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geoffmurray1
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Joined: 10/01/2007 22:08:43
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Can anyone help?

Dear Mr Murray

I'm hoping that you can help me or advise me.
My father was Peter Francis Snell Beer who died in 1962. I applied to
the War Office for his records and have been sent just 2 pages with
very little information.
He was an officer in the Wiltshire Regiment and I have noticed that
he was posted to Lochailort in February 1941. I believe hid did an
assault course and a signals course and was passed as "satisfactory".
The next record I have is of him being posted to India and Burma in
March 1942 and although I have no information as to who he was with
and what he did, I do remember him telling me that he fought alongside
the Gurkhas who he had a very high regard for.

His papers show that he was 'specially employed' and didn't relinquish
his commission until 1959 when he became ill. I now know that he
worked for Military Intelligence but know no more than that.
Is there any way that I can find out what he did at Lochailort, where
he was in Burma, and whether he was with the first group of Chindits
in 1942? I am really interested to find out more about him. Sadly, I
was only 12 when he died from cancer apparently caused by the amoebic
dysentery which he developed whilst in Burma. I have bought the book
'Commando Country' by Stuart Allen which is a fascinating book about
Lochailort during the war.

If my father was still alive, he would be 93 years, so there probably
isn't anyone who may remember him although you might know of some
records or who I could turn to for information. Unfortunately because
we believe he worked for MI his records are probably not available but
I would be very grateful for any guidance on this.

With many thanks.

Yours faithfully

Kate Albert (Mrs)

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 17/12/2011 19:31:19


Geoff Murray


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Hi Kate,

Your father is listed on this website:

http://www.unithistories.com/officers/Army_officers_B02.html

unithistories wrote:Commisioned 09.11.1940 into The Wiltshire Regiment (Duke of Edinburgh's) [emergency commission]
Posted to Lochailort in Scotland in 1941, then Highworth, Wiltshire in late 1941 and then posted to Burma from 1942-43; after that he was sent to Cape town from Deolali in India having dysentery, malaria and tuberculosis


The Highworth entry is very interesting as Highworth was the location of Coleshill House - the HQ of Colonel Gubbins' Auxillary Units

http://www.coleshillhouse.com/relative-search.php

It is possible that Peter Snell Beer was involved, as a regular officer, at Auxillary Units HQ.
Here is the War Establishment of Coleshill House - you will note that there were a number of Intelligence Officers on the Staff (these were not necessarily Intelligence Corps officers).

http://www.coleshillhouse.com/establishment.php

Other officers invoved at some time included Peter Fleming (Ian Fleming's older brother) and Mike Calvert both of whom later spent time in Burma, Peter Fleming was involved with deception and Mike Calvert more famously with The Chindits.

Nick

This message was edited 4 times. Last update was at 18/12/2011 16:48:30


Nick Collins

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Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"We may feel that nothing of which we have any knowledge or record has ever been done by mortal men, which surpasses their feats of arms. Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


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Kate,
It is certainly possible that your father was in the Chindits but there were other clandestine units in Burma at the time

D Force

This was deception unit. It was formed in 1941 in Iraq with name Force X; in 1942 it became 303 Indian Armoured Brigade. In 1943 it was ordered to India where its new title was 303 Indian Brigade. There it was employed in three areas; 51 Observation Squadron was at Imphal, 52, 54 and 55 Squadrons were on the Arakan front, while 53 and 56 Squadrons were with the Chindits in northern Burma. Their job was to organize phoney attacks and thus draw the enemy's fire. They proved something of a nuisance to the enemy but their successes were not as great as originally hoped, mainly due to the damage that the tropical climate did to their fire-crackers. They returned to base in 1944 where they were amalgamated with 4 and 5 Light Scout Car Companies and the squadrons became companies with following numbers and make-up:

51 - Punjabi Mussulman
52 - Pathans
53 - Jat
54 - British
55 - Sikh
56 - British
57 - Punjabi Mussulman
58 - British

This new unit was renamed D Force in October, 1944, and by the beginning of 1945, all except 56 Company were in action in Burma. Operations this time were more successful; one member of 58 Company, Lieutenant Claud Raymond, won the Victoria Cross (posthumously) for providing a successful diversion and thus causing the enemy to flee. D Force returned to India in mid 1945 and 54, 56 and 58 Companies were amalgamated to form 59 and 60 Companies. After this time, however, their expertise was no longer required and Force was disbanded in 1946.

Other units, about which we have some photos and info on the website, include:

204 British Military Mission to China

142 Commando Company

Force 136

Here is a link to the 204 Mission and Special Service Detachments album in our gallery - maybe your father is on one of the photos...

http://www.commandoveterans.org/cdoGallery/v/WW2/Burma/Mission+204/

Nick

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 18/12/2011 20:43:45


Nick Collins

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Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"We may feel that nothing of which we have any knowledge or record has ever been done by mortal men, which surpasses their feats of arms. Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


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Kate Albert
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Joined: 19/12/2011 00:13:15
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Hi Nick
thank you for replying to my message. I am aware of the link you sent me because I gave them the information.
With regard to Highworth, my father was posted there after Lochailort and was appointed Scout Section Officer (can't read the next 2 abreviations) Aux Units, Highworth, 25.8 41 until 5.2.42 when he was posted to India.
I notice that he was appointed Scout Section Officer H Qtr Aux Unit 2.3.41 and the Authority says Security. His dates for Lochailort 18.10 41 seem to be in the middle of his time at Highworth.
Does any of this make sense to you.
Finally, do you know whether the Chindits Association or the National Archives have records of who served with them apart from those who lost their Lives. The only photograph I have of him is in his Wiltshire uniform whilst in either India or Burma. His cap badge shows the Regiment. He is stick thin so I suspect he is ill and waiting to be transported.
Many thanks
Kate

Kate Albert
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hi Kate,
Well I'm pleased that I was accurate with my theory that your father was involved with the GHQ Aux Units at Coleshill House, Highworth.

The links I sent in my previous posts take you to Coleshill's very informative and interesting website and it's well worth exploring and should help you to learn what he did as a Aux Unit Scout Section Officer.

I take a guess that the visit to Lochailort was to be trained in skills necessary for the performance of his duties as a Scout Section Officer.

His time in Burma is a little more difficult to pin down, I'm afraid. As I said there were a number of units in SE Asia that could have used his experience and he may have followed friends, colleagues that he met at Coleshill & Lochailort to any one of these clandestine Units.

Certainly it is worthwhile contacting any of the Chindit associations, Burma Star Association etc to see if they have nominal rolls or can point you in the right direction at least - The Chindits aren't really in my field.

Whilst I appreciate that you said there was only two pages of your father's service records, I would be more than happy to have a look at it - just in case you've overlooked a vital clue. If you are happy to, scan and post his records in this topic or scan and email them to me (email address in my signature block) and I'll have a look.

Nick

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 19/12/2011 23:31:02


Nick Collins

CVA Forum Administrator

Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"We may feel that nothing of which we have any knowledge or record has ever been done by mortal men, which surpasses their feats of arms. Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


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Stephen Donnison
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why would there be only two pages of his service records?

SE Donnison
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Vlewis
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Stephen,

I think this is quite common, my Dad served from 1939 - 1946 and all we got was 2 and a bit summarised as Regiments served, posted to, embarked, disembarked and a military conduct statement. Have been trying to join the dots through reading war diaries where available. I know for sure my Dad was hospitalised after suffering burns to his legs but there's no mention of any of this. Our records were printed on new buff colour paper, some of the other records I have seen on this site look to have much more detail and are copies of orginal hand written records photocopied I presume.

Regards
Pete
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If the full criteria on application apply then you should get a copy of the full service record. However there are times when you will not if either you are not the immediate next of kin or not related. If you are the immediate next of kin and you have not received the full service record having sent in the application form, next of kin form, copy of the death certificate, and fee, you should go back to the MOD and ask for all the information to be supplied to you, or a reason why they cannot.

http://www.veterans-uk.info/service_records/service_records.html

Under the scheme, and in recognition of the duty of care owed to the family of the deceased subject, for a period of 25 years following the date of death of the subject and without the consent of the Next of Kin, MOD will disclose only: surname; forename; rank; service number; regiment/corps; place of birth; age; date of birth; date of death where this occurred in service; the date an individual joined the service; the date of leaving; good conduct medals (i.e. Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (LS&GCM)), any orders of chivalry and gallantry medals (decorations of valour) awarded, some of which may have been announced in the London Gazette.

After this period, and if it is held, in addition MOD will disclose without the requirement for Next of Kin consent: the units in which he/she served; the dates of this service and the locations of those units; the ranks in which the service was carried out and details of WWII campaign medals.

The administration fee of 30 will be waived for requests from those who were the spouse or civil partner of the subject at the time of death (or parent if there was no spouse or civil partner).

Where the consent of the immediate next of kin has been given for its release to a third party, the 25 year threshold will not apply allowing the release of all the information available under the publication scheme at any time, subject to the payment of an administration fee of 30 per record and the provision of a death certificate (except where death was in service).

While MOD aims generally to provide information where the above conditions are met, it will not disclose any information under the publication scheme where this could prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of its forces. In the very rare case where release of information from a record might be prejudicial, the applicant will be advised of the relevant Freedom of Information Act statutory exemption that applies to its non disclosure.

The information that is held on individuals varies depending on which Service they served with, when they served and the length of their Service (see Related Pages: Further information about Service Records held by MOD). In a small number of cases little or no information may be held. Applicants should be aware that the 30 administration fee is non-refundable whatever the outcome of the search.

This message was edited 6 times. Last update was at 20/12/2011 12:51:31


Pete Rogers, son of LSgt Joe Rogers MM & nephew of TSM Ken McAllister. Both No2 Cdo. God and the Soldier, all men adore, In time of danger and not before. When the danger is passed and all things righted, God is forgotten, and the Soldier slighted.

**** nb. I no longer monitor private messages. ****
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Kate,

I'm still working on your father's service and, although as a Scout Section Officer, he wouldn't have worn these ensignia (I don't think), I thought you might still be interested in them.

Auxillery Units (AU) covered the whole of the south and east coasts, wrapping around the extremities of Britain as far as Pembrokeshire in the southwest and Dumfrieshire in the northwest. They were grouped into 3 Home Guard battalions - although they were not Home Guard - numbered 201, which covered Scotland; 202, which covered the area north of the Thames; and 203, covering south of the Thames.
These battalions are incorporated into the design of the AU enamelled badge which as innocuous as their name and only 3/4 of an inch high was worn on the lapel of civilian jackets.

Special Companies of the Home Guard were trained in the use of explosives specifically to act as tank hunters and behind-the-lines saboteurs. The puny strength they could muster was fully expressed by their choice of formation sign: a "wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous' beastie", perforce obliged to adopt a silent and stealthy approach to war. The Dormouse was embroidered in pink on a khaki rectangle.

Nick
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Nick Collins

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Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"We may feel that nothing of which we have any knowledge or record has ever been done by mortal men, which surpasses their feats of arms. Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


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Here are three photos that Kate sent to me.

Peter, on the first photo, can be seen wearing his regiment's, The Wiltshire Regt, cap badge whilst in either India or Burma. He is extremely thin and emaciated so Kate suspects he is ill and waiting to be sent back to the UK.

The second photo shows a soldier returning from the The 1st Chindit Expedition, Operation Longcloth, 1943. There is no name to accompany the photo but Kate really believes him to be her father. His left forearm bears a skin blemish which Kate's father also had and which can be seen on the first photo.

The third photo shows Peter in civilian clothes post WWII.

Nick
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This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 25/01/2012 14:00:25


Nick Collins

CVA Forum Administrator

Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"We may feel that nothing of which we have any knowledge or record has ever been done by mortal men, which surpasses their feats of arms. Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


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Kate Albert
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Hi Nick
Thank you so much for putting my photos on the forum. I've just found another photo of Peter which makes me even more convinced that it's him. As I don't have any photos of him in full uniform, I don't know whether he had any other badges, but I'm very pleased to have the information. I look forward to hearing from you when you have deciphered his service record.
Many thanks
Kate

Kate Albert
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Here is the photo that Kate speaks of.
Taken about 19 years after the photo of the Chindit returning from The 1st Chindit Expedition and about a year before Peter sadly died, there is a definite likeness between the two photos which makes Kate convinced that the Chindit is her father.

Nick

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This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 30/01/2012 23:02:02


Nick Collins

CVA Forum Administrator

Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"We may feel that nothing of which we have any knowledge or record has ever been done by mortal men, which surpasses their feats of arms. Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


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