Displays - Honours and Awards - Records from Honours & Awards

Major Rupert Guy TURRALL, DSO, MC.

A geophysicist with an engineering degree from Cambridge University; Major Turrell served in the Royal Engineers in the First World War and was twice Mentioned in Despatches. At the start of the Second World War he was offered an appointment with the Intelligence Corps and sent to the Middle East. In 1941, while a Lieutenant attached to the Frontier Battalion of the Sudan Frontier Force, he was awarded the Military Cross (see citation below). He was eventually recruited into SOE and became involved in a variety of missions with Force 133 on the island of Crete. In 1945 Turrall moved to the Far East to join Force 136 (SOE's Far East organisation) where he won his DSO.

The citation for Major Turrall's award of the Military Cross in 1941 is as follows...

"During the night 25/26th March Lieutenant Turrall carried out a mortar attack on the south flank of the strong enemy positions covering Debra Marcos later withdrawing his force across the enemy's flank to the north of their position. These operations lasted during the whole night and it was learnt that considerable casualties had been inflicted on the enemy as a result of them. On 28th March Lieutenant Turrall took up a position on the northern flank of the same defences and successfully bombed them with the three inch mortar inflicting a large number of observed casualties. On the night of 31st March -– 1st April Lieutenant Turrall in conjunction with El Bimbashi MacDonald carried out a night bombing attack with hand bombs on the rear of these same defences. El Bimbashi MacDonald was killed while only five yards from the enemy position and Lieutenant Turrall took charge of the operations and at their conclusion himself with two NCOs carried back El Bimbashi MacDonald's body a distance of some five miles in the dark. These operations were carried out in pouring rain and a high wind under the most trying conditions. As a result of these night and day attacks in all of which Lieutenant Turrall displayed coolness, resolution and courage the enemy were forced to hasten their withdrawal from the strong covering positions west of Debra Marcos, and lost a large number of killed and wounded."

The citation for his award of the DSO in 1945, is as follows:

"This officer, who, at the age of 54, commanded the original 'blind' parachute jump of Force 136 personnel to PYAGAWPO on 25 February 1945, organised the reception of operations OTTER and FERRET a few nights later in spite of Japanese forces having arrived in the area from PAPUN. He also organised and trained several hundred Levies who eventually became the hard core of Operation HYENA. On 15 April 1945, he personally led the successful attack on KYAUKKYI which resulted in enemy supplies, spare arms and a W/T set being destroyed. Later he operated in the area East of KYAUKKYI and with his Levies killed over 500 Japanese and gave intelligence for air strikes and artillery which resulted in 924 estimated enemy casualties. For his outstanding powers of leadership and great gallantry shown on numerous occasions I recommend very strongly that this officer be awarded the Distinguished Service Order."

Zoom ButtonMajor Guy Turrell, DSO, MC.
Zoom ButtonThe Presentation of the Military Cross to the then Lieutenant Guy Turrell. North Africa, 1941.

Captain John Gordon COATES, DSO

Born in 1918, John Coates started his war as a conscientious objector who served with RAMC throughout 1940. He was commissioned in the Intelligence Corps in August 1941, initially engaged in the interrogation of German POWs in London. He went on to serve with 4 Commando at the Commando Depot at Achnacarry and then as Intelligence Officer with 10 Commando (1942-43) and with 30 Commando, in Italy and Corsica (1943-44). He then volunteered for service with Special Operations Executive (SOE), joining ME76 (Hungarian Section).

In September 1944 Captain Coates and two Hungarian-Canadians were parachuted into Croatia; their mission (Operation Dibbler) was to cross into Hungary to create passive resistance, undertake sabotage and prevent vital installations from being destroyed during a German retreat. Another Hungarian-Canadian agent, code named 'Bodo' had gone ahead of them and their orders were to await a signal from him before crossing the border. Instead, they were ordered to return to Bari where Coates, despite misgivings about the fate of Bodo, managed to persuade staff of the Hungarian Section that resistance contacts could be developed through industrial workers at Pcs. The three were eventually dropped near Pcs in early September 1944; they were arrested soon after their arrival. One of their number was badly beaten while Coates and the other agent were taken to a prison camp at Zugliget in Budapest. While in prison Coates, despite having been extensively interrogated and tortured, managed to arrange the escape of three British officers before escaping himself; he eventually managed to reach the Soviet lines where he was further interrogated by his 'liberators'. He was repatriated to Bari in March 1945.

Captain Coates was awarded for the Distinguished Service Order. His citation was:

"Capt Coates was dropped by parachute into Hungary on 13 September 1944 in command of a small group with a special mission. Through the arrest of one of his party he was captured and imprisoned. For a period of several months he was subjected to a series of interrogations by Hungarian and German police, which included physical torture. During this period Capt Coates showed unfailing bodily courage and strength of mind. He not only kept the real purpose of his mission secret but succeeded in leading his captors off the scent, thus undoubtedly saving his party from being shot out of hand.

By his sterling example Capt Coates encouraged the other members of his group to stand up to their interrogators and by his unfailing alertness and resourcefulness he was able to animate the resistance shown by his party under the most brutal treatment. While in prison in Budapest Capt Coates organised the escape of two other British officers with great skill and courage and then escaped himself. He hid himself and another officer in spite of continuous searches, and was finally successful in making his way at great personal risk through the Russian lines, bringing with him a great deal of useful information.

During a period of four months Capt Coates showed physical and moral courage of the highest degree. His leadership and sense of responsibility were worthy of the highest praise and it is due to his cleverness and resolution that the remainder of his party were saved from death".

Zoom ButtonCaptain John Coates, DSO

Captain Rene Mac KISRAY, MBE

Rene Mac Kisraquilly -– he changed his name to Kisray by deed poll -– was born to a rich Tunisian family in 1903 and resided for some years in Nice, France; he spoke Arabic, French and Italian but little English. In September 1939 he joined the British Army and, despite his lack of fluent English, was posted into the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC). No doubt because of his language abilities he came to the notice of SIS who eventually recruited him. His name first appears in the Army List for the Intelligence Corps, as a war substantive Lieutenant, on 1 December 1942. He was employed under the MI6 cover of Inter-Services Liaison Department (ISLD) at their Egyptian outstation. He worked with the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) in North Africa and undertook several missions behind the enemy lines.

Following his North African adventures, for which he received a Mention in Despatches, he continued to work for MI6. In Tunis he developed a contact in the communist party and the opening moves in an operation to establish and organise communist partisan groups in Italy following the Allied invasion.

In Italy, he continued to work clandestinely, this time against communist agitators, particularly Palmiro Togliatti, the communist leader who had recently returned from Moscow. In November 1944, he helped to ensure that the communists failed in their attempt to assassinate Marshal Badoglio. In April 1945 he was able to prevent the personal files of the late Mussolini falling into the hands of the communists.

The nature of his success in this operation is plainly spelt out in the recommendation for the award of the MBE, which was Gazetted on 25 September 1947, but without a citation...

"Having rendered valuable and courageous service behind the enemy lines in the North African desert for which he was mentioned in despatches, this officer was put into contact with the communist party in Tunis in 1943.

As soon as the Allies went into Italy Captain Kisray managed to smuggle in with him a very important member of the Communist Party and as a result of this officer's efforts, encouraging them, against strong opposition, to contact and organise Communist partisan movements in Northern Italy.

His efforts were so successful that the Northern Italian Communist Party agreed to work whole-heartedly for the provision of secret military intelligence to the Allies. The information which was produced through the Committee proved of great value, its volume and accuracy, which were considerable, being attributable in a very large measure to the unerring resourcefulness of Captain Kisray who was required to show constant tact, understanding and determination in his dealings with these men; the latter at the outset were anything but willing to co-operate and during the whole period of operations they required constant encouragement and reassurance to continue.

Owing to the suspicious nature of the committee, Captain Kisray's own position was at all times delicate and he was forced to retire on the arrival of Togliatti in Italy. He thereupon turned his attention to the production of secret political intelligence and a large proportion of such information was directly attributable to his efforts in 1944-1945.

It was due to his excellent high-level contacts, intelligence, resourcefulness and energy that the threatened strike in Naples in 1944, which would have been so damaging to Allied progress at this vital stage, was thwarted.

During the three years which this officer worked for this department he showed unusual zeal, initiative, good humour and devotion, and is strongly recommended for this decoration."

Zoom ButtonCaptain Rene Kisray, MBE. A post-war photograph