SAS Operation Galia Veteran - Sergeant Trevor Harrold’s Story

Brindisi stick alans photo

(c) rob hann

Author’s note – This blog  has been posted on armistice weekend 2017 as a tribute to the men of SAS Galia and to Trevor Harrold (now 96), an incredibly brave man. I had the great honour to meet ex-SAS Pct Sgt Trevor Harrold at his home in Essex recently after contact was made by Trevor’s son John. Surrounded by his SAS wartime memorabilia photographs and notes (including his still colourful silk escape map) we spent a fascinating afternoon hearing about Trevor’s SAS wartime service and, particularly, his role on SAS Operation Galia. Here is his story….

I was in the army reserve when the war started and volunteered with the local 409th Territorial Army Group who, at the outbreak of war were operating as an Anti-Aircraft  (Ack Ack) Unit. In August 1939 that unit was called up for regular service. We were a mobile battery which travelled around the UK and were used to protect towns and cities which were coming under attack by the Luftwaffe. I reached the rank of Bombardier and then transferred to the Air Landing Brigade (Airborne Artillery). This group was part of the 11th City of London Yeomanry, also known as the Rough Riders. This posting involved training in gliders. By 1943 I was with the Rough Riders in North Africa, Italy and Sicily. This mobile unit was responsible for maintaining Ack Ack cover to Allied airfields across those regions.

It was in the UK in late 1943 when I saw a notice go up in the canteen asking for volunteers to join the Special Air Service (SAS). It promised an extra shilling a week, which was a bonus worth having in those days. In order to be accepted into the SAS we first had to complete and pass parachute training, which was held in Chesterfield.

That was quite intensive and included jumping from barrage balloons and completing 8 jumps from Whitley bombers.   Having passed that our basic training took place extensively in Scotland (Troon, Prestwick) where we had to learn to live off the land, foraging for berries, roots and other food to sustain ourselves. We had to do a lot of PT and other fitness tests. Failure to complete the course would have meant being RTU’d (returned to unit).

After basic training I finally got my parachute wings on 14 April 1944 and joined the SAS on 26 May 1944, reverting to the rank of Private.

 

World War 11 Freedom Trails 

This great TV documentary series hosted by Monty Halls , (see link here) over four episodes, retraces extraordinary journeys as he treks the Freedom Trails of WWII, discovering what it took to escape Nazi Europe and meeting the ordinary men and women who became heroes in the process.

I am delighted that thanks to sponsorship from the East of England Local Government Association and help with updating from Browne Jacobson I am able to print a limited edition of the 2017 Local Authority Charging and Trading Guide. The Guide is an invaluable aid to all local authorities seeking to comply with legislation facilitating charging, trading and municipal enterprise. 

2007 cover jpg

The 27th December 2016 marks 72 years since 33 men from 2 SAS Squadron led by Captain Bob Walker Brown dropped in broad day-light deep into enemy territory in Northern Italy to link up with Partisans and take on the might of the Nazi forces. The parachute drop and subsequent guerilla tactics eventually succeeded in convincing Axis forces that a full parachute brigade of around 400 men had landed behind them. 

Over 6,000 front-line troops were diverted to hunt down the SAS. My book SAS Operation Galia is based on the information and accounts of those who took part, one of whom was my late Father, Stanley Hann. 

Now even 70 odd years on, information is still emerging including the wonderful photograph below (from the archive of Major Gordon Lett) which shows newly liberated Pontremoli in April 1945 with an SAS jeep in the background. One of those soldiers in the rear of the jeep is my Dad Stanley Hann and was probably taken just after SAS Operation Blimey. In 2016 I was also contacted by the grandson of one of my Dad's best friends on Galia - Reg Everett. Reg's grandson confirmed that Reg had been awarded the American Bronze Star for his actions on Galia - a very rare honour for a British soldier.

dad in PONTREMOLI SQ 1945

 

The GrumbleGroar has surfaced several times over 2016 in its home town of Nottingham. In July, the west bridgford wire scooped the first story about the discovery of a prehistoric fossil believed to be a rare GrumbleGroar tusk. Word soon spread that the GrumbleGroar had build a nest an incubation chamber below ground (as is to be expected) at the World famous Nottingham, City of Caves. Some brave souls were able to follow the mysterious sounds of this hitherto mythical creature in search for the GrumbleGroar hatchlings deep, deep, deep beneath the streets of Nottingham buried in the dark heart of the sandstone labyrynth.

Hot on the heels of its succesful incubation period over the summer at the Nottingham City of Caves, the GrumbleGroar has now been spotted at David LLoyd West Bridgford, Nottingham where it will be nesting until it meets up with other monsters at the Halloween Kids Club event. Never before in the history of human-kind has such a creature been sighted but here it comes again - twice in the space of weeks and only in Nottingham. 

 

grumble cover flat low

grumblegroar notts tremorMysterious underground beast 'the GrumbleGroar' rumoured to be nesting beneath the streets of Nottingham

Coming soon...Nottingham City of caves to open new children's visitor attraction over the summer 'the GrumbleGroar's Lair' - but only enter if you dare...

SID-sneed

 

Newsflash from the mini beast league:

Hot on the heels of  sidney sneed's shock retirement announcement ,  the centipede star of the mini beast Premier League was spotted out on the town with ANtfield's Stevie Bee who also played his last game this weekend. Both players crashed the launch party of sidney's autobiography 'the Legend of Sidney Sneed' at Waterstones, Nottingham on Thursday night (14th May). Sid's agent and manager Rob Hann was explaining to the panel of specially selected dignitaries, that Sidney Sneed was seeking to become the mini beast league's first footballing ambassador to the human league. Sidney Sneed and Stevie Bee chose that moment to turn up worse for wear to thrust the book into the hands of one of the lady panel members singing "Don't you want me baby".

SID-sneed

 

John Mothson reports….

Sidney Sneed. Legendary right back, left back, goalie, midfielder and star striker of the mini-beast premier league - hangs up his boots.

Get full story of Sid's last game here

After glittering career which has seen him appear at all 92 of the football leagues grounds around the country (surely a record that will never be equalled?) and now rumoured to be in late middle age (in insect years) Sidney Sneed with his 100 or so legs, famously, became the only mini beast in the game to comprise a whole team single handed (or should that be ‘single legged’?)

I was delighted to learn from United Press that my poem about a young WW1 soldier who died 100 years ago and is buried in my local church cemetery had made it onto the short list selected from over 11,400 entries nationwide. Unfortunately, the poem didnt win the top prize but it was nice to learn it had been in the running and it is destined for a wider audience (see below).  The competition required a poem of no more than 25 lines (160 words) on a local theme from my home town (West Bridgford in my case). 

3 Sqn 2 SAS1

This photo is of the whole surviving Italy detachment of 2nd SAS taken September 1945.

Over the Christmas and New year break I was contacted by the grandson of Pct Harry Shanley, (always known as 'Jock' to his SAS mates) who took part in several SAS missions behind enemy lines, including Operation Galia. It was thrilling to hear from yet another family of the Galia squad but sadly I learned Harry had passed away on Christmas day aged 92.  I was aware of Harry's own web posting about Galia here -but whilst I tried, I never managed to make direct contact with him.  

galia stick plus vickars machine gun

The 27th December 2014 marks the 70th anniversary of the Galia mission when 33 SAS troops, led by captain Bob Walker Brown with his second in command Lieutenant James Riccomini parachuted into enemy held territory deep behind the lines in the Appenine Mountains of Northern Italy.  Fearing a repeat of Hitler's attack taking place in the Ardennes at the same time (now know as 'the Battle of the Bulge'). Galia was devised as a deception operation, to drop in broad daylight to deceive the enemy into thinking that a much larger force was landing. 

Riccomini JA1 grave

Here is an article about Lieutenant James Riccomini MBE, MC I wrote for the Nottingham Evening Post chronicling the adventures and heroics of the City's World War Two SAS hero. After taking part in SAS Operation Galia and leading his troop (among them my late father) back to the safety of the Allied lines, Riccomini immediately volunteered for another high risk mission behind enemy lines in Northern Italy. Tragically, it was to be his last. Here is another article about my more recent trip to Italy in 2014 to attend a commemoration service and dedicate a memorial to Operation Galia. 

Have you ever wondered why there is a world war one gravestone in St Giles's cemetary? Who is Rifleman Lacey See here for the full story in the Nottingham Post .

rifleman laceys grave 

The trip of a lifetime, we didn’t want it to stop;From Phuket to Phi Phi and then on to Bangkok;

Frantic and crazy and peaceful and calm; Just a taster of Asia, before Vietnam:

The Rossano Freedom Trail (‘the Trail’), organised by Brian Lett QC, son of the late Major Gordon Lett, who led the international brigade of partisans during the war after his escape as a POW in 1943, took place between 1st and  6th July 2014. The Trail commemorates the lives lost and the sacrifices made, both by Italians and Allied soldiers, in the cause of freedom against the Fascist and Nazi aggression during WWII. The day before the walk began was spent remembering the bravery of four young SAS men, who were executed by the Germans in contravention of the Geneva Convention.