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Special Air Service in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

Special Air Service

    If you can provide any additional information, especially on actions and locations at specific dates, please add it here.

    Those known to have served with

    Special Air Service

    during the Second World War 1939-1945.

    The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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    S/Sgt. Denis George "Lofty" Goddard MID Royal Artillery

    My Father Denis George "Lofty" "Badgie" Goddard joined the Royal Artillery Boys Service in Woolwich in 1938. His early wartime service 1939-42 included being a very young staff sergeant training anti tank crews in Wales, most of whom ended up in North Africa.

    Overseas wartime service from 1943-45 included Special Operations Executive (SOE) attachment as radio operator in various Greek Islands followed by special forces operations in the Balkans, Northern Italy and Southern France in the following units:- Special Raiding Squadron (SRS), Raiding Support Regiment (RSR), and Special Air Service (SAS)

    He finished the back end of the war in a 25 pounder RA unit (the Ayeshire Yeomanry) in Northern Italy (Argenta gap etc.) and Southern Austria where he was part of the operation that handed back to the Soviet Red Army the White Russian Cossacks who fought for the Nazis.

    Post WW2 Lofty continued as a professional soldier until 1972. Units included 33rd RA, 66th RA, 7th RHA, 17 RA. Postings included:- India 1945/6 , Palestine 1946/7, Malaya 1950/52, Singapore 1952/53, Dusseldorf 1954/56? , Cyprus 1956?/60 then was UK based after that.

    Lofty faded away in June 2007.

    Michael Goddard

    Anders Frederik Emil Victor Schau Lassen VC, MC. 62 Commando Special Air Service (d.9th Apr 1945)

    Anders Lassen was the son of Emil Victor Schau Lassen and Suzanne Maria Signe Lassen, of Nyhavn, Copenhagen. After serving in the Danish Merchant Navy, he came to the United Kingdom shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War and joined the British Commandos in 1940, serving with No. 62 Commando as a private. He was commissioned in the field and awarded an immediate Military Cross for his part in Operation Postmaster, the capture of three Italian and German ships from the neutral Spanish island of Fernando Po, in the Gulf of Guinea.

    No. 62 Commando was later absorbed into the Special Air Service in February 1944 and Lassen became a Major by October 1944. During his service he saw action in North-West Europe, North Africa, Crete, the Aegean islands, mainland Greece, Yugoslavia and Italy. He was awarded two bars to the Military Cross, the first dated 27 September 1943 and the seconded dated 15 February 1944

    He was commanding the Special Boat Squadron when he was awarded the Victoria Cross. The London Gazette of 4 September 1945, gives the following:

    "The King has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the Victoria Cross to: Major (temporary) Anders Frederik Emil Victor Schau Lassen, M.C. (234907), General List. In Italy, on the night of 8/9 April 1945, Major Lassen was ordered to take out a patrol of one officer and seventeen other ranks to raid the north shore of Lake Comacchio. His tasks were to cause as many casualties and as much confusion as possible, to give the impression of a major landing, and to capture prisoners. ' No previous reconnaissance was possible, and the party found itself on a narrow road flanked on both sides by water. Preceded by two scouts, Major Lassen led his men along the road towards the town. They were challenged after approximately 500 yards from a position on the side of the road. An attempt to allay suspicion by answering that they were fishermen returning home failed, for when moving forward again to overpower the sentry, machinegun fire started from the position, and also from two other blockhouses to the rear. Major Lassen himself then attacked with grenades, and annihilated the first position containing four Germans and two machineguns. Ignoring the hail of bullets sweeping fire road from three enemy positions, an additional one having come into action from 300 yards down the road, he raced forward to engage the second position under covering fire from the remainder of the force. Throwing in- more grenades he silenced this position which was then overrun by his patrol. Two enemy were killed, two captured and two more machine-guns silenced. By this time the force had suffered casualties and its firepower was very considerably reduced. Still under a heavy cone of fire Major Lassen rallied and reorganised his force and brought his fire to bear on the third position. Moving forward himself he flung in more grenades which produced a cry of " Kamerad ". He then went forward to within three or four yards of the position to order the enemy outside, and to take their surrender. Whilst shouting to them to come out he was hit by a burst of spandau fire from the left of the position and he fell mortally wounded, but even whilst falling he flung a grenade, wounding some of the occupants, and enabling his patrol to dash in and capture this final position. Major Lassen refused to be evacuated as he said it would impede the withdrawal and endanger further lives, and as ammunition was nearly exhausted the force had to withdraw. By his magnificent leadership and complete disregard for his personal safety, Major Lassen had, in the face of overwhelming superiority, achieved his objects. Three positions were wiped out, accounting for six machine guns, killing eight and wounding others of the enemy, and two prisoners were taken. The high sense of devotion to duty and the esteem in which he was held by the men he led, added to his own magnificent courage, enabled Major Lassen to carry out all the tasks he had been given with complete success."

    Lassen is buried at the Argenta Gap war cemetery and his Victoria Cross is on display at the Museum of Danish Resistance in Copenhagen, Denmark.

    S. Flynn

    Pte. George Gemmell Queens Own Cameron Highlanders

    My Grandfather George Gemmell enlisted 27.6.1940 in the 5 Bn Cameron Highlanders (TA). On the 24th April 1942 he joined L Det SAS, transferring to 1 SAS (A Squadron) 21.9.1942 to 1.2.1943. On the 10th of March 1943 he rejoined 5 Bn Cameron Highlanders then served with 11 Infantry Holding Bn (attached 9 Bn Seaforth Highlanders) from 1.12.1944 to 1.5.1946. He was released to Army Reserve 15.1.1947

    I am interested in the specific battles in which he may have fought.

    Alex Ford

    Sgt. William Dean Geddes 4 Lt Bde. 31 Fd Regt

    My grandfather, William Dean Geddes enlisted at Glasgow into the Royal Artillery on 30th of January 1935. he did his basic training at Woolwich (three months) posted to 4th Light Brigade at Deepcut, moving to Brighton 1937. In 1939 he was posted to Egypt as a L/Bdr sailing from Southampton in HMT Lancashire landing Port Said 4th July 1939 to 31 Field Regiment Royal Arillery at Helmeia, Cairo. The Regt moved with 4 Indian div to Mersa Matruh remaining during the desert campaigns of the next 2 years & firing their 25 pdrs almost daily. After Sidi Berani fell, they sailed from Alexandria to the Sudan to move into Eritrea for that 4 month campaign before returning to Cairo. The biggest action in Eritrea was the capture of the heights above Keren after a two monthsiege.

    In April 1942 the Regiment having suffered many casualties & losing their guns in a GE Tank attack at Sidi Omar, went to form a composite Regiment on Cyprus. In Dec 1942 he was posted to Egypt to join the SAS at Kabrit Trg for under cover ops, which they carried out on the north coast of Africa, in the Aegean Sea & Cretan area of Greece. He was promoted to Bombardier & after the Syrian & Palestine campaigns of 1943 & 1944, he returned to the UK in August 1944 & rejoined SAS Regt at Chelmsford after detached SB duties & later went to Norway in 1945.

    After disbandment of the SAS just post war he returned to 24 HAA Regt RA as a sgt at Sheerness staying until 1949 when he was posted to school of AA Gunnery for a year as an instructor & then went to Gravesend to join 46 Regt RA until his discharge on 29th of January 1957. After 22 years with the colours.

    My grandfather died on 11th April 1989 at Royal Hospital Chelsea & is buried at Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey (old plot). Sadly my father never got to meet his father. We just have a few photos & his wonderful service history.

    Ashley Geddes Pierce

    SSM. John Alcock CdeG. 2nd Regiment Special Air Service

    In 1943 my father, SSM Jack Alcock of 2nd Special Air Service Regiment landed at Taranto after crossing the med from Algiers. After landing his 22 man unit pushed ahead of the parachute regiment to secure a cross roads in the town and then they moved further to secure the airfield. Whilst patrolling he literally bumped into a German soldier in a farmyard who fired first. He missed so my father let rip with his Bren Gun which nearly cut the man in half. The German paratrooper had been looting and attempting to carry a chicken which hampered his reactions and aim.

    Pte. Alexander McLeod B Squadron 1st SAS Regiment (d.7th July 1944)

    Alexander McLeod was one of thirty members of the B Squadron, 1st SAS Regiment, all 20 year olds and all killed on a special mission, though details not known. They were buried together in the village cemetery at Rom in Deux-Severs 5km west of Couhe-Verac on the D14 road. Would love to know more of the details surrounding their deaths. Update

    From June to August 1944, B Squadron, 1st SAS was working behind the lines in German-occupied France. They were tasked (Operation Bulbasket) with blocking the Paris-Bourdeaux rail line near Poitiers. This was to hold up any German reinforcements which were needed near the D-day beach heads. The 2nd SS Panzer Group (Das Reich) was a unit which, it was believed, was heading to Normandy and a train carrying fuel intended for them was spotted by the SAS men. This was reported by the SAS and an RAF bombing mission later destroyed the train. B Squadron's base was near Verrieres. It was here that they were betrayed and the camp attacked. Some 33 men were taken prisoner and murdered. Another three wounded SAS men were later murdered in hospital. These murders were carried out in accordance with Hitler's order of 18 October 1942, usually referred to as the `Commando Order', whereby Allied commandos or saboteurs were to be killed without trial. After the war, this was designated a war crime and some Germans were brought to justice.

    Leon Macleod

    Cpl. Jeffrey Edward Holland MID. 21st Regt. Special Air Service

    Title page

    Hand-drawn map of Stalag VIIA

    Nationalities at the camp

    Illustration, toilet humor

    Theater group

    Jeffrey Holland was mobilised with the Royal West Kent Regiment on the 1st of September 1939, he was 17 years old. He saw action in France, Malta, North Africa, Palestine, Syria, Dodecanese Islands, Castelorizzo and Leros. He was held in Stalag VIIA until its liberation by Patton's 3rd Army in April 1945. He served until April 1946 and lost his younger brother, F/Sgt. R.J. Holland (RAF), on 6th of October 1944, who is buried in Airborne Cemetery, Oosterbeek.

    The Aegean Mission: Allied Operations in the Dodecanese, 1943 is a book written by Jeffrey Holland in an attempt to understand what is known as "The Dodecanese Disaster". Jeffrey passed away in Fairfax, Virginia in 1993. He is survived by seven children from three different marriages. Images from his war time log have been included for this project.

    Jeremy Holland

    John Hodgson Parachute Regiment

    I am trying to find information about my great great uncle, Jack Hodgson. We understand he was involved with the Parachute Regiment, British SAS. He was involved in operations at the liberation of Changi, Entebbe Hijacking and India, as well as being involved with the formation of the Rhodesian SAS. Can anyone help?

    Andrea Newson

    Gdsman Stanley Bolland 2nd Btn. Scots Guards (d.20th November 1941)

    My uncle Stanley Bolland, Guardsman, served with 2nd Btn Scots Guards, No. 8 Commando and "L" Detachment, Special Air Service Brigade. He was killed on 20th November 1941 in a failed attack on Tmimi/Gazala landing strips in North Africa. Does anyone have any further information about my uncle?

    John Bolland

    Ronald Douglas "Bruce" Woodcock Parachute Rgt.

    My father was in a parachute regiment and saw service in the 8th Army up until 1945. He was at El Alamein and Tobruk and was one of the first of 36 parachutists into Sicily. He trained in the desert for the first unofficial SAS and was involved in the mopping up work at the end of the war in France. He was also one of six on an operation in Czechoslovakia that neither the British or the Russian Army wanted to be associated with.

    P Woodcock

    David "Tich" Alcock SAS

    My uncle, David Alcock served with the SAS in Egypt in 1941.

    D Alcock

    Joe Masson 1st Rgt. SAS

    My granddad Joe Masson was born in Arbroath and I think he was in the 1st SAS Regiment during WW2.


    Recomended Reading.

    Available at discounted prices.

    The Aegean Mission: Allied Operations in the Dodecanese, 1943

    Jeffrey Holland

    This well-researched study explores a virtually unknown and largely enigmatic aspect of World War II--the nature of amphibious operations in the Aegean Sea in 1943. More than an historical account, it is designed to interpret and reassess the crucial decisions which influenced the outcome of what has become known as the Dodecanese Disaster. The British operations in the Aegean at that time present many parallels with the recent conflict in the Falklands in terms of scale and order of battle, the critical difference being that operations in the Aegean resulted in tragic failure. The author leads the reader through a web of intrigue, incompetence, fantasy, and cover-up to find the truth. He vividly portrays the tensions between American and British perspectives in the strategy for the war against Germany


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