MacLeod Forsyth enlisted into The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders on the 10 May 1933.
He was on the first recorded parachute course at RAF Ringway – Course No 1 – which was for the whole of ‘C’ Company, 2nd Parachute Battalion. This Course ran between 3 – 15 November 1941. However he was injured on this course and was put on Course No 2, 18 – 30 November 1941. The report for Course No 2 has the following notes: ‘Made four jumps before entering hospital. Was inclined to make poor exits from the aperture’.
Having successfully completed this parachute course he then attended the No 1 Advanced Parachute Course at RAF Ringway, 4 – 11 January 1942. Whereas the other Courses were basic parachute training, this one was to practice the men in Section and Platoon drops, and their actions on the ground afterwards.
At Bruneval he was a member of ‘Rodney’ Section, with 2/Lieut. J. Timothy, and jumped from Whitley A/C No. 9215.
Amusing story in the ‘Parachute 2 Club’ Newsletter, March 1993, which includes ‘Mac’ Forsyth.
After Bruneval he was posted to ‘A’ Company and took over as Platoon Sergeant of 1 Platoon, which was under the command of Lieut. Dennis Rendell. He took part in the drop at Depienne and the subsequent actions at Oudna, in November – December 1942.
He was awarded the Military Medal for his actions on the Depienne drop, and the subsequent battles around Oudna in the Tunisian campaign, which was announced in the London Gazette on the 23rd September 1943.
‘For conspicuous gallantry during operations in TUNISIA when his unit was surrounded by the enemy and being heavily attacked, this N.C.O. regardless of his personal safety and under heavy fire moved about encouraging his men who inflicted considerable casualties on the enemy. In three separate engagements with the enemy this N.C.O. was conspicuous for his gallantry, resolution and leadership, and an inspiration to the men of his platoon’.
This was put forward to 1st Parachute Brigade Headquarters by Lt-Col. J.D. Frost, 17/12/42, and passed by Brigadier E.W.C. Flavell, 18/12/42.
By the end of December 1942 he was the Company Sergeant Major of ‘A’ Company, and he is mentioned on page 7 of the ‘Parachute 2 Club’ Newsletter, March 1989, in an account of News Years Eve 1942, by ‘Bill’ Bloys.
At the beginning of March 1943 the 2nd Parachute Battalion moved up to a position known as ‘Cork Wood’, and this is a brief account from Sergeant Major ‘Mac’ Forsyth: “We arrived during the night to take over from a battalion up in the wooded hillside. We couldn’t find them and ended up shouting for them. Soon a voice replied, “We’re over here. Sorry, we thought you were the Germans.” The OC went absolutely bananas at this and shouted for this rabble to clear off. We were then ordered to spread out in a circle formation. In the morning just before dawn the Germans attacked and got the surprise of their lives. They didn’t expect to find paratroopers waiting for them. In spite of this we had several hours tough fighting. At one point one of the junior officers ran past Company HQ so fast he nearly burnt us. The OC told me to go forward to see if I could find out what had happened. The Platoon seemed to be at the point of wavering and so I shouted at them; “The bastards are more frightened of you than you are of them.” This seemed to do the trick and they put up a spirited show. I was always a bit outspoken and I think I said this officer ought to be in front of a court martial. I think he was moved to one of the other Battalions, if he had been a soldier his feet wouldn’t have touched the ground. It was I think a combination of this and the fact that a new OC didn’t really like me that led shortly after Cork Wood to me being RTU’d.”
For a period between March and April 1943 he was the Acting Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM.)
Sergeant Major MacLeod Forsyth transferred back to The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders on the 18 July 1943, whilst the 2nd Parachute Battalion was resting in North Africa from the Sicily operation.
In the ‘Parachute 2 Club’ Newsletter, March 1989, was this piece of information: SOVIET REGISTER OF HONOUR.
While reading a publication dealing with awards and medals, I came across “British citizens decorated in the years of the Great Patriotic War with Soviet Orders and Medals”, and there I read: ORDER OF THE RED STAR – CSM. 2979279. M. FORSYTH (21.3.44) For the crossing of the River Sangro, Italy. There were only 21 ‘Red Stars’ awarded and Mac’s award was number 8. That is worth a wee dram at our reunion!
Robert Peatling (Editor).
It was announced in the London Gazette on Tuesday, 11 April 1944.
The action on the River Sangro was possibly that of the 8th Bn, The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders.
‘Mac’ Forsyth is mentioned by Alex J. Reid reference the Bruneval Commemoration at Worth Matravers on the 3rd November 1985, in the ‘Parachute 2 Club’ Newsletter, January 1986.
‘Mac’ Forsyth is mentioned by Dave Brooks in his article – ‘WITH THE VETERANS AT BRUNEVAL’ by Hercules, in the ‘Parachute 2 Club’ Newsletter, September 1992.
He died on the 29 January 2008.
Created with information kindly supplied by R Hilton.Read More