All The Victoria Crosses of World War Two

Discussion in 'General' started by Drew5233, Jun 6, 2009.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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    John Daniel Baskeyfield

    Rank: Lance-Sergeant

    Unit: The South Staffordshire Regiment (1st Airborne Division), British Army

    Awarded: 16th July 1945

    Nationality: British

    The citation in the London Gazette of 21st November 1944 gives the following details:

    On 20th September, 1944, during the battle of Arnhem, Lance-Sergeant Baskeyfield was the N.C.O. in charge of a 6-pounder anti-tank gun at Oosterbeek. The enemy developed a major attack on this sector with infantry, tanks and self-propelled guns with the obvious intent to break into and overrun the Battalion position. During the early stage of the action the crew commanded by this N.C.O. was responsible for the destruction of two Tiger tanks and at least one self propelled gun, thanks to the coolness and daring of this N.C.O., who, with complete disregard for his own safety, allowed each tank to come well within 100 yards of his gun before opening fire.

    In the course of this preliminary engagement Lance-Sergeant Baskeyfield was badly wounded in the leg and the remainder of his crew were either killed or badly wounded. During the brief respite after this engagement Lance-Sergeant Baskeyfield refused to be carried to the Regimental Aid Post and spent his time attending to his gun and shouting encouragement to his comrades in neighbouring trenches.

    After a short interval the enemy renewed the attack with even greater ferocity than before, under cover of intense mortar and she'll fire. Manning his gun quite alone Lance-Sergeant Baskeyfield continued to fire round after round at the enemy until his gun was put out of action. By this time his activity was the main factor in keeping the enemy tanks at bay. The fact that the surviving men in his vicinity were held together- and kept in. action was undoubtedly due to his magnificent example and outstanding courage. Time after time enemy attacks were launched and driven off. Finally, when his gun was knocked out, Lance-Sergeant Baskeyfield crawled, under intense enemy fire, to another 6-pounder gun nearby, the crew of which had been killed, and proceeded to man it single-handed. With this gun he engaged an enemy self propelled gun which was approaching to attack. Another soldier crawled across the open ground to assist him but was killed almost at once. Lance-Sergeant Baskeyfield succeeded in firing two rounds at the self propelled gun, scoring one direct hit which rendered it ineffective. Whilst preparing to fire a third shot, however, he was killed by a shell from a supporting enemy tank.

    The superb gallantry of this N.C.O. is beyond praise. During the remaining days at Arnhem stories of his valour were a constant inspiration to all ranks. He spurned danger, ignored pain and, by his supreme fighting spirit, infected all who witnessed his conduct with the same aggressiveness and dogged devotion to duty which characterised his actions throughout.


    Additional Infomation:

    Baskeyfield was called up in 1942.

    Baskeyfield's body was never recovered.

    There is a school in Burslem, UK named after him and a monument in Staffordshire, UK.

    CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:

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    Groesbeek Memorial, Nijmegen, Netherlands
     
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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    John William Harper

    Rank: Corporal

    Unit: 4th Battalion, The York and Lancaster Regiment, British Army

    Awarded: ?

    Nationality: British

    The citation in the London Gazette of 29th December 1944 gives the following details:

    In North-West Europe, on 29th September, 1944, the Hallamshire Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment attacked the Depot de Mendicite, a natural defensive position surrounded by an earthen wall, and then a dyke, strongly held by the enemy.

    Corporal Harper was commanding the leading section in the assault. The enemy were well dug in and had a perfect field of fire across 300 yards of completely flat and exposed country. With superb disregard for the hail of mortar bombs and small arms fire which the enemy brought to bear on this open ground, Corporal Harper led his section straight up to the wall and killed or captured the enemy holding the near side.

    During this operation the platoon commander was seriously wounded and Corporal Harper took over control of the platoon.

    As the enemy on the far side of the wall were now throwing grenades over the top, Corporal Harper climbed over the wall alone, throwing grenades, and in the face of heavy, close range small arms fire, personally routed the Germans directly opposing him. He took four prisoners and shot several of the remainder of the enemy as they fled.

    Still completely ignoring the heavy Spandau and mortar fire, which was sweeping the area, once again he crossed the wall alone to find out whether it was possible for his platoon to wade the dyke which lay beyond. He found the dyke too deep and wide to cross, and once again he came back over the wall and received orders to try and establish his platoon on the enemy side of it. For the third time he climbed over alone, found some empty German weapon pits, and providing the covering fire urged and encouraged his section to scale the wall and dash for cover. By this action he was able to bring down sufficient covering fire to enable the rest of the company to cross the open ground and surmount the wall for the loss of only one man.

    Corporal Harper then left his platoon in charge of his senior section commander and walked alone along the banks of the dyke, in the face of heavy Spandau fire, to find a crossing place. Eventually he made contact with the battalion attacking on his right, and found that they had located a ford. Back he came across the open ground, and, whilst directing his company commander to the ford, he was struck by a bullet which fatally wounded him and he died on the bank of the dyke.

    The success of the battalion in driving the enemy from the wall and back across the dyke must be largely ascribed to the superb self sacrifice and inspiring gallantry of Corporal Harper. His magnificent courage, fearlessness and devotion to duty throughout the battle set a splendid example to his men and had a decisive effect on the course of the operations.


    Additional Infomation:

    Born in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

    CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:

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    Leopoldsburg War Cemetery, Limburg, Belgium
     
  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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    Richard Henry Burton

    Rank: Private

    Unit: The Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment, British Army

    Awarded: 2nd February 1945

    Nationality: British

    The citation in the London Gazette of 2nd January 1945 gives the following details:

    In Italy on 8th October, 1944, two Companies of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment moved forward to take a strongly held feature 760 metres high. The capture of this feature was vital at this stage of the operation as it dominated all the ground on the main axis of advance.

    The assaulting troops made good progress to within twenty yards of the crest when they came under withering fire from Spandaus on the crest. The leading platoon was held up and the Platoon Commander was wounded. The Company Commander took another platoon, of which Private Burton was runner, through to assault the crest from which four Spandaus at least were firing. Private Burton rushed forward and, engaging the first Spandau position with his Tommy gun, killed the crew of three. When the assault was again held up by murderous fire from two more machine guns Private Burton, again showing complete disregard for his own safety, dashed forward toward the first machine gun using his Tommy gun until his ammunition was exhausted. He then picked up a Bren gun and firing from the hip succeeded in killing or wounding the crews of the two machine guns. Thanks to his outstanding courage the Company was then able to consolidate on the forward slope of the feature.

    The enemy immediately counter-attacked fiercely but Private Burton, in spite of most of his comrades being either dead or wounded, once again dashed forward on his own initiative and directed such accurate fire with his Bren gun on the enemy that they retired leaving the feature firmly in our hands.

    The enemy later counter attacked again on the adjoining platoon position and Private Burton, who had placed himself on the flank, brought such accurate fire to bear that this counterattack also failed to dislodge the Company from its position.

    Private Burton's magnificent gallantry and total disregard of his own safety during many hours of fierce fighting in mud and continuous rain were an inspiration to all his comrades.


    Additional Infomation:

    Later promoted to the rank of Corporal.

    Burton moved to Scotland in later life but was born in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.

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    Kirriemuir Cemetery, Scotland
     
  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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    George Harold Eardley

    Rank: Private Acting Sergeant

    Unit: 4th Battalion, The King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, British Army

    Awarded: 1st February 1945

    Nationality: British

    The citation in the London Gazette of 29th December 1944 gives the following details:

    In North-West Europe, on 16th October, 1944, during an attack on the wooded area
    East of Overloon, strong opposition was met from well sited defensive positions in orchards. The enemy were paratroops and well equipped with machine guns.

    A Platoon of the King's Shropshire Light Infantry was ordered to clear these orchards and so restore the momentum of the advance, but was halted some 80 yards from its objective by automatic fire from enemy machine gun posts. This fire was so heavy that it appeared impossible for any man to expose himself and remain unscathed.

    Notwithstanding this, Sergeant Eardley, who had spotted one machine gun post, moved forward, firing his Sten gun, and killed the occupants of the post with a grenade. A second machine gun post beyond the first immediately opened up, spraying the area with fire. Sergeant Eardley, who was in a most exposed position, at once charged over 30 yards of open ground and silenced both the enemy gunners.

    The attack was continued by the Platoon but was again held up by a third machine gun post, and a section sent in to dispose of it, was beaten back, losing four casualties. Sergeant Eardley, ordering the section he was with to lie down, then crawled forward alone and silenced the occupants of the post with a grenade.

    The destruction of these three machine gun posts singlehanded by Sergeant Eardley, carried out under fire so heavy that it daunted those who were with him, enabled his Platoon to achieve its objective, and in so doing, ensured the success of the whole attack.

    His outstanding initiative and magnificent bravery were the admiration of all who saw his gallant actions.


    Additional Infomation:

    Also awarded MM.

    Later promoted to Company Sergeant Major.

    Eardley has a memorial in Congleton.

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    Macclesfield Crematorium, Cheshire


    British Pathe - CONGLETON HAILS THE CONQUERING HERO
     
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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    Ernest Alvia “Smokey” Smith

    Rank: Private

    Unit: The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, Canadian Army

    Awarded: 18th December 1944

    Nationality: Canadian

    The citation in the London Gazette of 19th December 1944 gives the following details:

    In Italy on the night of 21st/22nd October, 1944, a Canadian Infantry Brigade was ordered to establish a bridgehead across the Savio River.

    The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada were selected as the spearhead of the attack and in weather most unfavourable to the operation they crossed the river and captured their objectives in spite of strong opposition from the enemy.

    Torrential rain had caused the Savio River to rise six feet in five hours and as the soft vertical banks made it impossible to bridge the river no tanks or anti-tank guns could be
    taken across, the raging stream to the support of the rifle companies.

    As the right forward company was consolidating its objective it was suddenly counter-attacked by a troop of three Mark V Panther tanks supported by two self-propelled guns and about thirty infantry and the situation appeared almost hopeless.

    Under heavy fire from the approaching enemy tanks, Private Smith, showing great initiative and inspiring leadership, led his Piat Group of two men across an open field to a position from which the Piat could best be employed. Leaving one man on the weapon, Private Smith crossed the road with a companion, and obtained another Piat. Almost immediately an enemy tank came down the road firing its machine guns along the line of the ditches. Private Smith's comrade was wounded. At a range of thirty feet and having to expose himself to the full view of the enemy, Private Smith fired the Piat and hit the tank, putting it out of action. Ten German infantry immediately jumped off the back of the tank and charged him with Schmeissers and grenades. Without hesitation Private Smith moved out onto the road and with his Tommy gun at point blank range, killed four Germans and drove the remainder back. Almost immediately another tank opened fire and more enemy infantry closed in on Smith's position. Obtaining some abandoned Tommy gun magazines from a ditch, he steadfastly held his position, protecting his comrade and fighting the enemy with his Tommy gun until they finally gave up and withdrew in disorder.

    One tank and both self-propelled guns had been destroyed by this time, but yet another tank swept the area with fire from a longer range. Private Smith, still showing utter contempt for enemy fire, helped his wounded friend to cover and obtained medical aid for him behind a nearby building. He then returned to his position beside the road to await the possibility of a further enemy attack.

    No further immediate attack developed, and as a result the battalion was able to consolidate the bridgehead position so vital to the success of the whole operation, which led to the eventual capture of San Giorgio Di Cesena and a further advance to the Ronco River.

    Thus, by the dogged determination, outstanding devotion to duty and superb gallantry of this private soldier, his comrades were so inspired that the bridgehead was held firm against all enemy attacks, pending the arrival of tanks and anti-tank guns some hours later.


    Additional Infomation:

    Also awarded CM, OBC and CD.

    Smith joined the Canadian Army in 1940.

    Smith first saw combat 1942.

    He landed in Sicily in 1943.

    Smith was promoted to Corporal no less than nine times but kept on getting demoted back to Private.

    Later promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

    He left the military at the end of the war but re-enlisted in 1950 to serve in Korea.

    Although never seeing action again after WW2 he retired from the Army in 1964.

    Smith then set ou a travel agent buisness visiting many WW2 battlefields with clients.

    Smith was the last surviving Canadian VC holder and was given a full state military funeral in 2005.

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    Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea from HMCS Ottawa
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  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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    Ram Sarup Singh

    Rank: Jemadar Acting Sudabar

    Unit: 2nd Battalion, 1st Punjab Regiment, Indian Army

    Awarded: 1st April 1945

    Nationality: Indian

    The citation in the London Gazette of 6th February 1945 gives the following details:

    In Burma on the 25th October, 1944, two platoons of the 1st Punjab Regiment were ordered to put in a diversionary attack on the flank of an enemy position. This feature was of exceptional natural strength and was defended by a large force of fresh Japanese troops who had turned the hill into a fortress. Every approach was covered by medium and light machine guns sited in bunkers. The platoon of Subadar Ram Sarup Singh at once charged the position with another section. This instantaneous action completely bewildered the enemy, who fled from the bunkered positions suffering casualties in their retreat. The Subadar was wounded in the legs but took no notice of his wounds.

    While he was consolidating his position, the enemy opened heavy fire with grenade dischargers, and at the same time put in a strong counter-attack in three waves of twenty each from a flank. It seemed that the platoon must be overwhelmed, but Subadar Ram Sarup Singh got another light machine gun into position and led a charge against the advancing enemy, bayoneting four himself and checking them. Although badly wounded in the thigh, he got up and, ignoring his wound, again went for the enemy shouting encouragement to his men. He bayoneted another Japanese and shot a further one, but was mortally wounded by a burst of medium machine gun fire in the chest and neck.

    It would be difficult to find a finer example of cool bravery, cheerfulness, leadership and determination. His action had a profound effect on the rest of the Company, and when volunteers were called for to bring in his body, under the heaviest fire, the entire Company volunteered.

    Subadar Ram Sarup Singh's gallantry will inspire the Regiment for all time.


    Additional Infomation:

    Sarup Singh Ram has no known grave.

    CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:

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    Rangoon Memorial, Myanmar
     
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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    Thaman Gurung

    Rank: Rifleman

    Unit: 1st Battalion 5th Gurhka Rifles (Frontier Force), Indian Army

    Awarded: 19th December 1945

    Nationality: Nepalese

    The citation in the London Gazette of 25th February 1945 gives the following details:
    In Italy on 10th November, 1944, a Company of the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles was ordered to send a fighting patrol on to Monte San Bartolo, an objective of a future attack. In this patrol were two scouts, one of whom was Rifleman Thaman Gurung.

    By skilful stalking both scouts succeeded in reaching the base of the position undetected. Rifleman Thaman Gurung then started to work his way to the summit, tout suddenly the second scout attracted his attention to Germans in a slit trench just below the crest, who were preparing to fire with a machine gun at the leading section. Realizing that if the enemy succeeded in opening fire, the section would certainly sustain heavy casualties, Rifleman Thaman tuning leapt to his feet and charged them. Completely taken by surprise, the Germans surrendered without opening fire.

    Rifleman Thaman Gurung then crept forward to the summit of the position, from which he saw a party of Germans, well dug in on reverse slopes, preparing to throw grenades over the crest at the leading section. Although the sky-line was devoid of cover and under accurate machine gun fire at close range, Rifleman Thaman Gurung immediately crossed it, firing on the German position with his Tommy gun, thus allowing the forward section to reach the summit, but due to heavy fire from the enemy machine guns, the platoon was ordered to withdraw.

    Rifleman Thaman Gurung then again crossed the sky-line alone and although in full view of the enemy and constantly exposed to heavy fire at short range, he methodically put burst after burst of Tommy gun fire into the German slit trenches, until his ammunition ran out. He then threw two grenades he had with him and rejoining his section, collected two more grenades and again doubled over the bullet-swept crest of the hillock and hurled them at the remaining Germans. This diversion enabled both rear sections to withdraw without further loss.

    Meanwhile, the leading section, which had remained behind to assist the withdrawal of the remainder of the platoon, was still on the summit, so Rifleman Thaman Gurung, shouting to the section to withdraw, seized a Bren gun and a numlber of magazines. He then, yet again, ran to the top of the hill and, although he well knew that his action meant almost certain death, stood up on the bullet-swept summit, in full view of the enemy, and opened fire at -the nearest enemy positions. It was not until he had emptied two complete magazines, and the remaining section was well on its way to safety, that
    Rifleman Thaman Gurung was killed.

    It was undoubtedly due to Rifleman Thaman Gurung's superb gallantry and sacrifice of his life that his platoon was able to withdraw from an extremely difficult position, without many more casualties than were actually incurred, and very valuable information brought back by the platoon resulted in the whole Monte San Bartolo feature being captured three days later.


    Additional Infomation:

    Name is incorrectly spelt on headstone and CWGC.

    CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:

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    Rimini Gurkha War Cemetery, Italy
     
  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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    Bhandari Ram

    Rank: Sepoy

    Unit: 10th Baluch Regiment, Indian Army

    Awarded: 3rd March 1945

    Nationality: Indian

    The citation in the London Gazette of 6th February 1945 gives the following details:

    On the 22nd November, 1944, in East Mayu, Arakan, during a Company attack on a strongly held Japanese bunker position, Sepoy Bhandari Ram was in the leading section of one of the Platoons. In order to reach its objective, it was necessary to climb a precipitous slope, by way of a narrow ridge with sheer sides.

    When fifty yards from the top of the slope, the leading section of the Platoon came under heavy and accurate light machine gun fire. Three men were wounded, amongst them Sepoy Bhandari Ram, who received a burst of light machine gun fire in his left shoulder and a wound in his leg. The Platoon was pinned down by intense enemy fire. This Sepoy then crawled up to the Japanese light machine gun, whilst in full view of the enemy, and approached to within fifteen yards of the enemy position. The enemy then hurled grenades at him, seriously wounding him in the face and chest. Undeterred, severely wounded by bullets and grenade splinters and bespattered with blood, this Sepoy, with superhuman courage and determination, crawled up to within five yards of his objective. He then threw a grenade into the position, killing the enemy gunner and two other men, and continued his crawl to the post. Inspired by his example, the Platoon rushed up and captured the position. It was only after the position had been taken that he lay down and allowed his wounds to be dressed.

    By his outstanding gallantry, determination to destroy the enemy at all cost, and entire disregard for his personal safety, this young Sepoy enabled his Platoon to capture what he knew to be the key to the whole enemy position.


    Additional Infomation:

    Later promoted to the rank of Hon. Captain.

    Ram worked the land as a farmer before he enlisted in the Army.

    Often fighting against former colleagues he fought with distinction in and around the disputed Kashmir Region.

    Ram left the Indian Army in 1969.

    Also known as Bandari Ram


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    Body cremated at Auhur, Himachal Pradesh, India. Location of Ashes unknown
     
  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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    John Henry Cound Brunt

    Rank: Lieutenant Temporary Captain

    Unit: The Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment), British Army

    Awarded: 18th December 1945

    Nationality: British

    The citation in the London Gazette of 6th February 1945 gives the following details:

    In Italy, on the 9th December, 1944, the Platoon commanded by Captain Brunt was holding a vital sector of the line.

    At dawn the German 90 Panzer Grenadier Division counter-attacked the Battalion's forward positions in great strength with three Mark IV tanks and infantry. The house, around which the Platoon was dug in, was destroyed and the whole area was subjected to intense mortar fire. The situation then became critical, as the anti-tank defences had been destroyed and two Sherman tanks knocked out. Captain Brunt, however, rallied his remaining men, and, moving to an alternative position, continued to hold the enemy infantry, although outnumbered by at least three to one. Personally firing a Bren gun, Captain Brunt killed about fourteen of the enemy. His wireless set was destroyed 'by shell-fire, but on receiving a message by runner to withdraw to a Company locality some 200 yards to his left and rear, he remained behind to give covering fire. When his Bren ammunition was exhausted, he fired a Piat and 2 inch Mortar, left by casualties, before he himself clashed over the open ground to the new position. This aggressive defence caused the enemy to pause, so Captain Brunt took a party back to his previous position, and although fiercely engaged toy small arms fire, carried away the wounded who had been left there.

    Later in the day, a further counter-attack was put in by the enemy on two axes. Captain Brunt immediately seized a spare Bren gun and, going round his forward positions, rallied his men. Then, leaping on a Sherman tank supporting the Company, he ordered the tank commander to drive from one fire position to another, whilst he sat, or stood, on the turret, directing Besa fire at the advancing enemy, regardless of the hail of small arms fire. Then, seeing small parties of the enemy, armed with bazookas, trying to approach round the left flank, he jumped off the tank and, taking a Bren gun, stalked these parties well in front of the Company positions, killing more and causing the enemy finally to withdraw in great haste leaving their dead 'behind them.

    Wherever the fighting was heaviest, Captain Brunt was always to be found, moving from one post to another, encouraging the men and firing any weapon he found at any target he could see. The magnificent action fought by this Officer, his coolness, bravery, devotion to duty and complete disregard of his own personal safety under the most intense and concentrated fire was beyond praise. His personal example and individual action were responsible to a very great extent for the successful repulse of these fierce enemy counter-attacks.

    The next day Captain Brant was killed by mortar fire.


    Additional Infomation:

    Also awarded MC.

    When Brunt was a child he read a comic on 'Teach yourself to swim' and then went and jumped in the local canal never having a single swiming lesson.

    Brunt joined the British Army as a Private in 1941.

    In 1943 Brunt received a Commission.

    After fighting in North Africa he went to Italy where he won a MC.

    Brunt allegedly joked with friends 'I've won the MC now for a VC'.

    The day after winning his MC he was sick in hospital he managed to get himself declared fit for the next days battle.

    He was back in hospital within 24 hours after some shrapnel split his helmet open. Apparently he would have carried on fighting if it wasn't for a NCO that dragged him away from the fighting.

    Before he won his VC he was sent to Africa for R+R and returned to Italy in July 1944.

    Brunts parents received his medals at Buckingham Palace after the war.

    Brunt's father met Field Marshal Harold Alexander at the ceremony and said to him "I expect that you know many men who should have been awarded this medal", to which Alexander replied "No, because there is always only one who will do the unexpected and that day it was your son".

    In 1947 the Kent Arms Pub in Paddock Wood, Kent was renamed John Brunt VC in his honour.

    In 1997 the pub changed its name and due to local outrage and no doubt a drop in sales it was eventually and rightly changed back in 2001.

    CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:

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    Faenza War Cemetery, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
     
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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    Umrao Singh

    Rank: Havildar

    Unit: Royal Indian Artillery, Indian Army

    Awarded: 16th October 1945

    Nationality: Indian

    The citation in the London Gazette of 29th May 1945 gives the following details:

    In the Kaladan Valley, in Burma, on 15th/16th December, 1944, Havildar Umrao Singh was in charge of one gun in an advanced section of his battery when it was subjected to heavy fire from 75 mm guns and mortars for 1½ hours prior to being attacked by two Companies of Japanese.

    When the attack came he so inspired his gun detachment by his personal example and encouragement to fight and defend their gun, that they were able to beat off the attack with losses to the enemy.

    Though twice wounded by grenades in the first attack, he again held off the second enemy attack by skilful control of his detachment's small arms fire, and by manning a Bren gun himself which he fired over the shield of his gun at the Japanese who had got to within five yards range. Again the enemy were beaten off with heavy losses. Third and fourth attacks were also beaten off in the same manner by the resolute action and great courage of Havildar Umrao Singh.

    By this time all his gun detachment had been killed or wounded with the exception of himself and two others.

    When the final attack came, the other gun having been over-run and all his ammunition expended, he seized a gun bearer and calling once again on all who remained, he closed with the enemy in furious hand-to-hand fighting and was seen to strike down three Japanese in a desperate effort to save his gun, until he was overwhelmed and knocked senseless.

    Six hours later, when a counter-attack restored the position, he was found in an exhausted state beside his gun and almost unrecognisable with seven severe wounds, and ten dead Japanese round him.

    By his personal example and magnificent bravery Havildar Umrao Singh set a supreme example of gallantry and devotion to duty. When recovered, his gun was fit to fire and was in fact in action again and firing later that same day.


    Additional Infomation:

    Singh was born into a poor farming family north of Delhi.

    He joined the Army in 1939.

    Later promoted to the rank of Hon. Captain.

    Singh was the only recipient from the Royal Artillery to get a VC during WW2.

    He retired from the British Indian Army in 1946 and re-inlisted into the Indian Army finally retiring in 1965.

    Singh was also the last Indian survivor of 40 VC's awarded to eligible Indian soldiers between 1912 and 1947.

    During the 1995 50th VE-Day celebrations in London he was refused entry into the VIP tent because his name was not on the list.

    Fortunately a senior British Army officer (Brig Tom Longland) saw his medals and immediately ordered him to be allowed in.

    Singh complained to the then Prime Minister John Major that the Indian soldiers pension was only £168 a year paid to the 10 surviving Indian VC holdiers. It was subsequently raised to £1,300 per year.

    When Singh died he was cremated and given a full military funeral.

    In spite of personal hardship and receiving substantial offers, Singh refused to sell his medal during his lifetime, saying that selling the medal would "stain the honour of those who fell in battle".


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    Passed away at the age of 85 in the Army Research and Referral Hospital in New Delhi after a long illness, and was cremated according to Hindu custom in his home village of Paira, India
     
  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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    Robert Anthony Maurice Palmer

    Rank: Squadron Leader

    Unit: No.109 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

    Awarded: 18th December 1945

    Nationality: British

    The citation in the London Gazette of 20th March 1945 gives the following details:

    This officer has completed no bombing missions. Most of them involved deep penetration of heavily defended territory; many were low-level "marking" operations against vital targets; all were executed with tenacity, high courage and great accuracy.

    He first went on operations in January, 1941. He took part in the first 1,000 bomber raid against Cologne in 1942. He was one of the first pilots to drop a 4,000 Ib. bomb on the Reich. It was known that he could be relied on to press home his attack whatever the opposition and to bomb with great accuracy. He was always selected, therefore, to take part in special operations against vital targets.

    The finest example of his courage and determination was on 23rd December, 1944, when he led a formation of Lancasters to attack the marshalling yards at Cologne in daylight. He had the task of marking the target and his formation had been ordered to bomb as soon as the bombs had gone from his, the leading aircraft.

    The leader's duties during the final bombing run were exacting and demanded coolness and resolution. To achieve accuracy he would have to fly at an exact height and air speed on a steady course, regardless of opposition.

    Some minutes before the target was reached, his aircraft came under heavy anti-aircraft fire, shells burst all around, two engines were set on fire and there were flames and smoke in the nose and in the bomb bay.

    Enemy fighters now attacked in force. Squadron Leader Palmer disdained the possibility of taking avoiding action. He knew that if he diverged the least bit from his course, he would be unable to utilise the special equipment to the best advantage. He was determined to complete the run and provide an accurate and easily seen aiming-point for the other bombers. He ignored the double risk of fire and explosion in his aircraft and kept on. With its engines developing unequal power, an immense effort was needed to keep the damaged aircraft on a straight course. Nevertheless, he made a perfect approach and his bombs hit the target.

    His aircraft was last seen spiralling to earth in flames. Such was the strength of the opposition that more than half of his formation failed to return.

    Squadron Leader Palmer was an outstanding pilot. He displayed conspicuous bravery. His record of prolonged and heroic endeavour is beyond praise.


    Additional Infomation:

    Also awarded DFC and Bar.

    Born in Gillingham, Kent.

    Palmer was one of the first pilots to drop the 4,000lb 'Cookie' bomb.

    At the end of 1944 Palmer had completed 110 bombing missions.

    CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:

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    Rheinburg War Cemetery, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
     
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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    George Thompson

    Rank: Flight Sergeant

    Unit: No.9 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

    Awarded: ?

    Nationality: British

    The citation in the London Gazette of 16th February 1945 gives the following details:

    This airman was the wireless operator in a Lancaster aircraft which attacked the Dortmund-Ems Canal in daylight on the 1st January, 1945.

    The bombs had just been released when a heavy shell hit the aircraft in front of the mid-upper turret. Fire broke out and dense smoke filled the fuselage. The nose of the aircraft was then hit and an inrush of air, clearing the smoke, revealed a scene of utter devastation. Most of the Perspex screen of the nose compartment had been shot away, gaping holes had been torn in the canopy above the pilot's head, the inter communication wiring was severed, and there was a large hole in the floor of the aircraft. Bedding and other equipment were badly damaged or alight; one engine was on fire.

    Flight Sergeant Thompson saw that the gunner was unconscious in the blazing mid upper turret. Without hesitation he went down the fuselage into the fire and the exploding ammunition. He pulled the gunner from his turret and, edging his way round the hole in the floor, carried him away from the flames. With his bare hands, he extinguished the gunner's burning clothing. He himself sustained serious bums on his face, hands and legs.

    Flight Sergeant Thompson then noticed that the rear gun turret was also on fire. Despite his own severe injuries he moved painfully to the rear of the fuselage where he found the rear gunner with his clothing alight, overcome by flames and fumes. A second time Flight Sergeant Thompson braved the flames. With great difficulty he extricated the helpless gunner and carried. him clear. Again, he used his bare hands, already burnt, to beat out flames on a comrade's clothing.

    Flight Sergeant Thompson, by now almost exhausted, felt that his duty was yet not done. He must report the fate of the crew to the captain. He made the perilous journey back through the burning fuselage, clinging to the sides with his burnt hands to get across the hole in the floor. The flow of cold air caused him intense pain and frost-bite developed. So pitiful was his condition that his captain failed to recognise him. Still, his only concern was for the two gunners he had left in the rear of the aircraft. He was given such attention as was possible until a crash landing was made some forty minutes later. When the aircraft was hit, Flight Sergeant Thompson might have devoted his efforts to quelling the fire and so have contributed to his own safety. He preferred to go through the fire to succour his comrades. He knew that he would then be in no position to hear or heed any order which might be given to abandon aircraft. He hazarded his own life in order to save the lives of others. Young in years and experience, his actions were those of a veteran.

    Three weeks later Flight Sergeant Thompson died of his injuries. One of the gunners unfortunately also died, but the other owes his life to the superb gallantry of Flight Sergeant Thompson, whose single courage and self-sacrifice will ever be an inspiration to the Service.


    Additional Infomation:

    CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:

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    Brussels Town Cemtery, Belgium
     
  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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    Dennis Donnini

    Rank: Fusilier

    Unit: 4/5th Battalion, The Royal Scots Fusiliers, British Army

    Awarded: ?

    Nationality: British

    The citation in the London Gazette of 16th March 1945 gives the following details:

    In North-West Europe on 18th January, 1945, a Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers supported by tanks was the leading Battalion in the assault of the German position between the Rivers Roer and Maas. This consisted of a broad belt of minefields and wire on the other side of a stream.

    As the result of a thaw the armour was unable to cross the stream and the infantry had to continue the assault without the support of the tanks. Fusilier Donnini's platoon was ordered to attack a small village.

    As they left their trenches the platoon came under concentrated machine gun and rifle fire from the houses and Fusilier Donnini was hit by a bullet in the head. After a few minutes he recovered consciousness, charged down thirty yards of open road and threw a grenade into the nearest window.

    The enemy fled through the gardens of four houses, closely pursued by Fusilier Donnini and the survivors of his platoon. Under heavy fire at seventy yards range Fusilier Donnini and two companions crossed an open space and reached the cover of a wooden barn, thirty yards from the enemy trenches.

    Fusilier Donnini, still bleeding profusely from his wound, went into the open under intense close range fire and carried one of his companions, who had been wounded, into the barn. Taking a Bren gun he again went into the open, firing as he went.

    He was wounded a second time but recovered and went on firing until a third bullet hit a grenade which he was carrying and killed him.

    The superb gallantry and self-sacrifice of Fusilier Donnini drew the enemy fire away from his companions on to himself. As the result of this, the platoon were able to capture the position, accounting for thirty Germans and two machine guns.

    Throughout this action, fought from beginning to end at point blank range, the dash, determination and magnificent courage of Fusilier Donnini enabled his comrades to overcome an enemy more than twice their own number.


    Additional Infomation:

    Donnini was born of Italian origin, his father owned a Ice Cream Parlour.

    It is believed Donnini's father was not allowed to collect his son's VC because of his Italian background so Donnini's sister collected it on his behalf.

    His VC is currently on display at the Easington Colliery Workingmens Club, Seaside Lane, Easington Colliery, Co. Durham.

    CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:

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    Sittard War Cemtery, Limburg, Netherlands
     
  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Sher Shah

    Rank: Lance Naik

    Unit: 16th Punjab Regiment, Indian Army

    Awarded: 19th December 1945

    Nationality: Indian

    The citation in the London Gazette of 4th May 1945 gives the following details:

    In Burma, on the night 19th-20th January, 1945, at Kyeyebyin Kaladan, Lance-Naik Sher Shah commanded the left forward section of his platoon.

    At 1930 hours a Japanese platoon attacked his post. Realising that overwhelming numbers would probably destroy his section, he, by himself, stalked the enemy from their rear and broke up their attack by firing into their midst. He killed the Platoon Commander and six other Japanese and, after their withdrawal, crawled back to his section post.

    At 0015 hours the Japanese, who were now reinforced with a Company, started to form up for another attack. He heard their officers giving orders, and bayonets being fixed prior to the assault. Again he left his section post and, in spite of Japanese covering fire from small arms and mortars, crawled forward and saw Japanese officers and men grouped together. He fired into this group and they again broke up and started to withdraw in disorder.

    Whilst on his way back for the second time he was hit by a mortar bomb, which shattered his right leg. He regained his position and, propping himself against the side of the trench, continued firing and encouraging his men. When asked whether he was hurt, he replied that it was only slight. Some time afterwards it was discovered that his right leg was missing.

    The Japanese again started forming up for another attack. In spite of his severe wounds and considerable loss of blood, and very heavy Japanese supporting fire, Lance-Naik Sher Shah again left his section post and crawled forward, firing into their midst at point blank range. He continued firing until for the third time the Japanese attack was broken up, and until he was shot through the head, from which he subsequently died. Twenty-three dead and four wounded Japanese, including an officer, were found in daylight, immediately in front of his position.

    His initiative and indomitable courage throughout this very critical situation undoubtedly averted the over-running of his platoon, and was the deciding factor in defeating the Japanese attacks. His supreme self-sacrifice, disregard of danger and selfless devotion to duty, were an inspiration to all his comrades throughout the Battalion.


    Additional Infomation:

    Shah's Battalion 7/16 Punjab Regiment, affectionately known as "Saat Solah Punjab" is now a part of the Pakistan Army, proudly known as the "Sher Shah Battalion".

    CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:

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    Rangoon Memorial, Myanmar
     
  15. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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    Henry Eric Harden

    Rank: Lance Corporal

    Unit: Royal Army Medical Corps, British Army

    Awarded: 9th April 1946

    Nationality: British

    The citation in the London Gazette of 6th March 1945 gives the following details:

    In North West Europe on the 23rd January, 1945, the leading section of a Royal
    Marine Commando Troop was pinned to the ground by intense enemy machine gun fire from well concealed positions. As it was impossible to engage the enemy from the open owing to lack of cover, the section was ordered to make for some nearby houses. This move was accomplished, but one officer and three other rank casualties were left lying in the open.

    The whole Troop position was under continuous heavy and accurate shell and mortar fire. Lance-Corporal Harden, the R.A.M.C. orderly attached to the Troop, at once went forward, a distance of 120 yards, into the open under a hail of enemy machine gun and rifle fire directed from four positions, all within 300 yards, and with the greatest coolness and bravery remained in the open while he attended to the four casualties. After dressing the wounds of three of them, he carried one of them back to cover. Lance- Corporal Harden was then ordered not to go forward again and an attempt was made to bring in the other casualties with the aid of tanks, but this proved unsuccessful owing to the heavy and accurate fire of enemy antitank guns. A further attempt was then made to recover the casualties under a smoke screen, but this only increased1 the enemy fire in the vicinity of the casualties.

    Lance-Corporal Harden then insisted on going forward again, with a volunteer stretcher party, and succeeded in bringing back another badly wounded man.

    Lance-Corporal Harden went out a third time, again with a stretcher party, and after starting on the return journey with the wounded officer, under very heavy enemy small arms and mortar fire, he was killed.

    Throughout this long period Lance-Corporal Harden displayed superb devotion to duty and personal courage of the very highest order, and there is no doubt that it had a most steadying effect upon the other troops in the area at a most critical time. His action was directly responsible for saving the lives of the wounded brought in. His complete contempt for all personal danger, and the magnificent example he set of cool courage and determination to continue with his work, whatever the odds, was an inspiration to his comrades, and will never be forgotten by those who saw it.


    Additional Infomation:

    Harden was attached to 45 Royal Marine Commando when he won his VC.

    CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:

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    Nederweert War Cemetery, Limburg, Netherlands
     
  16. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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    George Arthur Knowland

    Rank: Lieutenant

    Unit: The Royal Norfolk Regiment Attached to No.1 Commando, British Army

    Awarded: 9th April 1946

    Nationality: British

    The citation in the London Gazette of 10th April 1945 gives the following details:

    In Burma on 31st January, 1945, near Kangaw, Lieutenant Knowland was commanding the forward platoon of a Troop positioned on the extreme North of a hill which was subjected to very heavy and repeated enemy attacks throughout the whole day. Before the first attack started, Lieutenant Knowland's platoon was heavily mortared and machine gunned, yet he moved about among his men keeping them alert and encouraging them, though under fire himself at the time.

    When the enemy, some 300 strong in all, made their first assault they concentrated all their efforts on his platoon of 24 men, but, in spite of the ferocity of the attack, he moved about from trench to, trench distributing ammunition, and firing his rifle and throwing grenades at the enemy, often from completely exposed positions.

    Later, when the crew of one of his forward Bren Guns had all been wounded, he sent back to Troop Headquarters for another crew and ran forward to man the gun himself until they arrived. The enemy was then less than 10 yards from him in dead ground down the hill, so, in order to get a better field of fire, he stood on top of the trench, firing the light machine gun from his hip, and successfully keeping them at a distance until a Medical Orderly had dressed and evacuated the wounded men behind him. The new Bren team also became casualties on the way up, and Lieutenant Knowland continued to fire the gun until another team took over.

    Later, when a fresh attack came in, he took over a 2 inch Mortar and in spite of heavy fire and the closeness of the enemy; he stood up in the open to face them, firing the mortar from his hip and killing six of .them with his first bomb. When all bombs were expended he went back through heavy grenade, mortar and machine gun fire to get more, which he fired in the same way from the open in front of his platoon positions. When those bombs were finished, he went back to his own trench, and still standing up fired his rifle at them. Being hard pressed arid with enemy closing in on him from only 10 yards away, he had no time to re-charge his magazine. Snatching up the Tommy gun of a casualty, he sprayed the enemy and was mortally wounded stemming this assault, though not before he had killed and wounded many of the enemy.

    Such was the inspiration of his magnificent heroism, that, though fourteen out of twenty four of his platoon became casualties at an early stage, and six of his positions were overrun by the enemy, his men held on through twelve hours of continuous and fierce fighting until reinforcements arrived. If this Northern end of the hill had fallen, the rest of the hill would have been endangered, the beach-head dominated by the enemy, and other unit’s farther inland cut off from their source of supplies. As it was, the final successful counter-attack was later launched from the vital ground which Lieutenant Knowland had taken such a gallant part in holding.


    Additional Infomation:

    Born in Catford.

    Knowland joined the Army in 1941 as a Private and was commissioned within 12 months.

    George Knowland's Victoria Cross was stolen in 1958 from the Spreadeagle Inn in London. The VC has never been recovered.

    CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:

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    Taukkyan War Cemetery, Myanmar
     
  17. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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    Prakash Singh

    Rank: Jemadar

    Unit: 14th/13th Frontier Forces Rifles, Indian Army

    Awarded: 19th December 1945

    Nationality: Indian

    The citation in the London Gazette of 27th April 1945 gives the following details:

    At Kanlan Ywathit, in Burma, on the night of 16th-17th February, 1945, Jemadar Parkash Singh, 13th Frontier Force Rifles, was in command of a platoon of a rifle Company occupying a Company defended locality.

    At about 23.00 hours the Japanese, in great strength and supported by artillery, mortars, medium machine guns and, subsequently, flame throwers, initiated a series of fierce attacks on the position. The main weight of the attack was directed against Jemadar Parkash Singh's platoon locality.

    At about 23.30 hours Jemadar Parkash Singh was severely wounded in both ankles by machine gun fire and was unable to walk about in his sector. His Company Commander, on being informed of this, ordered Jemadar Parkash Singh to be relieved and brought into a trench beside Company Headquarters, from where he kept shouting encouragement to all his men. A short time afterwards, owing to his relief having been wounded, Jemadar Parkash Singh crawled forward, dragging himself on his hands and knees, to his platoon sector and again took over command.

    At 00.15 hours, when his Company Commander visited the platoon area, Jemadar Parkash Singh was found, propped up by his batman—who had also been wounded, firing his platoon 2-inch mortar, the crew of which had both been killed, shouting encouragement to his men and directing the fire of his platoon. Having expended all the available 2-inch mortar ammunition, Jemadar Parkash Singh then crawled around the position collecting ammunition for his platoon from the dead and wounded. This ammunition he distributed himself.

    As one complete section of his platoon had by now become casualties, Jemadar Parkash Singh took over their Bren gun and held the Section's sector of the perimeter singlehanded until reinforcements were rushed up by the Company Commander. He fired the gun at this stage from a position completely in the open as he was unable to stand up in a trench. He was again wounded in both legs, above the knees, by a burst of machine gun fire.

    In spite of intense pain and the loss of much blood from his wounds, Jemadar Parkash Singh continued firing his Bren gun and dragging himself from place to place only by the use of his hands, as his legs were now smashed and completely useless. At the same time he continued to encourage and direct his men, regrouping the remnants of his platoon around him so that they successfully held up a fierce Japanese charge which was launched against them.

    At 01.45 hours Jemadar Parkash Singh was wounded for the third time in the right leg and was so weak from loss of blood that, he was unable to move. Bleeding profusely and lying on his right side with his face towards the enemy, he continued to direct the action of his men, encouraging them to stay their ground. Although it was obvious that he was now dying, Jemadar Parkish Singh shouted out the Dogra War Cry which was immediately taken up by the rest of the Company engaged in hand-to-hand fighting within the perimeter of his locality. His example and leadership at this period so
    inspired the Company that the enemy was finally driven out from the position.

    At 02.30 hours Jemadar Parkash Singh was wounded for a fourth time, this time in the chest, by a Japanese grenade. He died a few minutes later after telling his Company Commander not to worry about him for he could easily look after himself.

    Throughout the period of intense hand-to hand fighting and heavy machine gun and grenade fire from 23.00 hours until the time of his death at 02.30 hours, Jemadar Parkash.

    Singh conducted himself with conspicuous bravery and complete disregard of his severe wounds, and there is no doubt that his ceaseless encouragement of his platoon, his inspired leadership and outstanding devotion to duty, though himself mortally wounded, played an outstanding part in finally repelling the Japanese with heavy casualties.


    Additional Infomation:

    Has no known grave

    Died on 17 February 1945 from the third wound sustained in this VC action

    Also known as Parkash Singh

    CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:



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    Rangoon Memorial, Myanmar
     
  18. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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    Edwin Swales

    Rank: Captain

    Unit: No.582 Squadron, South African Air Force

    Awarded: ?

    Nationality: South African

    The citation in the London Gazette of 20th April 1945 gives the following details:

    Captain Swales was "master bomber" of a force of aircraft which attacked Pforzheim on the night of February 23rd, 1945. As "master bomber" he had the task of locating the target area with precision and of giving aiming instructions to the main force of bombers following in his wake.

    Soon after he had reached the target area he was engaged by an enemy fighter and one of his engines was .put out of action.. His rear guns failed. His crippled aircraft was an easy prey to further attacks. Unperturbed, he carried on with his allotted task; clearly and precisely he issued aiming instructions to the main force. Meanwhile the enemy fighter dosed the range and fired again. A second engine of Captain Swales' aircraft was put out of action. Almost defenceless, he stayed over the target area issuing his aiming instructions until he was satisfied that the attack had achieved its purpose.

    It is now known that the attack was one of the most concentrated and successful of the war.

    Captain Swales did not, however, regard his mission as completed. His aircraft was damaged. Its speed had to.een so much reduced that it could only with difficulty be kept in the air. The blind-flying instruments were no longer working. Determined at all costs to prevent his aircraft and crew from falling into enemy hands, he set course for home. After an hour he flew into thin-layered cloud. He kept his course by skilful flying between the layers, but later heavy cloud and turbulent air conditions were met. The aircraft, by now over friendly territory, became more and more difficult to control; it was losing height steadily. Realising that the situation was desperate Captain Swales ordered his crew to bail out. Time was very short and it required all his exertions to keep the aircraft steady while each of his crew moved in turn to the escape hatch and parachuted to safety. Hardly had the last crew-member jumped when the aircraft plunged to earth. Captain Swales was found dead at the controls.

    Intrepid in the attack, courageous in the face of danger, he did his duty to the last, giving his life that his comrades might live.


    Additional Infomation:

    Also awarded DFC.

    Before the outbreak of war, Swales joined the Natal Mounted Rifles rising to the rank of Sergeant Major.

    Swales saw action in Kenya, Abyssinia and in North Africa.

    In 1942 he joined the South African Air Force.

    In 1943 he was econded to the RAF and allowed to keep his rank and uniform.

    Swales was the only S.A.A.F. pilot during 1939-45 to be appointed a Pathfinder Master Bomber and also to have been posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

    Originally buried at Fosse’s USA Cemetery, his remains now lie at the War Cemetery at Leopoldsburg.

    CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:

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    Leopoldsburg War Cemetery, Limburg, Belgium
     
  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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    Aubrey Cosens

    Rank: Sergeant

    Unit: The Queen’s Own Rifle’s of Canada, Canadian Army

    Awarded: ?

    Nationality: Canadian

    The citation in the London Gazette of 18th May 1945 gives the following details:

    In Holland, on the night of 25th /26th February, 1945, the 1st Battalion, The Queen's Own Rifles, of Canada, launched an attack on the hamlet of Mooshof, to capture ground which was considered essential for the successful development of future operations.

    Sergeant Cosens platoon, with two tanks in support, attacked enemy strong points in three farm buildings, but were twice beaten back by fanatical enemy resistance and then fiercely counter-attacked, during which time the platoon suffered heavy casualties and the platoon commander was killed.

    Sergeant Cosens at once assumed command of the only other four survivors of his platoon, whom he placed in a position to give him covering fire, while he himself ran across open ground under heavy mortar and shell fire to the one remaining tank, where, regardless of danger, he took up an exposed place in front of the turret and directed its fire.

    After a further enemy counter-attack had been repulsed, Sergeant Cosens ordered the tank to attack the farm buildings, while the four survivors of his platoon followed in close support. After the tank had rammed the first building he entered it alone, killing several of the defenders and taking the rest prisoner.

    Single-handed he then entered the second and third buildings and personally killed or captured all the occupants, although under intense machine gun and small arms fire. Just after the successful reduction of these important enemy strong points, Sergeant Cosens was shot through the head by an enemy sniper and died almost instantly.

    The outstanding gallantry, initiative and determined leadership of this brave N.C.O. who himself killed at least twenty of the enemy and took an equal number of prisoners, resulted in the capture of a position which was vital to the success of the future operations of the Brigade.


    Additional Infomation:

    CWGC :: Certificate :poppy:

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    Groesbeek Canadian War Memorial Cemetery, Nijmegen, Netherlands
     
  20. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

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    Frederick Albert Tilston

    Rank: Captain Acting Major

    Unit: The Essex Scottish Regiment, Canadian Infantry Corps, Canadian Army

    Awarded: 22nd June 1945

    Nationality: Canadian

    The citation in the London Gazette of 18th May 1945 gives the following details:

    The 2nd Canadian Division had been given the task of breaking through the strongly fortified Hochwald Forest defence line which covered Xanten the last German bastion West of the Rhine protecting the vital Wesel Bridge escape route.

    The Essex Scottish Regiment was ordered to breach the defence line North-east of Udem and to clear the Northern half of the forest, through which the balance of the
    Brigade would pass.

    At 0715 hours on 1st March, 1945, the attack was launched but due to the softness of the ground it was found impossible to support the attack by tanks as had been planned.

    Across approximately 500 yards of flat open country, in face of intense enemy fire, Major Tilston personally led his Company in the attack, keeping dangerously close to our own bursting shells in order to get the maximum cover from the barrage. Though wounded in the head he continued to lead his men forward, through a belt of wire ten feet in depth to the enemy trenches shouting orders and encouragement and using his Sten gun with great effect. When the platoon on the left came under heavy fire from an enemy machine gun post he dashed forward personally and silenced it with a grenade; he was first to reach the enemy position and took the first prisoner.

    Determined to maintain the momentum of the attack he ordered the reserve platoon to mop up these positions and with outstanding gallantry, pressed on with his main force to the second line of enemy defences which were on the edge of the woods.

    As he approached the woods he was severely wounded in the hip and fell to the ground. Shouting to his men to carry on without him and urging them to get into the wood, he struggled to his feet and rejoined them as they reached the trenches on their objective. Here an elaborate system of underground dugouts and trenches was manned in considerable strength and vicious hand-to-hand fighting followed. Despite his wounds, Major Tilston's unyielding will to close with the enemy was a magnificent inspiration to his men as he led them in, systematically clearing the trenches of the fiercely resisting enemy. In this fighting two German Company Headquarters were overrun and many casualties were inflicted on the fanatical defenders.

    Such had been the grimness of the fighting and so savage the enemy resistance that the Company was now reduced to only 26 men, one quarter of its original strength. Before consolidation could be completed the enemy counter-attacked repeatedly, supported by a hail or mortar and machine gun fire from the open flank. Major Tilston moved in the open from platoon to platoon quickly organising their defence and directing fire against the advancing enemy. The enemy attacks penetrated so close to the positions that grenades were thrown into the trenches held by his troops, but this officer by personal contact, unshakeable confidence and unquenchable enthusiasm so inspired his men that they held firm against great odds.

    When the supply of ammunition became a serious problem he repeatedly crossed the bullet swept ground to the Company on his right flank to carry grenades, rifle and Bren ammunition to his troops and replace a damaged wireless set to re establish communications with Battalion Headquarters. He made at least six of these hazardous trips, each time crossing a road which was dominated by intense fire from numerous, well sited enemy machine gun posts.

    On his last trip he was wounded for the third time, this time in the leg. He was found in a shell crater beside the road. Although very seriously wounded and barely conscious, he would not submit to medical attention until he had given complete instructions as to the defence plan, had emphasised the absolute necessity of holding the position, and had ordered his one remaining officer to take over.

    By his calm courage, gallant conduct and total disregard for his own safety, he fired his men with grim determination and their firm stand enabled the Regiment to accomplish its object of furnishing the Brigade with a solid base through which to launch further successful attacks to clear the forest, thus enabling the Division to accomplish its task.


    Additional Infomation:

    Tilson went to an all-boys military prep school in Toronto, Ontario.

    Tilson worked within the Regiments Administration and had little combat experience when he volunteered to lead an attack on the Hochwald Forest.

    In 1945 Tilson joined The War Amps Association. A charity where amputee's work with other amputee's.

    Tilston is remembered in a variety of ways including having the Aurora Candian Legion named after him.

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    Mount Hope Catholic Cemetery, Ontario, Canada
     

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