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Lieutenant-Colonel Tom Carew


Lieutenant-Colonel Tom Carew, who has died aged 89, was an SOE "Jedburgh" officer parachuted into enemy-occupied France and Burma, who won the DSO and the Croix de Guerre.

On August 26 1944 Carew was one of a three-man Jedburgh team, code-named "Basil", which was dropped into France south of Besan?on, near the Swiss frontier. His companions were Captain Robert Rivière, of France, and Technical Sergeant John L Stoyka of the US Army.

The team became separated, and their canisters – which should have contained vital equipment and a wireless set – were full of cocoa and propaganda leaflets. They had only their pistols and the clothes they stood up in, Carew said later.

He hid in the house of a schoolmaster, where he heard a BBC message on the local radio which told him where he could contact the Resistance. Their leader later recalled the anxious wait at their HQ. They had received a large arms drop, their map was marked up with promising targets – but they were in a foul mood because their special agent was missing.

Suddenly, there was a knock on the door, and everyone in the room scrambled for a weapon. The door slowly opened to reveal a blond young man in a Harris tweed jacket and corduroy trousers, smoking a pipe. "Excuse me, gentlemen," he said. "My name's Carew. I dropped in this evening, you know. Got lost somehow." When the laughter had died down, he gave them the plan.

The team was involved in an attack on the German garrison at Mouthe; after two days' heavy fighting they captured the town. Then they split up, and Carew moved to Pontarlier to mount attacks, and on to Salins to organise the partisans into a regular force that became the Régiment de Franche-Comté.

He supervised the arming of this unit and the selection of drop zones. On one occasion, he was completely surrounded by Germans and escaped along sewers into the forest. For his work in France, he was awarded the Croix de Guerre and mentioned in despatches.

On his return from France, Carew volunteered for service with SOE Force 136 in the Far East. . .

Parachuting in uniform into Burma, it took him two weeks to build up a volunteer guerrilla force of 400 hillmen that successfully attacked Japanese patrols and sabotaged communications.

Farewell to another WWII hero. Ave atque vale.

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