Lieut Col. Colin Derek Cokayne
Frith OBE- died
30th April 2008 - 5th CO of 1 SCLI.)
Colin Frith was born in Plymouth on 18th July 1926.
He spent much of his early life in the care of his grandparents
at Uphill Manor, near Weston-super-mare, while his father
(accompanied by his mother) was serving with the Regiment
in India. He was sent to Marlborough and, on leaving
school, chose to follow a military career in the footsteps
of his father and grandfather. He carried out his Officer
Training in Bangalore, India, and was commissioned into
the Somerset Light Infantry. He joined the 1st Battalion
in Shargahr. On returning to England, Colin went on
a number of Young Officer Courses, he did well on them
all. In fact, he was reputed never to have been given
less than an ‘A’ grading!
In 1950 he was posted as an instructor at the School
of Infantry Small Arms Division at Hythe in Kent. He
was a sniper instructor.In January 1954, Colin was posted
overseas to Malaya where the Regiment was deployed on
counter-insurgency operations in the jungle. Initially,
he was the Signals Officer and then, later, the Adjutant.
He was mentioned in Despatches in 1955.In 1956, it was
back to Shrewsbury as GSO3 (Trg) with HQ 53 Infantry
Brigade, followed a year later by attendance at the
Staff College in Camberley. Following this staff training,
he was promoted to Temporary Major and appointed to
one of the top jobs for his rank – Brigade Major
with HQ 39 Infantry Brigade in Northern Ireland.
Colin was, undoubtedly, a very professional soldier,
but he was also a keen sportsman. He was competent wicket-keeper
and batsman and was a life-long member of the Somerset
Stragglers. He represented the Regiment in the Barrett
Match which was played every year on the County Cricket
Ground in Taunton. He was also a useful rugby player.
Whilst he was stationed in Kent, he played for Ashford
Rugby Football Club. He was also proficient in both
the squash and badminton courts, as well as being a
keen and competent equestrian.
In 1961, he was posted as a Company Commander to the
newly amalgamated Regiment – the 1st Battalion,
the Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry in Osnabruck,
Germany. After serving a few months in Plymouth, he
served with the battalion in both Gibraltar and took
his company to Tobruk, Libya for a few months. In May
1962, Colin was posted as a student to the Joint Service
Staff College at Latimer. This was followed by his appointment
to the important post of GSO2 in the Military Operations
Branch of the Ministry of Defence. After nearly two
years, he was posted to the Royal Military Academy at
Sandhurst where he was a College Chief Instructor.
In January 1967, he assumed command of the 1st Battalion,
the Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry. The Battalion
was the British infantry element of the Allied Mobile
Forces (Land) which had the particular responsibility
for guarding and operating on the flanks of NATO. The
Battalion was based in Gravesend, but spent much of
its time carrying out winter warfare training in Canada
and in Norway often north of the Artic Circle, either
in Company Groups or as a Battalion group. As CO at
this time, he became closely involved in the arrangements
for the amalgamation of the Light Infantry regiments
across the country to create new large regiment –
the Light Infantry in July 1968. The Battalion held
the Vesting Day Parade at Gravesend, when all the ranks
formally changed their cap badges and marched past the
inspecting officer, Field Marshal Lord Harding. Colin’s
father (Brigadier Sir Eric Frith) led the march-past
of the Regimental Association.
A month later, the Battalion moved to Ballykinler in
Northern Ireland where it was at the forefront of the
build-up to the Troubles which broke out the following
year, and which finally saw the Battalion deployed on
the streets of Belfast. It was a difficult time and
Colin led the Battalion with courage and skill.
He handed over command in December 1969 and was then
posted to the Ministry of Defence as GSO1 in the Operational
Requirements Branch. Although he was an extremely capable
staff officer, the MOD was not really the sort of military
employment that he wanted. He soldiered on for a couple
of years and, in spite of being made Officer of the
Order of the British Empire, the possibility of yet
another tour of duty in the MOD was not something he
wanted. He therefore decided that the time had come
to leave the Army. He retired in 1972, bringing to an
end a period of 97 continuous years in which a member
of the Frith family had served in the Regiment.
So, at the comparatively young age of 46, Colin left
the Army. He was almost immediately appointed to Bursar
of Magdalen College School, near Oxford. In typical
fashion, he threw himself into this new role and environment.
He played a full and active part in the school, refereeing
rugby matches, singing tenor in the choir and carrying
out numerous other activities. Maybe some of the staff
were a little surprised by his military briskness but
they were all soon to realise the tremendous loyalty
and devotion that Colin was bringing to the school.
A senior member of staff says, “In my mind’s
eye I still see Colin crossing the playground at a brisk
Light Infantry pace en route to Choral Society or Communion
Service or to inspect the latest building work. A wonderful
These qualities which delighted the senior staff at
Magdalen College School were those same qualities which
he had shown during his military career. Colin retired
as Bursar in 1986 after a period of 14 years. He now
involved himself even more in his home village of Sibford
in Oxfordshire where he and Tina had moved after he
left the army. He was involved with the Parish Church
Council, the Village Hall, the Bible Study Groups. He
mowed the grass in the Churchyard. He sand in the village
church choir. He became a licensed Server of Holy Communion
to house-bound residents in the village. His Christian
faith was, as it had always been, very strong. In addition,
Colin found time to do the Daily Telegraph crossword
virtually every day and to record audio books for the
blind. He loved listening to ‘Test Match Special’
on the radio.
In 2000, the family moved to Rewe Farm at Thorne St
Margaret, near Wellington, Somerset. He spent 8 very
happy years at Rewe Farm, closer to some of his family.
For some years, he had been suffering with increasing
mobility problems. Towards the end of 2007, he moved
to a Nursing Home in Wellington. He died on 30th April
2008. When the Uphill Castle Cricket Club at Weston
super-Mare, of which Colin had been president for many
years, played its matches on the weekend after his death,
all the players wore black armbands.
Colin was devoted to his family and we would like to
offer our sincere sympathy to Tina, to whom he had been
married for 56 years, and to his daughters Sue and Anne,
and to his son, Mark.
Lt.Col Ian Guy Mathews -
died 25th May 2006 - (4th CO of 1 SCLI.)
After a long period of failing health at the age of eighty
two. Born in Cologne on 19th March 1924, Guy was the son
of Lieut.Col. Stanley Mathews MC. (Sam) who was serving
with 2 DCLI in the British Army of Occupation of the Rhine.
Educated at Wellington College, it was always his ambition
to follow his father into the Regiment.He applied for
a commission in 1942 but was turned down for being to
young so enlisted as a private soldier in The Royal Scots,
he was drafted out to India and obtained his commission
with The 9th Gurkha Rifles. He saw action with Force 136
fighting the Japanese in Malaya. He transferred to the
British Army in 1947 and was commissioned in the DCLI,
going on to serve in Ceylon and West Indies with DCLI.
Osnabruck as OC C Coy 1 SCLI and then USA. He rejoined
the regiment of SCLI as second-in-command in Berlin and
took over Command on 1st March 1965, from John Howard.Tours
and exercises followed in Norway and Aden, it is to great
credit of the Battalion's high standard of leadership
that 1 SCLI acquitted itself with such honour.Guy retired
in 1967 to Herefordshire to run an antique business, he
was twice married - first to Daphne Byass who died in
2005 and latterly to Sarah Chetwynd Stapylton. Sarah survives
him as do the two daughters from each marriage.
Lt.Col. William Roland Lawson
MBE - died 7th. September 2003 aged 89yrs. 1st
CO 1 SCLI.
Educated at Repton and Cambridge commissioned in 1936
into the 2nd. Bn.Som LI in Colchester and on Public Duties
in London. From 1937 - 1944 he was with the 1st. Bn. in
India. He went with the Bn. to Burma as 2ic. and was acting
CO.on two occasions, one was a period of three months.
He attended Staff College in 1945 and between 1946 - 1948
he was Brigade Major to Brig.Cecil Firbank in 71st. Infantry
Brigade in Germany and then as GSO2 in 53rd. Infantry
Div. He returned to the 1st. Bn. as a Company Commander
at Borden before being posted to Singapore as MA to the
Chief of Staff HQ. FARELF in 1949. This was followed by
6 months as a student at the Joint Services College, Latimer
and a 2 year tour as an Instructor and Company Commander
at RMA Sandhurst from 1953 - 1955. a tour as a GSO1 in
Military Intelligence at the War Office followed and in
1958 he took over command of the 1st. Bn. Som LI. in Warminster
and on amalgamation with the 1st. Bn. DCLI in Osnabruck
he became the 1st. CO. of the SCLI.
Lt.Col. John Thurstan Collins
Howard MC. - died 28th. December 1998 aged 79yrs.
3rd. CO SCLI.
Born in Cornwall in 1919 and educated at Eton & Sandhurst.
He was commissioned into the DCLI. two months before the
outbreak of WW2.and posted to the 2nd.Bn. He was however
too young to join the Bn. and did not see active service
until 1941 when he joined the Bn.in North Africa. After
the battle for Tunis 2 DCLI received an order to send
9 Officers and 227 Ors. to 1 KSLI who were in 1st Br.Div.
and preparing for the assault on Italy. He won an immediate
Military Cross on the beach at Anzio. After fighting in
Italy with 1 KSLI, where he was 'mentioned in despatches'
he went to Staff College in Haifa and after a staff job
and a posting to the Nigerian Regt.he re-joined 2 DCLI
in Greece in 1945. In 1955 he was commanding the Depot
in Bodmin and just prior to the amalgamation he was made
2ic.1st Bn Som LI. He helped to cement the good relations
between the two regiments. In 1962 he was appointed Commanding
Officer of 1 SCLI. in Gibraltar and later in Berlin. He
left the army in 1967.
NB. It was Col Howard in company with John Barry-Tait
who brought about the SCLI Reunion at its original location
at the Apple Tree P H. West Pennard.
Brig.William Hine-Haycock FRPSL. DL. - Died 14th.September
1989 aged 71yrs. 2nd.CO SCLI.
Born at Kittery Court, Kingswear, educated at Canford
and RMA Sandhurst, commissioned into DCLI. 13th.Jan.1939.
posted to 2nd.Bn.at Blackdown.
At the outbreak of WW2.appointed Intelligence Officer
at Brigade HQ.and went to France with 4th.Div. saw action
in the Saar before the retreat through Belgium and France
and the evacuation of the BEF. from Dunkirk. Mentioned
in Dispatches. After a few months in UK. in March 1941
sailed for Middle East with 70th.Div.saw action in Palestine,
Syria and the Western Desert. Early 1942 the Div.embarked
for Singapore which was then under serious threat, whilst
at sea Singapore fell, so the Div.was diverted to Bombay
then to Arakan and Burma, during ensuing retreat again
mentioned in Dispatches. At the end of 1942 seconded
to Australian Army in New Guinea. After training served
with 2/48th.AIF and 24 CMF throughout 1943 on the coast
On return to India attended Staff College at Quetta,
after Parachute training appointed Brigade Major to
14 Air Landing Brigade, saw further action in Burma.
Invalided home in 1945, later posted to Schlesweig Holstein
as Military Secretary to Sir Evelyn Barker followed
by various Staff and Regimental appointments in England,
Germany, Greece and the Middle East. In 1959 promoted
to Lt.Col and took command of 1 SCLI in Osnabruck and
later Gibraltar. Promoted Col. in 1964, appointed Brigade
Col.LI. 1967 Promoted to Brigadier and assumed last
posting as Defence Attache, Madrid. Retired from the
army in 1971.