I was recently talking to a colleague, a retired British Army Major who now leads battlefield tours in Europe and who had been investigating the records of Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, in what was East Germany. He had come across a reference to an Royal Naval Patrol Service member, apparently a commando, who had been executed there in 1945 and who is mentioned on the Addenda Panel of our Memorial in Belle Vue Park, Lowestoft. Knowing my interest in RNPS matters he mentioned the details to me.
I had not heard anything about him and I checked with those at ‘the Nest’ (Sparrows Nest Gardens, Lowestoft where the RNPS Museum is situated) and they hadn’t either so I have been trying to follow it up. The name on the Addenda Panel is Petty Officer H. Hiscock and the details of the Commonwealth War Graves record of him as ‘of Newfoundland’, his service no: LT/JX 217862, his date of death: as 02/02/1945 and that he was attached to HMS Quebec.
Isn’t Google wonderful! Cutting a long story short(er) it appears from a WWW search that PO. Hiscock was a member of a seven strong team trained at the Combined Forces Training Centre at Inverary (HMS Quebec), operating as part of No. 14 (Arctic) Commando who were sent to Norway in Operation Checkmate to attack Axis shipping by attaching limpet mines to them. In mid April 1943 the team, a fishing coble and two canoes were dropped by an MTB on a small island north of Stavanger from where they operated, attacking and sinking a number of ships at Haugesund.
Subsequent details are somewhat sketchy but it appears that the whole team was captured by the German Army over a period of several days in mid May, with the aid of the police and Norwegian civilians. The team were operating in uniform and should have been regarded as prisoners of war but for Hitler’s notorious ‘Commando Order’ of October 1942 ordering the execution of any commandos. They were handed over to the Security Service (SD) and after spending some time in Grini Concentration Camp in Norway they were transferred to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp just outside Berlin. There they underwent forced labour, marching 30 miles per day over cobbles breaking in army boots for a number of months.
Except for two the almost exclusively naval team were executed at Sachsenhausen on 2nd February 1945. The team comprised Lieutenant John Godwin, RNVR (in command), Sgt. Victor John Cox (on attachment from No. 12 Commando), Petty Officers Alfred John Roe and Harold Hiscock, and three Able Seamen, Neville Arthur Burgess, Keith Mayor and Andrew Anthony West. Two of the team, PO. Alfred J. Roe and AB. Keith Mayor, were transferred to Belsen where PO. Roe was executed on 7th April 1945 and Mayor died there from typhus.
As is the sad way with these things the men who served together and mostly died together are commemorated separately on a number of different memorials for those with no known grave. Lt. Godwin is mentioned on the Portsmouth Memorial, Sgt. Cox at the Brookwood Memorial, PO. Roe at Portsmouth, PO. Hiscock at Lowestoft, AB. Burgess at Chatham and ABs. Mayor and West at Plymouth.
So much time has passed that it may be too late but PO. Hiscock was a Newfoundlander and it would be great to hear of any recollections of him from any surviving RNPS members, other wartime colleagues or from any of his family in Canada or elsewhere.