No.4 Commando, and "Once a Marine always a Marine".
In a letter 11th June, 1996 Harold wrote on receiving a copy of the book "10 Commando".
" I think you will appreciate that over the course of more than fifty years, the memory
get's a bit confused. If I'd said "after more than half a century", it would have sounded
even longer I think. What I 'm really getting at is this. Now and again, looking back ,
I knew there was a connection in Walcheren with number 10(Inter-Allied) Commando
and also with No.4 Commando but I had got a bit lost with the details. I remember
being seconded, but couldn't recall a great deal about the actual set up. I remember having
some connection with with a certain French Commando Captain of 10(I-A) Commando,
and a number of his small group and I recall being responsible to the No.4 Commando
Lieutenant for Communicationa back to number 4 Special Service Commando Brigade HQ.
So coming back to the book 10-Commando, there is a small article on Walcheren and it brings
back to me the situation at the time. I can remember clearly now that having landed at
Vlissingen(Flushing) with No.4 Commando and 4 SS Commando Brigade HQ.. We moved off
I can now see that was the time I was detailed with my wireless crew to join No.4 Commando
to provide the link to HQ. Being with HQ troop of No.4 Commando, then brought me into contact
with Captain Pfiefer and his small Dutch detachment of No.10(I-A) Commando who were being
used as guides and interpreters.
Then came the incident (see the citation ) when we were following this small group in the early
morning just as it was becoming light. Apparently they passed a MMG position before the
Germans became aware of anything untoward. Unhappily for us, they spotted us in the half-light
or heard the radio or whatever, so decided that we ought to be discouraged
from making any further progress. Unfortunately the side cover of the track was only a foot or so
high and naturally , the radio in it's cart, stood a couple of feet above the bank making operating
uncomfortable. Finding the set was in the line of fire, and operating wasn't nice, We decided to push
it to a more convenient place, in the meantime, apologising to all and sundry for the delay and not
being quite where we ought to be. As you can guess, we didn't delay in moveing on especially
because it was getting lighter all the time.
Being able to be in close contact with some of these Dutch, Belgian and French Commandos brought
home to me how much more motivated they were to us, because many of them had had to leave
their families behind in occupied Europe when they escaped to England to take up arms there.
Another intersting part of the book described earlier was a short description of the movement
of No.4 Commando Brigade from D-Day onwards and its disposition on the far side of the river Orne
to take over from the 6th Airborne Division.
That was on the other side of Pegasus Bridge . We were based at the time on a small chateau being
used as the HQ. I remember shortly after we arrived we were digging a communication trench.
At the bottom of which I had placed a small mess tin on a small heater for a brew.
It began to boil and i jumped in to brew up. As I landed in the trench a mortar bomb exploded in
the spot i had just left . You can imagine that i really enjoyed that drink. I had a charmed life
in those days. I could go on with similar stories but maybe some other time. Iam sure that you find
these kind of memories interesting. It's not a subject to bring up with most people.
See what you have started again ! Years ago some instructor said "Once a Marine always a Marine".
At the same time I remember thinking, what a pile of old rubbish. I found later that it wasn't far
from the truth."