Major Anders Frederik Emil Victor Schau Lassen
Anders Lassen was born on 22 September 1920 in Copenhagen. Following Germany’s invasion of Denmark in 1940 he came to Britain.
He joined the Commandos and was quickly commissioned and awarded a Military Cross. Anders served in North-West Europe, North Africa, Crete, the Aegean islands, mainland Greece, Yugoslavia and Italy. His unit was absorbed into the Special Air Service in February 1944 and by October Lassen had been promoted to Major and awarded two bars to the Military Cross.
The citation for his Victoria Cross describes his night of 8-9 April 1945:
“…Major Lassen was ordered to take out a patrol of one officer and seventeen other ranks to raid the north shore of Lake Comacchio. His tasks were to cause as many casualties and as much confusion as possible, to give the impression of a major landing, and to capture prisoners.
…the party found itself on a narrow road flanked on both sides by water. Preceded by two scouts, Major Lassen led his men along the road towards the town. They were challenged from a position on the side of the road. An attempt to allay suspicion failed – machinegun fire started from the sentry position and from two other blockhouses to the rear.
Major Lassen then attacked with grenades and annihilated the first position. Ignoring the hail of bullets sweeping the road, he raced forward to engage the second position. Throwing more grenades, he silenced this. Still under a heavy cone of fire Major Lassen rallied his force and brought his fire to bear on the third position. Moving forward he flung more grenades, which produced a cry of "Kamerad ". He then went forward to take their surrender. Whilst shouting to them to come out he was hit by a burst of Spandau fire and fell mortally wounded, but even whilst falling he flung a grenade, enabling his patrol to dash in and capture this final position.
Major Lassen refused to be evacuated. By his magnificent leadership and complete disregard for his personal safety, he had, in the face of overwhelming superiority, achieved his objects.”
Major Lassen was eventually buried in Argenta Gap War Cemetery. His headstone has the Victoria Cross carved upon it, above the words chosen by his family, taken from a Danish hymn
Serjeant John Edward Lacey PASCALL
Major Donald Bennett of the Buffs wrote to John’s father on 7 May 1945. He had known John for about three years, ‘and during that time I have never once known him fail to carry out cheerfully and well any duties that were asked of him… his tragic death has been a great blow to us all. The company was called upon to do an amphibious operation on Lake Comacchio but as we were about to land the “Buffaloe” in which Sgt Pascall was travelling was hit by an anti-tank shell. Only one man was lost, but as the remainder jumped out into about three feet of water, machine-guns opened up and Sgt Pascall was killed instantly. … I cannot stress how much he is missed by his comrades…’
John was 30. His father asked that the headstone for his only child read, ‘In loving memory of a dear son.’
Lance Corporal Manuel Soloman Dorfan
Manuel was born on 31 August 1919, in Kinross, Mpumalanga. ‘Mannie’ was the youngest of three brothers and had one sister. He enlisted in 1940.
Mannie was killed during the attack on Monte Caprara. His unit were hit by German artillery and mortars as they moved up to attack. Progress slowed but in a final effort the South Africans charged up the steep slope with bayonets fixed, reaching the summit at 6.15 am, securing the position at 8.15 am on 16 April. The assault cost 24 killed and 144 wounded while the Germans numbered 20 killed, 3 wounded and 39 prisoners. Mannie and his dead comrades are in Castiglione South African War Cemetery. His family requested the Star of David for his headstone but no personal inscription. Mannie was 25.
Corporal William George Warren
William was born on 14 April 1920 in Okoroire, South Waikato, New Zealand. He left New Zealand for overseas service in 1943.
Corporal Warren was killed in an unexpected action at Cazzano on the Idice River. With the Germans on the run, Allied armoured units were moving quickly across the plains. The history of 18 Armoured Regiment says his unit was moving with relative ease when 'a sudden fight flared up at Cazzano. Here Jerry had planted a little rearguard - as it turned out later, one Tiger tank, one Panther and one self-propelled gun - to hold us up for the precious few hours that would let his main force slip away. Nos. 7 and 8 Troops ran head-on into this ambush. Suddenly the joyride turned to tragedy. Within ten minutes Sergeant Jack Elkis and Corporals Warren and Walmsley were dead, six others wounded, and four Shermans knocked out, one of them in flames.'
Warren is buried in a joint grave (Joint grave VI. G. 8-9.) in Faenza War Cemetery with Corporal Ronald Henry Francis Walmsley. Faenza has the largest group of New Zealand dead for Operation Grapeshot in a single cemetery: 121.