Gus Holliman Long Range Desert Group

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by Susan Smethurst, Apr 9, 2010.

  1. Susan Smethurst

    Susan Smethurst Senior but too talkative

    Remembering things my father JB Smethurst 1 RTR did and out pops this memory of (as a child so 1970s) visiting Peggy Holliman (spelling may be wrong) in the south of England. She was widow of Gus who had clearly served with my father and Field Marshall Lord Carver (she told my father "mike carver" had been round to cut the lawn) . She had a son whom her husband never saw. Any thoughts out there? Idler?
     
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    It is.
    CWGC :: Casualty Details

    husband of Peggie Eileen Holliman, of Sheringham, Norfolk.


    He was killed in a nasty action near St Joost according to a couple of books I've just looked in.
    Not alot else.
     
  4. Susan Smethurst

    Susan Smethurst Senior but too talkative

    Well he was "Gus" to my father and Michael Carver. They stayed in touch with Peggie always. was always told by my father that he was a remarkable man. His date of death is 1945. My fathers major injury was 16/04/45. These men had gone through so much for so long. As did so many. Does not surprise me JB and Michael carver went to see her for so many years after.
     
  5. Steve G

    Steve G Senior Member

    " Gus " is often enough used as a replacement for " Charles " .....
     
  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  7. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    Thanks to Owen tipped me off about this thread that I missed.

    Gus Holliman was CO of 5 R Tks, also in 7 Armd Div. The circumstances of his death are reported by Pile in Better Than Riches. In brief, Holliman had come forward in a scout car to recce 1 R Tks' positions before taking them over. His scout car was believed to have been destroyed by a Panther wih which 1 R Tks had duelled the previous day.

    Off the top of my head (will check tomorrow), Holliman was 2i/c of 1 R Tks before being posted to command 5 R Tks after problems with their CO. This was before D-Day, I think.

    Quickie having read the title: whilst he was definitely a Desert Rat, I'm not aware of him having anything to do with the LRDG; usual disclaimer applies about me being unaware of many things.
     
  8. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    Holliman took over as CO 5 R Tks on 17 May 1944.

    The fairly-recent regimental history - Press On Regardless - attributes his death to a different cause but the tragedy is matched by the high regard shown for him:

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=27032&stc=1&d=1271105761
     

    Attached Files:

  9. Susan Smethurst

    Susan Smethurst Senior but too talkative

    Idler-this supports everything I recall from childhood. Gus was viewed as special. His widow had not remarried. His son he had never seen. Mike Carver and my father went out of their way to visit her.LRDG was definitely mentioned by my father in context of GH. His loss was the only one JB mentioned by name. And lets face it he must have lost more than a few people close to him. Where does Gus H and JB's service fit together? I am a bit overwhelmed by the detail!
     
  10. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    Still thinking about the LRDG link. Delaforce mentions GH 'came back' to 1 R Tks shortly before moving on to 5 R Tks so there is a short overlap there. What he doesn't say is where he came back from.

    Carver's Out of Step has a few answers: GH was a squadron commander under MC in 1 R Tks. Before they went over to Italy, GH was sent back to Blighty to lend his experience to another regiment. He was succeeded by Barry O'Sullivan, who we already know as JB's unlucky Sqn Comd. I will speculate that JB was also GH's 2i/c in the latter stages of the desert campaign, hence the link. It will be no surprise to you that MC also though very highly of GH and says so in the book.

    Not sure what I've got that will shed any light on the LRDG link, though...
     
  11. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    I'm not thinking about the LRDG link anymore - it's confirmed. W B Kennedy-Shaw's The Long Range Desert Group has him listed as a patrol commander in S1 (Rhodesian) Patrol. It also looks like he won his MC with them.
     
    Owen likes this.
  12. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    WO 373/18 folio 72

    71224 Lt (T/Capt) HOLLIMAN, Charles Alexander - RTR (LRDG) - MC
    Recommended by D W REID Brigadier Comdg Force E 20/12/41
    Gazetted 24 Feb 1942

    During the operations on SIRTE and on previous operations this officer has more than once proved him-self resourceful and full of courage. On the 12/13 Dec. it was entirely due to his careful and perilous reconnaisance that the location of certain enemy planes, etc., were located. He then led the raiding party to this position. This officer was entirely responsible for the unfaltering guiding and protection in open Desert of the party, and it is entirely due to his skill and courage that the party succeeded in its mission. Though continually harassed by air this officer never faltered, but skilfully continued his advance in enemy territory.

    Original [mis]spellings retained above. Underneath Auchinleck's signature there is a handwritten note that could read "Name not to be released" (it's a very poor scan). He was, however, named in the LG though no mention of the LRDG.

    Edit: this operation was actually the classic first successful SAS raid - Stirling, Mayne and a dozen or so others were the 'raiding party' mentioned in the citation.
     
  13. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Idler -
    Delaforce is not the "force" that many give him the credit as I have just found one of his "howlers " in his "Churchill's Desert rats" - Normandy - Berlin - page 78 ...." and their brownings beat off the grenadiers from 21st PZ Div( a much travelled formation who had fought from Agheila, Tobruk,and Alamein) "

    NO they hadn't..... and he should know better than that as the ORIGINAL: 21st Pz's had surrendered to the 11th Hussars at Tunis/ Cap Bon in May '43...and he wrote about that event in his first book of the 7th AD

    This 21st Pz's who fought at NWE were reconstituted in late 1943 from all over the panzer units and very few of the originals were incorporated as they were mostly in Canadian POW farms.....

    Cheers
     
  14. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    I tend to tread warily when I'm using him, but he often has useful snippets and leads.
     
  15. Susan Smethurst

    Susan Smethurst Senior but too talkative

    Very interesting. Bear in mind JB died in 1989 frustratingly before I reached an age of proper mature interest in a war history he honoured but did not dwell upon with the "younger generation". However he said two things- Gus was on missions with the LRDG (my father referred to it as the beginning of the SAS) and secondly on the subject of Barry O'Sullivan that he was the first British POW to make a home run, came back to duty and couldn't cope with the return to discipline hence him being relieved of duty. I am trying to arrange a visit soon to Major AB Smethurst MC (uncle alfred) -he is 96 this year. Lives a long way from me in Nottingham.
     
  16. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Susan-
    The LRDG were not quite the originators of the SAS but rather the credit still goes to Stirling- Mayne and Lewis - they came up with the idea - gave it to Gen Ritchie who thought it was just what was needed - Auckinlek agreed and thus the SAS was born - their first action by parachuting from an airplane was a disaster and so they asked the LRDG to be a "Taxi Service" for them.....this was always the case in the Desert - LRDG took them out - and brought the survivors back !

    Cheers
     
  17. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Awarded Military Cross

    During the Operations on Sirte and on previous operations this officer has more than proved him self resourceful and full of courage. On 12/13 Dec. it was entirely due to his careful and perilous reconnaisance that the location of certain enemy planes. etc were located. He then led the raiding party to this position. This officer was entirly responsible for the unfaltering guiding and protection in open Desert of the party, and it is entirely due to his skill and courage that the party succeeded in its mission. Though continuously harassed by air this officer never faltered, but skilfully continued his advance in enemy territory.



    24.2.42
     
  18. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    It's probably fair to say that if the LRDG hadn't helped them out, the SAS might have gone from airborne to stillborn.
    The SAS were certainly inspired by the LRDG as they gave up on wings and adopted wheels:

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Idler -
    This might have been the case -airborne / stillborn but very doubtful as Stirling was made of Sterling stuff - Mayne and Lewis were not slouch's either !
    ...and they had good sponsors in Ritchie and Auchinlek - as they were "aw Jock Tampsons bairns" they can stick to-gether like porridge.....
     
  20. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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