Discussion in 'Special Forces' started by Stevin, Jan 7, 2009.

  1. englandphil

    englandphil Very Senior Member

    I thought at first you were refering to the ill fated Operation Chestnut however I realise now you were seeking something along these lines;-

    Bombardier Geoffrey Caton, Royal Artillery and 1st Special Air Service Regiment (Special Raiding Squadron), killed in action in Sicily 1943, Bombardier Geoffrey Caton was killed in action on 10 July 1943 He was serving with the 1st Special Air Service Regiment, temporarily renamed the Special Raiding Squadron, for the invasion of Sicily. Under the command of Blair 'Paddy' Mayne, the SRS made a raid on a large Italian battery at Capo Murro di Porco, on the southeast coast of Sicily, which had to be destroyed before the main Allied landings could take place. After hitting the beach at 0330hrs on the 10th July the SRS assault teams threw themselves against the cliff and began to claw their way to the summit. They were surprised by the apparent lack of opposition. Most had been expecting a rough ride. Yet the beach was not mined: there was no sudden cutting burst of machine-gun fire; nor the earsplitting explosion of grenades. Once on top of the cliff, the seven-man teams moved in on the battery, silhouetted against the moonlight. The Italian garrison, about 700 strong, was still underground and it was Just a matter of winkling them out. Most were too shell-shocked to put up much of a fight; others were Just too scared to stick their noses above ground. As the assault teams began rounding up prisoners, demolition squads went into action to spike the guns. Heavy fighting continued throughout the night with the SRS attacking command posts, bunkers and barracks. The assaults, often carried out at the point of bayonet, were successful and the enemy positions were destroyed. As dawn broke on 10 July, the SRS men were able to see the scale of their success. For the loss of one man killed, Bombardier Caton, and six injured, they had put six heavy guns out of commission, killed around 100 enemy soldiers and captured some 200-300 more. Indeed, the bag of prisoners became so unmanageable that Paddy Mayne ordered the Italians into a convenient field, stripped them of their belongings and told them to wait for the main invasion force.Sadly Catons medals and other personal effects were auctioned in 1997. (awarded the 1939-45 Star; Italy Star; War Medal, these were all unnamed but sold with named condolence slip together with a photograph of the soldier himself (Bdr. Geoffrey Caton), card box of issue addressed to his Father Next of Kin, and official letter notifying his death in action)

    Hope this is of interest to you.

    Cheers Verrieres.

    I was also interested to find out that Churchill's Son randolph was also on the same mission.

  2. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

    Outstanding Special Air Service WWII Distinguished Service Order group to Lieutenant Colonel John Anthony Marsh sold recently by Warwick&Warwick Auctioneers for £37,950.
    Quote from sales catalogue;-

    As an under officer in the OTC he qualified for the King’s Hundred at Bisley in 1938. When he left school he joined the Artist’s Rifles as a private before being commissioned in to the DCLI at the start of WWII. In 1942 he was posted to 1 DCLI but arrived just after the Battle of Bir-el-Harmat and found no battalion to join.

    He successfully applied to transfer to the SAS and served with 1st SAS through the North African campaign and from September 1942 to February 1943 he fought with A Sqn under the famous Major Paddy Mayne raiding behind the German lines in the Western Desert. Later as right hand man to Harry Poat he took part in the Kufra raids, operating against Benghazi and as far as Tripoli West before returning to Kabrit. He is thought to have been the first Allied officer into Tripoli after the German surrender in North Africa.

    He successfully applied to transfer to the SAS and served with 1st SAS through the North African campaign and from September 1942 to February 1943 he fought with A Sqn under the famous Major Paddy Mayne raiding behind the German lines in the Western Desert. Later as right hand man to Harry Poat he took part in the Kufra raids, operating against Benghazi and as far as Tripoli West before returning to Kabrit.

    After the conclusion of the North African campaign GHQ said there was no further use for the SAS and they should be disbanded. David Sterling by now was a prisoner of war and it was left to Paddy Mayne to fight for their survival. The result was the formation of the Special Raiding Squadron to be used for special assaults in support of the Army. The SRS was reduced to a strength of 300-350 with many disappointed officers and soldiers having to return to their original regiments. Captain Marsh was selected as the commander of A Section No 2 Troop in the newly formed SRS. Prior to the invasion of Italy he was in the Lebanon for ski training.

    The first job for Captain Marsh and the SRS was the capture of the large coastal batteries at Capo Murro di Porco, preparing the way for the Sicily Invasion. The 6 heavy guns were entrenched on some cliffs near Syracuse with a garrison of about 700 and the battery had to be silenced before the main invasion force was to land. Landing under cover of darkness in heavy seas on the 10th July 1943, the SRS scaled the cliffs and succeeded in destroying the battery, killing some 100 Italian defenders and capturing over 200 more, this all for the loss of only 1 SRS soldier, a remarkable achievement.

    They marched into Syracuse on 12th July and boarded their assault ship the Ulster Monarch. They were then almost immediately tasked with an attack on the Italian Naval Base of Augusta which was duly captured in the face of German and Italian opposition. The SRS continued planning and marching in Siciliy but the speed of the Allied advance foiled further planned raids.

    The invasion of the Italian mainland commenced on 3rd September 1943 and ths SRS were soon called upon to land behind the German defensive lines at the town of Bagnara with Captain Marsh again being involved. There was heavy opposition from the German garrison but with the arrival of the main Allied forces the Germans withdrew leaving the town in Allied hands

    Three weeks later the SRS were to land and attack the port of Termoli on the Italian Adriatic coast. The aim was to disprupt German resistance to the advance of the Allied 78th Division up the coastline.
    Major Marsh is mentioned in many of the SAS books including 24 pages about the Termoli attack in “These Men Are Dangerous” by D.I. Harrison an SAS officer who was in Captain Marsh’s troop.

    The award of the D.S.O. to Captain Marsh was announced in the London Gazette dated 27th January 1944 for action with the Special Raiding Squadron at Termoli in October 1943. The citation was:

    “Captain Marsh, with fifty six men, was holding a front of one mile on the right flank of the Sector west of TERMOLI. At mid-day on the 5th October 1943, his positions were subjected to very heavy and accurate shelling and mortar fire, at the height of which, his position was further weakened by the transfer of one of his Sections to another Sector. At this time the enemy were developing a determined counter-attack on his left flank. Despite the intensity of enemy fire he held fast and with his own fire pinned down groups of enemy infantry which attempted to infiltrate into his own position. Later in the afternoon several of his own men were badly wounded, whilst some distance away on his right flank his remaining other Section was being gradually forced back. Although by this time Capt Marsh’s position had become untenable, he refused to move until he was able to communicate his intention to the troops on his left. Meanwhile, with his few remaining men, he succeeded in beating off further attacks on his position by German Infantry.
    Striking north to join up with his right hand Section he came across two wounded men. From them he learned that he was completely cut off but pushed on, taking his wounded men with him, until finally pinned down by machine gun fire. He eventually succeeded in evacuating all the wounded men to our own lines under cover of darkness although only 150 yards from an enemy post.
    Throughout Captain Marsh showed great coolness and determination. His high standard of courage and complete disregard for personal safety throughout the Operation played a decisive part in saving a very dangerous situation.”

    A letter written in 1985 from the DCLI Regimental Secretary to his wife says:
    “You probably know that DSOs are normally awarded to Commanding Officers or Brigade Commanders for acts of distinguished leadership. For a young lieutenant to receive a DSO usually means that he was recommended for a VC, but that this was not subsequently awarded for some technical reason. Certainly I found the citation most inspiring to read and believe that it was written with the higher decoration in mind.”
    The SAS have only been awarded a single Victoria Cross since its formation and this was to Major Anders Lassen for his actions in Italy in April 1945 when he was killed in action.

    After his involvement in the Italian campaign, he returned to England in preparation for D-Day. After the invasion he was parachuted behind the enemy lines in command of C Sqn 1st SAS to help the Maquis with continual raiding in heavily armed jeeps, disrupting German communications and tying down large quantities of enemy troops that were badly needed at the front. He continued through the war in Belgium, Holland, Germany and finally Norway and was twice mentioned in dispatches published in the London Gazette dated 10th May and 8th November 1945.

    After the war he was posted as a Staff Captain at South West District and then to 1 DCLI in Cyprus. After a further staff appointment in Tripoli he returned to England as Training Major of 21 SAS. In 1954 he rejoined 1 DCLI as OC A Coy in Bermuda. He retired in 1957 and returned to Bermuda to work for the Trade Development Board. Six months later he was commissioned into the Bermuda Militia Artillery that he commanded until the amalgamation of the island forces when he then took command of the Bermuda Regiment. While in this position he met a number of heads of state and VVIPs in an official capacity including J.F. Kennedy, Haile Selassie etc. On his retirement he was awarded the OBE in the London Gazette dated 30th June 1970. He died on 14th November 1984 in Bermuda and was accorded a state funeral,

    More photographs at

    Warwick & Warwick Medal Auctioneers, Medal Auctions, Free Medal Valuations, Medal Collection Valuers, Medals Valued

  3. athoclodge

    athoclodge Junior Member

    I wonder if there is anyone online here who has access to or has knowledge on SAS ops (war diaries, reports, etc.). I am looking into Operations Fabian, Gobbo and especially Keystone.

    I did find files at the NA-site but I won't be going there anytime soon....



    Dear Steven,
    i do have inside intel about Ops Keystone in Noord Holland.
    How can i help you.

    SAS1944 historical
  4. sbd

    sbd Junior Member

    Dear Steven,
    i do have inside intel about Ops Keystone in Noord Holland.
    How can i help you.

    SAS1944 historical

    Hi athoclodge, I am currently researching my Grandad - Frederck George Stephenson 6020258, he was F sqn but I believe he might well have been on the Keystone mission, I have some photos from Ostend from May 45 so he was kind of in the area. Would love to know if he's mentioned.
  5. TMH2013

    TMH2013 New Member

    Hello everyone, I am currently researching my Great Uncle - 7013186 LCPL Howard Lutton. Howard was part of D Sqn, 1 SAS in WW2. Howard was injured during Operation Gain and captured. He died later of his wounds. I was wondering if anyone had any information of Operation Gain? Also, how would I find out what other operiation he was involved in? All that i know was that he was with Paddy Mayne in the Royal Ulster Rifles before joining the SAS.

    Many thanks in advance.

  6. Skip

    Skip Senior Member

    Hello Tony

    If you contact me on I will be able to help regarding your great uncle.

    All the best

  7. Michael S

    Michael S Member

    I am trying to track down (with an amazing lack of success ) my Dads WW2 activities. Although enlisted into REME I believe he was involved with special forces units and flew from Raydon aerodrome in Essex in a glider as part of the Arnhem related activities. Apparently the glider came down short of target and the occupants apart from my Dad killed although if this was in combat or because the glider crashed I am uncertain. Raydon appears to have been mainly used by the USAF. Any info or pointers would be gratefully received.
  8. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Welcome to the forum.

    My advice would be to re post your message a new topic (in the searching for someone sub forum) with your Dad's name and unit in the title (and to include his name etc in the body of your post).

    Have you obtained his army service papers from MOD Glasgow? If so could you post copies?

    I'm sure you'll get loads of help on the forum.

    Good Luck

    Steve Y
  9. Michael S

    Michael S Member

    Thank you for the advice-I will re post this. And yes I have had the papers from Glasgow and have had a letter from the head of the REME museum interpreting it for me. Prior to being posted to East Africa when he was commissioned in November 1944 he had with the 3rd and 6th Anti Aircraft units in the UK and had been awarded the Defence Medal. However his uniform showed an Italy Star, a 39 45 Star and an MID oakleaf (plus the Defence and Victory Medals ) and he also attended a coding course at Bletchly Park.Coupled with him being commissioned at the age of 19 from the rank of Craftsman I believe the Glasgow records are not especially helpful !!:huh:



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