PPA Citations


 
PPA AND PRE-PPA HONOURS AND AWARDS CITATIONS
NORTH AFRICAN AND ITALIAN CAMPAIGNS 1940-1945
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To coincide with the publication of Sean Rayment's Tales from the Special Forces Club we publish here, for the first time, some of our own Tales from the foPPA Archives; the complete set of main PPA Honours and Awards citations, along with other material to help explain the context of the award. Our research pulled out most of these main awards (but not yet the Mentions in Despatches) quite a while ago but only now are we able to bring them to the website. It has been an interesting exercise to re-examine all the citations together, and in light of more recent research.

Sean's book includes a chapter on foPPA chairman Major John Campbell CVO CBE MC*, describing how his unjustly-acquired bad reputation at the Battle of El Alamein was redeemed many times over as 'S' Patrol Skipper in Popski's Private Army. On this page we include both of John Campbell's MC citations, so you can read, alongside the book, more about what he got up to in Italy. Waiting in the wings meanwhile, we now have the completely updated text of John's own book, Snakes and Ladders, about his time in PPA, to be published later this year. Originally thought lost over 30 years ago, a chance find in the foPPA Archives led us to the only surviving typescript copy in the comprehensive Mike Sarne and Ron Terrill Collection of historic PPA material, kindly donated to us last year.

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Sean Rayment is the Defence and Security Correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph and was previously a Patrols Platoon Commander in 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment. As a journalist specialising in conflict reporting he has undertaken assignments in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, the Gulf and Africa. He is the author also of Bomb Hunters and Into the Killing Zone.

The citations follow the same sequence in which they are shown (and cross-linked with) on the PPA Honours and Awards page but, unlike that page (and all other places on the website), the ranks shown here are the ranks held at the time of the action, rather than as at PPA Disbandment. The list includes four awards that were made prior to the men joining PPA, following Popski's published lead. Patrols are as at the time of the action (men rarely changed Patrols). All Citation and War Diary text is reproduced as found, with spelling mistakes, in the original documents.

The section for each award citation is accompanied, top left, by a Citation Header Box. This shows the name of the award, the name, rank and number of the recipient, his parent unit and his patrol (if the award was during service with PPA). Top right is a Source and Context Box: this shows the context and source of the citation data, the relevant date or dates of the action and a minimap. The top source information and logo link to the London Gazette, while the bottom source information links to The National Archives page "Discover our collections", and shows the search reference text for the citation piece. Each minimap shows where the action took place and links to a satellite image of that location.

Beneath those boxes, and also for the first time, we show for each man a graphic of his PPA Service Period: it's the red band above the sandy brown band for PPA's time in Libya and Tunisia and the green band for PPA's time in Italy and Austria. These graphics help to clarify the context of PPA within World War Two and of the men within the three-year life of PPA.

A copy of the original relevant London Gazette page and of the original citation document itself (first page only) are shown below an internet-searchable representation of the citation on a typical Army Form W.3121. At the bottom of each section is an internet-searchable representation of the PPA War Diary, on Army Form C.2118, for the date of the awarded action, accompanied by a commentary.


INDEX TO THE CITATIONS, WITH DATES OF COMMENDED ACTIONS                  
PENIAKOFF, Major V., DSO     1-14 NOV 1944 BURROWS, Driver C., MM     9 DEC 1944
CADELL, Lieutenant M., MC     11 MAR 1943 CAHILL, Driver A., MM     23 APR 1945
CAMPBELL, Captain J., MC     2 DEC 1944 GALLOWAY, Corporal D., MM     9 DEC 1944
CAMPBELL, Captain J., BAR TO MC     23 APR 1945 GALLOWAY, Corporal D., BAR TO MM     29 APR 1945
CANERI, Captain J., MC     24 AUG 1944 HIGGINS, Driver J., MM     27-28 OCT 1944
PENIAKOFF, Major V., MC     22 APR-13 SEP 1942 O'LEARY, Bombardier W., MM     13 NOV 1944
YUNNIE, Captain R., MC     12 JUN 1944 RICHES, Sergeant F., MM     17 JUL 1944
PORTER, Sergeant D., DCM     29 JUN 1944 SANDERS, Gunner E., MM     1940-1942
BEAUTYMAN, Sergeant J., MM     21 JUN 1944 WATERSON, Sergeant G., MM     28 MAR 1943

 
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DISTINGUISHED SERVICE ORDER
159661 PENIAKOFF, Major V.
General List
'Original'
LONDON GAZETTE
24 APR 1945, ISSUE 37051, PAGE 2216
1-14 NOV 1944
THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
(WO 373/11) AND PENIAKOFF
xxx
  Ref Map ITALY. 1 : 50,000 89/II
The area between Route 16 and Adriatic, from the SAVIO to the UNITI canal presented a problem to Porterforce. The area was intersected by canals, in some places densely wooded, and for the rest a flooded marsh. Major Peniakoff during the first fortnight in November with three patrols has liquidated all enemy opposition in this area. Every operation was planned by him, and in the majority of cases he actually led the patrols which have resulted in 31 PW and many enemy cas, and a retreat by the enemy from the SAVIO to the UNITI.
His own personal courage and drive have been the dominant factors in a notable achievement. When the floods made operations seemingly impossible Major Peniakoff personally led a Duck assault patrol, and supervised the building of a most unorthodox bridge over the GHIAIA canal in face of enemy Spandau fire. This bridge enabled a joint 27 L and PPA raid to surprise and capture 14 enemy in the village of GHIAIA.
This officer's consummate coolness and gallantry has not only made it possible to clean up a wide area of country which should easily have been held by the enemy, but his own personality has so impressed itself upon the Partisans in the coastal sector that their activities under his guidance have proved quite exceptional.
  (A.M.HORSBRUGH-PORTER)
Lt-Col.
Comd
PORTERFORCE
23 Nov 44
DSO
IMMEDIATE
AWARD
   
xxx xxx
The London Gazette
24 April 1945, issue 37051, page 2216
The National Archives
Citation piece WO 373/11

Some sources have incorrectly asserted or implied, including foPPA for a while until we found the citation, that Popski was awarded his DSO because of the action, North of Ravenna on 9th December 1944, in which he lost his left hand. This citation makes clear that his award was about events from several weeks earlier. The confusion may have arisen because of the date of its announcement, three weeks after the battle, on 30th December 1944. Two of Popski's men were honoured, though, for their efforts during that battle: Driver Burrows and Corporal Galloway.

Porterforce was the composite formation built around Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Horsbrugh-Porters's 27th Lancers, PPA, several other units and various Italian Partisans of the 28th Garibaldi Brigade, that was cobbled together to hold the Adriatic right flank of Eighth Army's front line, after several divisions had been stripped out and shipped back to the UK in preparation for the Normandy D-Day landings. PPA were significantly instrumental in concealing from the Germans just how weak the line was at that point. The 27th Lancers and Porterforce are honoured only on the PPA Memorial.

The PPA War Diary entries shown here, for the first two weeks of November, give only the briefest idea of how intensely unrelenting PPA's operations were at that time, in action continuously for over six months. This was the only time that all three main fighting patrols operated together, hence foPPA Chairman Major John Campbell's keenness for Ravenna and its surrounds to be the main focus for our Operation Diamond Remembrance Reunion in 2005. Corporal Bill O'Leary's MM and John Campbell's first MC were awarded for their "cloak and dagger" operations during that November and December. Since foPPA's first Remembrance Reunion in 2004 at the Special Forces Club, both of Popski's daughters, Olga and Anne, have been generous supporters of foPPA.

  CATTOLICA 01    
    02 The C.O. with his patrol Commanders reccies PPA's future operational area with the RCD. 3 patrols under Command RCD PORTERFORCE. Area from Route 16 to Sea Coast South of REVENNA.  
    03 Area is flooded. 'S' patrol spend night in a wood at M6329. Light skirmish with enemy who sustains one probable casualty.'B' patrol out on foot.  
    04 'B' and 'S' patrol report to PPA HQ at SAVIO there they are ordered into the woods 6329.  
    05 'B' and 'S' patrols send foot reccies over FOSSO GHIAIA at M6231 and M6331. Enemy encountered. One enemy killed two wounded. One of the PARTISANS attached PPA is wounded. 'P' patrol start training with jeeps and DUKW's.  
    06 'B' patrol engage enemy over FOOS GHIAIA. heavy enemy MG fire.  
    07    
    08 'B' and 'S' patrols are maintaining standing patrols and mortar positions SOUTH of FOSS GHIAIA. PPA Base moves from SOLFAGNANO (Nr PERUGIA) to VISERBA a MARE near RIMINI. 'P' patrol finished DUKW training and arrived at PPA HQ at SAVIO. 'P' patrol set out on amphibious operation.  
    09 'P' patrol landed on beach at M2767 at 0013hrs NOV 9. Patrols along FOSSO GHIAIA. No contact.  
    10 'P' patrol is evacuated. Three GERMAN prisoners were taken, one of them an Officer. We sustained two casualties killed - Sjt DAVE PORTER and Tpr GROGHAN.  
    11 'B' and 'S' patrols advance to BORGO FOSSO GHIAIA in conjunction with 27 LANCERS. Capture 14 prisoners.  
    12 CASA DELLE BASSE set on fire with 50cal MG8s.  
    13 Attack by 'B' patrol and PPA PARTISANS on CASA DELLE BASSE. CASA DELLE BASSE is occupied.  
    14 'P' patrol relieves 'B' patrol. 'P' patro is heavily shelled and mortared. 'S' patrol attack LA FAVORITA. They capture 6 prisoners, 5 of whom they find in bed. M10 gun shells CASA DI BEVANO where 8 enemy have been reported.  

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MILITARY CROSS (with A&SH)
151843 CADELL, Lieutenant M.
8th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
(8th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders)
LONDON GAZETTE
22 APR 1943, ISSUE 35987, PAGE 1846
11 MAR 1943
THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
(WO 373/1) AND CADELL
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  On 10 Mar 1943 this officer was detailed to patrol the ravine 303496 and destroy enemy patrols cutting telephone lines or attacking pack tpt supplying forward coys. He took out his patrol at dark and at 0300 hrs. brought them in again without having contacted enemy. About dawn 11 Mar he returned to his task taking only one N.C.O. Cpl. Williamson to cover the same ground in daylight.
At about 0715 hrs. they saw a German patrol of six men approaching and laid themselves in ambush. At 200 yds. range they fired with their Bren gun and killed two enemy. The other four took cover in a fold in a field of beans and opened fire with a 42mm Machine-gun and Automatics. Capt. Cadell and Cpl. Williamson replied end then made a quick move left flanking. They then succeeded in killing the German Machine Gunner and wounding the Sgt. leading the patrol, and forced the remaining two to surrender. They brought back three prisoners, a machine gun, two Schmeisser guns, two Luger pistols maps and personal papers.
The courage, skill and determination of this officer provides an excellent example of the qualities required by our patrols in dominating 'No Man's Land' and retaining the iniative. He has shewn similar qualities earlier in the North African operation in destroying by explosives German tanks at DJEBEL ABIOD in Nov 42.
  Lt.Col.
J.G.
Mackellar
8 A.& SH.
MILITARY CROSS    
xxx xxx
The London Gazette
22 April 1943, issue 35987, page 1846
The National Archives
Citation piece WO 373/1

This action is not recorded in the PPA War Diary because it occurred before the unit was formed. We don't yet have copies of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders' War Diary nor the relevant North African maps to decode the map reference but, from the date, it must have taken place in Tunisia, as Eighth Army swept up North and West to catch Rommel's forces in a pincer move with First Army and US II Corps slogging South and East.

Lieutenant Cadell had a curiously short career of only two weeks in PPA. He joined on 14 April 1945, took over 'B' Patrol after the death of Lieutenant McCallum, and left on 29 April to go to hospital after being seriously wounded in the battle of Dolo, never to return. It was during this battle that Corporal Don Galloway won his second MM.

Cadell had previously fought in the Spanish Civil War, for the Spanish Army, and later joined Ailtiri na hAiseirghe, the Irish ultra-nationalist movement. We have been unable so far to contact any of his family.

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MILITARY CROSS
203424 CAMPBELL, Captain J.
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
Skipper 'S' Patrol
LONDON GAZETTE
21 JUN 1945, ISSUE 37138, PAGE 3236
2 DEC 1944
THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
(WO 373/12) AND CAMPBELL
xxx
  On the 1st December 1944, Capt. JD Campbell was ordered to take the last enemy stronghold south of FIUME UNITI, a fortified house named CASERMA DEI FIUME UNITI. During the night he moved forward commanding a party of six men across marshy country, walking in water breast deep for about six miles. At dawn, cold and tired, he was hidden in a wooden shack approx 25 yds of completely open ground away from the enemy strong point, here a German dog came in - but a tin of bully was just enough to keep him quiet.
After an hour of waiting for a suitable opportunity Capt. Campbell decided to rush the house, which was built on a concrete and high base. In full view of the enemy he led his men up to the barbed wire fence at the double, took the only passage to the house, broke the door in, and before the enemy could take any action captured, practically single-handed, 11 enemy soldiers and all their equipment, inclusing 3 LMGs. Then keeping cool after his success he managed to evacuate his 11 prisoners without attracting the attention of the enemy in another house 350 yds away - he then occupied the house and took defensive measures.
During the evening of the same day, still with the same little force, very tired by now, he ambushed two unaware enemy relieve parties, captured four more prisoners, and killed six more of the enemy including two officers.
This feat of arms is one of the best example of courage and leadership and self control of an officer. For his brother officers and his men such an action is and always will be a daring and difficult aim to reach.
  Major JM Caneri, MC MC
IMMEDIATE
AWARD
   
xxx xxx
The London Gazette
21 June 1945, issue 37138, page 3236
The National Archives
Citation piece WO 373/12

After being unjustly accused of cowardice at El Alamein, Captain John Campbell, now Skipper of 'S' Patrol, was finally vindicated by a series of daring "cloak and dagger" operations to eliminate various German positions South of Ravenna. It was during one of these 'S' Patrol night excursions that Corporal Bill O'Leary won his MM. John meanwhile earned himself the nickname "Bulldozer", after being blown up three times in a row all on his 23rd birthday on 11 November, Armistice Day. He had eventually impressed Popski that summer, after an unpromising recruitment interview, by cannily wangling out of two separate Eighth Army Quartermasters (always notoriously tight-fisted) double the number of replacement Jeeps needed following the losses of Operation Astrolabe, during which Bob Yunnie won his MC. More of this story is in John Campbell's forthcoming book "Snakes and Ladders".

  REVENNA 02 'S' patrol collects 12 prisoners at the CASERMA FIUMI UNITI M661344 at 0800 hrs 1600 hrs they capture four. Evening PARTISANS kill two at CASERMA FIUMI UNITI where they are holding an outpost.  
    03 'R' patrol established 1400 hrs at BOCCA BEVANO 662315 with and outpost 1 Officer and 35 men of 27 LANCERS (COT FORCE) and 10 PPA PARTISANS at CASERMA FIUMI UNITI 661345. 'S' patrol relieved at 1600hrs at LA GUIADORA 632328 and LA TORRAZZA 629339 by PARTISANS. PARTISAN HQ now at 632328. 'R' patrol jeeps now at BOCCA BEVANO.  

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BAR TO MILITARY CROSS
203424 CAMPBELL, Captain J.
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
Skipper 'S' Patrol
LONDON GAZETTE
18 OCT 1945, ISSUE 37310, PAGE 5099
23 APR 1945
THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
(WO 373/14) AND CAMPBELL
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  On 23rd April 1945 at MASSA FISCAGLIA (Italy) Capt. Campbell got the information that about 40 Germans were defending a farm. The information emphasised that they were German troops and well dug-in in front of the house, and that they had severel MGs and Panzerfaust. Judging that the risk was too big for a frontal attack with his whole patrol he decided to attack the position with 2 armed jeeps only. In bright daylight and in full view of the enemy the two jeeps charged down the road, surprised the enemy by his devastating fire and his daring, overshot the enemy's first pit, found himself and his vehicle in and amogst the enemies, killed 8 wounded 10 and captured the remainder. On the 29th. at VIGONOVO (Italy) Capt. Campbell saw through his glasses a German 88 mm gun firing on PADUA, he decided to attack it, coming into the village by a side road, he charged the gun with his guns blazing away, captured it intact with complete crew, predictor, ammunition and three truck loads of petrol and supplies.   Major
JMC
Caneri, MC
OC.,
1 Dem Sqdn.,
PPA
Bar to MC
IMMEDIATE
   
xxx xxx
The London Gazette
18 October 1945, issue 37310, page 5099
The National Archives
Citation piece WO 373/14

In complete contrast to his earlier "cloak and dagger" operations (see above), Captain John Campbell then went for all out attack. Twice. These battles also saw Driver "Michele" Cahill commended for his bravery. Confusingly, John's citation mentions only one 88mm gun, but the War Diary states that there was a battery of four of them. Both of John's MC citations were originally reproduced in the 4th edition of our "Astrolabe" newsletter in November 2006.

Post-war, Captain John Campbell, MC and bar, was demobbed with the rank of Major and went on to a distinguished career in the Colonial and then Diplomatic Services, and was further decorated with a CVO and CBE. His interim attempt to build a fishing business with his gunner, Trooper Pat Blake, foundered though, in a shipwreck on the coast of Northern Ireland. John was a founder member and has been the chairman of the Friends of PPA since its formation in 2003, overseeing the fundraising, installation and unveiling of the PPA Memorial. It was at his personal insistence that the PPA Memorial also commemorates the 27th Lancers, the 28th Garibaldi Brigade, and the various other units that comprised Porterforce.

  CERVIA 23 'R' Ptl over bridge at MASSA FISCAGLIA and exploit NE, occupied MEZZO GORO 5092 and reached outskirts of ARIANO FERRARESE 5297, heavy opposition there- 13 POWs inc 1 Officer.
'S' Ptl crossed bridge at MASSA FISCAGLIA and occupied IOLANDA di SAVOIA and engaged enemy position 2 miles north of town, captured 25 POWs and wounded one. Several engagements with enemy in whole area and during whole day. 'R' Ptl releived by CREMONA at 1700 hrs and concentrated at MASSA FISCAGLIA (1 Division releived 2 PPA Ptls). 'S' Ptl withdrew for night 2300 hrs into MASSA FISCAGLIA. All area taken over by CREMONA Gp.
'B' ptl ordered to recce bridge south of COCCANILE 3295, and ran into an ambush at 1400 hrs just at entrance of village. Lt IW McCallum (299739) and 2067623 Spr. McDowall Killed in action and Jeep destroyed. patrol withdrew to Blitz HQ. Lt. MAC CADELL MC takes over command of 'B' Patrol.
 
  CHIOGGIA 29 'R' and 'B' Patrols at CHIOGGIA disarming Garrison.
'S' patrol intentions carried at CODEVIGO 5233-PIOVE di SACCO - CAMPO LONGO 4738-LIEFFOLE 4541 - SABIOCELLO 4346. At VIGO NOVO they found 4 x 88 mm firing on PADOVA. Entering from the rear they charged the guns captured guns, predictors intact, 3 truck and approx. 300 prisoners who were handed over to the Partisans. Contacted 12 Lancers at CAMIN 3947 and entered PADOVA just after them, then retunred to CHIOGGIA.
'B' patrol left CIVE at 0700 hrs, intention being to go due North to VENICE. At CAMPAGNO LUPIA 5142 engaged enemy taking 10 POWs and found 7 suicide's. No contact with enemy up to DOLO 4950 which was reported empty by civilians, on entering DOLO was engaged by enemy in strength of approx 4 coys. Engaged by a minimum of 10 spandaus the patrol exhausted all ammunition in 45 minutes, in the course of the action 15 prisoners were taken, 7 Killed and the village cleared of the enemy. our own casualties 1 Killed, 1 Officer and 2 ORs wounded., patrol returned to CHIOGIA.
 

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MILITARY CROSS
191277 CANERI, Captain J.
General List
Skipper 'Blitz' Patrol
LONDON GAZETTE
06 FEB 1945, ISSUE 36928, PAGE 797
24 AUG 1944
THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
(WO 373/9) AND CANERI
xxx
  On 24 Aug 44 near FICHILLE Italy, while in command of HQ Patrol P.P.A. reconnoitred an extensive area held by the enemy in the mountains.
He took his jeeps across country over difficult mountainous going, and penetrated several miles within the enemy positions. In spite of heavy machine gun and mortar fire to which he was repeatedly subjected in the course of the day he successfully completed his reconnaissance with great daring determination and skill.
  Major V. Peniakoff
O.C.
I Demolition Sqdn
P.P.A.
MC
IMMEDIATE
AWARD
   
xxx xxx
The London Gazette
6 February 1945, issue 36928, page 797
The National Archives
Citation piece WO 373/9

Captain "Jan" Caneri[1], a Corsican born in Alexandria[2], was mostly PPA's adjutant but also sometimes its Commanding Officer when Popski was ill with malaria[3] and when repatriated to England after losing his left hand. For some of the time though he was Skipper of 'Blitz' Patrol. This comprised only four Jeeps instead of six, and was the "Tactical" or Forward HQ for the three fighting Patrols, acting as a signals relay station between them and PPA Base HQ. Inevitably though 'Blitz' occasionally found itself in front-line situations, or behind the lines as related here, and also in the capture of Chioggia, with OSS Lieutenant George Hearn and 'R' Patrol.

Both spellings of the village name - FICHILLE in the Citation and FIGHILI in the War Diary gave us a location headache for this action until we were kindly helped out by British Library mapping expert Nicola Beech. The correct (or current) spelling is FIGHILLE, and it's just South of Sansepolcro, North of Perugia.

Listed as a Gunner Sergeant deserter from the Vichy forces in the Lebanon, Jan joined the Libyan Arab Force (LAF) and got to know Popski and Bob Yunnie. On detachment from the LAF, Lieutenant Jan Caneri worked for MO4[4] behind the lines, but separately from Popski : "...engaged in sinking ships in Benghazi harbour." He had trained as a lawyer in Cairo before the war and after the war (and sorting out his "deserter" status) built a successful career as a lawyer in Geneva, serving there also for many years with the Royal British Legion, alongside Major Jeffrey Noble MBE of 156th Parachute Regiment. It was only in the summer of 2012, when foPPA Secretary Roy met Jan's daughter Anne-France to lay a wreath at his grave, that we discovered that he had been awarded the Legion d'Honneur.

  SOLFAGNANO 23 to 24 Capt J.CANERI in Command of PPA during the illness of Major Peniakoff. His instructions from Main Army are to report to brigadier RODNEY at 9 Armd. Bde HQ at San Lorenzo MR R4339. It is decided that PPA HQ will be at Fighili MR R4739 and that one patrol ('B' patrol Capt YUNNIE) will operate under 'A' Sqdn. 12th Lancers in area San Giustino MR R5352. Also that 'S' patrol (Lieut REEVE-WALKER) will operate with 'B' Sqdn. 12th Lancers in area Badia MR R4546. 'P' patrol (Lieut COSTELLO) is in reserve at Solfagnano MR R7304 at two hrs notice.  

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MILITARY CROSS (with LAFC)
159661 PENIAKOFF, Major V.
General List
'Original'
LONDON GAZETTE
26 NOV 1942, ISSUE 35799, PAGE 5142
22 APR - 13 SEP 1942
THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
(WO 373/46) AND PENIAKOFF
xxx
  Major PENIAKOFF has made three journeys to the JEBEL, being transported on each occasion by the LRDG. On the first trip, between 22/4/42 and 18/5/42, he visited SLONTA, GIOVANNI BERTA and CHAULAN, and established contacts with the local inhabitants to collect information of possible objectives for sabotage. He also carried out a road watch on the MARTUBA road, and reported daily by W/T on enemy traffic.
He again went to the JEBEL on 28/5/42 and remained there until 20/8/42. During this very long stay behind the enemy lines, and in constant danger of being given away by ARABS, he destroyed 50,000 gallons of petrol at GIOVANNI BERTA on 17/8/42, visited DERNA, watched and reported on DERNA L.G. and organised the escape of 5 British P.O.W. from DERNA cage. He also organised an elaborate and successful system of road watching by LIBYAN ARABS and carried out political work among the local inhabitants.
He took part in the LRDG raid on BARCE L.G. on 13/9/42, and was wounded in the subsequent withdrawal.
During all these operations Major PENIAKOFF has shown great courage, and has successfully overcome almost insurmountable difficulties.
  G.Prendergast
Lt.Col.
Comdg.
L.R.D.G.
M.C.
immediate
   
xxx xxx
The London Gazette
26 November 1942, issue 35799, page 5142
The National Archives
Citation piece WO 373/46

This is the period of small-scale operations by Popski's Libyan Arab Force Commando that resulted in his new unit being dubbed "Popski's Private Army" by the C/O of Desert Raiding Forces, Lieutenant-Colonel "Shan" Hackett. The citation only mentions 50,000 gallons of petrol being destroyed at the petrol dump at Giovanni Berta (also known as El Qubba), but Popski found there over 100,000 gallons As he walked away for hours through the night, he desparately tried to stay awake by calculating how many days supply for Rommel's tanks had he blown up? How much effect would his effort have on battles to come? He first came up with "sixty-two days", which was clearly too good to be true, then "8 hours", which was a paltry return. The correct answer was two days[5].

The London Gazette page in interesting for showing that his MO4 colleagues from that time in the Jebel Akhdar were also recognised with MCs: Lieutenants Leslie Chapman, Bob Melot and Harry Chevalier, along with the LRDG's David Lloyd-Owen, David Sutherland and Dick Lawson, the Medical Officer who snipped Popski's left little finger off after the raid at Barce. The SAS's inseparable Originals, Johnny Cooper and Reg Seekings, were also here Gazetted with the DCM. This was in the aftermath of the disastrous combined-ops raid on Tobruk, the failures at Benghazi and Jalo, and the successful raid on Barce airfield[6].

This period is not recorded in the PPA War Diary because it occurred before the unit was formed.

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MILITARY CROSS
201206 YUNNIE, Captain R.
Black Watch
Skipper 'B' Patrol
LONDON GAZETTE
08 FEB 1945, ISSUE 36928, PAGE 797
12 JUN 1944
THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
(WO 373/9) AND YUNNIE
xxx
  On 12 Jun 44 at the mouth of Riv. TENNA Italy, then in enemy hands, Capt Yunnie was landed from the sea to make arrangements for the subsequent landing of a raiding force of armed vehicles. On the night of 15/16 Jun. the L.C.T. carrying this force was successfully signalled in from the shore by Capt Yunnie.
The landing craft broached to, the vehicles could not be landed and the ship had to be abandonned. Capt Yunnie declined to be taken off by the escorting vessel and having volunteered to remain on shore with a foot party, he operated for several days in the immediate rear of the retreating enemy, causing considerable confusion.
In the course of a well timed action he overpowered the German guard and the Demolition Party responsible for the blowing up of a main road bridge which was thus preserved for the use of our own pursuing forces.
  Major V. Peniakoff
O.C.
I Demolition Sqdn
P.P.A.
MC
IMMEDIATE
AWARD
   
xxx xxx
The London Gazette
8 February 1945, issue 36928, page 797
The National Archives
Citation piece WO 373/9

Captain Yunnie's exploits were the only successful bit about Operation Astrolabe, with all 12 carefully fitted-out Patrol Jeeps having to be destroyed on the stranded LCT. It was Captain John Campbell who quickly organised the replacements. 24 of them! Bob Yunnie's book "Fighting with Popski's Private Army", and his gunner Ben Owen's book "With Popski's Private Army" describe Operation Astrolabe in greater detail.

While Popski was operating in the Jebel Akhdar in the spring of 1942, the LAF's C/O, Lieutenant-Colonel Paley, allowed his battalion to be overrun by the rapid German advance for a while, operating "...for some time in the enemy rear." The LAF company commander who had taken over from Popski, Captain Bob Yunnie, proved himself during the two hundred and fifty mile march of over 600 men across the desert back to the Allied lines.

The two tall pine trees that Yunnie used to identify his Operation Astrolabe landing beach in the dark are remembered in the shape of the two Italian cypress trees that flank the entrance to the PPA Memorial. Captain Bob Yunnie died in the Congo in 1961 after an ambush. Contrary to some sources, who assumed that he had become a mercenary in that turbulent and politically murky period and place, it has been suggested to us by a contemporary that he had in fact been hired only to rescue someone's son from one of the rebelling forces - an explanation that makes much more sense to us, given his character and temperament. Bob's son Don has been a constant supporter of foPPA for many years.

  SANGREGORIO 12 [foPPA: This is about Operation Astrolabe, but the War Diary doesn't give any details. These are held in a different set of documents which we shall dig out later.]  

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xxx
DISTINGUISHED CONDUCT MEDAL
2156419 PORTER, Sergeant D.
Corps of Royal Engineers
'R' Patrol
LONDON GAZETTE
06 FEB 1945, ISSUE 36928, PAGE 797
29 JUN 1944
THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
(WO 373/9) AND PORTER
xxx
  On 29 Jun 44 at Castel San Pietro, Italy, Sgt Porter, in charge of a patrol of three, was ordered to reconnoitre a track leading to the village of Castel San Pietro. Finding the village apparently deserted, he entered it and in one of the houses he surprised a German Post. Two of the enemy were killed and a third one cpatured. When they came back into the street Sgt Porter's patrol came under heavy fire from three Spandaus concealed in the hillside above the village and also from a patrol of eight men armed with automatic rifles. With great gallantry and considerable skill Sgt Porter beat off the enemy who were attempting to cut off his retreat, and after two hours rejoined his own positions without suffering any casualties and brought back with him a prisoner and a German wireless set.   Major V. Peniakoff MC
O.C.
I Demolition Sqdn
P.P.A.
DCM IMMEDIATE
AWARD
   
xxx xxx
The London Gazette
6 February 1945, issue 36928, page 797
The National Archives
Citation piece WO 373/9

Popski held Dave Porter in very high regard: "Perhaps the greatest PPA product. Stouthearted and unspoiled, a lovable character". He died that November, along with his protégé Trooper Tommy Croghan, while they were laying mines during the battle for Ravenna, and are buried next to each other in Ravenna War Cemetery. Dave's much older brother Bob joined PPA the following January. A DCM is of course the Other Ranks' equivalent of Popski's DSO.

Various members of Dave and Bob's extended family have contacted us over the years and we are helping to bring them together.

  SANGREGORIO 29 [foPPA: This action is not recorded in the War Diary, but may be in other documents in the foPPA Archives or TNA.]  

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xxx
MILITARY MEDAL
2328234 BEAUTYMAN, Sergeant J.
Royal Corps of Signals
'Blitz' Patrol
LONDON GAZETTE
08 FEB 1945, ISSUE 36928, PAGE 798
21 JUN 1944
THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
(WO 373/9) AND BEAUTYMAN
xxx
  On 21 Jun. 44 near TOLENTINO, Italy, at night, behind enemy lines, the patrol in which he was travelling in the second vehicle fell into an ambush and came under MG fire at very close range. With the utmost coolness he returned the enemy fire and covered the party recovering the leading vehicle which had left the road. Though his vehicle was hit several times he kept up his fire for more than 15 minutes until the patrol proceeded on its way.
Owing to his steadiness and to his disregard of danger only one casualty was suffered by the patrol in this encounter.
  Major V. Peniakoff MC
O.C.
I Demolition Sqdn
P.P.A.
MM
IMMEDIATE
AWARD
   
xxx xxx
The London Gazette
8 February 1945, issue 36928, page 798
The National Archives
Citation piece WO 373/9

Ted Beautyman was one of Popski's two Signals Sergeants, handing him the decoded message that Germany had surrendered. He joined PPA from the LRDG in Tunisia in early 1943. The other Signals Sergeant, Eric Brooks, was also ex-LRDG and ex-SAS too. Only two months after this award Ted was posted back to Blighty under the "Python" Scheme[7] but was so bored at home that he rejoined PPA during the final dash for the Austrian border and the capitulation of German Army Group C.

Ted's sister Pat and her son John have, along with other relatives and friends, been great supporters of foPPA's remembrance work.

  SANGREGORIO 21 [foPPA: This action is not recorded in the War Diary, but may be in other documents in the foPPA Archives or TNA.]  

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xxx
MILITARY MEDAL
S/65962 BURROWS, Driver E.
Royal Army Service Corps
'P' Patrol
LONDON GAZETTE
10 MAY 1945, ISSUE 37072, PAGE 2454
9 DEC 1944
THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
(WO 373/11) AND BURROWS
xxx
  Ref Map ITALY 1 : 50,000 89 - I
On 9th Dec North of RAVENNA in the area M 5847 Dvr. BURROWS found himself in a wood with his armed Jeep 50 yds South of a bridge where enemy infantry supported by arty and mortars were attacking. His Commanding Officer was away at the time on a recce. He held his fire until the enemy started to cross the bridge. He then opened up and held the posn for ten mins, preventing the enemy from crossing the bridge. All this time he was under direct fire from the enemy who were less than 60 yds away.
His CO returned from his recce severely wounded, and with perfect coolness Dvr. BURROWS drove him back to safety, together with another casualty.
  (A.M.Horsbrugh-Porter)
Lt-Col.,
Comd
27th Lancers
MM
IMMEDIATE
AWARD
   
xxx xxx
The London Gazette
10 May 1945, issue 37072, page 2454
The National Archives
Citation piece WO 373/11

This is the battle in which Popski lost his left hand to a rifle grenade and Corporal Don Galloway won his first MM. Popski said: "I chose for my companion [after Sammy Taylor became unhappy as Popski's gunner] an untried newcomer called Charles Burrows, a butcher from Plymouth, a plain and rather shy lad of twenty-three...I did well for myself with this choice, for a little more than two months later he brought me out of a scrap in which, but for his steadfastness, I myself, along with thirty other men, would undoubtedly have perished."

Another casualty evacuated on Burrows' jeep was 27th Lancers' then-Corporal Len Greetham, also awarded an MM for his gallantry in the battle. Sergeant Greetham MM is a stalwart supporter of foPPA's Remembrance Events and remembers talking to Popski on the way to the Casualty Clearing Station about his own wound, prompting Popski to reply "Don't fuss, I've hurt my hand too." Private Charlie Burrows' medal group, but sadly not his MM, are in the foPPA Archives, courtesy of members of his family.

  REVENNA 09 The Commanding Officer Major V. PENIAKOFF went on a forward recce at 588480 at 1130 hrs he was wounded in the left hand, right hand and ear. One ITALIAN officer also wounded. Both are evacuated under fire by Dvr BURRORS the C.O's Sriver in a jeep. The same day 'B' patrol gives covering fire over same bridge with 6 jeeps, each jeep firing seperately unitl its ammunition ran out and then withdrawing to be replaced by another jeep. This action against the enemy who were taking cover on the far side of the canal 30 yards away successfully enabled two dismounted troops of 27 LANCERS to withdraw. Cpl GALLOWAY wounded. Major PENIAKOFFS left hand is amputated. Capt CANERI takes over.  

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xxx
MILITARY MEDAL
119614 CAHILL, Driver A.
Royal Army Service Corps
'S' Patrol
LONDON GAZETTE
18 OCT 1945, ISSUE 37310, PAGE 5102
23 APR 1945
THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
(WO 373/14) AND CAHILL
xxx
  On 26th April 1945, an enemy position locally reported 18 strong was contacted by a PPA patrol 4 kilos north of IOLANDA di SAVOIA (Italy) at approx. 1100 hrs, and being apparently taken by surprise, was attacked. This was done by a dismounted patrol which leaped off the jeeps when they moved up to within 20 yds of the house to give covering fire. Dvr Cahill who though with the rank of Dvr. was acting patrol L/Cpl. observed 7 men run out off the back of the house. Regardless of his personal safety he gave chase immediately: 2 of the men ran towards the enemy positions 1000 yds away to the rear; Dvr. Cahill gave chase to the remaining 5, calling on them to surrender. They gave no sign of doing so. Then suddenly they dropped behind cover about 80 yds from Cahill and opened fire on him. Simultaneously 2 MGs opened up from the enemy positions further back.
Cahill, realizing that the presence of 5 snipers at so close a range would be a serious menace to the remainder of the patrol, and with complete disregard for the enemy fire, charged the men, firing from the hip with his tommy gun. In the subsequent action one German NCO. was severely wounded and the remaining 4 surrendered. Cahill retired on the remainder of the patrol with his 4 prisoners covered by the jeeps, which had deployed and opened fire on the enemy MG posts.
  Major
JMC
Caneri, MC
OC.,
1 Dem Sqdn.,
PPA
MM
IMMEDIATE
AWARD
   
xxx xxx
The London Gazette
18 October 1945, issue 37310, page 5102
The National Archives
Citation piece WO 373/14

The PPA War Diary doesn't mention this 'S' Patrol action as happening on the 26th, as noted in the citation, but on the 23rd, not long after the Battle of the Argenta Gap, with PPA pushing ahead of the advancing main Allied force. By the 26th April 'S' Patrol had been withdrawn and then redeployed by the Ramped Cargo Lighters of "Popski's Private Navy" about 40 kilometers further East, landing at the mouth of the Po. We think the citation's action date is wrong, and here we show the entries for both of those dates so you can judge for yourself. This was the battle in which Captain John Campbell won his second MC.

Cahill, quite left-wing in his thinking, used to talk late into the night with Corporal Ron Jewell. For their amusement they would sometimes take each other's political viewpoint and argue its merits. After the war Cahill "...[came] back from his partisan liaison work a convinced communist" and "...held regular evening gatherings...to discuss international affairs.". He later worked in the oil industry all over the world and, with his wife Sheila, was a generous supporter of the PPA Memorial Fund.

  CERVIA 23 'R' Ptl over bridge at MASSA FISCAGLIA and exploit NE, occupied MEZZO GORO 5092 and reached outskirts of ARIANO FERRARESE 5297, heavy opposition there- 13 POWs inc 1 Officer.
'S' Ptl crossed bridge at MASSA FISCAGLIA and occupied IOLANDA di SAVOIA and engaged enemy position 2 miles north of town, captured 25 POWs and wounded one. Several engagements with enemy in whole area and during whole day. 'R' Ptl releived by CREMONA at 1700 hrs and concentrated at MASSA FISCAGLIA (1 Division releived 2 PPA Ptls). 'S' Ptl withdrew for night 2300 hrs into MASSA FISCAGLIA. All area taken over by CREMONA Gp.
'B' ptl ordered to recce bridge south of COCCANILE 3295, and ran into an ambush at 1400 hrs just at entrance of village. Lt IW McCallum (299739) and 2067623 Spr. McDowall Killed in action and Jeep destroyed. patrol withdrew to Blitz HQ. Lt. MAC CADELL MC takes over command of 'B' Patrol.
 
  CERVIA 26 6 RCLs with minesweeper escort sail at 0600 hrs, landing at mouth of PO at 1100 hrs- landing unopposed, local partisans having occupied the area beforehand. Blitz supply pt set up at CATIEPOLO 6997. River Po crossed by 2 Patrols at CAVERNIER 6998, crossing unopposed. R Ptl occupied BOCASETE 7604 and got information that partisans had occupied PORTO di LEVANTE. S Patrol went NW towards CONTARINA 6005 [6605?], blown roads stopped progress. 'S' & 'R' Patrol spend night in CAVERNIER. 'B' Ptrl at CATIEPOLO Political meeting at CATIEPOLO to straighten things out.  

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xxx
MILITARY MEDAL
T/71002 GALLOWAY, Corporal D.
Royal Army Service Corps
'B' Patrol
LONDON GAZETTE
08 MAY 1945, ISSUE 37072, PAGE 2454
9 DEC 1944
THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
(WO 373/11) AND GALLOWAY
xxx
  Ref Map ITALY 1 : 50,000 Sheet 89 - I
On the afternoon of 9 Dec 44 'B' patrol, PPA, were ordered to go to the relief of a dismounted posn of 'D' Sqn 27L in the area M 5847 who were being strongly attacked by the enemy. When about 50 yds from this fwd enemy posn, and under hy mortar and MG fire, Cpl. GALLOWAY left his jeep and ran fwd to help a wounded Lancer who was in danger of drowning in the marshes. He succeeded in rescuing the wounded man and carried him to his Jeep. While he was doing this he was wounded in the leg.
Nevertheless, although bleeding profusely he continued to engage the enemy with his gun for at least ten mins before driving his Jeep to safety, where he fainted from loss of blood.
  (A.M.Horsbrugh-Porter)
Lt-Col.,
Comd
27th Lancers
MM
IMMEDIATE
AWARD
   
xxx xxx
The London Gazette
08 May 1945, issue 37072, page 2454
The National Archives
Citation piece WO 373/11

Corporal Galloway seems to have been awarded an MM every time he fainted! Popski described him as "Unassuming but nevertheless an outstanding character. As stouthearted as they are made". Both of Don's MM citations were originally reproduced in the 2nd edition of our Astrolabe newsletter (originally called "The Pisspot") in September 2004. After the war he became a policeman in Bradford.

  REVENNA 09 The Commanding Officer Major V. PENIAKOFF went on a forward recce at 588480 at 1130 hrs he was wounded in the left hand, right hand and ear. One ITALIAN officer also wounded. Both are evacuated under fire by Dvr BURRORS the C.O's Sriver in a jeep. The same day 'B' patrol gives covering fire over same bridge with 6 jeeps, each jeep firing seperately unitl its ammunition ran out and then withdrawing to be replaced by another jeep. This action against the enemy who were taking cover on the far side of the canal 30 yards away successfully enabled two dismounted troops of 27 LANCERS to withdraw. Cpl GALLOWAY wounded. Major PENIAKOFFS left hand is amputated. Capt CANERI takes over.  

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xxx
BAR TO MILITARY MEDAL
T/71002 GALLOWAY, Corporal D.
Royal Army Service Corps
'B' Patrol
LONDON GAZETTE
16 OCT 1945, ISSUE 37310, PAGE 5102
29 APR 1945
THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
(WO 373/14) AND GALLOWAY
xxx
  On the village square of DOLO (Italy) on the 29th April 1945, a PPA patrol was engaged by the nearby enemy. Almost immediately the Patrol Commander was wounded, Sgt.Galloway took over command of the patrol, when firing his MG he got wounded himself, he carried on firing until his ammunition was exhausted, then he took a bazooka, walked across the square under heavy fire, fired 3 bombs at a German strongpoint, he was already very weak - returned to his jeep. Then seeing that one man was wounded in another jeep some 15 yds away, again regardless of his own safety he went into the open, helped the wounded to get under cover. Then judging the opposition was too strong, he ordered the patrol to withdraw, he was on the last vehicle to leave the square, and a few minutes later when the whole patrol was safe, he fainted completely exhausted.   Major
JMC
Caneri, MC
OC.,
1 Dem Sqdn.,
PPA
MM
IMMEDIATE
AWARD
   
xxx xxx
The London Gazette
16 October 1945, issue 37310, page 5102
The National Archives
Citation piece WO 373/14

The battle of Dolo was another fierce fire-fight, in which Trooper "Spiv" Rogers was killed and Lieutenant "Mac" Cadell was wounded. Don Galloway in the thick of it once again. To date we have been unable to locate any of Don's relatives.

  REVENNA 29 'R' and 'B' Patrols at CHIOGGIA disarming Garrison.
'S' patrol intentions carried at CODEVIGO 5233-PIOVE di SACCO - CAMPO LONGO 4738-LIEFFOLE 4541 - SABIOCELLO 4346. At VIGO NOVO they found 4 x 88 mm firing on PADOVA. Entering from the rear they charged the guns captured guns, predictors intact, 3 truck and approx. 300 prisoners who were handed over to the Partisans. Contacted 12 Lancers at CAMIN 3947 and entered PADOVA just after them, then retunred to CHIOGGIA.
'B' patrol left CIVE at 0700 hrs, intention being to go due North to VENICE. At CAMPAGNO LUPIA 5142 engaged enemy taking 10 POWs and found 7 suicide's. No contact with enemy up to DOLO 4950 which was reported empty by civilians, on entering DOLO was engaged by enemy in strength of approx 4 coys. Engaged by a minimum of 10 spandaus the patrol exhausted all ammunition in 45 minutes, in the course of the action 15 prisoners were taken, 7 Killed and the village cleared of the enemy. our own casualties 1 Killed, 1 Officer and 2 ORs wounded., patrol returned to CHIOGIA.
 

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xxx
MILITARY MEDAL (with 166 Lt Fld Amb)
2981417 HIGGINS, Driver J.
Royal Army Service Corps
(166 (Br) Light Field Ambulance)
LONDON GAZETTE
10 APR 1945, ISSUE 37027, PAGE 1946
27 - 28 OCT 1944
THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
(WO 373/10) AND HIGGINS
xxx
  On the night of 25/26 October two companies of NABHA AKAL State Force Infantry had crossed the RIVER RONCO near MEDOLA. Just after the Infantry had crossed heavy rain began and continued for almost 36 hours. By the night of 27/28 October the river had risen in flood and as all bridges had been blown the only method of establishing communication for the evacuation of wounded across the river seemed to be by aerial ropeway. The officer in charge of the ADS 21 Indian Field Ambulance was ordered to construct this ropeway. During the night 27/28 this officer made his way to the site selected with a work party which included as a volunteer a temporarily attached British other rank No. T/2981417 Dvr HIGGINS J RASC. At first light on the morning of 28th it was found that the RONCO was in spate : at the site selected for the aerial ropeway the river was about 25 yards wide, well over eight feet deep, with a very strong current. This are was also under shell and mortar fire. In spite of the hazardous nature of the undertaking Pte HIGGINS volunteered to swim the river carrying a wire attached to the cable of the ropeway.
He succeeded in crossing but when he attempted to pull the cable across the wire broke under the strain of the current. Pte HIGGINS got in touch with the infantry across the river, and then swam back to the East bank with a message from them. Although he was by then exhausted Pte HIGGINS volunteered to make a second attempt to swim the river with a wire and try to pull the cable across. He again succeeded in crossing but again the wire broke under the strain. Further attempts were then found unnecessary by the discovery of a boat crossing some distance up river.
In my opinion this soldier’s performance of swimming across a river three times in spate in an area under enemy fire shows courage and determination of a very high order.
  Lt. Col.
W. LAURES
O.C.,
21 Ind Fld Ambulance
BEM
UPGRADED TO
MM
IMMEDIATE
AWARD
   
xxx xxx
The London Gazette
10 April 1945, issue 37027, page 1946
The National Archives
Citation piece WO 373/10

John's son Dan told us: "He was in fact a very good and strong swimmer - as a youth he would swim in the River Forth at Stirling and even in later years he frequently went swimming in local swimming pools and the North Sea off Lincolnshire. I admired his swimming style. I was never able to emulate it."

But it was what happened after his triple-crossing that was perhaps much more interesting, as John explained to the Post Office in-house newspaper "Courier" after many years service as a postman and postal and telegraph officer: "The last thing I remember was some Italian partisans pulling me ashore. I must have been suffering from hypothermia. I woke up in a large bed with lots of grinning partisans around me...the method they used to bring me round [was] by putting a nice signorina either side of me in relays!" When he got back to his unit he found that they had managed to get a rope across because of his efforts, and evacuated the wounded.

The location of this action was probably near MELDOLA (not MEDOLA, as in the Citation, but the modern spelling could have changed), which is South of Forli.

So many of his relatives have got in touch with us, and support foPPA's work, that they could almost form a whole squadron of their own. Dan has kindly donated a copy of a typescript of John's wartime exploits to the foPPA Archives, but this remains embargoed for the foreseeable future. Although we cannot publish, it has helped us to understand some aspects of PPA and its personnel.

This action is not shown in the PPA War Diary as it happened before Driver Higgins joined the unit.

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xxx
MILITARY MEDAL
962728 O'LEARY, Bombardier W.
Royal Artillery
'S' Patrol
LONDON GAZETTE
19 JUN 1945, ISSUE 37138, PAGE 3236
13 NOV 1944
THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
(WO 373/12) AND O'LEARY
xxx
  On 13th Nov 1944 an order was given to attack and capture a German outpost in a farmhouse (Ravenna area), which was holding up our advance towards the FIUME UNITI. A condition was laid down that the operation had to take place without firing of weapons, in view of denying to the enemy the knowledge, for several hours or even days, that he had lost that important strong point. At approx. 0730 hrs the PPA party commanded by an officer rushed into the farm and captured four surprised enemy who were on the bottom floor. Cpl. O'Leary without hesitation or orders ran upstairs and meeting an enemy soldier with an automatic weapon in his hand, who had obviously heard the noise of our entrance below, charged him and knocked the weapon from his grasp. Then completely regardless of his own personal safety rushed into a room in which the other enemy were, three of the remaining four were in bed, but the fourth was caught reaching for an automatic weapon by Cpl. O'Leary who knocked him on his back, and called on the four enemy to surrender, which they did. There is no doubt that the prompt action and the high standard of personal courage shown by this NCO witholding his fire when he was against four, to obey orders received, ensured the success of the attack. It must be emphasised that his behaviour was and will remain an example of courage, leadership and devotion to duty for all his comrades.   Major JM
Caneri, MC.
MM
IMMEDIATE
AWARD
   
xxx xxx
The London Gazette
19 June 1945, issue 37138, page 3236
The National Archives
Citation piece WO 373/12

This was the first of Captain John Campbell's "cloak-and-dagger" operations. Corporal Bill O'Leary (later Sergeant) was a formidable ex-Para who originally served with 1st Airborne in Tunisia (wounded twice) and then Sicily (wounded once), the ramrod-straight-backed very epitome of a British Army NCO.

When, in his eighties, he took a tumble down the steps outside his flat in Essex, his Para mate Trooper Jimmy Knox told us that Bill had instinctively done a "Para-landing roll". Bill attended foPPA's first PPA Remembrance Reunion at the Special Forces Club in 2004, and continued to solidly support foPPA fundraising over the following years. When he met John Campbell again at the unveiling of the PPA Memorial in 2008 he said "You don't expect a fuckin' salute do you?"

  REVENNA 14 'P' patrol relieves 'B' patrol. 'P' patro is heavily shelled and mortared. 'S' patrol attack LA FAVORITA. They capture 6 prisoners, 5 of whom they find in bed. M10 gun shells CASA DI BEVANO where 8 enemy have been reported.  

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xxx
MILITARY MEDAL
5182528 RICHES, Sergeant F.
1st King's Dragoon Guards
'B' Patrol
LONDON GAZETTE
08 FEB 1945, ISSUE 36928, PAGE 798
17 JUL 1944
THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
(WO 373/9) AND RICHES
xxx
  On 17 July 44 at Scheggia, Italy, on his own initiative, with great gallantry and complete disregard of his own safety, stayed with his jeep under heavy mortar and shell fire, in a completely exposed position, so as to give covering MG fire to a foot patrol operating ahead of him. He withdrew only after the patrol had returned to safety.   Major V. Peniakoff
O.C.
I Demolition Sqdn
P.P.A.
MM
IMMEDIATE
AWARD
   
xxx xxx
The London Gazette
08 February 1945, issue 36928, page 798
The National Archives
Citation piece WO 373/9

Sergeant Frank Riches was the second NCO recruited from the 1st King's Dragoon Guards cavalry regiment, along with Sergeant George Waterson, both awarded the MM. Popski made a point of getting himself attached to 'A' Squadron of the King's Dragoons "...for intelligence duties and liaison with the Arabs", leaving his fellow Libyan Arab Force officers to their "...fumbliing half-heartedness" when all were stationed around Tobruk in 1942. From the KDGs he learned much about armoured reconnaissance and efficient unit organisation: "I learnt...something of the tactics of fighting in vehicles, and this knowledge stood me in good stead in later days when I handled armed jeeps.".

Sergeant Frank Riches and Sergeant Eric Brooks were the only two men to have served with all three of the desert raiding Special Forces: LRDG, SAS and PPA[8]. Both Frank's daughter Lorna and his son Guy are long-time Friends of PPA. Guy's smart-looking hand-carved wooden representation of the PPA Astrolabe stands every November in the PPA plot in the Special Forces section of the Royal British Legion's Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey.

  SANGREGORIO 17 [foPPA: This took place around the time of Operation Astrolabe, and the War Diary doesn't give any details of this action. These may be held in a different set of documents which we shall look for later.]  

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xxx
MILITARY MEDAL (with LRDG)
598 SANDERS, Gunner E.
2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force
(Long Range Desert Group)
LONDON GAZETTE
08 SEP 1942, ISSUE 35697, PAGE 3951
1940 - 1942
THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
(WO 373/46) AND SANDERS
xxx
  Gunner Sanders joined the L.R.P. when it was formed in July 1940 and has been with the unit ever since. In 1940 at GEBEL AUWEINAT, his gunnery was of such quality that his patrol was able to carry out a successful raid. In this raid he salvaged petrol stores under heavy bombing from the air, thereby setting a fine example of devotion to duty. At MURZUK his gunnery again played an important part in the successful attack upon the aerodrome, whilst under fire from enemy machine gun positions. At MERSA BREGA last December he was one of the patrol which drove 10 miles on the main road from the West into the town, and took part in a fight at close range. On this occasion he again showed his coolness and courage. On his next patrol, two weeks later, his truck was blown to pieces by German dive bombers, and he was one of the party which walked 200 miles acros the desert to the units base. At all times he has shown coolness, bravery and devotion to duty in action.   G. Prendergast
Lt. Col.
Comdg.
LRDG
M.M.
(Periodical)
   
xxx xxx
The London Gazette
08 September 1942, issue 35697, page 3951
The National Archives
Citation piece WO 373/46

Popski noted in his PPA Personnel Card Index that this Long Range Patrol (later renamed the Long Range Desert Group) Kiwi was "Hardly to be described as the Best Dressed Man in Town.", a wonderful piece of understatement, as can be seen in a picture of him with his pal Corporal Ron Jewell. He was, for a short period after the wounding of Lieutenant Ricky Rickwood, put in charge of 'R' Patrol. Edgar Sanders led a colourful post-war life that included sailing the Pacific Ocean in search of treasure and being stranded on a desert island for several months, all recounted in many letters to Popski. In 2008 his widow Mariana and son Peter travelled from New Zealand to honour the memory of this great PPA character at the unveiling of the PPA Memorial. They keep in touch every year and have kindly donated much historic material about Edgar to the foPPA Archives.

These actions are not shown in the PPA War Diary because they happened before Gunner Sanders joined the unit and indeed before PPA was formed. It's quite likely though that Sanders and Popski already knew each other from that time, before Edgar joined PPA.

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xxx
MILITARY MEDAL
3243484 WATERSON, Sergeant G.
1st King's Dragoon Guards
'P' Patrol
LONDON GAZETTE
11 JUN 1943, ISSUE 36053, PAGE 2721
28 MAR 1943
THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES
(WO 373/1) AND WATERSON
xxx
  3243484 Sgt G. WATERSON, 1 Demolition Sqn MEF (K.D.Gs) on 28th March, 1943 at 1100 hrs, while reconnoitring the enemy forces holding the Southern approaches to EL HAMMAM pass in GEBEL SI AMEUR South West of MAKNASSY, was detached from his patrol and while on his own, he surprised an enemy O.P. and machine-gun post hidden behind rocks and held by three Germans. He attacked single handed killing two of the enemy and wounding the third with rifle fire and then destroyed the machine gun, the small arms and the telephone which were in the O.P. He then proceeded with his reconnaissance under mortar fire and returned to his lines an hour later with the information he had been sent out to collect. The officer commanding the patrol heard the firing and visited the enemy O.P. a few minutes after Sgt Waterson had left.
I recommend that the Military Medal should be awarded immediately for the gallantry, the offensive spirit, the coolness of judgement and the devotion to duty he displayed on this occasion.
  Major V. PENIAKOFF,
O.C.
I Demolition Sqdn
P.P.A.

Lt-Col W. STIRLING,
Comd.
1 S.S.R.F.
Immediate
MM
   
xxx xxx
The London Gazette
11 June 1943, issue 36053, page 2721
The National Archives
Citation piece WO 373/1

When Sergeant-Major Waterson was asked by Popski, in March 1943, where he'd got a German Field Telephone from, he was "...somewhat embarrassed...". For his quick thinking when he stumbled upon the machine-gun post, Popski got him the MM. Waterson was the first Other Rank that Popski recruited, and the first of all of the newly-formed unit[9] to be awarded a medal.

Popski said "...I thought that his experience of fighting in armoured cars, his general resourcefulness and his knowledge of the ways of the army would make him a useful recruit." Well, Popski certainly got that one right with this regular soldier, who had joined up in 1927. He was the first of two PPA NCOs recruited from the 1st King's Dragoon Guards, alongside Sergeant Frank Riches.

His son John and wife Carol are steady supporters of foPPA Remembrance Events, and also help out with transcribing old PPA documents into digital format.

  GAFSA, GABES 28 [foPPA: This action is not shown in the PPA War Diary as record-keeping in the early days was rather sketchy.]  

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Copyright © 2013 foPPA
Crown Copyright © London Gazette, by kind permission
Crown Copyright © Citations, by kind permission
Crown Copyright © PPA War Diary, by kind permission
23 Nov 2013

Further information
Notes: 
  1. ^ Popski said: "We pronounced his name as 'Canary'". The correct pronunciation is 'Canneree'.
  2. ^ This was a surprise to his mother. She had gone to Alexandria for only a short visit and planned to return to Cairo for the birth. [foPPA conversation with his daughter Anne-France Caneri.]
  3. ^ This was a particularly "dangerous brand" of recurrent malaria, contracted by many who had camped near the beaches at Philipeville in Algeria in the Spring of 1943, as did PPA, attached to 2nd SAS Regiment under Lieutenant-Colonel Bill Stirling, brother of SAS founder David. 2SAS Major Roy Farran and many of his men were also often laid low by it during operations in Sicily, mainland Italy and France.
  4. ^ MO4 (Military Operations 4) was just one of the cover names for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in Cairo. In the Index to Popski's book he expands it as "Subversive Operations Europe", as it was still, in 1950, regarded as secret. Some of Popski's behind-the-lines operations with the Libyan Arab Force Commando (LAFC) were conducted on behalf of SOE. We know, from reliable but unattributable sources, that Popski worked for SIS (aka MI6) as well (this is unusual: SOE and SIS loathed each other). The only question is "from when"? SOE gave him a cosh in Italy, which he used to great effect on "Major Schultz" (note that PPA may have called all German Officers "Schultz"), and we have been sent a photograph purporting to be that very cosh, donated to someone he met later in the war.
  5. ^ The calculation is: 100,000 gallons for 200 tanks = 500 gallons per tank. Each tank does 5 miles to the gallon so can only go 100 miles on this amount. "In battle they run fifty miles a day", so it's two days worth, enough perhaps to be decisive in some situations.
  6. ^ "Operation Agreement" was the main attack on Tobruk, "Operation Bigamy" was the SAS attack on Benghazi, "Operation Caravan" was the LRDG attack on Barce, and "Operation Nicety" was the Sudan Defence Force attack on Jalo. Except for the Barce raid, they all failed primarily because of sloppy security. Only the LRDG knew how to keep their mouths shut.
  7. ^ The "Python" Scheme was about allowing men who had served continuously overseas for several years to have extended home leave.
  8. ^ This is why we are very skeptical about the claims that we hear from time to time about soldiers serving with more than one Special Forces unit in the North African Campaign. They did occasionally transfer from one to another, but this was really quite rare as a proportion of the hundreds who served.
  9. ^ PPA was attached to 2SAS at Philipeville, but we didn't know until we saw Waterson's citation that PPA's administrative unit was primarily known as 1SSRF, the Small Scale Raiding Force.
Updates: 
  • 2013-03-13 Found correct location for Captain Jan Caneri's MC action at Fighille.