Trooper Biography Section
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I have for some time wanted to start a LRDG Trooper page, where I could post photos and information that I acquire from many sources about individual LRDG members. These men may not have been "mentioned in dispatches" or received any medals but they were involved in the day to day efforts of the LRDG. The boring "road watch", the exciting "beat-up" or being dropped behind enemy lines where part of their everyday lives during the period of time from July 1940 until the unit was disbanded in 1945 .
As information becomes available it will be posted on this page. Any errors or discrepancies are mine and not intentional. Please notify me at lrdg@Prodigy.net if I have made any errors so they can be corrected.
If you would like your father, grandfather, brother or uncle that served with the LRDG on this page please supply me with information and photo's that would indicate their LRDG service.
LRDG Preservation Society
List of LRDG Troopers (Click link):
Captain L.H. (Tony)
Walter H. Burgess #14351 N.Z.
Walter known as "Wally" to the other LRDG Troopers, was born in New Zealand on October 19th 1918. Until I can prove otherwise I believed he lived in Putaruru, N.Z. with his mother Ruth. He was five foot six inches tall had a fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. His weight is not listed.
From his military records it looks like he served a period of time in some sort of New Zealand military service in country for 2 years. He was employed by Ward Taxis service in Rotorua, N.Z. as a taxi driver. On May 21st 1940 he enlisted in the New Zealand Divisional Cavalry and enter Burnham Camp for training on October 3rd 1940.
With his training completed he was shipped off to Egypt with the 2 NZEF on Jan 30th 1941. Arriving in Egypt on Feb 5th 1941.
Soon after on Feb 26th he started at the base cooking school and passed as a 2nd class cook by March 17th and by May 7th passed the 1st class cook requirements.
He was admitted to the camp hospital on two different occasions, once on May 14th for 5 days and again on June 16th for another 5 days. The records do not indicate the reason for his hospital stays. But it is possible that he was injured while cooking.
On December 6th 1941 he was one of the few chosen to join the LRDG. There much is not heard about him during his time with the LRDG but he did what every other LRDG trooper did. The "Road Watch" was one of their least favorite activities. And since he trained as a cook I am sure that he did his fair share of that when on patrol.
We have been able to find two photos of T-2 Patrol in the desert that he is in.
Walter was promoted to Lance Corporal on May 1st 1943 and again to Corporal on June 2nd 1943. And since the Germans and Italians were defeated in the North Africa, the LRDG unit was sent to "Cedars of Lebanon" for Mountain Warfare Training on July 7th 1943 and Walter went with them.
After eight week rigorous training they left via Haifa on Sept 21st 1943 for the Dodecanese Islands. It was here that the LRDG patrols were used to ill effect as ground and invasion forces, without proper reconnaissance before they were committed.
I believe (but do not have absolute proof) that he was still attached to A Squadron ( T-2 patrol) when they attacked the island of Levita. The unit was commanded by Capt. John Olivey. To see the story of "The Assault on Levita" click here.
It was confirmed that he was a POW to military authorities on Dec. 15th 1943, at that time he was in Stalag 344. He was moved to Stalag 355 on Sept 14th 1944. And not much was hear from him until the "capture" postcard showed up in "Rotorua" addressed to Mr. T. M. Mercer where he was at Stalag 357.
He remained in Stalag 357 until his release at the end of hostilities. He was then transported to England on May 12th 1945, where he remained until his departure back to New Zealand on July 3rd 1945. Finally arriving back to his home country on Aug. 4th 1945. He was finally discharged on Nov. 7th 1945.
For World War II service he was awarded the following
8th Army Clasp
1939-1945 War Medal
N.Z. War Service Medal
"Walter worked as a logging truck driver until his overseas back pay arrived from the government. He then used that money to buy his own Taxi service. During his marriage to Eileen Adams he had three sons, Brian born Sept 25th 1946, Paul born Oct. 25th 1949 and Bill born on Oct.14th 1951. His sons are still alive in New Zealand. But Walter died at the young age of 49 in April 8th 1967."
Stalag 344 http://www.pegasus-one.org/pow/cSt_8B.htm
Stalag 357 http://www.pegasus-one.org/pow/cSt_357.htm
Photo of Merlyn Craw
NZ Divisional Cavalry, LRDG
Died in New Zealand, 17 January 2003, aged 87 years
Merlyn Craw's War Years as recounted by Brendan O’Carroll, the author of “Kiwi Scorpions” and “Bearded Brigands”
Leslie Angus McIver
Long Range Desert Patrol
New Zealand Armoured Corps
Lloyd George Doel N.Z 64961
Lloyd was born on March 10, 1915, he was one of three children born to Josuha & Lottie Doel at Whangarei, New Zealand. He had one younger brother, Josh, and a sister Bonnie. His parents had a small dairy farm about two miles from Kawakawa, where they also grew and sold vegetables.
Lloyd was 25 years old when he enlisted in the army, on Nov. 27th 1940. He had been working as a freezer worker for AFFCO when he entered Papakura Military Camp, Auckland, on 16 April 1941, for training in the New Zealand Territorial Army. He was transferred from the Territorial Army to the 2nd Infantry Training Battalion on May 7th 1941. After four months training, his unit departed New Zealand on Sept 13th 1941 for Egypt. His ship arrived in Egypt on October 19th , 1941.
He attended Cooking school at Geneifa on Dec. 17th,1941 and qualified as Cook Class I in Jan. 18, 1942. He was posted to the New Zealand Northern Infantry Corps as a cook and was entitled to "extra duty pay". He served there until July 2nd ,1942 when he was posted to "Special Patrol Duties" (not the LRDG). While serving with this unnamed unit he was wounded on July 22nd and admitted to a hospital on July 25th. He remained in the hospital or recuperation center until he was finally again fit for duty on Sept. 15th 1942. There is not much detail on his service from Sept until his next posting which was in June of 1943, when he was posted to the LRDG on the 17th.
Since the war in North Africa ended in May of that year he went with the other LRDG troopers for training at the "Cedars of Lebanon" for skiing instructions and underwent vigorous mountain training. In September the LRDG along with other Special Forces were attached to Force 292, soon after renamed "Raiding Forces". These miscellaneous units were moved to various islands in the Dodecanese chain which had been controlled by the Italians and after their surrender British units moved to prevent the Germans from taking them over. Unfortunately the Germans had other ideas and retook the islands one by one.
Lloyd was on Levitha (Levita) with LRDG A Squadron , commanded by Captain Olivey and 47 other LRDG troopers, attacking the island. The attack was difficult to form as there was little accurate information available on the enemies strength or disposition. Their objective was the high central ground of the island (Mount Vardia)which overlooked the port of Levitha and from there it was proposed to deny the rest of the island to the enemy.
On the night of October 23rd 1943, Lloyd and the other troopers were put ashore by two motor launches, their landing was unopposed. But the motor launches engaged shore targets and alerted the enemy. "At the first streaks of daylight, three or four seaplanes began to take off from the Levita harbor. The New Zealanders, who overlooked the harbor from the ridge, opened fire, and for a moment it seemed that Trooper Lloyd Doel had put one seaplane out of action with his Bren gun, but it moved out of range and took off after some delay." When the seaplanes came overhead to strafe them they returned fire but to little effect. The LRDG came under continued air attack and heavy ground fire suffering may casualties. And at the end of the day only seven of the LRDG patrol were able to escape. Lloyd was one of the many captured.
He was posted as "missing in action" on Oct 25th 1943 but then was reclassified as a "prisoner of war" when notified by the German government. He along with the other POW’s was transported by boat to either Yugoslavia or Greece and then by train to Stalag 344 (located in Lamsdorf, Poland) then later he was transferred to Stalag VIIA (located in Moosburg, Germany) and finally to Stalag VIIIC (located in Sagan, Poland). He was held there until late January 1945 when the whole camp was to be marched west as the Russian’s were closing in. (See http://www.pegasus-one.org/pow/robert_warren.htm - for a history by Lance-Corporal Robert Bennett Warren who tells of the Camp and the "death march"). Lloyd was on the march with the others in the camp.
They arrived near Hanover, Germany, after marching an average 15 miles a day (about 600 miles) in early April, they were finally released to the advancing allied armies. Lloyd along with many of the other POW’s had to be admitted for hospitalization as they were all in terrible condition and they were transported to England as soon as possible.
Now the good part of the story. While Lloyd was held as a POW, a family who farmed next to his parent’s in Kawakawa, New Zealand, wrote to their first-cousins in Wales, UK. They advised the William’s family that a "local lad" was held as a POW and asked if they could try to contact him through the Red Cross. Consequently, this Welsh family had one of their daughters write to Lloyd. Their correspondence continued throughout the war. Lloyd arrived in the UK in April 1945 and married Nursing Sister Isobel Williams on August 28th, 1945.
He returned home to live and work on the family dairy farm with his war-bride they had three children, John, born Jan. 10, 1948, David, born Aug. 1, 1949 and a daughter Helen, born Feb. 10, 1951.
Unlike today, there was no such things counseling for trauma and suffering. Like many old soldiers, Lloyd very rarely spoke of the war to his family, of being a POW or the death-march. He would occasionally recall a humorous incident but was a closed-book on the atrocities and suffering. Often he would walk away saying "forget, forget...forget!"
After the war he became very involved in the New Zealand RSA and was the very proud recipient of the RSA Gold Star in 1973. He was elected President of the NZ LRDG Association in 1989.
In 1987 he received compensation from the New Zealand Government for having been held in a sub-camp of Auschwitz during WWII, "for this illegal incarceration and in recognition of the special suffering you endured as a prisoner of war.
For his service during the war he was awarded the following.
1939 - 1945 Star
1939 - 1945 War Medal
New Zealand War Service Medal
Trooper Lloyd G. Doel - passed away on May 20th 1996
Ashley Greenwood, OBE, MC, QC, former Attorney-General of Fiji and Gibraltar
Ashley Martin Greenwood was born in 1912. Educated at Haileybury, a leading boarding school for over 100 years, he then went on to Clare College, Cambridge, and having taken a double first in classics, he decided to become a lawyer and qualified as a solicitor.
He climbed his first mountain as a teenager. His passion for the sport later took him to the Alps, Dolomites and Tyrol, as well as Norway, Scotland and Wales. In 1936 at the age 24 he was elected to the Alpine Club after being proposed by N. E. Odell, the last man to see Mallory and Irvine alive on Everest in 1924. His climbing skills would stand him in good stead during the war.
Commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1940, he volunteered for commando training in the hope of seeing action. He inveigled his way into the Long-Range Desert Group at a time when the force was turning its attention from North Africa to the Aegean, Italy and the Balkans.
Sent from the Commando Training Centre at Lochailort, Scotland, to attend a mountain warfare conference at Tripoli, in April 1943, he heard that the group’s New Zealand squadron needed a climbing instructor for its mountain warfare training at the Cedars of Lebanon ski resort. Then a Captain, he volunteered for the job and, on finding himself warmly welcomed, he persuaded Lieutenant-Colonel Guy Prendergast, commanding the group, to say that his retention with the LRDG was operationally vital. He spent the rest of the war with the group on a wide variety of operations. See - http://www.mrzsp.demon.co.uk/mwtc/index.htm
He accompanied the New Zealand squadron on the ill-fated operation, triggered by Italy’s armistice in September 1943, to occupy the Dodecanese Islands before the Germans got there. Successful landings were achieved on the islands of Leros and Kalimnos but, when the Italian garrison on Rhodes refused to co-operate, the Luftwaffe squadrons on Rhodes and Crete made the situation of the British force untenable.
Bombed and strafed on their return from Kalimnos, Greenwood’s detachment reached Leros just as a German parachute force landed. Together with men from the Special Boat Section under Major the Earl Jellicoe, they made for the hills and then went by caïque to Turkey.
Greenwood, accompanied only by a Greek agent who knew the island, returned to Leros by RAF sea-rescue launch and rubber dinghy. He planned to collect together other British troops left behind and guide them to a pick-up point from where a similar vessel could take them to Egypt. When the vessel did not appear after several nights wait, he sent the men he had collected in small parties by rowing boat to a nearby island and from there by a caïque to Turkey. Although neutral, Turkey was sympathetic to the Allied cause and the rescued men traveled with Greenwood on the Taurus Express to Syria, he was awarded the MC and mentioned in dispatches for his service in the Mediterranean theater escape.
(Churchill’s Folly by Tony Roger http://www.orionbooks.co.uk/MP-23568/Churchill)
Having been trained as a parachutist, he led one of four small patrols dropped to the north of the German defensive positions in Italy in June 1944. Their task was to reconnoiter the state of roads and bridges in the expectation of an Allied advance, identify German units and report on their dispositions. As was often the case using contemporary navigational aids, all but one of the patrols was dropped in the wrong place and too near the enemy. He and one other man of his patrol evaded capture, but were separated. Greenwood walked south to Lake Trasimene, on the shores of which the two armies faced each other, and made his way through the reeds to the British positions.
During the early months of 1945 he was the Long-Range Desert Group’s liaison officer on the staff of the British brigade operating in Montenegro, which had a number of patrols working in that area, trying to persuade the Yugoslav partisans to attack or at least harass the retreating Germans. But he did not find the partisans co-operative. From June 1945 until March 1946, he served with the Allied Military Government Organization in Austria. After the cessation of hostilities he joined the Colonial Office.
Greenwood was appointed deputy registrar of the Ugandan High Court in 1946 and was promoted to registrar the next year. He became resident magistrate in 1950 and Crown counsel four years later. He was called to the Bar by the Inner Temple in 1952. Four years later, he was appointed Solicitor-General and then Attorney-General of Fiji. He served as Attorney-General of Gibraltar for three years from 1963.
After his retirement from the Colonial Office, he was appointed OBE (Order of the British Empire) and took on various assignments, including a year in Washington on the Telstar conference and a short spell as temporary Attorney-General of Montserrat. He also spent some months in Hong Kong, dealing with implications relating to the colony’s return to China.
Greenwood married Rosemary Howard in April 1956. The couple, who had climbed together in the Alps for two seasons before the war, returned to mountaineering afterwards and was also members of the Eagle Ski Club. In the 20-year period up to 1978, they climbed, skied and trekked together in New Zealand, Austria, Italy, Greece, Nepal, India and Peru. He celebrated his 80th birthday by scaling a 6,000m peak in the Himalayas. He calculated that his climbing, military and Colonial careers he had been to 103 countries.
He is survived by his wife.
Ashley Greenwood, OBE, MC, QC, former Attorney-General of Fiji and Gibraltar, was born on June 17, 1912. He died on September 30, 2003, aged 91.
Please note, the above is the only photo that I have of Ashley Greenwood. If anyone has other photos of this hero I would appreciate a copy to add to this section.
Harry Moore, Great Britain #5121738
Harry was one of those LRDG members that kept the trucks running. He was born March 17th 1921 in Grimsby, England. His father's name was also Harry. At the time of his enlistment on July 24th,1940 his trade was listed as a laborer. He was five foot nine inches tall had a fair complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair. His weight was listed at 132 pounds.
From what few military records that I have seen he was trained as a "Fitter, Motor .Vehicle." and was classified as a Class III on Dec 1st,1942. I can not quite figure out when he joined the LRDG but he received a Yellow Fever vaccination on Feb 7th 1943. And on Feb. 11th , 1943 he was reclassified a Class II Fitter, Motor Vehicle. I assume he was shipped to or was in Egypt shortly thereafter.
At some point in time he joined the LRDG and was posted to the Light Repair Service Unit. Since the battle for North Africa was drawing to a close by April the LRDG was ordered back to Alexandria for refit and find out was to become of the unit.
As the unit was to be retrained and moved to the Cedars of Lebanon for Mountain Warfare School. The desert trucks were not taken with them but there were both British Military trucks and jeeps still used by the unit that had to be kept in running order. In June of 1943 his rank was listed as a "Craftsman".
After the disaster in the Dodecanese Islands where the LRDG lost more men than the previous three years, it was eventually moved to the Italian Adriatic Coast for continued operations in Albania and Yugoslavia.
Harry was there with LSR 16 which was based in Rodi, Italy. On July 28th,1944 he was ordered to go to Bari and "collect stores", by Captain Braithwait, Officer in Charge of L.R.S. attached to the LRDG.
Harry continued with the LRDG - LRS until the end of the war and the unit was disbanded.
Upon his discharge on July 2nd 1946 his officer remarked that "Harry is a very good man who has a good knowledge of his job as a M.T. Fitter. Kind, willing and intelligent. Can be relied upon to work on his own initiative without supervision."
For his World War II service he was awarded the following
The African Star
The 1939-1945 British Star
The Italy Star
I have no information about Harry's postwar activities. I did however meet his son a few years ago who provided the photos and war information. Harry has passed away but I do not have the date.
David Lloyd Owen, 2nd Queen’s Royal Regiment
David was born in Hampton, Middlesex, England October 10th , 1917. His father was a Captain in the Royal Navy. After Winchester College and the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, he was commissioned into the Queen’s Royal Regiment in 1938. His unit was shipped to Palestine were he saw service during the Arab revolt.
With the outbreak of hostilities and the movement of the Italian Army toward Mersa Matruh, the Queen’s was sent to Egypt in December 1940, where Lloyd Owen saw action as a company commander at Sidi Barani and Tobruk.
But by late spring of 1941, Lloyd Owen, much to his chagrin, found himself posted back in Cairo as an instructor at the Middle East officer cadet training unit. Lloyd Owen had heard about the Long Range Desert Group from a officer friend in the Guards.
He applied and was interviewed by Major Bagnold. He impressed Bagnold sufficiently to be taken on and given command of a Yeomanry Patrol.
A man of normally immaculate appearance, he began to blend in with his informal and decidedly scruffy comrades. Lloyd Owen’s relaxed and friendly style of leadership relied on persuasion, personal example and the recognition of shared hardships. He won the loyalty and respect of his men by his daring, sheer stamina and first rate tactical skills.
He was awarded an MC for his part in a joint raid on Tobruk, code named "Agreement" in September 1942. Shortly after the raid, when his unit had returned to Kufra, he was severely wounded in an air raid with a cannon shell to his back and left arm. He recovered enough to rejoin the unit for the final stages of the North African campaign.
When the unit was involved in the Dodecanes Islands and the new commander Jake Easonsmith was killed, David Lloyd Owen was appointed to command. He led the unit successfully in raids on Corfu, the Dalmatian Islands and in Yugoslavia from the LRDG command post in Bari Italy. He was injured when in Albania (after a successful parachute jump) he fell into a 30 foot ravine, and badly damaged his spine. A medical officer parachuted in an treated him in the field and although, continually in pain, he managed to direct a number of successful operations in the mountains. For his leadership in the Balkans he was awarded the DSO and mentioned in dispatches.
Following the war he married in 1947 and following a period of service with the War Office’s military operations staff, in 1948-49 he was appointed military assistant to the high commissioner in Malaya, at the height of the emergency. For his work there he was awarded an OBE and again mentioned in dispatches. From 1957 to 1959 he commanded his own regiment, the 1st Battalion the Queen’s Royal Regiment, in Germany, before joining the staff at Sandhurst. During the Radfan campaign of the early 1960s, he commanded the 24 Infantry Group in Kenya and Aden. In 1968-69 he was general officer commanding, Near East Land Forces, and from 1969 until his retirement with the rank of major-general in 1972, president of the Regular Commissions Board.
In his retirement, he made his home in Norfolk, he was chairman of the Wildflowers Association of Great Britain, and a charitable trust for the disabled and those with learning difficulties. He was also chairman of the LRDG Association for more than 50 years. He published two memoirs, "The Desert My Dwelling Place" (1957) and "Providence Their Guide" (1980).
In his later years the effects of his earlier wounds and injuries caused him to be confined much of the time in a wheel chair. He died on April 5, 2001 and was survived by his wife of 54 years and three sons.
GUARDSMAN MARK ALEXANDER WELSH, MM,
2nd Battalion Scots Guards #2695516
Mark was born on June 18th 1920 in West Calder, Scotland , the youngest of eleven children. By 1924, the family immigrated to New York , settling in Brooklyn . In 1929 he returned with his parents and one brother to Scotland , the rest of the siblings remained in the United States .
He grew to be a handsome 6 foot 2 inch young man, blessed with a fine tenor singing voice. On Jan. 18th 1937, lying about his age (he was 16 ½), he enlisted in the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards. Trained as an Infantryman, Military Policeman and a Driver, he served in England from January 1937 until November 1938.
Mark on Dress Parade Alexandria 1942
In November 1938, he was posted to Egypt and was attached to 8th Army Headquarters serving as a Driver/Batman and a Corporal at the Officers Mess.
He was sometimes later recruited to the LRDG and it was for his actions with them that he was awarded the Military Medal.
On Nov. 20th 1942, assigned to G-1 Patrol under Captain Alastair Timpson, who had by this time recovered from injuries received on the journey outbound to Barce in Sept, his Patrol left Kufra to relieve G-2 on Road Watch in the Nofilia area. They had five trucks and two jeeps and consisted of Timpson (OC) and Hon. Bernard Bruce (SIC) with 20 other ranks. On the way to their station, they were attacked by a larger force and three of the trucks and a jeep along with ten of his troop were captured. They still had their W/T truck so continued on to relieve G-2.
On the night of Dec. 12th 1942, Welsh and the patrol commander (Capt. Timpson) were dropped off several miles from the coast road to carry out the road watch. Arriving near the road, the only space unoccupied by the enemy was a steep-sided wadi, which flattened out near the road where there were a few small mounds sparsely covered with thorn bushes. This is where they positioned themselves for the night and the long day ahead. At daybreak, German vehicles pulled off the road within 100 yards of their position, making camp. They parked their cooker lorry next to the hideout and they could hear the menu for lunch – macaroni, goulash and gherkins – and could smell it cooking, but were unable to move to eat their own tins of bully beef. Their position seemed hopeless, but they continued recording the dense traffic traveling along the coast road (3500 westbound vehicles were recorded).
The daylight hours passed slowly but they were not discovered. As darkness arrived, Capt. Timpson decided to leave the position before midnight to prevent the next watch from coming to the area. As the moon was rising, they gathered their equipment, rose quickly and walked off slowly in a nonchalant way. Unfortunately, they were challenged, and unable to give the correct password they were fired upon repeatedly and chased. In the ensuing action, they became separated. Timpson went back to where he had last saw Welsh, looking for him and quietly calling his name. Unable to find him, he headed back to the rendezvous; and was picked up by the next team waiting in the jeep who had heard all the shooting.
Meanwhile, managing to evade his pursuers, Welsh had waited for Timpson for about an hour. He then decided to head back, worried that the Germans had got Timpson and concerned to remember details of the previous day’s traffic, as Timpson had the notebook. Unfortunately, passing through several more enemy camps, he was again fired upon and hunted, successfully eluding the enemy. His patrol eventually picked up his footsteps and following them, he was found almost back at the old camp site having walked twenty miles from the rendezvous. (read "G Patrol" by Michael Crichton-Stuart and "In Rommel's Backyard" by Alastair Timpson).
He continued to serve with the unit throughout the North African Campaign; when that theater of war ended, he went with the unit to train at the Cedars of Lebanon, for mountain climbing, ski school and then on to jump school.
In Sept. 3rd 1943, Italy decided they had enough fighting and surrendered, this was announced to the world on Sept. 8th and on Sept. 11th Germany moved troops into Italy and all areas under Italian control. One of these areas was the Dodecanese Islands , a group of 14 islands, located in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Turkey . The British wanted these islands and moved troops (LRDG, SBS, and other units) into them before the Germans could get there. However that did not deter the Germans, as they wanted them also and sent an invading force to take them back.
On the evening of Sept 18th, B Squadron of the LRDG was landed on Astipalaea (Stampalia). On Sept. 24th three patrols were removed to Leros, leaving M-2 Patrol, under Capt. Ken Lazarus, with 16 O.R. (other ranks; Mark was one of the O.R.) remained on the island to report on enemy aircraft and shipping. On Oct. 12th Capt. Lazarus was ask if he (and his patrol) would liked to be relieved. His reply was “I would rather be bored on this island than bored on yours”. Lazarus had divided his patrol into three locations; he had five troopers with him manning a wireless post at Assitia. On Oct. 22nd at 6:15 AM German Paratrooper dropped into the center of the island and by 2:00 PM had complete control. Capt. Lazarus and four men managed to escape to Turkey, unfortunately, the rest along with Mark were captured. (Thanks to Anthony Rogers–Author of Churchill’s Folly for most of the information in the above two paragraphs – click here).
The LRDG lost more men; killed, wounded or captured in this short campaign than the preceding three years in the desert. Mark along with all the other captured from the surrounding islands was transported via boat to Yugoslavia or Greece and then by train to Stalag 344 (located in Lamsdorf , Poland ). From information taken from his army service record, he was successful in making his escape on April 12th 1945, and eventually was able to rejoin his unit on April 23rd 1945, after spending 18 months as a POW.
1945 Wedding Day, Dec. 31st
Mark was medically discharged from military service on Jan. 29th 1946, his conduct being described as “exemplary”, and as a “smart, clean, honest and sober man who is hardworking and reliable…” He married Alice Harkins in 1945 but they were divorced in the early 70’s. They had three children, Alison (1946), Catriona (1953), and Mark Jr. (1963).
He was a member of the Scots Guards Association Club, Edinburgh and remained proud of his military background. Mark died in Dufftown, Scotland , of a heart attack on December 14th 1982 at the age of 62.
For his service during WW II he was awarded:
Star with 8 Army Clasp
- 1945 Star
1939 - 1945
1939 - 1945
Frank's parents, William White and Janey (nee Waddy) lived in the Quantock Hills of Somerset, England and there raised a son, Reginald Francis White, born March 21st 1910. His boyhood home was called Timbercombe. It was there that Frank began his life-long communion with nature. Franks schooling was at Connaught House in Weymouth and Clifton College in Bristol. As he was not keen for the family traditions of law and military, he traveled to New Zealand to attend Canterbury Agricultural College for three years. He attained a diploma of agriculture in 1930.
"R.F. White 1927 from AN ORDINARY MAN - FRANK'S STORY. Used with kind permission of Kate Foster. Copies of Frank White's memoirs are available for $30.00 NZ from Dryden Press, P.O. Box 42, Hororata, Canterbury 8172, NZ"
The 1930's found Frank flourishing in his chosen pursuits. His two-year farm cadetship on Glen Wye was followed with two years sheperding and mustering. In 1935, he settled family affairs with a trip to England, then returned to New Zealand, where Frank bought a farm in 1938. He would do most of his life's work at his Hororata property. He owned it for only 18 months before the Second World War began.
Frank enlisted in 1939, training first at Ngaruawahia and then in Bren-gun carriers under the plodding rain at Wiaouru. In January 1940 a train conveyed him and his fellows from B Squadron, Divisional Cavalry Regiment, 2nd NZ Division to Wellington wharf for the voyage to Suez on the troop ship Rangitata. He finished out 1940 becoming accustomed to North Africa's climate at Maadi Camp, performing light-tank maneuvers at El Saff; and engaging in displays of force against the Italians.
Frank arrived for the campaign in Greece on March 21, 1941. After patrols along the Aliakmon River, Frank commanded a Bren-gun carrier in delaying actions towards Mt. Olympus. During the battle at Pinios Gorge on April 18th, his carrier was hit twice by tank shells and caught fire while Frank lay inside, shooting at the German tanks within his Squadron's positions. The fire was put out, but the tired carrier began to break down, finally forcing Frank to abandon it 2 days later and then to find other transport to the evacuation beach at Rafti.
Back in Egypt, Frank was selected for Officer's Training. Instead, however, he volunteered and was accepted for the LRDG. After training outside Cairo at Abbassia, Frank was dispatched to Siwa Oasis with patrol T1. Following a bout with Malaria in the winter of 1941, he moved to join his LRDG patrol at Kufra Oasis. Frank navigated his patrol to pick up agent and guide Colonel Haseldon, following the November 1941 attempt to raid Rommel's Headquarters.
Frank endured in a dicey road watch in December 1942, while a member of T2 patrol under Ron Tinker. The area around the Sedda was thick with Germans, and the road watch hideout was quickly surrounded. Ordered to split up and evade capture, Frank spent a night alone before finding the patrol forward camp. T2 then withdrew, pursued by the enemy.
Venturing into Tunisia in January 1943, T2 surveyed routes around Rommel's much vaunted "Mareth Line". Frank navigated Ron Tinkers recce party of two jeeps while operating in tandem with two jeeps under the famous "Popski" of PPA. They left base camp at Qaret Ali on the 25th and scouted for a few days towards Matmata. Upon return, they found the base camp location had been betrayed by Arabs and decimated by air attack. Tinker departed with most remaining vehicles to evacuate the wounded, and Frank joined a walking group of 37 evaders under "Popski". One afternoon a week later, the group watched a massive formation of RAF bombers passing overhead, and then found Tinker racing over the hillocks towards them with rescue jeeps. Frank and the others of this party had walked 240 km, passing several strong Italian garrisons and being shadowed by hostile Arab horsemen much of the way.
Frank and Ron Tinker were given a priority flight to Eighth Army Headquarters and debriefed. A two-month Officer Cadet Training Unit course followed. Commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant, Frank returned to the LRDG which was in Alexandria preparing for a change in mission venue. During the summer of 1943 he underwent mountain training at the Cedars of Lebanon in readiness for deployment to the Balkans.
"LRDG officers in 1943. R.F. White is third row back, fourth from right. Photo from STING OF THE SCORPION. Used with permission of author Mike Morgan.Copies may be purchased at http://www.saslrdgheroes.co.uk/thebooks.htm"
Following the September 1943 Italian surrender, British forces moved to bolster Italian garrisons in the Aegean. Frank was dispatched with the LRDG to the Dodecanese Island of Leros, where he led R2 patrol, commanding the Italian gun battery on Mount. Scumbardo. After the German invasion and Leros' capitulation in November, Frank navigated his men's escape in a small rowboat to Turkey. They were repatriated to Palestine, and Frank and the other New Zealanders were recalled from the LRDG on December 29, 1943.
Frank joined B Squadron, 20th Armored Regiment and made a quick tank sortie towards Monte Cassino. He was then given a brief leave in New Zealand. Returning to the war, Frank assumed command of 8 Troop of B Squadron at Forli, Italy. He spent the remainder of the winter of 1944-45 at San Felico, trading tank fire with the Germans, before advancing up Italy's eastern side. In March, Frank was promoted Captain of B Squadron, and in April advanced across the Po River. The Second World War ended while Frank was in Trieste. Granted leave, Frank toured Italy, Germany, and Crete before boarding the boat for home at Egypt.
After the war, Frank returned to his farm and bred sheep and cattle. The trees he planted as shelter belts eventually amounted to about 170 varieties or species. He made outings with the Windwhistle Winter Sports Club, was a foundation member and President of the Central Canterbury Farm Forestry Association, and won the national award as "Farm Forester of the Year". Frank began 24 years service on the Selwyn Plantation Board in 1961 and made a trip to England in 1964.
Frank served as Patron of the LRDG New Zealand Association, County Councilman for 11 years, 40 years on the Coalgate Saleyards Committee, and on the Hororata River Committee for 35 years. He celebrated his 90th birthday with a hot air balloon ride. Frank gifted his property "Silverwood" to Lincoln University for research and the education of others. He died at Darfield, NZ on October 1, 2001 at age 91.