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From: "Peter_McCrae" <>
Subject: SUDBURY; Vernon Cecil Warren-7/7/2005-UK
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2005 12:39:27 +0100
Major Vernon Sudbury
The Daily Telegraph & the telegraph.co.uk
Major Vernon Sudbury, who has died aged 87, won an MC in Palestine with the
Sherwood Foresters in 1939, and later a Bar in 1944 when he escaped from a
Italian PoW camp.
As the Mandatory Power in Palestine since 1920, Britain had the exacting
task of keeping the peace between Jews and Arabs, and maintaining friendly
relations with both races. The Foresters' main problem was the armed gangs
which seldom engaged them, even at long range, but preferred to terrorise
villages, extort money and suppress, by abduction or assassination, any
tendency to support the government.
On August 18 1939, a Sherwood Foresters force, consisting of Column HQ and
three platoons, one commanded by 2nd Lieutenant Sudbury, left barracks for
operations in the Arraba area.
As it was leaving El-Mughar, a group of about 10 armed men was seen in the
olive groves to the west and south-west of the village. Two platoons were
ordered to cut off the gang on either flank while the third waited for five
minutes and then attacked through the olive groves. A call was made for air
About 15 minutes later, a gang of about 40 men was seen running out of the
olive grove before splitting up. Sudbury's platoon pursued some of the
rebels across the rough terrain, and succeeded in cutting them off from the
main group, while inflicting several casualties. Sudbury then realised that
speed was essential if he was to prevent another group from getting away.
He picked his fittest men and, despite coming under fire at close range,
pushed ahead very fast through thick scrub. Towards the end of the
operation, the platoons came under fire from the high ground, and the air
support reported that it had pinned down part of the gang on the far side of
A section of Sudbury's platoon then went forward with Column HQ and engaged
them. Four Arabs were killed in the open, but their total losses were later
found to be substantially higher. A quantity of ammunition and a saddle-bag
of documents were also captured. Sudbury was awarded an MC.
Vernon Cecil Warren Sudbury was born on September 20 1917 at Wonersh,
Surrey, and educated at Lancing. In 1937, he was commissioned into the
Sherwood Foresters and posted to the 2nd Battalion in Guernsey. After
transferring to the 1st Battalion, he served in Bermuda, Palestine and
Cyprus before moving to Egypt in December 1941 and taking part in the
campaign in the Western Desert.
Early in June 1942, the 1st Foresters, who had converted to a motor
battalion, arrived at the war-scarred port of Tobruk. By the middle of the
month, Rommel's leading troops had cut the main road to the east and the
garrison was under siege.
On June 20 the forward companies of the Foresters were overrun, and Sudbury
was taken prisoner by the Germans. He escaped, but was recaptured and sent
to a transit camp at Bari, Italy, and then to Camp 21 at Chieti. There he
led one of the tunnelling schemes.
Sudbury's tunnel was ready at the time of the Italian Armistice in September
1943, but the Germans then took over the camp. He and eight others hid in
the tunnel for 36 hours and then he and two comrades escaped. They moved
southwards, dodging enemy patrols until they reached the Allied lines at
Larino on October 12. Sudbury was awarded a Bar to his MC.
Sudbury was attached to No 2 Commando in Italy and Albania before re-joining
2nd Foresters in Italy 1944. On November 28 the Germans attacked and
captured Monte Castellaro, south of Bologna, and the 2nd Foresters were
ordered to retake it.
Soon after midnight on November 30, "A" Company, in which Sudbury was
serving, led the attack. It was a dark night, raining hard and the enemy
fire was heavy. The company's losses mounted and, but for the failure of
mortar bombs to explode on the soft ground, they would have been higher.
When they were within 200 yards of their objective, the enemy fire
intensified. The company commander realised that there was no hope of
reaching the summit with his weak and scattered force, and ordered them back
to the start line. The regimental history states that Sudbury played a
conspicuous part in the attack.
Sudbury returned to Palestine in January 1945 and served there for the next
four years, apart from a spell in Syria. After attending Staff College in
1948, he became GSO2 at HQ Salisbury Plain District and then brigade
adjutant at HQ Midland Brigade, Warwick. A posting to HQ 49 Brigade Kenya as
DAA&QMG followed in 1953.
Sudbury then returned to the 1st Foresters and, after a period in command of
the regimental depot, moved to HQ Northern Command as GSO2 Training. He was
GSO2 at HQ Singapore Base District and DAQMG at HQ 3 Division before
retiring from the Army in 1968 in the rank of major.
On moving to a village in Surrey, Sudbury worked for the British Aircraft
Corporation until 1972, when he went to HQ South East District as a retired
officer. In retirement, he enjoyed golf and fishing.
Vernon Sudbury died on July 7. He married, in 1953, Patricia Travers Smith,
who survives him with their daughter.
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2005.
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