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  #1  
Old 16-09-09, 10:54 PM
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Lightbulb 2 SAS... Major Roy Farran, DSO, MC!

I was researching/photographing a veteran's grave this afternoon, out in the middle of nowhere and came across a very surprising marker. This is Foothills Cemetery, between the villages Turner Valley and Black Diamond some 60 Km SW of Calgary.

Out amongst the markers for our lowly privates, gunners, sappers etc. of the various CEF and WW2/Korea markers was this stunning stone... you see one of these and you stop to read it! Almost takes a second marker just to list all the honours.

I must admit to ignorance of who Major Farran was and the controversy around him, until I got back home to Google his name. Even as a local politician I didn't recall him (a bit before my time). Even more surprising to me was finding him buried in this very small, out of the way field of honour. There is only about 50 veterans and few dozen other civilians buried here.
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  #2  
Old 16-09-09, 11:03 PM
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Bill, this what I found; Roy started out in Canadian politics by winning election to Calgary municipal council. His campaign was coordinated by a young RCAF officer, Lynn Garrison who went on to become a major figure in international aviation. Farran, and his partner in the North Hill News, Graham Smith an RAF Pathfinder Mosquito pilot, helped promote Lynn Garrison's Lancaster Memorial Fund that saw Lancaster FM-136 preserved in Calgary, 1962. In 1973 Garrison was awarded the Tissandier Diploma by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale in recognition of his contributions. Garrison's father was instrumental in helping Farran set up the North Hill News.
From 1971 to 1979, Farran held a seat in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. During his 2 terms in office he would serve 2 portfolio's in cabinet, Minister of Telephones and Utilities and Solicitor General under the Peter Lougheed government.
In the 1971 Alberta general election he would defeat long time Social Credit incumbent Robert A. Simpson and future New Democrat MLA Barry Pashak in a hotly contested election. He represented the Progressive Conservatives in the provincial legislature.
He would take over the Minister of Telephones portfolio in 1973 after the death of Calgary Foothills MLA Len Werry.
In the 1975 Alberta general election Roy significantly widened his plurality and retained his seat. He would not run again in 1979 and retired from Alberta politics.

He later went on to work for the Calgary Herald, a major daily paper. He published History of the Calgary Highlanders 1921-1954 in 1955.

I'm sure if you speak to some people who were around in those days they could tell a few good stories. A true war hero here in Canada......
http://www.strathconas.ca/cutenews/d...ranr_thumb.jpg

Jo
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Last edited by Voltigeur; 16-09-09 at 11:09 PM.
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  #3  
Old 16-09-09, 11:06 PM
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...also accused and acquitted of murder while serving with the Palestine Police. (You missed the really juicy stuff!)

His brother was killed by a letter bomb, supposedly in retribution.
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Old 16-09-09, 11:28 PM
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I was just finishing reading the "good stuff' but, because of the Canadian side of the story I did not think it would be that interesting but, here it is.

The son of an Irish warrant officer in the RAF, Roy Alexander Farran was born on January 2 1921 in India, and attended Bishop Cotton School at Simla. After Sandhurst, he was commissioned into the 3rd Carabiniers (Prince of Wales's) Dragoon Guards (3DGs) and sent to the 51st Training Regiment. Posted on attachment to the 3rd King's Own Hussars in Egypt, he was soon in action at the battle of Sidi Barrani.

On May 20 1941, when the Germans invaded Crete, "C" Squadron of the 3rd King's Own Hussars was in its leaguer four miles west of Canea, and 2nd Lieutenant Farran was sent to block the road from Galatos with his troop of tanks.

When he saw a party of Germans escorting a group of about 40 hospital patients who had been taken prisoner, he killed the guards. The next day he supported 10th Infantry Brigade in a successful attack on Cemetery Hill.
After the Germans broke through the line at Galatos, Farran counter-attacked to retake the village, but was wounded in both legs and an arm, and taken prisoner. He was awarded his first MC.

After being flown to a PoW hospital in Athens he made several attempts to escape, eventually managing to crawl under the perimeter wire. Greek peasants passed him from house to house at great personal risk and enabled him to evade his pursuers.

The Greeks lent him money to hire a caique, in which he set course for Egypt with a mixed group of British, Australians and others. The vessel encountered severe storms, and was blown off its course for 48 hours; and when it ran out of fuel Farran rigged up a sail made out of blankets. One of the men went off his head after the supply of water was exhausted and Farran, the senior officer on board, had to knock him out before he endangered the whole party.
The escapers were too weak to paddle, but their lives were saved by a Sergeant Wright, who made a primitive distiller which provided drinking water from the sea. After nine days Farran and his comrades, almost dead from thirst, were rescued by a destroyer 40 miles north of Alexandria; he was awarded a Bar to his MC.


After an interview with Lt-Col Bill Stirling and a rigorous parachuting course, in May(1943) Farran joined 2nd SAS Regiment as second-in-command of a newly-raised squadron. Despite suffering from malaria, he insisted on leading a raid to capture a lighthouse which was suspected of housing machine-gun units at Cape Passero, on the south-east coast of Sicily. In September Farran commanded "B" Squadron on reconnaissance patrols and sabotage operations in southern Italy. On the night of October 27 he led a detachment of 2 SAS which was dropped north of the River Tronto behind the German lines. Over the next five days his small force blew up the railway line, cut telephone communications and destroyed enemy transport. He was awarded a second Bar to his MC.

Farran returned to England early in 1944 and, on August 19, was landed by Dakota on an airstrip at Rennes, Brittany, to command a Jeep squadron based in the Forest of Châtillon, north of Dijon. Over the course of the next four weeks his small force destroyed 23 staff cars, six motorcycles, 36 trucks and troop carriers, a goods train and a supply dump holding 100,000 gallons of petrol.

At Beaulieu, the Germans were panicked into blowing up their wireless station and evacuating the garrison. While about 500 enemy were killed or wounded, seven members of the squadron were killed, two were wounded, one was missing and two taken prisoner. Farran was awarded a DSO in the name of Patrick McGinty, a pseudonym he had used since escaping from the Germans in 1941; he claimed that the name came from a song about an Irish goat which swallowed a stick of dynamite.

Following a reconnaissance trip to Greece, Farran led 3 Squadron, 2 SAS, in Operation Tombola to harass German troops withdrawing from Italy. Although forbidden to take personal command, he was not prepared to direct the operation from a wireless set in Florence; and, having persuaded the US aircrew to say that he had accidentally fallen out of the aircraft while they were dispatching the advance party, he was dropped on Mount Cusna, east of La Spézia.

As soon as reinforcements arrived from the SAS, Farran raised a force composed of British commandos, Italian partisans and escaped Russian prisoners which became known as the Battaglione Alleato. At the end of March he led a night attack on the German 51st Corps HQ at Albinea, near Réggio Nell'Emilia, again in contravention of orders.
Although the enemy put up a spirited defence, a German general and his chief of staff were among the casualties.

Subsequently Farran led a series of raids against Highway 12, south of Modena. After the victory parade at the end of the campaign, he expected to be court-martialled; but his operations had been of great assistance to US IV Corps, and those pressing for his court martial had to give up when the Americans said that they were awarding him the Legion of Merit. When the war ended, Farran went to Norway with 2 SAS to help with rounding up the Germans there.

In 1946 he was awarded the Croix de Guerre. Becoming second-in-command of the 3rd Hussars, he accompanied them to Palestine. One day he was lunching in the officers' mess at Sarafand when terrorists attacked a nearby ammunition dump. Farran and his comrades pursued them, wounding two.

After a spell as an instructor at Sandhurst he returned to Palestine to put his knowledge of clandestine intelligence-gathering at the disposal of the Palestine Police. He formed "Q" Patrols, made up of hand-picked undercover police officers whose job it was to infiltrate the terrorists' network.
There were claims that a hat bearing Farran's name had been found at the spot where a 16-year-old Jewish youth, Alexander Rubowitz, had been abducted; and there were also reports that the youth had been killed. After allegations had appeared in the Palestine Post, Farran was put under house arrest.

Farran claimed to have a water-tight alibi, but believed that he would be sacrificed by the British authorities in order to demonstrate impartiality in dealing with the Jews and Arabs. When he heard that he was to be charged with murder, he stole a car and, accompanied by two of his NCOs, crossed the border into Syria and told his story to the head of the British Legation in Damascus.

At his trial it was maintained that no body had been discovered and that Farran had not been identified in a line-up by those who claimed to have seen the boy taken away in a car. The case was dismissed because of lack of evidence. But when he was in Scotland shortly before the first anniversary of the boy's disappearance, Farran's youngest brother, Rex, was killed by a letter bomb sent to the family home near Wolverhampton; Farran suspected the Stern gang.


Farran subsequently emigrated to Alberta, where he made his home for the rest of his life, though he was to offer his services to the War Office during the Suez crisis. He took up dairy farming at Calgary, worked as a reporter and columnist for the Calgary Herald and, in 1954, founded the North Hill News, which became the country's leading weekly newspaper.
In 1961 Farran was elected a city alderman and, 10 years later, a Progressive Conservative member of the provincial legislature. As minister of telephones and utilities he was responsible for providing gas supplies to every farmer. Then, as solicitor-general, he introduced breathalyser tests and outdoor camps for young offenders.

On stepping down from politics in 1979, Farran became chairman of the Alberta Racing Commission and head of the North American Jockeys' Association. He was a columnist for the Edmonton Journal in the 1980s and a visiting professor at Alberta University from 1985 to 1989. He established the Farran Foundation in the French Vosges as a centre for exchanges between French and Canadian students and, in 1994, returned to Bains-les- Bains in the Vosges to accept the Légion d'honneur from the French government.

Three years later he was diagnosed with throat cancer and had his larynx removed; but he mastered talking through a hole in his throat so well that he was able to return to public speaking.

Aged 80, while herding cattle at his ranch, Farran was thrown from his horse, breaking his back for the sixth time; the first two injuries were the result of wartime accidents, while the others were caused by riding falls.
Farran had a strong Catholic faith, and used to say the Hail Mary before going into action. In later life he said that he did not dislike Jews and bore no ill will towards the British authorities over his arrest and court-martial, believing that they had been placed in an impossible position. His books included Winged Dagger (1948) and Operation Tombola (1960) about his wartime exploits, as well as a history of the Calgary Highlanders and some half dozen novels.

Roy Farran married, in 1950, Ruth Harvie Ardern. She predeceased him, and he is survived by their two sons and two daughters.

Strathcona’s Honour a Hero
By Capt Mike Gough,13/06/06

The Regiment honoured Major Roy Farran at a military funeral in Calgary on 12 June 2006. In a truly Regimental effort, soldiers from all Squadrons made the trip south on Sunday night and executed a full military procession from Saint Anthony’s Church to McInnis & Holloway Funeral Home at the slow march, ending with rifle volleys. His Honour, The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta presented the surviving family with a Union Jack and Maple Leaf in a private ceremony.
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“There are things we know that we know,” “There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don't know.”
Donald Rumsfeld, before the Iraqi Invasion,2003.

Age is something that doesn't matter, unless you are a cheese.
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Old 17-09-09, 09:32 AM
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By jingo Jo what a life,thanks for posting that and the obituary.The incident in Palestine is featured in the dvd Empire Warriors,Palestine the Jewish war.UK dvd (2006).If you have not seen this i recommend it.phil.
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Old 17-09-09, 10:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by signalman View Post
By jingo Jo what a life,thanks for posting that and the obituary.The incident in Palestine is featured in the dvd Empire Warriors,Palestine the Jewish war.UK dvd (2006).If you have not seen this i recommend it.phil.
There is also a book about the "hat" incident: "Major Farran's Hat: The Untold Story of the Struggle to Establish the Jewish State" by David Cesarani.

Although I have not read it I understand it claims that Major Farran was involved in the kidnap and execution/murder of Jewish terrorists/soldiers & that one of these was a teenaged boxer who "got a few blows in" whilst being dragged into a car, and who was never seen again.

A hat "Major Farran's Hat" was seen to be knocked off of the head of one of the kidnappers and was handed over to a newspaper, since the passers by thought that it was the police/army who had kidnapped the boy.

After a trial the army spirited Major Farran away, but the "Lehi" aka "Stern Gang" , still tried to kill him with a letter bomb sent to his parents address in England. The bomb killed Major Farran's younger brother Rex, who was a student, and opened the letter addressed to "R Farran".

I have not read this book as I do not wish to know about the British army being involved in a "dirty war", but it is available on Abebooks etc. For example:

http://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/Bo...%3D3%26sts%3Dt

Guardian Obit:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2006/...secondworldwar

Times Obit:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/com...icle671935.ece
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Old 17-09-09, 05:25 PM
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Roy Farren is dead? I bought a signed book of his life story at a yard sale in Lethbridge, as well as a letter written to him about joining the government council! Contact me if your interested in pics, gotta find the book

stuart.russell@uleth.ca

cheers

Stu
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Old 17-09-09, 05:28 PM
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Forgot to mention that he wrote the book, its an excellent autobiography and includes his escapes out of POW camps and his dislike of Palistinian government.
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Old 17-09-09, 07:03 PM
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For information gents Major Farran gets a brief mention in the obituary of Lt Col Bob Walker-Brown it to-days Daily Telegraph.(UK).
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