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Lt Colonel Drysdale, Royal Marines, Commanding Officer 41 Independent Commando

Colonel Douglas Burns Drysdale was born in Hampstead, a suburb of London, on 2 October 1916.


He spent the majority of his youth in Argentina, where he developed a life-long passion for horsemanship, polo playing, and hunting. Commissioned a subaltern in September 1935 in the Royal Marines, he was given charge of HMS Renown c Marine detachment. lie remained on hoard the Renown during the first three years of World War II. During the occupation of Iceland, Lieutenant Drysdale served as the staff officer of "Force Fork," the combined force consisting of the 2d Battalion, Royal Marines, and a coastal battery.


He was promoted to captain in June 1942 and assigned to the staff of the British Admiralty Delegation, Washington, D.C. Here, Captain Drysdale had his first contacts with U.S. Marines when he was attached to Headquarters United States Marine Corps as a liaison officer until 1943 when he became brigade major of 3 Special Service Brigade.


He remained with the brigade for the rest of World War II. Tn September 1945, during the Burma campaign, 3 Special Service Brigade was assigned to carry out Operation Zipper, an amphibious operation that was canceled when the war ended. Major Drysdale was to serve as the commanding officer of 44 Commando during that operation.


For outstanding service in that theater, the British government appointed Drysdale a Member of the British Empire (MBE). After the war, Major Drysdale served on the staff of the British army staff college at Camberley. He then joined the staff of the Officer's School where he was promoted to acting lieutenant colonel and assigned to command 41 Independent Royal Marine Commando.


His command of 41 Commando in Korea was to be the highlight of a distinguished career. For his actions at the Chosin Reservoir, as well as his leadership of 41st Commando, Lieutenant Colonel Drysdale was awarded two Silver Stars and a Distinguished Service Order. Lieutenant Colonel Drysdale led 41 Commando until late 1951, when he was relieved by Lieutenant Colonel Ferris N. Grant.


He then served as the Royal Marine representative at the Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia, from 1952 to 1954. After leaving Quantico, Drysdale was appointed Commandant of the Royal Marine's Non-commissioned Officers School. He was then assigned to the staff of the Commandant General of Royal Marines, where he was promoted to colonel in June 1961. He was selected to command 3 Commando Brigade prior to his medical retirement in January 1962. He moved to Norfolk, England, in 1978 where he died on 22 June 1990 at the age of 73. [1]


Lieutenant Colonel Douglas B. Drysdale, Royal Marines, Commanding 41st Independent Commando RM in Action, Korea, 1950 Horace Avery Chenoweth (b.1928) Royal Marines Museum


Born: Monday, October 2, 1916

Died : Friday, June 22, 1990

Acting Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Drysdale assumed command of 44RM Commando on the 23rd April 1945. Formerly the Brigade Major he replaced Lt. Colonel Stockley who had been appointed to a position within Brigade HQ.

  • Appointed M.B.E. for gallant and distinguished service in Burma whilst attached to the Allied Land Forces, South East Asia, during the period 16th November, 1944, to 15th February, 1945..

  • Mentioned in Despatches for distinguished service while operating with the Army in Burma and on the Eastern Frontier of India.

  • Acting Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Drysdale M.B.E. was the Commanding Officer of 41 Independent Commando RM at the start of the Korean War.

  • May 1951 appointed a companion of the Distinguished Service Order.

  • May 1955 awarded the Silver Star bestowed by the President of the United States of America for gallant and distinguished service in operations in Korea.

  • June 1959 appointed O.B.E..

  • July 1961 promoted Colonel.

The death of Colonel Douglas Burns Drysdale, DSO., OBE. (HQ 3 Bde and OC, 44 RM Cdo) of Thetford, Norfolk, was announced in Commando Association newsletter 91 issued August 1990. [2]


More related Royal Marines 'Dits' Here;


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Douglas Drysdale was my Father. He died just before my 15th Birthday. He was the kindest Man and I am so privileged and proud to call him my Father. I think about him everyday and his Grandchildren love hearing about him and researching his incredible and distinguished career.

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Thank you Si

Did you also know that in June 2021 the South Korean Government awarded him the Order of Military Merit - sadly We had no idea until it popped up in a recent search.

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My late father, ex Colour Sergeant Michael E O'Brien, was a young marine (dob march '32) when he went to Korea with 41 independent commando. He said that he and his fellow marines would have literally followed Lt Colonal Drysdale anywhere, they loved and respected him so much.

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Dear Iona,

Even though you never knew your Grandfather you must be so proud. My dear dad was a lovely man who never spoke to me of the horrors of Korea but he did tell me of some lighter moments. He obviously thought a great deal of Lt Colonel Drysdale.

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