RM CDOS Haydon, Peter Hillyard

The Secret Hunters
By Anthony Kemp, Prince Yurka Galitzine

John Robertson

Staff member
Peter Hillyard
  • UNIT
41 Commando
  • RANK
5th November 1944
  • AGE
Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery, Netherlands 15.B.3
son of Lt. Rollo Hillyard Stafford and Annie Gwendoline Haydon, Ecuador
educated The Abbey, Beckenham
attended Clifton College
former Home Guard
father POW Dunkirk 26.05.1940 (Lt, Royal Engineers, Service Number 115969, born 15.02.1898)
award D.S.O.
previously wounded Salerno 8.9.1943
KIA Walcheren
London Gazette 36367, 4th February 1944, Page 687






Distinguished Service Order : GULF OF SALERNO 10 Sep 43

On 10 Sep in the VIETRI Sul Mare defile. He was an inspiration to his men during an attack on the Troop position of which he was a section commander. When it became obvious that the position was likely to be overrun and the enemy were within a few yards of his position he sat up under fire in his slit trench and killed4 Germans with 4 rifle shots at about 50 yards until he himself was shot through both legs. Subsequently the attack subsided and he continued to control his section until he was evacuated.

As a result of information received at a later date from returned wounded the following citation was received altering the recommendation from M.C. to V.C. After consideration the G.O.C-in-G decided to grant an immediate D.S.O.

"On 10 Sep 43, at VIERI SUL MARE, 41 R.M. Commando were holding a narrow defile immediately West of VIETRI through which ran the road SALERNO-NAPLES. "A" Troop, who were in position on top of the left hill, had been attacked during the forenoon suffering heavy casualties. "A" Troop Comd anticipated further infiltration on his left flank because of the very close country - terraced vineyards etc - asked for a sect of "Q" Troop who were on his left rear, held in reserve for a counter attack role, to come up on his left since he had insufficient men to watch this flank himself. Accordingly, about 1430 hrs Lieut HAYDON, "Q" Troop, took up a position with his section on "A" Troops immediate left. At 1445 hrs his position was heavily mortared and Lieut HAYDON suffered a large shrapnel wound in the buttock. Realising that this mortaring was probably the prelude to an attack, Lieut HAYDON, though in pain, refused to be evacuated and remained with his section, calmly directing the defence of his position and encouraging and inspiring his men in the attack which shortly came in and in which he was again wounded by a bullet in the thigh. This attack was successfully repulsed although firing continued and it was apparent that the enemy had not withdrawn. During a short lull, his wounds were dressed by the Troop Sgt Major of "A" Troop (C/Sgt Morgan). He again refused to be evacuated and moreover refused morphia so that he might keep his mind alert. He asked for a rifle and C/Sgt Morgan procured one for him from a dead man. Subsequently two further attacked were put in on his position, one as 1700 hrs followed swiftly by a second at 1730 hrs. It was entirely due to Lieut HAYDON'S control, the use of his fire power and because of his splendid example to his men that these attacks were driven off. During the latter, though he had fainted three time during the afternoon, he killed four Germans at close range with his rifle, with great difficulty on account of his wounds. Lieut HAYDON was finally left with seven men of his section which though outnumbered had successfully repulsed three attacks inflicting many casualties. At dusk and when the enemy had been conclusively driven from the hill, Lieut HAYDON was evacuated. He refused to allow any of his men to leave their positions where they were vitally needed in order to help him. He waited instead for the Signal Sergeant who was repairing a wireless set at "A" Troop H.Q. to complete his task, saying that he would make his way down with his assistance. On being helped to his feet he collapsed and was finally carried by the Signal Sergeant to a place on the nearby road from which he could be evacuated to the R...

This officer, although only 19 years old and having less than six months service in the Royal Marines, by his conspicuous gallantry and extreme devotion to duty, inspired by his example, and encouraged his few men to hold their position against superior numbers of the enemy, repelling three attacks on the position, the loss of which would have rendered the other troops ("A" Troop) position on the hill untenable. His courage, endurance and example in the face of the enemy were of the highest order"




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