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Dover Chronicle - Saturday 06 April 1918
It is believed that four men have lost their lives, while six others were seriously injured, by an accident which occurred out Monday morning on the South East Coast. At the time they were engaged on gun practice. Two loud explosions, in rapid succession, indicated to people in the district that something untoward had happened, and comrades of the sufferers on hurrying to the spot found that some of the fatalities had been instantaneous. Prompt medical attention was forthcoming. and men who were badly wounded ,mere conveyed to hospital. All the victims were service men.
The victims were Fred Belfield, 19, (bombardier), Samuel E. Houchen. 24, Albert T. Aldridge, 22, and Arthur Large, 26 (gunners), all single men, belonging to the Royal Marine Artillery. At the inquest on Tuesday. Sergeant Charles Bryan said the four men formed part of the crew of a trench mortar. The accident was caused through the bomb exploding inside the gun. All the men were efficient and fully-trained. Captain Cecil Brook-Short said defects might exist in a bomb which would not be detected by those firing it. These would be due to carelessness, or. as the coroner suggested, criminal negligence on the part of those making the bomb. The jury returned a verdict of accidental death, adding a rider expressing their view that better inspection should be provided to guard against defects in the making of the bombs

Gunner, Royal Marine Artillery.on grave says Age: 23.
CWGC say age is 31

Cassey seems to have also died at Deal not Leicester, he was buried in Leicester with his family.

Thanks, I was going to lookup the details of the memorial later, just not got around to it yet.

I had a walk around the commemorations near the Spean Bridge Commando Memorial, looking for any new ones to photograph. Most will have already been photographed by me so will try and weed some out.

But there is one new commemoration that precedes the Commandos. It has at least two errors, I wonder who is responsible for it.

CAFFY is actually CASSEY

See HERE - Monday, 1 April 1918

I have not labelled all the individual memorials yet but have edited some to make the memorial more readable.

All named memorials to people who died in action are now on the IWM War Memorial and found one or two unit commemorations that I had missed.

All the individual commemorations are here - Individual Commemorations at The Commando Memorial Spean Bridge

Unit commemorations still at Unit Commemorations at The Commando Memorial

I was up at the Commando Memorial[/url] recently hoping to watch the Red Arrows going over but they did not follow the published route. Looking around the 'Area of Remembrance' I noticed all the unit commemorations so went back a few days later and took pictures of these and added to pictures on FLICKR.

Though I made a note of "44 RM CDO BURMA" and cannot find the picture and also not found it again.

I have also uploaded these onto the IWM War Memorial Register

I went back and took lots of pictures of the individual commemorations though not got them all. I did think of putting on the IWM WMR but I will just upload the most noteworthy ones there because there are nearly 200. All the individual commemorations are uploading to FLICKR at the moment and will be there shortly.

Yes I was speaking to someone a few days ago about the Commandos not being all RM. Here just seemed a good place to start asking.

A friend who was a volunteer with the RN Museum asked me to do some lookups.

He found a certificate for Paul Emerson Cramer who was a Corporal in the US Marine Corps and in September 1942 was made an Honorary Sergeant in the Royal Marines.

He was born in Orville, Ohio in 1919 and joined the military in 1939.

He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant In the US Marine Corps after completing officer training with the Royal Marines in 1943, this was reported in newspapers. Another US Marine, Walter D. Pickerell, graduated on the same course. Both had been made Honorary Sergeants in the RM early in their training course. In October 1943 both were transferred as cadets to RM Officer Training School.

"Quite why and how this set of postings for USMC personnel took place is not clear to me. Nor is it known why these two men were chosen."

Anyone able to help him?

Bill Harvey wrote:JMB

It would be interesting to see the list of names. Mum was one of the No 4 widows who met the Queen Mum that day and laid a wreath.

Best wishes.


I think the widows were named and there was a picture. Going out but will check when I get home - send me a private message with your EMail address and I will send copies of the whole pages direct.

Someone has asked whether William Fairbairn attended the unveiling of the Commando Memorial.

I have been through contemporary newspaper reports and he does not get a mention though there is only a short list of people who did attend.
There is an article in today's Oban Times that mentions the trials, training etc with Welmans, Welfreighters etc in Loch a'Choire.

It is available on PressReader

Highland Yacht Club and secret loch
? The Oban Times
? 19 Sep 2019

Captain Colville, who was a popular and well-liked resident landowner in Morvern, had a distinguished military career. Before the Second World War he had been a keen canoeist. Shortly after hostilities began, he volunteered for what was termed ?special and hazardous service?, and in 1942 was recruited by the Small Scale Raiding Force (SSRF) within 62 Commando. Later he joined the Special Boat Service where he became a canoeing instructor.
In the summer of 1943, he trained at Loch a? Choire, Kingairloch, on one-man midget submarines called Welman. That year he was injured and after convalescing was re-recruited in July 1944 by Special Operations Executive to work on the Welfreighter. These were top secret, 37ft cargo submersibles, designed with the highly dangerous objective of transporting mines and special forces personnel on raiding and sabotage operations in enemy-held ports and coastal waters. Later he served in the British section of Australian units interrogating former Japanese PoW in the Philippines and the Palau Islands before returning to Australia and becoming eligible for repatriation. He was demobbed in 1946 and remained a keen canoeist all through his life.
I have been told elsewhere that it was a practice for Operation FRANKTON by a small unit from the Royal Marines Boom Patrol Detachment.

Whilst looking for something else, I came across in the Admiralty War Diaries a signal about Exercise BLANKET on 29.10.1942. This had six small boats testing whether they could penetrate the Thames defences. They used the "dark night period" with camouflaged boats carrying two men and using paddle or sail propulsion.

I wonder if this was a dummy run for one of the raids on the Continent or checking whether British defences would detect a similar German attack?

Bill Harvey wrote:Enquiry made as follows "Is it known if a transcript of this discussion will be available?"


Very unlikely, just a talk in the local bookshop (which they have regularly, usually to promote a new book).

There is a talk at the Highland Bookshop in Fort William on 19th May

Gilly Halcrow - Saturday 19th of May, 6:30pm
Halcrow is an expert on the Commandos and the SOE, and will be discussing them at length.

I am sure the images at IWM Collections have been mentioned previously but in case not, I came across a whole series of images of beach leadings at Skipness in Argyll whilst looking for something else. The labelling of theirimages is poor, often because of the original labelling being poor. The search system is also poor. You just have to keep trying different keywords and if you find something interesting then often worth checking similar image numbers.

Another good source of images is Art UK, they have most of the pictures done by war artists along with others in public collection.

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