Special Air Service Regiment Memorial
(The SAS Brigade Memorial Sennecey-Le-Grand)
Press Release – Sennecey le Grand 4 September 2002
As a result of a project to compile an accurate Roll of Honour for the Regiment, a further 96 names of British SAS and a number of French SAS casualties were added to the memorial at Sennecey-le-Grand in 2002. Although the names were known to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, they had not been recorded as being SAS. These names were engraved on the memorial and it was re-dedicated at a ceremony on the 4th September 2002.
The Roll of Honour took some five years to complete and two Volumes of the book were made to record all of the wartime and post war casualties.
The Battle of Sennecey le Grand – 4 September 1944
The memorial at Sennecey le Grand was inaugurated on 4 September 1984 to honour all Officers and Men from the Special Air Service Regiment who gave their lives for freedom. The inauguration was attended by a large contingent from all three countries involved and included David Stirling himself. The memorial includes the names of all SAS casualties of the 1st and 2nd SAS (British), 3rd and 4th SAS (French) and 5th SAS (Belgian).
Operation ‘Newton’ was undertaken by a party of the 3rd French SAS who operated in several jeep columns south of the Loire from August 1944.
The battle involved a small jeep column led by Capitaine Guy de Combaud Roquebrune. Together with other groups and the Resistance they had been disrupting the enemy’s means of communication for weeks, carrying out attacks and ambushes in the area. On 3 September 1944 the order was given to block the retreat of a large German column, which was forming up in Sennecey le Grand. At dawn on 4 September 1944, the four jeeps of Guy de Combaud Roquebrune drove up the main street of Sennecey le Grand, where some 3000 Germans in convoy were formed up. With machine guns blazing at point blank range they drove through the town causing great confusion and many casualties (figures suggest 500) in the convoy. By bad luck their only escape route was blocked and they were left with no alternative but to drive back through the town. One by one the jeeps were destroyed by the now alert Germans. Only the fourth jeep, out of control with its crew seriously wounded managed to get through. By a miracle two members (Joseph Tramoni and Alexis Baude) were rescued by the Resistance, who picked them up and evacuated them through to nearby woods.
It is in honour of this engagement and to honour all those members of the SAS who gave their lives for freedom that the memorial was created. I believe that the memorial stands on the spot where the group formed up for their attack. A memorial to Guy de Combaud Roquebrune stands in the middle of the road junction at the edge of Sennecey le Grand; also five of those killed in the attack are buried in the local churchyard.
The Viscount Slim, President of the SAS Regimental Association and the Earl Jellicoe its Patron, will be attending the ceremony this year. The Earl Jellicoe served in the SAS from almost the very beginning of its formation.
After David Stirling was captured at the end of the North African campaign in early 1943, the 1st SAS was reorganised into the Special Raiding Squadron under Paddy Mayne and the Special Boat Squadron under the Earl Jellicoe. The SRS went on to fight in Sicily and Italy along with the 2nd SAS, which had been formed in North Africa in 1943. The SBS fought in the Aegean and Dodecanese until the end of the war. In 1944 the 1st and 2nd returned to the UK and joined with the French 3rd and 4th along with the Belgian Independent Parachute Squadron (5th SAS) to conduct parachute operations behind the German lines in France. They also carried out jeep operations through Belgium and into Germany in support of the Allied advance.
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