Information for Families, Friends and Relatives

One of the pleasures of researching for my book “Feat of Arms” has been hearing from veterans or their families. Often they are looking for more detailed information about friends or relatives who fought in Sicily in July 1943.

After more than 10 years of research in archives around the world, I can frequently give them answers they have not been able to get elsewhere. Sometimes the information doesn’t seem to exist, but I am happy to see if I have it.

If you would like more information about a friend or family member who fought in Operation Ladbroke and the battle for Syracuse in 1943, leave a reply (comment) on an appropriate article or page and I will try to help. I will not publish your comment if you ask me not to.

11 Responses to Information for Families, Friends and Relatives

  1. John Rigby-Jones says:

    I am currently researching a book about my grandfather, Eric Rigby-Jones, who was awarded the MC and Bar with the Liverpool Pals in WW1 and then ran an important business, Irish Ropes, in neutral Ireland in WW2. I would like to include in it a section on his younger brother, Guy Rigby-Jones, who was a surgeon with the 181st Air Landing Field Ambulance and who took part in Operation Ladbroke. His was the only one of the ambulance’s 6 gliders that made it to Sicily and he was awarded the MC for his part in the action. In 1944 he stayed behind with the wounded troops at Arnhem and was taken prisoner.I think I have read most of the books on the airborne medical services and visited the Ponte Grande bridge last year but, if you are aware of any other less obvious sources of information on him, I would be very grateful to hear of them. All I have at present are two letters that Guy wrote to Eric from Africa before and after the operation but they do not give much relevant information. I am also planning to see if Guy’s 3 children have anything else.Thanks very much for any help that you can give me – I am very much looking forward to seeing your book when it is published.

    • John Sutherland Markwell says:

      I am interested in more details about Guy Rigby-Jones, your Grandfathers younger brother. In 1948 as a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Connaught Hospital in Walthamstow, he persuaded the existing medical team to try to save my right leg from amputation by using the then comparatively new antibiotic, penicillin followed by surgery. This was highly successful and now 69 years later I still feel very indebted to him.
      I thought you might be interested.
      Best wishes. John Sutherland Markwell

      • Ian Murray says:

        Thanks very much for leaving a reply, John. I’ve alerted John Rigby-Jones to your wonderful story

        • John Rigby-Jones says:

          Thanks for passing this on, Ian. My first book about my grandfather, Best Love to All, about his experiences in the First World War, was published a few weeks ago by Helion. I sent a copy to Guy’s oldest son, Tim Rigby-Jones, who was also a doctor (as was Guy’s wife, Peggy) and who celebrated his 75th birthday last week. I am planning to go up to see him in Cheshire later this year to see what else he might have about his father. I will pass John Sutherland Markwell’s message on to him – I know he will appreciate it. In 1944 Guy was one of the six surgeons with the 1st Airborne at Arnhem. Like all the medical staff he stayed behind after the evacuation to look after the wounded and was made a prisoner of war. However he continued to work as a surgeon in first a POW and then a German hospital (rather than in a POW camp) until he was released in May 1945.

  2. Ian Murray says:

    Good to hear from you John. By coincidence, I am planning to post a “Glider Story” piece about Waco 26, which carried the surgical team to Sicily. Meanwhile, see my story of Waco 126, which landed close to 26.

  3. Tim Smith says:

    I’ve recently tracked down little information about my dad’s cousin Horace Smith who was a private with 181 A/L Field Ambulance who lost his life in a glider released too soon on the approach to Sicily.

    Tragically his younger brother Albert, serving with 140 Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery had also been killed two months before in North Africa.

    I’ve been enjoying the limited research I’ve been able to do into the two brothers but have found very little about Horace who would have been one of the 17 (?) from the Field Ambulance to be lost.

    I’ve tried all avenues I can think of to find out more about Horace, apart from obtaining his military record, something I hope to do before too long.

    I’ve written up some details of my search for the brothers on my website.

    regards
    Tim

    • Ian Murray says:

      Thanks for getting in touch Tim. I shall post something soon. Meanwhile, if you haven’t already seen them, have a look at these two pieces about gliders in the sea: here and here.

  4. Tim Smith says:

    Thanks Ian,
    I’ll have a look at those articles about the gliders and will look back regularly for anything new you add.

    Tim

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