Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Early Invasion

You'll remember some years ago now I mentioned Jack Churchill, and his special brand of madness. Well when I heard of this chap I immediately knew I had to do this article, although material on him is a bit sparse. Another reason for me picking him is that this soldier was born in a village not to far away from where I grew up, and one I passed daily for many years on the way to work.

On 30th of October, the wife of Mr King, a builder from Cambridgeshire living in Caxton, had a son. He named him Peter. Six months short of the Second World War Peter, now aged 23, joined the army Dental Corp. He actually served as an instructor and became proficient in weaponry. As the war situation worsened, and being proficient in most forms of weaponry, and getting disillusioned about teaching dentists how to shoot straight, Sgt King applied for transfers to combat units, these were all rejected.
At this point Sgt King fell in with Private Leslie Cuthbertson, from Newcastle. Together they decided to do something about the situation they both found themselves in. Together they pooled their bank accounts, and had a total of £30 as operating funds. Then they managed, presumably with King's instructor status to obtain a number of hand grenades and a pair of revolvers. They also obtained one bayonet. As would any other self respecting soldier they also purchased a knife. With this arsenal of materiel they turned their attention to the men to wield it, and after lights out on the base the two would meet for clandestine route marches and after hours PT.
Eventually they saw themselves as ready. On 11th of April 1942, Sgt King stole two rail travel warrants from the guardhouse, and the two soldiers left for adventure. They arrived in a small Cornish village, and pretending to be soldiers on holiday they spent two weeks in the location. During this time they taught themselves to rock climb.
After this time they collected their weaponry and set out for the harbour. On their way they posted a letter to Winston Churchill. The letter contained their pay books and an explanation of their plans.
At the harbour they stole a boat, and these two soldiers with a pair of revolvers, set course for France to storm Festung Europa, two years ahead of the rest of the Allied armies...
They landed, oddly enough, on the Cherbourg Peninsula. Once here the army of liberation roamed the countryside looking for mischief to inflict on the Germans for several days. On one occasion they spent their time cutting telephone wires. Then feeling this was insufficient they found a railway line which they promptly set about with some of their hand grenades. Some sources say they tried to cut the line as a German troop train approached. However it is unlikely that a hand grenade would have had an effect on length of track.
Now with, one presumes, the Germans alerted to the invasion, the first wave used the rest of their grenades on a signal control box blowing it to pieces and then retreated. They reached a French port and hijacked another boat, setting out for England. Again sources differ as to what happened. Some say that the boat had a run in with a mine, others that the engine broke down. Either way they found themselves drifting in fog, as the Channel current pushed them towards the Atlantic. They drifted in this boat for about twelve days, when an RAF air sea rescue launch found them.
Their story was so unbelievable that they were at first treated as spies. However the precaution of sending their pay books into the Prime Minister paid off, and both men were just Court Martialed. After the Court Martial they were drummed out of the Dental Corp. Pte Cuthbertson was transferred to the Durham Light Infantry, and survived the war to eventually became the deputy Lord Mayor of Newcastle and he died in 1996.
Lord Lovatt
King, by now a private however, still has a story to tell. Pte King joined the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. After a while he went on detached service to another unit, the Commandos. Upon hearing of Pte King's exploits their commander Lord Lovat got King transferred to his company. In the Commandos King rose to the rank of Sergeant Major, and landed in the first wave on D-Day, with the objective to blast through to the Paras at Pegasus Bridge.
By the war's end King was a Captain, after being promoted in the field for a series of actions, including a three day patrol behind enemy lines to guide artillery onto targets of choice. After the war King emigrated to New Zealand and became a factory manager, until 1950, at which point he joined the New Zealand army to fight in Korea. In 1951 at hill 335 King was acting as a forward observer for an artillery battery. Using his guns he broke up the first Chinese human wave attack. However return artillery fire cut his communications. Cpt King then joined in the defence of the hill, leading a section of LMGs against a second human wave attack. After bitter fighting Cpt King was wounded and had to be evacuated.

After Korea he left the army again, however he wasn't out of colours for long, rejoining the army in 1956 to be part of the peacekeeping force in Kashmir. For this post he was given the rank of Major. King finally left the army in 1959 for the last time, the same year he got married. Three years later while travelling to a meeting his car spun out of control and crashed into Lake Wahapo and he was drowned.

Note: Any formatting/picture oddities are down to Blogger. Its getting worse every week.

Image Credits:
dailymail.co.uk and www.canadiansoldiers.com