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Col. Philip Turner Van 
Straubenzee
1912 - 2005


Col. Philip Turner Van 
Straubenzee
, Daily Telegraph. (Filed: 29/10/2005) Colonel Philip van Straubenzee, who has died aged 93, led a West African battalion with distinction in the second Kaladan campaign in Burma and was awarded a DSO. In an operation which drove the last Japanese from Indian soil in mid- October 1944, van Straubenzee commanded 1st Sierra Leone Regiment (1SLR), part of 81 (West African ) Division Royal West African Frontier Force, in the capture of Frontier Hill in the North Arakan. The Africans had to cut their way through dense bamboo jungle with machetes and scale narrow, slippery tracks which, in some places, were almost vertical. The night of October 18 resonated with rifle, machine-gun and mortar fire as the Japanese put up fierce resistance from bunkers dug into a series of outlying positions. In the morning the RAF launched a powerful air strike and the survivors withdrew. Towards the end of November, van Straubenzee was under great pressure from his brigade and divisional commanders to clear the tenacious 55th Divisional Cavalry Regiment from the hills around Paletwa. On one feature overlooking an airstrip, the Japanese held on stubbornly to a position which could only be approached along a knife edge ridge. With the lives of his men at stake, van Straubenzee refused to be hurried and exchanged strong words with higher authority. Two heavy air strikes were called in and a gallant platoon charge put the defenders to flight. Van Straubenzee's DSO citation pays tribute to his offensive spirit and states that it was largely due to his example and drive that 1SLR succeeded in every action in which it fought. He and his brother, Henry, were invested with DSOs by King George VI at Buckingham Palace on the same day. Philip Turner van Straubenzee descended from a north Yorkshire military family of Dutch extraction and was born in Johannesburg on March 2 1912. He was only two when his father, a civil engineer, died of enteric fever. Young Philip went first to Aysgarth, where he excelled at cricket - on two occasions he and his brother took all 10 wickets in a 1st XI match. He went on to Sherborne before going to RMC Sandhurst in 1929. Van Straubenzeee was commissioned into the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, but after the regiment moved to Colchester he became bored with soldiering in England and applied for secondment to the Royal West African Frontier Force. He was posted to the Gold Coast Regiment (GCR) at Accra. In 1939, on mobilisation for the Second World War, he was promoted adjutant of 3 GCR and had the task of recruiting 1,000 Africans and training them for active service. He was then sent to Wajir, in the Northern Frontier District of Kenya, to join his battalion, part of the Gold Coast Brigade. To relieve the tedium, he made a flight in a small aircraft to reconnoitre the Italian positions. The pilot, determined to give his passenger some excitement, instructed him to man the Bren gun and then performed a series of aerobatics. When the enemy opened up with ack-ack, van Straubenzee was too busy being sick to take any notice. His first real taste of action came when the Gold Coast Brigade captured the Italian fort at El Wak. The raid involved an eight-hour advance in darkness by some 200 vehicles across a waterless desert. Van Straubenzee relished this phase of the war, which culminated in a triumphant entry into Addis Ababa. For his part in the campaign, he was mentioned in dispatches. After a spell as DAA & QMG with Brigade HQ at Accra, van Straubenzee returned to England to attend Staff College, Camberley. In autumn 1941 he was posted to Delhi as deputy assistant adjutant general (DAAG) in the newly-formed South-East Asia Command. He had no idea why he was there, and was given the job of constructing a tennis court. One day, Orde Wingate arrived on his way to the Burma front. Van Straubenzee wrote afterwards that he found him rude and uncouth. After six months at Kandy, Lord Louis Mountbatten's HQ in Ceylon, in September 1944 he was posted to Burma as second-in-command to 1SLR. He endured the monsoon, voracious leeches and five days canoeing on the Sangu River in spate before joining his battalion at Lalaroa, near the Indo-Burmese border. Van Straubenzee took command of his battalion in October, but amidst the battles, patrols and ambushes, he still found time for cricket. A match was played on an airstrip at Tinma to the accompaniment of mortars ranging around the players, the sound of small arms fire and Moths taking off a few feet above their heads in a cloud of dust. In December a party of Japanese some 30-strong raided his Tactical HQ. Lance-Corporal Bobo Jumbo saved van Straubenzee's life by shooting and killing their officer as he entered the command post and then presented the man's sword to his CO. Twenty years later, van Straubenzee returned the compliment when the sword was presented to Bobo Jumbo on his behalf by the prime minister of Sierra Leone. Van Straubenzee developed a great affection for the African soldier and respect for his fighting abilities. At the end of January 1945, after more than a year of long-range penetration operations, the battalion prepared to move back to India and arrived at Madras early in March. Van Straubenzee's disappointment at being relieved of his command and posted to GHQ India at New Delhi was somewhat assuaged by being given quarters in a lodge in the grounds of Viceroy's House. In 1947 he came back to England and his home in Yorkshire, which had been looked after by his mother and his aunt during the war, and which had been in the family for many generations. He worked in the Prisoner of War Directorate at the War Office before moving to the Small Arms School, Netheravon, as chief instructor. After a spell running a mortar course at the School of Infantry, Warminster, in 1950 he returned to the War Office as DAAG in the Family Passages Branch. His final appointment was training major to the 4th Battalion, the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (TA). In 1953 van Straubenzee retired from the Army and took over the family estate. A venture into market gardening foundered and a herd of Jersey cows made little money, but a caravan park proved more successful. Two years later he took command of the 4th Battalion, Green Howards (TA). On one occasion, he organised a night river-crossing exercise with assault boats, Verey lights and rockets. This caused pandemonium among the racehorses at nearby Middleham, and one of the trainers arrived at three o'clock in the morning to vent his rage. Van Straubenzee subsequently became deputy brigade commander of 151 Infantry Brigade (TA). He relinquished all his TA commitments in 1964. For the next 20 years, sport played a large part in his life. A quarry pool provided good trout fishing and for many years he rented a grouse moor in the Marske area and a pheasant shoot near the family home. He built a villa near Funchal on Madeira, and many happy winter holidays were spent there. Van Straubenzee was appointed a JP in 1955 and a deputy lieutenant for the North Riding of Yorkshire in 1959. He became chairman of the Richmond Division of the Conservative Party in 1965 and served as a councillor for 15 years on the North Yorkshire County Council. For seven years he was chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Committee. The premature death of his wife, Imogen, in 1980 left him ill- equipped to lead a semi-solitary life in a large house; but loneliness was mitigated by the loyal support of his family and friends. Philip van Straubenzee died on October 20. He married, in 1954, Imogen Clutterbuck, the daughter of Major-General Walter Clutterbuck, of-Hornby Castle, Bedale. He is survived by their two daughters. ----------------------- Colonel P T van Straubenzee DSO DL Excerptsfrom The Daily Telegraph on the 29th October 2005, with kind permission of the Obituaries Editor. Colonel Philip van Straubenzee, who has died aged 93, led a West African battalion with distinction in the second Kaladan campaign in Burma and was awarded a DSO. In an operation which drove the last Japanese from Indian soil in mid-October 1944, van Straubenzee commanded 1st Sierra Leone Regiment (1SLR), part of 81 (West African) Division Royal West African Force, in the capture of Frontier Hill in the North Arakan. The Africans had to cut their way through dense bamboo jungle with machetes and scale narrow, slippery tracks which, in some places, were almost vertical. The night of 18th October resonated with rifle, machine-gun and mortar fire as the Japanese put up fierce resistance from bunkers dug into a series of outlying positions. In the morning the RAF launched a powerful air strike and the survivors withdrew. Towards the end of November, van Straubenzee was under great pressure from his brigade and divisional commanders to clear the tenacious 55th Divisional Cavalry Regiment from the hills around Paletwa. On one feature overlooking an airstrip, the Japanese held on stubbornly to a position which could only be approached along a knife edge ridge. With the lives of his men at stake, van Straubenzee refused to be hurried and exchanged strong words with higher authority. Two heavy air strikes were called in a gallant platoon charge put the defenders to flight. Van Straubenzee's DSO citation pays tribute to his offensive spirit and states that it was largely due to his example and drive that 1SLR succeeded in every action in which it fought. He and his brother. Henry, were invested with DSOs by King George VI at Buckingham Palace on the same day. Philip Turner van Straubenzee descended from a north Yorkshire military family of Dutch extraction and was born in Johannesburg on 2nd March 1912. He was only two years old when his father, a civil engineer, died of enteric fever. Young Philip went first to Aysgarth, where he excelled at cricket - on two occasions he and his brother took all ten wickets in a 1st XI match. He went on to Sherborne before going to RMA Sandhurst in 1929. He was commissioned into the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, but after the regiment moved to Colchester he became bored with soldiering in England and applied for secondment to the Royal West African Frontier Force. In 1953 van Straubenzee retired from the Army and took over the family estate. A venture into market gardening foundered and a herd of Jersey cows made little money, but a caravan park proved more successful. Two years later he took command of the 4th Battalion, Green Howards (TA). On one occasion, he organised a night river-crossing exercise with assault boats, Verey lights and rockets. This caused pandemonium among the racehorses at nearby Middleham and one of the trainers arrived at three o'clock in the morning to vent his rage. Van Straubenzee subsequently became deputy brigade commander of 151 Infantry Brigade (TA). He relinquished all his TA commitments in 1964. Van Straubenzee was appointed a JP in 1955 and a deputy lieutenant for the North Riding of Yorkshire in 1959. He became chairman of the Richmond Division of the Conservative Party in 1965 and served as a councillor for 15 years on the North Yorkshire County Council. For seven years he was chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Committee. The premature death of his wife, Imogen, in 1980, left him ill-equipped to lead a semi-solitary life in a large house; but loneliness was mitigated by the loyal support of his family and friends. Philip van Straubenzee died on 20th October. He married, in 1954, Imogen Clutterbuck, the daughter of Major General Walter Clutterbuck of Hornby Castle, Bedale. He is survived by their two daughters. The funeral was held on 1st November at St Mary's Church, Spennithorne. FM The Rt Hon Lord Inge, Colonel Rex Belas, Lieutenant Colonel Neil Mclntosh and Major Roger Chapman represented the Regiment. ______________________________

Born: Johannesburg, , , South Africa 12th Mar 1912 Baptised:
Died: 20th Oct 2005Buried:
Family:
Straubenzee

Ancestors
[ Patrilineage | Matrilineage | Earliest Ancestors | Force | Force2 | Set Relationship | Relationship | Options ]

1.
Col. Philip Turner Van 
Straubenzee
(
Clutterbuck
) 1912 - 2005
2.
 

Siblings


1.
M/? Van 
Straubenzee
* 1914

Spouses



1. 1954
Imogen 
Clutterbuck
(
Straubenzee
) + 1980

Descendants
[ Options ]

a.
Imogen 
Clutterbuck
(
Straubenzee
) + 1980
1.
hidden
2.
hidden
Sources

Timeline


12th Mar 1912Born Johannesburg, South Africa
1954Married
Imogen 
Clutterbuck
(
Straubenzee
) + 1980
20th Oct 2005Died
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