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Messages posted by: Alan Orton
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I sent an email.
The epaulettes came with the shirt, the one in your picture is nothing like what he would have worn. There was no specific lanyard for Commandos. As I said previously correct uniforms for the period can be seen ob the Soldier of fortune website,

Might be of some interest.
One of the chaps in the image of 4 from 11 Commando is Mark Jennings, 328361 3rd Cavalry Training Regt. and served in 2 Troop, Keyes Cavaliers. He left the Commando on 20/10/41 for HQ XXX Corps.
I have seen a picture with names of some of 2 Troop from a newspaper cutting and there is a Dowie, another Smith and possibly another Warburton, but he may be Kenneth of the Seaforths but i do not know.
Well the hats okay, the epaulettes would have been plane, any chevrons if rank would be on the arm but he was a gunner so no chevrons. The shirt is not correct, they wore a shirt with 2 pleated chest pockets and 4 buttons, it was one you had to pull on over your head like a jumper. The epaulettes would have been of the same colour. If you go to Soldier of Fortune website it will show you the uniform type he would have worn. If you want copies of his WO 417 files and his record if attestation let me know and I will send them to you.

The epaulettes were detachable fed through the loop where the shirts arm joins the body. They were if the overhead type with a 4 button placket and a double pleat at the back, the lanyards would be of their corps in the case of the RA it was white. You could also add if you wished a pair of RA cloth shoulder titles which slipped over the epaulettes, as he was a trained RA signaller he may have had the crossed flags badge of course this would have been pre Commandos. As long as the Tam looks like a cowpat in size you will be okay, the size has been severely reduced over the years. No pips as such. There kit would have been KD shirt and shorts, short putties with attached tapes, short socks and hosetops with garter, the tam and a khaki v neck pullover, along with a cap comforter, 37 Pattern webbing, the shirts had a double buckle fastening, two side pockets, one dressing pocket on the right front and 3 belt loops, the 1 at the back was off centre to the right, B5 Ammuntion boots with 25 studs, heel and toe irons.

This is one of the 63 Spaniards who were recruited into 50 Commando, he later served in the MEC, 1SSR and then left Special Forces. He wears the Tam o Shanter with Black Hackle which was adopted by MEC and shoulder titles also on hat is his brass 'fanny' badge.
No, Comb. Ops badge was 1942, they never had them at all, the ME Comm badge was most likely for 50/51/52 Commando. The brass badge was also originally for 5051 and 52 but I have seen pictures of s chap from 8 Commando wearing one on his FS cap. No badges were worn.

Combined Ops badges didn't come out until summer 42 well past the date of Layforces disbandment, they had no Commando insignia. Shoulder titles and patches or badges came later. There are images of 11 on this site, go to main menu head for gallery look into Commandos WW2 and 11 are on there. As far as I know shoulder titles in 1940 were discouraged for security reasons but some did wear them, for a tombstone a Black Hackle would be appropriate.
Nothing at all, they would have been wearing the KD shirt so all one would have on them were rank chevrons.
11 (Scottish) Commando wore no insignia, badges or flashes on their uniform all they had was a Black Hackle on the Tam o Shanters.

SA Abbott Gnr 970064.

A Holden Gnr (Possibly TT Holden 970131).

JF Kearney Gnr 970050 - POW - Operation Flipper.

JA Reynolds Gnr 970558.

MRN Wood Gnr 970158.

Their RA Attestations can be found on Find my Past apart from Holden. Their RA Unit was 57th (Newfoundland) Heavy Regiment Royal Artillery.

In 11 (Scottish) Commando they all served in 1 Troop, i believe around 20 volunteered but only 5 made the grade.

In Cyprus they were stationed with 6 Troop at Larnaca and moved to Salamis with 10 Troop after 6 weeks ( May and June) 1941.

1 Troop were part of Y Party and were the right hand troop when landing on C Beach in Syria during Operation Exporter and were with HQ Troop, their officers were Gerald Bryan A Section and B Section were led by Alistair Coode, they saw quite a bit of fighting there.

Kearney was the only one of the above on Operation Flipper the rest were returned to the UK on Layforces disbandment and as far as i know all survived the war. Kearney was part of 1 Detachment and they were to go to the supposed HQ, he was part of the covering party along with Varney, Hughes and Heavysides, oncde they withdrew to the beach and Laycock gave the order to make their own way out he along with Bogle, Brodie, Coultread, Dunn, Heavysides and Murray headed south towards Mekili where courtesy of some previous action with the LRDG they were alert and ended up in the bag.

Whats interesting is that Laycock reported that there were no signallers in the party which was not strictly true, there were two and also Kearney himself was a trained RA signaller.

Hope this wil be of some use.

As a POW they were initially held in a temporary camp just outside of Tobruk, the following day they were taken to Benghazi where they boarded a freighter which had a large hole in it from a recent bombing raid. They left for Taranto via the coast of Crete and Greece to avoid submarines, they sailed through the Corinth Canal before finally reaching Taranto. From here they transported to Bari and then to Porto San Giorgio before finally ending up in a camp bear to the Swiss border.
Prior to Operation Agreement around 100 men and three officers drawn from the ranks of the B Company 11 RMB and took part in an operation at the island of Kupho Nisi just off the south eastern coast of Crete and was believed to house a radar station which as it turned out was empty. The operation was April 15th 194242 and although a success in parts was deemed little more than a training exercise by Lt. Col. E.H.M. Unwin.

On arrival in the ME MNBDO 1 was due to go to Crete, 11 RMB couyld not get there in time, MNBDO 1 was then sent to the FE but the 11th remained in Palestine and trained. They also took part in training on the Great Bitter Lake. the second part of 1941 they were on guard duties as the garrison battalion at Morscar Barracks and then guarding oil facilities at Haifa.

Although trained in amphibious landings the next proposed operation for the Battalion was a raid on Sollum Pass, rehersals took place but it came to nothing as eventually it was cancelled due to lack of landing craft.

Training was undertaken in Palestine and Cyprus and the Royal Egyptian Yacht Club in Alexandria. The practice landings held on Cyprus were found to have been harrowing due to lack of suitable landing craft. Further rehersas took place off Cyprus leaving Haifa but this led to further criticism's but the Marines performed well

For Operation Agreement the battalion boarded ship at Haifa at 2100 hrs on the 11th September and set sail at 0600 hrs the following day reaching Alexandria at 2000 hrs. They sailed for Tobruk after a briefing at 0500 hrs on the 13th four hours later they were fully briefed stating that this was not an exercise. At 1900 hrs weapons were tested and at 0157 hrs on the 14th they received the code word, not allowed to use the word but it was the same as Guy Gibsons dog. The rest is history as they say.

Below is a brief outline of what happened drawn from 'The Rhodes to Nowhere'.

In October 1940 plans had been made for a raid on Tobruk hopefully to be carried out the following spring, Operation Waylay which would employ Special Service troops in a seaward landing in four places, Party A was to land at Mengae-el-Merkah about mile and a quarter west of Tobruk, head inland and to destroy fuel supplies north of the airfield and secondly if possible, to destroy an ammunition dump and signals station. Party B would land at the same place and was to destroy oil and fuel installations to the east of the Naval barracks with their secondary target the airfield.

Party C were to land at either Mersa-Abd-Rabba or Mersa Mrara and attack the coastal defences to the north and to tackle any fuel depots they came across. Party D was to land at Mersa Mrura and make for Tobruk itself and cause as much trouble and mischief as they could, they were to attack the wireless and power stations, the telephone exchange and the barracks.

Parties A, B and C would consist of one company of troops with an attached party of Royal Engineers, Party D would comprise of just one company.
To ensure that they would have the element of surprise there would be no Naval bombardment prior to landing and no bombing by the R.A.F. although it was planned to bomb the area once the troops had been withdrawn.

Nothing came of the plan and it was soon to be forgotten about.

'The Tobruk garrison includes about 1 Italian infantry brigade and numerous staff of the c.a. About 1000 German soldiers amassed 24 miles east of Tobruk but probably that they do not have the necessary means of transport to immediately take action. However, it must be counted that these troops may intervene later. Tobruk?s artillery defense includes 8 coastal pieces, 48 pieces c.a. heavy and 85 pieces c.a. light. It is assumed that 30 Macchi 200 are located in Tobruk and El Adem airports. Some 88 and ME 110 as well as 24 Italian torpedo bombers must be located in Derna. It must be counted that a group of 30 JU 87s from Sidi Barrani may intervene within an hour. The intervention of a second group is likely within 3 hours. JU 1 from Crete can intervene within 1 hours. Within a few hours 130 enemy planes can take action. The action will be initiated by an airstrike against Tobruk on the D1/D2 night. [13/14th September]?.

?occupation of Tobruk for about 24 hours in order to perform the total destruction of the port facilities and anchorage units as well as to paralyze for a long time the efficiency of Tobruk as a port and supply base. In case of favourable developments in regard to the general situation instead of returning by sea, Forces A-B-C are to head eastwards by land, operating in correlation with Force X further paralyzing the supply line towards the front (and possibly acting on the back of our deployment during the enemy offensive at Alamein?.

'All forces are expected to leave Tobruk the evening after landing, returning-in-principle by sea, to the units of Forces A and C, and to the ten captured motor raft In the event of complete success, some of the forces will have to return by land, on captured vehicles, operating ? in connection with Force X ? against enemy lines of communication. Any missing men will be picked up three nights later by submarine at Marsa Scegga near Bardia'.

'At the beach two boats, these boats were a real 'Heath Robinson' affair, knocked up with a steel frame wood and canvas, most had no motors and had to be towed in unloaded their complement of Marines under the direction of Lt. MacDonald but by now the enemy fully aware that something was happening swept the sea with search lights and it now became apparent that the forces from the sea would not be able to affect a landing and with the coming of first light all attempts to do so was abandoned'.

'The boats were pretty much dumb lighters with only one having communication with her mother ship which left Unwin without any means of making contact and had to return without making a landing. It was said that as these boats would have one and only one outing there was no need to go to any expense in their manufacture, this lack of expense would be more expensive to those that took part in the operation'

'For those that did make the run in they faced a pretty torrid time getting a shore with some men drowning in the process, they were met with artillery, mortar and machine gun fire from the defenders. These Italians put up a fine show in pretty much stopping Force A in their tracks and those that did make a shore were a mixed bunch of Marines and artillery men along with a few engineers, their prospects were not good and eventually were forced to attempt a breakout, after entering a wadi they opened fire on some tents, it was just one of those things that goes wrong in the fog of war, ?la guerra e guerra? or rather ?war is war?. The tented camp was an Italian hospital facility but appears not to have been shown as one and casualties were inflicted.
After they had realised their mistake in opening fire the survivors made their way to another wadi and from here, they realised that there would be no other option available to them but to surrender which they finally did bringing an end to their part in the current fiasco'.

Hope this may be of interest.

Looks like he enlisted during 1930 and served with 4/7 Dragoon Guards, discharged 10/9/36. Recalled and finally Z Reserve 30.1.46.

Born Pontefract 1913, mothers maiden name Farrar. Died Rotheram 1975.
Hi Joe,

No connection, the operation is recorded in the book SBS in World War 2 by G B Courtney.

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