Daily Archives: 6 July, 2010

Portsmouth’s WW2 Dead – The Army (part 5)

Decorations

20 soldiers from Portsmouth who died during the Second World War were awarded a total of 23 decorations for bravery during the Second World War:

1 Distinguished Service Order
1 Distinguished Conduct Medal
4 Military Crosses
5 Military Medals
9 Mentions in Despatches
2 MBE’S
1 OBE

Three men received more than one decoration. 10 of the men who were decorated were officers, and the other 10 were NCO’s. Although there were obviously many more men than officers in the Army, being in position of responsibility clearly afforded many more opportunities for excelling in battle. Cynics might also suggest that officers and NCO’s were more likely to have their deeds noticed and reported favourably. Its noticeable that no medals were awarded to Privates who died during the war, only one Trooper in a Tank unit was mentioned in despatches.

2.97% of Portsmouth soldiers who died during the war won decorations. The split was equal between officers and men. This compares to 7.9% of Portsmouth sailors. Why the difference? Possibly because a higher proportion of sailors were Leading Rates and Petty Officers, who had more potential for leadership and decision-making in battle, whereas junior sailors were more often than not working as part of a finely-tuned machine. By comparison, the decorations awarded to soldiers were split 50/50. This is probably because the rank-and-file found themselves in at the sharp end, and often having to show initiative and bravery that would earn medals.

It could also be argued that in the Second World War – particularly towards 1944 and 1945 when manpower reserves were perilously low – the British Army sought to fight its battles in a way that did not cause excessive losses. It is possible that fighting in this manner gave less opportunities to win decorations.

Distinguished Service Order
Major Robert Easton MBE (Royal Armoured Corps, Italy)

Distinguished Conduct Medal
Sergeant Sidney Cornell (Parachute Regiment, Normandy)

Military Cross
Major Maurice Budd (Royal Sussex Regiment, Far East)
Major Frank Baxter (Royal Engineers, Tunisia)
Captain Bernard Brown (Royal Army Medical Corps, Egypt)
Lieutenant Colonel George Paxton (Essex Regiment, also MiD)

Military Medal
Captain Tom Bett (Pioneer Corps, promoted from ranks in 1941 after winning MM)
Lance Bombardier Edward Wait (Royal Artillery, Italy)
Lance Corporal Leslie Webb (Hampshire Regiment, D-Day)
Lance Bombardier Ernest Colbourne (Royal Artillery, MM possibly WW1)
Battery Quartermaster Sergeant Stanley Thayer (Royal Artillery, Dunkirk – also MiD)

Mentioned in Despatches
Sergeant Bertram Frampton (Royal Armoured Corps, NW Europe)
Corporal Norman Wescott (Military Police, Italy)
Trooper Edward Fidler (Royal Armoured Corps, Normandy)
Captain Sidney Fenn (REME)
Sergeant Frederick Harvey (Royal Artillery, Singapore)
Corporal Kerry Ryan (RAOC, Hong Kong)
Sergeant Ernest Oldrieve (Royal Tank Regiment, Greece)

Officer of the British Empire
Major Ernest Norris (RAOC)

Member of the British Empire
Major John Allen (RASC)

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Filed under Army, portsmouth heroes, Uncategorized, World War Two