Joseph B.J. Houghton

Joseph B. J. Houghton P/No.130206

He was born in Bromborough on the Wirral, on 13th June 1911. His father was Captain Arthur B.J. Houghton, who served during WW1 with the 10th (Scottish) Battalion King’s, Liverpool Regtiment. T.F.. Living and working in Norway for some years prior to the Second World War, for African Manganese Co. of London. In 1939 he was mobilised with Honourable Artillery Company whom he had joined in 1935.

Following his commision as 2nd Lieutenant (General Service) on 29th April 1940 he volunteered for special service as an interpreter and was posted to No.4. Independent Company, one of Winston Churchill’s ten newly proposed ‘Guerrilla Companies’. No.4.Company was under the command of Major. John R. Paterson. (Liverpool Scottish) and was composes of three Territorial platoons, from the King’s Regt, South Lancashire Regtiment and the 1st and 2nd Liverpool Scottish Battalions , Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders. Joseph joined No.2. (South Lancashire) Platoon and was appointed Platoon Intelligence officer and a Section Leader.

Just one week later on 5th May 1940 he set sail from Gourock for Norway as part of ‘Scissorforce’, part of the invasion force sent to Norway, landing at Moesjoen. He then served alongside the rest of the company in Norway until forced to evacuate by the German advance. Evacuated from Bodo by the destroyer HMS ‘Havelock’ and then transferred while at sea to HMS. ‘Vindictive’ he arrived back in Stromness on the 1st of June, less than one month after embarking at Gourlock.

Joseph then served in Scotland and South of England ready to repel the expected German invasion. He transferred to B.Company, No.1.Special Service Battalion, commanded by Lt-Colonel W. Glenndinning, in October 1940 and served at Paignton before transferring to No.4.Troop, No.2 Commando, in Febuary 1941. He served at Weymouth, Perth & Ayr. Promoted to Lieutenant (War Strength) on 29th October 1941. On the 15th November 1941 he transferred his commission to his father’s old unit, The Liverpool Scottish, QOCH. retaining his seniority.

He took part in Operation 'Archery', the raid on the Norwegian port of Vaagso in December 1941 and volunteered for Operation 'Chariot', the raid on St.Nazaire on 26th April 1942. He was on board M.L.307 in command of a Protection party. But the M.L. had to withdraw from the attack without landing its commandos. During the raid Joseph was wounded and returned to the U.K.

Promoted to Temporary/Captain on 25th July 1942 he volunteered for Operation 'Musketoon', the raid on the Glomfjord Hydro-electic plant in Norway. As Second in command of the party under Captain G.D.Black. MC. They left the Clyde on 11th September 1942 by submarine, and successfully completed the mission of blowing up their target. However while escaping towards Sweden the group was captured and Joseph was wounded. He was taken to Germany and was at Colditz for some time, before being transferred to Sachenhausen Concentration Camp, outside Berlin. Where, with the 6 other members of the raiding party, he was executed by the German Security Service, part of the SS, the S.D. on 23rd October 1942 aged 31.

He was one of the first to fall victim to Adolf Hitler’s infamous ‘Commando Order’ issued on 18 October 1942, which called for the execution of all commandos after capture. The Germans released a false report in 1943 citing that he and fellow prisoners had escaped and had not been re-captured, his family were unaware of his death until 1945. He was posthumously awarded to MC on 15 November 1945.

He is commemorated on the Brookwood Memorial in Surrey.