The exceptional Second World War Special Operations Executive British Military Mission to Yugoslavia 1942 to 1943 British Empire Medal group awarded to Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant R.W.F. Emly, Royal Signals, a Wireless Operator and Cipherer, who was parachuted behind enemy lines with the forces working with guerrilla forces, organising parachute drops, and dodging German forces.

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Description:

The exceptional Second World War Special Operations Executive British Military Mission to Yugoslavia 1942 to 1943 British Empire Medal group awarded to Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant R.W.F. Emly, Royal Signals, a Wireless Operator and Cipherer, who was parachuted behind enemy lines with the forces working with guerrilla forces, organising parachute drops, and dodging German forces.   

Group of 7: British Empire Medal, GVI 1st type cypher, Military Division; (NO.2332894 SIGMN. RICHARD W.F. EMLY); 1939-1945 Star; Africa Star; Italy Star; Defence Medal; War Medal; Efficiency Medal, EIIR Dei.Grat. bust, Territorial suspension, with two Additional Award Bars; (2332894 S.Q.M.S. R.W.F. EMLY. B.E.M. R.SIGS.), mounted court style as worn.

Condition: Good Very Fine.

Together with Buckingham Palace Forwarding Letter for the British Empire Medal, this issued to Signalman Richard W.F. Emly, BEM RCS, 21st August 1946; and the unreturned Acknowledgement Form which was supposed to have been sent to the Central Chancery on receipt of his decoration.

Richard Walter Francis Emly was born on 22nd May 1918, in Greenwich, London, and having worked as a telephone engineer, with the outbreak of the Second World War, he then attested for service with the British Army on 17th January 1940, joining as a Signalman (No.2332894) the Royal Signals.

Posted to the 44th Division Signals, he then embarked for service in the Middle East on 25th June 1940, and joined the 46th Divisional Signals out there, but was then posted to Egypt Command Base Depot Signals Unit from 25th November 1940, and remained so employed through to 24th June 1941, when he was posted for special duties.

Emly then found himself seconded to Special Operations Executive as a Wireless Operator, and as part of Operation Collaborate, was parachuted into Yugoslavia together with two other Wireless Operators, Captain Lofts and Sergeant Hainsworth, and a Yugoslav guide, on the night of 26th September 1942, though Hainsworth broke his leg during the descent, he was not evacuated, and they all came under the command of the small British Military Mission to Yugoslavia, which operated there behind enemy lines for the remainder of the war, and Emly arrived at a time when the British were choosing to back one of two partisan leaders, Gereral Mihailovic or Tito. The latter would eventually take the precedence.

In Colonel S.W. Bailey’s ‘Tour of Duty in Yugoslavia’ notes written in April 1944 on his return to London, he details the situation as it was on the ground in Yugoslavia, and the toing and froing which took place over the British involvement with the two men, and it is in these notes that Emly’s name crops up.

Known by his fellow operatives as “Tubby” Emly, Bailey recounts first bumping into him when he arrived as British Headquarters located in the village of Lipovo, which was located in the same valley as Mihailovic’s HQ. Bailey was in fact greeted by a Major Hudson, Captain Robertson and Emly, who was then described as a Sergeant.

On 15th June 1943 Emly is noted as having left the Headquarters and moved to Ravna Gora to arrange reception of aircraft there, working together with Major Greenlees, Major Hudson and Captain Maynard, and there they remained till attacked by the Germans on 14th July 1943. Colonel Bailey visited this party in Ravna Gora on 9th July, where Greenlees’ party was still awaiting the arrival of the aircraft, but then on the 14th July the British Military Mission learnt of very strong German forces of over a Division in strength massing to deal with the Mission and Mihailovic’s forces, and it was on this day that Greenlees and Emly with the others were attacked by German forces in the morning, having received an aircraft two nights previously, and in the attack they lost all of their equipment, but did not sustain any casualties. Considerable fighting took place over the next couple of days, with the German and Bulgarian troops trying to track the men down. This was the last mention of Emly in Bailey’s account. In December 1943 is was decided to cease supplying Mihailovic.

As a result with the increasing issue between the various partisan and resistance factions, and with the British Military Mission having been taken over by Brigadier Armstrong, it was decided that those forces working with Mihailovic were to be evacuated, and then further assistance rendered to the Cetniks, and with the remainder of the men including Emly having arrived at Salovic, some men including Armstrong, Major Greenlees, Major Greenwood and Company Quartermaster Sergeant Emly as he was now ranked, volunteered to remain behind, the Brigadier being in fact forcibly withheld from evacuating, but the next night he was allowed to evacuated by aircraft together with the remainder of the party, this was now 31st May 1944.

It was for his work in Yugoslavia that Emly, then still on operations, was awarded the British Empire Medal together with his fellow wireless operator, Sergeant Hainsworth, in the London Gazette for 14th October 1943.

The original recommendation reads as follows: ‘For the part six months this soldier has been in enemy occupied territory acting as a wireless operator and cipherer for guerrilla leaders. Throughout this time he has shown unswerving devotion to duty in most difficult circumstances and has carried out his work cheerfully and efficiently. His discipline has been exemplary while his energy, initiative and determination has been an encouragement to all who have come in contact with him.’ His recommendation was originally made by Brigadier G. Armstrong, the Head of the British Military Mission to Yugoslavia on 9th April 1943, and an additional note is written below the recommendation that ‘it is requested that should the award be made, it should not be published for security reasons.

Emly was posted home on 23rd February 1945, and with the end of the war, was transferred into the Territorial Army Reserve on 8th July 1946, being fully discharged on 13th May 1947. Having gone to live in Kirkstall, Leeds, and to work as a telephone engineer, Emly then re-enlisted into the Territorial Army at Leeds on 14th May 1947, joining as a Signalman (No.2332894) the Royal Signals. Re-granted the rank of Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant, he was posted to the 15th Anti Aircraft (Medium) Signals Regiment, and remained with this unit through to April 1955 when he was posted to 1st Squadron of Northern Command Signal Regiment. Awarded the Efficiency Medal with an additional award clasp in December 1959, he eventually left the Territorial Army on 13th May 1966.

Emly who married Kathleen Long back on 2nd May 1940, adopted two children with her during 1946, and one of these, Richard Charles Emly, later joined the Royal Navy as a Sub Lieutenant, and was killed in action during the Falklands War in 1982 when aboard H.M.S Sheffield. Emly died on 5th February 2007 in Leeds. Two copied wartime images exist amongst the research one showing Emly on operations in the Moraca region of northern Montenegro in 1942  wearing the badge of the local resistance forces, fully bearded, and together with Jackie Halford and Harry Hainsworth, the other shows him wearing british uniform and his SOE Parachute Wings together with Hainsworth, and was taken at the village of Lipovo near Crna Gora in northern Montenegro.


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