Alderson, John, son of John Henry Alderson (qv); b. 24 Dec. 1915; adm. Sept. 1928 (KS); left July 1933; member Lloyds underwriting firm; Seaforth Highlanders 1940-5 (Capt.); attached Special Service troops; MC (Normandy) Aug. 1944; m. 21 Sept. 1939 Diana Mary, d. of Rt Hon. Edward Leslie Burgin MP LLD, Minister of Supply; killed in action in Western Europe Apr. 1945.
John Alderson was born in India on the 24th of December 1915 the only son of John Henry Alderson OW, a schoolmaster, and Dorothy Mogg (nee Stockwell) Alderson of Bruton in Somerset. He was educated at Westminster School, where he was admitted as a King’s Scholar and was up College from September 1928 to July 1934. He placed second for the Ireland Prize for Greek Verse in 1934. He was a member of the Colts Cricket XI from 1929 to 1931, winning his Colts Cap in 1929. He was a member of the 1st Cricket XI in 1932, 1933 and 1934, where he opened the batting in the latter year and of the Football XI in 1932, 1933 and 1934 where he played at inside left. The Elizabethan wrote the following on his 1932/33 season: - “With Symons constituted the brains of the attack. These two made many fine openings and played cleverly with each other and the other wing half backs. Alderson is a beautiful dribbler and strong with both feet, and a most indefatigable worker. If he is here next year, as it is hoped he will be, he should become an extremely dangerous inside-forward.” He was appointed as a School Monitor in 1933 and served as Hon. Secretary of the Elizabethan in the same year. The Elizabethan wrote the following on his 1933 cricket season: - “An attractive batsman, hooks and cuts splendidly, but his defence needs improving. Apt to get careless when well set and consequently did not make any large scores. A very safe fieldsman who, despite the smallness of his hands, catches nearly everything that comes his way.” He was appointed to the Monitorial Council in September 1932 and was a member of the Officer Training Corps where he was promoted to Sergeant in September 1933.
On leaving school he worked for a firm of Lloyd’s insurance brokers.
He was married at St Botolph’s Without, Aldersgate, London on the 21st of September 1939 to Diana Mary (nee Burgin); they had two sons, one of which was born on the 18th of September 1940, Christopher J., born on the 10th of August 1942 and a daughter, Philippa J., born on the 12th of December 1944.
He attended the 164th Officer Cadet Training Unit at Barmouth from the 24th of September 1939 before being commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Seaforth Highlanders on the 14th of January 1940. He was promoted to Lieutenant on the 14th of July 1941 and was later attached to No. 3 Commando where he was appointed to the command of No.6 Troop. He was promoted to temporary Captain on the 13th of March 1944 and was appointed as Regimental Intelligence Officer on the 30th of March 1944.
At 9.05am on the 6th of June 1944, No. 6 Troop, No. 3 Commando landed on Sword beach in LCI 290, which was already sinking as it touched down. The Troop had suffered some casualties on the run in to the beach and suffered more when they moved across it under shell fire. By the evening they were inland at Ranville and by the evening of the 7th of June they were based at the chateau at Amfreville.
At 10.13am on the morning of the 8th of June, No.6 Troop reported that enemy infantry was advancing astride the Le Plein - Languemare Road and they engaged them at close range at 11am with support from artillery and fire from the destroyer HMS Hunter which was offshore. At 11.30am No. 6 Troop counterattacked and drove the Germans back half a mile, “destroying” an enemy company and capturing thirty six prisoners. During this engagement John Alderton was wounded in the knee.
For his actions that day he was awarded the Military Cross, which was announced in the London Gazette of the 31st of August 1944; the citation read: -
“On the morning of 8th June 1944, this Officer was holding a position astride the Le Plein - Languemare Road with one Officer and forty-seven men. The Troop was attacked by a company of German Infantry which established itself in front of the position. Captain Alderson attacked with great determination leading the assault with a T.S.M.G. He himself accounted for a number of the enemy and his men were so inspired by his leadership that they carried on after he was wounded and cleared the entire wood which remains in our hands. Besides approximately 15 enemy killed there were 36 prisoners. Owing to Captain Alderson's skill and courage our own losses were no more than one killed and nine wounded. This success was largely due to Captain Alderson's fine leadership.”
He re-joined his unit as a Troop Officer in billets at Smakt in Holland on the 18th of March 1945. At 3am on the morning of the 7th of April 1945, No. 3 Commando received orders to cross the River Weser in order to support No. 45 Commando as part of a flanking movement to the north of the town of Leese. They moved to Stolzenau at 3.30am and crossed the River Weser in Goatley boats at 4.30am. By 6am they were established in farm buildings where they were under occasional shell fire. Five other ranks were wounded in this area. At 7pm they received orders to join No. 1 Commando Brigade for a night march to Leese. Their objective was the capture of factory which was producing V-2 rockets and they were to be supported by a squadron of tanks for the task. At 8am they began moving towards the northern edge of the Leese and at 8.05am three tanks moved forward to assist them in clearing the town which they entered at 8.15am. At 8.30am the tanks engaged enemy positions in the factory and in woods to the north east of Leese. At 8.45am John Alderson was badly wounded by a sniper and was evacuated to the rear in a captured ambulance at 10am. He died from his wounds later in the day.
When the factory was captured, at around 4pm, a number of rockets were found and around one hundred scientists and support workers were captured.
He is commemorated on the war memorial at Harpenden and on the memorials at Bruton and at Lloyd’s of London.
He is buried at Rheinburg War Cemetery Plot 13 Row B Grave 1