• Si Biggs

Capture of the Italian Armistice Commission - 30 Commando AU

Unit/ Formation: 30 Cdo


Location: Cheragas


Period/ Conflict: World War II


Year: 1942


Date/s: 9th November 1942

Lt Dunstan Curtis, DSC, RNVR

The IAU ‘Special Engineering Unit’ led by Lieutenant Dunstan Curtis, DSC, RNVR was now ashore on Beer Green beach, about twelve miles west of Algiers, the IAU set off on a hot and sweaty march through the dust towards another target Ian Fleming had supplied them with, the Italian Armistice Commission HQ at Cheragas.


Curtis recalled later being astonished at how much [Fleming] knew about Algiers, how extremely detailed his intelligence was, and how much thought he had given to our whole show. He had organised air pictures, models, and given us an exact account of what we were to look for once we got to the enemy HQ.


The men spent an uneasy night in a garage with a bellyful of French beer and the next morning took the Italian Armistice Commission HQ in a villa high above the city, capturing seven Italian Other Ranks. The Italians wanted no trouble and gracefully surrendered their functioning W/T set and weapons – McGrath pocketed a Beretta M1934 pistol. Their chef cooked pasta and tomatoes for the hungry invaders.


In the pocket of an officer’s abandoned greatcoat, Dunstan Curtis found a notebook with particulars of an Italian code.


Dunstan Curtis qualified as a solicitor in 1937. He was commissioned with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve during the war. He was awarded the DSC in 1942, much of his wartime service being with Ian Fleming's 30AU (assault unit), whose primary role was to pinch enemy technology and information. He took part in the attack on St Nazaire whilst commanding MGB314, he was also on the Dieppe Raid, the capture of Algiers, and led his 'Curtforce' onto the beach on D-Day+1. In the final days of the war, whilst taking control of the Blohm & Voss works, Commander Curtis accepted the surrender of the city of Kiel. He was appointed CBE in 1963. It is said that his wartime exploits led Fleming to use him as one of the constituent characters of Commander James Bond.


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Read More/ Web Link: Ian Fleming's Commandos : The Story of the Legendary 30 Assault Unit

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