Riccomini, James Arthur

Date of birth:
July 4th, 1917 (Maidstone/Kent, United Kingdom)
Date of death:
March 27th, 1945
Buried on:
Commonwealth War Cemetery Milan
Plot: V. Row: A. Grave: 4.
Service number:
137803
Nationality:
British (1801-present, Kingdom)

Biography

James Riccomini enlisted in the 5th Battalion Scots Guards and was commissoned into the Royal Army Service Corps and served with No. 5 Line of Communication Railhead Motor Transport Company on convoy duty and reconnaissance operations in Palestine and Iraq, and with 266 Company in North Africa
He was captured in June 1941. He was sent to Gavi PoW camp in north west Italy, a camp for persistant escapers.
See the MBE citation below for details about his escape.
Following this escape he joined the SAS to carry on assisting the partisan forces in Italy ad was dropped behind enemy lines by parachute -which was his first parachute jump ever- near Spezia in north west Italy as part of Operation Galia.
Here the citation for his MC picks up (see below).
Rccomini was killed on March 27, 1945, when he was part of a small force which attacked Villa Rossi, a German stronghold where a commander, general and 37 officers and men were stationed.

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Lieutenant
Unit:
266 Company, Royal Army Service Corps, British Army
Awarded on:
March 1st, 1945
Action:
Recommendation:
"Lieutenant James Arthur Riccomini (137803) 286 Coy R.A.S.C, Lieutenant Riccomini was captured at Halfaya Pass on the 16th June 1941 and was imprisoned in camp 5 (Gavi) at the time of the Italian Armistice. This camp was taken over by the Germans on the 9th September 1943 and the main body moved to Germany on 13th September 1943. With several other officers, Lieutenant Riccomini hid in the camp while the move took place, but was discovered three days later and moved by bus to Mantova. On the evening of the 18th September 1943, he and 16 other officers were locked in a cattle truck for transportation to Germany. Immediately the train started they began to cut a hole in the back of the truck, this was completed in about three hours and they drew lots as to who should jump first. Lieutenant Riccomini and another officer jumped from the moving train just north of Roverto at about 0430 Hrs on the 19th September 1943 and walked South-East making for Yugoslavia. A week later they joined a Partisan band led by an Italian ex-officer. Lieutenant Riccomini and his companion remained with this band until January 1944, helping to organise resistance, getting together dumps of ammunition and obtaining intelligence reports. The band was broken up by Germans and these officers then organised a route to Switzerland by which they themselves and several other Ex Prisoners of War in the area crossed the Swiss border on the 11th January 1944.
Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Lieutenant
Unit:
2nd SAS Regiment, Special Air Service (SAS), Army Air Corps, British Army
Awarded on:
March 1st, 1945
Awarded for:
Operation Tombola
Military Cross (MC)
Action:
Recommendation:
"This officer dropped behind enemy lines by parachute on 27th December 1944 as 2nd in command of an S.A.S troop. On the 11th January 1945 he was commanding a detachment which ambushed a German column on the Genoa-Spezia road near Bocca Del Pignone. One lorry was completely destroyed and a staff car was riddled with Machine Gun fire. 30 casualties in killed and wounded were inflicted on the Germans. The success of this operation was entirely due to this officers personal skill and courage. He directed the fire attack on the column in full view of the enemy, completely ignoring the fire returned by them. On 19th January 1945 he again ambushed two vehicles on the road Pontrmoli-Spezia as they were crossing a bridge. One truck was destroyed and a number of casualties were inflicted on the Germans. When 10,000 enemy troops were conducting a Rostrellimento against the SAS contingent on several occasions it was entirely this officers skill and personal courage which prevented the enemy from capturing or killing personnel under his command. Despite a badly poisoned foot, in arctic conditions of gales, sleet and snow, he made his way through deep snow drifts with his men, never failing to carry out any task allotted him. Throughout the operations lasting from 27th December 1944 to 20th February 1945 he was a personal source of inspiration and encouragement to his men. His conduct could not have been excelled in any way being far above the normal call of duty.

Sources