Francis in Madagascar
Seaforth Cap Badge
Francis & Betty in 1939
Major (acting Lt Col) 6th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders
Service number: 88139
Died 10th July 1943 in Sicily aged 29
Francis was called up in September 1939 to serve with the 6th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders based at Fort George near Inverness. He went to France with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and was successfully evacuated from Dunkirk after the Blitzkrieg.
In May 1942 the 6th Battalion took part in Operation Ironclad, the successful seaborne landing and invasion of Madagascar, then held by Vichy French forces. A low level guerilla campaign continued after the landings, which Francis found more frightening than the war in Europe. He was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in this operation, gazetted on June 16 1942.
The Battalion then moved to North Africa and took part in Operation Huskey, the allied invasion of Sicily. Francis was leading a diversionary party ahead of the main force. Unfortunately the landing was not in the correct location and they met heavy opposition; Francis was killed in the operation. He is buried in Plot 8, Row G, grave 11 in the Syracuse War Cemetary, Sicily. Francis was awarded the following medals: the Military Cross, 1939-45 Star, Italy Star and the War Medal 1939-45.
Francis was the son of major Herbert Waylen MC and Florence Mary Waylen of Stoke on Trent. He was educated at Dauntsey's School and Southampton University. Francis taught handicrafts at Gordonstoun before being called up and in 1938 he constructed a sled for Robert Bickersteth and Freddie Spencer Chapman to take on a school expedition to Lapland. In that year he married Betty Wiltshaw and they had a son, Paul, born in 1939; his daughter Vanessa was born in 1942 but he never saw her.