Major-General CWB Purdon CBE MC CPM - full Obituary to feature in the 2018 Old Campbellian Magazine.
Corran Purdon (2639) left the College in 1939 and was commissioned into The Royal Ulster Rifles. He subsequently joined No 12 Commando RM and was involved in a number of raids, including Operation Chariot in March 1942, the raid on St Nazaire - later dubbed "The Greatest Raid of All." For which he was awarded the MC for demolishing a vital wheelhouse on the Loire Estuary, Normandie Dock and was wounded and captured whilst trying to make his escape.
Lieutenant Purdon became a dedicated escaper and was finally locked up in Colditz Castle. When he was liberated by the Americans, he and another Rifles officer decided that they wanted to have another crack at the enemy, so they fought in the ranks with the American Army until VE Day.
He then served at Regimental and Staff appointments N Ireland, England, Egypt, Hong Kong, Cyprus and Malaya & the Middle East. He went on to command the 1st Battalion of The Royal Ulster Rifles in West Germany and In Borneo he fought in the undeclared war against the Indonesian Regular Army. Following his Chief Instructor & OC of AATD appointment at Warminster, his next appointment was as Commander of the Sultan’s Armed Forces in Oman, in the rank of Brigadier, and then Director of Operations during the Dhofar War, Oman 1967-1970, which was a bloody confrontation taking place against the Marxist insurgents from neighbouring Aden. He was twice decorated by the Sultan and awarded the CBE at the end of this tour. He then returned to Warminster were assumed the appointment of Commandant of The School of Infantry and then GOC NW District and subsequently GOC NE Land Forces in Cyprus. He had an oustanding military career.
On retiring from the Army, General Purdon took up the post of Deputy Commissioner in The Royal Hong Kong Police 1978 - 1981. He was appointed Honorary Colonel of The London Irish Rifles, and later became President of their Regimental Association.
His recollections on the raid on St Nazaire are here:
Major General Corran Purdon seldom spoke about the two events that came to define his military career: the audacious commando raid on the Nazi-held French port of St Nazaire in 1942 and his subsequent year-long imprisonment at the infamous Colditz castle.
If pressed he would cite the bravery or endurance of someone who had shared the dangers or deprivation with him, while playing down the MC he was awarded for the former role.
Courtesy of The Times and if you wish to read more: