The seaside resort of Aberdyfi at first appears an odd place to find a war memorial to the men of No 10 Commando who fell during World War Two, but the Commando units were an odd mix of men. I am proud to say that among these men was my own Uncle, Glynford Brown, of Laugharne, who enlisted from the 4th Welch into No 1 Commando and served throughout the war.
The Commandos were formed in June 1940 at the behest of Winston Churchill, and were volunteer troops from almost every regiment of the British Army. These men volunteered to serve with the Special Service Brigades, in order to carry out daring hit and run missions in German occupied Europe. As the war progressed, the Commandos reached a peak of some 30 units, among them being No 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando.
No 10 Commando was formed on 2 July 1940 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Dudley Lister. Aside from its British officers, the men were all foreigners, from all parts of occupied Europe, who went through the 10-week intensive commando course at Achnacarry, in Scotland, before moving to Eastbourne for parachute training. Peter Laycock, a legendary figure, then took over command of 10 Commando.
Part of 10 Commando was No. 3 Troop, which was also known as “X” Troop. This was probably the oddest mix of men in the British Army, as it comprised mostly of German and Austrian Jews, under the command of Welshman, Captain Bryan Hilton-Jones. All of these men, being officially ‘enemy aliens’ due to their nationality, adopted British names and false identities. Unlike other Commando units, the troop never fought as a unit, but provided interpreters and interrogators to other Special Forces units.
Prior to this, though, X Troop moved into billets at Aberdyfi, hence the connection with the resort, and at least one man married a local woman.
Throughout its life, the troop suffered the loss of 21 men killed and a further 22 men wounded. The memorial commemorates these men, and is inscribed with the words:
‘FOR THE MEMBERS OF 3 TROOP (1A) WHO WERE WARMLY WELCOMED IN ABERDYFI WHILE TRAINING FOR SPECIAL DUTIES IN BATTLE 1942-1943 TWENTY WERE KILLED IN ACTION’
The names of the fallen of X Troop were:
Lieutenant Kurt Joachim Glaser (Alias Keith James Griffith)
RSM. Eric Wilhelm Nathan (Alias Eric William Howarth)
Officer Cadet George Alexander Barth (Alias George Streets)
Sergeant Eugene Kagerer-Stein (Alias Eugene Fuller)
Sergeant Otto Hess (Alias Peter Giles)
Sergeant Egon Vogel (Alias Ernest Robert Villiers)
Corporal Gunther Max Frank (Alias George Mack Franklyn)
Corporal Salo Weich (Alias Robert Geoffrey Hamilton)
Lance Corporal Hans Arenstein (Alias Harry Andrews)
Lance Corporal Werner Auerhahn (Alias Peter Vernon Allan Wells)
Lance Corporal Kurt Wilhelm Gumpertz (Alias Kenneth Graham)
Lance Corporal Ernst Lenel (Alias Ernest Richard Lawrence)
Lance Corporal Kurt Meyer (Alias Peter Moody)
Private Richard George Abrahamowicz (Alias Richard George Arlen)
Private Max Lewinsky (Alias Max Laddy)
Private Ernst Nathan (Alias Ernest Norton)
Private Gustav Oppelt (Alias George Bate)
Private C. Rice (Unknown, killed Dieppe)
Private J. Smith (Unknown, killed Dieppe)
Private Herbert Sachs (Alias Herbert Seymour)
Private Ernst Weinberger (Alias Ernest George Webster)
(Casualty details from the book 10 Commando, by Ian Dear)