Friends of Popski's Private Army




Welcome to the Friends of Popski's Private Army website, the online part of the PPA Memorial, made possible by the Trooper Pat Blake Memorial Grant in 2010. If you are new to the Popski Story, then start here. If you are looking for information about a PPA veteran then start here.

You can also find more day-to-day discussions about Popski and his men by joining the foPPA on Facebook Group, now with over 500 members since setting up in early 2014. Enjoy!


The first foPPA lecture, about origins of the Long Range Desert Group and Popski's Private Army, by Secretary Suzi Paterson at the Royal Geographical Society in London on Monday 21 May 2018, was a huge success, setting a new RGS attendance record.

Major John Campbell MC* Major Jean Caneri MC Captain Robert Yunnie MC Major Vladimir Peniakoff DSO MC
Major John Campbell MC*

Major Jean Caneri MC

Captain Robert Yunnie MC
"Capitano Bob"

Lt-Col Vladimir Peniakoff DSO MC

foPPA Patron Sir Robert Crawford CBE foPPA Patron Anne Peniakoff foPPA Patron Olga Peniakoff foPPA Patron Sir Christopher Lee CBE
Sir Robert Crawford CBE
foPPA Patron
Anne Peniakoff
foPPA Patron
Olga Peniakoff
foPPA Patron
Sir Christopher Lee CBE
foPPA Past Patron

Friends of Popski's Private Army (foPPA) was founded in 2003, and this website is for PPA veterans and their families, for friends and fans of the remarkable Popski story, young and old, all around the world. However, although there are 259 verified members of PPA, by March 2016 there were no known PPA veterans still alive.

Recent years have been very sad indeed. Since the end of 2014 we have lost Corporal Frank Dobinson, Trooper Jack Crosby, foPPA Patron Sir Christopher Lee and foPPA Chairman Major John Campbell. In early 2016 the last two surviving PPA veterans were Trooper Fred Trotter and Trooper Derrick Storey.

It is the end of an era for Popski's Private Army,
but the remembrance and research work of foPPA will continue.

Meanwhile, Olga Peniakoff joined her younger sister Anne as a foPPA Patron. Her portrait picture above shows her in 2005, during Operation Diamond, standing beside a PPA Jeep on the bridge, North of Ravenna, where her father lost his left hand to a German rifle grenade in November 1944.

We know that many pages on the website are now out of date, but we will be systematically reviewing and updating them over the coming months (there's about 150 of them, all interlinked). This is a time for foPPA to sit back and rethink what we are doing and where we are going. This may involve updating the website's underlying software (Drupal) and reorganising the layout and design. It will certainly involve refurbishment of the PPA Memorial as it has taken a bit of a battering from the weather since 2008. We would also like to add one or more plaques for the PPA Nominal Roll, maybe a badge nod to the LRDG, PPA's nursery, and a tribute to Captain Bob Yunnie who has no known grave. You will not be surprised that all this will cost a significant amount of money, so we will soon be launching a major fundraising drive for the PPA Memorial Fund.

Many people are under the impression that Popski's book is all there is to see but we tell you here about other books on PPA and where to find them, and reproduce newspaper articles and other documents that have lain hidden in The National Archives, the Imperial War Museum, and various dusty attics for decades.

There is already lots of interesting and informative reference material to see, from foPPA's extensive archives, all richly interwoven with relevant cross-links and as time goes on we'll be adding more and more articles and previously unpublished images and documents – see About this website. Further information is also available on the website of our close remembrance and research colleagues of the PPA Preservation Society in Belgium.

Heavily armed PPA jeep in the Pineta di Classe, South of Ravenna.
Heavily armed PPA jeep in the Pineta di Classe, South of Ravenna. (See Image Credits)

Although there is some information already available on the web about Lieutenant-Colonel Vladimir Peniakoff DSO MC and his World War Two 8th Army Special Forces unit as they fought across Libya and Tunisa then up Italy and into Austria, we have found that much of it is inaccurate or misleading, from secondary sources or just sloppy writing. This website is where to find the facts about "No 1 Demolition Squadron, PPA": collected, collated, compared and confirmed over many years from primary sources.

The purpose of this website then, an integral part of the PPA Memorial, is to :-

Every year foPPA organises three Remembrance Events: PPA Wixoe, where Popski is buried with his wife Pamela (May); PPA Westminster, at the opening of the Royal British Legion's Field of Remembrance (November) and PPA Memorial, our main annual event in the Allied Special Forces Memorial Grove at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire (November).

Corporal Frank Dobinson of
Corporal Frank Dobinson of "Popski's Private Navy" with his daughter Velia,
representing PPA at the November 2010 Royal British Legion Cenotaph March-past.
Frank and Velia did this for five years running. Frank died, age 94, on 28 December 2014 after a happy Christmas at home. (See Image Credits)

Friends of Popski's Private Army is the continuation of the post-war PPA Association run by Sergeant Eric Brooks and Captain Bob Yunnie until Popski's death in 1951, and then alongside Corporal Ben Owen's guardianship of PPA history until his death in 2008. We hope that you enjoy exploring these pages and feel able to support our continuing work in the National Memorial Arboretum.

Friends of Popski's Private Army supports : –

National Memorial Arboretum Allied Special Forces Memorial Grove Armed Forces Day Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal Spartan Warrior PTSD
National Memorial Arboretum Allied Special Forces Memorial Grove Armed Forces Day Royal British Legion
Poppy Appeal
Spartan-Warrior PTSD

Suzi Paterson, Guy Harris and Anne French
Copyright © 2018 foPPA
28 June 2018