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Major Eric 'Joe' Langley MC, 42RM Commando  XML
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Transcript from the Daily Telegraph obituary dated 13th October 2005 for Major Eric 'Joe' Langley MC

Major 'Joe' Langley, Royal Marines, who has died aged 93, won the Military Cross during his first hours in battle, when 42 Commando landed on the Myebon Peninsula of Burma in January 1945. Langley was the troop leader on a landing craft which was hit by two shells and set on fire. He was wounded and the marine next to him decapitated, covering him in blood and brains. Quickly restoring order, he refused a suggestion to retreat out of range and instead jumped into four feet of water and thick mud, 100 yards offshore, to lead his men on to the beach as their landing craft sank behind them. On being helped to firm ground by two other marines, Langley collapsed through loss of blood. But as soon as a tourniquet had been applied to the wound, he rose to follow his troop to the front line. The marines, who were involved in a flanking movement to cut off the Japanese army from its lines of communication, had to operate without tanks or artillery because the soft mud was sewn with anti-personnel mines. The invaders were outnumbered 10 to one, and the wounded Langley found his troop heavily engaged in resisting a manic Japanese counter-attack. He rallied his men to hold on, and then to capture the gun which had so nearly killed him.

Eventually he returned to the beach after his commanding officer had given him a direct order. Langley was awarded an immediate MC. Lieutenant-General Sir Philip Christison, commander of XV Corps, published a special order of the day congratulating the marines for having "gained a reputation for indifference to personal danger, for ruthless pursuit in success, and for resourceful determination in adversity."

The son of a clothing manufacturer, Eric Langley was born at Stretford on June 19 1912, and educated at Bowden College, Altrincham, Cheshire. He left school at 15 to begin an apprenticeship with Boydell Brothers, and after his father's death, became managing director of the family firm, A E Langley, in 1940.
Despite being in a reserved occupation, Langley joined up, and was given the choice by a recruiting officer between becoming a stoker in the Navy or a Royal Marine. Since he was not a good swimmer and suffered from seasickness, he later attributed his heroism to his anxiety to get ashore, no matter the consequences.
He passed out as an officer cadet at Thurlestone, Devon, and became a commando in August 1943, when 1st Battalion, Royal Marines, became 42 Commando. Langley trained at Loch Ryan and Fort William, where his hobbies of walking, potholing, and climbing in Austria, Germany and Switzerland enabled him to pass all the demanding physical tests.

Sailing from Gourock to Bombay, Langley's troopship, Ranchi, was damaged by bombs and then delayed for repairs at Alexandria. He arrived in India in late January 1944, acclimatised at Cocanada on the hot and humid coast of Bay of Bengal, and took part in jungle training at Belgaum, Mysore, while British forces prepared for Operation Screwdriver, the invasion of Burma.

On recovering from his wounds, Langley and his troop rehearsed for Operation Zipper, the invasion of Malaya, until the Japanese surrendered after the dropping of the atomic bomb. Langley had nightmares about the cruelty of the Japanese to the end of his life. He retained a bullet in his arm, but treasured his huge bar bill from the officers' mess for VJ Day.

On returning home Langley moved the family business from making ladies' fashions into retail, and finally sold it in 1985. He was a lifelong supporter of Sale Rugby Club, where he was given the nickname Joe before the war, after running a coconut shy called Cokey Joe's at a fundraising fête. He played for the 1st XV in the 1930 and coached Sale's colts some 60 years later, when he was elected a vice-president.

Joe Langley, who died on September 9, married Trudie Napier in 1946. She died in 1995 and a son predeceased him; he is survived by a son and two daughters.

Our thanks to Bill Pirie for advising us of this obituary notice

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 12/02/2014 15:40:42

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 (pm). Use email, forum, or use the contact form, selecting the category website gallery questions, on the main home page.
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Joined: 17/08/2012 13:26:51
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Truly inspirational!

If I have praised my comrades too highly I make no apology, for they were beyond all praise.

Lord Lovat - No 4 Commando
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