- The Popski Story
- PPA Memorial Fund
- The LRDG Story
- The LCP Story
- Desert Exploration by Car
About the Friends of Popski's Private Army
Friends of Popski’s Private Army (foPPA) is a very small non-profit non-charitable donation-funded volunteer organization, founded in 2003 under the chairmanship of PPA’s last remaining officer, Major John Campbell CVO CBE MC*, and run by Guy Harris and Roy Paterson in their spare time, to establish lasting memorials to the unit, organize remembrance events and act as a reliable clearing house for veterans, relatives, historians, the general public and the press.
1 JANUARY 2014 - New Appointment: We are very pleased to announce that Anne French has joined the foPPA Executive Committee as Head of Memorials. This honorary position reflects the dedication and commitment that Anne has shown in maintaining the PPA Memorial, in all weathers, in recent years. Anne, a qualified pilot, is the daughter of Captain "Ricky" Rickwood, Skipper of 'R' Patrol, and brings a load of practical, straight-talking experience to ExComm. When the Wixoe Memorial is unveiled in May, Anne will take over responsibility for that as well, but we don't expect her to also dust down the PPA Desert Memorial. Along with Anne Peniakoff's earlier appointment as our third Patron, this finally creates a better gender balance in our organisation.
You can write to us at this address, or phone us, or email us...
Friends of PPA
3b Glendower Place
London SW7 3DU
Email: foppa (-at-) popski (-dot-) org
Telephone: 07803-163 938
In September 2005, with over £16,000 of financial assistance from the “Heroes Return Fund” of the National Lottery, foPPA organized a PPA remembrance trip to Ravenna and Venice in Italy. Ceremonies of remembrance were conducted for the PPA Roll of Honour at the Argenta Gap and Ravenna War Cemeteries, various PPA battle sites around Ravenna were visited, and the Mayors of Ravenna and Venice generously laid on civic receptions. Billed as “Operation Diamond - The Last Operation of Popski’s Private Army”, the event was attended by PPA veterans, Italian partisans, Popski’s two daughters and many PPA relatives.
On Sunday 30 March 2008, Popski’s birthday, foPPA held a special service of remembrance and dedication at the unveiling of the PPA Memorial in the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. The memorial was unveiled by PPA Patron Sir Robert Crawford CBE, Director General of the Imperial War Museum, in the presence of nearly 150 PPA veterans, relatives and friends, an Italian partisan and the Italian Defence Attaché, as well as two completely authentic reproduction PPA patrol jeeps, brought by their owners, the PPA Preservation Society (PPA-PS), from Belgium. The Long Range Desert Group, the Special Air Service Regiment, and the 27th Lancers, who fought alongside PPA and some of whose members transferred to the unit, were also represented.
Every November at Westminster Abbey, foPPA organizes a PPA Remembrance Event at the PPA plot in the Special Forces section of the Royal British Legion’s Field of Remembrance, on its opening day, and another on the following Remembrance Sunday at the PPA Memorial in the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
FoPPA produces an occasional newsletter, “The Astrolabe”, whenever funds make it possible, and this is distributed free of charge to PPA veterans, relatives and friends, to keep them informed on reunions, people found and research results. FoPPA is in touch with the handful of known surviving veterans and over 160 relatives from 65 of the families, and is constantly working to locate more of them, put them in touch with each other and help with their family research. We try to ensure that PPA is represented at veterans' funerals so that the families know that they are not forgotten.
In 2007 foPPA took over the publishing imprint of PPA veteran Corporal Ben Owen and republished his book “With Popski’s Private Army“ through “Astrolabe Military Paperbacks”. Sadly, Ben died just before the PPA Memorial was unveiled, but a poem that he wrote especially for the occasion was read out by Guy, and is now read out at all of our Remembrance Events. Further books are planned, including John Campbell’s own story which was thought lost 30 years ago but recovered by foPPA research efforts.
FoPPA and PPA-PS have worked very closely together for many years, collaborating on research and remembrance events and both organisations are dedicated to researching, preserving, honouring and sharing the memory and history of PPA, and would appreciate anyone with information about PPA veterans or unit history making contact. FoPPA maintains the Official Register of PPA Personnel — the most accurate and complete known database of PPA personnel — and is continuing its research with Popski’s private papers. As relative late-comers to the PPA research party, we are not of course the only people who have hunted around for more information about PPA, and we know of some who were working thirty or forty years ago, when many more of the veterans were still alive, memories were fresher and documents not yet thrown away. We invite those who discover this website to share their material with us and make it available through the website for the benefit of all, and we are very happy to give personal credit (for example: "Source: the XXX Collection").
PPA-PS is the world authority on the configuration of PPA Jeeps, having been advised by many PPA veterans with detailed discussions and technical drawings regarding construction, modifications, weapons and equipment.
Altogether, foPPA has so far discovered 200 men (not all named), who served in PPA, some for just one day, up to SQMS “Dave” Davies of Hull, the only person who served continuously for the whole three-year life of the unit – not even Popski himself did that. In addition, 50 attachments include Arabs, Italians and Russians, 12 pilots from the Glider Pilot Regiment, the 7 Royal Engineers (945 Inland Water Transport Company) of “Popski’s Private Navy”, and at least 10 other Intelligence and Signals personnel at various times, including an RAF Intelligence Flight Lieutenant, PPA Patron Sir Christopher Lee CBE.
There is a small display of PPA memorabilia in the Imperial War Museum’s “Secret War” gallery in Lambeth, London, and foPPA has been awarded a small grant by the Gerry Holdsworth Special Forces Charitable Trust to work with the Imperial War Museum’s Sound Archives Department and record interviews with PPA veterans for posterity.
As foPPA is not currently funded by subscription, donations towards the long-term maintenance of the PPA Memorial, printing, postage and research costs are always welcome. £20,000 was donated by friends of PPA to pay for the PPA Memorial and the unveiling event, and overall more than £54,000 has been raised for the PPA Memorial Fund to date.