Brigadier Dudley Wrangel Clarke CB, CBE – Founder of modern special forces

  • -

Brigadier Dudley Wrangel Clarke CB, CBE – Founder of modern special forces

Category : Articles , South Africa

 

Did you know that a South African was instrumental in founding modern Special Forces as we know them today (The British Commandos, the SAS and even the US Rangers) and defined the art of Deception Warfare?

Brigadier Dudley Wrangel Clarke CB, CBE (27 April 1899 – 7 May 1974), known as a pioneer of military deception operations during the Second World War. His ideas for combining fictional orders of battle, visual deception and double agents helped define Allied deception strategy during the war, for which he has been referred to as “the greatest British deceiver of WW2”.

Clarke was also instrumental in the founding of three famous military units, namely the British Commandos, the Special Air Service and the US Rangers.

Born in Johannesburg and brought up near London, Clarke joined the Royal Artillery as an officer in 1916, but transferred to the Royal Flying Corps after finding he was too young to fight in France. He spent the First World War learning to fly, first in Reading and then Egypt. Clarke returned to the Royal Artillery in 1919 and had a varied career doing intelligence work in the Middle East. In 1936 he was posted to Palestine, where he helped organise the British response to the 1936 Arab uprising.

During the Second World War, Clarke joined John Dill’s staff and proposed, and helped implement, an idea for commando raids into France – an early form of the British Commandos.

In 1940, Archibald Wavell called Clarke to Cairo and placed him in charge of strategic deception. As cover he was employed to set up a regional organisation for MI9, a British escape and evasion department.

The following year Clarke received a war establishment and set up Advanced Headquarters ‘A’ Force with a small staff to plan deception operations. Once satisfied with the department’s structure, he pursued intelligence contacts in Turkey and Spain. In late 1941 Clarke was called to London, where his deception work had come to the attention of Allied high command.

During Clarke’s absence, deception hierarchy in Middle East Command had become muddled. Colonel Ralph Bagnold had taken over deception planning, pushing ‘A’ Force aside. Clarke was sent to El Alamein, where Allied forces were on the retreat, to work on deception plans. Upon his return, Bagnold was sidelined and ‘A’ Force reinstated as the primary deception department. Throughout 1942 Clarke implemented Operation Cascade, an order of battle deception which added many fictional units to the Allied formations. Cascade was a success; by the end of the war the enemy accepted most of the formations as real. From 1942 to 1945, Clarke continued to organise deception in North Africa and southern Europe. After the war he was asked to record the history of ‘A’ Force.

He retired in 1947 and lived the rest of his life in relative obscurity. As well as pursuing a literary career that produced two histories and a thriller, he worked for the Conservative Party and was a director of Securicor. He died in London in 1974.

Reference Wikipedia, Portrait of Brig. Clarke CB CBE


Search this Site

Next Event

Nov
18
Sun
2018
10:00 Ajex Parade 2018 @ Whitehall Cen...
Ajex Parade 2018 @ Whitehall Cen...
Nov 18 @ 10:00 – 14:00
Ajex Parade 2018 @ Whitehall Cenotaph
Purpose: We pay tribute to the Jewish servicemen. There is a deep-rooted history of Jewish servicemen contributing to South African military history, with heroic acts scattered from the time of the Boer war – where they
Dec
2
Sun
2018
09:30 The Carabiniers Boer War Memoria...
The Carabiniers Boer War Memoria...
Dec 2 @ 09:30 – 14:00
The Carabiniers Boer War Memorial Parade @ Carabiniers Memorial
Purpose: We remember the sacrifices made by all during both Anglo Boer Wars As always The Royal Scots Dragoons Regiment association look forward to some “Saffa” participation at the Carabineers/Boer War remembrance day that is held
Dec
16
Sun
2018
15:00 SA Legion England Branch Christm... @ Windsor Castle Pub
SA Legion England Branch Christm... @ Windsor Castle Pub
Dec 16 @ 15:00 – 23:59
SA Legion England Branch Christmas Skouerskuur @ Windsor Castle Pub | England | United Kingdom
South African Legion England branch in England get together in London for a little mince pie Christmas cheer and put some ye olde Santa beer downrange.
Feb
16
Sat
2019
12:00 England Branch Q1 Committee Meet... @ RBL Club Teddington
England Branch Q1 Committee Meet... @ RBL Club Teddington
Feb 16 @ 12:00 – 13:30
England Branch Q1 Committee Meeting and Social @ RBL Club Teddington
Meeting and Social – 135 High St, Teddington TW11 8HH Purpose: All Branch members are invited to contribute in providing suggestions/feedback, or just listen to the quarterly update. Final event planning will also take place for

Shopping Cart

Your shopping cart is empty
Visit the shop