Michael Joseph Kohane was born in 1906 and granted a commission with the Royal Army Medical Corps on 14 May 1931. By 1934 he had been promoted to Captain and served on the North West Frontier of India in 1936-37.
As part of the Territorial Army Commands and Staff he served as a Deputy Assistant Director of Medical Services (DADMS) from January 1939 to May 1941, initially with 50th Northumbrian Division.
Later, in 1940, he served as part of Sickle Force, a British Expeditionary Force to Norway, and was awarded a Military Cross for his gallantry.
The citation for his award records: “For bravery and devotion to duty in action on the 23rd April. He was attached to 148 Infantry Brigade Headquarters and had established a central aid post at Tretten. During the afternoon he was attending to many wounded in the aid post when the shelling of the village started. The aid post was hit and set on fire. In spite of continuous shelling of this small village, he returned many times to evacuate the wounded and was not content until he had also removed all dressings and medical stores into a place of safety. By this prompt action many wounded were saved from burning.”
Shortly after his promotion to Lt Colonel he was appointed as the first Commanding officer of 127th Parachute Field Ambulance, RAMC, when it was formed in July 1942.
Michael Kohane qualified as a military parachutist on course 46 which ran at RAF Ringway from 11 to 24 January 1943. The course report notes: “The course was upset by delays, attachments, a fatality and by the returning to unit of 2 unsuitable officers. Despite this, pupils were cheerful and worked well throughout the course jumping without hesitation following the fatality. Lt Col Kohane was very helpful in maintaining a good spirit. A Belgian syndicate of pupils who ran parallel with this course were shown excellent and helpful examples. The discipline was very good…. The fatality was due to a bad exit, the pupil hit his pack and went out in an uncontrolled position, arms and legs asprawl.”
He took his unit in May 1943 to North Africa as part of the 2nd Parachute Brigade. Although stood-by for the parachute operation in Sicily in July 1943, he and his unit did not get to take part in the campaign and it was not until September 1943 that he and his unit got their chance for action, as part of ‘Operation Slapstick’, the naval task-force landing of the 1st Airborne Division in the southern Italian port of Taranto.
Michael Kohane was amongst those that were badly injured when HMS Abdiel struck a mine in Taranto harbour on the night of the 9/10 September 1943 and was replaced by Lt Col P Parkinson.
He served as an Assistant Director of Medical Services (ADMS) from March 1944 to April 1945, after recovering from his wounds, and was then specially employed as a Local Colonel until his appointment as Colonel (ADMS) in charge of Medical Services for 6th Airborne Division in Palestine in June 1946, a post which he held for just over a year.
He held two further ADMS posts, from June 1948 to May 1952, prior to his promotion to Deputy Director of Medical Services at HQ British Army of the Rhine and was confirmed as a substantive Colonel in 1953.
Michael Kohane retired from the Army on account of disability caused by his war wounds on 29 August 1957.Compiled by Bob Hilton and Harvey Grenville