Lt-Col. Derek Mills-Roberts DSO

After completing his studies at Oxford University in 1929, during which he served with the Oxford University Cavalry Squadron, as a Troop-Sergeant to the younger Simon “Shimi” Lovat, he returned to Liverpool to work as a Solicitor in his father’s Liverpool-based practice.  In Lord Lovat’s book “March Past” he recalled how even then “the ‘Mills Bomb’ of those days was jet-propelled by consuming energy and a determination which belies the benevolent father-figure” and “he modelled his blistering language on the PSI’s and then embellished it”.

In 1936, with the threat of war growing and with the assistance of his old Commanding Officer in the Oxford University Cavalry Squadron, Major Beckwith-Smith (Coldstream Guards), he joined the Irish Guards Supplementary Reserve Officers. When war finally broke in September 1939, Derek Mills-Roberts immediately transferred into the Irish Guards and soon set-sail for Norway as part of the Expeditionary Force. However, having been laid low with Pneumonia he was not present with the other Irish Guards Officers when Stuka Dive Bombers of the German Luftwaffe found a target in the Troop Ship transporting the Irish Guards to their landings, killing most of the Officers on-board. Whether this turn of events contributed to Derek Mills-Roberts decision we shall never know, but in 1940 he volunteered for the new formed Commandos.

1942 saw Maj. Derek Mills-Roberts as 2-i/c of No.4 Commando in action on the ill-fated Dieppe Raid, serving under, the then, Lt-Col. ‘Shimi’ The Lord Lovat. Derek and Shimi had known each other since Oxford University and, following an initial fight on first meeting, had become great friends. Later that same year, with the loss through ill health of Lt-Col. MacAlpine as Commanding Officer of No.6 Commando in North Africa , Maj. Derek Mills-Roberts was offered the promotion of Lt-Col. as Commanding Officer of No.6 Commando. He left immediately for Algeria, via Gibraltar to join his unit in the field.

On 12th June 1944, following the serious wounding of Brig. "Shimi" The Lord Lovat, Lt-Col. Derek Mills-Roberts was given a field promotion to Brigadier and immediately took over as Commanding Officer of the 1st Special Services Brigade (aka 1st Commando Brigade), a position he held until late 1945.

Following the war Brig. Mills-Roberts returned to the legal profession and published his recollections of his time in the Commandos in the memorable book "Clash By Night".

Brig. Derek Mills-Roberts passed away in 1990.

The above picture was taken during a visit by General Demspey to the area of Le Plein (Normandy).  He is clearly still using a stick following from his leg injury received on 12th June 1944.