The daring Royal Naval Commando Anzio Beach D.S.C. consisting: Distinguished Service Cross George VI with reverse dated 1944, silver hallmarks; 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star; Africa Star with North Africa 1942-42 clasp; Italy Star; WWII Defence Medal; WWII War Medal; Naval General Service Medal with Palestine 1945-48 clasp to Lieut. (S) R. Blackwell, D.S.C., R.N.V.R.

D.S.C. Gazetted 1 Aug 1944: "For outstanding courage, leadership, resource and determination during the assault on Anzio and in subsequent bombardments in support of the Army, and in maintaining an unbroken flow of supplies which accomplished the building up of the beach-head despite bombing, mining and bombardment by shore batteries."

Richard Blackwell was a Royal Naval Commando, also known as 'Beachhead Commando', serving with 'K' Commando. Royal Naval Beach Commandos landed in the first waves of amphibious assaults, marking the limits of the beachheads, clearing enemy positions if necessary, directing and mooring incoming landing craft, preventing bottlenecks and maximising the flow of personnel, vehicles and supplies across the beach, removing mines and underwater obstructions, taping safe passage routes off the beaches, aiding the evacuation of the wounded, informing subsequent waves of important intelligence about the enemy strengths and positions, helping the 'Brigade Group' set up ammunition and supply dumps, supervising enemy prisoners and being available to tackle any task required of them including acting as a rearguard if necessary. On major operations the RN Beach Commandos were part of the naval 'Assault Forces' and each Royal Naval Commando were responsible for a brigade front section of beach, however they were attached to and would train with the army Beach Groups supporting the 'Assault Brigades'. The Beach Groups were also known as Beach Bricks or Brigade Bricks, each was a composite logistics unit based around an infantry battalion (or equivalent sized unit) designed to maintain a brigade ashore for four days with specialist troops, including anti-aircraft artillery for it's own defence, military police, medical and signals sections, similar to the present day Royal Marine Commando Logistics Regiment.

Richard Blackwell was born on 5 January 1918 at 1 Frenchay Road, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, the son of Sir Basil Henry Blackwell and Marion Christine Soans. Educated at Dragon School, Oxford, Winchester College, Hampshire,  and New College, Oxford University, Blackwell was appointed Probationary Temporary Paymaster Sub-Lieutenant on 22 Nov 1939 and made Temporary Paymaster Lieutenant on 22 Nov 1941, marrying Marguerite Holliday, daughter of Major Lionel Brook Holliday, in 1942. He died on 26 February 1980 at age 62 at Tubney House, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England. In September of l943 RNCs (C, G, H, K, M, N and O parties) went in with the Army assault troops and Royal Marine Commandos when the Allies landed in Italy. Later during the advance up the Italian coast they helped open up anchorages. At both Salerno and Anzio landings the RNCs neutralised minefields prior to the arrival of waiting landing craft. At Anzio they used their F-S daggers to probe for wood encased mines which could not be located by the Royal Engineers' metal detectors. Sand bars offshore also created great difficulty during this landing but the RNC performed admirably, keeping the beachhead functioning throughout the initial landings and for months afterwards despite almost constant German shelling. As the advance moved further up the Italian mainland they were given two additional roles - the recovery of escaped Allied prisoners of war along the Adriatic coastline and protecting suspected war criminals from the retribution of local inhabitants. This was necessary in order to hand them over for Allied interrogation and preparation for war crimes trials once the war was over. David Lee's book 'Beachhead Assault' lists Blackwell's award amongst around 50 others in number to RN Commando officers.


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