Victoria Crosses That Never Were....

Discussion in 'General' started by Drew5233, Apr 17, 2010.

  1. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Canadians won 2 of 3 VC's awarded for heroism during the Dieppe action in August 1942. 6,000 troops landed that day and were in action for less than 6 hours in what was a hopeless situation. Virtually no objectives were achieved.
    Compare that to Normandy. Over 21,000 Canadians landed on Juno Beach, fought the entire day against difficult opposition and achieved most of their objectives. Not a single VC to be found.

    Call it politics, public relations, cover up or quotas but it is hard to escape being cynical of the awards process.
     
  2. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Am I right in thinking there was only 1 VC awarded for 6th June 1944?
     
  3. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Am I right in thinking there was only 1 VC awarded for 6th June 1944?

    Yes you are. Company Sergeant Major Stanley Hollis, D Company, 6th Battalion, The Green Howards (Gold beach).

    The same logic would seem to apply to British troops.
     
  4. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

  5. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Lieutenant Michael Raymond Drinkhall
    E.C. 7450
    1st Battalion, 9th Gurkha Rifles

    Recommended for the Victoria Cross
    Awarded the Distinguished Service Order

    This officer, when acting in command of a company of his battalion, displayed most conspicuous bravery, devotion, and leadership during the fighting at Cassino, 15 - 18 March 44.

    On the night of 15/16 March, the objective of his battalion was Pt 435 (Hangnam's Hill), adjacent to the Monastery itself, and the securing of which was essential to the intended assault on the Monastery. The advance of this battalion was dependent on the securing of certain intermediate objectives on the slopes of Monastery Hill by another unit.

    Owing to the extremely difficult going, the very dark night, the rain which was falling; and the heavy enemy opposition continuing on the west edges of cassino, the attack of the preceding unit was disorganized, and the intermediate objectives remained unsecured. under these conditions Lieut Drinkhall's battalion was ordered to continue its operation and attempt to saize the vital feature of Pt 435 (Hangman's Hill).

    The battalion set off under intense enemy defensive fire, and Lieut Drinkhall's company was the leading one. with amazing skill and daring he led it through the enemy defences, but the remainder of the battalion were unable to follow him, and the company became isolated. realising, however, the vital nature of the battalion's task, and that daylight was fast approaching; he continued his advance up the hill, and by bold and skilful leading bypassed the enemy on the intermediate objectives which had not been secured; and seized Pt 435 (Hangman's Hill) itself with his company. During this phase, Lieut Drinkhall, accompanied only by the leading platoon commander and one rifleman, climbed forward up the crag, and destroyed with grenades some enemy holding cave defences.

    Soon after his arrival on this objective, Lieut Drinkhall was wounded; and the enemy immediately they had recovered from their initial surprise, put in a determined counter-attack. In spite of the pain from his wound, Lieut Drinkhall led his men with great dash and gallantry to beat off this attack, and further consolidate their hold on the feature.

    The situation now was that the company remained isolated adjacent to the strong enemy position of the monastery throughout 16 March and the following night; and was under constant and intense enemy bombardment of all descriptions. Owing to lack of communications, and the confused nature of the fighting, it could not be given proper artillery or other support. In spite of the heavy casualties it was suffering, Lieut Drinkhall by his determination, and by his own fearless courage and example maintained his men's spirits at the highest aggressive level.

    Early morning 17 March, the enemy launched another strong and determined counter-attack, during the course of which Lieut Drinkhall was again severely wounded and had a leg broken.

    Supporting himself by a rock, and engaging the enemy with his pistol, he continued with great gallantry to lead and encourage his men; and his skilful and inspiring defence kept the enemy at bay. Sheer weight of numbers might eventually have overcome this rapidly dwindling company when, fortuitously, the remainder of the battalion, having moved by night by another route, arrived as reinforcement, and drove the enemy back.

    Even after this relief, and in spite of his severe wounds, Lieut Drinkhall refused to relinquish command of his company, and continued his gallant leadership until opportunity came for him to be evacuated wounded some twenty-four hours later. The successful capture of this vital objective on the first night of the battle, and its holding against determined enemy attacks, were entirely due to the bravery, devotion, skill, and inspired leadership displayed by this young officer; whose conduct, in this his first battle, was beyond all praise.

    LG 24.08.1944
     

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  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    2930332 T McInally 1 Cameron Highlanders VC to MiD.

    I've searched thread for name & number & read through alot of it.
    I dont think this chap has been mentioned yet that I found by chance.
    Reference: WO 373/89/1233

    Name McInally, T
    Rank: Private
    Service No: 2930332
    Regiment: 1 Cameron Highlanders
    Theatre of Combat or Operation: B E F 1939-40
    Award: Mention in Despatch
    Date of Announcement in London Gazette: 15 July 1941

    CWGC - Casualty Details
    McINALLY, THOMAS

    Rank:PrivateService No:2930332
    Date of Death:21/05/1940
    Age:22
    Regiment/Service:Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders 1st Bn.
    Grave ReferenceI. A. 22.
    CemeteryBRUYELLE WAR CEMETERY
     

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  7. ethan

    ethan Member

    Canadians won 2 of 3 VC's awarded for heroism during the Dieppe action in August 1942. 6,000 troops landed that day and were in action for less than 6 hours in what was a hopeless situation. Virtually no objectives were achieved.
    Compare that to Normandy. Over 21,000 Canadians landed on Juno Beach, fought the entire day against difficult opposition and achieved most of their objectives. Not a single VC to be found.

    Call it politics, public relations, cover up or quotas but it is hard to escape being cynical of the awards process.

    Too many acts of valour to choose from so they have to limit numbers? Not sure. Same thing with (Band of Brothers') Dick Winters, there was an established limit of the number of medals of honour awarded that day, someone else got theirs, he missed his. Harsh but understandable. Some are also awarded to one individual but are intended for more, the Doolittle raiders/Jervis Bay etc.
     
  8. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Blimey - VC to a MiD? Bit of a downgrade.
    Maybe because not witnessed by an officer, or he was out of sight for some of the time?
     
  9. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Blimey - VC to a MiD? Bit of a downgrade.
    Maybe because not witnessed by an officer, or he was out of sight for some of the time?

    Actually I've been informed as this was because you could not get a slightly lower award (DSC) if you died as you had to be alive to be admitted into the order.

    This could be wrong, but Captain Donald Lever (I'll upload my account of him tomorrow) is one of these who went from a remarkable VC recommendation to just a MiD.
     
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Correct-More than likely awarded a DCM or MM for the action but unable to be recommended as you had to be alive. Thankfully it's not the case today.


    Ps DSC is a naval award for officers ;)
     
  11. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Trust me to muck it up slightly!

    What year did the awarding of posthumous DCMs or MMs commence?
     
  12. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    According to M.R.D. Foot, SOE agent Captain Michael Trotobas ('Sylvestre - Farmer' network) was put forward for a posthumous V.C. The award of a Victoria Cross was turned down because no senior officer to report the action. He died fighting off the Germans who stormed his 'safe house'.

    Captain Trotobas did not even get a posthumous 'Mention in Dispatches' for the action in which he died. The 'MiD' referred to on his CWGC citation was awarded at the time of Dunkirk. His grave is in Lille Southern Cemetery, France.
     
  13. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

     
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  14. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    I noted that Diane (DBF) had posted Doctor Desmond Whyte's details some time back but the image links have gone awry so I'm taking the liberty of reposting them with a couple of additional details...
    He was involved with the Chindits and his most noteworty period was during the "Blackpool" debacle (age 30), where his commanding officer, John Masters, had to take the action of executing his own (critically) wounded personnel, to stop them falling into Japanese hands - Dr Whyte had to take responsibility for reassurring Masters' that these men had no possible hope of survival - the description of the circumstances in Master's own book ("The Road Past Mandalay") is quite harrowing... from my fathers notes I suspect he was close by at this point in time and witnessed this first hand...
    Masters protested the downgrading of the recommended award quite vehemently at the time but Dr Whyte was characteristically indifferent about this, being quoted (Londonderry Sentinel obit.) that he, "... expected no decoration for doing his duty..."
    Post war Dr Desmond Whyte became a highly respected Consultant Radiologist, based in Londonderry, and roundly viewed as a true Gentleman...
    He was 84 when he passed away after a prolonged illness in 1998...

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Bob Turner

    Bob Turner Senior Member

    My uncle Matty Turner, won the MM is Burma. My dad always said h should have got the VC but there was a bit of officer friction going on in the Devonshires. There may have been some confusion over a bren gun as well. The story I heard, was that he acquired a bren gun when he attacked the first Japanese anti tank gun. It wouldn't have been a bren but squadies thought they were captured brens. There's also a possible confusion as to his name, he was a Geordie in the Devons, so he would have got Geordie as a matter of course. One odd thing, two people called Matty Turner, both in the Devons in Burma, seem to have won the MM?
     

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  16. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Yet another wonderful example of serendipity at work .............

    I have never concealed my admiration for Jack Nissen and so, when I spotted a copy of his book being sold on the internet, I rushed to buy. The book was advertised as second-hand but in excellent condition and it arrived today.

    I immediately noticed that on the inner page there was a signed dedication as follows:

    To Ken
    To my old comrade in arms
    With best wishes
    Jack Nissen
    June 7th 1991

    On the title page there was also an address sticker of a K.J & L.M Dearson in Taunton, Somerset.

    The name Ken Dearson rang a bell and I remembered posting an article for Martin Sugarman (AJEX's senior archivist) on the BBC People's War Archives,
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/44/a2665244.shtml
    the relevant passages went as follows, I have highlit the Dearson references :

    EPILOGUE
    In 1991 the first re-union of WW2 radar personnel was held in Coventry. Jack Nissenthall was an honoured guest, but he did not even rate a mention in the souvenir programme which marked the event, and few even saw the presentation made to him - a replica of the precious avometer his father gave him for his Barmitzvah, and that he lost in his toolkit on the Dieppe raid.
    Ken Dearson, who was a member of the Mountbatten briefing team for the raid and presented the replica to Jack, has always been aware of his outstanding courage and remarkable achievment at Pourville, and for several years has been campaigning to get Jack the VC. Jack went to Dieppe " under a sentence of death", he wrote. Mountbatten had personally told Dearson after the War that Jack should have been given the VC. But this means overturning a 1949 directive ending the issue of WW2 medals. Dearson argues that some events, however, were so secret that little could be known about them till many years later. Jack's
    identity has been concealed for years by the Official Secret's Act, and only
    recently have Mountbatten's archives and other documents been released for public scrutiny, revealing Jack's crucial achievement. In fact it was Mountbatten's Publicity section which put out the story that a scientist called "Prof. Wendall" had been on the raid; this was in fact Jack.
    Appeals to Prime Minister John Major and the Honours Committee in 1991 and again
    in 1997 were fruitless, and to this day Jack Nissenthall's deeds remain officially unrecognised. His daughter Linda who lives in North London with her family says this is scandalous. Jack said his main reward was helping to destroy Hitler; "I still feel that way" he said. Actors Michael Caine and Roger Moore have both said they would like to have played him in a movie and such a film has been long contemplated.
    At his funeral in the Jewish cemetery in Toronto on the "11th of the 11th" 1997,
    there was a huge escort of Ex-Servicemen from the Jewish and Canadian Legions, and many young people. Jack had been a legend in his own lifetime there - truly the unknown hero of Dieppe.


    AFTERWORD
    In July 1997, the author spoke to Jack's daughter who described how after the war Mountbatten and Prince Phillip wrote to Jack expressing their admiration for his achievments at Dieppe, Mountbatten agreeing that a gallantry award should be made. Both Prince Phillp and Prince Charles have also met Jack at Dieppe reunions asking to speak to him privately after the official proceedings and repeating their praise for his work and great courage on the raid.
    After the war, Jack met the German Engineering Officer who had been in charge of the Pourville radar station - Willy Weber - and they became friends. It was Weber who had first spotted the invasion flotilla at Dieppe but had been told he was imagining it! Weber also discovered the wires cut by Jack after the raid but reported it was shell damage. Little did he know! At one reunion at the Canadian cemetery Weber was refused entry because he was a German. Jack saw him, however, and personnally brought him in and stood next to him during the ceremony.
    Sadly, Ken Dearson died in 1995 but the struggle to get Jack his award goes on - even though Jack himself remained indifferent. Canadian Ex-servicemen,British MP's and former MP'S and the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women (AJEX) have continued to press for recognition for him!
    After the war, Dearson continued working for Mountbatten and when ever any failure occurred in the communications system, The First Sea Lord would shout, "Send for Nissenthall!"

    Sources
    1. "Green Beach" by James Leasor (Heinemann 1975) - contains many references to other sources but is based on several personal interviews with veterans and especially Jack Nissenthall.
    2. Saga Holiday Magazine - Folkestone - 1991.
    3. "The man who went back" - Lucien Dumais (Leo Cooper 1975)
    4. Jewish Chronicle - Aug 1991; Feb. 1992
    5. "Battlefields of Northern France" by Michael Glover (Michael Joseph 1987)
    6. Ville de Dieppe information leaflet.
    7. "The War of the Landing Craft" - P Lund and H Ludlum (Foulsham 1976)
    8. "Commando Gallantry Awards of WW2" - George A Brown (London Stamp Exchange -
    1991).
    9. Article (1987/88) of the New Cambridge and Bethnal Green Old Boys Club Report, by D Roxan.
    10 "The Radar War" - Nissenthall and Cockerill - R Hale, 1989.
    11. "Counterfeit Spies" Nigel West, St Ermin's Press, 1998.
    12.My deep thanks to Linda Samuels (nee Nissenthall), whose many anecdotes about
    her father's life were passed on to me from Jack himself,and have never before been published, and to Cyril Silvertown, historian, for their help.Jack's
    decorations are the 1939-45, Africa and Italy Stars, Defence and War Medals
    Jack is commemorated not only at the Pourville Museum, AJEX Museum and Combined
    Operations Museum at Inverary (Scotland), but also on the RAF Hope Cove/Bolt Head memorial near Marlborough village, Salcomb, in Devon.

    Martin Sugarman
     

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  17. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Two other (20 year old) men that, I believe, were recommended for (but not awarded with) a Victoria Cross in Italy - I'm not sure where their "non applied" citations would be filed.

    Both of these men died at the time, so no other medal award was made - I have the citations for MCs/MMs for other men who joined in the same actions.

    1) Lieutenant JTG Day 1st Bttn Royal Irish Fusiliers killed at San Vito on 2nd December 1943...recommended by Major Jimmy Clarke.

    http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2377696/DAY,%20JOHN%20TERENCE%20GORDON

    DAY, JOHN TERENCE GORDON
    Rank: Lieutenant
    Service No: 265919
    Date of Death: 02/12/1943
    Age: 20
    Regiment/Service: Royal Irish Fusiliers
    Grave Reference XIV. C. 43.
    Cemetery SANGRO RIVER WAR CEMETERY
    Additional Information: Son of Richard and Agnes Day; nephew of Mrs. C. N. O'Brien, of Epsom Downs, Surrey.

    2) Corporal JA (Jimmy) Barnes, 2nd Bttn London Irish Rifles, killed near Casa Sinagoga on 16th May 1944, recommended by Major Desmond Woods...

    http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2069076/BARNES,%20JAMES%20ALEXANDER

    BARNES, JAMES ALEXANDER
    Rank: Corporal
    Service No: 7022505
    Date of Death: 16/05/1944
    Age: 20
    Regiment/Service: Royal Ulster Rifles 2nd Bn. The London Irish Rifles
    Panel Reference Panel 11.
    Memorial CASSINO MEMORIAL
    Additional Information:
    Son of George and Elizabeth Ann Barnes, of Three-Mile-House, Co. Monaghan, Irish Republic.

    best
     
  18. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  19. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

  20. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Gunner Tours

    In any awards system there has to be some form of quality control. All that the archives reveal is that someone has tried to exercise tier judgment. Some citations are downgraded and others are upgraded. Without a system the value of a decoration becomes debased. The VC was originally the only medal which was struck to recognise gallantry in action. (Prior to this only, some soldiers had received foreign bravery awards e.g. Members of the Rocket Brigade at Leipzig.) The DSO, DCM, MC, MM and MID were introduced as lesser wards, so someone had to make a distinction between what counted as worth a MM but not a VC.

    The modern media and public are obsessed with celebrity, and VC winners are celebrity soldiers. There is disproportionate fuss made about VC winners at the expense of the deeds, service and sacrifice of those whose conduct was not subsequently recognised as worthy of the VC. This ignores the reality of the awards system which was a flawed way to recognise gallantry and courage.

    a. Awards could only me made to those whose actions were observed by an officer and attributed to an individual. There is an account by an officer on the Somme watching a piece of lone heroics by a soldier bombing German trenches until he was killed. No one knew who he was and so a very brave man was not recognised.

    b. Success in receiving an award needs a persuasive citation written by a sympathetic and literate officer. There is a story (in Tommies by Richard Holmes) that an officer wrote up a citation for a man to receive the MM, was told unofficially that it wasn't strong enough, re wrote it to find a different description of the same action rewarded with a VC.

    c. Sometimes other factors come into play. E.g. the very gallant Corporal in 3 Para in the Falklands whose case for a medal was blocked after a collection of human ears was found on the man's body.

    Those of us who know something about how the wartime awards system worked ought to make sure that the obsession with the cult of the VC does not obscure the deeds of others, just as brave.
     

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