commando veterans association commando dagger
[Recent Topics] Recent Topics   [Groups] Back to home page  [Register] Register /  [Login] Login 
Messages posted by: NIC
Forum Index » Profile for NIC » Messages posted by NIC
Author Message
It is with great sorrow that we hear of the passing of Karin Churchill, devoted wife of Pat Churchill, (RM Signals, attached to No.4 Commando).
Many CVA Members will have known Karin so I include Frank Churchill's wonderful eulogy...

Frank Churchill wrote:
Mum died peacefully and painlessly in her sleep on Saturday 13th January, aged 87. Dad and I were with her at her bedside at the end.

Mum was a truly extraordinary lady who led a full and remarkable life. She left a profound and lasting impression on everyone who was privileged to know her.

From her first days on this earth to her last, she dedicated her life to the care of others, always putting their needs before her own - from offering her baby twin brother Wolfram her own thumb to suck as they lay side by side in their pram, to becoming a Red Cross Nurse and training as a missionary to join Mother Theresa's mission in Calcutta (becoming fluent in Hindi and Sanskrit in the process), to dedicating her later years to the reconciliation of former enemies and lecturing on the dangers of Fascism, and helping other veterans old and young, deal with PTSD from the benefit of her own traumatic experiences and nurse's training.

Karin and was born in Dresden - 'Florence on the Elbe' - in Saxony, eastern Germany in 1930. She witnessed at first hand the rise of Hitler and the evils of Nazism (when at the age of 10, her best blonde, blue-eyed best friend, and her family were taken away never to be seen again, for having one drop of Jewish blood in their lineage). On the night of 13th/14th February 1945 she was at home with her family, and had stayed up late, typically, sewing a bag as a present for a friend, when the bombing of Dresden, Operation Gomorrah, began. Their home, in the centre of Dresden's Altstadt, took a direct hit and was destroyed and she and her family were swallowed up by the firestorm. Somehow she and her twin brother (who was blinded by firestorm) managed to survive, though her mother, Margarethe perished, never to be found. Karin was aged just 14 and looked after her blind brother, finding shelter and food where they could in the destruction and chaos all around.

Then came the dangers of the Soviet advance. After the war, mum returned to Dresden and became a 'Trümmerfrau', helping to rebuild the city stone by stone. She went on to study art in Leipzig, making paintbrushes from her own hair and taking the occupying Soviet army propaganda posters down from the building walls at night, at risk of being shot, to use as drawing paper.

In her mid teens, mum, with her brother founded one of the first 'Kulturebund' in the Soviet occupied zone to give concerts and poetry readings to bring some normality back among the ruins of war. In 1950 she and her twin brother decided to escape across what was to became known as the 'Iron Curtain', to the American sector. At the first attempt they were unsuccessful - mum being shot and wounded in the attempt. They were captured and interrogated before eventually being released. At the second attempt they made it across. Cutting coal-scuttle curtains to look like Russiam military capes when silhouetted at night, guiding her blind twin brother they walked across no-man's land right past the Soviet solders to safety. They settled in Munich where mum continued her art studies at the university before finding work as a set designer for the Bavarian State Opera. Later she worked in the City planning department as a model-maker and then formed a successful partnership with the architect Franz Gürtner designing and building new churches, even making the altarpieces and door panels.

Increasingly however, mum came to realise that the post war world needed nurses and carers more than architects. So she joined the Red Cross and retrained as a Nurse, training at Heidelberg. She was also becoming deeply interested in Earstern religion and culture and joined the Indian Institute in Munich. She sat at Ravi Shankar's feet on his first concert tour of Europe in the early 50s. Mum determined to become a missionary - either at Albert Schweitzer's East African mission Lambourene or with Mother Theresa in Calcutta (a letter to her from the mission reads 'you are much needed here, we have more stones than bread').

En route to India, mum came to England to learn English, working first as an au pair in Devon and then studying at a language school in Oxford. It was in Oxford that my parents met and fell in love. Mum never made it to India.

Although she was already a highly qualified nurse, mum did not feel she should practice her vocation here until her English was fluent (which did not take long). In the meantime she worked as a cleaner at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford. When her qualifications were recognised by the Nursing Council she began her long career in England as a nurse, first as an industrial nurse at what was then Morris Motors in Cowley (now BMW Mini) and then at the J.R. II and Churchill hospitals before becoming Senior Sister at the Rivermead Rehabilitation Hospital - a pioneering centre for the treatment of brain injuries. It was here that she met a patient who it turned out had been a navigator in a Lancaster bomber over Dresden. She was able to help him recover and they formed a lasting friendship, and in gratitude this patient gave mum his navigator's torch.

All the while, mum continued making beautiful art - nativity cribs in the German tradition for the churches in the villages in Oxfordshire where we lived, and famously for Christchurch Cathedral, commissioned by the Friends of Christchurch. This piece became a consecrated treasure of the cathedral and was, until this year, on display throughout the Advent, christmas and Epiphany period.

Mum also sang for over 10 years with the Christchurch voluntary choir during the vacations. This included singing at the memorial service for Arthur 'Bomber' Harris, the WWII Air Marshall and the architect of the 'terror bombing' policy against German cities.

Mum never bore any bitterness towards Harris or the 'poor, brave boys' (as she called them) of Bomber Command (indeed, she was a strong supporter of the long overdue memorial to them and went to its unveiling).

In early 1989 mum made an emotional return to Dresden (which was then still in the DDR, just before the Wall tumbled) for the first time since her escape. The iconic Frauenkirche, was still in the charred ruins untouched for 45 years. It was in this church that my grandmother Margarethe, a mezzo-soprano, had sung the Ave Maria on New Year's Day 1945 in what became her final performance before she was killed in the raid just six weeks later. My mother asked the Soviet Intourist guide what would become of the church. She was told that there were plans to bulldoze it to make way for an apartment block. My mother insisted that the ruins should be preserved. These stones are sacred, she said.

After the fall of the Soviet Block and with German reunification the Dresden Trust was born with the aim of raising funds to rebuild the Frauenkirche. This dream was realised in 2004 and my mother was invited to join the London Bach Choir to sing Mozart's Requiem in the re-dedication concert.

My mother had a simple motto: Do right and fear no-one. She lived by it and practised it every day in big ways and small.

These words barely begin to encompass the rare, special person mum was, the remarkable, epic life she led, and the countless hearts she touched.

She was my mum, and I am so, so proud and blessed to have been her son.

Hi Chris,

Many thanks for getting back to us - I've now added Ronald's name to the photo.
If you need any help with the deciphering Army jargon and acronyms in the service records please let us know - we would appreciate it if you could let us know Ronald's service number & parent regiment when you get his service records...

We're here to help!


Hi Guy,
Thank you once again for your help. I had an idea of place and year of birth & death but you have confirmed it - brilliant.

The Green Howards also makes perfect sense (given the other information I have) - again thanks.


Hi John,
Welcome to the CVA Website and Forums.
In your post you mentioned some notes you were attaching - but there was no attachment to your post.
Do you require assistance with attaching the notes?

I'm presuming that you're also after more information regarding you father?
Are you able to supply us with a few basics?
Was he a Commando?
Army, RN or Royal Marine?
WWII or post-war?


hi Graham,
Yes this is my man - thanks.
The book is actually a sequel to 'The Life and Times of No.4754532' by Ron L Rickwood (also on Amazon).

But other research led me to these books the other day, and now I need to know a little a more about 4754532!


Looking for any information on 4754532, Ronald Leslie Rickwood, please...

Service number would suggest York & Lancs Regt?



Hi Phil,

Welcome to the CVA Website & Forums.
That's your first post sorted...

Hi Allan,
Welcome aboard the CVA Website & Forum.

I don't have any information regarding Lt Alistair Denholm other than he wasn't a commando - not all who served in Combined Operations were in the Commandos - but I can give you a little information about the Combined Operations Bombardment Units (of which there were five).

On D-Day, No.1 COBU was commanded by Lt Col Lionel Sidney Seccombe, RA.

The COBU [Combined Operations Bombardment Unit] was formed in 1941 to provide an organisation that could replace the support of the field artillery with the support of naval guns. The organisation was part of Combined Operations and came under the command of a Colonel, who was an adviser to CCO [Commander Combined Operations].
Each COBU was commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel who was on the staff of the Naval Commander of a Task Force and assisted the Senior Artillery Officer with fireplanning.

Naval bombardment was controlled through the COBU. The unit was commanded by the CBLO [Chief Bombardment Liaison Officer] - a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Artillery - and consisted of a small HQ and three Bombardment Troops.
Each troop was designed to provide observation of fire on a divisional front, and consisted of 1x Major, 15x Captains, 7x NCOs and 21x RN Signals Ratings attached.

A Bombardment Troop was responsible for the shore observation of naval gunfire, normally on a front of one division.
It is commanded by a Major RA as SBLO [Senior Bombardment Liaison Officer] and includes 1x SOB [Staff Officer Bombardment], 7x FOBs [Forward Observers Bombardment], 7x BLOs [Bombardment Liaison Officers], together with NCOs and RN communications ratings.

The SBLO was on the staff of the Naval Force Commander on the Divisional Commander's level. He would embark with the Naval and Military Commanders in the LSH [Landing Ship Headquarters]. He assisted the CRA [Commander Royal Artillery] in the coordination of the fire plan as affecting the ships and craft detailed to support the division.
The SBLO was responsible for:
1. Commanding and administering his troop.
2. Organising initial attachment of FOB to assaulting battalions and ensuring that BLOs are embarked in their allotted ships.
3.Assisting the commander, Royal Artillery, while he is afloat, and the Naval Force Gunnery Officer, in co-ordinating the divisional fire plan.
4.Working in the Combined Support Control Room of the LSH(L) during the assault and maintaining close liaison with Divisional HQ after it has landed,through his second in command, the SOB.

The SOB (Captain, RA) was the second in command of the Bombardment Troop.In an operation he was embarked in the LSH(L) as Assistant to the SBLO. When the division goes ashore he was attached to the Commander, Royal Artillery, as his adviser on the suitability of targets for the various types of ships available to give supporting fire. He also controls all FOBs on the divisional front by means of their spotting frequencies, issuing fresh orders for attachment or detachment according to the situation.

The BLO (Captain, RA) was embarked in each bombarding ship or attached to groups of bombarding craft. He was responsible for interpreting the orders and observations received from the FOB [Forward Observer Bombardment]and advising the Naval Gunnery Officer on all military matters including the safety of friendly troops,

The FOB was specially trained to observe naval gunfire on shore targets. He asks BCHQ [Bombardment Control Headquarters] for the allocation of a bombarding ship, calls for fire to meet the needs of the army formation or unit to which he is attached, and observes the fall of shot. He also reports frequently the tactical situation ashore, particularly the positions of friendly forward troops.

The Vandyke Photographic Studios was a very well known London photographic studio at 37 Buckingham Palace Road, founded by Carl Vandyke a studio photographer associated with 640 portraits including many of Royalty, most of which can be seen in the National Portrait Gallery. Carl was succeeded by his eldest son Herbert Vandyke (circa 1880-1943). In 1964 the company became 'Bassano and Vandyck Studio'. In 1965 it incorporated 'Elliott and Fry'. In 1977 it became Industrial Photographic.


It is with the greatest sorrow that we hear that Keith 'Chin' Gilbert, 29 Cdo Regiment, RA passed away on 27th Dec 2017

The funeral for Keith will be held at 11:00hrs on 19th January 2018 at St. John?s Church, 1 Church St, Pembroke Dock, SA72 6AR

Hi Chris,

We found R.P. Udy in the Commando Association Newsletter's supplement - 'Lost Legion,' dated September 1977. The Commando Association 'Stood Down' in 2005 but the Commando Veterans Association was formed, shortly after, by Commando Veterans who still wanted an association.

According to the CA's 'Lost Legion,' the last known address of R.P.Udy, No.4 Commando was - Portsmouth...

I'm pleased to report that I have now amended the entry in the No.4 Cdo Nominal Roll to show his full name. Thank you.

As an association we do not hold Service Records of individual WWII Veterans, however, Ronald family can apply to the MoD - the only custodian of WWII Service records - for a scan of his full, original, handwritten service records! The MoD charge a one off fee of £30 - unless Ronald's widow is still alive and then the fee is waived - and they'd need the consent (signature) of the next of kin and a copy of the death certificate.
The service records will show enlistment, regiment, training, conversion to commando, postings, embarkation overseas and theatre of operations, promotions (and demotions) wounds, hospitalisations, medal entitlement and demob...

Please tell your brother-in-law NOT to subscribe to ANY online genealogy search websites such as Forces War Records etc - they do NOT hold WWII service records and it will cost good money to find that out...

The two application forms for the MoD are here:

Both need filling in - any queries and I'm here to help!

Are there any photos of Ronald Udy? Ideally of that era and in uniform but any that we can put into the No.4 Cdo Album in our unique Gallery would be welcome and I'd be honoured to upload them for the family.

Hi cadnam,
Welcome to the CVA Website and Forums.
I think it's a fair bet that the R.P. Udy that we have listed in the No.4 Cdo Nominal Roll is indeed your brother-in-law's dad, Ronald Peter Udy. However, just to confirm it, can you tell me where Ronald Udy lived prior to his death?

Pete wrote:

Thanks to everyone who has posted (not least Eileen.)

She should have gone to -

Happy New Year ;)


I'm pleased to report that I've already had messages, from enquirers, via the new facility...


Once again, many thanks for the photo of Larry and your kind words, though I hasten to add that it is the raison d'être of the Commando Veterans Association to remember all those who have won the right to wear the coveted Commando green beret...

I have met Pete and drank a few beers with him , so I think I'm safe in saying, 'Hot Link' is not the first description that springs to mind!

Thanks for the post regarding Larry Smith and thanks to Guy for providing the evidence that supports your information.

I have now amended his record in the No.7 Cdo Nominal Roll to show his full name.

I, in turn, can add Larry's record as a PoW taken from WO 392/1 - 'Germany & German Occupied Territories, Imperial Prisoners of War; Section 1 - British Army.

With regards the email issue, we have had previous reports of a malfunction but on checking it seems to be in order - can you provide any details of error messages? Any information you can give us that may help our tech wizard track the glitch would be helpful.

Forum Index » Profile for NIC » Messages posted by NIC
Go to:   
©Commando Veterans Archive 2006 - 2016. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, all content on this site is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Powered by JForum 2.1.8 © JForum Team
commando dagger