Press Release Photograph and Newspaper Cuttings, Popski's Private Army
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About this item
The first of a collection of original paperwork and photographs relating to Lieutenant-Colonel Vladimir Peniakoff DSO MC better known as Popski of Popski’s Private Army, officially, No. 1 Demolition Squadron. This listing comprises, an original 250mm x 205mm post war Press Release Photograph of Popski sitting at his desk in London and a number of period newspaper cuttings showing his engagement and marriage to Pamela Firth and his death from a brain tumour in May 1951, all in very good condition. Also included is a card showing PPA’s cap badge showing the Astrolabe symbol.
When the Second World War broke out, the 42-year-old Peniakoff applied to serve in the Royal Air Force, and the Royal Navy, but was rejected. He was accepted by the British Army and assigned to garrison duties as an Arabic-speaking junior officer in the Libyan Arab Force (LAF). Not satisfied, Popski left his post and formed the Libyan Arab Force Commando (LAFC), a small group of British and Libyan soldiers who operated behind the lines in the Jebel Akhdar area of Cyrenaica.
On his return to Cairo in the middle of 1942, Peniakoff was invited to join a Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) raid in the area he had just left. In doing so, he learned much about German and Italian procedures, but also lost his left little finger to an Italian bullet. He was awarded the Military Cross (MC) for his previous intelligence reporting and petrol dump raiding while leading the LAFC for three months behind enemy lines, and for the operation with the LRDG. While he was away, the LAFC was disbanded. He was given the nickname Popski, from a Daily Mirror cartoon character by Captain Bill Kennedy Shaw (the LRDG's Intelligence Officer) because his signallers had problems with the name "Peniakoff". In fact, Popski was born of Russian Jewish parents who had emigrated to Belgium, although he was educated in Britain.
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