Press enquiries


We are very happy to help with press enquiries and have an extensive collection of archive material, not all of which is publicly available for copyright or family embargo reasons though. Some material is drawn from the Imperial War Museum or The National Archives and is therefore Crown Copyright but otherwise free for publishing.

If you are thinking of writing a story about PPA or an obituary about one of its members then we strongly recommend that you check your facts with us before publishing because there are a lot of misconceptions about this unit, many inaccuracies in publicly available sources, and many false claims to membership.

Journalists should generally be very wary when investigating and reporting claims to membership of PPA, especially regarding tales of desert-derring-do. We believe that we have now identified all personnel who served in PPA during the North African and Italian Campaigns, from extensive records in the Imperial War Museum and The National Archives, from Popski's own papers, as well as from various published and unpublished veterans' books about PPA, and interviews and correspondence with them over many years.

What is often forgotten is that PPA was a very small unit when it was formed, and actually didn't do very much until the last few months of the North African Campaign - most of the desert war had already happened. Initially there were only 3 Officers and 11 Other Ranks, all identified, so it must be asked: who are these other people who pop up every year? Postwar, Popski once wryly observed "Apparently there were over a thousand men in my unit".

We have compiled a list of over 70 unsubstantiated claims to PPA membership since foPPA was formed in 2003 and, much as we would dearly love to discover another genuine veteran, not once have we been proven wrong in our careful assessment of each claim as invalid. Basically, if the name doesn't appear in our Official Register of PPA Personnel then it's highly unlikely that the claim is genuine. The last true veteran to surface was in 2010, and he was already listed in various PPA personnel records. No new names have been added to our Register since then, and none have ever been added merely on verbal claims like "I was/my dad was in Popski's Private Army". Please check with us first if you think you have discovered a PPA veteran, as we have a number of specific questions that must be adequately answered before we will accept a claim.

We are in touch with many other WWII Allied and Axis Special Forces researchers around the world and are happy to help direct enquiries appropriately.

FoPPA must always be credited as the source of any supplied material (see below).

Key Facts


Here are some key facts about the man and his unit, as well as related units. Much more information can be found in The Popski Story and Reference Sections. See also this article about PPA myths.

  • The Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) was formed in 1940.
  • The Special Air Service (SAS) was formed in 1941.
  • Popski's Private Army (PPA) was formed in October 1942, becoming operational on 10 December 1942.
  • PPA moved to from Tunisia to Italy in September 1943 on USS Boisie, landing at Taranto with 1st Airborne.
  • PPA was disbanded in Austria on 14 September 1945.
  • The official name for PPA was "No 1. Demolition Squadron, PPA".
  • LRDG, SAS and PPA were all irregular Special Forces units of Eighth Army.
  • PPA was the last and the smallest of those three desert raiding units formed for the North African Campaign.
  • PPA's original purpose was to blow up Rommel's petrol supplies, in support of the Allied offensive at El Alamein.
  • When WWII broke out Popski was an Engineer in a sugar factory in Egypt.
  • At the time of PPA's formation Popski was a Major and had recently won an MC for his behind-the-lines work as c/o of the Libyan Arab Force Commando.
  • Popski was not promoted to Lieutenant Colonel until after PPA disbanded, when he became the British-Russian Liaison Officer in Vienna.
  • Popski's full name was Vladimir Peniakoff.
  • Popski's full military description should be: "Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Peniakoff, DSO MC".
  • Popski was not Polish and no members of PPA were Polish.
  • Popski was born on 15 May 1897 in Huy, Belgium to Russian immigrant parents.
  • Popski's father was a very successful chemical engineer who patented a new way to make aluminium.
  • Popski died on 30 March 1951 at the National Hospital for Neurology in London from a brain tumour.
  • Popski married twice, but both wives, Josephe Ceysens and Pamela Matthews, are now dead.
  • Popski's daughters Olga and Anne are still alive and are staunch supporters of foPPA.
  • The last known PPA veterans died in 2016.



There are many different copyrights in the content and data on this website. In addition to the usual image and text copyrights, there is copyright protection for all database data (lists and tables). This means that all content on this website is protected and may not be reproduced without written permission. Permission will generally be granted but you should check with us first and in all cases foPPA must be acknowledged as the source in one of the following formats :-

"Source: foPPA"

"Source: friends of PPA"

"Source: friends of Popski's Private Army"



Veteran Contact Details

The last known PPA veterans died in early 2016. FoPPA is in touch with about half of the families of PPA veterans, but we do not give out any of their contact details. Although we are very happy to help people with their research into the Popski story, we can only pass on requests for contact and are not responsible for any replies or silence.

Similarly, although one of the primary reasons for developing this website is to bring to light a lot of the material in foPPA and other archives, foPPA has only had confirmation regarding the death of about less than one third of all known PPA personnel, so must be circumspect in releasing any personal information beyond name, rank and number.

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Data Protection

MacGregorTech, the developer and maintainer of the website and the Official PPA Personnel Register database, is registered with the UK Information Commissioner's Office as a Data Controller of personal information.


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Contact us...

Friends of PPA
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London SW7 3DU
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Telephone: +44(0)20-7584 7891

Copyright © 2017 foPPA
9 Sep 2017