S.S.M., S.A.S. Phantom

Albert Edward Harrison. Squadron Serjeant Major, S.A.S. PHANTOM.  Born 20 May 1911. Recruited for the original Hopkinson Mission in early 1940 and had “numerous hazardous experiences” in France. Enlisted into the 5th Dragoon Guards. He had been on the reserve and employed in a motor-car factory in Birmingham when he was recalled to Colours in September 1939. Continued to serve in Phantom and served with distinction at Dieppe. Parachute course 108 at No.1 PTS Ringway March 1944. Report. “Keen and consistent NCO – a good all round performer”. Served in the UK and joined the SAS Brigade in Norway.

Imperturbable in all circumstances, he was alert, understanding and competent; he handled the men under him with sympathetic firmness and his officers with tact devoid of subservience. He would cope with the unpredictable, was a hard worker, but knew how to enjoy leisure and had in his personality that strong tinge of humour blended with a sense of the ridiculous, possessed by Jakie himself. Of medium build, he had strong, rather classically moulded features, with a broad, somewhat rounded face, which at work wore the enigmatic expression acquired by the professional soldier through years of iron control during the parade hours, but in conversation lit with a pleasing warmth. He had the strength of character and natural tolerance to stand up to the harder side of life without rancour, and though at that time politically left in outlook, he could appreciate opposite views; nor was he one to feel envy or disapproval of those more comfortably placed than himself. His finger was always on the pulse of the Squadron, and the open and unfettered relationship which existed among the Squadron’s officers extended to the Squadron Sergeant-Major; so that any cause for dissatisfaction which might have arisen undetected among the men could be discerned and put right before it developed.

John Hislop, 1965

Hopkinson Mission Identity Pass (Harrison Family Archives)

Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 with palm [TNA WO 373 series]
Capt. Julian P Fane MC Phantom Patrol at Dieppe [Harrison family Archives]
Leave Release Book [MOD Personnel Records]
Letter from CO 1 GHQ Liaison Regiment [Harrison Family Archive]