Colonel PA Clayton
Colonel PA Clayton
Following service in the Royal Artillery during the First World War, Pat Clayton worked with the Geological Survey of Egypt. He conducted numerous expeditions into the then un-mapped deserts of Egypt where he learned and refined his desert navigation, map making and surveying skills.
Amongst other firsts, he was credited with the first crossing of the Great Sand Sea by a white man. It was
during this time that he first met two other desert explorers, Ralph Bagnold and Bill Kennedy-Shaw.
In 1940 Bagnold’s idea for a small, highly mobile, desert force was approved by General Wavell and Bagnold set about gathering as many of his companion explorers as possible to form the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG). Clayton was one of the first four officers to form this unit.
In December 1940 Clayton commanded one of two patrols which attacked the Italian air base at Murzuk and a nearby fort, reportedly garrisoned by 2-300 heavily armed troops. Clayton’s patrol destroyed three aircraft and captured numerous Italian Airforce prisoners before making good their escape.
However, on the 26th the Patrol was seen by the Italians and attacked, resulting in the Patrol splitting up to make a more dispersed target. During this melee Major Clayton’s vehicle was hit and immobilised with Clayton being injured in the arm. Despite attempts to evade capture, Major Clayton was taken prisoner on 31st January 1941.
Whilst in captivity Major Clayton learned that he had been awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) by General A. P. Wavell “For great daring, initiative, courage and bold leadership in action.”
During his captivity Major Clayton used his skills as a map-maker and draughtsman to make escape maps and rubber stamps for forging documents. He also made a number of scorpion badges for his LRDG comrades.
He survived the war and continued his service in Egypt and Palestine, finally retiring in 1961 as a full Colonel aged 65. He died a year later.