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Tom McCormack, 5 Troop, 2 Commando, Died St Nazaire  XML
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MBrockway
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Joined: 18/04/2009 01:36:39
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Folks,
I thought I'd give you all an update on what my mother and I have been up to wrt to Tom McCormack, Bill Hughes and Syd Murdoch.

I've now acquired and devoured James Dorrian's Storming St Nazaire - very good and I echo the strong recommendation already made for it.

I've just started Dorrian's Battleground Europe book on St Nazaire, which we'll be using to plan out our trip to St Nazaire in due course.

James Dorrian has also established a correspondence with us which was a lovely surprise. It emerges he's not far away from me here in Cheshire & we're hoping to meet him when my mother is next down from Scotland.

I've also spoken with Dennis Reeves at the Liverpool Scottish Museum and we've both bought his excellent book. This is proving most useful and we now have a good understanding of Tom, Bill and Syd's experiences in Norway with Scissorforce, as well as a much clearer idea of where each of them was during the St Nazaire Raid.

I've spoken with Dennis on the phone several times and he has been helpful with advice about trying to trace the men's descendants. When my mother is next down from Scotland we'll be going up to Liverpool to meet Dennis and visit the Liverpool Scottish archives in New Zealand House.

I've also just managed to pick up a good copy of Stuart Chant's St Nazaire Commando, which I'll dive into soon.

By a very strange coincidence, my mother met Ian Chant-Sempill, Stuart Chant's son, at the Scottish Homecoming celebrations over the summer and had a very interesting conversation about Tom McCormack. As you're all aware, Stuart Chant appears close to Tom McCormack in many of the German photographs taken outside the Cafe Moderne. She found this chance meeting very emotional.

My uncle, her younger brother, who was born after the War, went over to St Nazaire later in the summer, but was unable to include a trip to Tom's grave in Rennes.

An even more curious co-incidence saw him fall into conversation with a total stranger, a Frenchman, in Escoublac-la-Baule Cemetery.

They shared their thoughts on the sacrifice of the commandos there and my uncle was moved at just how well the locals have kept their memory alive. The Frenchman then surprised my uncle by saying that there was one commando who was not buried there but at Rennes - Tom McCormack of course, and that he (the Frenchman) had made a special study of Tom! Both were aghast when my uncle then told him that Tom had been billeted with his parents in Ayr!

My uncle will be receiving some material from this local and I'll obviously share it with you all here.

Thanks again for all your help and we'll keep you posted on our progress.
Cheers,
Mark


Remembering Tom McCormack, died of wounds, Bill Hughes and Syd Murdoch both captured, all at St Nazaire and all Liverpool Scottish/QOCH & 5(Scottish) Troop, No 2 Commando. Wonderful company & welcome guests billeted with my grandfather in Ayr in 1941-2.
NIC
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Fantastic story Mark. Great news about all the research and the results.
And what a small world it really is.

Nick

Nick Collins,

Commando Association Historical Archivist & Photographer.

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

"Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


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Pete
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Hi Mark

I was pleased to read your last post and especially so for your mother. I would just like to bring to your attention a previous forum message, in case you missed it, about the French woman Louise Jaouen who tended the St Nazaire graves of the fallen during the occupation. I appreciate Tom was buried elsewhere but I think it goes to show that many local French people respected those Commandos who gave their lives at St Nazaire, and still do.

http://www.commandoveterans.org/cdoForum/posts/list/1033.page

Regards

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 21/09/2009 23:28:56


Pete Rogers, son of LSgt Joe Rogers MM & nephew of TSM Ken McAllister. Both No2 Commando.
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 the pm facility ****
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mandy
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Joined: 28/12/2009 20:27:26
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Pete wrote:Hi Mark and welcome to the CVA. I am assuming you have seen the No 2 Commando Gallery and the album for 5 Troop. In that album there is a photo I posted of 5 Troop taken in Dumfries prior to St Nazaire. Pte. Tom McCormack is pictured on the extreme left , 3rd row up, as you look at the photo and in the same row are Pte. Syd Murdoch and Pte.Bill Hughes. All were from the Liverpool Scottish, as were my father and my uncle who are also in the picture. There are also individual photos of Tom and Bill but sadly not Syd. As you know Tom died at St Nazaire. Tom sailed on HMS Campbeltown. Syd was on MGB314 and was wounded, and taken prisoner, as was Bill Hughes whom I believe was on ML177. Thee was another Bill in 5 Troop at the time from the Liverpool Scots called Bill Blythe and he was a L/Cpl. He was also taken POW at St Nazaire. There is one member of 5 troop from the Liverpool Scots who was at St Nazaire that I am in contact with. If you wish to contact me by email I will gladly speak to him and to the curator of the Liverpool Scots Museum to see if I can find out any further information. I also have a notebook with billet addresses for 5 troop in Ayr but this was after St Nazaire. There is also a picture in that album of 3 members of 5 Troop taken I believe at the old Ayr Racecourse you mentioned. In fact No.2 Commando were due to stay in Perth but due to an incident with the Free Polish Division based there No. 2 moved to Ayr



I do believe my grandfather about about this incident in one of his letters . He was NOT happy that they had to leave and the Polish division where allowed to stay. I am aware of my grandfather mentioning a Bill whilst he was a pow.
MBrockway
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mandy wrote:
Pete wrote:<<snip by Mark>>There is also a picture in that album of 3 members of 5 Troop taken I believe at the old Ayr Racecourse you mentioned. In fact No.2 Commando were due to stay in Perth but due to an incident with the Free Polish Division based there No. 2 moved to Ayr
I do believe my grandfather about about this incident in one of his letters . He was NOT happy that they had to leave and the Polish division where allowed to stay. I am aware of my grandfather mentioning a Bill whilst he was a pow.

Mandy,
Great to hear from you!

Was your grandfather in Ayr with 5 Troop 2 Cdo? Do you have any further information? Name, where he was captured etc.?
Cheers,
Mark

Edit:
Mandy - just found your other posts!

See here for everyone else:
L. Bayliss L/Sgt. 3 Troop, No 2 Commando
&
2 COMMANDO 2 TROOP

Mandy's grandfather was Lance Serjeant L. Bayliss, 2 Troop or 3 Troop, No 2 Commando captured at St Nazaire.

Cheers,
Mark



This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 29/12/2009 15:58:57


Remembering Tom McCormack, died of wounds, Bill Hughes and Syd Murdoch both captured, all at St Nazaire and all Liverpool Scottish/QOCH & 5(Scottish) Troop, No 2 Commando. Wonderful company & welcome guests billeted with my grandfather in Ayr in 1941-2.
MBrockway
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Joined: 18/04/2009 01:36:39
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Folks,
Thought it was time to give you all a progress update!

The big news is my mother has established contact with the brother of Syd Murdoch, who was billeted at my grandfather's in Ayr along with Tom McCormack and Bill Hughes.

It seems Syd passed away some time ago, but his wife is still alive and their two children.

They're all in the NW. My mother hopes to meet up with them during the summer and while in the area have a trip to see Dennis Reeves at the Liverpool Scottish Museum archive.

Syd's brother had no information on Bill Hughes.

My mother also made it Fort William in November and was pleased to meet up with some of you. She enjoyed the weekend, particularly the ceremony at the Spean Bridge Memorial.

I'll post another update soon.
Cheers,
Mark






Remembering Tom McCormack, died of wounds, Bill Hughes and Syd Murdoch both captured, all at St Nazaire and all Liverpool Scottish/QOCH & 5(Scottish) Troop, No 2 Commando. Wonderful company & welcome guests billeted with my grandfather in Ayr in 1941-2.
MBrockway
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Joined: 18/04/2009 01:36:39
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Remembering today Tom McCormack who died of wounds sustained during Operation Chariot at St Nazaire on 11 April 1942.

Not forgotten.


Remembering Tom McCormack, died of wounds, Bill Hughes and Syd Murdoch both captured, all at St Nazaire and all Liverpool Scottish/QOCH & 5(Scottish) Troop, No 2 Commando. Wonderful company & welcome guests billeted with my grandfather in Ayr in 1941-2.
NIC
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MBrockway wrote:Remembering today Tom McCormack who died of wounds sustained during Operation Chariot at St Nazaire on 11 April 1942.

Not forgotten.



Thanks Mark,

We will remember him and all those that fell on Op Chariot.

nick

Nick Collins,

Commando Association Historical Archivist & Photographer.

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

"Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


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Stewart Dennett
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Joined: 06/12/2010 11:16:15
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Hi Mark
Hope you do not mind the intrusion
I am the great nephew by marriage of Bill Hughes, of whom you write.
Bill sadly passed after a long and happy life some 12 years ago.
He was married to my great Aunt Sheila and has a daughter Leslie.
Until his death he lived in Meols, Wirral.
Sheila is quite frail now but still active and has moved to be closer to Leslie in Port Madoc, Wales.
Bill maintained a general silence within the family about his wartime activities like so many of his generation but he must have sensed his mortality at my grandfathers funeral in 1994 as he opened up to me there and kept me rapt with attention describing his exploits.
The Clarkson programme was on last night and reminded me to look up any references
I would be grateful if there is any further information you could point me to.
I think it is very important that I am able to impart to my own sons the vitality that once existed in some of the elder members of our society and the sacrifices they made.
Kind regards
Stewart Dennett
Pete
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Hi Stewart

I am not sure how much you know already about Bill's military service. You probably have much of this already. He followed the same route to the Commandos as my father and uncle . From the Liverpool Scottish to No.4 Independent Company to 5 troop No.2 Commando. I have spoken with Jim Dorrian, author of the excellent book Storming St. Nazaire, and a member of the CVA. He advises me of the following
Private W A Hughes, 2929408, (5/2Cdo), of the Camerons, was on board ML177, and so was one of the few men landed in the Old Entrance. His 'officer' was TSM George Haines. They eventually came into HQ reserve and essentially saved Col Newman's bacon. He was listed as PoW."

My father was on ML443. My father made it back. I have spoken with Dennis Reeves of the Liverpool Scottish Museum trust and he tells me Bill never said much at all to him either and he cannot assist with anymore. I can confirm that Bill was a member of the original Commando Association - now disbanded. His army service number is confirmed by their old records as that given by Jim Dorrian, 2929408, and the number of the prisoner of war camp he was in was 344. His POW number was 18582. Our gallery has many photos of No.2 Commandos including Bill and his comrades from 5 troop. Here is an excellent one of them all at Dumfries - Bill is number 20:

http://www.commandoveterans.org/cdoGallery/v/units/2/5+troop/2+cmdo+5+troop+dumfries+1941a.jpg.html?g2_imageViewsIndex=1

There are also photos of No.4 Independent Company in our 'World War 2 'gallery. I hope that Mark may have some more information. I ask you to consider joining our association and maybe one day bring your children to one of our services at Alrewas or Spean Bridge. They are both well attended, as can be seen by the photos from November's services at Fort William and Spean Bridge which I have linked to below. You would all be most welcome.

http://www.commandoveterans.org/cdoGallery/v/events/spean-bridge-2007/fw+2010/

Regards

Pete

This message was edited 13 times. Last update was at 06/12/2010 22:43:57


Pete Rogers, son of LSgt Joe Rogers MM & nephew of TSM Ken McAllister. Both No2 Commando.
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 the pm facility ****
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Pete
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I have recently discovered that my uncle Ken McAllister, not only knew Tom well, but was also great friends with him and all those named within this forum message and thanks to my cousin Stephen McAllister, Ken's son, we now have some excellent photos of the group together. We also have one of Ken and Josie McCormack (Tom's sister) taken in July 1942 after the raid. In this photo the two on the left are not known but I suspect may also be family. Here is a gallery link to just one of them shown below in happier times before the raid in which Tom lost his life. All will be placed in the 5 troop album of No.2 Commando gallery.

http://www.commandoveterans.org/cdoGallery/v/units/2/5+troop/sid+tom+ken+and+bill+on+leave+1941.jpg.html?g2_imageViewsIndex=1

additionally we have established the identities of the 2 men either side of Ken in this photo we already had - Gerry Wilson on the left, and Tom McCormack (with the pipe) on the right:

http://www.commandoveterans.org/cdoGallery/v/units/2/5+troop/img005.jpg.html

Here is a link to the 5 troop album of No.2:

http://www.commandoveterans.org/cdoGallery/v/units/2/5+troop/

So Mark your first message on here on behalf of your mother is now fully answered and you can show her these pictures.

Pete R.
[Thumb - sid tom ken and bill on leave 1941.jpg]
 Filename sid tom ken and bill on leave 1941.jpg [Disk] Download
 Description Photo courtesy of Ken's son Stephen McAllister
 Filesize 427 Kbytes
 Downloaded:  1537 time(s)

[Thumb - 2 unknown, Toms sister Josie and Ken.jpg]
 Filename 2 unknown, Toms sister Josie and Ken.jpg [Disk] Download
 Description Tom's sister Josie McCormack and Ken are on the right of this photo. The two on the left are n/k. July 1942 Ayr four months after the raid. Photo courtesy of Stephen McAllister
 Filesize 553 Kbytes
 Downloaded:  856 time(s)

This message was edited 11 times. Last update was at 27/06/2011 14:10:23


Pete Rogers, son of LSgt Joe Rogers MM & nephew of TSM Ken McAllister. Both No2 Commando.
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 the pm facility ****
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MBrockway
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Joined: 18/04/2009 01:36:39
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Stewart Dennett wrote:Hi Mark
Hope you do not mind the intrusion

<snip>

I think it is very important that I am able to impart to my own sons the vitality that once existed in some of the elder members of our society and the sacrifices they made.
Kind regards
Stewart Dennett

Stewart,
Wonderful to find another link with Bill, I'm just sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you.

Pete's given you the detail of Bill's part in Operation Chariot. I can't add more - my info has either come from Pete, or from the same sources as Pete, mainly Jim Dorrian and Dennis Reeves.

For info on Bill's experiences leading up to Operation Chariot, there is no better source than Dennis Reeves' excellent book Special Service of a Hazardous Nature - the story of the Liverpool Scottish involvement in Special Forces Operations during World War Two.

It covers the Norway operations and the founding of the Commandos. It will be perfect for giving the historical detail to your sons, though it's more of a source/reference book.

This link shows how to buy it ...
http://www.liverpoolscottish.org.uk/news6.htm#New Book

For a more readable narrative, but limited to Operation Chariot only, then Jim Dorrian's Storming St Nazaire is absolutely excellent. You should definitely get hold of a copy as it covers the aftermath of the raid as well, including what must have been the terrifying period hiding in small groups in cellars expecting to be captured and summarily executed momently, as well as some general information on the survivors move into PoW camps in Germany. It's recently been reissued so is still available new.

I've been speaking to my mother this morning and she would love to meet Sheila and Leslie in Porthmadoc. Although she's up in Argyll, I'm in Chester, so she can use me as a springboard!

She remembers Bill as the one who made them all laugh :D

We understand Syd's wife and adult children are in the Ruthin area, so we hope to meet them all soon.

Are you in the Merseyside area yourself?
Cheers,
Mark



Remembering Tom McCormack, died of wounds, Bill Hughes and Syd Murdoch both captured, all at St Nazaire and all Liverpool Scottish/QOCH & 5(Scottish) Troop, No 2 Commando. Wonderful company & welcome guests billeted with my grandfather in Ayr in 1941-2.
MBrockway
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Pete wrote:I have recently discovered that my uncle Ken McAllister, not only knew Tom well, but was also great friends with him and all those named within this forum message and thanks to my cousin Stephen McAllister, Ken's son, we now have some excellent photos of the group together. We also have one of Ken and Josie McCormack (Tom's sister) taken in July 1942 after the raid. In this photo the two on the left are not known but I suspect may also be family.

So Mark your first message on here on behalf of your mother is now fully answered and you can show her these pictures.

Pete R.

Pete,
I'm absolutely lost for words. And my mother is so grateful too.

We have a photo in the family of Josie McCormack taken on the Malvern Hills during the war, but it has been temporarily misplaced . It would be some time after mid 1942 as my grandfather was posted to Worcester just after St Nazaire.

They had already left Ayr in July 1942 when the photo of Ken & Josie was taken. This is probably why my grandfather's adress of Carwinshoch View is not mentioned in Pete's father's notebook of billet addresses.

I don't recognise either of the two unknowns in the photo with Ken & Josie.

I'll check the 5 Troop album now for the rest of the photos you mention.

Many many thanks Pete!
Cheers,
Mark

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 27/06/2011 02:03:04


Remembering Tom McCormack, died of wounds, Bill Hughes and Syd Murdoch both captured, all at St Nazaire and all Liverpool Scottish/QOCH & 5(Scottish) Troop, No 2 Commando. Wonderful company & welcome guests billeted with my grandfather in Ayr in 1941-2.
MBrockway
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Joined: 18/04/2009 01:36:39
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Folks,
Thought you'd all like to know that my mother laid a wreath at Spean Bridge commemorating Tom, Bill and Syd and the rest of the men on Operation Chariot last weekend.

She also placed three wooden poppy crosses in the garden of remembrance nearby.

Meanwhile in Liverpool I placed a commemoration and photo of Tom on the "Liverpool's VC Heroes" Noel Chavasse Memorial in Abercrombie Square. I know Tom wasn't decorated, but he certainly qualifies in my eyes and, as a Liverpool Scottish officer, I'm sure Chavasse would have approved!

Reason this is all a little early for the anniversary of the raid, is my mother, my sister, her two young sons and myself are all off to France this weekend for the 70th Anniversary Commemorations.

We're only loosely attached to the main CVA party as we're at Rennes on Monday to visit Tom's grave and the site of the German naval hospital, but we hope to see at least some of you in St Nazaire on the Tuesday and Wednesday. We'll be in our kilts in memory of 5 Troop!


We've also established contact with Syd Murdoch's widow and hope to meet face-to-face to show her the pictures from next week's Parade and Service over the summer.

Thanks again to all here who have helped us renew these connections and keep the men's memory alive!
Cheers,
Mark

Remembering Tom McCormack, died of wounds, Bill Hughes and Syd Murdoch both captured, all at St Nazaire and all Liverpool Scottish/QOCH & 5(Scottish) Troop, No 2 Commando. Wonderful company & welcome guests billeted with my grandfather in Ayr in 1941-2.
MBrockway
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Joined: 18/04/2009 01:36:39
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Had a very moving visit to Tom's grave in Rennes on Monday followed by a tour of the school which was used as a hospital during the second half of the war and where the charioteers were taken after initial casualty care at L'Hermitage at La Baule. All hosted by our friend Hubert Marie who has made a special study of Tom and the charioteers and their time in Rennes. I'll send in some pictures once we're back in the UK. Mark

Remembering Tom McCormack, died of wounds, Bill Hughes and Syd Murdoch both captured, all at St Nazaire and all Liverpool Scottish/QOCH & 5(Scottish) Troop, No 2 Commando. Wonderful company & welcome guests billeted with my grandfather in Ayr in 1941-2.
 
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