65 years on
[This is a partial repost of Remembrance to mark the 65th anniversary of this mission]
On the 13th June 1944 my father dropped behind enemy lines South East of Siena, near Montepulciano. He was part of a LRDG patrol, M2, assigned to gather intelligence about German troop movements during the allied advance through Italy. That Friday the 13th drop was inauspicious: German troops swarmed the area and shot and captured a number of the patrol. My father evaded capture and made his way back to Allied Lines by following the River Arno and living off the generosity of Italian farmers (at great risk to them). He managed to gather some intelligence on the way.
Dad’s colleague, Bob Savage died in the drop. His patrol commanding officer, Lt Simon Fleming, died in the drop when his parachute did not open.
This is how the commander of the LRDG described Simon Fleming:
“I was very fond of him because he had great charm and a glorious sense of humour. He was essentially straight and open. He also had an impertinent disregard for authority, but was wise enough to know that it was important to keep just the right side of it. Outwardly he had a light-hearted and carefree attitude to life, but this façade hid a wisdom and intelligence unusual in one so young. We could ill afford to lose such a fine officer”
-David Lloyd-Owen. Providence Their Guide: The Long Range Desert Group 1939-1945.
He was 23 years old
Such a short life. Such sacrifice. His and Bob Savage’s graves can be found at the allied war cemetery at Foiano Della Chiana.
Our freedom depends on men like Simon Fleming and Bob Savage and we should remember their sacrifice and that of their families with humility and thankfulness.