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A RARE NAMED WW2 BRITISH 1942 DATED SPECIAL FORCES DESERT ISSUE WINDPROOF SMOCK, TROUSERS AND MITTENS, WORN BY A SOLDIER WHO SERVED IN THE LONG RANGE DESERT GROUP AND FROM EARLY 1943 IN POPSKI’S PRIVATE ARMY, BEING AWARDED THE MILITARY MEDAL FOR GALLANTRY IN ITALY, JUNE 1944

Long Range Desert Group Smock, Trousers and Mittens, all items in pale beige cloth, the smock with official WD label ‘Smock, drab. By A. Raven & Co., Ltd., dated 1942’, stencilled identity to ‘Beautyman. J.E. 2328234’, the smock also stamped ‘O/W broad arrow D/371’, complete with hood, all cording bands present, the trousers again stamped ‘OW broad arrow B 371’, one side pocket and complete with cotton waist cord, the mittens a slightly darker drab have inner wool linings seemingly unmarked but complete with joining sleeve cord.

2328234 Sergeant J. E. Beautyman of the Long Range Desert Group and Popski’s Private Army, was awarded an immediate M.M., London Gazette 8 February 1945 for his gallantry while serving in the latter unit.

The original recommendation states:

Sergeant John Edward Beautyman MM, I Demolition Squadron, PPA, The Royal Corps of Signals.

‘On 21 Jun. 44 near Tolentino, Italy, at night, behind the enemy lines, the patrol in which he was travelling in the second vehicle fell into an ambush and came under MG fire at very close range. With the utmost coolness he returned the enemy fire and covered the party recovering the leading vehicle which had left the road. Though his vehicle was hit several times he kept up his fire for more than 15 minutes until the patrol proceeded on its way. Owing to his steadiness and to his disregard of danger only one casualty was suffered by the patrol in this encounter.’

Recommendation by Major V. Peniakoff M.C., O.C. I Demolition Squadron, P.P.A.

John Edward (Ted) Beautyman was born in Hull, Yorkshire on 22 June 1920. Residing at 15 Weghton Grove, Hull and an apprentice mechanic by occupation, he enlisted in Hull on 19 January 1938. With his parent unit being the Royal Corps of Signals he went on to join the Long Range Desert Group and Popski’s Private Army, joining the latter in February 1943 - serving in the PPA ‘P’ Patrol and ‘Blitz’ Patrol. With the unit from February 1943 until it was disbanded in September 1945, he served firstly as Patrol Wireless Operator and latterly as O.C. Unit Signals for the unit. For his bravery in action while serving in Italy he was awarded the Military Medal.

Popski’s Private Army, officially ‘No. 1 Demolition Squadron, PPA’, was founded by Major (later Lieutenant-Colonel) Vladimir Peniakof in Cairo in October 1942. It was one of several Special Forces raiding units formed and used in the Western Desert during the war. The unit was later active in Italy before they were disbanded in September 1945.

Peniakoff (Popski) said of Beautyman:

‘A man of infinite resource and varied accomplishments, undaunted and reliable, whom I put in command of our headquarters on one occasion when none of our experienced officers were at hand.’ Ted Beautyman died on 8 September 1981. In September 1943, PPA operations transferred to Italy where, after the Italian surrender, the Germans retreating northward were harassed by Italian partisans. PPA patrols co-operated with these groups, using three fighting patrols, each of 18 men in six jeeps. Each jeep was armed with .50 inch and .30 inch machine guns, giving the patrols immense firepower for their size.

Throughout the bitter winter weather and fighting of 1944 and 1945 PPA undertook their operations ahead of regular forces, in support of British, Canadian, Indian and Polish armoured infantry and commando units. They located targets for the Allied Air Force, chased Germans out of rear areas, saved bridges, captured many prisoners and guns and accepted the surrender of the entire German garrison at Choggia.

After the war, Popski wrote a book about these exploits entitled “Private Army”. The following extracts from the book, mentioning Beautyman by name, will give some idea of their operations:

“..We were coming down the hills into the river valley about a mile and a half from the bridge when a burst of automatic fire came from a farmhouse on the left, my side of the road. Some bullets hit the floor of the jeep between my legs and drew sparks: I wondered how they had got there without first going through me. I stopped the jeep to give Cameron, who was sitting on my right, a chance of answering the fire with his gun, and at the same time I turned round to warn the following trucks. Sergeant Mitchell, who was next to me, opened up, and Sergeant Beautyman, who drove the third truck, did the same. More bursts came from the farmhouse but the half-inch gun on my jeep didn’t fire – surprised I turned towards Cameron to see what stopped him, and found he wasn’t there. I walked round and found him lying on the road, wounded and unconscious, where he had slipped out of his seat. With Sergeant Riches, who had some understanding of first aid, I laid Cameron in the ditch, undid his clothing and began to dress his chest wound by the light of a torch; but he was far gone and after a few rattling gasps he gave a deep sigh and died in my arms. Meanwhile our men had stopped firing from their jeeps, and, led on foot by Beautyman and were apparently clearing it with their tommy guns. A moment later they reported two Germans killed and some others escaped…”

Condition, Some staining from wear and clearly exposure to sun. The label a little faint but readable; clearly the smock and trousers at least have been washed a fair number of times during their lifetime. Overall the clothing is in very good worn condition, with no damage.

A number of other items belonging to Beautyman were sold by D.N.W. auctioneers in September 2011.

Code J2556        Price £1895