No 1 Army Commando had come in with the first wave of Operation Torch, the invasion of French North Africa and had been sending patrols deep behind the German lines since November 1942 and the opening rounds of the First Army's push on Tunis.

Arthur Jackson, 4 Troop, No 1 Commando

'We stayed in the tunnel area as they called it, the tunnel before we went to Green Hill and Sugar Loaf Hill. We stayed there and did patrols from there. We met the DLI quite a few times, but just to speak to, that's all.'

William Ling, 4 Troop, No 1 Commando

'We did six day patrols behind the lines. We were laying mines on the road--which they were doing on our roads just the same. Because they had patrols behind our lines the same, up among the hills. We went up the Beja front and did one. We went out and were away six days and we got into a lorry and went down the road a hundred yards and they blew up the road. That's the sort of thing that was being done.'

Arthur Jackson

'We were in the Mine at the top of Sedjenane, that's where we were billeted and we got orders to go down and help out, right down the old railway track, we had to follow that, we had to follow that all the way down to Sedjenane, that's where we met up.'

William Ling

'We were sent out at a minute's notice. There was no casualties that day.' February 26th. 'But we did get casualties the next day because I lost my best mate on that hill. Your father's unit was up on this hill and they were in a bad way. I think they pulled out, mind you, I'm not sure. They pulled out and we went in and took over the hill and the following night we attacked the hill and there were German paratroopers on it and we took the hill. There was a bit of a mix up. Didn't the Free French fold there? It was quite a long walk up there, about two miles I think we went. We weren't attacked at all. It was us that attacked! We went up in daylight and at dusk we attacked and we took the hill. They withdrew from us but they couldn't have went far.'

'On our way up there we met some of the DLI coming out. They'd been cut up a bit, but they'd only got light machine gun fire or heavy machine gun fire or whatever. There was no artillery. Like all of us when you're coming out and you've had a good old fight you look a sorry sight, you all do. You haven't had a lot of sleep. I know how we felt at times when we were there.'

L/Sgt Jack Southworth 4 Troop, No1 Commando

'On the 26th February 1943 No 4 Troop returned to the Mine after five nights and five days out on patrol. Loaded with Hawkins anti-tank grenades and ammo, most personnel had either three packets of biscuits and chocolate or cigarettes to live on over this entire period. Therefore on the morning of the 26th, we were tired, hungry and after checking weapons, we were allowed to sleep and to clean up later. Private Brown, who had remained behind because of a cough, informed us that flour had arrived and said he would make some bread--the first since we landed--and would sound a bugle to wake us up. He did this later in the day, but not for food, as we were informed that the enemy had advanced 15 km to the North of Sedjenane.


4 Troop, No 1 Commando February 26th 1943
L/Sgt J C H Southworth MM

L.Sgt J C H Southworth of 4 Troop, No 1 Commando. This photograph was taken in mid-1943 after No 1 Commando’s return to the UK. Originally enlisted in the South Wales Borderers, L/Sgt Southworth was awarded the Military Medal for his actions on the hills north of Sedjenane on 27th February 1943. His commanding officer Captain Douglas Malcolm Davidson was awarded the Military Cross. As recounted in the following eyewitness testimony and documents, this very confused action also involved C Company of the 16th DLI and French troops of the Corps Franc d’Afrique. L/Sgt Southworth made a full recovery from his wounds and later served with No 1 Commando in Burma. Photograph courtesy J C H Southworth MM.

For more photographs of No 1 Army Commando, including a large 1943 group photograph which features many Sedjenane veterans, and a 1945 image which includes Arthur Jackson and William Ling see the excellent Commando Veterans’ Association website. This is the direct link to their extensive No 1 Commando galleries page.