Monday, June 05, 2006

Major Roy Farran 3rd Hussars and SAS

I note with great sadness the passing of an old friend whom I met long after the war in Calgary where we often met and shared a few memories of Tank crew life. He was well decorated with the D.S.O. - M.C. and two bars ; Croix de Guerre and the American Legion of Honour.
He was the unfortunate driver of an open staff car in the desert transporting the newly decorated with the V.C. Brig Jock Campbell, whose exploits at the Battle of Sidi Rezigh earned him the highest honour.
Roy's brother Rex was killed when he opened the first letter bomb to be delivered
in the U.K. and his mother was seriously injured as a reprisal for Roy's work in Palestine during the late 40's
Roy Farran was many things in his career and as well as soldier he was also a Calgary City Councillor and finally a representative in the Alberta Provincial Government.
He will be sadly missed.


Blogger Peter G said...

He was also the author of a much valued book The History of the Calgary Highlanders 1921- 1954 known as the Green Book.

Details of the book, together with a portrait and short biography of Major Roy Farran, DSO, MC can be found here

Monday, 05 June, 2006  
Blogger Tomcann said...

It is astonishing how errors become history - Roy Farran was born in Simla, India when his Father was serving as sergeant major with the RAF there, but more particularly - his Mother was there as well !
David Bercuson was an "acting' - he claimed that they were all "actors"- professor at Calgary University and lectured me on the various philosophers of the day, - Kant - Hegel - with MacGregor and Maslow et al thrown in for good measure...from which stems my hatred for the new Comprehensive system of Education proposed by Maslow and for three years prior to his death, tried to stop it's spread throughout the world ! Bercuson was - and still is a good man and is still lecturing on CBC when anything important turns up.
Roy Farran wrote two other books - one which I still have was his first - "Winged Dagger"
which recounts many do's of derring, and many exploits with David Stirling and Paddy Mayne.

Monday, 05 June, 2006  
Blogger Tomcann said...

I should expand on the phrase - " the unfortunate driver of an open staff car.' - Brig. Jock Campbell had recently been invested with the V.C. and was promoted to the rank of Maj.Gen to become G.O.C - 7th armoured div ( desert rats)
Roy Farran was driving him through the desert somewhere when a wheel caught a soft spot of sand - this caused the open staff car to roll and both were thrown out.
Farran was knocked unconscious and on recovering, found that Campbell was dead.
Possibly realising the this event could throw a shadow over his future in 7th armoured - he then joined David Stirling and Paddy Mayne in the newly formed SAS and was the start of a truly adventurous career.
Roy wrote two other books the first of which was :
"Winged Dagger" which I stll have
and is quite an account of various do's of derring

Monday, 05 June, 2006  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

He seems to have had some military career! The good thing is a lot of it is written down, so there is a record.

At some point it may have been convenient to leave his birthplace vague. Major Farran might have told a reporter or an official that his origins were in Britain? A phrase like that might then be assumed to mean he was born in Britain rather than India?

Whatever the truth, the medals he won indicate he must have had some courage!

Monday, 05 June, 2006  
Blogger Tomcann said...

Joseph -
Roy Farran and Jock Campbell were two of a pair in the courage stakes.
If you can dig up a report on the battles at Sidi Rezigh against uncommon odds from the whole Africa Corps - and read how Campbell led his troops - then you will understand why men earn the Victoria Cross - here is a sample during the "Crusader" battles at Sidi Rezigh - " Now the miltary exploits of Brigadier Jock Campbell reached their zenith ....
Standing upright in his unarmoured staff car and holding nothing more lethal than a red flag - he was everywhere time and again he rallied the few survivers of 7th Armoured bde, and the Teomanry of the 22nd, to lead them forward into chaos and confusion of the armoured battle.
Shells burst alongside him, machine gun bullets ,shell splinters and pebbles pock marked his car,but wherever the battle was most furious, the tall aristocratic figure was there, more and more obscured by dust and grime ,the voice hoarser, but the energy never flagging"

As one Crusader tank driver said - " what could we do - we couldn't let the bastard go back in their in his bloody little staff car - now could we ?"

That my friend is what courage was all about and the miserable irony is that he was killed in a stupid accident.
Barrie Pitt summed it all up in his book " The Crucible of War" - the Western Desert 1941.

Tuesday, 06 June, 2006  
Blogger Peter G said...

There is an interesting and detailed account of the Battle for Termoli here in which Roy Farran (2 SAS) is mentioned.

Tuesday, 06 June, 2006  
Blogger Tomcann said...

Peter -
The account of the battle for Termoli only skims the surface of what was a bad few days to be followed by the equally awful days of the Sangro, during which Monty was heard to say that "they should follow the example of the Ancients and stay in their winter camps, and then in the spring when everyone is refreshed tear up the coast to Pescara and hop over the Mountains and take Rome from the East - if that was the plan - unfortunately - there is NO plan" - This lack of plan nearly sent Monty bonkers and was indicative of how Alex ran his battles ! Carlo D'Este demolishes the myth of Alexander in his Chap. 20 of "Bitter Victory"
As a by thought - my cousins' husband served with #40 Commando as their medical officer - he now lives a few miles away from me at a place called Oyama in the Okanagan Valley

Tuesday, 06 June, 2006  

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