Tony Deane-Drummond was one of the architects of the modern SAS, which received the acclaim he desired for it in January 1959 after it won the battle of the Green Mountain in Oman. The A and D squadrons of his command, 22 SAS Regiment seized the 7,000ft Jebel Akhdar, stronghold of the rebels Suleiman bin Hamyar and his brother Talib, who with their wives, slaves, carpets, and other possessions operated from caves and tunnels in the craggy heights to oppose Britain's ally, the Sultan. Around 120 men surprised rebel forces of about 500 by climbing a pathless, sheer face, unnoticed. The SAS lost three men, the rebels more than 50. The mountain's capture prompted politicians to see the SAS's value as a tool of post-imperial policy, and military chiefs to appreciate its adaptability.
Deane-Drummond received the DSO and the personal congratulations of Minister of Defence Duncan Sandys. The regiment was told by Air Vice-Marshal Maurice Heath: "You have taken part in what is really an epic battle... your action has done a great deal to restore British prestige in the Persian Gulf, which has been slipping rapidly since the last war and was accelerated by Suez... Now all the sheikhs around the Gulf can breathe more freely."
Deane-Drummond's preoccupation was "to show that the regular Army needed a Regular SAS Regiment... we had to make a case for what was a genuine corps d'élite – without ever mentioning this phrase".
The Oman assignment was a stroke of luck, coming immediately after 22 Regiment had drawn plaudits as "the most successful unit in the army" in Malaya. There its men had parachuted into a jungle-covered swamp in February 1958 and hunted down "Baby-Killer" Ah-Hoi, a particularly ruthless Communist insurgent.
Had his men been left idle, Deane-Drummond would have been obliged to drastically reduce their numbers. The idea of small parties operating behind enemy lines had originated in operations in the Western Desert in 1941-42. In Malaya, by 1950 and later, Deane-Drummond explained, "A regiment of soldiers was gradually built up in which the old Second World War techniques in the resistance movement were used in reverse... it was a desperate job in which a page was taken out of the communists' own tactics and adopted for use by the SAS."
Deane-Drummond, who had first enlisted with the Royal Signals in 1937, had had three astonishing escapes during a Second World War career in which he won the Military Cross twice. He was with the British Expeditionary Force in France in 1939, and after Dunkirk was chosen as one of six officers leading 28 men to be dropped by parachute to carry out Operation Colossus in February 1941. This was the breach of a 993-mile Italian aqueduct diverting river water to supply the ports of Bari, Brindisi and Taranto, after which the saboteurs would be picked up by submarine at the coast 70 miles away. The salute from Admiral of the Fleet Sir Roger Keyes to the men as they left RAF Mildenhall gave the clue that they were not seriously expected to return. "Damned pity," he was heard to mutter.
Although the mission succeeded, all the men were captured. Deane-Drummond was awarded the MC and became one of only two Allied POWs known to have escaped from Italy before the 1943 Armistice with the Allies. On his first break-out he got to Milan and Como before being caught because of his dirty boots. On his second, having feigned illness to get out of high-security detention, he crept along a 70ft-high crumbling ledge in pitch darkness to reach neutral Switzerland.
The Bar to Deane-Drummond's MC came for the part he played in September 1944 after Operation Market Garden, the battle over the bridge at Arnhem, which the Allies failed to hold against unexpectedly fierce German opposition. Deane-Drummond took command of 20 survivors, and after keeping up sniper action until ammunition ran out and night fell, spread the men to separate houses.
The house he found himself in was, alas, being turned into a German strong-point. Before escaping this time he endured 13 days and nights standing in a 12-inch deep cupboard, with his mouth eventually so parched as his water-bottle ran out that he could no longer eat the bread and lard he had with him. He had to urinate down a hole in the floor. At last the room, all that time full of Germans, was left empty, and he fled.
Dutch families assisted him, including a Baroness Heemstra, who brought him Krug champagne and whose teenage daughter's beauty he noticed: this was the future film star Audrey Hepburn.
Deane-Drummond was appointed to Staff College in 1945, but the following year went to Palestine as Brigade Major, 3rd Parachute Brigade. He was in temporary command on the night of 22 July 1946 when the King David Hotel was bombed. His troops searched Jerusalem, and arrested two men after a toe was noticed to twitch in a mortuary. A staff job at the War Office followed, then spells in the US, and as an instructor at Sandhurst.
He received a two-inch fracture to the skull from a stone thrown through a windscreen during disturbances in Cyprus in 1956. While recuperating he won the Royal Aero Club's Silver Medal for glider-flying, and was the 1957 British Gliding Champion, before taking command of 22 SAS in November.
After the SAS, he took command of 44 Parachute Brigade Group (TA), and learned to fly a helicopter.
He was Major-General, GOC 3rd Division from 1966-68, and Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Operations) from 1968-70, before being made CB and retiring from the Army in 1971, when he became director of the Paper and Paper Products Industry Training Board. His books include an autobiography, Arrows of Fortune (1993).
Deane-Drummond was brought up by his mother, who divorced his philandering father when the boy was nine, with two sisters, one older and one younger, at Little Barrington Oxfordshire. He attended Marlborough College, and then the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich.
Anthony John Deane-Drummond, soldier: born Oxfordshire, 23 June 1917, married 1944, Mary Evangeline Boyd (died 2002; four daughters); CB 1970; DSO 1960; MC 1942, and Bar, 1945; died Warwickshire 4 December 2012.Reuse content
Major GeneralAnthony John Deane-DrummondCB, DSO, MC& Bar (23 June 1917 - 4 December 2012) was an officer of the Royal Signals in the British Army, whose career was mostly spent with airborne forces.
During the Second World War, he was the second-in-command of a commando force which made a failed raid on southern Italy, and was captured by enemy forces. He escaped from captivity, was recaptured, escaped again, and eventually made his way back to England sixteen months after the raid. He later served in Operation Market-Garden and was captured at Arnhem, but successfully escaped for a third time. After the War, he commanded 22 SAS Regiment in Malaya and Oman, and held a number of staff positions, later commanding a division in the British Army of the Rhine before retiring.
The son of ColonelJ.D. Deane–Drummond DSO, OBE, MC, Anthony Deane–Drummond was educated at Marlborough College and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. He joined the Army after leaving Woolwich, being commissioned into the Royal Signals in 1937.
During the Second World War, Deane–Drummond served in Europe and in North Africa; he volunteered for Commando duty, and was assigned as second–in–command of the force which participated in Operation Colossus, an airborne raid on southern Italy in February 1941. Though the raid was successful following the complete destruction of Tragino Aqueduct, every member of the unit was taken prisoner by Italian forces.
After unsuccessful plans in June and July had to be called off, Deane–Drummond managed to escape from captivity in December. After being recaptured near the Swiss border, he was held in an Italian prisoner–of–war camp for several months before being transferred to a hospital in Florence in May 1942. He escaped from there in June, and made it to Switzerland. He then was taken to southern France, and was picked up by the Royal Navy in mid–July 1942. He received the Military Cross for his successful escape.
On his return to England, Deane–Drummond was posted to the newly–formed 1st Airborne Division, and saw service in Operation Market Garden as second–in–command of the divisional signals. He became separated from his unit whilst trying to link up with 1st Parachute Brigade, who were surrounded at the north end of Arnhem Bridge, and along with three other soldiers spent three days trapped in a small room at the back of a German–occupied house. On managing to leave this building, they split up to cross the river; Deane–Drummond successfully swam to the south bank of the Rhine, but was almost immediately taken prisoner. The next day, he managed to escape from a group who were being escorted out of Arnhem, and spent the next eleven days hiding inside a large cupboard until he felt safe to move.
After leaving his hiding place, Deane–Drummond made contact with the Resistance, and waited two weeks until he was brought back to British lines as part of Operation Pegasus. He was mentioned in despatches for this second escape, and awarded a bar to his Military Cross.
Deane–Drummond attended Staff College, Camberley in 1945, and then became Brigade Major of 3rd Parachute Brigade, then serving in Palestine during the Palestine Emergency (see 6th Airborne Division in Palestine). In 1949 he was appointed an instructor at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and in 1952 an instructor at the Staff College.
In 1957 Deane–Drummond took command of 22 Special Air Service Regiment, which was serving in the Malayan Emergency. He continued to command the unit until 1960, which included its service in Oman. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for the regiment's successful assault on Jebel Akhdar in January 1959. The capabilities demonstrated on this extremely arduous operation averted the Army's plans to disband the SAS, which would otherwise have occurred on its return from Malaya.
In 1961, Deane–Drummond was promoted to command 44th Parachute Brigade. In 1963 he returned to Sandhurst as the Assistant Commandant, and in 1966 again took an operational command as General Officer Commanding3rd Division, and was made Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff for Operations in 1968. From 1966 to 1971 he also held the ceremonial post of Colonel Commandant of the Royal Signals.
He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1960 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at the BBC Television Theatre.
In 1971, after retiring for the first time, he was appointed Director and Chief Executive of the Paper Industries Training Board, pursuing this career for the next 8 years.
Deane-Drummond was a recreational glider pilot and instructor. As an instructor with the Royal Military Academy, he was ordered to move the Army Gliding Club to Lasham Airfield in 1951 and so was instrumental in creating one of the world's largest gliding clubs. He was British National Champion in 1957, as well as a member of the British Gliding Team in 1958, 1960, 1963 and 1965 at the World Gliding Championships. He published three books (one an autobiography), and restored antique furniture as a hobby.
He married Mary Evangeline Boyd in 1944; they would have four daughters.
- Buckingham, William F. (2002). Arnhem 1944. Tempus Publishing. ISBN 0-7524-3187-0.
- Deane-Drummond, Anthony (1953). Return Ticket. Fontana.
- Deane-Drummond, Anthony (1975). Riot Control. Royal United Services Instiutute for Defence Studies, London. ISBN 0-8448-0711-7.
- Deane-Drummond, Anthony (1992). Arrows of Fortune. Leo Cooper. ISBN 0-85052-323-0.
- Frost, Major-General John (1994). A Drop Too Many. Leo Cooper. ISBN 0-85052-391-5.
- Middlebrook, Martin (1995). Arnhem 1944: The Airborne Battle. Penguin. ISBN 0-14-014342-4.
- Norton, G. G. (1973). The Red Devils - The Story Of The British Airborne Forces. Pan Books Ltd. ISBN 0-09-957400-4.
- Otway, Lieutenant-Colonel T.B.H (1990). The Second World War 1939-1945 Army - Airborne Forces. Imperial War Museum. ISBN 0-901627-57-7.
- Saunders, Hilary St. George (1972). The Red Beret – The Story Of The Parachute Regiment 1940-1945. White Lion Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-85617-823-3.
- Thompson, Major-General Julian (1990). Ready for Anything: The Parachute Regiment at War. Fontana. ISBN 0-00-637505-7.
- ^ abcdefgWho's Who
- ^ abConscript Heroes
- ^ abOtway, p. 65
- ^ abcdefPegasus Archive
- ^Deane-Drummond, Anthony (1953). Return Ticket. Fontana.
- ^Deane-Drummond, Anthony (1992). Arrows of Fortune. Leo Cooper. ISBN 0-85052-323-0.