Alexander Muirhead

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Alexander Muirhead

Postby aw.muirhead » Tue Oct 14, 2008 11:36 am

I note with some surprise that my grandfather Alexander Desmond Muirhead does not appear in your list of MCs awarded during WW2. Please could you arrange for this to be corrected.

His army number was 134303 and he served with the regiment for a number of years before going on secondment to the 1st SAS regiment in Egypt in 1943 and for the rest of the war.

He joined as a Private and ended the war a Major.

If anybody has any more detailed informaiton or knew my grandfather personally I would love to hear from them.
aw.muirhead
 
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Postby LarsA » Tue Oct 14, 2008 4:55 pm

On checking the London Gazette I also found your grandfather also was awarded an MID while serving with the Army Air Corps (8.5.1945). In 1951 his emergency commission in the Worcestershire Regiment was replaced by a captaincy in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

I hope you have his citation for the MC awarded while attached to the 1st SAS, if not it is PlumPudding for a small fee here: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
(LG 24.1.1946 for Northwestern Europe).

/Lars
In memory of
17239 R J Washington MM, TEM, 2nd & 8th btn WWI
7852 W Russell, 2nd & 9th btn WWI
J Davies, 1st btn WWII, POW at Tobruk
4197291 Pte F Sheridan, POW France 1940
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Postby scully » Tue Oct 14, 2008 9:41 pm

Hi,

Alexander Desmond Muirhead was commissioned in to the Worcestershire Regiment on the 22nd June 1940. He joined the 11th Battalion with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. In November 1941 he was still with the 11th Battalion who were stationed in Northampton at Haselbech Hall. If you look in the PHOTOS section of this website you will see a group photo of all the officer at Haselbech Hall (if you click on the small image you will get a larger photo). Alexander Desmond Muirhead can be seen on the second row second from left. Sadly most of the officer in the photo are no longer with us but a few are still around and they include: J. W. Bannister, E. Tinkler and L. S. Durrant, they may remember your grandfather.

After the fall of Tobruk in June 1942 most of the 1st Battalion were captured and taken prisoner. So on the 1st January 1943 a small cadre of 2 officers and 10 men from the 1st Battalion (who escaped) marched into the centre of the 11th Battalion, which was now disbanded, and became the new 1st Battalion. Many of the officers from the 11th Battalion were now in the new 1st Battalion, but some officers transferred to to either other battalions or other Regiments. Alexander Desmond Muirhead transferred to the 1st Special Air Services Regiment.

As a result of his transfer all the records in the London Gazette with regards his Mention in Despatches (London Gazette 22.3.1945) and his Military Cross (London Gazette 24.1.1946) were recorded as him being a SAS Regiment officer (there was no mention of Worcestershire Regiment). Hence the reason why he was missing off the list.

I have now decided to add him to the list. So you will see him there now as you could argue that as he was originally commissioned in to the Worcestershire Regiment.

If you have a copy of his citation for the Military Cross, I would appreciate it if you email me a copy.

Regards,

Louis (webmaster)
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Postby aw.muirhead » Wed Oct 15, 2008 3:49 pm

Thanks LarsA,

I did not know that Mentioned In Dispatches (MID) were published in the London Gazette. He was still with the SAS in May 1945 having been one of the lucky ones to have survived a very active front line experience during the whole of his time with them. The SAS by then was part of the Army Air Corp. We have his original citation for the MC but I did not know you could get a copy and I will try this too and compare them. Is there any way of finding out what he was MID for ?



The emergency commission replaced by a captaincy in the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1951, now that is news to us. By then he had finished his medical training and become a GP. At some time he became the Medical Officer for the territorial 21 SAS but I did not know when or for how long. Do you know a way of finding out when his captaincy ended? The family went to South Africa for 4 years shortly after this and I thought it was when he came back that he was involved with 21 SAS. It now may not have been.



Can you also explain what the T/ stands for in front of his rank?



Many thanks.“
aw.muirhead
 
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Postby aw.muirhead » Wed Oct 15, 2008 3:52 pm

Hi Scully,

Thanks for the help,

The photo is a real puzzle. Usually we can see him immediately in photos but if it was not for the list of names at the bottom, I would have said he was not there. Is possible that Louis Scully who named those on the photo got them slightly mixed up. He was 6ft 3in and thinner of face and at the shoulders. I would say that he is the 3rd from the left on the top row, rather than second from left on the second row. At this scale they do look similar. Is there a larger original photo somewhere? Could you try asking E Tinkler (who is standing next to him if I am right) or J W Bannister

What they think? You say they are both still alive. Are you able to contact them for us?



When asked why he joined the SAS, Alex said that they arrived in Cairo after a long a perilous sea voyage round the Cape with U-boats a constant hazard only to be told by the Adjutant on arrival that the Worcesters he was due to join has been taken prisoner or killed on the fall of Tobruk. The adjutant said he could either get straight back on the ship which was due to leave shortly to return to the UK with what remained of the regiment, or he could go and find someone else to join. As he had volunteered back in 1939 to fight the Germans and, much to his frustration, had still not seen any action at all in the 2 and a half years since then, he decided to go and find an active service unit to join. The officers’ bar in Cairo introduced him to the SAS and he applied and was seconded immediately.

Did the 1st Battalion of the Worcesters return to the UK or did they go somewhere else?



He always explained the SAS as having no actual members. Everyone was on secondment and remained part of their parent regiment and could be Returned To Unit (RTU) at any time, and many were. Hence the MC was as much an award for the Worcesters as for the SAS.

Thank you for adding him to your list of MCs. I am sure he would have liked that.



I will email you a photo of him in his Worcesters uniform and a copy of his MC citation. Can I email it as an attachment to this website?



Many thanks.”
aw.muirhead
 
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Postby LarsA » Wed Oct 15, 2008 4:42 pm

Hi,
I'll try to answer your questions as best as I can.

The MID is only stated as "gallant and distinguished services in North West Europe. If you access the London Gazette website and type 134303 in the archives search Exact box you will get some hits, a number of them for your grandfather. One states that he resigned his commission in 1952

The "T" stands for Temporary, you sometimes also find WS for War Substative or A for Acting.

I'm not sure the copy of the citation will give any more than you have already. It will be a photo copy of the original recommendation, probably on an army form with the signatures of the endorsing officers on the different leves.

I could not resist a quick google for "ALex Muirhead SAS" and got a number of hits. One says that there might be a photo in a book
of Capt Alex Muirhead of 1 SAS, A Squadron, 2 Troop in the Morvan Hills during Operation Houndsworth (France, 1944). The book was said to be "Fire From The Forest" by Roger Ford


Kind regards,
Lars
In memory of
17239 R J Washington MM, TEM, 2nd & 8th btn WWI
7852 W Russell, 2nd & 9th btn WWI
J Davies, 1st btn WWII, POW at Tobruk
4197291 Pte F Sheridan, POW France 1940
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Location: South Sweden

Postby scully » Wed Oct 15, 2008 5:18 pm

Hi,

You can email me the photo and M.C. citation to:

webmaster@worcestershireregiment.com

Thanks

Louis (webmaster)
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Postby Kevin Lynott » Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:33 pm

AW, was he made OC of the mortar platoon? never having fired a mortar previously?

Kevin
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Postby aw.muirhead » Thu Oct 16, 2008 12:05 am

Hi Kevin,

That is the case as far as I understand it. I will check with my father though he knows more than is do. Im pretty sure had to figure out how the ranging and everything worked with no training at all.

They got pretty good though apparentley.

How did you know that if you dont mind me asking?? :D
aw.muirhead
 
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Postby aw.muirhead » Thu Oct 16, 2008 12:06 am

Thanks Larsa,.

I will look into the book asap.
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Postby aw.muirhead » Thu Oct 16, 2008 12:08 am

Thanks Scully,

Will send the photo and citation through as soon as I have copies them to my computer.

Alex
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Postby scully » Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:32 am

Hi Alex,

Look forward to receiving them. I will add the photo and citation to the website when I get them.

Regards,

Louis (webmaster)
scully
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Postby scully » Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:59 am

Hi Alex,

Been doing a little research on Alexander Muirhead your grandfather.

Can you confirm the following:

Was he born in Calcutta, India (both parents English) ? If so do you know the date ?

Was his father (your great grandfather) chairman of the South India Railway?

Was he appointed Chief Medical Officer to the BBC in London (if so do you know from what year to what year) ?

Regards,

Louis (webmaster)
scully
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Postby Kevin Lynott » Thu Oct 16, 2008 7:45 pm

AW,

I had the honour of looking after some WW2 vets a few years ago and one of them who we eventually got him to admit that he was in the SAS related how he was in the mortar platoon in NAfrica, he mentioned the OICs name whilst telling a yarn, I had forgotten the officers name until I read your post. Please don't ask me the vets name!!!

Kevin
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Postby aw.muirhead » Thu Oct 16, 2008 8:17 pm

Thanks Kevin,

Thats a great memorey you have.

remember anythign about the yarn?
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