Roy Farran was a British soldier, politician, farmer, author and journalist.
Major Roy Alexander Farran's exploits during the Second World War are well known, having written several books on his own adventures. Raised in India and fluent in several languages, he is best remembered for his efforts as commander of an SAS (Special Air Service) squadron that operated behind the lines in almost every theatre of the European war.
Famous for hit and run tactics, Roy and his squadron caused much havoc and destruction behind enemy lines disrupting German supply and command structure. He was wounded several times, captured by the Germans and imprisoned only to escape to fight again. He served in Africa, Sicily, Italy and in France after D-Day. Roy lived his life to the fullest, and always according to his regiment’s motto - "Who Dares Wins".
He was highly decorated for his exploits with the Special Air Service (SAS) during the Second World War, winning - among many other medals - the Distinguished Service Order and the Military Cross (including two bars).
Farran emigrated to Canada where he forged a successful business and political career, holding a seat in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta from 1971 to 1979 sitting with the Progressive Conservative caucus. He served as a cabinet minister in the government of Premier Peter Lougheed during that period.
Farran was born in India, Jan. 2, 1921, to a family of Irish Roman Catholics (the O Farachain were from County Donegal). His father was a warrant officer in the Royal Air Force. Farran was educated at the Bishop Cotton School in Simla, India, and then at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, England.
After graduating from Sandhurst, Farran was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 3rd Carabiniers (Prince of Wales's Dragoon Guards) and sent to the 51st Training Regiment.
North Africa and Crete
Farran, at the age of 19, was posted to the 3rd The King's Own Hussars, which was serving in the North African Campaign, in September 1940. He joined the regiment in Egypt in time for the beginning of Operation Compass, a British offensive that began in December 1940 against Italian forces in Egypt and Libya, including Cyrencia and Tobruk.
After Operation Compass came to an end, the Hussars were transferred to the island of Crete to reinforce the British and Commonwealth forces that were stationed there after their retreat from Greece. Farran was attached to the regiment's 'C' Squadron, which was located several miles west of Canea when the Germans began their invasion of Crete on May 20, 1941.
Farran was ordered to take a troop of tanks and block a road that led from the village of Galatas, and shortly afterwards, they sighted and killed a number of German troops escorting a group of 40 captured hospital patients. The troop came under attack from Stukas and well-hidden ground forces. Returning from this mission Farran's troop encountered several Germans who attempted to surrender; he ordered them shot, later writing that the incident occurred in the heat of the moment.
On May 21, the 10th Infantry Brigade launched a successful assault on Cemetery Hill, in which Farran participated. German forces were eventually able to break through the British and Commonwealth positions around Galatas, and Farran was part of a counter-attack that attempted to retake the village.
He protested about the unsuitability of his Vickers light tanks for the task but was told that no heavy tanks were left. Farran later wrote of his guilt at allowing the dangerous lead position to be taken by a subordinate.
"I did not care for orders when it suited me, but this time I had chosen to obey them because I knew that I would be killed if I did not. I should have been in that leading tank. Instead, there was Skedgewell dead and his pretty young wife waiting at home. I felt as if I had murdered him."
Farran was wounded in the right arm and both of his legs, during the action, which led to his capture by German forces. He was subsequently awarded the Military Cross for gallantry during his service in Crete.
Escape and Return to Duty
After being captured, he was flown to a hospital for prisoners of war in Athens for treatment, and by August, he was able to walk with the aid of crutches. He made several unsuccessful attempts to escape and finally succeeded when a sentry became distracted. Farran was able to crawl under the wire and make his way unseen to a nearby ditch.
Moved between a series of safe-houses, he was eventually able to join a number of friendly Greek civilians and three escaped Australian and British prisoners. He was lent money to hire a small wooden fishing boat, to sail from the port of Piraeus to British-held Egypt. The group hoped to make the journey in four days but a storm pushed the boat off course. The boat ran out of fuel after two days and Farran created an ad hoc sail from blankets.
Their water supplies ran out shortly afterwards and Farran was forced to knock out one man who became agitated as a result. Fortunately, one of the men, a Sergeant Wright, was able to make a crude water distiller that produced enough drinkable water for the party to survive.
After 10 days adrift, the boat was spotted by a Royal Navy destroyer 60 km off the coast of Alexandria. Farran was awarded a bar to his Military Cross as a result of leading the Greeks and the former prisoners to freedom.
In January 1942, Farran was appointed as the aide-de-camp to Major General John "Jock" Campbell, the newly promoted commander of the 7th Armoured Division and Victoria Cross recipient (for actions in November 1941). On Feb. 26, 1942, Farran was driving Campbell in his staff car during an inspection of the forward fighting area around Gazala when he lost control of the car on a road of freshly-laid clay.
The car overturned, throwing Farran out but killing Campbell and knocking the other occupants unconscious. When a new divisional commander was appointed, Farran remained with the divisional staff.
Sicily and Italy
When the British Eighth Army was forced to retreat towards El Alamein in the summer of 1942, Farran was wounded during a Luftwaffe attack on the division's headquarters. He was subsequently evacuated to Britain until he was able to convince a medical board in February 1943 to pass him as capable for combat. He was transferred to three separate units before joining a group of new recruits heading for the Middle East to join the 3rd Hussars; however, a meeting with an old friend led him to attempt to join the new 2nd Special Air Service (2 SAS) being formed near Algiers.
After an interview with the regiment's commander, Lt.-Col. David Stirling, and a parachute training course, Farran became the second-in-command of a squadron. He commanded it during Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily, and despite suffering from malaria, he led the squadron in an assault against a lighthouse at Cape Passero that was believed to hold a machine gun position. He also led a number of reconnaissance and sabotage patrols behind enemy lines.
During September 1943, a composite squadron from 2 SAS landed at the Italian port of Taranto with orders to conduct reconnaissance patrols and attack targets of opportunity ahead of the general Allied advance. During this deployment, Farran commanded a section of jeeps armed with twin Vickers machine guns from 'D' Squadron, which ambushed a number of German convoys before joining advancing Canadian forces. They also became involved in street battles on several occasions before moving to the city of Bari where the squadron was ordered to locate escaped Allied prisoners of war, managing to free fifty Allied prisoners.
On October 3, 1943 the Allies made a seaborne landing at the town of Termoli with the aim of outflanking the Axis positions in the area to aid the northwards advance of the British Eighth Army and the United States Fifth Army. The 1st Special Service (1 SRS) Brigade formed part of the amphibious landings. Several SAS units were attached to the brigade, including 1st SAS Regiment, recently renamed 1st Special Raiding Squadron. Farran, with a detachment of 20 men from 'D' Squadron of 2 SAS, came ashore with the rest of 1 SRS with orders to create a base for future raids behind enemy lines.
The seaborne landings soon became stalemated against fierce Axis resistance, and Farran and his men joined the rest of 1 SRS in an attempt to repel a German counterattack supported by armour. Positioned on a ridge with a light mortar and six Bren light machine guns, and later, several 6-pounder anti-tank guns, Farran and his men were able to help repel the attack. The Axis forces launched several more assaults on the Allied positions, which Farran and his men also helped to repulse, before finally retreating from the area.
During the closing days of October, Farran commanded four parties of troops from 2 SAS that were landed by motor torpedo boat near the city of Ancona. Farran and his troops destroyed 17 sections of the railway that linked Ancona and Pescara as well as laying mines on the main road between the two towns. After being successfully extracted, Farran and the rest of 2 SAS spent another four months in Italy before returning to Britain in early 1944. Farran received another bar to his Military Cross for his successful actions around Pescara and Ancona.
Farran remained in Britain until August, by which time the Western Allies had invaded France and gained a foothold in Normandy. With the German forces opposing them worn down by months of airstrikes and artillery bombardments, and unaided by the Luftwaffe, Allied commanders expected to be able to achieve a decisive breakout in Normandy.
When this occurred, it was believed that a large number of German troops, particularly Panzer divisions, would retreat eastwards through the "Orleans Gap" situated to the south of Paris; in order to trap these forces, the Allies planned to drop several British and American airborne divisions into the gap as a blocking force.
Given the codename Operation Transfigure, the divisions would be joined by units from 1 and 2 SAS, including three troops from 'C' Squadron. Farran commanded one of these three troops. They were to land by Airspeed Horsa glider with 20 jeeps near the Rambouillet forest and then link up with pre-existing SAS troops already operating in the area.
Ultimately, Transfigure did not take place as Allied ground forces advanced too quickly during the breakout for the airborne troops to be used effectively; however, on Aug 19, Farran landed with 60 men and 20 jeeps at the Rennes airfield, which was now under Allied control, with orders to begin Operation Wallace.
His jeeps were to advance some 300 km behind German lines and link up with 50 SAS troopers who had previously established a base camp near Chatillon to the north of the city of Dijon. This was one of a number of bases set up by SAS patrols to attack retreating German troops and lines of communications. Under the command of Captain Grant-Hibbert, the troopers had spent the three weeks prior to Farran's arrival ambushing German convoys and blowing up a stretch of railway between Dijon and Langres.
The journey to Grant-Hibbert's position took Farran and his men four days; the first fifty miles were uneventful, as local French resistance fighters were able to help the SAS troopers avoid German positions. To increase the chances of not being discovered, Farran split the jeeps into three groups and ordered them to maintain a distance of 30 minutes and avoid all German resistance.
Unfortunately, the first group disobeyed the orders and drove through the village of Mailly-le-Chateau, occupied by a German garrison. Although the group made it through the village, losing a jeep in the process, Farran and the next group were ambushed and came under fire, forcing his group and the following one to divert south to the Foret de St Jean where they rendezvoused with the first group.
The same process took place on the following day, but once again the leading group encountered German troops and suffered heavy losses, only the commander surviving and escaping; they were unable to warn the other two groups, which were also attacked. Farran and his men were able to skirt the Germans, but the third group were all but destroyed with only a few surviving. The survivors retreated back to Paris and eventually joined Farran by parachute insertion at a later date.
Now left with only seven of his original jeeps, Farran pressed on, the remainder of the troopers strafing a passing goods train, puncturing the boiler on its engine and forcing it to come to a halt. Eventually they linked up with Grant-Hibbert's men after one final encounter during their journey, assaulting a German radar station and causing the German garrison to flee; prisoners informed the SAS troopers that they believed the jeeps to be the advance guard of General George S. Patton's United States Third Army.
Farran took command of the combined group, which consisted of a composite squadron of 60 troopers, 10 jeeps and a civilian truck, and ordered it to move to another base to avoid further German scrutiny. The squadron roamed until the end of August, assaulting German troop convoys and facilities; it then split into three groups to maximize the area its members could cover and the damage that could be dealt to the German forces.
Throughout the squadron’s entire time behind German lines, the Royal Air Force supplied it, in 36 separate sorties, with 12 new jeeps and 36 supply panniers. Operation Wallace came to an end Sept 17 when the groups linked up with advance elements of the United States Seventh Army.
During the month they had been active, Farran and his men had caused more than 500 German casualties, destroyed some 95 enemy vehicles and more than 100,000 gallons of fuel. Seventeen SAS troopers had been lost, including one in a parachuting accident, as well as 16 jeeps. After linking up with the American forces, Farran sent the squadron back to Paris and granted it a week's leave in the capital, despite it officially being out of bounds to all British troops.
As a result of these actions, Farran was awarded a Distinguished Service Order, which unusually was awarded under the pseudonym of "Patrick McGinty"; Farran had used the name since his escape from German captivity in 1941, claiming that the name was a reference to an Irish song.
After his return, Farran took a brief journey to Greece to locate the Greek civilians who had helped him escape from the prisoner of war camp in 1941; he was successful in doing so, and while in Greece, he also witnessed the beginnings of the Greek Civil War as German forces retreated from the country.
In the middle of December 1944, Farran was dispatched to Italy with 3 Squadron, 2 SAS. The squadron had only been recently formed and was composed of volunteers from the British 1st and 6th Airborne Divisions. Farran believed it to be well-trained and highly disciplined. The squadron came under the command of General Mark Clark's 15th Army Group, and between December 1944 and February 1945, it conducted several operations in La Spezia and the Brenner Pass.
These operations were small in scale, and Farran began to devise a plan for deploying a larger formation, it would be deployed behind German lines but still be close enough to 15th Army Group to aid Allied ground forces in their own operations. He focused his planning on the three departments of what is now Emilia Romagna: Parma, Reggio Emilia and Modena.
Italian partisan brigades operated in each department, controlled by a headquarters or Comando Unico and supported by an Allied liaison officer who supervised supply drops and tried to persuade them to fight the German forces in their area.
The only department with a liaison officer ready to accept the arrival of SAS forces was Reggio Emilia, which suited Farran's plan well as the forward-most point of 15th Army Group was only 20 km from the department.
Farran wanted to command the operation, known as Tombola, but he was forbidden by staff officers at 15th Army Group's headquarters. However, he did manage to get permission to accompany the transport aircraft the SAS troopers used to parachute into the area.
When the operation began on March 4, Farran "accidentally" fell out of the aircraft from which he was watching the parachute drop; although, he was fortunate enough to have a parachute on at the time and his personal kit with him. All of the troopers landed safely, although one officer dislocated his shoulder on landing and had to be left in the care of several Italian civilians.
They were met by Michael Lees, the SOE liaison officer, who took Farran and his men to meet the commander of the local Comando Unico, which was formed of four brigades—three Communist and one Christian Democrat.
When they arrived, Farran proposed to the Unico that a new battalion known as the Battaglione Alleato be created with a SAS company at its core; it would be fleshed out by a company of right-wing partisans and another of Russian deserters from the Wehrmacht. Although this was agreed upon, Farran was not enamoured with the state of the partisans when he first inspected them stating that "nearly all of them had some physical defect”.
To improve their fitness and training, Farran arranged for several instructors and an Italian interpreter to be parachuted in along with a large quantity of supplies. Within a few days, the SAS company, with a strength of 40 men, had arrived to form the core of the battalion with one officer and four men attached to each of the other companies in a supervisory capacity.
Villa Rossi and Villa Calvi
The battalion's first target, as proposed by both Farran and Lees, was the headquarters of the German 51 Mountain Corps (LI Gebirgs Korps) stationed in the area of Albinea, 30 km from where they landed. Army Group Headquarters initially agreed with the proposal and supplied aerial photography of the headquarters.
At the same time, it was discovered that local German forces were beginning an anti-partisan drive into the mountains where the battalion was stationed. Despite this, Farran decided to continue with the attack. He was en route to the headquarters with the battalion when he was contacted by Army Group Headquarters, which withdrew permission for the attack to take place.
Farran ignored the injunction and continued on towards the target on the grounds that he might lose all credibility with the partisans if their first operation was cancelled. Farran had conducted a personal reconnaissance of the headquarters on March 23, and the battalion arrived in three columns at a farm about 16 km from the target on March 26. They rested there until nightfall, and then, at 2 a.m. on March 27, the attack on the headquarters began.
The headquarters consisted of a number of buildings centered around two villas: Villa Rossi, inhabited by the Corps commander himself, and Villa Calvi, occupied by his Chief of Staff. The entire garrison consisted of about 300 German soldiers. The assault itself would see the British SAS company and a number of Italians force their way into the two villas, while the Russian company would place themselves between the villas and the other buildings, preventing the rest of the garrison from intervening.
The partisans were able to approach the villas without being spotted, quietly eliminating several sentries in the process; however, their plan to use their bazooka to gain entry to the villa failed when it misfired. They were able to reach the interior of the villa by force, but fierce German resistance meant they were unable to move upstairs and kill the Chief of Staff. They therefore used explosives, fuel and looted furniture to set the villa on fire, ensuring that the remaining Germans stayed inside with bursts of machine gun fire.
Although effective, the fire meant that the Germans in Villa Rossi were alerted to the attack before the group of partisans attacking the villa could begin their assault. As in the other villa, the occupants put up a stiff resistance and stymied attempts by the partisans to reach the top floor. A number of Germans were killed in the firefight, possibly including the Corps commander.
Under heavy fire, the partisans retreated after setting fire to the villa's kitchen. The rest of the German garrison reacted swiftly to the attack and soon brought the Russian screening force under machine-gun fire. On Farran's signal of a red flare, the entire force retreated from the area, carrying the wounded. After nearly a day marching through the mountains, obscured from German search parties by mist and rain, the battalion arrived in a partisan-controlled village.
For their efforts, the battalion had three British soldiers killed and eight British and Italians wounded, including Lees, who suffered injuries that crippled him permanently. He was eventually taken by light aircraft to a hospital in Florence. Six Russians from the covering force were captured, and it was believed they were executed "on the spot". It was since discovered that the six Russians went missing, where they arrived safely at Resistance headquarters a few days later. About 60 Germans had been killed by the partisans during the attack, including the Chief of Staff.
In the aftermath of the raid, the local German forces undertook a drive into the mountains to eliminate the partisans. Between March 28 and April 12, 1945, aided by the SAS and using heavy weapons, which included a 75-mm pack howitzer and 3-inch mortars, the partisans openly fought the Germans.
The battalion was attacked three times in its previously prepared positions, each time repelling the attacks and inflicting heavy German casualties. In one attack, on April 10, the partisans counted 51 German bodies. After heavy fighting and suffering several local reverses, the Russian company conducted a counter-attack that forced the Germans to retreat and end the drive.
At the beginning of April 1945, Farran was informed that the United States Fifth Army was planning to launch an offensive in the area in which he and the partisans were operating. As the army's advance would lead through Modena, Farran made the decision, with the approval of Army Group Headquarters, to move the battalion into Modena and support the local partisans operating there. Equipped with jeeps, the battalion would launch attacks on Route 12, the primary Florence-Modena route, with the intention of harassing German troops using it.
On April 5, after receiving word that the offensive was beginning, Farran led the battalion to its new area of operations. When it arrived, it was discovered that the terrain lacked any cover for the partisans as the road ran along an open valley that would force the jeeps to drive right up to the convoys before opening fire.
Farran therefore decided to target German troops on and around the road with the 75-mm howitzer and then send in the jeeps after they had been bombarded. An initial attack on the village of Sassuolo, near Modena, was extremely successful, and the partisans launched a number of similar raids against Route 12.
After a series of raids, Farran was informed on April 20 that the Fifth Army had broken through German lines, and he decided to have the battalion assault the city of Reggio Emilia, which straddled Route 12. The howitzer was used to bombard the main square of the town, and Farran later discovered that the local German and Italian Fascist garrison believed the attack to be coming from the vanguard of an American armoured division. As a result, the town was abandoned two hours after the shelling had begun.
Then, on April 22, 1945 it was discovered that American troops had penetrated near the city of Bologna, causing German forces to retreat down Route 12. Positioning the partisan battalion near the Sassuolo Bridge, Farran used the howitzer, mortars and a machine gun to open fire on the traffic using the bridge, destroying a number of vehicles. The attack attracted the attention of a flight of Supermarine Spitfires, which strafed the area and inflicted more casualties.
After fighting all day, Farran withdrew the battalion from the area, and after harassing more German transport columns for a further day, he moved the battalion into Modena to help mop up any remaining resistance. Very soon afterwards, orders came for the operation to cease and the British troops to travel to Florence.
During its time operating, the battalion had killed an estimated 300 German soldiers and destroyed 20 vehicles as well as taking 158 prisoners of war. It suffered 24 casualties in return. When he returned to Florence and reported to Army Group Headquarters, Farran was informed of the reason why the Headquarters had wanted to delay the raid on the Corps Headquarters: a major attack by 15th Army Group against that Corps had been scheduled to take place 10 days after the raid, and it was feared that Farran's assault on the headquarters would alert the Germans to the attack.
The attack had been cancelled. Farran believed that he would be court-martialled for disobeying orders. However, this did not occur, and Farran was instead awarded the American Legion of Merit for his actions during Tombola.
When the Second World War in Europe came to an end, Farran, who was now a 24-year-old Major, accompanied 2 SAS to Norway where the unit aided in the process of disarming the German troops stationed there. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre in 1946 and then returned to the 3rd Hussars where he became the regiment's second-in-command. He served with the regiment in Syria and British Mandate Palestine.
During his initial period in Palestine, he was with several fellow officers when guerrillas destroyed a nearby ammunition dump. Farran and his comrades pursued the guerrillas, managing to wound two of them. Shortly after this, Farran transferred back to Britain to serve as an instructor at Sandhurst but then volunteered to be seconded to the Palestine Police Force, which maintained order in the Mandate.
When Farran arrived in Palestine, the British authorities were in the midst of attempting to suppress Jewish paramilitary organizations operating in the Mandate. The largest and most effective of these groups was known as the Irgun, which controlled between 5,000 and 6,000 paramilitary members proficient in sabotage and street fighting and included an intelligence section staffed by a number of ex-Special Operations Executive and Secret Intelligence Service operatives that the British Joint Intelligence Committee labelled "excellent".
Although the Irgun and other Jewish paramilitary groups were outnumbered by British security forces 20 to 1, British attempts to end their activities were hampered by an inadequate intelligence organization that was understaffed and over-stretched with many of its small number of personnel consisting of "enterprising amateurs" seconded from other units.
Political violence by Jewish paramilitary groups began when the Second World War came to an end and by early 1947 Palestine had experienced a large number of attacks against British targets. Debates raged in London over what the best course of action was to combat the attacks.
On March 2, 1947, martial law was declared throughout Tel Aviv and the Jewish sector of Jerusalem in an attempt to differentiate the paramilitary members from the civilian population and end the attacks. However, this had the opposite effect and the number of attacks actually doubled.
"A free hand for us against terror"
After two high-profile kidnappings, the British Cabinet acceded to Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery's request for the restrictions on force employed in security operations to be lifted, despite opposition from the Colonial Office and the fact that the Cabinet had signalled an intention to withdraw from Palestine.
Former Royal Marine Nicol Gray, the Inspector General of the Palestine Police, impressed by the wartime exploits of special forces units behind the lines authorized Brigadier Bernard Fergusson, who had served in the Burma Chindits with Orde Wingate the leader of the Special Night Squads, to create covert teams along similar lines. Those in the police who heard of the new unit were aghast, and even Gray's tough-minded predecessor John Rymer-Jones was moved to warn that the tactic would end in catastrophe.
Fergusson ignored him and recruited two former 2 SAS men, Alastair MacGregor (then with MI6) and Roy Farran, as commanders. MacGregor was to operate in north Palestine and Farran the south while Fergusson took the Jerusalem squad pending the arrival of a third squad commander.
These areas conformed to military zones, not the six Palestine Police districts. Subsequently, Fergusson said the concept was to provoke contact and give insurgents a "bloody nose" while Sir Henry Gurney insisted that the squads had never been authorized to use anything outside normal police methods. Farran, or so he later claimed, thought he had been given "carte blanch... a free hand".
There was only a short period of training and it largely consisted of intensive pistol and close quarters battle practice. Utilizing jeeps, a citrus-fruit delivery truck and a dry-cleaner's lorry, Farran's team "moved among Jewish civilians in Jewish clothing" and made several arrests in the month they were active, although alert insurgents recognized them as British forces more than once.
Farran did not have any fluent Hebrew speakers but didn't liaise with the Criminal Investigation Department out of security concerns, and his unit lacked accurate intelligence on insurgents.
Alexander Rubowitz Affair
On May 6, 1947, 16-year-old Alexander Rubowitz disappeared while putting up posters for Jewish paramilitary group Lehi. Palestine police believed Rubowitz had been caught and killed by Farran's squad. Gurney ordered them "to proceed with the case as an ordinary criminal offence with the object of bringing Farran and any other accused to trial".
Farran was arrested but eventually escaped, only returning when he heard of reprisals being planned against British officers. He was brought to trial in a British military court in Jerusalem and court-martialled on a charge of murdering Alexander Rubowitz.
Colonel Fergusson, to whom Farran was said to have confessed his guilt, refused to testify on the grounds that he might incriminate himself. Notes made by Farran while in custody and found after his escape reportedly contained a confession, but they were judged to be preparation for his defence, and so inadmissible under the rules of lawyer-client privilege.
However the prosecution failed to prove their case or even that Rubowitz was actually dead. The result was that the case collapsed for lack of evidence. Rubowitz's family made many unsuccessful attempts afterwards to revive the case. Alexander Rubowitz's body was never found. After the trial Colonel Bernard Fergusson was told to resign and be out of the country within 36 hours.
Lehi bombing of family home
After his return from Palestine, the Lehi attempted to kill Farran by posting a parcel bomb to his family home in Codsall, Staffordshire. The package arrived almost one year to the day after Alexander Rubowitz had disappeared, but Roy Farran was away and the explosion killed Francis Rex Farran, his younger brother.
The bomb was sent by a British-based Lehi cell. In an episode of the BBC2 television documentary series Empire Warriors, first broadcast on Nov 19, 2004, Knesset member and former Lehi operative Geulah Cohen claimed that the letter had been addressed to "R. Farran". The documentary was shortlisted for an international film award.
After he was discharged from the army, Farran moved to Scotland and worked briefly as a quarryman. He then went to Africa for a short time before returning to the United Kingdom to run as a candidate for the Conservative Party in the constituency of Dudley during the 1950 United Kingdom general election. He lost to incumbent Labour Member of Parliament George Wigg, finishing second out of the three candidates.
After the election, Farran moved to Canada in the early 1950s and settled in Calgary, Alberta. He began working for the Calgary Herald newspaper and later became owner and publisher of his own newspaper, the North Hill News, which he founded in 1951. He also wrote nine books, including The History of the Calgary Highlanders 1921–1954 and his acclaimed war-time memoir Winged Dagger: Adventures on Special Service.
Farran launched his political career in Canada in 1961, winning a seat on the Calgary city council. Farran would serve his first stint on council until October 1963. In June 1963, while he was still serving on the Calgary council, Farran ran for a seat to the Alberta Legislature in the Alberta general election. He ran as an Independent candidate in the provincial electoral district of Calgary Queen's Park and finished third out of six candidates.
Farran returned for his second stint on Calgary council in 1964 and served until 1971 when he was elected to provincial office as a member of the Progressive Conservatives for the new electoral district of Calgary-North Hill. Farran served on the Executive Council of Alberta in 1973 and as a Minister of Telephones and Utilities.
He was re-elected in the 1975 Alberta general election and at that time was appointed as the Solicitor General. Farran held that position until he retired from provincial politics in 1979.
During his time in office he served on numerous committees in the Legislature, including Public Accounts, Private Bills, Standing Orders and Printing, Law, Law Amendments and Regulations, Public Affairs, Agriculture and Education. As a Calgary alderman, Farran was instrumental in the creation of both Fish Creek and Nose Hill parks.
After leaving provincial politics, he was appointed by the Province of Alberta to serve as head of the Alberta Racing Commission. He also became a visiting professor at the University of Alberta and later founded a non-profit organization called French Vosges, providing Franco-Canadian student exchanges.
He was awarded the Legion d'Honneur in 1994 for his work in founding the organization. He later battled throat cancer that resulted in having his larynx surgically removed. Farran died in 2006 at the age of 85.
Farran received 17 medals in all during his life. Along with the Distinguished Service Order and the Military Cross (along with the two bars), Farran also received the following awards:
|Africa Campaign Star||Officer and Chevalier of the Order of the Legion of Honour – France|
|France/German Campaign Star||French Croix de Guerre with Palm|
|Italy Campaign Star||Officer of the United States Legion of Merit|
|General Campaign Medal||Italian Gold Medal|
|Queen's Gold Jubilee Medal||Italian Partisan Star of the Garibaldi|
|Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal||Greek War Medal|
|Canada 125 Medal|