By Lord Ashcroft
Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC has had his latest “hero of the month” article published in Britain at War, the country’s best-selling military history monthly magazine.
The December issue of the magazine has four pages on the life and career of Major Colin Ogden-Smith, who lost his life while working with the French Resistance during the Second World War.
Ogden-Smith, the middle of three brothers who all served in the Armed Forces, was brought up in a prosperous area of East Croydon on the outskirts of London. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery before the outbreak of the war.
After some Special Forces operations, he volunteered for a clandestine group known as the Jedburghs, who were trained to parachute into Occupied France in the aftermath of the D-Day landings of June 6 1944.
In early July 1944, and then aged 33, Ogden-Smith parachuted into Brittany as part of a three-man team and they worked with the Maquis, or French Resistance, for the next three weeks.
However, on July 29 the Germans, tipped off by a collaborator, came to the farm where they were hiding and in a shoot-out Ogden-Smith was killed, along with a French Resistance fighter and the local farmer who was sheltering them.
Ogden-Smith was recommended for a gallantry award but in the end received only a Mention in Dispatches. However, he and the two Frenchmen are still remembered in a moving ceremony in Brittany that is held every other year, even eight decades on.
Lord Ashcroft’s articles for Britain at War over the past nine years have been largely based on excerpts from his seven books on gallantry: Victoria Cross Heroes, Special Forces Heroes, George Cross Heroes, Heroes of the Skies, Special Ops Heroes, Victoria Cross Heroes Volume II and Falklands War Heroes.
Lord Ashcroft is a military historian who has lectured extensively on courage and his various medal collections.