18 November 2009

71081 Lt Col Geoffrey Charles Tasker Keyes VC, MC; Royal Armoured Corps

71081 Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Charles Taker Keyes VC, MC of the Royal Armoured Corps was killed in action on the 18th November 1941. He was a highly decorated senior officer who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on the night of 17th/18th November 1941.

There is plenty of information about Lt Col Keyes on the web, including this page on Wikipedia. At the time of his death he was serving with the The Royal Scots Greys (2nd Dragoons), Royal Armoured Corps. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes that he was "awarded Croix de Guerre. Son of Admiral of the Fleet Roger John Brownlow Keyes, G.C.B., K.C.V.O., C.M:G., D.S.O., A.D.C., 1st Baron Keyes, and of Lady Keyes (nee Bowlby), of Buckingham." The citation for his VC which appeared in the London Gazette of 19th June 1942 reads as follows:

"Lieutenant-Colonel Keyes commanded a detachment of a force which landed some 250 miles behind the enemy lines, in North Africa, to attack Headquarters Base installations and communications. Lieutenant-Colonel Keyes deliberately selected the command of the party detailed to attack the residence and Headquarters of the General Officer commanding the German Forces in North Africa. This attack meant almost certain death for those who took part in it. The disposition of his detachment left him only one officer and a N.C.O. with whom to break into General Rommel's residence. On the night 17/18 November, 1941, he boldly led his party to the front door and demanded entrance. It was unfortunately necessary to shoot the sentry; the noise aroused the house, so that speed became of the first importance. Lieutenant-Colonel Keyes instinctively took the lead and emptied his revolver with great success into the first room. He then entered the second room but was mortally wounded almost immediately. By his fearless disregard of the dangers which he ran and of which he was fully aware, and by his magnificent leadership and outstanding gallantry Lieutenant Colonel Keyes set an example of supreme self-sacrifice and devotion to duty."

Lt Col Keyes is buried In Benghazi War Cemetery in Libya.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.


Ancestry.co.uk (1939-1945 Roll of Honour)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

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