Jaffa Force - 3rd Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by Doeko Bosscher, Sep 8, 2020.

  1. In May 1945 the 3rd Medium Regiment Royal Artillery liberated the island of Terschelling (Holland). Their small fleet of landing craft + men was called 'Jaffa Force'. I suppose this was a code name. Would anyone know what 'Jaffa' stands for?
  2. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    Hi Doeko, Firstly, welcome to the forum,

    Secondly, and without a reference to back this up, I wonder if it is typical British humour. Jaffa being a type of orange - and Holland having the obvious connection with the colour orange.

    dbf likes this.
  3. Thanks!
    Could be (I love John Cleese) but...it was not a humorous era. Look at these files. It says 'is to be called 'Jaffa Force'. WHY, I wonder...

    Attached Files:

    PackRat likes this.
  4. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Most probably for no reason. It was normal practice for operations to be allocated names at random. These were drawn from a book of names that were in purely random order. A new operation just took the next unused name. This ensured that the enemy could not determine any useful information from the name alone as there was no connection between the choice of name and the purpose of the operation.
  5. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    From what I've seen, the naming of Forces could be a little more whimsical than Operations.

    Often ad-hoc/temporary, their titles could be derived from (part of) the commanding Officer's surname.

    (As for WW2 not being a humorous era... grim times call for humour, plenty of examples on the forum. :) )

    Who knows it might even have been his nickname!
    Screenshot 2020-09-08 at 11.31.33.png

    This publication might hold a clue or the answer. If you don't have a copy, perhaps someone on the forum does. (Have edited the title slightly to attract attention of Artillery buffs.)

    • The History of 3rd Medium Regiment Royal Artillery, 1939-1945
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2020
  6. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    Could be a nickname "Jaffa" Johnston? Possibly given command in honour of his recent award of the MC gazetted 19 April 1945 for his service in Italy in 1944 with 3rd Medium Regiment.

    The citation reads

    "During the period under review he has acted as Troop Commander and has performed outstandingly good work in observing fire. On many occasions he has shown great coolness and complete disregard of his personal safety, although often under heavy artillery or mortar fire. Many of his targets have proved of extreme value to the operations in progress. On 15 June 1944 at Mersa Mertana during the advance from Rome up the Tiber Valley Captain Johnston’s troop was working with the advance guard of 19 Infantry Brigade. The forward elements of the Brigade were shelled by enemy SP guns and unable to advance. He brought his troop of guns into action with great promptitude and continued to observe, although his OP was under heavy enemy fire. Through his coolness the enemy guns were silenced and the advance was able to continue. Again, on 19 June 1944, at Ripa, when still in support of 8 Indian Division, Captain Johnston was in an OP An enemy counter attack developed. This was broken up and heavy casualties inflicted on the enemy by accurate observed fire from the Regiment, brought down by Captain Johnston.”
    PackRat likes this.
  7. Captain Johnson despatched another Officer to the tiny neighboring island of Vlieland: lieutenant (?) Frederic Squire, to accept the German surrender there and inspect the German weaponry. Would anyone know if Frederic Squire, who must have passed away since (I presume) left behind any personal papers with possibly a report about this Vlieland episode?

  8. Liz Harrison

    Liz Harrison Member

    I have a copy of the above book and it says "This force was called Jaffa Force, a name which remained a complete mystery to all who were not acquainted with the personal history of its Commander, Capt. J.D. Johnston."
    Dirk Bruin likes this.
  9. Dear Liz,

    I'ld love to read what is in there about Vlieland and Terschelling. I did what I could to get hold of a copy but failed. Does the book provide a clue about 'the personal history of Johnston' prior to his command of this task force? During the campaign, all the way from Italy to the northern part of Holland, he must have done something, endured something, or experienced something, that made his buddies/friends/comrades associate him with the word 'Jaffa'.
    My kingdom for a clue.
  10. Liz Harrison

    Liz Harrison Member

    Hi Doeko,
    There are 7 pages in the book in a section entitled Jaffa Force in the Friesian Islands which I will scan and post. I will also have a look if there is anything about Johnston's personal history. It is a fascinating book, definitely a product of it's time! I have a copy as Dad was in 2/11 battery 3rd Medium Regiment in World War Two.
  11. Liz Harrison

    Liz Harrison Member

    As promised.

    Attached Files:

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    davidbfpo likes this.
  12. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member


    A lot of 'Forces' were named after the person commanding (Eg Blockforce - Brig Block, Butterforce - Lt-Col Butterworth, Patforce - Major Paterson).

    Officers also had some very dark and cryptic nicknames so it may be that James David Johnston was known as 'Jaffa'.

  13. Dear Liz, You are absolutely fantastic. THANKS SO MUCH. I am Dutch, my father (Doeko Bosscher senior) was in the resistance, crossed the Channel in secrecy (in a canoe) in the fall of 1944, was given a Canadian uniform after his arrival in GB, was debriefed by MI6 and served as a liaison officer for Brigadier Suttie (2nd Canadian Army) for the remainder of the war. He received an MBE for his services. Together with Suttie he went to the islands in May 1945 to 'liberate' them and accept the surrender of German forces deployed there. He met Johnston a couple of times. With a Leyden colleague I am currently writing a book in which the Jaffa Force plays an (admittedly small) part (attach). But for me as a person every shred of info is of vital importance. I am absolutely delighted by your help.

    Attached Files:

  14. Liz Harrison

    Liz Harrison Member

    Doeko, very pleased to be able to help. What an interesting part of your family history. After his experiences in the war Dad always spoke very highly of the Dutch and the way they were treated by them. in his diary he records how when they arrived at Wieringen on 8.5.45 the people gave them coffee, even though they themselves were starving. Your book sounds fascinating, so let me know if it is also to be published in English. Good luck with your research.
  15. Liz, perhaps you are interested in the holdings of the National Archives in Kew, where they have the 'War diary' of your father's Regiment (attach). It includes a map of Wieringen, on which the Regiment's staff marked the locations of their camps (attach). Wieringen is one of the islands in our book - today it is no longer an island, as you probably know. If you ever head this way I'll be glad to show you around.
    If in your book you come across anything about the relationship between the military career of Capt. Johnston and the Jaffa orange, please let me know.

    Attached Files:

  16. Liz Harrison

    Liz Harrison Member

    Thanks for the links to the National Archives, I am eagerly awaiting their re-opening. Unfortunately having been through the book there is no mention of any link between Capt. Johnston and the Jaffa orange.
  17. Hello Liz, I picked up a copy finally.
    My grandad is clearly listed in the index (and his best friend as well) but I don't know his battery at this time.

    For people interested that have family in 3 Medium RA this book is excellent as its contains names for mundane things like sports teams etc; and military actions.
    4jonboy and dbf like this.
  18. I can post the complete 3 Med Regiment list of men and officers if there is interest.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2021
    dbf likes this.

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