD SAMUEL 22 '6478881' Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) [No6 Commando]
    Serjeant MILNE ALEXANDER 26 '2878140' Gordon Highlanders [SBS]
    Lance Serjeant CHITTY JOHN ALBERT 21 '6850530' King's Royal Rifle Corps [No4 Commando]

    Are their deaths related and if so does anybody know the circumstances of their loss?

    Regards,

    Steve
     
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  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Sinclair and Milne


    Originally with the Highland Light Infantry, Seageant Archibald Roy McGregor Sinclair was accepted into the SBS (Special Boat Service, and then the SAS (Special Air Service). At the beginning of June 1943, Sinclair was a part of a small detachment of number 1 SAS (D Squadron) personnel to undertake a raid on the island of Lampedusa, which is situated between Malta and Tunis


    Sinclair was one of two SAS men killed during the raid which took place on the 6th June. Corporal Milne being the other casualty. Newspaper accounts after the engagement state that the unit met machine gun fire on the beach, which probably killed the two men.



    The raid on Lampedusa was the first ground force raid on an Italian island when the fighting moved from North Arica towards Italy. Sinclair and Milne were also the first casualties of the Allies in the Battle For Italy. The raid, along with the matter of the two casualties (not mentioned by name) made it into most of the major newspapers from the 11th June onwards.


    SAS MEDALS
     
  3. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Chitty and Hoodless
    Lance Sergeant John Chitty, 'C' troop and a veteran of the Dieppe raid, died by drowning during a training exercise codenamed Exercise Brandyball. This was a mock seaborne raid on cliffs near Zennor, St Ives, Cornwall known as The Brandys.

    CHITTY, John Albert | ͏


    Lance Corporal Donald Hoodless, 'C' troop and a veteran of the Dieppe raid, died by drowning during a training exercise codenamed Exercise Brandyball. This was a mock seaborne raid on cliffs near Zennor, St Ives, Cornwall known as The Brandys.

    The exercise was a seaborne landing on an area with no beach, followed by a climb with full kit up vertical cliffs to seize a target. In stormy seas the men were swept from the boat resulting in the deaths of LCpl Hoodless and LSgt Chitty. The exercise was called off after this event, but successfully completed in much calmer conditions the following day.

    HOODLESS, Donald Samuel | ͏
     
  4. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Hello Steve, I'm out and about at the moment but once home (in the wee small hours) I'll sort you out some further information re the two SAS/SBS casualties from Operation Buttercup (raid on Lampedusa), the primary task of which was to put out of action the Freya stationed on the islands high point.

    In the meantime you can read mention of it in the thread here;

    Lampedusa

    and the Freya site from a link within the post here;

    Lampedusa

    Kind regards, always,

    Jim.
     
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  5. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Hello Steve, apologies for the tardy response (only been back a couple of hours, book hunting initially required, followed by finding, scanning, compiling, and tea drinking).

    What follows is a combination of three sources (as per images below), with the lion's share coming from "Rudi's Story" (Sgt Rudolf Friedlaender DCM, served as 5550151 "Robert Lodge", Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps, Royal Army Ordnance Corps, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Hampshire Regiment, Small Scale Raiding Force, and 2nd SAS (2 Sqn)) There's a little about Rudi in the thread here; Friendly "Enemy Alien" Paybooks

    At some time in the new year I'll post up the full casualty details (as I have done for SAS/SBS casualties previously on WW2 talk). Please, no requests for me to do so prior to the new year, as due to current expenses (wedding - not mine, but one of mine!) I can't, unfortunately, currently commit to my usual donations to the Combat Stress charity, and I will not quote verbatim from The SAS Roll of Honour without doing so (e.g. 175078 James LEES, King's Royal Rifle Corps & SAS), which I hope you good folks will understand.

    Following paragraphs form "Rudi's Story", Chapter 3, "Wartime Experiences 1943", including additions from me in bold italics, plus some underlining.

    “One morning we were called in the briefing room and told our job would be a landing on Lampedusa with the object of destroying a wireless station and overwhelming the small garrison believed in that, the west end of the island. We were to expect there but little opposition, a few M.G. [Machine Guns], the main force believed stationed to the east, several miles away. It was assumed that we could fulfil our mission and retire before reinforcements from that part could be brought up against us. There would be a few thousand men on the island and some armour and perhaps aircraft, but all around the harbour town to the east. Our landing was to be made at the western tip. Two paddle boats (Folbot x 2), each with two men (One folbot manned by Sgt 2878140 Alexander MILNE Gordon Highlanders, No.6 Commando, and Z Special Boat Section attached 2nd SAS and Sgt 3326187 Archibald Roy McGregor Sinclair Highland Light Infantry, No.11 Commando, Middle East Commando, Special Boat Section attached L Detachment SAS Brigade and SBS (L Detachment) attached 2nd SAS, and the other folbot manned by Lt Eric “Sally’ Lunn and Parachutist J Watt). should go ahead as scouts, land and then give a signal, so that we could make straight for the best beaching place.

    The M.T.B.s left in daylight, three with a crew of about 15 each, one as escort vessel. We reached the vicinity of the island before nightfall and had to lay still. I never forget the uncanny feeling this approach in full visibility gave us. The sailors said we could not be seen at such a distance from the island. But somehow we had our doubts. And shortly before night came, in the greyish evening light we were startled by the appearance of two Very lights, one green, one red, over the silhouette of the island. Had we been spotted?

    Then darkness fell, the engines started up again and somehow I must have fallen asleep while the ship was gliding through the mirror-like Mediterranean. I awoke when somebody shook me, whispering in my ear: we are there. And for the third time the uncanny night manoeuvre was repeated. First the two paddle boats were launched. They disappeared. We launched our boats, took our places and waited for the signal to start. We gave the paddlers five minutes. I never forget the absolute calm of that night. Heaven and sea seemed glassy, the air still and warm, behind us the elegant shape of the M.T.B. stood sharp against the horizon. We paddled with utter care; the little whirlpools of phosphor sparks seemed to light up our boat. We looked forward awaiting the signal from the scouts. But we neared the cliffs and no sign. We touched the rocks with our paddles, but as no signal came, we had to turn right to skirt the shore and find the place where the Faltboots [German word for collapsible boat] had beached.

    No signal - that meant either that we had come too far east or that the scouts had gone west and not yet found the suitable landing place. Again there seemed frustration in the air. And as we paddled around a cliff separating two gullies and falling several hundred feet sheer into the water, we heard the whisper of voices, then a challenge and then the first shot rang out. What a curse! And now pandemonium broke loose around us. The stillness of the night before seems to grow in my memory more formidable than the din and clatter of the following hour. First we were fired at from two M.G. posts, one based on the beach, the other on top of the cliff which we had rounded. Our officer (Cpt Roy Bridgman-Evans) hesitated and asked the S.M [Squadron Sergeant Major] (SSM Kershaw) what to do. The S.M. was a soldier, calm and determined. All he said was: "For God's sake turn that boat round that I can give them a burst."

    So we once more turned the bows towards land and then the S.M. gave a terrific burst. Tracers were streaking away from us and splashing first the beach, then the hilltop. I believe we hit the M.G. on the beach. It did not fire any more. But others opened up and then some heavier stuff- mortar shells, a small calibre cannon - came over the hills from the other side of the island. The three boats floated for a while aimlessly offshore, then the officer gave the order to retreat. Our boat had been the only one to fire. As we heard later, the second one was holed and took water. The third one was farther out. we having touched land first. Now once more we paddled for our lives. And this time we had tracers from several M.G. and some shells following us, and then came the first star shells lighting up the scene uncomfortably. The S.M. grasped the oerlikon, lifted it from its mounting in the bow and carried it back to the stern where he calmly exchanged magazines and began to fire once more, from the hip.

    But we were paddling, with little hope ever to reach the M.T.B. alive. The worst experience was to come. A searchlight suddenly sprang up out of the darkness to our left, sweeping across the
    water. Our first thought was: a patrol boat, perhaps an E-boat. That would have been the end. We had about a mile to get back to the M.T.B. which could not move nearer for fear of being caught in the searchlight. We paddled stubbornly, knowing that we might be picked up by the guns whenever the searchlight swept across our boat. We realised at last to our relief that the searchlight was mounted on the island, several miles to the east and that, although we seemed to be lit up from the coast, we could probably not be seen clearly. The searchlight seemed never to try to hold us in the beam. So we struggled for almost an hour, constantly fired at. But then we lay alongside our M.T.B. once more. The searchlight had picked it up now and we had to move fast not to endanger the ship. We hauled our boat on deck and then the engines started. The one faltboot with its two men had returned, the other was missing. All three assault boats came back, one nearly in sinking condition but miraculously nobody had been hurt. Our ship now moved forward, opening fire with its oerlikon guns against the searchlight.

    But the target was out of range. I leaned exhausted against a torpedo tube. I worried a little about the several thousand pounds of high explosive near my head, somehow I felt just the relief from the strain of "doing things". Now I just had to watch, a spectator at leisure. Shells splashed harmlessly in the water around and the ship began to put on speed. Under a slight smoke screen we raced around in a wide sweep to tiy and pick up the two missing canoe men. But then came the order from our flotilla leader that we would have to beat it, only the leader remaining on the island to continue the search. Still we were in range of the enemy shore batteries and the searchlight, but soon the powerful engines took us out of harm's way and we just all looked back into the far-off fireworks, which seemed to continue for hours. Obviously the Italians, as so often before, fired against themselves. Then I fell asleep again to awaken in brilliant sunshine off Malta, the island that meant home and security to us. The last ship came in late in the evening. Unhurt, but also without a trace of the two missing sergeants.

    And then came a postscript over the Rome and Berlin radios: "British commandos attack Lampedusa. Specially trained and equipped troops, at least 5 companies strong, attempted a landing on the island. A spirited fight ensues which lasted for several hours. Losses were suffered on both sides. The attempt was frustrated by our watchful defence, several of the enemy's landing craft were destroyed etc. etc."

    That was what it looked like from the other side. About 40 men - 5 companies! That was the only comfort we had. We had suffered failure again and lost two comrades. But our officers later said: We achieved our aim: to test and draw out the enemy's defences. But then, why not brief us for that purpose? Are we not trusted with the truth?”

    Again, sources as below.

    Kind regards, always remember, never forget,

    Jim.

    Rudi's Story front cover.jpg

    SBS Silent Warriors by front cover.jpg

    THE SAS AND LRDG ROLL OF HONOUR 1941 47 BY EX LANCE CORPORAL X QGM Vol 3 front cover.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2021
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  6. Steve49

    Steve49 Well-Known Member

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks for all those details and explaining the cause of the loss of Sgt's Milne and Sinclair.

    I had never heard of the abortive raid on Lampedusa.

    Regards,

    Steve
     
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