- The Popski Story
- PPA Memorial Fund
- The LRDG Story
- The LCP Story
- Desert Exploration by Car
Related Units and Organisations
The Related Units and Organisations section aims to give short contextual summaries of the units and organisations that surround the Popski story. It only includes the headline links at the moment, while we continue our research and get around to actually writing the articles! These article stubs not only show where our thinking is going but are also there to act as search-engine fly-paper, helping topic-knowledgable people to find us and tell us more.
The section will contain articles about particular units and organisations that are associated with or fought alongside (or against) Popski and PPA, and will be developed under Phase 2 funding. This generally excludes the major Allied and Axis formations. See About this website. To start with though we have added some interesting photos about the Libyan Arab Force.
Related Regular Units
|King Idris with British Staff Officers, reviewing his Libyan Arab Force troops
(foPPA Archives, Geoffrey Lunn Collection)
9 Commando's part of "Operation Astrolabe" was called "Operation Pipsqeak". Some 9 Commando veterans approached us just before the unveiling of the PPA Memorial in 2008 but, under severe time and budgetary pressure to deliver the event, we weren't able to give them the attention that they deserved or include them in the event, which we greatly regret.
Related Special Forces and Intelligence Units
The intelligence-gathering and special-forces raiding units operating during the North African and Italian Campaigns were many and various, not always co-ordinated nor co-operating (at the AFHQ level - generally much better relations at the sharp end). No historian has yet (as far as we know) pulled together all these threads to give a comprehensive picture of how they all fitted in (especially in Italy). This section is an attempt to at least give a nod to those involved, perhaps eventually clarifying PPA's position within all this clandestine activity.
The Light Car Patrols of WWI and Compagnie Autosahariane of the inter-war years are included to give some background to the formation of Britain's irregular forces, woefully disdained by career officers. The rather ad-hoc "Jock Columns" of the Western Desert are not included, as it remains unclear to us what they really contributed, strategically or tactically (nor who they were - does anyone know?).
Also not really part of our focus here, but ever-present, are the Field Security Sections, responsible for arresting spies identified by SIS (MI6) or SOE, and interrogating POWs - "300 FSS" was yet another cover name for SOE in Italy (see below). Post-war, by 1947 PPA's Corporal Alain Locke MM, now a Captain, was a Field Security Officer in 253 FSS, running operations against Jewish and Arab arms smugglers in the Sinai desert, in PPA-type Jeeps. Some "special duties" Naval units operating into the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian Seas may eventually appear here, as research into Massingham continues.
Some of these secret units (and their branches) confusingly operated simultaneously under different names, or the names were changed as the war progressed, or bits were spun off, or attachments were made. For instance, attached to the LRDG in North Africa was the Indian Long Range Squadron, long overdue for a decent book about them, although we have no evidence of their particular operational connection to Popski or PPA - the point of this page.
SOE is arguably the worst for name-fudge - its Baker Street HQ was known as ISRB, the Inter-Services Research Bureau, by way of explaining why many different nationalities were popping in and out all the time. They referred to themselves as the "Baker Street Irregulars". In Cairo SOE was known as Force 133 or MO4 ("Military Operations 4", employing PPA's Lieutenant Jan Caneri to plant limpet mines in Benghazi harbour). The joint UK-US base in Algiers (i.e. for SOE and OSS), established after the "Operation Torch" landings in November 1942, was called "Massingham", but the unit was called ISSU6, Inter-Services Signals Unit 6. In Bari and Monopoli SOE operated as No 1 Special Force, Force 133 or Force 266 (mainly into the Balkans), with the base called "Maryland". In Popski's book, published in 1951 but still under the cosh of the censor, he refers to SOE but indexes it as "Subversive Operations Europe". "Military Mission 102" was the SOE attachment to the Libyan Arab Force, probably the connection through which Popski passed his intelligence reports from Cyrenaica before the battles of El Alamein.
Reports about the OSS in Italy sometimes refer to "Operational Groups" (roughly equivalent to SAS squads) or to the "MU", the Maritime Unit making use of highly-regarded Italian Navy specialists and their fast boats.
In January 2012 we reproduced a Personal Stories article about "D" Company, 2677th Regiment OSS Lieutenant George Hearn that we found some time ago, explaining his hitherto poorly-recognised part in PPA's April 1945 capture of the entire German garrison at Chioggia in Northern Italy. This partly in response to a recent burst of new information regarding OSS activities in Italy making sense of information that we already had in the archives.
GSI Group. (See Image Credits)
This great photo shows many of the men involved in behind-the-lines operations in northern Italy including Lieutenant Richard Kelly OBE, CO of the OSS Maritime Unit; Captain Alphonse Thiele OBE, CO of the OSS Detachment at Eighth Army; Major Archie Colquhoun MBE, CO of the GSI (Civil Liaison) branch of Eighth Army and Major Jan Caneri MC CO of PPA. Can anyone name the others? The photo is from the collection of Harry Bland who was Major Colquhoun's driver and a long-time foPPA supporter until his death in 2014.
|CESENA||12||C.O. established at Main Army with L.O. Lieut Derrett. Here begins the formulating of plans for the part PPA is to take in the forthcoming offensive. Close co-operation is maintained between the C.O. and G.Ops (Lt-Col J.C.Smuts), G.S.O.I (Plans) (Lt-Col Sir I.S.V.Marling Bt), G.S.I. (C.L) (Major A.Colquhoun), G.S.I.(Air) (Major I.R.S.Crosby), N.L.O. Commander (N.H.Whatley), No 1 Special Force (Capt E.Mc'Dermott), O.S.S. (Lieut Kelly), O.C. P.P. 2 (Capt Freeman). Conference will be held daily and the 2nd I/C Capt J.D.Campbell is re-called from Ski Course. The Unit is to stand by for operations as from 25 Mar 45.|